§ 4.8 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
had given Notice that he would call attention to the foreign situation, and move for Papers. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I should like in the first instance to express my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Rankeillour, for having kindly postponed until next week the Motion which he had upon the Paper for to-day, thereby allowing priority to the Motion which stands in my name. This Motion is one of vast scope, and it is clearly necessary for me to impose rigid restrictions on the portion of it which I am to endeavour to approach. I have noticed in your Lordships' House that by some strange new rule of arithmetic the greater the length of speeches the less is their weight, and the less influence they exercise upon your Lordships' minds. In fact, the greater the demand upon your Lordships' attention, the less it receives. Fortunately, two of my noble friends will be speaking in the discussion to-day, namely, the noble Earl, Lord Perth, and the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, and they will be dealing with a variety of points touching particular regions of particular countries, as well as the question of the atomic bomb. I shall therefore eschew all of those and limit myself in the main to the international situation as it now stands in the light of the recent discussions at the United Nations Conference, and in the light of the course taken by Soviet Russia there and subsequently. I may have a few observations also to make on the subject of the food shortage in Germany, India and elsewhere.
Your Lordships will probably expect first a reference to be made to a great speech that was delivered two days ago, the echoes of which are reverberating round 1226 the world. Mr. Churchill returned to those lofty themes and that inspiring tone and temper which so greatly distinguished his utterances during the war, uplifting the hearts and sustairing the energies of his fellow-countrymen and of all freedom-loving peoples everywhere. Speaking in America, it was natural that he should specially dwell upon the relations between this country and that. I am certain that he will have universal assent and approval here in his plea for the fullest measure of co-operation between the two countries that is advantageous and practicable. For my own part, I have taken a share in many discussions on Anglo-American relations in your Lordships' House and previously in the other House and elsewhere, in season and out of season—and during the controversies on the British debt to America after the first great war many thought that such pleas were out of season—always advocating, to whatever extent I could, the closest co-operation that might be acceptable to the people of the United States. Mr. Churchill two days ago made proposals for what he termed a fraternal association, and they consisted mainly in a permanent arrangement for joint defence, for sharing all naval and air force bases throughout the world, the standardizing of military equipment in the two countries and an interchange of officers and cadets at the colleges.
It is a commonplace to say that questions of defence and questions of policy are inseparable, and closely integrated military forces must postulate an integration of the policy which those forces are intended to defend and to promote. So far as resistance to aggression is concerned, there can be no question as to unanimity of opinion on the two sides of the Atlantic. But when it comes to the day by day, year by year, course of policy in Europe, in the Middle East, in the Far East and elsewhere, we should not be surprised if public opinion in America hesitates to commit itself too definitely in advance to common action with this country, and we should not be surprised or regard it as unfriendly or as a rebuff if, at all events at the present time, opinion there were to take that course. Mr. Churchill made the proposal of course on his own responsibility and on his own behalf. The subject now has been launched for public discussion, and 1227 I would venture respectfully to suggest that we should wait now for American opinion to express itself and that it would be inadvisable for any of us in your Lordships' House or in this country generally to give the impression that we are pressing for any particular course to be taken in these matters by the American people. Let further initiative come from them.
Furthermore, we must be exceedingly careful lest there should be any appearance in the eyes of the world at large that the English-speaking nations are seeking to grasp any form of hegemony in world affairs. It is certain that any tendency in that direction would be resented, not only in Russia but in France, in other European countries, in South America and among smaller States generally. They are sensitive on that particular point, and especially at this moment when this over-mastering weapon of the atomic bomb happens to be in the hands of three States, all of whom would be members of such an English-speaking union.
No doubt the other nations of the world would welcome Anglo-American co-operation in supplying initiative on proper occasions, leadership even, but not if it became, even in appearance, the case that the British Commonwealth and the United States were so closely united, both in policy and in power, as in fact to dominate the proceedings of the United Nations and the action of the world. The League of Nations had the appearance at times of having been controlled too much by a close understanding between the British Commonwealth and France, who, it was alleged, in their own interests thought only of maintaining what happened to be the status quo in Europe. The United Nations Organization, consisting of fifty-one members, would not be satisfied if it seemed that two of those members were seeking to exercise preponderance, by a combination both of force and political influence. There would quickly be a reaction, and it often happens in public affairs that excess of strength may prove to be a weakness.
The outstanding event since we last discussed these affairs here in your Lordships' Chamber has been the meeting of the United Nations Organization. That organization is now a fact. Already, so soon after the ending of this great war, it 1228 is actually in being, established, visible in all men's eyes. It has taken its place, for better or for worse, for success or for failure, for a long period or for a short period—who can say?—in the great book of human history. The United Nations have ceased to be a collection of peoples and has become a collectivity. A philosopher has written that we must learn to look upon the universe, not as an aggregate but as a whole; and so we must learn to look upon the United Nations, not as an aggregate but as an entity, as a whole.
It might have been expected that at its first meeting the United Nations Organization would have been able to devote its energies to more or less formal business, to its own establishment, to its procedure. But, unhappily perhaps, it was called upon, even so young, to deal with some of the most delicate and difficult political questions that could possibly have been brought before it. Looking back, I think we must come to the very clear conclusion that, given that situation, the decisions of the Assembly and of the Security Council were just, judicious and sensible. After all, those bodies consist of responsible men, accustomed in their own countries to the handling of public affairs and well accustomed to coping with difficult situations. When it is thought to be perhaps illogical that a large number of secondary or small States should be called upon to sit in judgment upon the great ones, the same might be said of the jury system, which is more illogical than any other human institution, where, quite haphazardly, a number of individuals are chosen by lot to decide difficult cases of a judicial character, yet the jury system works exceedingly well, and we may in a sense regard the Assembly of the United Nations as a jury empanelled from mankind.
The controversies that arose at this meeting were due to the somewhat unhappy state of Anglo-Russian relations. We on these Benches cannot be accused of Russophobia. The attitude of British Liberalism and, I think, the attitude of the British Labour Party has been consistently one of good will towards Soviet Russia, particularly in recent years, and I presume the same is true of the great majority of the Conservative Party also, although there are some of its members who are antagonistic on grounds of principle to the Soviets. My noble friend the Earl of Perth and myself in 1229 recent controversies about the Eastern frontier of Poland, the Curzon Line and East Prussia, took a course favourable in the main to the Russian case. I confess I am at a loss to understand the present attitude of Soviet Russia. They complain, and complain bitterly, of our seeking close and friendly relations with neighbouring States in Europe. British Liberalism, to quote my own Party again, has consistently for 150 years, ever since the time of Charles James Fox, advocated a close friendship with France. We have all been ashamed of the centuries of history which were a succession of desolating wars between two neighbouring countries, and ever since a happier relationship was established at the beginning of the present century we have all been in favour of a cordial entente with France; and we rejoice at the growing closeness of our cultural and political relations. Similarly with regard to Belgium, Holland and Scandinavia. It is not a question of building up a Western bloc to establish a balance of power against Russia. We, for our part, condemned the whole principle of the balance of power and repudiated it long ago as a principle that should act as a guide in our international relations.
