§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE had given Notice that he would call attention to recent developments in the international situation; and move for Papers. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I feel certain your Lordships will not expect any apology from me for initiating this debate on the international situation. The moment, I think, is clearly ripe for such a review. Some very considerable time has passed since we last had a general debate on foreign affairs in your Lordships' House. I think a visitor from Mars might jump to the conclusion from that that it was an indication that everything was going happily and well, and there was no problem that needed our attention. I only wish that were the case. But, as you know, the reason for our hesitancy was exactly the opposite. The situation during recent months has been so tangled and delicate that anyone with any spark of responsibility might well hesitate to say anything which would make the task of the Foreign Secretary more difficult. Nor within recent weeks has any milestone been passed which would provide a natural occasion for a debate.
§ Week after week we have read in the newspapers of an unending series of negotiations; negotiations between the Foreign Secretaries of the four Powers, between their deputies and between 1028 officials. But these interminable discussions have up to now brought us no great degree nearer a solution of the main problems with which we are faced. Each body of negotiators, after days of sterile and often, I am afraid, acrimonious negotiations, seem to have adopted the same course and "passed the buck" to somebody else, and in due course the "buck" has been passed back again. To some extent, I am afraid, that procedure is still going on. In recent weeks we have had further long discussions among the Foreign Ministers. We must admire their patience, their industry and their public spirit. On this last occasion, at any rate, judging from the reports I have seen in the newspapers, some progress has at last been registered, but again there has been evidence of inability to agree on many of the most vital issues. In those circumstances the Government will, I am sure, not complain if we feel the time has come not only to ask for a report on what has passed but to express our own views on the tangled situation with which we are faced.
§ What conclusion must be drawn to-day by any objective student of foreign affairs from all this long series of inconclusive talks? It is, I think, this—and it is better to say it quite frankly. There is one predominant problem facing the world to-day which overshadows all others and which colours all others; there is one question to which no one has yet found the answer. That problem is Russia, her policy and her relations with the rest of the world. We all want to co-operate with Russia within the framework of a world organization. We fought with her in the war, and we want to work with her in the peace, but up to now any solid basis of understanding seems, unhappily, to be lacking. It is to this vital issue that I propose, if I may, to devote the main portion of my remarks this afternoon, and I make no apology for concentrating on it, because it has so great a bearing on the transactions of the Peace Conference which is just about to meet.
§ Before I pass to this main theme, there are one or two other questions (much more limited, though important in themselves) on which I would like the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, to give a reply if he is able to. I realize the delicacy of the situation and therefore I do not want to press him unduly, but 1029 I would like a reply if I can have it. The first question concerns Spain, with special relation to the discussions that have been taking place on the Security Council of the United Nations. What is the exact position which has been reached on the Security Council regarding the report of the sub-committee which was appointed to make recommendations regarding the Spanish problem? I must confess that I personally am somewhat bewildered by the orgy of vetoing of all and every proposal which seems to be taking place on the Security Council.
§ How do matters stand now? I am afraid that this is one question on which up to now the United Nations have not shown up to very great advantage. They started off on the wrong leg—with the report of the sub-committee. That, I am afraid, was—I was going to say a very muddled, but I will content myself with saying a somewhat unfortunate document. After all, one would have thought that there is one essential point which must be cleared up before the United Nations decide to tackle the problem at all. That is not whether we approve of Franco or whether we like his form of Government. To that I suppose there will be only one answer given in any part of your Lordships' House—we do not approve of Franco and we dislike intensely his form of Government. But that in itself does not justify intervention by the United Nations. The United Nations, as an organization, are not concerned with the internal affairs of any State unless they become a danger to international peace.
§ The one vital question to which it was the duty of the sub-committee to give an answer was: Is peace actively threatened by the present régime in Spain? What was the answer given? I am afraid that, to me at any rate, it was a very equivocal one. They could not say that it constitutes an actual danger; they seem to have reported in effect that it constitutes a potential danger—whatever that may be—and they gave extremely hazy reasons even for that. The impression which was given (I hope I am not being unfair to this very distinguished committee) was that they decided on the nature of their conclusions before the inquiry began and that they stretched the wording of the Charter to accord with those preconceived conclusions. If that is true (and I hope 1030 I am not being unfair) it is an extremely dangerous precedent. That seems to have been recognized by some of the members of the Security Council itself, and in consequence we have had the rather unedifying spectacle of contending groups of great Powers vetoing each other's proposals.
§ The Security Council (on which all our hopes are based and which has done so well up to now) has become something in the nature of a laughing stock over this question of Spain, and no one is benefiting except General Franco himself, whose position in his own country has been steadily strengthened by what has happened. I take it that this matter will be raised in some form or another at the next General Assembly, and I hope His Majesty's Government will press for a decision as to whether the existence of the Franco régime in Spain represents a situation which is a definite threat to international peace. If it does, we must, of course, take all necessary measures—not merely the withdrawal of Ambassadors, but all measures which are necessary to remove that threat. But if it does not constitute a definite threat to international peace, I feel sure it would be wiser to allow the Spaniards to work out their own salvation. Apart from everything else, I am quite certain that would be far the best way of getting rid of Franco himself. The present policy of pinpricks is merely bolstering him up and is doing no good.
§ And now I would like to say a word or two on the question of the Austrian Tyrol. We have all read with great interest the statement of the Foreign Secretary in another place on Thursday last. May I say here how deeply we all are grieved to hear of his unfortunate illness and hope for his speedy recovery. It seems that a provisional settlement has been reached by the four great Powers on the basis that the Southern Tyrol is to remain part of Italy. We must all recognize the immense difficulties with which the negotiators have been faced and the myriad factors that they have had to take into account, and perhaps we should not cavil at the settlement of any problem in the present difficult times. But I must say that I personally cannot feel happy about the nature of this particular decision.
§ The original decision, after the last war, some twenty-five years ago, to give the Southern Tyrol to Italy, was generally 1031 regarded, I think, as one of the worst blots on the peace settlement of that time. It was not justified either on ethnographical or on geographical grounds. It seems a sad business that it should have to be perpetuated after this war. I know that many other noble Lords desire to speak on this particular aspect of foreign affairs and I will, therefore, merely confine myself to saying that I personally wish, for every reason, that the Southern Tyrol had been restored to Austria. I hope that the subject will receive further full examination by the twenty-one nations participating in the coming Conference, and I would urge His Majesty's Government, if the Peace Conference decides to support the decision which has been provisionally reached by the four Powers and if the Southern Tyrol is to remain part of the territories of Italy, that they should at any rate insist that a large measure of local autonomy should be given to it, and I hope that an assurance to this effect will be obtained from the Italian Government before any final decision is taken.
§ Now I return to the main problem about which I wish to speak, namely, the problem of Russia. Here I know very well that I am treading on delicate ground, and there are no doubt some noble Lords who will feel that it should have been avoided altogether. But if you are not going to mention Russia in a debate on foreign affairs you might just as well not have a debate at all. If we are frank with ourselves, we all know that there is not one single question which has been discussed in all the long negotiations between the Foreign Secretaries and between their deputies to which a solution would not long ago have been found had it not been for the attitude of the Russian delegates. I do not say an ideal solution would have been found, but some solution, some firm ground from which we could move forward to a more general settlement. Over many months, it has been the Russian delegates that have prevented agreement on Trieste, on the Italian Peace Treaty, on the Italian Colonies, on Germany, on Austria, on Persia, and on the Danube. On all these great issues solutions might have been found satisfactory to Great Britain, to the United States, to France, and I believe to the United Nations as a whole, but each time Russia has stood in the way. It is true that as a result of these last 1032 discussions in Paris the outlook to some extent, at any rate on certain problems, appears to be more hopeful.
§ On Trieste, for instance, I understand a provisional agreement has been reached by the four Powers. I think we must congratulate the Foreign Secretary himself that a solution has been found on this very thorny subject. I do not say that all of us are entirely enthusiastic about the nature of that settlement. The record of international administration in the past has not been a very encouraging one, and in this particular case, where the relations between the Italians and the Yugo-Slavs are so terribly strained, it will require statesmanship of the highest order if that delicate balance is to be maintained which is very necessary if success is to be achieved. But we must recognize that this settlement was probably the only one on which agreement could have been met; and after all, Trieste is essentially an international port. It serves the whole of Central Europe, and it is a suitable subject for a new international experiment of this kind. One can only hope that that experiment will succeed. A very heavy responsibility will rest on the Italians or the Yugo-Slavs or on any other nation which adopts an attitude likely to stop that settlement.
§ But if we can welcome the advance which has been made over Trieste there are, of course, other problems on which very little progress has been made and where a very deep divergence still exists between Russia and the other Powers. I understand that draft treaties have been prepared for settlement with Italy, Rumania, Bulgaria and Hungary, on certain aspects of which—I am not quite clear which aspects—agreements have already been reached between the four Powers; and these are to be submitted to the twenty-one nations in Paris. We all hope that these treaties will be approved. But I understand from the Press that the four Powers are still so far from agreement on Austria and Germany that the future of these countries is not even to be under discussion at the Peace Conference. That news is very disappointing, and particularly so in respect of Austria. After all, Austria occupies a key position in Central Europe, and so long as there is no settlement there and so long as the Control Commission continues and the Allied forces of various countries are 1033 maintained there a return of the whole of Central Europe to peace-time conditions must be seriously delayed and prejudiced.
§ The general attitude of Russia to the Austrian question is, I think, particularly disturbing. We are bound to ask ourselves in these circumstances what it is which makes Russia take the attitude she does on all these various problems. That is a question, I suppose, not merely confined to your Lordships' House but which is being asked by every thinking man and woman in this country and in the rest of the world. If we could only understand Russia's motives, we might be half way to a solution of our difficulties. I wish to discuss this exceedingly delicate question in no controversial spirit. None of us wants a quarrel with Russia, and what is more we see no reason for a quarrel. But we cannot ignore what appears to be a determination on her part to cut off Eastern and Central Europe as much as possible from the West. What is the explanation of that? There are those who see in the attitude of Mr. Molotov a deep-rooted suspicion of Great Britain and the United States, and believe that he is obsessed—fantastic though it may seem—by the conviction that the United States and this country are engaged in some Machiavellian plot to encompass the destruction of Russia. There are others who have been driven to the conclusion that Russia is animated by a spirit of naked, ruthless imperialism. There is yet a third school of thought who consider that Russia is playing a waiting game in the hope that, with the passage of time, she will grow stronger and others weaker. That, of course, is imperialism in another form. It is a sort of delayed-action bomb.
§ It may well be that one or other of these explanations may be right, but personally I should be most reluctant to write off Russia as an imperialist Power with whom no accommodation can be reached. That would be, for one thing, the counsel of despair. Nor do I believe that imperialism is necessarily the correct explanation of the present Russian attitude. I am going to be bold enough this afternoon—and it does show very great boldness—to suggest another alternative explanation and hazard a guess that what is wrong with Russia at the present time is not so much imperialism as isolationism, an isolationism not merely territorial 1034 but psychological. After all, there is nothing so very surprising about such a development in Russian policy and Russian thought. Isolationism is a disease to which all nations are subject when they feel strong and self-sufficient. They do not see why they should modify a policy which suits their own interests to conform with the interests of other nations less powerful. They regard themselves as a law to themselves.
§ There were many examples of this in the past. It is not confined at all to the present situation. There was a time in the last century when we ourselves hankered after splendid isolation: and after the last war the United States had a very bad attack of isolationism. Fortunately, I think to-day we are both of us cured, and I hope permanently cured, of this great evil. We in Great Britain have come to realize that we cannot isolate ourselves from other countries. Not only are we cooped up in a small island which is singularly vulnerable to modern weapons, but we also have territorial interests all over the world, and anything which happens anywhere affects us. International harmony has therefore become a prime objective to the British people, to whichever section of the community they belong, and they are willing to co-operate with anyone else to ensure it. The situation in the United States is not, of course, the same as ours. Their territorial interests are confined to one quarter of the globe. But their economic and commercial interests are world-wide, and any trouble which occurs anywhere is likely to affect those. To the United States as well, international harmony has become of paramount importance. Both the great English-speaking countries, therefore, have become internationalist in outlook. They recognize themselves as members of a community of nations, with all the limitations to their own national policy which that implies. And of course the same applies, to an even greater degree, to the smaller nations, who know perfectly well that they will not be able to stand on their own feet.
§ But Russia is—and we must recognize it—in a different situation, She is probably the only country which can still harbour an illusion that she can go her way and snap her fingers at the rest of the world. She had already, before the war, vast territories stretching from 1035 Vladivostok in the East to Minsk in the West, from the Arctic circle to the frontiers of India and Turkey. She has now, as a result of the war, added to these territories a fringe of satellite States bringing—as Mr. Churchill said in a recent debate—her sphere of influence in the West to a line stretching from Stettin to Trieste. She may well have come to the conclusion that it is possible to build a sort of Great Wall of China round this huge area, and let the rest of the world fend for itself. There always was, as your Lordships know, a sort of xenophobic clement in Russia, and that element may well have come to the top. It would indeed be an ironical comment on history if Russia, which has been hailed as the great apostle of internationalism, should so rapidly become the last defender of isolationism. But this is not impossible. It would explain her attitude over Eastern Europe and her unwillingness to allow any interference with that area from outside her walls. It would explain her unwillingness to regard Germany on both sides of the wall as a single unit. It would explain her refusal to export grain across the wall from the Russian zone to the western zone.
§ It is true that Russia does not confine her whole attention to countries within her own sphere of influence. But it is a well-known characteristic of isolationist countries that, although they do not regard the rest of the world as essential to them, they do regard themselves as essential to the rest of the world, and adopt an attitude in conformity with that assumption. That appears to me—I suggest with all deference to your Lordships—the true explanation of the Russian attitude. She is isolationist, in the sense that, to her, Russian interests are paramount, and she does not recognize any other. On that basis—and no other—is she willing to become a member of the United Nations, or any other international body. But on that basis international collaboration is extremely difficult, and that is the problem which we are up against. The question before us all, as I see it, is how the rest of the world is going to deal with this situation. We do not want to drive Russia further into isolation. As good internationalists, as I think we all are, we believe that that would be deplorable, both for her and 1036 for ourselves. The one thing which we most desire is to see Russia a loyal and co-operative member of the community of nations.
§ But how are we going to attain this? I believe that there is only one way and that is to convince Russian statesmen that isolationism is not a beneficial policy for any nation, however great, and that they are not right in thinking that Russia can do without the rest of the world, or that the rest of the world cannot do without her. That means, in practice, that we must be prepared, if necessary, reluctantly and without ill-humour, to go ahead without her in areas outside the Russian wall, as she has gone ahead without us in areas inside the wall. It may indeed be that no such drastic measure as that will be necessary. This Conference of twenty-one nations, which is meeting for the first time to-day, may disclose a change of heart in those responsible for Russian policy. Should that be so, I am certain that there will be no one who will wish to press matters unduly. We always envisaged, I think, in the days of the war, when we used to have debates in your Lordships' House, that there might be a situation after the recent conflict, very different from that which existed in 1919, and that peace might have to be made by stages. Should material progress be made in this Conference, in one or another area, I do not think that we should be impatient if everything is not settled. It may be that we shall have to exercise considerable patience in that respect. But if once again no material advance of any kind is made with the main problems, I feel—and I say this quite frankly—that we ought to delay no longer, and that we ought to take necessary measures to regularize the position outside the Russian sphere with or without Russian co-operation. It is really indefensible—as I think Mr. Bevin said at the recent Labour Conference—that one nation should keep us forever at war with other nations.
§ We have already tried the alternative policy of waiting on Russia. We and the United States have done our utmost to show our desire for close and cordial consultation and collaboration. We have called Russia into consultation on all and every point. We agreed to her proposal for a veto on the Security Council of U.N.O.—a proposal which we all disliked intensely. We provided very big 1037 stores of foodstuffs from the hard-pressed stocks of U.N.R.R.A. for areas within her sphere of influence. We have gone as far as we possibly could—some people think we have gone rather too far—to meet her over Poland. But all this, up to now, apparently, has been regarded only as a sign of weakness. It has evoked no really useful response from her side. To continue to hold up the whole reconstruction of the world, to continue to allow that, would only be to prolong the present unhappy situation. If we do that we shall only continue to drift and drift, with lamentable results to Europe and to the rest of the world in general.
§ In any case, as I think, there are certain steps which could be taken, and should be taken now, whatever the future may bring. First, I think we ought to tackle the problem of Western Germany. We have held up long enough on that. As I understand it, the policy of His Majesty's Government, up to now, has aimed at the restoration of Germany as a single unit. Personally, like others of your Lordships I expect, I never liked this policy. It has seemed to me that it was the great defect of the Versailles settlement, of the general settlement after the last war, that while it weakened or broke up all other European Powers, it left Germany virtually untouched—a great, virile nation dominating her smaller neighbours. By doing this, we only paved the way for another war, which, in due course, came to pass. It is not impossible that the same thing will happen again. I do not believe, and I am sure that many of your Lordships do not either, that the German danger is entirely over. So far as I can see, from what I have read, there is, up to now, no sign of a change of heart in the German people. They are just the same as they have been during the last fifty years. I profoundly believe that unless they are broken up into smaller units, they will still constitute one of the greatest perils that Europe has to face. It is easy to say: "Look at Germany now, a defeated and broken nation," but that situation may very rapidly change.
§ Of course, it is true, and we must recognize it, that there are powerful economic arguments in favour of a united Germany. It has seemed undesirable to cut off the food-producing areas in the East from the industrial, consuming areas in the West. 1038 No doubt that has had a considerable influence on the attitude of the Government here. But, with the erection and maintenance of the Russian wall across the centre of Germany, this argument surely has a great deal less validity than it might otherwise have had. I hope that His Majesty's Government will find it possible to urge on our Allies the desirability of taking steps to federalize Western Germany, with, of course, if necessary, some central economic link, and to devise boundaries to the Western States which, from the ethnographical, religious and cultural points of view, are most homogeneous and most likely to endure as separate States. I have lately got the impression that the American Government are already thinking rather on these lines. I hope we shall discuss this matter with them and support them if they make any proposal of that kind.
§ One other step. I believe the time is now ripe to bring about a closer association of the nations of Western Europe. Indeed, I suggest that this should be an essential corner-stone of our foreign policy. I know that in the past there were those who tended to fight shy of making such a move, for fear of arousing the suspicions of Russia. I cannot, personally, see why she should have those suspicions. The nations of Western Europe would only be doing what she herself has already done in Eastern Europe, and what has been done by the American nations under the Treaty of Chualtepec. There are extremely powerful reasons in favour of following the same course in Western Europe, reasons over which there is no controversy of any kind, which are self-evident, and, I think, unanswerable. Western European countries inevitably stand in a rather peculiar relationship to each other. They have the same culture, the same traditions and are bound to each other by a thousand links of commerce and mutual interest. It is natural that they should want to draw closer together and draw full advantage from their geographical proximity.
§ Moreover it is not merely in Europe that these nations stand to gain by the conclusion of an agreement of this kind. There is another and wider aspect which was brought forcibly to my notice when I was at the Colonial Office and the Dominions Office. It so happens that the nations in question include nearly all the 1039 great Colonial Powers—France, Holland, Belgium, Portugal. They and the British Commonwealth control between them most of Africa and a considerable part of the territories in the Far East. Were it possible to set up the machinery to develop these areas, to co-ordinate communications and to concert measures for the improvement of health and the general conditions of the native population, then the advantage to the world would be incalculable. Up to now a combined policy for Africa, for instance, has always seemed to be a distant and unattainable ideal; but such a close association as I am now advocating would bring it within the range of practical possibility. And the same, of course, applies to the Far East. I believe that this conception which the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, has preached so eloquently on many occasions contains the germ of a combined foreign and imperial policy for the nations concerned, which is calculated to confer immense benefits, both upon themselves and upon the world at large. Such an agreement between us and our neighbours is not aimed against any other nation. It is merely the recognition of a mutual interest by certain nations in certain parts of the world, and, I would have thought, would tend to strengthen and buttress the United Nations. I hope that His Majesty's Government will press forward this policy by every means in their power.
§ I have come to the end of what I have to say to you. I have spoken extremely frankly to-day, and I may be told that it was very indiscreet to make such remarks on the eve of a Peace Conference. I am quite unrepentant because I believe that the time has come for frank speaking. It is much better to say now what has to be said than to say it later when tempers are more inflamed. At the same time, I hope that your Lordships will not gain the impression that I am advocating dividing the world into two opposite camps. The very opposite is my purpose. As I see it, the danger of the present situation is that Russia should be allowed to hug these two illusions—first, that she can do without the rest of the world, and, second, that the rest of the world cannot do without her. So long as she remains under that illusion I believe that the situation is bound to deteriorate, and Russia will sink deeper and deeper into 1040 isolation. It must be our object, and the object of our Allies, to wake her to realities and to show her where her true interest lies—that is, in becoming a loyal and co-operative member of the community of nations. As soon as she holds out the hand of friendship and co-operation, we should be ready to grasp it. That is the policy which, with all due deference, I recommend to His Majesty's Government and to your Lordships. I believe that it is the only wise policy for ourselves and for the United Nations; and as such it can be properly supported by every thinking man and woman in all parts of the globe. To allow matters to continue to drift, as they have drifted in recent months, will not only impede our recovery from the war but will invite disaster, complete and absolute, for the United Nations, for Russia herself and for the world. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.15 p.m.
THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, I think we should express our gratitude to the noble Viscount who has put this Motion on the Paper. Perhaps it may seem a little odd that we should discuss foreign affairs on the very day on which the first Peace Conference opens in Paris. It may be thought it is too late to expect our opinions to be taken into account, but I personally do not consider that that objection has any validity. After all, the first few days of a conference, and especially the first day, are largely devoted to formalities; it must be some time before a conference of this size can settle down to real business. I have termed it the first Peace Conference because the Conference which meets to-day has a very limited objective. It has only to deal with the peace treaties with Italy and with what are known as the satellite Powers. Such treaties are obviously of great importance, but what I may term the major problem of European settlement, the arrangements to be made for Austria, and the peace treaty in relation to Germany, still remains the main problem to be solved. On the whole, I think that the plan adopted by the Foreign Ministers is prudent, although I could have wished that Austrian affairs had made more progress and that they were on the agenda for this Conference. In any event, I hope that this Conference will eliminate one set of problems, and that the Foreign Ministers will be able to 1041 devote the whole of their time and energy to those greater problems that I have mentioned.
I think that over-much delay in a final peace settlement is to be avoided. On the other hand, it is equally true that too much should not be attempted at one stroke. As the noble Viscount pointed out, there was a phrase in use at one time, "Peace by stages." That phrase has rather fallen into desuetude, but it did express the policy which I believe is the most effective and the wisest method of procedure. The noble Viscount who opened this debate dwelt much on our relations with the Soviet Socialist Republic, and I think rightly so, because it is quite clear that in this relationship may lie the key to the future peaceful development of the world. Clearly, none of us who take part in this debate have the slightest wish to embarrass or to make more difficult the very arduous task of the Foreign Minister—whom we all wish the speediest recovery—or the Prime Minister, who is temporarily taking his place. I will only observe that the recent proceedings of the Foreign Ministers in Paris did prove that if Article 5 of the Anglo-Soviet Alliance is executed, even partially, on both sides—that is, that Russia and ourselves work together "in close and friendly co-operation for the organization of security and economic prosperity in Europe"—then immediate progress will be made. If either party to the Alliance refuses that co-operation we come to an immediate deadlock. That co-operation necessitates mutual give and take.
Except in one or two cases, I am not prepared to criticize the decisions which the Foreign Ministers reached and which will be presented to the Conference in Paris. It is true some of the decisions are by no means what we should have liked, but the need for the maintenance of the Anglo-Soviet alliance is so great that I feel we should make all reasonable concessions, provided, of course, that the Russians will make concessions on their side, unless those concessions run counter to the principles of the Atlantic Charter and the preamble to the Charter of the United Nations, because these are the touchstones which Liberals apply on the questions of foreign policy.
Before passing to specific cases I want to emphasize that co-operation does not 1042 imply in any way an identity of political philosophy or ideological outlook. As I have pointed out before, Republican France and Tsarist Russia—two utterly opposed political systems—worked closely and in a friendly way in foreign affairs during the period before 1914. I do not believe that the philosophy and the ethics of Communism can ever be reconciled with the philosophy and ethics of the Western Christian civilization, but this is a struggle which can only be determined in the realm of the mind. It need not, and should not, have any effect on the material arrangements to be reached under the peace treaties. The struggle can only be settled ultimately by the freest interchange of ideas and of individuals. The peoples of the European countries must therefore strive their utmost to that end.
That brings me to a point on which I venture to express some disagreement with what the Foreign Secretary said in his speech to the Labour Party Conference at Bournemouth on June 12. He stated that he had not pressed unduly for an alliance with France or with the Western Powers because he had been anxious all the time not to create a division in Europe. If emphasis is to be laid on the word "unduly" my criticism loses much of its force. Otherwise surely it is right that alliances, or, if you like it better, understandings should be come to by peoples of similar political and ethical outlook. The ideological division of Europe is there already. Association between ourselves and France and the smaller Western Powers would not deepen it.
I hope, therefore—and here I share the view of the noble Viscount—that His Majesty's Government, will make every effort towards a formal strengthening of the ties which link France, Western Europe and ourselves. The French, through M. Gouin, some time ago made a definite offer to conclude an alliance. We appear to be still holding back. There may come a time when we shall find that road, which to-day is still open, closed, and that to my mind would be at least a serious setback, if not a disaster, to our Western civilization.
I should like to say a few words about Austria and the Danubian area. The Foreign Secretary stated in his speech in another place on June 4 that what he 1043 could not and would not contemplate was that this country which for six years fought against the enemies of freedom should, as a result, be squeezed out of an international body, the very object of which is to maintain the navigation of these rivers, for the freedom of which we all fought. Although this highly-important and, if I may say so, admirable declaration refers definitely to our interest in the navigation of the Danube, yet it also implies a direct British interest in that whole region. Had we emphasized that interest and made it clear in 1939 it might well have facilitated a combination between the Danubian States, which would have acted on the one hand as a check on German aggressive intentions, and on the other hand would have provided Russia with that guarantee of her western frontier which she so ardently desired before the breaking of the flood in 1939.
To-day it is true that there are difficulties between ourselves, Soviet Russia and the United States of America about this region, but I still think and believe that a solution may be found since agreement is as much in the Russian interest as it is in ours. We cannot, however, seek that agreement at the price of being "squeezed out," any more than we desire to deny to Russia a legitimate interest and access to those European spheres with which we are in closer proximity than she is. I hope, therefore, that your Lordships will strongly endorse the position taken up by the Foreign Secretary about the Danubian area. But I find that attitude rather difficult to reconcile with the decision taken about the South Tyrol. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that the solution of the Danubian problem depends in no small measure on the strengthening and consolidation of Austria's position, and that Austria must and will be weakened if the admitted blunder of the 1919 Peace Conference as regards the South Tyrol is perpetuated. I have read very carefully, as I suppose most of your Lordships have, the debate in another place on this question, and in particular I have read the speech of the Foreign Secretary in his own defence. Frankly, I was not convinced by his arguments.
It will be generally admitted, I think, that the South Tyrol ought to belong to Austria if the Atlantic Charter is to be 1044 applied to such cases—as I feel it ought to be. There is no doubt that the province is ethnically Austrian. I feel that it was a mistake on the part of Italy to lay claim to the whole province. It weakened their case for the retention of a large part of Venezia Giulia. Much has been said about the economic difficulties. These could have been overcome. Austria would certainly have been willing to give every guarantee and every assurance about the power stations and so on. I would like to put to your Lordships a question which occurs to me: Would this decision about the South Tyrol really have been taken if Austria had had a patron among the three big Powers? I very much doubt it. I earnestly hope that the final word has not been said and that it may be subject to review at the Paris Conference.
But if the decision of the Foreign Ministers is reluctantly accepted—as it may be—by the Powers represented at the Conference, then I trust that at least some provision will be made, as the noble Viscount suggested, for the full autonomy of the province, for the freest exercise of linguistic and religious freedom and the return to their land of those inhabitants who preferred German to Italian dictatorship in 1939. These people did not want to leave their children and homes; they were faced with a cruel choice. The fact that they opted to go to Germany, and did not wish to remain under Italian rule, should not be allowed to stand in the way of their return to their homeland should they so desire it. If such autonomy is granted, then in my view this should be placed under the guarantee of the United Nations. It is a special case, and I do not think it would in any way imply the international protection of minorities as a general system. That system, though excellent in theory, led to very grave abuses during the years preceding 1939.
I wish I could share the rather optimistic point of view of the Foreign Secretary that economic advantages and a higher standard of living are likely to diminish what I may call extreme nationalist tendencies. It sounds so reasonable that this should happen, but my experience has led me to the conclusion that the hope is not likely to be fulfilled. We endeavoured, after the last war, to make the Poles and the Germans co-operate in 1045 Upper Silesia by drawing the most ridiculous frontier line. It went through coal-mines, it went through houses, and it went through farms. If ever there was a case where economic forces demanded co-operation and conciliation, this was it, but it failed because of nationalist sentiment. The old standing racial hatreds or dislikes were too strong, and the Governments concerned encouraged their hostility. It may be I am very pessimistic, I hope I am, but I am quite clear that it will be a very grave mistake on the part of those responsible for making the treaties of peace if they under-estimate the strength of national sentiment and try to concentrate too much on the material advantages.
It seems to me that Italy has received rather harsh treatment at the hands of the Foreign Ministers, and insufficient recognition has been given to the country for her period of co-belligerency. The nation as a whole is being made to undergo an excessive punishment for what has been well termed the wickedness and the folly of one man, and one man only. I did not think that the settlement proposed for Venezia Giulia and Trieste takes sufficiently into account the ethnic position. The best that can be said for it is that, had Trieste and the surrounding territory remained Italian, it might have been possible for the Yugoslav Government and others to starve the port, which, certainly, I agree should serve as a huge international emporium. Of course, if this argument is valid it may well be that international control is the only solution for the present, but it will surely depend on the final agreement made both as regards the port and the surrounding zone.
I am not going to detain your Lordships much longer, because there are many noble Lords who wish to speak, but I cannot refrain from saying a word or two about Germany. While a review and a revision of the Potsdam decisions are necessary, if we are to build up a comparatively prosperous Europe within the next ten years, we must remember that the Potsdam decisions have never been fully executed. The economic unity of Germany has never been established, and the more I think over the German problem, the more convinced I am that the only practical solution, and one which incidentally ought to allay French fears, is 1046 that of a loosely federated Germany, the Rhineland and the Ruhr being treated as a separate State. Of course, there must be international control over the products of the latter, but, otherwise, Germany should remain an economic unity. There is no contradiction of principle between a loosely federated Germany and economic unity—and economic unity, as I say, is a definite decision of the Potsdam agreement.
I have practically finished, but there is one last word I want to say which belongs to quite a different category of the subject—the committee on the control of atomic energy. To my mind, it is essential that any international body which is set up to control the use of atomic energy shall be free from the veto system. Sanctions against the user of the atomic bomb must be immediate, automatic, and overwhelming. To subject a Committee of Control to the veto would really be the height of unwisdom and might easily lead to catastrophe. We have seen how the use of the veto can be abused, even if it is legally admissible, in the proceedings of the Security Council. Therefore, I earnestly trust His Majesty's Government will make no concession whatever about any extension of the veto system to the control of atomic energy.
§ 3.35 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ELIBANK had given Notice that he would ask His Majesty's Government to state what is their long-term policy for Germany in special relationship to the settlement of the western boundaries; and move for Papers. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I understand it would be convenient to the Minister who is going to reply if I speak now in the general debate. The Ministers' Peace Conference starts in Paris to-day, and there are very few people who do not wish its deliberations to be attended with success. I would like to express sympathy with Mr. Bevin, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, at being unable to be at the Conference, and to express the hope that he will soon be able to assume his seat there. It is surprising to learn that, while the Conference will be dealing with many problems of Eastern Europe, the question of policy towards Germany, which is the subject of my Motion to-day, will not be considered at this stage of the Conference. Having regard to the necessity for having a settlement of Germany and its boundaries, 1047 one can only deplore that it has been set aside for future consideration. Although I am not dealing to-day with Germany otherwise than generally, I wish to express the same regret with regard to Austria, which has been torn asunder and is being trampled upon, through apparent lack of co-operation on the part of the Allies, especially of Russia.
§ It is nearly a year and a quarter since Germany was defeated and unconditionally surrendered to the Allied Forces, but what progress have we and our Allies made towards Germany's settlement during that period? I venture to suggest that we have not very much to congratulate ourselves upon, although I would like to express my appreciation of the efforts which have been made by our military forces and by our Military Governments and my acknowledgment of what they have accomplished in the most difficult circumstances. Whilst it is true that we have laboured hard to carry out certain duties, such as disarmament, cleaning up the concentration camps, and dealing with a great many displaced persons, there are, still a great many things that have to be done.
§ Whilst we have assisted in the distribution of German populations, we cannot be very happy as to the way in which we have done it. Whilst we have dispensed with the services of a great many well-known Nazis, and have reinstated a certain amount of local government; whilst we have distributed food to the Germans in our zone (and here I may remark that this has been insufficient because we have had insufficient ourselves, and what we have done has been at great sacrifice to ourselves); whilst we are expending more than £80,000,000 per annum of our taxpayers' money in occupying the British zone (and this is a very serious burden to our finances)—whilst we have done all these things, we still cannot say that a great deal has been accomplished towards the reintegration of Germany itself.
§ Those are the points on the credit side. What do we find on the debit side? We find in economic matters in Germany only chaos, and the final resuscitation of German economic conditions is essential to the welfare of Germany in Europe. This deplorable situation far overshadows any other action we may have taken in 1048 securing the peaceful settlement of Germany. That is the position to-day. What are the factors which have led up to this position of economic and political chaos? In my view, put shortly, they are, first, the division of Germany into four separate and distinct zones under the four principal Allies, thus putting Germany under four different forms of civil and political administration; secondly, the failure of the Big Four Allies to agree on the main principles of civil, political and economic administration in their respective zones, or to be sufficiently co-operative in these and other respects; and thirdly, the failure to come to any decision on the future western boundaries of Germany from the point of view of the security of the neighbouring countries, France, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom. France is particularly sore about this and, in my opinion, she has good reason for being sore. Moreover we have not yet dealt with the future control of the Ruhr, that danger spot of Germany with all its implications in regard to the economic recovery of Europe as well as of Germany. There is further the determination of Russia to impress her ideological and Communistic views not only upon her own zone but upon the other three zones as well, thus causing unnecessary and uncalled-for political differences and difficulties in all zones. Finally, we have the apparent antagonism on the part of Russia—a point which has been very eloquently brought out by my noble friend Viscount Cranborne—against any general form of German settlement, including the settlement of Germany's western boundaries; and, moreover, Russia's apparent reluctance even to discuss it.