If Russia did not at this moment exist, if there were some vast sea in the land now occupied by her, our policy towards these western States would be precisely the same. Because Russia, happily, does exist and because, unhappily, she is full of nervous apprehension is no reason why we in this country should change a policy with regard to our western neighbours which is right in itself. No doubt many of these apprehensions in the minds of the Russians are quite sincere. She has suffered in modern times six invasions, the invasion of Napoleon and the burning of Moscow, the Crimean War, the war with Germany in 1914–17, the invasion by the Polish Armies following upon that, then by British troops being sent to Archangel and by the Western Allies supporting the White Russian Movement under Kolchak and Denekin, and, worst of all, this last invasion, occupying and desolating a large part of Western and Southern Russia. Those are bitter memories in the minds of the Russian people; we all recognize that and sympathize entirely with the Russian demand for future security.
1230 During the last year there was throughout the country, irrespective of Party attachments, a feeling of very genuine friendship and goodwill towards Soviet Russia; we fully recognized that she was entitled to make herself, so far as she could, secure against a repetition of invasions of her soil. But now, it must be confessed, that sentiment of general goodwill finds itself somewhat vitiated, and there has been a progressive feeling of what I can only call exasperation at the course which has been taken by Russian policy of recent months. If that were our own fault I should not hesitate to say so: and if I thought it was due to any action taken by His Majesty's Government we on these Benches would not for a moment hesitate to criticize such action. But viewing the matter as impartially as I can, I cannot attribute it to any particular action of His Majesty's Government. Russia suffers in these days, by her own acts, from one of the greatest disabilities that can possibly afflict a nation, namely, the maintenance of a censorship of news and opinions and a Government-directed Press. A country which lives under such a censorship and which is served by such a Press is like a man compelled to wear a bandage over his eyes. He does not know what is going on, he never knows what is coming to him, he is alarmed at a touch, for he does not know but that it may precede a blow, and, being himself blindfolded, he strikes out blindly at the first alert.
Then again Russia has adopted a policy of deliberate isolation. The Communist movement, having begun with the motto of Marx ana Engels "Workers of the world unite,' seems now to be adopting the principle "All peoples of the world, keep isolated." That is a fatal state of affairs for the promotion of good international relations, for them cannot be promoted merely by contacts at the top, through Governments and Parliaments and by means of conferences and treaties; they must be promoted by contacts at the bottom between the peoples. A policy of censorship and isolation is a terrible handicap to any country. Russia needs security, but is not security best obtained by surrounding yourself, if you can secure it, by a general atmosphere of good will; and is not security most impaired and threatened if you surround yourself by a general atmosphere of annoyance and antagonism?.
1231 The Communists have always regarded Soviet Russia as the last word in the humanitarian spirit of modern internationalism and of human solidarity, but now it appears that Russian foreign policy is to adopt the crudest methods of wholly discredited eighteenth and early nineteenth century diplomacy. If some other State does something objectionable, then you are not to ask for modifications, to discuss questions in a friendly spirit and put forward good grounds for a change; your procedure is for you yourself to do something much more objectionable, perhaps in two or three different places, and then to trade off the two against one another. If Russia has grievances with regard to the Straits of the Dardanelles, or, as she may have, a legitimate grievance with regard to the continuance of General Anders' Army of Poles in Italy, or if she has proposals to make with regard to her future relations with North Persia, with China or with Japan, surely the right course is to discuss all those matters, to say what her case is and to enlist the sympathy and support of other countries, not to seek to bring pressure all round the globe on every point at which it would appear that other countries are sensitive. It is a good maxim which statesmen would be wise to remember: "He who makes many afraid of him has, himself, many to fear."
When the Conference of Foreign Ministers took place in London a few months ago, and again recently at the meeting of the United Nations, these difficulties arose and became very prominent. Persia presented a case which, on the face of it, was quite a legitimate case for discussion, but it was immediately met by a riposte on the part of Russia, who presented what they claimed to be a similar case against Great Britain with regard to Greece and Indonesia. That was clearly an error of policy, and it led to the strange dénoument that when the case with regard to Greece was heard, and judgment which would have been adverse to Russia was about to be pronounced, the Russian representative used, in effect, the words, "I object," and prevented any award being pronounced. It was somewhat like the remark alleged to have been made by a trade union leader on some occasion: "Call this Arbitration? Why he's given it against us!"
1232 This veto in the hands of any of the five great Powers seemed to us here on this Bench objectionable in principle when it was adopted at the San Francisco Conference. At the same time, we all thought, and I believe that your Lordships also thought, that it was better to include the veto in the Charter of the United Nations rather than run the risk—it was almost a certainty, or at all events a probability—of Russian withdrawal from the whole scheme. That we thought then, and we still think, would have been the worse alternative. It would have meant that many issues that were really dangerous would have been withdrawn altogether from the purview of the United Nations, and the Organization would have led a truncated existence, excluded from the consideration of those matters which most needed its attention.
It might, perhaps, on the whole, be a good thing that there should be another alternative to either acceptance of award on the one hand or withdrawal, or threatened withdrawal, on the other. The veto, in its present form, does supply such an alternative, and if its exercise is the only means of preventing the mutilation of the United Nations Organization, then it is the better of two bad courses. After all, the discussions of the United Nations, and the opinions expressed by the representatives of all the various States included in the Security Council and in the Assembly, did show what the opinion of the world really was, and in the end a result was achieved in several of these matters. For example, the British and the French representatives did not, for a moment, think of employing the veto on an award being given with regard to Syria and the Lebanon, and when the award was vetoed from another quarter, they immediately declared that they were ready to fulfil what was the obvious desire of the United Nations as a whole. Seldom has a British Foreign Secretary had a more difficult task to perform than that which fell to the lot of Mr. Ernest Bevin. He is a man without early training in these concerns, and he went into a sphere of action that was new to him. He dealt with these questions, as I am sure the House and, indeed, the whole nation will agree, with courage, frankness and wisdom. He is not one of those of whom a present day poet wrote. 1233He's so altruistically moralHe'll never take his own side in a quarrel.Surely it is better that there should be public discussion even if ending in avowed disagreement rather than secret diplomatic manoeuvring ending in platitudinous declarations which are wholly deceptive, and merely a preliminary to some later breach which may be fatal. As a mild and subordinate criticism one might, perhaps, suggest that Mr. Bevin would have been better advised not to have objected to the proposal that a Commission of Inquiry should be sent to Indonesia. He said, in effect: "That would be an injury to British prestige." His words were: "The whole honour of the British Government is involved in this matter." It is, surely, a normal and proper course for any organization called upon to adjudicate first to make inquiry into the facts of the case, and although in this particular matter it may be true to say that to send a Commission of Inquiry might have done more harm than good in Indonesia, it was not for us as the party impugned to say so. If it would do more harm than good, the Security Council would have recognized the fact and have said so. On grounds of general principle, any country which is indicted should never oppose investigation, and the more unjust is the accusation that is made against it, the more striking will be the vindication. If it should so happen that there was some element of truth in the accusation, why, then, the nation should be exceedingly grateful to be told of it, so that it might bring the actions of its own Government, or its local agents, into conformity with the policy which it had itself proclaimed.
One might suggest that, perhaps, Mr. Bevin, under the stress, was a little too ready to speak of, and to show, resentment. Once or twice he was not very far removed from the use of that phrase, which has such evil associations, "My patience is almost exhausted." As I suggested on a previous occasion he was perhaps in a little danger, against his will and expectation, of getting a reputation as a modern Palmerston. That is very dangerous to any statesman, particularly a statesman on the Left. It is, no doubt, very easy for anyone when his country is under attack or criticism, to give back as good as he gets, and he will 1234 secure at once an easy popularity in any country and at any time. Perhaps it would be well that our representatives in these negotiations should pay greater regard to that possibility.
Here and everywhere, after six years of war, all that the peoples want is a period of peace and quiet. We want to wind up our wartime commitments as completely as possible. British troops have been withdrawn from Iraq and Persia. They are being withdrawn from Syria and the Lebanon. We want to withdraw them as speedily as possible from Indonesia so soon as we can be assured that the withdrawal would not give rise to local chaos. The same is true with regard to Greece and Italy. If Russia is exercising pressure in Manchuria, in Persia, in the regions of Trieste and of Turkey and elsewhere I hope that our Government will not yield to any temptation to retaliate in kind. That might give rise to a most disastrous situation. After all, in Russia there are sudden frequent changes of policy both in external affairs and domestic; to the great embarrassment of the Communist parties in various parts of the world which find themselves swung from left to right and back again. It may be that Marshal Stalin, who has the reputation of a man of wisdom and foresight, may find that lately he has been on a mistaken course and that a different disposition in that quarter may lead to a sudden easing of the situation. However that may be, I am sure he would find an immediate response from this side.
The session of the United Nations Organization taken as a whole showed a long agenda, almost all of which was carried through with success and after discussion with but little controversy and no obstruction. It is an error to concentrate on difficulties and failures and not: to remember the successful beginning of the building up of a great constructive achievement. Remember, too, all the work done by the subsidiary and associated organizations connected with the United Nations. Attention has been concentrated on the Security Council because it was dealing with the most urgent, dangerous and exciting subjects, but without going into the matters dealt with, the mere names of all the various bodies which have already been set up and are now operating indicate the vastness of the field of work 1235 of the United Nations Organization. There are the Economic and Social Council, the Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Bank and Monetary Fund, the European Central Inland Transport Organization, the Trusteeship Council, dealing with colonies and mandates, and the International Court of Justice. There is a grand range of institutions already established. Furthermore, not yet integrally united with the United Nations, there are the International Labour Office and the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. If it were not for U.N.R.R.A., while we sit here in your Lordships' House this afternoon we should be reading that hundreds and thousands of people at this moment would be dying of famine in various parts of the world.
That leads me, before I conclude, to a brief digression on the world situation in relation to food supplies, and any survey would be incomplete and unreal which omitted that. Famine is at hand in India and elsewhere and shortages are very acute in many countries in Europe. The Government is fully seized of all these matters and is showing every activity in its power. Nevertheless very drastic cuts have been announced in the supplies to Germany in the British zone and I feel somewhat concerned at the spirit which has been shown in this matter in this country in certain quarters and even occasionally by His Majesty's Government. The only interest in the subject seems to be to make sure that the Germans are not so starved that they die or become centres of infectious diseases, or that the disturbance of their minds is not so great that riots and violence might break out, needing suppression by our troops. In fact the attitude taken up was that it was our own interest which was involved and the people must be persuaded that what they did must be done for their own sakes. That seems to me to be the wrong spirit entirely in which to approach this matter.
I noticed that last year a statement was made by a British Colonel, a member of the British Military Government in Germany, which was reported in the Press and which seemed to me to be a dreadful statement. He said: 1236If we are bringing food in here it is because we do not want their rotten corpses to infect our troops.I do not quote this officer's name because he may have been misreported, but surely that was a hateful thing to say. In the first place it would be a complete breach of International Law, because the Geneva Convention requires that it is the duty of the Occupying Power, so far as it is physically able to do so, to see that the population has sufficient food, irrespective of who was responsible for the war and irrespective of any crimes which may have been committed in its prosecution. Secondly, that utterance had very little of religion in it, either the Christian religion or any other religion. Thirdly, there may be a worse infection from Germany than physical diseases, and that is if we become infected with Nazi ideas of ruthlessness, injustice and cruelty.
There were some who became impatient at the length of the trials of the criminals of Belsen, criminals at whose crimes the "world grows pale," and they would have desired, apparently, to see the exercise of something like military lynch law and all of them shot straight away. But it was found that one-third of those charged with the crimes were not guilty of those crimes and they were acquitted and released. I regard that as one of the finest vindications of Allied justice. So it is with regard to the feeding of Germany. We have a duty there apart from our own interest. I do not think that the Germans should have precedence over the Indians. I think, on the other hand, that the need in India is probably greater at this moment than in Germany, but I think some criticism is merited of an utterance by the Minister of Food here which seems to have given the impression that so far as he was concerned he would rather see famine in Germany than some minor discomfort in Great Britain.
I see now in this great Organization of the United Nations, with its associated and similar bodies, the I.L.O. and U.N.N.R.A., the gradual beginnings perhaps of a World Government divided up in its several administrative departments. That gradual development is the right line of progress. In a generation or two this organization may grow in stature and strength, and grow together. That would be far better than some effort to establish suddenly a world constitution with a single Parliament elected by the 1237 2,000,000,000 peoples of the world, or even a Parliament elected for Europe alone, with a Federal Government left to wrestle as best it can with the sixty national Governments and Parliaments that would still be in existence. Growth by stages is the only stable and lasting growth. Let us recognize the difficulties that face the United Nations and let us not fall into despair because there are difficulties. I am certain that your Lordships' House, the Legislature as a whole and the British people, will devote their utmost efforts to promote the full success of this great international organization. I beg to move.
§ 4.51 p.m.
§ LORD ALTRINCHAM
My Lords, at the beginning of his most interesting speech the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, expressed the opinion that your Lordships' patience and attention to speeches of any length was less than would have been shown by your ancestors. We may live in degenerate times, but I think while I am a very new recruit to this House I can, in your Lordships' name, assure the noble Viscount himself that his speeches are so witty and so illuminatedly phrased and illustrated that he is never likely to overtax the patience of this House. For my part, however, I do feel very much ashamed for taxing it once again this afternoon after having done so yesterday, and I am speaking now only because of the most regretted absence of the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, and because my colleagues on this Bench wish me to make observations on certain matters which are causing us all very grave concern. I shall not press for answers in this debate upon these questions. I realize that it may Ibe difficult for the Government to give information at the present time, but if the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack is able to give us any information on them when he winds up the debate this evening we should be very grateful to him. I am sure that your Lordships in all parts of this House very deeply regret the absence through indisposition of the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, and we look forward to the day when he is able to take his place on this Bench again.
The first quarter of the world on which I would like to say a very brief word is the Far East. Evidently events in that quarter of the globe are moving fairly 1238 rapidly towards a time when there must be a comprehensive decision upon a number of fairly cognate questions. I will discuss them separately, but they are linked with each other. They are questions of a political nature, of an administrative nature, of an economic nature and more particularly concerned with security. I am sure that we are all satisfied that in these matters the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, and the Government of India, are kept fully informed, but we should like to be assured of something more. We hope that they will be called into counsel before decisions are made both here and there, and that it will not be a case of their merely being informed at a distance about what is being done and their comments being communicated to us. I press that particularly because representatives of the Dominions, including the southern Dominions and India, will be here in the course of next month and a very good opportunity for a detailed discussion of these very serious Pacific questions might then be found.