§ Those, then, are the principal factors underlying the difficulty in determining any long-term policy for Germany. If I were asked what is the adverse factor most difficult to circumvent I would unhesitatingly reply "Russia." Russia has evinced a non-co-operative spirit ever since V-Day. I am not going into the reasons for this. I think the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, was very expressive upon that point. I have examined it from every angle and I ask myself: Why has Russia adopted this attitude? I can find no valid reason for it. If one examines the question one finds that Russia has got more out of this 1049 war than any country in the world. She surely cannot want to fight another war so soon after the gigantic and exhausting war which she, together with her Allies, has just successfully completed. I do not believe that for a moment. Russia has, moreover, made sure of her present and future security on her own eastern boundaries, because although these boundaries were provisionally fixed at the Potsdam Conference, I cannot for a moment imagine that Russia will surrender those boundaries again. Yet in spite of all this, and of many other well-kown advantages which I need not enumerate here, Russia goes on wriggling and procrastinating diplomatically, and holding up solutions to all important issues affecting the whole Western world, and she does this, it seems, whenever she has an opportunity.
§ While Russia continues to do this the position in Germany and in some parts of Europe grows worse every day, politically and economically, thus providing coincidentally a better field for the spreading of Russia's particular form of doctrines and political nostrum. I venture to suggest that we have had enough of this procrastination in regard to Germany and other parts. This country is tired of it, the United States is tired of it and France is tired of it. If Russia will not co-operate, let the Western world, as the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, has suggested, from now on play its own hand in the West and make its own arrangements for marching out of the slough into which it has been flung by the war. Let us in the West do this quite amicably, so far as Russia is concerned, but let us do it all the same and let us do it firmly and quickly. To my mind, Russia in advancing her own interests has played a game of poker with us long enough. Let us now call her bluff and look after our own interests before it is too late and before we lose the game altogether.
§ What I am asking His Majesty's Government to do is to say what is their long-term policy for Germany, in order to settle these problems, and what their proposals are for determining the western boundaries of Germany, so as to secure the neighbouring countries, France, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg and our own country, from future aggression from Germany. I do not believe that the danger from Germany is settled once and for all. We must not, as we did after the 1050 last war, refrain from taking any measure whatsoever that may prevent another terrible war with Germany in the future. I am perfectly aware that His Majesty's Government are face to face with a most difficult and complex task. I will concede this to them: that when they do enter the Peace Conference on this question and discuss these issues they will have to enter it to a certain extent in an elastic and negotiating frame of mind. Before they enter the Conference they should, I submit, have decided upon a definite long-term policy which, so far as they possibly can, they will pursue and bring to fruition, and it is on what that long-term policy is going to be that I am asking the Government to throw some light to-day. I am quite aware that at this stage they may not find it easy to give full details of what that policy will be, but I think this House and the country are entitled to some indications of the lines upon which they intend to treat this important subject.
§ I observe that an official Parliamentary committee which went to Germany this month has now reported upon its visit. That report is most valuable and interesting; it contains important comments upon present conditions in Germany and makes certain recommendations, perhaps the most vital one being that in which the committee strongly urges the early economic re-integration of the zones of Germany now occupied by the various Powers. The report also recommends the settlement, as soon as possible, of a long-term policy for Germany. I believe there are very few persons who will quarrel with those recommendations. Indeed, we know that the American Government, through their Secretary of State, have already offered to link up the American zone with any other zones for the purposes of economic integration, and it has been reported in the Press that our Government or our zonal authorities are discussing that proposal at the present time. I do not know whether the same thing is happening so far as the French zone is concerned, but I sincerely hope it is, because it seems to me to be quite obvious that we must all stick together in the future and that it will be of the greatest advantage to have the closest collaboration that we can have with France.
§ There is a faction in this country which believes that the only method of achieving economic re-integration is by establishing 1051 a unified Germany with a unified German Government at its head. I am one of those who belong to another faction which considers that that solution would be fraught with great danger, because not only would it clothe Germany once more with full economic and political control over all her former territory but it would run counter to ensuring a proper and definite control over the Ruhr and the Rhineland, which are the danger spots and which have been the jumping-off grounds for former German aggressions. I hope, therefore, that the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, when he replies, will tell us that His Majesty's Government are not in favour of a unified Germany but in favour of a federalized Germany, which is, I believe, the best method of approach to this subject and which has already been suggested by the two noble Lords who preceded me. Under such a scheme of federalization it would be convenient to appoint International Commissions for the Ruhr and the Rhineland to control the economic affairs of those provinces, and it would be the duty, amongst other things, of the International Commission for the Ruhr to make certain that the coal products of the Ruhr were used not only for the recovery of Germany but also for the recovery of Europe. But alongside that, I think it is absolutely vital that these International Commissions should have the backing of the Armies of Occupation, which, so far as I can judge, should remain there for at least another twenty or twenty-five years in order to make sure of securing the re-entry of a peaceful Germany into the consortium of Europe.
§ But there are two important qualifications in connexion with the federalization of Germany which I wish to make. First, I would suggest that so far as possible the old German States, with their old boundaries, should be resuscitated, for those States, that is to say, Bavaria, Wurtemburg, Hanover, the Rhineland, Hesse, and so on, have long traditions of State government, and their citizens would, I believe, be more likely to be cohesive than if entirely new States were created and cut out of sections of other States. Secondly, I suggest—and this is, I think, also of great importance—that the federal capital of a federalized Germany should be established as an entirely new town and capital centre, on the 1052 analogy of Ottawa, the capital of Canada, and Canberra, the capital of Australia, where they went out into the countryside and created entirely new centres, divorced from any other towns in those countries. In that way I believe that the German Federal Government would create for its capital city a fresh and new atmosphere which would not be in any way influenced by the traditions of some existing towns in Germany.
§ If Russia will not co-operate in these proposed arrangements, I sincerely hope that His Majesty's Government will decide, in collaboration with the Americans and the French, to set up a federalized Germany in their three zones, leaving it open to the States in the Russian zone to join in at a later date should that be possible or desirable. I think all must agree that some measure of this kind for the re-integration of the economic conditions of Germany, for dealing with certain of their common affairs (because they must have a certain amount of common affairs, such as the Post Office and so on, outside the actual economic measures), and at the same time for relieving the Military Government of the great burden of local administration, is absolutely essential if we are to re-create Germany under decent conditions. We ourselves cannot afford to go on taxing the taxpayers of this country to such a large extent as £80,000,000 a year, and something must be done to relieve us of that burden. This solution would, at the worst, without the Russian zone, enable three-quarters of the population of Germany to start going again on a peaceful economic basis on terms that would preclude her from committing further aggression. It is along some such lines that I hope His Majesty's Government and the other Western Governments will act.
§ Finally, I wish to emphasize that if Russia will not co-operate, the Western Allies should proceed at once to settle their own problems in the Western world, as the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, has just indicated. Russia has settled and is settling her problems on her side of the world, irrespective of any contrary views which we may hold in the West, and we should, I suggest, do likewise on our side. Do not let us quarrel with Russia over any of this. There is no need to do so and none of us wishes to do so, but we do wish to live our own lives. There is 1053 an urgent need that we should settle those problems lest worse befall, and it is we in the West who are now most concerned about this.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ LORD VANSITTART, who had given Notice that he would call attention to the trials of German war criminals and move for Papers, said: My Lords, in the course of last month, Lord justice Lawrence said of the trial at Nuremburg, "This already lengthy trial is being prolonged beyond all reason," and I think few would have been found to dissent from him. What we are doing is magnificent, but will it prove in the end the best way against evil? In a passage in Mr. Harold Nicolson's last book he seemed to deprecate prophecy in international affairs. I hold on the contrary that accurate phophecy is the only true test of worth in that field. I venture, therefore, to chance my arm again and to say that it may well prove to be the verdict of history that we have been latterly, with the best will in the world, tending to defeat our own ends in the very protraction of the trial of which Lord Lawrence complained. I say that for this reason. During the course of the war I made several speeches in your Lordships' House pointing out that what we would need was a very quick and drastic purge, otherwise so many ruffians would escape that European security would be compromised. I still think that that is likely to happen. Perhaps this is a test case. I might ask His Majesty's Government whether they would be willing, fifteen months after VE Day, to publish a short return of the number of members of the Gestapo who have been liquidated. I think it might prove very interesting.
§ But there is more in it than that. Before these trials took place we were given to understand that superior orders would not be accepted for the remission of sins. That was a very sensible decision. Why should we be more German than the Germans? It is laid down in Article 47 of their Code that orders are not to be carried out which visibly exceed the usages of war. That principle was very clearly recognized by Kaltenbrunner's counsel in the course of the trial. I have seen one or two cases which lead me to doubt whether the principle is always being practised, but I would like to say at once that these are matters 1054 in which I am most insufficiently informed. I am only going on what I have seen in the Press, and in many cases the reports have either been lacking or have been more jejune in their nature. A case I have in mind is that of the German General who was responsible for the murder of a number of our Commandos in Norway. I think there was no doubt of his responsibility—and again I speak, as always, subject to correction—yet he was acquitted, I believe on the ground of superior orders, and was apparently returned to his undiminished estates. Moreover, as far as I could gather from the Press, I am not sure that anybody was executed for that outrage. In that case, a considerable amount of murderous vermin has been let loose on the world. Is that right?
§ Again, I saw a case where a number of S.S. men had been convicted for complicity in the murder of a number of men from the Second Special Air Service Section. They got sentences ranging from two to ten years. Two years for complicity in murdering British soldiers! Is that really adequate? Again I say, what sort of creature shall we be loosing on the world in a very short time? The most flagrant case of inadequate information was the Wuppertal case. We were considerably stoked up for a long time by being told that four British girls had been burnt alive, and that only one German was to be hanged for it. It turned out afterwards that three more were to be hanged, but that was only because as a sort of side-line they had been murdering British airmen too. So the long arm of coincidence was brought in to reinforce the short arm of the law. Shortly after that we were told that the evidence of the burning alive was quite inadequate, but we only learned that by a casual letter to The Times. Even then, there was no doubt the four girls were murdered, and only one German was to be hanged, a camp doctor. What was the matter with stringing up the camp commandant? If he is not responsible, I do not know who is. Again what sort of people are we going to let loose on the world? It is not unnatural that some of us should be a little disquietened. I have no doubt there is a most cogent explanation for this, but I wish that in future we might be given more facilities for judging for ourselves—in other words, 1055 fuller details might be communicated to the Press.
The noble Viscount who introduced the debate to-day brought in the subject of Franco. Perhaps I might be allowed to say a word on that. We all of us detest that régime, and I have quite a special grievance. In the course of the war I received a considerable rebuff in this House for suggesting that neutral countries had no right to give asylum to wanted Germans. I referred specially to Spain and the Argentine. I do not know if anybody is really very satisfied with the condition of things in that respect. I certainly am not, and I am very sure—departing again into the realms of prophecy—that unless we can render those people more harmless than they are at present we shall have a lot of trouble with them in the future. The noble Viscount referred also to the possibility of measures against the Franco Government, and in particular to the rupture of diplomatic relations. Well, I see no objection to that. I do not think there is much in the argument that you strengthen a man's position by breaking off diplomatic relations. Economic relations are another matter, they are more delicate. But I have seen a good number of ruptures in my life, and I cannot help being reminded of that famous quotation from a famous poem, The Jackdaw of Rheims. The quotation is this:
Never was heard such a terrible curse
But what gave rise to no little surprise
Nobody seemed one penny the worse.
If anything of that nature is contemplated, I think a little thought should be given to what it really means. The rupture of diplomatic relations means that you remove your Ambassador, or perhaps the entire ambassadorial staff. You do not remove your Consuls, 'because they have got to look after British subjects and British interests. In other words, you remove an elderly gentleman with a lot of gold braid on his chest and leave a lot of less elderly people with less gold braid on their collars. That does not seem adequate. The noble Viscount said that he hoped we should be given a little further enlightenment as to the actual degree of military danger which threatens us from Spain. I am always ready to believe the worst of Franco, but meanwhile it may possibly serve to allay any
Immediate panic in New York—Which is rather an emotional place—if I remind the House that our Elizabethan ancestors had a proverb which said, "May my death come from Spain," meaning that if it did, we should all live to be as brilliantly old as Mr. Shaw.
§ There are one or two other matters I wish to touch upon briefly. First, may I say a word about Poland? I saw in yesterday's Press an announcement that M. Mikolajczyk had received a virtual ultimatum, the sense of which was, "Come to heel or be suppressed." Again in this morning's papers I saw that his ministerial functions had been very arbitrarily curtailed. In the case of Poland, we have both a grievance and an obligation. We consented to the annexation by Russia of nearly half Poland's former territory on the explicit undertaking that there was to be freedom in the rump. That undertaking has not been fulfilled. I am putting it mildly. We have every responsibility in that we encouraged M. Mikolajczyk to go back on the faith of these unfulfilled promises to take part in the government of his country. How has he been treated? He has been persecuted and abused from the very start. I do not think that I have ever listened to such an uninterrupted spate of Billingsgate. As to his Party, members of it have been assassinated, arrested, beaten up and terrorized because they will not align themselves with the Communist minority. I think that we have some special obligation in that respect.
§ On the last occasion when this matter was rather briefly discussed in your Lordships' House I noticed that the noble Lord, Lord Lindsay of Birker, said very truly that we should recognize that Russia had a different conception of freedom and elections. I will say that she has—I quite agree with Lord Lindsay. But I do not think that is an answer, because Russia received her payment in her own coinage in this bargain, the coinage of annexation. She knew there would have to be a quid pro quo, and if that "quid" was to be worth anything at all it would have to be in our coinage that is in our conception of freedom in elections, otherwise it would stand to reason that we had paid a devil of a price at someone else's expense and got nothing in return. And that, briefly, is what has happened. I 1057 hope that our representatives in Warsaw will not weary in representation and, if need be, in making protest. I know a great many people will say: "What is the good of that? You will only cause irritation." I hope you do not believe that. I hope you will rather believe that it does the prestige of this country no good for it to be thought that we are letting down others who have always looked to us as the embodiment of fair play.
§ I was rather perturbed to notice that in the last debate on foreign affairs which took place in another place a good many Members suggested that we should wash our hands of everything that goes on in the Eastern bloc. Paradoxically this business of washing one's hands has always been a dirty one ever since the days of Pilate. I even noticed that the suggestion was made that there should be a Monroe Doctrine for Central and Eastern Europe. I wish Members would refresh their memories on what the Monroe Doctrine is and was in its origin. It originated mainly at our suggestion at the time of the liberation of the former Spanish colonies in South America at the beginning of the last century. The doctrine has been expanded and redefined very often since then, and you will find the best definition of it, I think, in the correspondence between the Secretary of State, Mr. Olney, and the late Lord Salisbury in connexion with the Venezuelan boundary dispute at the end of the last century. I have not seen that correspondence for the last forty years, but it shows explicitly, I believe, that the United States are expressly inhibited from establishing anything like a protectorate in South America, and that they are also expressly inhibited from interfering in the internal affairs of any country in South America. So if there had been or could be a Monroe Doctrine for Eastern Europe all Russian policy would have been in constant violation of it, and it would have acted as the greatest possible cramp on the Russian style.
§ I am sure that that was not the intention of the gentleman who put forward this idea. Indeed, I very seldom read through the whole of a debate on foreign affairs in another place without finding some modest reason for the existence of the House of Lords. I say that with all deference to the Minister of Fuel and 1058 Power, who recently had a few hard words for us. I do hope that he will not dissipate his resources by adding gratuitous fuel to imaginary flames. He may need it for other purposes in the winter. I hope meanwhile that he will take my modest attempt to assist his friends as a generous response to his strictures.
§ I must pass on to another matter on which I have already spoken copiously in the past. I am extremely glad that this matter has been taken up by the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, and the noble Earl, Lord Perth. I refer to the subject of the integration of Western Europe. Naturally, I will not go again over the ground which I traversed in my speech many months ago. But this question is one of the most vital that now confronts this country, and yet in all the months that have elapsed since I made that speech, so far as I know, not one step forward has been taken by this country. I know that some sensible economic progress has been made between the Dutch and the Belgians, and I hope that they are on their way to something like a customs union. But from the country that should have provided a lead, that is this country, there has been nothing. If this subject had not been raised by other speakers, I was going to say that I am naturally too reasonable to expect the noble Lord who is to reply to tell me much about it this afternoon. But it is my intention, if nobody else feels disposed to do it, to put down a Motion on the subject after the Recess, and if no substantial progress can be reported then to press it to a Division.
§ Like the noble Earl, I was very much perturbed by that one passage in Mr. Bevin's otherwise admirable speech at Bournemouth in which he said something to the effect that he had not pressed on with an Anglo-French alliance for fear of irritating Russia. That is really pushing caution to the point of paralysis. I hope that it will not be necessary for me to put down this Motion because I saw in the Press yesterday that General de Gaulle had made a speech on the subject at Bar-le-Due. That place will be familiar to your Lordships because its name appears on the containers of all the best French jam. The General certainly produced a nice pot of jam for me, because he advocated very strongly an Anglo-French alliance. The General made an excellent speech, and with nearly all of 1059 what he said on the subject of Europe I heartily agree. Generally speaking he went forward with a firm and resolute tread, but in the last few strides he faltered. I do not think that we could reasonably expect him to be familiar with one of our great literary classics, Through the Looking Glass, in which the White Queen says that the rule is that it is: "Jam to-morrow, and jam yesterday—but never jam to-day."
§ The General fell into the old heresy of suggesting that you could not go forward with an Anglo-French alliance until all the difficulties had been cleared away. That is the doctrine of what I might call "Bar-le-Duc to-morrow," and to-morrow never comes. I have been urging a contrary doctrine ever since the trouble in Syria. I have said let us have first things first. Let us first have an alliance and all these things will be added unto us later. The thing is to get a move on and you will then find that many other difficulties, even those of the Rhineland and the Ruhr, will straighten out. I say it again to-day. I say to our French friends, "You will have to come down off the fence; that is no place for a great and dignified nation, and what you have to do you may as well do quickly. Make a virtue of necessity." The same goes for us. I hope that we shall get ahead with that alliance as quickly as possible. This should be the first step in the integration of Western Europe.