Next I come to the Middle East. In Persia, Russia appears to have broken, in a very abrupt: mariner, a Treaty engagement which she made with us. She may have good reasons for doing so. We all know that difficulties sometimes arise about engagements of that kind and we have our own problems in regard to these questions of occupying forces ourselves, but I think we would hasten to give our Allies an explanation if we found ourselves compelled to default on any engagement we had made, and I should like to ask whether the Soviet Government has given any explanation of her action in Persia to her Allies.
I would say a few words also in regard to the Levant States, Syria and the Lebanon. I must express great regret at the fact that those two Governments, the Syrian and the Lebanese Governments, were not taken into consultation before the Anglo-French declaration of evacuation was made. After all, they are independent States and we were discussing what was going to take place in their territory. If the great Western Powers come to decisions and make declarations without taking such Governments into consultation, they inevitably gave the impression that those Governments are being treated as inferiors; and 1239 they create an atmosphere of difficulty which really ought not to arise. I am sure that the difficulties which have arisen over that joint Anglo-French statement—the serious effects of which are still felt in both those Republics—are difficulties which would not have arisen if they had been taken into consultation from the start. I hope that kind of mistake is now being corrected and that they are being fully consulted about everything which is proposed. There would certainly have been no appeal to the United Nations about France and ourselves if we had consulted them in advance, and I think it is a pity always to give the impression, even in the course of the proceedings of the United Nations Organization, that the affairs of these States are being discussed by the greater ones off-stage. It has a very unfortunate effect. We understand that Syria is now being evacuated and I hope that we shall hear that the evacuation of the Lebanon by British and French troops is not to be long delayed, because it is quite as important as the evacuation of Syria.
Now I come, with dome hesitation, to Egypt. The situation there has evidently deteriorated very gravely in the last six months. It is something quite unlike the situation which existed when I left the country last July. We on this side, and I am sure the whole House, greatly deplore recent events in Egypt and particularly the loss of life amongst our own Forces there and the loss of Egyptian lives. We hope that the Egyptian Government will prove capable now of reestablishing firm and adequate control. We also regret very much the straining of relations between that Allied country, which has been so vital to us in the war, and ourselves. To comment on the causes of those strained relations would, I think, serve no useful purpose at the present moment, and therefore I refrain. But one point I should like to make. I understand that we are now proposing to enter into negotiations with the Egyptian Government on the renewal or revision of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936. I hope in that case that we shall be dealing with a thoroughly representative Egyptian delegation. I think it would be a good thing if it were known that we would much prefer to deal with a delegation which represents 1240 all the parties in Egypt at the present time.
I hope also that we ourselves will approach this question of revising the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty (which we have quite rightly expressed ourselves as being ready to do) on very broad lines. The strategic position of Egypt is of very great importance to us, as has been proved in all great wars, going back to Napoleonic times, and even before then. It is in some ways remarkably like our own. In the strategic sense, both the British Isles and Egypt are vital to causes which are of great importance to the world. We are both now much more vulnerable than we used to be in the past because of the development of the air arm. In the old days, Britain had her moat in the sea, and Egypt had her deserts. The sea is now not impassable, and the deserts are now not impenetrable. All that has been altered by the conquest of the air Both therefore have lost the kind of security on which they used to be able to count, and both have reason, to guard themselves more particularly against the danger in this era of the atomic bomb. If there is anywhere in the world more vulnerable to the atomic bomb than Great Britain it is Egypt, whose whole life depends on the broad stream of the Nile: Therefore for both countries security is not a question of the arrangements, military or otherwise, which are made within the national frontiers of that country. I need not say this to the noble Viscount opposite, who wants us all to become even more air-minded than we are. But security must obviously depend, in the case of Egypt just as in our own case, on an understanding with many States outside our own national frontiers, and indeed perhaps at some considerable distance from them.
The United Nations Organization cannot give a guarantee of security which we can take as adequate for ourselves, or which Egypt can take as adequate for herself, for some time. This Organization will take time to grow, and it seems to me, therefore, in the case of Egypt, we have an obvious case for a regional security arrangement such as is contemplated in the Charter of the United Nations. I do not see any value in discussing the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty or the new form which it might take, except on broad lines of that kind. As I say, I do not press for a statement on the sub- 1241 ject, but I hope the Government will be able to assure us in due course that negotiations are to proceed on that broader synthesis, on the wider stage, comprising other governments interested, which I have proposed.
Those are the only individual questions which I wish to raise, but before I sit down I should like to say a word upon the recent meeting of the United Nations Organization in London, which was so fully and illuminatingly dealt with by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel. First I should like from this Bench to congratulate the Foreign Secretary on the firmness and cogency with which he represented us both in the Security Council and elsewhere. The case which he had to state for us on the issues which were raised was, I think, unanswerable. I think that was the general feeling of all present. But good as was the case he had to make, he made it admirably and undoubtedly created an impression upon the minds of all present which was valuable to this country. I would not compare the struggles which took place between our representative and the representative of Russia with the struggle between David and Goliath, because, while the comparison perhaps represents the size of our country as compared with the size of Russia, it does not do justice to the size of the two protagonists. Mr. Bevin, fortunately for us, I think, is not the light and slender figure which is usually associated with David, in the form, for instance, which was conceived by Donatello five hundred years ago, and immortalized in bronze. I should rather say it was a contest of two Goliaths, and we are very proud of our own Goliath, and of what he did for us there.
Everyone will agree, however, that while the conduct of our case on these individual issues could not have been more cogently or better carried out, single combat between outstanding champions of great Powers is not desirable as the normal procedure on the Security Council, particularly when the champions engaged are, and desire to remain, firm Allies. One of the things that happens is immense embarrassment of all the other States. The noble Viscount referred to them in his speech as representing a jury. In a sense that is true, but jurors are, after all, supposed to be men who can not have any possible interest in the decision the Court gives, who are abso- 1242 lutely independent in mind. That is not true of a single Power on the Security Council or the Assembly or elsewhere. These people are deeply interested and they are very embarrassed, more particularly by differences between great Powers, and I think we have to remember how much the Security Council and the Assembly is bound to suffer in that way unless the great Powers really pull together in the proceedings there.
For that reason we most particularly welcome the speech which was made after the meeting of the United Nations by the Foreign Secretary in another place. If I may say so, it seemed to us a very wise, a very timely and a very constructive speech. For one thing it lowered the temperature, which was very much required, and for another thing it showed quite clearly that the Foreign Secretary was prepared to go beyond these individual issues which are at present arising between Russia and ourselves, which are obviously only the symptoms of some deeper trouble, and to find the cause.
We want to find why Russia is acting in this way and how we can meet the Russian fears or the Russian ambitions; how we can justly meet them in order to prevent these struggles from taking place. Mr. Bevin suggested that he was ready for a fifty years' treaty with Russia in place of the twenty years' treaty which now exists. I think Mr. Eden welcomed that proposal, and Mr. Churchill, who was in some ways very critical of Russia in his recent speech: welcomed it too. I need hardly say that we on this side wholeheartedly concur. Russia, I am sure, is not out for war; it is inconceivable, I think, that any country which has suffered from war as Russia has suffered from this last war should be out for war, at any rate for any period that we need consider. Nor do I believe, from their history and their character, that the Russian people are a people disposed to aggression as the Germans undoubtedly were and perhaps still are.
I believe, therefore, that the Russian leaders, with the Russian people, are deeply anxious to avoid war. In the speech recently made by Marshal Stalin, the last speech at the election, he promised a great devotion to the reconstruction of the country, a much wider supply of commodity goods and a higher standard of life for everyone. All these things are 1243 quite incompatible with further preparation for war. I think we can undoubtedly say that, and it is some comfort to be able to say it. But there is no doubt that Russia is also very deeply preoccupied about security, and that she pursues it in what may prove a very dangerous way. I do not wonder at her preoccupation about security, because she has been the subject of invasion from the west of Europe five times in the course of about 150 years, and the scars left upon the Russian people by those invasions and, indeed, by those interventions, are very great. The suspicions created by the recent one still go very deep—there is no question about that.
What is deplorable, as it seems to us, is the fact that the Russian desire for security really takes a dangerously aggressive form. It seems to be a Russian maxim that there is no security for Russia anywhere except by the propagation of Communism. If that is really to be the Russian view, it is aggression against other States in the form which is bound, in the end, to lead to the very kind of struggle which she wishes to avoid. I think we ought somehow to try to bring that home. Communism, of course, feeds on oppression and misery, and we are all one with Russia in wanting to make an end of those things. The only security for our type of democracy is a contented people. If it cannot produce that, then certainly some authoritarian system will come in. Everything depends in Western Democracy upon the contentment of the people. I therefore profoundly agree with the Foreign Secretary that economic policy is fundamental to the way in which we approach the problems of the world at the present time. But the process of the propagation of Communism is, I think, not liked outside an area which can be regarded as within the Russian sphere.
The determined propagation of Communism where Communism has no natural footing at all is very disturbing to the Western world, which has its own history and its own ideals. If I may go back to a point on which I touched a minute or two ago, that kind of difference is particularly disturbing between the great Powers because it produces what your Lordships all know to be one of the classic causes of war, and that is the struggle between great Powers to control smaller ones. The desire to spread their 1244 influence here and there has proved one of the most fertile causes of war between great Powers. I think, therefore, there is a real danger which we ought to try to bring home, that this Russian insistence on the underground propagation of Communism is likely to produce the very lineup which Russia fears, and is likely to bring upon Russia consequences which are just the opposite of what she herself expects. The economic recovery which we desire and she desires may certainly prove impossible in many parts of Europe without a political démarche on this issue. Internal conflict will be too great. A broad understanding between ourselves and Russia is therefore indispensable.
I would say only one word in conclusion on how that understanding is to be reached. What is to be our road? Most certainly we do not wish to criticize attack or weaken the Russian system, economic or political, on its own ground. Russia has her own history which is very different from ours. She has a character and a temperament derived from her history, from her climate and from the inborn characteristics of her people which are very different from ours. We have no quarrel with a system which suits them and which they wish to adopt in their own sphere. All we want to do is to make sure of preserving our own and of building up the welfare of our people on the democratic Parliamentary lines which we ourselves prefer. I think we can say, with our hands on our hearts and with our hearts on our sleeves—Mr. Eden has often said it in another place—that there is really no conflict of vital interests between ourselves and Russia. I cannot conceive, apart from this question of the undermining of the political conceptions in which we believe, anything on which we are likely to have a vital difference with the Russian people. But there is a danger in that.
I read somewhere the other day an article in which that great European, Senor de Madariaga, described the danger of the present time as a danger arising from the fact that we had left behind us physical war but had passed into an era of mental war. I believe that to be true and I believe we ought to deal with it. This situation is extremely like the situation which confronted Canning and the British Government in 1820. Canning at that time had to deal with an authori- 1245 tarian system, the Holy Alliance, based on legitimism and autocratic government, and on the other side with a very new republicanism in the American continent and a growing nationalism in many parts of Europe itself. I read the other day the speech he made in the House of Commons in April, 1823. He said we were witnessing a strife between the spirit of unlimited monarchy and the spirit of unlimited democracy. He went on to say that between those two spirits it might be said that strife was either openly in action or covertly at work throughout the greater portion. That is a very true description of what is going on at the present time. We should all feel what Canning said he felt. "I should not sleep easy on my couch," he said, "if I were conscious that I had contributed in any way to precipitating a struggle between those rival principles."
What was Canning's method of dealing with a situation so similar to the situation with which we have to deal? He dealt with it by defining clearly, for everyone to know, what our position was, what we regarded as vital interests and what we were prepared to waive. There was, for instance, then as there is now, the question of Spain It was the time of the Bourbon restoration in Spain, and France marched in. Canning refused to intervene, and he refused to intervene on one condition, namely, that this conflict remained limited to Spain and did not bring in the Spanish-American Colonies, which he regarded as belonging to the freer world guaranteed by the Monroe Doctrine which we had then undertaken to support. As your Lordships know, in the years which followed, Europe went through many different evolutions. We sent "Redcoats" to Portugal, back to their old place in Lisbon, because Portugal was our Ally. But in all the evolutions of Europe which followed during the nineteenth century, that system did at any rate keep the peace and the world had a period of one hundred years free from any major disturbance.