§ I must now say a word about another matter which previous speakers have mentioned and on which I also put down a Motion many months ago—that is the matter of the South Tyrol. I set forth very fully all the arguments why the South Tyrol ought to revert to Austria, and with all deference I do not think that any answer was attempted. I do not think there is an answer. Even Mr. Bevin's speech in the House of Commons last week was a defence but not an answer. And now look at the ridiculous position into which we have got. In the South Tyrol, where Italy has not a leg to stand upon, she gets the "swag" of 1919; in Trieste, where she has an unanswerable case, she loses all. Is not that rather odd? I attended nearly all the ambulant post-war conferences of the first world war. At nearly all those conferences my opposite number was the head of the French Foreign Office, who had a great 1060 reputation as a statesman and a wit, Philip Berthelot. As we "whacked off" communiqué after communiqué saying that all participants were in complete accord—and may God forgive us—he used to say, "Voyez vows; tout s'arrange, mais mal." Everything is settling itself; but badly.
§ Whilst I condemn the settlement of the Tyrol I would not like it to be thought that I am unsympathetic to the general case of Italy. We promised Italy that if she worked her way home, there would be something pretty decent for her at the barrier when she gave up her ticket. Later we told her that she had worked her 'way home. Well, what a home! The house is standing all right, but with the exception of one ill-gotten strip, all the garden has gone, and the view has vanished. If I were an Italian to-day I could imagine that the British sing, "There is no place like home," as a lamentation rather than as a doxology.
§ I cannot leave that part of the world without some animadversion on the extremely raw deal which Austria has received from Russia under the guise of reparations. Everything Germany ever stole, still belongs to Germany! It is as if your house has been burgled, the thief is ultimately caught, and the property recovered. Then you are told, to your astonishment, that the property does not belong to you but to the thief. But precisely because he stole it, the property therefore belongs not to him, but to the policeman who arrested him. And the policeman says, "You will be severely punished if you make the least fuss." I do not think that the Kremlin really expects any just or sane man to take seriously that clanking chain of reasoning. This is the old story of might and right, of the wolf and the lamb, with the wolf turned into a bear. This, like the decision about the South Tyrol, is a way of punishing Austria for not having voted Communist.
I must make one other observation on an impending outrageous claim and that is the claim of Bulgaria to Western Thrace. Throughout my youth Bulgaria was the bane of the Balkans; she was the stalking-horse of the Germans and the Austrians before the first world war, and at their behest held up Balkan unity. She was the culprit of the second Balkan war, and has since fought two wars on
the wrong side. That record cannot be lightly overlooked. I am not going to be diverted by any quibble that she only fought against our only ally, Greece. I think nowadays there is some tendency to forget that Greece was our only ally at a time when her Communist critics were doing what they could for the other side. I am ready to forget the Bulgarian past, but not ready to reward it. I hope that His Majesty's Government will not for one moment entertain such an impudent claim. It should be dismissed without discussion. I say that with the more conviction in that there is still no freedom in Bulgaria. The Opposition are still harried, oppressed and suppressed, and I dare say that some of your Lordships have noticed the case of the veteran Socialist leader, Pastukhov, already in his seventies, who has been sent to gaol for five years—which may be a life sentence or a death sentence—merely because he ventured to criticize some of the acts of the ruling clique. One of their most reputable writers, Kunef, has been savagely beaten up and thrown into gaol without trial. The same fate impends another Socialist editor, Ivanov, who has been handed over by the deputy Public Prosecutor "for trial and punishment." Note the last two words, "and punishment"—before he is even found guilty. Therefore, I am a little surprised when I see that Mr. Mack, M.P., tells us that the administration of justice in Bulgaria is just as good as it is here. There is a song in the new Cochran-A. P. Herbert revue of which three lines run:
You don't pay a peer
A thousand a year;
There's a lot to be said for the Lords!
And, by golly, there is!
§ Finally, I would like to say just a few earnest words on this great conclave now gathering in Paris. From the end of the shooting war I have always maintained publicly that the Big Three—or Big Four as it became—was an anachronism and might become something worse, since it would inevitably operate to prevent smaller Powers from having an adequate say in the things that belong to their peace. I claim that that prophecy also has been fulfilled. Is it not incongruous that we should be drifting into the era of the small man but the big Power, so ordered and ordering that the small Power becomes ever smaller? I hope that 1062 those who have retained their liberty will make themselves heard in no uncertain tone, lest at last the legend of Tithonus be fulfilled and the voice of the small Powers become no greater than the voice of the grasshopper, as the consort of Dawn dwindles to an accompaniment of a sleepy afternoon.
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD
My Lords, there is a certain disadvantage in a debate of this nature in that it comprises such a vast number of different subjects and different settlements of those subjects, that it is almost impossible for a real debate to take place. The discussion must necessarily resolve itself more or less into a series of speeches on the subject of foreign affairs which have very little relation one to another. For that reason, I am not going to attempt to traverse the very interesting subjects that have been raised, not even the immensely important suggestion that has been made that we ought—to use the phrase of the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, who has not been able to stand this House a moment longer than he was addressing it—to adopt integration of Western Europe. We may call it what we like; but what it means is some form of alliance. I fully agree with what my noble relative said at the beginning of the debate, that if the Russians made it impossible to work the system of a real international settlement of all decisions by declining to agree to them, vetoing any decision reached, there would obviously be no other course open to those who still believe that some international action is necessary to preserve peace than to take some action which will be quite independent of Russia. I fully agree. Indeed, is seems to me to be obviously true. At the same time, I do feel that it would be a most unfortunate result of the development of the present situation. I cannot bring myself to believe that the formation of a Western European alliance would not be followed by the formation of an Eastern European alliance. If that were so, you would have the old and very well-known situation of alliance and counter-alliance, and I am afraid that that has not in the pat resulted in peace.
For those reasons, without disagreeing with anything that fell from the noble Lord, I very earnestly trust that we shall make the most determined efforts to obtain real co-operation with Russia, and 1063 only in the event of those efforts failing and such co-operation becoming quite impossible, must we then look for some other solution which would, in my judgment, not necessarily be free from risk and serious danger.
After all, I do venture to remind your Lordships—although it is probably quite unnecessary to do so—that there is one particular issue before us which is more important than all the details which we have been discussing this afternoon. That issue is: Can we save civilization? That is the real issue we have to meet. I know it has become almost hackneyed to say that; nevertheless I venture to say it, and I am quite certain that everyone who considers the matter will agree that if there is another world war, it is impossible, so far as any prognostic can take you, to expect that civilization will be saved. I think, even without the advent of the atomic bomb and other horrible weapons, it would have been extremely doubtful in the old circumstances whether the nations of Europe could possibly survive another world war, considering all the strain which the last war, as we have seen, put upon them. But, with the addition of these new and terrible weapons, it would not seem to be possible for them to survive. Therefore, it seems to me, the whole issue is: How can we preserve the peace? I believe everybody really admits that peace must be preserved, that that must be the essential feature of our policy, and I think that most people go on to say that, granting all the criticisms that may be made of the Charter drawn up at San Francisco, the United Nations Organization is still our best and indeed, I think, our only hope of maintaining that essential requirement. I am not going to elaborate all that. It has been known for months past.
So far as my own opinion is of any value at all (which is very little, no doubt), I think that, on the whole, the present Government have pursued the right, the just and the proper policy in their great efforts to secure peace. The great problem with which we are now faced is whether the United Nations Organization really can secure peace. No doubt the central difficulty is the motive power of the machine erected at San Francisco. Will it work at all? Will the veto make it practically impossible to work it? That 1064 is the real issue which we have to meet at this moment. I hope that some way round may be found, but I must say that this is becoming a matter of very great anxiety. And it is surely somewhat ironic that this new organization—the whole purpose of which was to put teeth into the machinery for peace—is in danger of breaking down because those teeth will not bite. That seems to me to be the tremendous problem we have before us.
Only on one aspect of that problem do I intend to trouble your Lordships—I hope for a very short time. In spite of all criticisms, I think that the proceedings at Nuremburg are a very great encouragement to the idea of peace. I am not now concerned with that subject. I am delighted to see the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, again—
§ LORD VANSITTART
My Lords, I have been out for a short time. As the noble Viscount has made reference to the fact, I should like to say that I went out for one minute to address a friend. I really think that it is a little excessive that he should have said in my absence (this information has been given to me by my friend) that I am unable to stand this House for one minute longer than I address it. I want to point out that the noble Viscount, the Leader of the Opposition, was out of the House this afternoon for a considerable time. I would not blame him for that. Surely I have the right to go out and say "How do you do?" to a distinguished friend, without drawing upon myself this really unmerited stricture. I think it is outrageous, my Lords—I do really.
§ VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD
I am sure if my noble friend had been present, he would have realized that the observation was not intended to be taken seriously, as he apparently has taken it.
§ VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD
I mentioned his name. I turned round in order to address him, and found that he was not there.
§ VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD
If the noble Lord considers that it is offensive, I withdraw it most heartily.
§ VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD
In dealing with Nuremburg, I am not now concerned with the question of punishment of those responsible for war outrages. That is no doubt a very important matter. I believe that the dignity and impartiality with which they have been treated by the Court have been an immense advantage to the general conception of the supremacy of law even in international affairs, but beyond that the punishment of those responsible for outrages is not the main purpose for which I am referring to the Nuremburg proceedings. I observe that the Attorney-General, in the early part of the very remarkable speech for the prosecution which he has just delivered, said:It is the crime of war, which is at once the parent and the object of the other crimes.And in the very last sentence of the speech, which is reported in the daily papers to-day, he makes an appeal in these words:These are our laws. Let them prevail.I think that is the essential feature of the Nuremburg proceedings, and it is of enormous importance that judgment is to be given not only on the perpetrators of outrages, but on the broad question of how we are to deal with aggressive war. The broad proposition is this: that aggressive war, undoubtedly, is forbidden internationally; it is essentially illegal, as the Attorney-General says; and all those who contribute to it are aiding and abetting what is in essence an international crime. That indeed was expressly stated in the Charter under which the Court is now sitting. That is to say, we are now in process of laying down, in the most authoritative way we can command, the proposition that aggressive war is an international crime. That is the first proposition we have to establish, and if it be asked, "What is aggressive war?" I think the answer is very simple—aggressive war is any war which cannot be described as defensive.
That takes you only one step further, because you then have to say, "Well then, what is a defensive war?" As to that, I think the first great issue arises. The Germans say that each country is the supreme and inviolable judge of whether the war in which it is engaged is a defensive war or not; that you cannot go behind that decision once it has laid 1066 it down, and that it is conclusive as to a war being an aggressive war or not. Therefore, of course, all the people who are being tried at Nuremburg are guiltless, because the German State had laid down that they were engaged in a defensive war. It is quite obvious, if that be accepted, that there is no hope of any progress towards preventing an aggressive war in the future. The answer, which was made by the Attorney-General, is quite clear: that although it is part of the duty of a State to make a declaration as to a war being defensive or not, in the end the question of whether it is a defensive war or not is a question of fact which ought to be (and so far as Nuremburg is concerned is being) determined by the Court on the whole facts of the case.
Therefore, Nuremburg rests upon these two propositions. In the first place, if war, alleged to be defensive, is not really so, then it is criminal. And the second proposition—and this is one which seems to me most novel and most important—is that anyone who promotes an aggressive war is guilty of a crime and may be personally punished. So far as that is concerned, it is a corollary to it to say he could not plead in justification of what he has done that he was acting on superior orders. He, alone, must take the responsibility of promoting an illegal act and therefore he has been guilty of a crime. There are many people here who know much better than I do about this, but so far as I know that is a novel proposition. Certainly if we take the case of Napoleon, which has been cited as the nearest precedent to that of Hitler, you have to admit, and nobody mow would deny for a moment, that he was guilty of an aggressive war. He was primarily and essentially guilty of it, but he was not even tried. When he abdicated at Fontainebleau, in the first case, he was not tried. It was, indeed, decided that he could not be allowed to remain in control of France, because it was evidently extremely dangerous to the rest of the world so long as he was there, but he was not tried or punished. He was sent to Elba and given the position of a kind of king of that little country. He was given every attribute of comfort, and if he had chosen to remain there he would never have been disturbed by anybody.
As we all know, the one condition made was that an undertaking should be given by him that he would not try to return and take up the old fight with Europe. 1067 As we know, he did return, and he did revive the fight and was again defeated. This time he surrendered himself to a British ship, but even then he was not tried. They relegated him to St. Helena, and although a great deal was said by him and his friends about the severity with which he was treated, he was really treated with no severity. He was treated with only such controls as were essential to prevent his going back to France and again starting up the war in the world. That was what was done in the case of Napoleon. Now we are doing something quite different. We are going to say, and I think perfectly rightly, and I will support it with all the strength I can give, that if these men, among other things, have started an aggressive war and have given their full authority to it, they are responsible for it and they are criminals and must be tried. For that is a crime.
It is quite true it is being said in their defence that it is ex post facto—that it was not then a criminal offence, and you are trying people now for what was not a criminal offence when committed. If they do complain, the answer is that full warning was given to them, both by the Covenant of the League of. Nations and, still more precisely, by the BriandKellogg Pact, that it was an offence to engage in an aggressive war, and if they chose to do so it was with their eyes open to all the risks which were involved in that decision. I cannot help feeling that the precedent which is being now established is of enormous importance, and it does not appear, at any rate in public statements, that the importance is altogether realized yet. Throwing one's mind back over the issues that have arisen even in the last thirty years, I think that if it had been perfectly clear, when Italy invaded and tried to destroy Abyssinia, that those who advocated that crime would be guilty of crime and would be tried and, if convicted, punished, it would have made a very great difference to the policy that was being pursued.
I think this doctrine is going to revolutionize the whole conception of sanctions. At present the only sanction is to fine or deprive of territory the State that was guilty of that aggressive war. That does not hit the criminals as such; it hits the whole population of the State if it hits anybody. It is not, therefore, really an effective deterrent of the advocacy of 1068 aggressive war. If we can once get established and fully recognized in the world that those who engage in this terrible enterprise, which may cost, as the Attorney-General pointed out in his speech, not less than 20,000,000 lives, will be guilty of a crime and will be punished, then we shall set up a new conception of international relations. Everybody will recognize that to engage or promote any war of that kind is a most disreputable and wicked thing, and the whole romantic conception of war will be destroyed, and destroyed, I hope, for ever. That is the point which seems to me to be of greatest importance in connexion with the Nuremburg trials. I will only add this one observation. There is, of course, at present a court temporarily created in order to deal with that particular situation. I do hope that some means will be found of making it a regular part of the international system, whether it be done one way or the other. One can suggest half a dozen ways in which it might be done, but somehow or other there must be set up a permanent criminal court for international offences which can be called in to deal not with the wickedness of this or that country but with the wickedness of this or that individual.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ LORD LINDSAY OF BIRKER
My Lords, I have to thank my noble friend Lord Chorley for allowing me to speak in his place. The noble Viscount who introduced this debate began by saying that it was sometimes necessary to say things even though they might be thought to be indiscreet. I propose not to worry in anything I say about being indiscreet, because I think this country, and indeed the world, is in a position of much greater peril at the present time than is always realized, and if we go on drifting and being indecisive in this matter we may find that the sands have run out and it is too late. If I may say so with respect, I agree with what the noble Viscount said, that what really concerns us is the veto of Russia and the obvious determination of Russia to refuse to co-operate. The noble Viscount put forward a number of reasons which I think he dismissed and substituted a suggestion of his own that it was Russia's isolationism. If I may say so, I very largely agree with his diagnosis on the positive side; I think it is 1069 Russia's isolationism, but I think all the other reasons have something in them.
It is very hard for sensible English people to believe that the fantastic, perverse and incredibly nonsensical doctrines of international Marxism can ever be taken seriously. But I think that to assume that people do not act on them is a very dangerous thing to assume, and to assume that those preposterous and dangerous doctrines have no influence on Russia is also dangerous. I wish. I could assume it, but I cannot. I think they may have some influence, but how much nobody can tell. I think the problem with a Power like Russia is that you have these people imbued with doctrines which they have been taught for many years, and yet they will from time to time lapse into common sense. I think if they are appealed to in the right way those lapses may become more frequent. I think, on the other hand, if they are appealed to on the ideological basis and we try to settle and agree on principles with Russia, then we are doomed. We shall never agree with Russia on that score—at least, I hope not. I think that what we have to do in the situation that confronts us is to give up hope that Russia will suddenly be converted seriously to the principles of liberal internationalism and ask ourselves how far we are going to deal with Russia—a Power which likes bargaining, which is rather good at bargaining and is pretty tough at bargaining as long as principles do not come into it.
May I point out what is happening as the result of Russia's behaviour? Russia by her continued use of the veto is producing exactly the result which she most dreads and about which she makes most fuss. She is driving the world into two blocs, a bloc of America, England, the Western democracies and the Dominions on the one hand, and a bloc of Russia and the Powers subordinate to her on the other. By doing that Russia is making it more difficult than ever to work the United Nations Organization. She is also doing something which this country ought to be very much concerned about, namely, making it impossible for this country to play the part for which I think she is destined, that of a bridge of understanding between Russia and the United States. We do stand between them. Our whole international outlook and our liberalism is much more like that of the 1070 United States, our economic approach is like that of Russia, and we ought to be able to mediate between Russia and America. The continued use of the veto by Russia, however, is making it very hard. It is driving us more and more into line with America, not only on those matters where we are right to agree with her, but partly, as I hope to show, on matters where we ought not to agree with her, and our great rôle has gone. If our great rôle has gone, then we are committed to what the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, deprecated, this division of the world into two blocs.