I suggest that we define very closely what our vital interests are in Western Europe. The noble Viscount spoke of the importance of our being able to act in close concert with France and with our natural neighbour Powers. In the Mediterranean, in the Middle East and in 1246 the Far East let us say quite definitely what our vital interests are. Let us put our cards on the table, as the Foreign Secretary has always said he was ready to do. Russia has certainly done so, but the only trouble is that her vital interests always seem to be enlarging, and there must be a limit somewhere. The United States has done so too; she proclaimed very clearly what her vital interests were at the meeting at Moscow, and since then it has looked once or twice as if, having secured Russian agreement, she is prepared to disinterest herself in Europe and the Middle East. Some of the comment on Mr. Churchill's speech obviously takes that line. I suggest, then, that the Government should define exactly what our vital interests are, and I hope that an exchange of views between ourselves, Russia and the United States may very soon prove possible on that basis. We have something to contribute. We have, I think, a freer international sense than either of those two great Powers. We have long had to deal—much longer than they have—with the outside world. We are the heart of a Commonwealth which consists of absolutely free but nevertheless very unequal States. We have therefore, I think, an understanding in these matters which they in their very much more closed systems have not got. I hope therefore that we shall play this middle role which deems to me essential to our security and to the peace and recovery of Europe, and that we shall begin the process by stating quite clearly what our vital interests are.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR AIR (VISCOUNT STANSGATE)
My Lords, I should like at the beginning of my anxious task first of all to congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, on his speech and, secondly, to complain that the case I hoped to be privileged to make was made by him far more effectively. It is not the first time in forty years here and elsewhere that I have looked to him for leadership. There is a measure of agreement, but some aspects of the case as I shall present them may not meet with the approval of all of your Lordships, and, if so, I hope you will believe I am exercising what I understand to be the right of a member of this House to express himself freely in the public interest. The noble Viscount referred to the speech by Mr. Churchill. I will say 1247 nothing about that, except that the Government's policy is based not upon groups of nations but upon the United Nations Organization and the unity of the world. The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, dealt with the recent meeting of U.N.O., and there are some remarkable features about it. The fact that its positive achievements were overshadowed by differences which the Press thought more dramatic makes it more desirable that we should bring home the very significant things that in fact were done. VJ Day was in August and by Christmas, after the wonderful work of the Preparatory Commission, the foundations of this Organization were laid. Compare this with the first Assembly of the League of Nations in Geneva, which did not take place till 1920. The second thing was that it included every nation in the world, great and small, except the Nazi and Fascist nations, and we hope that will come later. It was a true World Assembly. The League of Nations contained no Russia and no America. This time, so far from the United States being isolationist, I do not know how many of its cities competed for the honour of being the birthplace of U.N.O., as fifty-two cities, I believe, competed for the honour of being the birthplace of Homer.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
I thought it was fifty-two, but then I am not an educated man. Furthermore, there is no sign of this Organization ceasing to be the permanent organ of world affairs. Those are very great gains. As regards the Assembly, to anyone who is interested in the growth of democratic Parliaments, the general features of the development of the Assembly are extremely encouraging. Firstly, all, great and small, had their say; there was freedom of speech. Secondly, there was a willingness to accept the decisions of the majority. Whenever there was a disagreement with the Soviet representative it was headlined in the Press, but in true fact time and time again in the Assembly the Soviets were defeated on various points, as, for example, the status of the World Federation of Trade Unions, yet they accepted the defeat and worked wholeheartedly and cordially with all the rest. This willingness to accept the decisions of the majority was one of the most notable features of the first meeting of the 1248 Assembly. Thirdly, there was the general will to make the thing work. I think if you have freedom of speech, acceptance of majorities and will to make it work, you get a very good catalogue of the elements which have made for the success of our own Mother of Parliaments.
Of course it was not in the Assembly that the Press found its interest; it was in the Security Council, because the affairs of the Security Council were of more immediate and more general interest. At the conclusion of the war it is quite natural that every State should look about with a view to taking measures to ensure that this sort of thing shall not happen again, and that its own security is assured. Take the United States; we see the precautions that they have been taking in the Pacific and in the Caribbean, at Chapultepec, and all the other steps which have been taken to secure freedom from all aggression in the Western Hemisphere. In the case of the British Commonwealth, we differ in our geographical distribution from other great Empires; we are scattered; we are not a compact mass, and for us it is not a question of hemispheric protection or of land frontiers. Our concern is not so much with frontiers as with our communications, and it is natural and right that we should secure these.
Then you come to the U.S.S.R. It is a great land mass, and the demand to have secure borders is in every way justifiable. One of the questions we are discussing today is whether security is the whole aim of Russian policy. If I say a word or two about Russian policy to-day, it is because I believe that an understanding and an appreciation of the Russian point of view is one of the most important elements if we are to have a happy issue from our conflicts. We have most of us lived long enough to remember the birth of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In those days it was regarded by many in Europe as an unwanted child. Many people and newspapers looked hopefully forward for the demise of that child and did what they could to bring it about. There were twenty years of ostracism which was only broken by Mr. Anthony Eden's very successful visit to Moscow in 1935. These are all things to which the British public cannot pay too much attention.
We must understand the Russian view of the invasion. I will not go back to 1249 the time of Napoleon or the Crimea, but will speak only of the 1914 war, the intervention in 1919, and 1941. Especially in 1941 did the Russian attitude toward the Germans develop. I had dinner with a Russian General the other day, and I asked him about that beautiful little palace of the Empress Catherine at Tsarkoe Selo and what became of it. "Oh," he said, "the Germans burnt it. They destroyed it entirely." It had no military value at all, but they destroyed it because as conquerors they were anxious everywhere to extirpate physically as far as possible the Russian people, and, what is very precious to the Russians and to the world, Russian culture. In trying to assess their attitude towards things, we ought to remember first the humiliation of Brest-Litovsk and the touch-and-go of Stalingrad, which ended in that amazing triumph which we all welcomed with pride and joy. It is not surprising, therefore, if Russia to-day feels a sense of giant strength.
Anything that we could do to understand the Russians and to make them understand us, I believe, would be well clone. The study of their language, the study of their literature, the interchange of people, would all help. There was a Youth Conference recently in Moscow, and I believe it met with very great success. If we could persuade the Russians to come here in numbers and let us go there equally, it would, I am confident, make for the good of the world. I wish it were possible to persuade them to accept the agencies for spreading understanding in their own country. What the noble Viscount said under that head was very true. Some means must be found of letting the Russian people know that they are facing in this country not a Government that is hostile, or that ever was hostile, or that contains elements that were ever hostile to them. The Government consists very largely of people who in the darkest days of Soviet history stood by them when they had few friends in the world. A Government representing the common people and I believe representing a nation which holds by all that Mr. Bevin's words import when he said he would welcome an extension of our treaty with Russia to 50 years and expressed the earnest wish that we should grow together in confidence.
One might expect that the Soviet Union would be mainly preoccupied with 1250 the further development of the unlimited resources of their own vast territory. Marshal Stalin's election speeches, as the noble Lord has said, indicated that his mind was turned inwards. That would be all to the good, and one would expect that would be their natural attitude. Unfortunately, from day to day there have arisen new elements of friction. The noble Lord is a historian. I am not. He was able to quote Canning, but I have lived long enough to be familiar with some of the names of the places which come into this—Finland, Poland, the Straits question, the Persian and other questions have before now affected Russian and British relations. They have affected our relations for a century. I do not say that all of them, but most of them are old issues. They belong to the times of the Tsars. I do not remember that people complained very much in those days. "We don't want to fight, but by jingo if we do" was written in the year I was born. But people did not think so much of the Russian terror in those days. There was sometimes friction between the two Governments but we managed to get through after the Crimean war without any war until they were our Allies in 1914. We are not living in the time of the. Tsars now. We have not in this country a Government or people with the mentality of those days. And yet these problems arise again.
What are these problems? Let us look at them frankly. Let us have all the cards on the table, and seek for a mutual understanding. That I believe is the general desire of the people in this country. But it must be remembered that we live in new times. There is the wireless to be taken into account—I am not sure whether Marconi was a world-benefactor or not. We live in days of propaganda, and it conies not only from Russia, but from elsewhere too. There have been people in this country who thought that world-opinion could be revolutionized by wireless propaganda on the principle of "What I say three times is true". Not: only wireless but there have been between the wars in Europe great developments of propaganda by other means than wireless. If when travelling abroad you went into a barber's shop for a haircut, you were almost certain to be faced with a picture of the local dictator. It might be Metaxas or 1251 Mussolini or someone else, but there was his portrait facing you, and underneath there was some slogan—you could not read it, of course, but perhaps it meant, "Help him to finish the job", or something of that sort.