Consider for a moment the effect on U.N.O. not of the veto itself but of the particular use which Russia is making of the veto. U.N.O. is rapidly becoming an organization to prevent international organization, because it looks as though you cannot even get things discussed. As far as one can see, Russia is on the whole holding on to U.N.O. in order to perform that function in it; not in order to unite with other people in doing things, but to enable herself to prevent anything from being done. Yet I think we ought to recognize that there is something to be said for the Russian position. Suppose you start with believing that there is a fundamental, ideological conflict between Russia and all other nations which you describe as capitalist nations; suppose you know, as anybody blessed with the obsession of Marxism does know, that you are always in the right and always perfect; and suppose you also know that all capitalist nations are necessarily wicked; you would then also know, and would not need dogma to convince you of it, that if things are to be settled by vote at the United Nations the odds are that you will be voted down and be in the minority. Can you really willingly say: "I am prepared to be voted down. I am prepared to have the enormous power of atomic energy used against me"? The noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, said 'what a difference it would make to know that you would be punished for aggressive war. I think if you are properly imbued with the doctrines with which Russia is imbued you know that you cannot make aggressive war; it must be somebody else's fault. That is the difficulty of dealing with a nation which is ex hypothesi perfect, which says: "We alone are pure and perfect human beings and all other nations are imperfect."
1071 If you read the literature with which Russia supplies us—it comes every day—you will see that whatever Russia does is always perfect, and that what all other nations do is always wrong. That seems to be part of the difficulty. The worst thing that could have happened was the disappointment about the American proposals with regard to the control of atomic energy. I think we must all have been heartened to read the report of the Lilienthal Commission and to see how that was taken up by America. It looked for one moment as though we were going to have this dreadful new weapon controlled in a way which was not too difficult, in a way which gave substantial advantages to Russia and to other nations, in a way which combined the destructive and constructive possibilities of atomic energy, and in a way which, as far as I can gather from asking questions, the scientists both of this country and of America thought was possible. That was just stopped by the veto, and nothing can be done about it.
If we sit down under that, what is going to happen? We shall be doing two things at the same time. There will continue to be a division between Russia and her satellites and the rest of the world, and the question of atomic control will not be solved. I think we must not let that happen; but I do not see how it can be dealt with unless the United States, this country and other countries say, "All right, if we cannot do it with the United Nations, we shall do it in some other way, and we shall do it in a way which is absolutely fair to Russia so that she can come in if she wants to. I think that Russia had some reasonable objections to the report of the Lilienthal Commission as it stood. It had certain ambiguities and certain dangers, and I think Russia would have had a case to argue over it, but I do not think she would ever do that in front of all the nations of the world. I think it is very difficult at the present time for Russia to come and argue in front of the nations of the world in a way which admits that she may be voted down or differed from, or that she may perhaps change her mind.
I was very impressed by a story which illustrates this on a small scale. In Berlin the Kommandatura were considering certain proposals put forward by the British and Americans, and the Russians refused 1072 to consider them. The Russian delegation gave it up, but after six weeks they came back with the American and British proposals to a comma and said, "These are the Russian proposals; they have always been the Russian proposals, and they cannot be changed in any way." What technique do you have to use to grapple with that? It cannot be done, I am sure, by saying that if we cannot make our arrangements in a full international organization, we should do nothing. I can understand everybody's objection to beginning so early to go behind the organization we have just set up, but I really do not see any other alternative. I do earnestly say that to have a United Nations Organization which is a sham, and which only has the effect that if you do use it you do nothing, is really worse than having no United Nations Organization at all. Therefore I think we must somehow get round it.
Here may I say—because I think we ought to face it—this situation has perils for this country if it is left as it is. If we go on seeing the world becoming more and more divided into two opposite parties, Russia and her friends on the one hand, and England, the United States and other countries on the other hand, there are greater perils for this country than for anybody else, because if that happens we shall be regarded as equally guilty with the United States and we shall also be rightly regarded as being infinitely more vulnerable. I think one has got to face that. It need not happen, and I pray that it will not happen, but I think that unless we can somehow stop this drift of the world into two parts, this country, above all countries, will be in a position of very great peril. We are far more vulnerable to new weapons than the United States: we touch Russia in far more places and we cannot, I submit, let this thing happen.
That brings me to the problem of Germany. Before dealing with that properly, may I make quite a small point, which happens to concern my particular personal business? I think everybody must recognize that it is of enormous importance to this country at the present time that we should be represented in Germany by people of the greatest ability that we can get, but one of the things that is happening to the Control Commission is that very many able young men are coming out of it and are not going back because 1073 they get no security. There are at the moment—this is the thing that strikes me in my position—many young men with very great abilities coming back from the war, and competition for the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office is very keen, but these young men will not go out to perform a very important task in Germany because they are told that at the end of seven years they will not be wanted. A young man who has been to the University and who is offered a job which, he is told, in seven years is coming to an end, has got to think of his future. I think we could cure that quite simply by giving security to the young men who might like to go into the Control Commission service. It is of the utmost importance that we should get the very best people we can to perform the very difficult tasks we have got to perform in Germany.
It seems to me that Germany might, under proper circumstances, fill a rôle which I think, in spite of what people say, she has nobly filled in the past, namely, the rôle of being a bridge between Eastern and Western Europe. If we could make Germany do that, it would be a great thing, but we can only do that by giving some hope, some mission and some faith to the people in Western Germany. If we do not do that, then—and this is, I think, a very tragic and dangerous business—Germany will become a weapon which either the Western Powers or the Eastern Powers will suspect the others of forging in order to use against them. I think that is already happening. I think there is no question but that Russia suspects us of allowing what she calls Fascism to grow up in Western Germany—I think the Russians are quite wrong, but they suspect us of that—in order that we may unite Germany against her, and I do not think we are very far from suspecting that Russia's intention is to spread Communism over Europe and to make of Germany a weapon for use against us if the clash comes.
Somebody who has seen a great deal of Germany at the present time describes the modern Germans as being efficient without direction. I think that is very true; I think they are an incredibly efficient nation. In whatever direction you turn them they will go on being efficient. They can be an extraordinarily powerful weapon one way or the other and it seems 1074 to me we must not let that happen. I think the only way in which we can do that is to give up trying to agree on common principles with Russia. The curse of our present situation is that we are supposed to agree. It was, I think, Mr. Stalin who invented democracy as the concept which was to unite Eastern and Western Allies. As I have said to your Lordships before, Russian democracy means precisely the opposite of what democracy means to us. Let us be democratic in our own way and not in the Russian way. Let us be earnest and believe in ourselves and believe in social democracy. I say that knowing that although noble Lords opposite might not like the words they are really prepared to go a long way towards this. Social democracy is something which Europe needs, and it is an alternative to Communism on the one hand and what we may call for the moment American Capitalism on the other. If we could show that this is a real thing and that we believe in it, I think we might do something to make a bridge between Russia and America, with Germany occupying the middle position—but we must be honest about it. I think part of our difficulty follows from the position in which Russia is at the present moment. What Russia says is not what she is really thinking about. People who argue in that sort of way do not give their real grievances; they give their ideological theories instead. There have been grievances and sometimes they are relevant.
I propose now to talk about somewhere very far away about which I happen to know something. It seems to me we are clearly in the wrong in this case and the Russians are right to suspect, us. As far as I can see we are at the moment and have been for some time obediently following American lead in China. There are at the moment two Parties in China. One of them insists on one-Party government and the other welcomes many Parties. The Americans, and this country following, support the first and not the second. One Party has concentration camps, and the other has not. We support the Party which has the concentration camps and not the other. One of them has a Gestapo, a Gestapo which recently sent its men into Hong Kong, and apparently in the face of the Hong Kong Government, took away somebody whom 1075 they suspected of being on the wrong side. The other has not a Gestapo. Following the Americans, we support the Party which has a Gestapo and not the one which has not. One uses Japanese puppet troops and Japanese in support of it, and the other does not. The Americans and we have supported the one which uses the Japanese puppet troops and not the other. That support comes to a good deal. The Americans have, I understand, organized or trained some twenty Chinese divisions of the official Government. It was hoped that that Government was so corrupt and inefficient and so hopeless that it would not be able to impose its will over China. The only reason I can see why America, and we following, take that line is that the first Party, which has the Gestapo and the concentration camps, calls itself anti-Communist, and the second Party calls itself Communist.
Are we to be surprised that Russia with some justification regards with suspicion the kind of line which we take about the Russian Governments in Bulgaria, Rumania and Poland? I think we must be much more realistic and stop worrying about principles and try to be honest. We must try to believe much more than we do in the possibility of this country's principles and actions being a Gospel, and stop acting as if we were ashamed of it. Stop being afraid of what Russians will say. I think we have allowed the Russians to paralyse our actions in Germany. I have come across several things we must not do—perfectly harmless things—because the Russians do not like it. Whatever you do will be wrong. Whatever this country does the Russians will say it is wrong, and you may as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb. I think we ought to go on and do what we believe. It is only by doing what we believe and by dealing with Russia on every point that we have any opportunity of getting rid of this dangerous position in which we find ourselves.
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF IDDESLEIGH
My Lords, the debate opened with a number of very cogent speeches in favour of the organization of a Western pact. I listened to those speeches with particular pleasure, both for their content and also because they were anticipating the points I was 1076 anxious to make, and I hoped they would relieve me of the duty of addressing your Lordships which I had imposed upon myself. Since then the desirability of pursuing the Western pact has been queried by the very great authority of the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood. I hope that he will not consider it a great impertinence if I venture to stress one point in connexion with the Western pact which many of us feel very keenly. We are very anxious in all sincerity to dissociate ourselves from the proposition that a Western pact is in any sense whatever directed against the Russian States. The primary reason why we are anxious for better understanding in Western Europe is that our common interests demand more neighbourly feelings between ourselves, France, the Low Countries and the other States of Western Europe, whom I hope to mention in a moment.
We are in the position of needing counsel and advice from our Continental neighbours upon the Continental problems. For example, we have listened to the most cogent and interesting arguments from the noble Lord, Lord Lindsay, on the subject of Germany, but the wisest policy that can be devised by this country in isolation regarding Germany is useless. We cannot pursue any policy regarding Germany at all unless we at least get the concurrence of the French and the American Governments. I think that there is every reason to suppose that, of those two, the French Government will have the strongest views, views to which we shall have to accommodate ourselves.
The other reason why a Western pact is being put forward upon the Continent is that there is still a very real fear of a recrudescence of German power. Your Lordships may have seen in the Press an allusion to a summary of a report by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Belgian Senate. I hope that great attention will be paid to that very authoritative document. Your Lordships may remember that this committee urged strongly that the interests of Belgium, in the military sphere, should be most closely integrated with those of the United Kingdom. I have no doubt that the Chiefs of Staff and the Foreign Office will feel greatly in sympathy with that proposal. But this proposal, as the rest of the document makes clear, was in no sense whatever 1077 based on fear of Russia. It was definitely based on the Belgian desire to avoid a repetition of the experiences of the last two wars.
There is one other matter which might fall within the sphere of Western understanding, which I would like to mention. The problem of Spain is almost certainly insoluble by present methods. Spain, as we have seen, remains unimpressed by, and indeed one might almost say contemptuous of, the proceedings of the United Nations Organization. But I find it difficult to believe that the Spanish people would fail to respond, in some degree, to approaches made by the united Christian west of Europe, which I hope to see. Finally, I would venture to stress and to remind your Lordships of the remark made by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at the beginning of this Parliamentary Session, when he called the peoples of Europe "our sort of people." That was a very trenchant and highly important remark. He insisted that our right to friendship with "our sort of people" could not be denied by any Power whatever. Since that remark was made, elections have been held in Belgium, in Holland, in France, and in Italy. They have revealed a state of opinion which, in many ways, closely resembles that in this country. We do not have here any representatives of the Christian Parties which have revealed their strength in the elections in those countries, but we do, I hope, share their progressive outlook and their respect for tradition.
I have attempted to put before your Lordships, with that great deference which I naturally feel as a back-bench Peer, the reasons which, I submit, should urge His Majesty's Government to pursue more actively than they have done in the past a policy of Western defence. I find it very difficult to believe that the pursuit of such a policy would in any way increase the suspicion which Russia feels towards us. Certainly it would show one thing, and that is that we have no objection to Russia continuing to make close friends of her immediate neighbours. We do not, in any way, deny the right of Russia to form a common policy with the Slavonic and other peoples on her borders; provided that such an understanding in the East reflects the genuine and unforced co-operation of Eastern Europe, we rather welcome it. What could be 1078 more satisfactory than that the quarrel between Russia and Poland that has so often disturbed the peace of Europe in the past should be healed, so long as it is healed by genuine mutual agreement based on understanding and sympathy?
If the Eastern pact develops on the lines on which, I hope, the Western Europe pact will develop, it is, after all, capable of performing a great deal of good and of doing much to secure peace. In conclusion, I ask is there anything inconsistent in the belief that the United Nations Organization, tending to become a group of Leagues rather than a group of States, will achieve its purpose by those means? Mention has been made of the American League and of the Eastern understanding. There is, in addition, the Arab League and there is every likelihood that the emergent nations of Asia will form their Leagues among themselves. It was often suggested that the League of Nations would have benefited, and would have been strengthened by such regional understandings. I very much hope that the future of the United Nations Organization will be secured by some such means.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ LORD BEVERIDGE
My Lords, I propose to confine what I have to say to two special points—the treatment of the South Tyrol and the treatment of refugees and displaced persons. Each of these is a practical question upon which something can be done and has to be done. Each of them is an urgent question relevant to the Conference now sitting in Paris. The action taken, or stopped from being taken, at that Conference may vitally affect both these problems. Each is a special point which, as I shall try to show, involves a question of principle so that, according to the way in which it is decided at Paris, we may look forward to a return to a better world or get deeper and deeper into the mire of the bad world in which we are at present.
The subject of the South Tyrol, as your Lordships know, was very fully discussed in another place on Thursday last, and as some of what I shall have to say must be in criticism of, or in disagreement with, what was said then by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, I need hardly preface my remarks by expressing admiration for his work, as so many of your Lordships have already done, and by 1079 expressing sympathy with him and every wish for his happy restoration to full health in the interests of this country and of the world. As the old Latin tag has it: "Amicus Plato, sed magis arnica veritas." Since some of your Lordships may have learned Latin later than my own day, with a different pronunciation, may I be allowed to translate it as, "Plato is a friend, but truth is a dearer friend still." I am sure that no one really forfeits the friendship of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs by disagreeing with him.
We all know that in 1919 the South Tyrol was handed over to Italy. Excluding the Trenino it contained about 250,000 inhabitants, of whom less than 3 per cent. were Italians. The territory had never been Italian, and for 600 years it had been part of the Austrian Empire. The only comment I need make upon that transaction is the comment made at the time—in July, 1919—by two of the people who were responsible with others for the transfer. M. Clemenceau, head of the French State, and the Earl of Balfour, who spoke for Britain, said:If languages, race, and the wishes of the population had in this case governed the decision … South Tyrol would never have been Italian. Self-determination, however, and nationality were outweighed by strategic considerations.We all know how that happened, and why it happened. It was in pursuance of the secret treaty of 1915, and I think it is clear that even then those who were responsible for the arrangement felt it to be wrong. It contradicted the fundamental principles of self-determination, of letting each people choose the kind of Government under which they could live. If that was wrong then, why should it be right now to continue that arrangement? That is the question we have to face.
It is true that the present population is rather more Italian; there are relatively more Italians and fewer of the original Tyrolese. That is the result of the policy of Italianization pursued for twenty years. But the areas to which I am referring are still predominantly Austrian—areas where German is spoken. We have to consider the problem in the light of the 1919 population, and not in the light of the present population. If you consider the matter in the light of the present population, you are rewarding the criminal policy of 1080 Italianization which was pursued so ruthlessly in the twenty years between the wars. Let us take into account, as the noble Earl, Lord Perth, has suggested, all the exiles who would like to return, but who, under the infamous treaty between Hitler and Mussolini, went away. Clearly, the population should not remain under Italian rule for strategic reasons. Nobody knows which way the strategic reasons act. As the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said, they were of practically no importance in this matter.
Surely our plan for a better world, if it is to be any good, must encourage economic collaboration across national frontiers. We cannot make sense of it otherwise. And on that principle we should not do a political wrong for an economic reason. Actually, however, on the facts economic arguments are a flimsy pretext for leaving this piece of territory to Italian rule. In the other place some facts and figures were given on this matter by Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre. They were not answered in the debate, and if the Government to-day intend to use any economic argument, I hope that they will say whether those figures are right or wrong. The figures were to the effect that most of the trade goes north across the frontier, and not south to Italy. It was said that about 78 per cent. of the fruit, 98 per cent. of the wine, and 6o per cent. of all other things, goes north over the Brenner Pass.
A great deal has also been made of the hydro-electric power system. That also was dealt with in another place by Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre, but he was not answered. Again I ask His Majesty's Government if they attach importance to this argument, to say if his figures are incorrect. I might mention that they come from an Italian and not from an Austrian source. I could not quite understand the figures, but it appeared that either 5 per cent. or 7 per cent. of all the electric power used by Italy comes from the South Tyrol. If they lose the whole of that, they would still have 95 per cent. of their present hydro-electric power. How could the loss of that power affect the position? But only 32 per cent. of that 5 or 7 per cent. is, in fact, exported to Italy; the rest of it is used locally or for the railways. If Italy lost that 32 per cent. of the 5 or 7 per cent. it would mean that she would be losing only 2 per cent. of all her electric power. 1081 Can that be any argument for continuing a political wrong—if it is a wrong? But in any case there is no reason for Italy to lose this power. The noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, said that the Austrian Government would be perfectly willing, and could be pledged in the treaty, to continue the supply of all that has hitherto been supplied.
As that involves transferring this area to Austria, with some treaty condition as to what they shall do, may I refer to the counter-suggestion thrown out by the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, and also, I think, by my noble friend the Earl of Perth? The suggestion was that if this piece of territory were left with Italy, the matter might be put right by requiring Italy to give an undertaking to grant a large measure of autonomy to the people of the South Tyrol. What a mirage those suggestions have proved to be! Does nobody remember that in 1922, when we agreed that Poland should take territories east of the Curzon Line, they never gave the autonomy promised; and vengeance has descended upon them. All these rules for minority treatment are unenforceable because they are in general terms and it is never clear whether they have been broken or not, and because they intrude upon self-government. On the other hand, the kind of bargain which the Austrian Government would have to make, if they were required to deliver a certain amount of hydro-electric power every year, is based on simple statistical fact which can be checked. It does not interfere with autonomy, and raises no difficulties at all. I would not accept as any sweetening of the pill of giving a wrong decision, a requirement upon the Italian Government to give autonomy to this part of the world. Why should we do the wrong thing, and try to sweeten the pill?
As far as I can see, from what has been said at various times by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and by other speakers on behalf of the Government, the decision which we have to escape is the decision taken by the Foreign Ministers in London in September, 1945. It is true that there have also been references to the Moscow Declaration of 1943, for reestablishing an independent Austria. The Foreign Secretary has referred to that declaration. I am bound to say that he has not of late stressed it. It is true, on the other hand, that one of the other 1082 spokesmen of the Government—Mr. Hector McNeil—in another place has actually treated that Moscow Declaration for setting up an independent Austria as an undertaking given by the Coalition Government, for which he was not responsible. He has actually referred to the decision that the South Tyrol should remain with Italy as an undertaking. Really there is no substance in that whatever. One has only to read—as the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs read in another place the other day—the actual Moscow Declaration to see that all it is concerned with, as it says in so many words, is to annul the amalgamation of Germany and Austria. There is no conceivable undertaking in that that the wrong done by Italy should be condoned. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in his last speech, hardly dwelt upon that point at all. What he said was that that declaration must be read with the armistice terms for Italy, under which it was understood that she would be rewarded in some way or another for working her passage.
Let me go on to say, in correction of what appeared in some of the papers, that according to the Hansard report the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, so far from saying that there was a stipulation that the Italian boundaries should not be altered, said there was no such stipulation. But if some reward is to be given by the Great Powers to Italy for working her passage, would it not be only decent that the reward should come from their own pockets and not at the expense of a helpless State like Austria? If you stress the rights of Italy and reward to Italy, is that consistent with what is proposed about Trieste and the two parts of Italy which are to go to France? If we are to reward Italy for working her passage, I suggest that the reward should come from ourselves, the people who decide it, and not at the expense of Austria.
Finally, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, with his usual courage, said that the decision of September, 1945, was a perfectly free decision of his own; that; he was not forced to it at all. The only reason he gave was that he thought it desirable, if possible, to establish the principle that there should be no change in Austria's frontiers because there might be other changes still more detrimental. In his speech he referred only to vague rumours, such as Czechoslovakia and 1083 Yugoslavia wanting some of the territory. He gave no indication as to what those rumours were; but in any case, according to his own speech, was it not clear it was a mistaken policy? He himself had to say that it is not clear that there will be even an Eastern Austria. Yet somehow or other we appear to be committed to doing this wrong thing about South Tyrol.
I know your Lordships would prefer, as I do, what came later in the speech of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, when he said that the Tyrolese will have the right to be heard in the Peace Conference in Paris. That, he said, is much better than what happened at Versailles. I also very much prefer, as I think your Lordships do, the approach made by the Lord Chancellor to this problem in a debate in this House in February last, when he said that the Southern Tyrol was being handed over to Italian administration without prejudice to the peace treaty at all. But under that administration some 50,000 or 70,000 Italians have been steadily pouring into the Southern Tyrol. When this matter comes before the Peace Conference in Paris, whether the position will be better or worse than that at Versailles will depend entirely on how open are the minds of the Great Powers and of ourselves upon this issue. The Austrians were not heard in London. Are they really going to be heard in Paris? I should also mention that relative to the Security Council it was stated in another place that while the Great Powers had agreed at Yalta on the question of the veto, it would be perfectly open for the San Francisco Conference to take a different view. But when they came to San Francisco, the Great Powers made it plain that their minds were not open on that matter. Are the minds of the Great Powers really open on this question of the Southern Tyrol? I hope Italy will be willing to make the surrender which involves rejecting Mussolini and all his works in the Southern Tyrol. I hope that our minds will be open. I hope that, if our minds are not open, the smaller Powers who are interested in upholding the rights of small Powers, irrespective of their weakness, will rise against us and stand for justice in this matter.
This is a small thing in one sense, but it is not really small because it raises a great moral principle. I suggest in this 1084 matter that we ought to support Austria just because she is powerless and just because we in Britain have practically no material interest in this matter whatever. If we support her we could not be accused of serving any material interest and we should gain enormously in moral influence throughout the world. If we do not, where do we stand? Let me illustrate this point by a remark which was made to me when I went recently to a very important neutral countrySweden—just at the time when this discussion was going on about Trieste and the Southern Tyrol. They said to me, "It is so striking to us that you in Britain make no trouble about the ethnic principle in Southern Tyrol, but you fight like cats for the ethnic principle in Trieste. It seems to us that you do not worry about the ethnic principle in the Southern Tyrol because it is of no importance to you materially, but you fight for the ethnic principle to keep Yugoslavia and Russia away from the Adriatic, because you fear their power in the Adriatic." That is how it looks to perfectly impartial, neutral and friendly people.
Diplomacy is a practical art. You cannot always get what you want. You very often have to choose. It is very much like the art of punting. In the art of punting, as you all know, you sometimes get into a problem, when your pole sticks in the mud, as to whether you should stick to the punt or stick to the pole. My advice is to stick to the punt. So in diplomacy, particularly after a war in which we have fought together as allies, we sometimes find ourselves faced with a choice. We all want to stick both to principles and to friends, but sometimes we cannot do both. In such a case the right choice is to stick to your principles, even if you depart from your friends, because we know that friends may become enemies; friends may change, but principles do not change. If one does not stick to principles, sooner or later one finds oneself in the muddy water of thieves' bargains and power politics, and that is, I fear, where we are getting in this matter to-day.
I have already taken too long, yet I must, if your Lordships will allow me, say a few words upon this second topic of the refugees and displaced persons. One of the most disastrous effects of this war has been the spreading all over Europe 1085 of people uprooted from their homes, now living in strange countries, in camps, and under all sorts of abnormal conditions. For some of them, fortunately, no question arises except the practical one of getting home again. Many millions of them have reached home again, but for some of them post-war changes in the world, territorial changes and political changes make return impossible or difficult. Of course there is one large group of the Germans, our former enemies. I say nothing about them, but a very large problem arises in connexion with them. There are others who are in a position of doubt as to whether they can return home because of political changes affecting their former homes.
I do not know how big that trouble is, but in a Report of the Sub-Committee on Refugee and Displaced Persons made recently to the United Nations Organization the chairman of that committee speaks of being concerned with something like 3,000,000 people. I have no knowledge myself of the figure as he conceived it—it may be as high—but we do know that according to the U.N.R.R.A. report there were in May last over 800,000 such people in the British, French and American zones in Germany. About 450,000 of them were Poles, 200,000 Balts from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania., and 25,000 Yugoslavs. We know that outside the zones there are many others. There are Balts from the former Baltic States, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, in Sweden and Austria; there are Yugoslavs in Italy and Austria, and there are Poles in Britain, Italy and Austria. Finally, there are the Spanish Republicans in France and elsewhere.
The size of the problem is not, perhaps, important, but it is very important to realize the character of the problem. You can realize that best if you study, as I have studied in the last two or three days, the reports of the very interesting Sub-Committee of the United Nations Organization which dealt with this matter. That sub-committee has been closely divided, by majorities of eight to seven and ten to six, on the clear-cut issue between the countries of origin of the refugees, all of whom were demanding to get the refugees back whether they really wanted to go back or not, and the other people who wanted the principle of asylum adopted for genuine political refugees. That report recommended the establishment 1086 of an international refugee organization to deal with the problem; it has been accepted in substance by the Economic and Social Council, and it will come before the Assembly in September.
The report has laid down the principle, which ought to be widely known, that refugees or displaced persons who have finally and definitely, in complete freedom, after receiving full knowledge of the facts, including adequate information from the Government and country of their origin, expressed valid objections to returning to their country of origin, shall not be compelled to return. With that goes a very sensible assertion that the main object of the new organization should be to bring about the early return of as many people as possible to their own country, to the exclusion of war criminals, quislings and traitors. As your Lordships realize, that report raises the difficult questions: Who is to decide what are valid objections to return? Who is to decide who are war criminals, quislings, or traitors? I suggest that somehow we want to get it established that this is to be determined by an international semi-judicial body and not by the Government of the country which claimed these citizens for itself. These people now torn away from their homes, ought to become wards of the United Nations Organization which asserts a principle of asylum for political refugees, while not doing anything to defend the people who have committed real crimes against humanity. It is no longer, I suggest, a crime against humanity to have fought upon the losing side in any part of Europe.
This problem is urgent and one aspect of it is very urgent. It may arise within the next few weeks if we get a Peace Treaty with Italy, because there are many Yugoslavs in Italy. They arrived there in many ways. Some of them fought against the Germans, and afterwards with the Germans, some of them were supporters of the Royalists, and some were supporters of Mihaelovitch. They are encamped today in Italy. There are many others outside Italy, but it is with regard to Italy which is passing out into independence that the problem arises. I have had a letter from the friends of some of these refugees. They call themselves the Yugoslavs National Committee in this country and their leader, I believe, was formerly a Prime Minister of Yugoslavia. 1087 The letter expresses the fear that these refugees may be handed over by the Italian Government to the Yugoslav Government without any assurance as to how they may be treated. It puts the point that these refugees did not go to Italy to place themselves under the Italian Government but to place themselves under the protection of the Allied troops in Italy. They came at the time of our occupation. Of course there is a different view about these refugees expressed by the Yugoslav Government in that report to the sub-committee. They say that in the majority of camps in Germany, Austria and Italy, the Yugoslav war criminals, quislings and traitors are not treated as such but as political émigrés. I think many of the statements were shown to be mistaken, but I accept the sincerity of the Yugoslav Government belief that some of these refugees are dangers. But they wish to give an amnesty to a great mass of them and they want to get them back to rebuild their country; what they fear is that they will not get them back.
What we have somehow to do, whilst we have still power in regard to Italy and elsewhere, is to assert the principle of amnesty as widely as possible, and the principle of asylum from arbitrary power. If any of the Governments of the countries from which these refugees come want them back for life, brotherhood, and welcome, they should go back. For the rest, the question of whether they go back for punishment, or whether they make new lives in exile because they cannot go back, must be determined not by the Government of the country of origin, not by the Government of Italy or of whatever country in which they happen to be, but by some international organization.
The last stages of the Nuremburg trial are now coming. When the leading miscreants have gone to their just punishment, whatever that may he, could we not then make an end of killing for the crime, not of having made war, but of being on the wrong side? I do not want to say that no one has to be punished who has committed ghastly crimes against humanity, but surely we want, as soon as we can now the formal war is over, to put an end to the killing. We want amnesty for the mass, and asylums for those who cannot have an amnesty. I 1088 have spoken almost wholly of Yugoslavs, and I only want to mention before I sit down that, of course, they are not the only people concerned. There are all the Poles. I think we should give every possible encouragement to the Polish Government to promise terms of amnesty which will enable these fine Poles to go back to their own country so soon as they are certain it is Poland for the Poles and not for anyone else. The Balts are a rather more difficult problem because it is a question of their going back under Soviet rule, and we cannot be quite certain what that rule would mean to them.
Then there are the Spanish refugees, and I only want to mention them in order to make it clear that I have not left them out. I would only say about the Spanish refugees—there are 200,000 of them, at least—that we do not help them by making faces at Franco. On the other hand, it would be a tragedy if they went back to Spain only at the cost of an equally great or even a greater number of people on the other side of the Spanish controversy being driven into exile. However, that is a big question and I do not intend to elaborate on it. I only want to make it clear that I have not forgotten that matter, and I hope your Lordships may at some time have a full discussion on this Spanish problem. I have particularly mentioned the Yugoslavs, because it seems to me that they are the responsibility of the nations which occupied Italy, and we are one of those nations. Theirs is an urgent test case. It is for us to safeguard them for justice. It is for us to press on with the international refugee organization. It is for us to make certain that when we leave Italy we either remove those people to safety for fair judgment or make quite certain that they get fair judgment where they are.
My two main points relate to the South Tyrol and the Yugoslavs in Italy. As I have said, each of them raises a large principle. The South Tyrol raises the principle of whether people shall be free in accordance with the Atlantic Charter to determine the kind of Government under which they will live. That is a principle in which we in Britain believe, even to the extent of acting upon it. As your Lordships know, we are acting upon it. We have acted upon it in the independent Empire, and we are acting on it at this moment in India. Why cannot we act upon it in Austria? The refugees 1089 and displaced persons are in need of asylum from arbitrary powers, and that is one of the strongest of British traditions. We cannot carry that out merely by giving asylum here, but we can by playing our part in the international organization establish the principle that refugees and displaced persons are the wards of the United Nations. If we can get the United Nations to deal with this great human problem of the refugees, and make them useful and happy citizens either in their own countries or in other countries, then the mere fact that the United Nations does that work for humanity will, I believe, be a stepping stone to the effective working of the United Nations Organization. There is nothing which welds people together so much as doing a good job together, and here is one that has to be done. I believe that on the decisions that are taken about the South Tyrol and about the refugees and displaced persons, particularly those in Italy, will depend whether the Paris Conference can, amongst other things, be regarded as a turning away from force to justice, from war to peace, from death to life.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, we have had a very interesting discussion, and I think a very useful one, because a frank and temperate discussion of these essential problems in my view can do no harm and must almost always do good. In your Lordships' House we are perhaps better placed to have a discussion of that kind than in another place or out on the hustings. The situation in regard to Europe and the world at large has not fundamentally altered since this matter was last discussed in your Lordships' House. At that time I remarked that the crux of the matter was really our relationship with Russia. That was borne out by the speeches that were made on that occasion, and it has been borne out again by the speeches which have been made this afternoon. I prophesied then that our relationship with Russia would remain for a substantial time the crux of foreign politics. That is a prophecy which anybody could make, and I think the odds are a hundred to one that it will come true.
Unfortunately the Foreign Minister has not been able to emulate the Minister of Food by adding the sweet ration as part 1090 of the general food rations, because the cordiality between the Governments has become less; and it seems to me, that the general attitude of the average citizens of this country towards Russia has become much more marked by suspicion. I think that is an unfortunate but in the circumstances perhaps an inevitable thing. The tremendous feeling of admiration and affection which undoubtedly developed in this country as a result of the heroic and successful contribution which the Russians made to the defeat the Nazis will inevitably as time goes by tend to fade away; indeed, it is already doing so. At that time, the Russians built up an enormous credit in the bank of our affections, but for the last twelve months they have drawn on it very heavily and although I think there is still a substantial balance, if there are not rather heavier payings-in over the next month, or at any rate considerably lighter drawings-out, I am afraid that by the end of a year or so the account will be in debit.
That seems the trend of opinion in our own country. I wish it were possible to discover what the opinion of the average Russian citizen is towards this country and towards America. If one may judge by the excerpts in the newspapers and by the Russian broadcasts the Russian Government are attempting to carry through what the psychologists call a "transference" towards this country of the hatred which they built up so success-fully against the Nazi power. If they succeed in that it will obviously be a disaster both for their country and for ours. I sometimes wonder whether these extracts in the Press, quoted from Prauda, the Russian radio and from other sources, are not deliberately picked out bad bits, and whether if one could only get a larger view it would be not so bad. But, even making allowances for that, it must be clear that a great deal of mud-slinging against this country and her Allies is going on in Russia, and unfortunately, as is always the case, the mud is slung back from this side. Then dispute arises as to who started it, and it grows worse and worse.
Owing to the complete censorship which exists it is impossible for us to get over to the mass of the Russian people our policy, what we stand for and what we are trying to do. Being something of a student of history, I should be the last 1091 to suggest that the policy of this country is anything like one hundred per cent. perfect, and no doubt if I were looking at it through impartial Russian eyes (if there are such eyes) I should find a great deal in it which seemed to me to be bad and a good deal in it which seemed to me to be good. The difficulty is that there is no sort of assurance that either the good or the bad in it really gets over to the Russian people so that they can study it for themselves. As a great admirer of the Russians and of what they have done, I have always grieved that they have felt it necessary even to this day to continue what was undoubtedly one of the worst features of the Tsarist regime, namely, this complete censorship. During the time when the Revolution was struggling for its life—and that struggle undoubtedly went on well into the thirties … a great deal could be said for some restriction of civil liberty.
But now that the revolution has certainly made good, now that Russia has emerged victoriously from a contest with the greatest military Power in the world and now that her prestige is as high as it could be, it seems to me that there is no earthly reason why her great leaders—and they are obviously men of outstanding ability—should not be prepared to trust their own people with a much greater degree of information as to what is said and thought in countries other than their own. The more satisfied they are with their own policy and the more satisfied they are that their own views are right, surely the more confidence they should have in allowing their own people to know both the pros and the cons. Within the last few weeks attacks have been launched on perfectly innocent writers in this country—real friends of Russia and of the Russian Revolution—for putting forward points of view which must appear to any impartial person really to be directed in the interests of Russia herself. These people have been attacked in a way which suggests that the Russian leaders are more interested in attacking their friends in this country than they are in criticizing their frank and open opponents. I sometimes wonder whether they work on translations which are so faulty that they do not really understand what is being said by these writers and speakers when they are putting forward these views.