We, in this country, do not believe in propaganda. We believe in debate. The House will, no doubt have learned with pleasure that the ministry of Information has been abolished. We believe in debate. But there it is: there is this propaganda being poured out, and it is regarded in some quarters as a modern method of diplomacy. The question is, has the institution of U.N.O in these circumstances improved or worsened our condition? I remember when I was a boy going to see a play called Diplomacy. I do not know who was the author of that play. Perhaps some noble Lord can tell me.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
In the play Diplomacy we are led to understand that the fates of nations were settled by secret papers which were passed into the snowy bosom of a traitorous bathykolp. That is not the method now. There has been a brutal frankness in the debates of U.N.O. which leave no one in any state of doubt. The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, said that be thought that at times Mr. Bevin was too downright. Still it is very difficult to conduct a debate unless you are downright, and I think it was a good thing to say plainly what was meant. It was said in the face of the world. Are we better or worse in that respect? I say we are better.
Question after question was raised about Persia, Greece, the Levant and so on. The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, spoke about the proposal of a commission for Indonesia. We were there doing the bidding of the Supreme commander in the Pacific. That was our job. Whether it would help negotiations between Shahrir and the Dutch I very much doubt. I think that was a ground of rejection. To turn to Persia, which was certainly a puzzling business, I am informed that no answer has been received to the note we sent to Moscow, but the great thing is that it has not passed out of the grip of U.N.O., this 1252 world organization. This was a newborn organization and yet this infant has carried a great burden. It would be a mistake to overstrain it and bring before it subjects which are not properly those for it to deal with. If it did so well as an infant I think we may look hopefully to the help which it may give to the world.
It is a pity that in the Security Council more attention was not given to the immediate and urgent problems of the world. The immediate problem of the world is hunger. There is a grave food shortage not only this year but, unless the weather changes or great new areas are sown, for at least two years to come. But in all this the Assembly was not altogether helpless. There was a debate on U.N.R.R.A. which I think secured the addition of some £20,000,000 to its funds and there was a general debate on famine which led to the great growers of food making generous offers—I am referring to Canada, Australia and America—to help to meet the needs of the world from their resources. There was, in addition, as has been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, the setting up of the Council of Human Rights and of the Social and Economic Council. The Council of Human Rights was set up on the motion of the Ukraine, a very interesting fact. The Social and Economic Council envisages a vast scheme of world economic planning, a conception which comes from the Soviet Union itself.
People say, and it is suggested very much at the present time, that the world is in the grip of conflicting ideals and I think that here I am going to differ from the noble Lord. On the one side is political liberty and on the other side economic democracy. As for individual liberty, the love of it is in our very bones. It is in these islands that it saw its birth, growth and triumph and it has spread into a commonwealth of free peoples, a constellation of States great and small, each enjoying its own sovereignty, which might well be the model and envy of the smaller States of the world. This is for the white peoples but now at this moment of military success we are offering—I would almost say pressing—freedom on what has hitherto been a dependent Empire. I do not think that the match of that has ever been found.
But political liberty is only half the picture. Just as there can be political 1253 tyranny, so there can be economic tyranny and never has it been so needful to plan not for the few but for the many. Some would represent political freedom as the enemy of economic freedom and say the price of political freedom is economic servitude. In that conflict would lie disaster. I should like to read a passage from The Times of Wednesday which sums up this point. It says:Western democracy and Communism … have much to learn from each other—Communism in the … establishment of political rights, western democracy in the development of economic and social planning. The ideological warfare between western democracy and Communism cannot result in an out-and-out victory for either side. The issue will be determined neither by clashes of eloquence nor by clashes of arms, but by the success of the great nations in dealing with the problems of social organization…In a word, our only hope lies in an integrated effort to satisfy both the material and spiritual needs of one world
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ LORD LINDSAY OF BIRKER
My Lords, the fears I felt when I first addressed this House are not really as great as when I rise to speak of foreign affairs knowing myself to be a political theorist among practical statesmen. I recall the story of the American who had to meet Booker Washington at Washington at the White House. He said "I was not going to call him sir, I could not very well call him nigger, so I compromised and called him professor." I am happy that this debate was opened by a distinguished honorary fellow of my college from whom I have learnt so much and I remember that there was a time years ago when a fellow called Ned Grigg and I used to belong to the same society, which curiously enough was a Liberal one. It is difficult to choose in debating politics whether you will survey mankind not exactly from China to Peru but from China to Azerbaijan, or whether you will deal with generalities and fall into the danger of being vague and abstract. I should like to start with China with which I have very strong concern, but I will not.
What I mainly want to say is that in this matter we want to distinguish between short-term foreign policy and long-term foreign policy and be very clear about the relation of the two. What we are concerned about is peace, the 1254 peace of the world and the organized peace of the world. After this devastating and frightful world war there is not very much danger of another world war for quite a time. There are ground swells existing and there are rows and tryings-on here and there, but nobody can really believe that any of the great Powers are going to make war for quite a time or even think about it, and therefore we have got time. How long we have I do not suppose anybody knows. I do not suppose anybody knows how long it will be before there comes a generation which runs public opinion which has forgotten about the war and does not share the opinion of its elders and in fact regards them with contempt. I should have thought possibly fifteen years is safe, though it is ominous to remember that fifteen years from 1918 comes to 1933 and we remember what happened in the spring of 1933.
We have fifteen years to make a repetition of world war impossible. However silly we are, even if our politics are as silly as those we followed between the wars, we have that breathing space. What we have got to ask is whether we are laying foundations of a lasting peace, and whether we are making a machinery and an institution which will meet the crisis if and when it comes, assuming it: will not come for some time. I think that is the attitude we ought to take of these things which have happened. May I first say that if you think about that time you have to wait, the fifteen years, do not let us rely on our maintaining the same attitude, our feeling the same, or even persisting in the same alliances.
It has been my fate and happiness in the years between the wars to be in the position where I saw generation after generation of young men coming up. I could see the difference between the generation of men who had been through the war; then that troubled generation which had just been waiting to go into the war and never did; then the generation who had just heard of the war—but that is all—and then the generation who had been born after the war and to whom the war was just a thing which people talked about, and I think that would quite certainly happen again. My father, who was a Presbyterian Minister, had a sermon on the last verse of the Old Testament, "The 1255 hearts of the fathers shall be turned to the children and the hearts of the children turned to the fathers." Being a Scot and, therefore, having a sense of humour, he used to say the text did not say that the heads of the fathers would be turned to the heads of the children, because that was too great a miracle even for God, and I am sure that is true.
I am sure that if we think that those who come after us a generation hence will regard us with an unwonted and unusual respect, we are mistaken. There will come a time when the youngest of us here will possibly find out that their children are saying, "Do not go into the dining room, Dad and Mum are telling each other what they did to win the Great War, and do not let us have any more to do with it." I am sure there will be that revulsion of feeling. I recommend your Lordships to read, if you have not already done so, a book by R. B. McCallum, called Public Opinion and the Last Peace, where he traces the quite incredible reversions in English public opinion which happened in those years. That is nothing to the reversions which happened in America. I think we may be perfectly certain that would happen again, and unless our foreign policy is based upon enduring interests and real foundations, it will not hold.