1092 It seems that suspicion is unfortunately inevitable in foreign politics. Every nation is suspicious of its neighbours, no nation is ever willing to trust any other nation up to the hilt, and the situation is obviously always at its worst immediately after a great war. The history of diplomacy suggests that there is a good deal of reason behind these sort of suspicions. Long ago it was said that an Ambassador was one who was sent to lie abroad for his country. Diplomacy has not altered a great deal since the time of Queen Elizabeth, but I think this is a matter which is even more deeply rooted than in the history of diplomacy; it goes right back to the time of primordial man, when the hand of every man was raised against his neighbour and when tribe struggled with tribe, so that instinctively a man's hand went to his weapon and he put himself into a posture of defence. Unfortunately diplomatic history over the last months is not such as to remove these suspicions. I am one of those people who think that suspicion is more important than isolationism, although I agree up to a point with what was said by the noble Viscount in opening this debate.
It seems to me it is always a mistake to think that any one element in these matters is completely dominant. Policy is like a piece of cloth; its texture is made up of all sorts of strands. There can be no doubt that isolationism is a strand, but I think the strand of suspicion is a fuller coloured one. Even in this country, where we have been free of invasion and where we have very seldom really struggled for our lives, we are apt to be very suspicious of our neighbours. If your Lordships will excuse me for reminding you of what was said on the last occasion, Russia is a much invaded country, and Russian foreign politics, as a result, have always been marked by an intense suspiciousness. I do not know that that suspiciousness is really very much more marked now than it has been on a number of occasions in the past. Over the last months we have had event after event which, looked at through the eyes of suspicion, can only loom darkly and threateningly to the Russians. I think the whole thing went wrong with the atom bomb and the secrecy which was maintained over it. A friend of mine who was in Russia throughout that period said that the change in feeling in Moscow was very obvious to anybody.
1093 Nothing has been done to right that situation. We have had the Bikini experiments which, looked at through Russian eyes, must appear to be a demonstration of force—"This is what will happen to you if you do not behave yourselves"—and we have had that most unfortunate episode in Congress, when, in order to persuade Congressmen to vote in favour of the loan to this country, a number of speeches were made saving in effect, "You have got to pay these Britishers this sum of money if you want to have their help when it comes to the fight against Russia." How long do your Lordships think it will take to erase that sort of thing from the minds of the Russian people? I am afraid it will take a very long time. Until we can find some method of eradicating those suspicions, I cannot think that we are really going to get a stable and peaceful situation in which we can build up civilization in Europe and in the world. Unfortunately we have got into power politics again, even more emphatically. We have got systems, almost planetary systems, with satellite Powers revolving round the Great Powers, and while in the world of physical reality it is not possible for Uranus to extract one of Neptune's planets and add it to her group of satellites, unfortunately in the world of foreign politics it is not only possible but Great Powers are continuously attempting to do so; and when they are not trying to do so, everybody suspects that they are, which is almost as bad.
When, in order to save millions of people in Germany from starvation, a perfectly simple pulling down of economic ramparts is proposed and agreed to in principle by the American and the British Governments, it is immediately assumed in Russia that this is an attempt to build up Western Germany against Russia. Unfortunately in politics, and particularly in foreign politics, that assumption, however slightly based, in the twinkling of an eye can become a devilish reality, and before we know where we are this business of building up on one side or the other will actually have taken place. Indeed, it was suggested in your Lordships' House this afternoon that it is actually taking place at this very time. If that is so, then weapons are possibly being built up for future wars.
1094 Throughout this period the Russians have been in a minority in the United Nations Organization on every topic which has been brought up. It was suggested by my noble friend Lord Lindsay that this is due to the fact that they have taken such an unreasonable view of all the matters which have been brought up, but actually what appears to them to be a line-up started at the beginning before it could have been evident to anybody that they were taking an unreasonable view about these matters. People went to these meetings on an ideological basis, unfortunately not to discuss these matters in the way my noble friend suggested they should be discussed, purely as matters of practical politics to be solved as such, but with an ideological background upon which trey were determined to act. In those circumstances it appears to the Russians that there is in fact a line-up among all the other Powers against them, and in those circumstances they obviously say, "We have one weapon in regard to this and that is the veto." How, in these circumstances, can you possibly expect them to surrender the veto? They obviously will not do so, and the more convinced they are that there is a line-up the more frequently will this piece of machinery (which was only intended to be used in the last resort) be used. Those who hope by some effort of sweet reasonableness to persuade the Russians to abandon the veto are obviously expecting the impossible.
It seems to me that if the United Nations Organization is to be a success it must be radically altered in such a way as to persuade the Russians that they are not going to be in a minority on every occasion. On the Council the strength of the Great Powers is recognized by the fact that they are given permanent places. In the Assembly they have no more power than anybody else—each votes as one. That, surely, is a very unreal situation. It means that bargaining is bound to go on. It may not be open bargaining, but in all understandings of a practical character arrived at, the Russians will continually find themselves in a minority. Unless their real power in the world can be recognized, and the real power of the other great States recognized by giving them a voting power which is in some way based on their importance in the world, the United Nations Organization will not be a success.
1095 I have been interested to see that in America, at the Conference held in New Hampshire some months ago, a movement has already started among a group of enlightened and knowledgeable Americans for an alteration in the Charter of the United Nations Organization on these lines. It is obviously a very difficult thing to alter a Charter of this kind, and even if it were so altered it certainly would not give the Russians all that they want. But I think it would be a move in a reasonable direction, and it would show that we were prepared to recognize the real position which Russia holds in the world and in the organization of the United Nations.
I have spoken for some time, but before I close I would like to add a word to what has been said about the Southern Tyrol. The matter has been much debated and the point has been well put to your Lordships this afternoon. I mention it because it seems to me that here we have a real problem which is, so to speak, the acid test of the way in which the whole question of settling Europe is going to be carried out. Is it to be carried bout on the basis of the old Europe, when people were handed over from one Princeling to another like so many cattle, in accordance with economic and financial considerations, or is it to be handled in the way that we should like to regard as that of the new Europe, on a basis of morality and reason, because as has been emphasized this afternoon this is essentially a question of morality. I thought that the Foreign Secretary did less than justice to that side of it in his speech in another place last week.
As one of the greatest of trade union leaders he knows that the trade union movement in this country has been built up on a moral basis, and that over long periods its material resources were marked only by their absence. But for the fact that it had the moral vitality to struggle forward it could not have reached the great position which it occupies to-day in the life of this country. I do not for a moment suggest to your Lordships' House that these great questions can be decided purely on the question of morality or ethics. The interests of nations are involved, and up to a point those interests are bound to be material and economic in character. But if you allow the moral side of these questions to be divorced from 1096 the other side, and if you pursue them entirely on the basis of economics and material matters, then you are driving your ship towards the breakers of destruction. It is impossible to argue this case on the basis of continued Italian domination in the Southern Tyrol and to found any real moral arguments on the side of Italy at all.
I studied the debate in another place very carefully indeed. The arguments which were adduced were entirely arguments of prestige, strategy and economics, and even descended so low as to suggest that because certain members of the S.S. who had been responsible for atrocities had been recruited from the Tyrol, therefore their fellows in the Tyrolean valleys should be punished by their being handed back to Italy. That was the sort of argument which had to be adduced, and I was very sorry to notice that my honorable friend Mr. Macmillan lent himself to that argument. If it be true that these Tyroleans did behave in that way, then those of your Lordships who have stayed with them in their valleys and know their open and honest disposition, must feel that this is some measure of the persecution which they have endured throughout these years during which they have been under Italian domination.
If these decent, honest men have, in fact, behaved in this way, then it just shows how much the iron has entered into their souls and how deep the desire for revenge has been. It shows that a situation has been created in which feelings are so deep and passions so high that these valleys and their gallant people cannot be safely handed back to Italy, however honest and sincere the Italian Government may be in the promises which they have made that a new leaf will be turned, and that these people will be given some measure of self-government and self-control. It will be impossible, in practice, for those promises to be carried out.
The people of the Tyrol are, in effect, a little nation on their own. I am not advocating the building up of Austria for a moment: I am looking at this from the point of view of the Tyroleans themselves. They are people whose history goes right back to the very earliest times of modern European civilization. They have contributed to literature the work of the great lyric poet Walter von der Vogelwiede, and 1097 of their company was Andreas Hofer, one of the great men among fighters for liberty. As I say, they are a little nation almost of themselves. The old Austrian Empire was a very loose-knit sort of affair. It was not a modern unitary State at all. Outlying portions of it had a great measure of autonomy, and among those the Tyroleans stood out. They had this great history, this culture, this economic alignment with the other part of Austria. They feel passionately that they should be re-united with their fellows to the north of the Brenner Pass. I hope that they will be heard at the Peace Conference. I hope that due weight will be attached to their arguments and to the depth of their feeling because if they are handed back to Italy it will inevitably result in the kindling of a flame which may quite easily touch off the powder train of war, or else may lead to the death and final extinction of a gallant and attractive people.
§ 6.35 p.m.
THE EARL OF DARNLEY
My Lords, I assure you that I desire to make only a very brief intervention in your debate to-day. My purpose is to advance a plea that the terms of the Peace Treaty that are about to be entered into will not be such that they will be calculated to invite or provoke revenge in the future. I must ask your Lordships' indulgence for speaking again so soon after proposing a Motion on July 10, but perhaps I shall have no other chance. I venture to assert again that the axiom which ought to be applied to the terms of settlement is to put yourself and your own country in the position of the nation that has to accept the terms, and see whether it would have a pacific effect on you or not. Surely, that is another way of declaring for the observance of the second great law of Christianity. I would like to congratulate, if I may, the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, on the two proposals which he outlined early in his speech—to leave Spain alone and to band the Tyrol over to Austria. It seems to me that those two proposals are in keeping with this law.
Objections made to my proposals on July 10 were of the general and usual type. They were to the effect that such a process as I suggested was far too good for a bad enemy, and that anyway what I said was only a lot of talk—or, as Viscount Cecil called it, "verbiage." I 1098 always regret very much that I cannot woo the noble Viscount some to my way of thinking. But I have not yet lost hope of doing so. I trust that he does not mind my saying that. He quoted the policy of the Tsar Alexander of Russia, who made a declaration of a desire for Christian behaviour between nations at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. The Tsar met with failure, but it seems to me that it was rather like the failure which is sometimes cited in the case of a man who dies under the hands of a Christian Scientist. People forget the millions of others who have died under the hands of ordinary doctors. Against that failure of the Tsar of Russia, I can quote a thousand failures which are exemplified in the wars which have taken place in the last 2,000 years, because humanity has believed in other forms of declaration: that is to say, that peace could be achieved by force, and has, therefore, formed every conceivable permutation and combination of units of force in the world to create it. And they have always failed to produce peace. This failure is surely demonstrated now in the foul mess and muddle that their cumulative efforts have made of the world to-day.
I could also respectfully draw your Lordships' attention to thousands of meetings in the Parliaments of the world, held within the last 2,000 years, for exactly the same purpose as this meeting tonight—that is to say, to condemn the last aggressor, to disclaim general reponsibility, and to form new combinations of up-to-date force to keep him and his imitators in subjection for the future. The failure of these meetings is also surely demonstrated in the world's face to-day. But now there cannot be any more failures, for there is another factor in human existence. For the first 1913 years of the Christian era, War was more of a segregated profession, which did not, to a very large extent, interfere with human existence as a whole. Now, because the scientists' brains have largely been diverted to war-making, it is a very different story.
I see it proclaimed in the Press that 200 atomic bombs would be sufficient to destroy this country. That is stated on very good authority. I see, too, that no less an authority than Sir John Anderson tells us that "chemical and biological weapons as deadly as the atomic bomb, and perhaps more insidious in their effects, 1099 have been developed." And who will say now that any forceful supervision is going to prevent the manufacture in some mountain fastness of Europe, or elsewhere, of weapons of these two kinds, which can be despatched via long-distance rocket, or whatever the means will be at the time of disseminating these latest horrors of mankind, to destroy not only this country, but many others in Europe or elsewhere, and with them the civilization of which they are part and parcel, the morale, the faith and the hope of those of the world's ordinary citizens who may be left alive? A fear such as this, of destroying the gifts of creation on such a scale, I believe to be very wholesome. I am not in the least ashamed of that.
I assert again that the advance of science, allied to the increased bitterness in the human heart, has brought the international problem to a new crisis where only a new system of pacification and neighbourly understanding can avert complete disaster. No combination of forces or supervision can stop the world destroying itself if it so wishes, and if provocative clauses are made now in the peace treaties, some unimaginable form of regenerator with unimaginable weapons will light the final fuse of that grand explosion. I suggest that you cannot get peace by nibbling bits off aggressors, by denouncing them ad libitum, by executing their leaders or by putting restrictive clauses on the activities of their new Governments, whether they deserve them or not. If it is peace you want, these actions will produce martyrs' crowns and revenges of a more horrible nature at some distant date. Have not nations been denouncing each other, judging and executing defeated leaders, and cutting bits from each other's countries, since history began? No doubt many of them deserved it richly but it has not brought peace.
The noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, talked about bringing home the aggressive character of war. How are you to bring that home to anybody? Ask all the Governments who have ever been engaged in a war how many aggressive wars they have entered into. The answer would be very few—not enough to cover a penny stamp. It is a familiar counter to the kind of argument that I bring forward from time to time, that not sufficient denunciations and accusations have 1100 been made against the late enemy. The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Maugham, brought that up on July 10, and I propose to send him by post a list of the various condemnations of the Germans that I have made, in case he may feel inclined to take that somewhat unwarranted line again.
All of us who are not feeble-minded know and realize what the Germans have done, and all condemn the violence and the exterminative cruelty shown by them and other warring nations, though we do not fill valuable hours and scarce paper with overdoses of our findings. What we do not condemn equally is the system of which these cruel puppets are the progeny—a system of assumed superiority, of competitive selfishness and force, of punishments, restrictions and rape of land which have disfigured so many of the peace treaties of the past. They are the real villains of the piece. It is only by a repeal of this system that peace can be obtained. As I said, practicably I thought, in the middle of my "verbiage" of July 10, a beginning can be made with the peace treaties now about to be signed which should be "void of punitive terms, either showing or inviting revenge." Surely that is a practical proposition. Such an action would have a very far-reaching effect of pacification and regeneration on the damaged and reactionary human fabric of to-day, and by degrees from such a start the minds of the great nations could approach a sympathetic grouping for world maintenance. Then the principle of the executioner, the gaoler and the detective could revert to the lessening nucleus of the mentally afflicted incapables, to whom alone crime is mentally inexplicable. With all the seriousness at my command, I beg of you to take what may be a last chance of applying proved psychological truth towards the establishment of peace in the world, by propounding and exemplifying a principle from which the settlement of subsequent detail must of necessity take a correct course as it arises. Until such a principle is established through the medium of correctly argued and reasoned "verbiage," the much-vaunted "practical propositions" will tend to be faultily adjusted, and will continue to help civilization to a speedy demise.
I will add only one word, in reply to the query of the noble Viscount, Lord 1101 Cranborne, on the Russian attitude. I submit to him that the Russian attitude is isolationist. That attitude is due to sufferings which have been endured in two wars, as wed as in previous history—as the noble Lord, Lord Charley, suggested. It is also due to a determination not to go through it again. That is proved by the formation and extension of defensive zones along the frontiers, with attempts to extend them into neighbours' countries, with much forceful propaganda behind it all. All obstructions by Russia to recent settlements are founded on fears for her own future, possibly aggravated by the atomic rehearsals going on in the Pacific. I suggest that the only cure for this is to start a new international process on the lines that I have suggested, which will gradually infilter into the concrete-surrounded hearts, not only of Russia but of all other nations as well.
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD JOWITT)
My Lords, I hope that at this hour of the night I shall have your sympathy, and that I shall not seem discourteous if I deal rather lightly with some of the very important matters that have been raised in the course of this debate. The matters we have been discussing are of such far-reaching importance, and the area of those topics is so great, that it is not at all surprising that the debate has taken a considerable time. I do not doubt that a debate conducted in this way, with cogent reasoning by people many of whom have had great experience of the subject matters about which they are speaking, and others who have obviously given great thought to those matters, cannot fail to be useful to His Majesty's Government in the difficult days which lie ahead. I am very sorry that I have not been able to have what I generally have when we debate foreign affairs, a discussion with the Foreign Secretary. For reasons which your Lordships know, that has been impossible; but if ever there was a case of a man who has been working too hard it is that of the Foreign Secretary. As we all know, he possesses immense courage, and he was determined to go on when he ought to have eased up. I only hope that he will prove a good and obedient patient—but I have my doubts.
I will deal at once with one topic which was raised during the debate. It is a 1102 rather more familiar one to me than some of the others. It is the question of the Nuremburg trials, and the trials of German prisoners generally. Almost the first thing I had to do when I became Lord Chancellor was to try to settle the treaty under which the Nuremburg Court was constituted. Much work had been done on it but much still remained to be done, and I confess at once that there was no topic to which I mere readily turned my hand and my brain than that of trying to get the treaty effective. As the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, has said. I believe the fact that for the first time we have laid it down plainly that to wage an aggressive war is a crime, is itself a very important step in international law and international relations. We arranged that treaty. We persuaded our Russian friends to agree with us. At first they saw all sorts of difficulties, but we obtained their agreement. Having been out to Nuremburg recently, and having seen the way in which the trial is going, I should like now, before we know the result, and perhaps because we do not know the result, to express my sense of public gratitude to the Judges and to the counsel for the way in which the case has been conducted, in absolute accordance with the very best ideals and traditions of British justice. My Lords, I have no doubt that the course and the conduct of that trial has made a deep impression upon those representatives of foreign nations who have been privileged either to hear it or, still more, to take some part in it. It is a fact that it has taken a very long time. But the subject-matter which is being investigated extended over a long time, and the number of people being tried are many. At any rate, we shall all be able to say that no man who has been tried has not had a full and fair opportunity of putting forward on his own behalf whatever relevant circumstances he wanted to allege.
The noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, referred to some other trials. I will confess to him, if it is any consolation to him, that I myself have been rather uneasy about some of the decisions I have read in the newspapers. I think in some senses it is a pity that when these military tribunals give their judgment, they do not give their reasons for the judgment. In the result, I am quite satisfied that, not infrequently, their decisions are entirely misrepresented. I agree with him 1103 that greater publicity would be all to the good. The more the public know about the facts the better it is. When he said that superior orders—I think he did use the phrase—made no difference, he was not using quite an accurate expression, if indeed that is the phrase he used. Superior orders may make a great difference to the degree of guilt or to the appropriateness of the punishment. The true proposition is that superior orders afford no excuse. That is the sound principle, and that is the principle to which I hope we shall adhere.
I come now to consider some of the other topics. Of course it is true, as the noble Viscount, the Leader of the Opposition, said, that the fundamental question to-day and in the future is going to be our relationship with Russia. He seemed to meet in advance some criticism of those things being said. I think there is no ground whatever for criticizing, not only what the noble Viscount said, but also what other noble Lords have said. To say the contrary would merely be to bury one's head in the sand. But I am bound to say that, in spite of all the difficulties—which are immense—I do not despair. Why should we despair? After all, the Paris Conference which opened to-day is the result of agreement, and, although we have to go very slowly, taking a precarious foothold, from which we hope to go on to something else, I do point out to your Lordships that a policy which pre-supposes that we have got to have a policy without Russia, leaving Russia on one side, is really almost a counsel of despair. I am most reluctant to see Europe divided into an East and a West permanently. I realize for the time being that you may have to make arrangements in the West, but those arrangements should always be arrangements into which Russia can come.
It is not for me to diagnose the causes of our troubles. It may be isolationism, although I thought the noble Lord, if I may say so, was guilty rather of defining the word" isolationism" in whatever way he liked, like Humpty-Dumpty, I think it was. It may be suspicion. But whatever it is, it is pretty effective. I remember Mr. Molotov once saying that Russia's foreign policy was based on the interests of the people of the Soviet Union, and on those interests alone. Of course, it is true that all foreign policy 1104 is based on the interests of the people. But that does not mean that we interpret foreign policy in what I may call a "beggar-my-neighbour" sense, that we think we can pursue our own interests while completely disregarding the interests of other countries; that we can pursue a mere selfish policy. Of course, that is not so, and I do hope that, as Russia gets to know us better, some of the difficulties which confront us to-day may be solved. I agree with the noble Viscount that the whole organization of the United Nations is in difficulties. We have to see that that organization which is the hope of the world can, and must, survive. But it is difficult.
On one occasion, in the early stages of a debate in your Lordships' House, I tried to pretend that I was not very disappointed because of the doctrine of the veto. Of course, like everybody else, I will say quite frankly what none of you ever doubted, that I dislike the veto intensely. But the veto was the price of getting Russia in. It was Russia in with the veto or Russia out altogether. And so we had the veto, and I must say that the veto has been a thoroughly overworked piece of the institution. Therefore I say, whatever I am going to say now about German policy from the western point of view, it must not be thought that His Majesty's Government, or the Foreign Secretary, intend to be downcast by all the difficulties of to-day, or intend to give up trying to get a happy co-operation between the East and the West.
I now come to the policy which we have to take with regard to Germany in special relationship to the settlement of the western boundaries. Your Lordships will remember that in August, 1945, it was agreed that the Council of Foreign Ministers should prepare a peace settlement for Germany, to be accepted by a German Government, when such a Government is eventually established. When that will be and when the peace treaty will take shape I do not know. It is obvious, from the discussions we had about it in Paris recently, that the divergences of view are very considerable, and there is no point in concealing that fact. On the other hand, our point of view was clearly expressed by Mr. Bevin in Paris on July 10. Our point of view 1105 is this: We approach the problem both from the long-term and short-term point of view, and on the solution of our short-term policy the success of the long-term policy must largely depend. On the short-term policy we base ourselves on the Potsdam Agreement, and contend that during the period of occupation Germany shall be treated as a single economic unit. We regard this provision as fundamental to all economic and all reparation questions. Common policies were also to be established with regard to an import and export programme for Germany as a whole. Further, the Allied controls on the German economy were to ensure the equitable distribution of all essential commodities between the various zones, so as to produce a balanced economy throughout the whole of Germany.
At the Council of Foreign Ministers in Paris the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said that if it was impossible to secure agreement on the treatment of Germany as an economic whole it would be necessary to re-organize the British zone so as to reduce the burden on the British taxpayer, but that we should wish to co-operate with any other zone on a basis of reciprocity. Mr. Byrnes, for his part, made an offer to the effect that the American zone would co-operate with any other zone that was willing to do so in such a way as to form an economic unity with any other zone so co-operating. That offer was repeated by General McNarney, the American Commander-in-Chief in Germany, at a meeting of the Allied Control Council in Berlin on July 20, and in making this offer the American representatives made it clear that their object was to abolish the division of Germany into airtight compartments and to expedite the treatment of Germany as an economic unit.
The Foreign Secretary, at the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, said that the American offer would be urgently studied by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. After full consideration, His Majesty's Government have decided to accept the American offer in principle so far as the British zone is concerned. The British authorities in Germany have been given authority to discuss details with the American authorities in order to carry this decision into effect. The arrangement to be made would include the establishment of suitable joint 1106 administrations for such matters as agriculture, trade, industry, and finance. In making this announcement I desire to stress that it is now, and always has been, the policy of His Majesty's Government that Germany should, during the period of occupation, be treated as a single economic unit in accordance with the Potsdam decisions. So far from regarding the action I have just announced as being a step towards the division of Germany into two, it is their firm resolve to continue to work towards the realization of the agreement to treat Germany as an economic whole, and it is the hope of His Majesty's Government that the Governments of the other two Occupying Powers will also join in the inter-zonal economic system which is now to be established between the British and American zones, and so help to bring about in full the treatment of Germany as an economic unit.
The question of Western Germany, and this includes the future control of the Ruhr industries as well as the settlement of the western frontiers, cannot be treated in isolation. After all, the future of Western Germany is only part of the German problem and the determination of the western frontiers cannot be reached in advance of the settlement of the overall problem. We must know what the structure of the new Germany is to be, not only in the west, but also in the east. Any settlement reached must be a complete one. So far as the long-term policy is concerned all the Allies are agreed that the complete disarmament and denazification of Germany is essential, and, even more important, that in our settlement we must see to it that future German aggression is made impossible. In this connexion, His Majesty's Government particularly welcomed the United States Draft Treaty for German Disarmament. This Treaty, if accepted by all the Allies, would go very far indeed to guarantee European security from German aggression.
Now I must say a word or two about the Ruhr and the western frontiers. There are clearly two points of view on this. The French Government believe, and this belief was re-affirmed at Paris, that only the political separation of the Ruhr will provide security against German aggression. The Russians at Paris were, however, of a different opinion. M. Molotov spoke in favour of a unified Germany. 1107 We are fully conscious that the Ruhr is a potential arsenal for war. We fully sympathize with France and those countries of Europe who have been victims of Nazi aggression in their demand for security. We remain no less insistent than the French that this arsenal shall not again be used for war. But the resources of the Ruhr, if kept under proper control, can also play a great part in the reconstruction of Europe and their use in this way may well be a better safeguard. The exact means of controlling these resources is a complicated matter requiring long and careful study. We are not prepared, as yet, to make any definite statement. The only point on which we have expressed a firm opinion is that this problem cannot be treated in isolation.
The future Constitution of Germany also requires careful consideration and study, in conjunction with the other Powers concerned. We have not come to any firm conclusion, but generally favour reducing substantially the powers of the central authority as compared with the pre-war system. The recent establishment of a new province comprising the Ruhr area and most of the North Rhine and Westphalia provinces was an administrative action taken by the British authorities in order to bring the whole Ruhr area into one provincial administration, and create a workable and well-balance provincial unit, with adequate agricultural hinterland for the industrial area. This province would be well suited to take its place as one of a number of local administrations in a decentralized German State. We are, of course, anxious to arrive at a reasonable long-term arrangement for Allied occupation of the territory west of the Rhine such as will take account of French security requirements. This would not mean the permanent detachment of this territory from the rest of Germany. So far as the Saar is concerned, we are ready, at the proper time, and as part of the general settlement of the frontiers of Germany, to support France in her proposal concerning the union of the Saar in the French economic system.
One word more about something that has been mentioned in the course of this debate. In our understanding with France, there have been some outstanding points. French statesmen have thought that until these outstanding points were 1108 disposed of, we could not get into closer and more cordial relationship. His Majesty's Government have said many times that we would welcome an alliance with France. 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. I take care to choose my words, because obviously what I say is a matter of importance. I come now to two other matters with which I want to deal. I want to deal with them very briefly. First, I want to say a word or two about the South. Tyrol. I cannot find what I was going to say, so I shall have to reproduce it as nearly as I can. The matter has been very fully discussed, and I will undertake that the observations—and I may say weighty observations—which your Lordships have made are fully brought to the attention of His Majesty's Government. Your Lordships must, however, remember that foreign policy is not conducted by us alone. It is a problem in these matters to get, so far as one can get, an agreement. It would not be right, on the one hand, that we should be accused by everybody of not being accommodating; on the other hand, I quite agree that it would be wrong for us to give away essential points. This matter was discussed very recently in another place, and I do not think I can usefully add to what was said there. I say again that the whole matter has received and will continue to receive the attention of His Majesty's Government.
I think it was last September, at a meeting of the Foreign Ministers in London, that it was decided that the Austro-Italian frontier should remain unchanged, subject to minor rectifications that might be made in favour of Austria. It was when this particular rectification was suggested that Mr. Molotov wanted to reject it out of hand as not being, whatever else it was, a minor rectification. We suggested that the best method of approach here, and the most hopeful method of approach, was for the Italian people and the Austrian people to get together to see if they could hammer out a possible solution. We still feel that that may be the best method. I would like to say, however, in view of the specific question that has been asked, that we have no objection whatever to the suggestion made by the noble Viscount, the Leader of the Opposition, that there should be a very 1109 large measure of local autonomy, although, of course, the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, has said that that really does not amount to very much if you look at past experience. Whatever may be the final solution of that difficult question of the South Tyrol, I should like to recall that the four Powers occupying Austria signed a new Control Agreement for Austria on June 28 last, which included a statement that among the primary tasks of the Allied Commission for Austria one wasto maintain the independent existence and integrity of the Austrian State and, pending the final definition of its frontiers, to ensure respect for them as they were on December 31, 1937.His Majesty's Government attach the greatest importance to this provision of the Agreement and have no reason to doubt that it will be implemented. We are keenly interested in the maintenance of the integrity of Austria, both now and in the future, and feel sympathy for her in the ordeal which she is now undergoing.
With regard to Yugoslavia, I am afraid I am in the same position. The noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, asked me about the Yugoslav refugees in Italy. So long as His Majesty's Government retain responsibility for these Yugoslavs and other political refugees in Italy, they would not for one moment contemplate repatriating them against their will, except in the case of quislings and war criminals whose surrender had been demanded and against whom prima facie evidence of guilt of a kind satisfactory to His Majesty's Government has been produced. To that, of course, the noble Lord would not object. Obviously he has not raised this question to protect the war criminals or quislings. We should, so long as we are responsible, lose no opportunity of bringing to the notice of the refugees any promises or conditions which had been stipulated by the Governments of their countries of origin which might have the effect of reassuring them and inducing them to return. When we go out and the Italian Government are there, we cannot exercise the same degree of control as when we are there; but your Lordships will remember that the United Nations did pass a resolution stating in quite plain terms that no refugee ought to be obliged to go back against his will at the behest of the power of which he is a national, merely because they demand it. His Majesty's Government 1110 were not seeking in any way to protect quislings or war criminals and continued to lend what influence they could to protect the refugees from being sent back against their will to the country of their origin merely because they are refugees.
In a few moments I have endeavoured to deal with a vast canvas. I cannot say more than this. This discussion, I think, has been a most useful and a most valuable one. I will promise that everything that has been said in this debate shall be carefully considered by His Majesty's Government, and I thank your Lordships on all sides of the House for the tone, the temper and, if it is not impertinent of me to say so, the discretion which have been shown throughout the debate with regard to what is evidently a delicate and a difficult situation.
§ 7.14 p.m.
My Lords, we have had a long and full debate and I really do not think your Lordships require any further extensive observations from me. I should like, however, to thank the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, most warmly for his reply, which was very full and very informative. I must say that the noble and learned Lord was able to say far more than I thought it would be possible for him to say. I am glad that he thought the debate has been not unhelpful. As the noble and learned Lord knows, and as the Government know, our object was certainly not to embarrass the Government or the Prime Minister in the conduct of their affairs. What we meant to do—and I think to a certain extent we have succeeded—was to try, by an exchange of views, to clarify the situation. To me, at any rate, the process has been extremely interesting and very educative. The little fly I flew over the House, the explanation of why the Russians do what they do, seems to have risen some very large and eloquent fish. Certainly I think the rather crude ideas which I put forward at the beginning of the debate have been amplified and improved upon in the course of the debate. I was immensely struck with what the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, said about policy being an affair of many strands. Of course, that is absolutely true, and it would be absurd for me to suggest that the only reason behind Russian policy is isolationism. Suspicion and these other 1111 things obviously play a very full part. My object was to put forward one explanation which I thought had not been so widely given as some of the others in the past.
The only point in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, about which was doubtful was his suggestion that the Charter of the United Nations should be altered to give Russia more votes. I think any attempt to give great nations more votes would arouse the utmost suspicion among all the smaller nations. We are all anxious that the great nations should have the fullest powers, and indeed they have a great deal more power than the smaller nations, but I think to take a step which would give them more votes than the smaller nations would be regarded by the smaller nations as retrograde.
May I say one or two words about what has been said by the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor? I feel he slightly misunderstood what I said and what other noble Lords said. I was under the impression that he thought I was in favour of the policy of going ahead apart from Russia. That was certainly not my intention. I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, that it is a last resort and a very undesirable resort, but I do not think we ought to lose sight of the fact that it may one day be necessary. I think that if the Russians felt that whatever they did we would never go ahead without them, and that they could hold up the whole progress of diplomacy and improvement in relations between nations, nothing but harm would result. I am not, however, advocating that as an ideal course but only as a last resort.
I would like to say one word about what the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, said about Germany. I think we ought to be extremely grateful to him for having given us so full a statement. He went a long way and I think his declaration was extremely meaty and will want a good deal more consideration than most of us have been able to give to it up to now. At the same time we are all, I think, glad to hear that the Government have found it possible to accept the American proposals. That is all to the good and it is a very definite step in the right direction. As I expected, 1112 he was not quite so definite about the political future and I do not intend to press him this evening. I thought that what he did say, so far as it went, was encouraging. He gave a picture of the conception which was in the mind of the Government and which I certainly think is a move towards the sort of views we have expressed. I felt there was still rather too much emphasis upon the unified political whole, but that is a personal view which may not be held by other people.
Of course, what he said about France will be warmly welcomed by everybody in this House, in whatever part they sit. There is no doubt that close relations between us and France must be one of the fundamental planks of British foreign policy at all times. Most of us regretted that greater progress had not been made since the end of the war to put this upon a proper and enduring foundation. I have no doubt that what the Lord Chancellor has said will be read with interest and approval on both sides of the Channel and I hope it will lead to some definite action.
I had one or two remarks which I wished to make in answer to the noble Earl, Lord Darnley, with whom I have crossed swords before, but I see that he has been unfortunately obliged to leave the House. The views of the noble Earl get nothing but sympathy in this House; his objective is exactly the same as all our objectives, but I cannot help feeling that if he were perhaps to be appointed to some office in the Foreign Office, in a short time he would find that things were not quite so easy. That is perhaps unfair to him, but it always seems to me that the noble Earl sits in his library or in his study and he sees it all so dearly, but when you are down in the traffic it looks much more difficult.
I have nothing more to say except again to thank the Government for what has been said on their behalf, and to say, on behalf of all your Lordships, how much we hope that the Foreign Secretary will have a very rapid and complete recovery. I beg to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, with-drawn.
§ 7.24 p.m.
My Lords, I have raised the question of the western 1113 boundaries of Germany on several occasions during the last nine months and I have never until to-day received an answer that gave me any real indication of the Government's policy. I want to thank the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, to-day, for having lifted at least a corner of the curtain and for having given us a glimpse inside. I hope that on the next occasion he will be able to improve upon that. In the circumstances I will not move my Motion.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ LORD VANSITTART
My Lords, there are a number of points which were raised in speeches subsequent to mine and in the reply of the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, on which I might have wished to comment, but I would on no account dream of doing so at this late hour. I feel I have already exhausted my ration of your Lordships' time. The only comment I would make is to echo the wish that the Foreign Secretary will very speedily recover from his illness. I regard his absence even for a week from that Conference as being most unfortunate. I wish him a speedy recovery and then good luck. I also do not move my Motion.