One of the greatest qualities of the English is, I think, that they have short memories. I say the English because my nation, unfortunately, has rather longer memories, and if you press me too much I will begin to talk about Bannockburn. But the memories of my nation are nothing compared with the length of the memories of the Irish. When I talk to my noble friend Lord Pakenham about Ireland he is apt to get to Cromwell in about two sentences and to Strongbow in about five. Europe is full of people who think with hate and bitterness of what people did at Mohacz or Kossovo. These memories are the curse of mankind. It is one of the really great qualities of the English that they do not remember, and they meet the occasion at the time as the situation demands. Do not let us be ashamed of it, and do not think we are suddenly going to change and have longer memories, because we are not.
To rely on teaching that the Germans are always wicked, the French are always 1256 good, and the Russians—I am not quite sure what—we shall find it will not work. We have got to try and do something more enduring. We have, therefore, I think, to, try and build an institution which will stand the weight when weight is put upon it, and everybody knows that it will not do that now. One has got to ask what chance is there of doing that? Here, and I say this with great trepidation, because I see in front of me the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, who knows infinitely more about this than I do (and at whose feet in this respect though not perhaps in others I sit with humility) something about the atom bomb.
We are inclined, when we look at the working of the U.N.O., to say that its great defect is the veto, and that we should try to remove vetoes and get a body which can, by a majority and not unanimously, resolve to take decisive action. I venture to say we had better not be in too great a hurry about that. I want to say about the U.N.O. that I am sure we should use all the time we have and not try and produce a beautiful and perfect edifice which is quite lovely, with the one exception that the people do not trust it. It is much better to have an imperfect machine which people have tried and worked and trust rather than the lovely edifice which people do not trust. Therefore, I think we ought to go slowly and carefully, to recognize—and this is a great advantage—that what is wanted is not made yet and we cannot rely upon it too much.
I think one of the things that went wrong last time was that the formation of the League of Nations was so remarkable that people tended to say "The whole thing is done and we need not worry." When I look back in years between the wars, being a man, as I am sure your Lordships have observed, of a singularly impartial mind, I think all parties were really to blame. I do not propose to say anything about the obvious beam in the eyes of the noble Lords opposite me, but I want to say something about the equally obvious mote in my own. I think a great mistake was made on our part of the House in that there was a section which tended to say: "There is the League of Nations and that is that. We need not worry, we have done it." Nobody is going to think that we have done that with the 1257 Security Council as it now stands. There is, therefore, some consolation in the kind of things that happen on the Security Council. We recognize at once it is an instrument which is not yet able to do very much except keep the Germans in their place—and they are already there—and keep the Japanese in their place, and they are already there. No person in his senses is very much afraid of them. There are quite different things we are afraid of, but we do not say too much about them.
The one thing I think that overshadows what is happening at the present time is the effect of the atomic bomb and the fact that the secrets of the atomic bomb are not shared. Can anybody really doubt that is what is wrong with Russia? No one can. It is right to say that what Russia is concerned in is security, and she is concerned because of the fact that the terrible power of the atomic bomb is shared by certain nations and is not shared by her. It seems to me that, being in that position, she is just making herself as unpleasant and as awkward as she can, and she proposes to continue to do that. That is the way she plays that game, and I do not think we ought to be too worried about that part of it. What we have got to be worried about is what have we to do about the atomic bomb?
How long have we got? I do not know. The noble Lord opposite probably does know, or he can conjecture. Let me guess that we have got from three to five years; I do not know if that is wrong. I am going to guess that for the moment. I do not suppose that we have very much longer. What are we going to do and what do we think we ought to do? Ought we to try and hurry up and have a world organization to which we can trust this frightful power of destruction? I am of a mind to suggest we should do nothing of the kind at all. What we should try to do is to see that the atomic bomb is used for no purpose whatsoever, not even for the purpose of a world organization if such exists. Does anybody really suppose that Russia or any suspicious nation is going to be happy in entrusting that frightful power to a world organization of any kind? That is surely the real and formidable problem that we face.
What are we going to do with a power of this kind? I am told by some people that the appearance of the atomic bomb 1258 will at once make us give up all our distrust and agree to entrust the power of it only to the Security Council if vetoes are removed. I do not really believe it. I do not really see that we are to suppose that a Government, even if it were elected by the people is always just as good as those and never does any harm. After all, there was a man called Hitler who was quite legally elected by adult suffrage, who got power in a perfectly legal and orderly and quasi-democratic way. I think that is entirely the wrong line to follow with regard to the atomic bomb. What I should like to see is something to ensure that the thing is never used. As I see it, it should not even be used for the maintenance of law and order. It does not pay to use too terrible weapons for police purposes. We all know that one of the difficult things about international relations under the League of Nations was that the sanctions were too weighty to be easily used. The law should not depend upon that type of force. If policemen could only stop little boys from stealing apples by ham-stringing little boys, they would not ham-string little boys, they would leave them alone and the law would not be respected. The law is respected just as much because you can fine people 15s. and costs as because you can in the last resort hang, draw and quarter them.
These terrible weapons are not of any use. And yet although you do not want that force, you do want force to keep the peace, and there I suggest that people are wrong in supposing that the atomic bomb has made armies and other forms of force obsolete. What we want to do then with regard to the atomic bomb is to try and find some way to ensure that these powers are never used. We want to concentrate our power in such a way that other people all over the world will know that there is at the disposal of some organization, more scientific knowledge, more up-to-date instruments, more up-to-date equipment than anybody else is likely to have, so that it will be certain that if anybody else uses the atomic bomb there will be prompt and immediate and proper retaliation. I think that is the only way we can stop it. How are we going to ensure that? How are we going to ensure that this power can be used for that purpose and no other? I do not know I can only feel my way by sug- 1259 gestions. I suggest to your Lordships that the example of the United States Constitution with its divided powers is far more suggestive than our Constitution with its concentration of powers under Parliament. I want you to consider, as I consider myself, an organization like the Supreme Court. Who controls the Supreme Court in the United States? Nobody. They have their own legal training, and their own legal tradition.
The only way of controlling the use of a weapon so terrible as that of the atomic bomb is that it should be in the hands of people whom you can trust not to want to use it for any other purpose. That is the only way we can stop it. How can we provide a body of that kind? It ought not to be as difficult as it sounds. We all know masses of people whom we can perfectly trust to have the atomic bomb if they could be insulated from national strife and political influences.
When I was an undergraduate with the noble Lord opposite to me I used to go and hear lectures given by Dr. Edward Caird, and I remember a tag of Hegel's which he quoted: "The wounds of reason can only be healed by deeper reason." The wounds of the scientists can only be healed by the scientists and I take courage because there seems to be growing up a real international world of scientists who live on sharing their views and discoveries, who do not believe in secrecy, and believe in publication, and believe they have a public duty. Can we not put them in the position where they have responsibility and power? If you could there would grow up in that community of scientists a feeling of responsibility of the kind that there is in the legal body like that of the Supreme Court in the United Nations.
If I am not boring your Lordships, may I just put to you what I would like to suggest in a formal way? I have three proposals: (a) that all information be given and the laboratories and factories entrusted to a special council consisting of scientists elected from each of the eleven nations represented on the Security Council and a number of scientists from other nations co-opted by the first eleven, and an equal number of international lawyers elected by the principles governing the elections to the 1260 International Court at The Hague; (b) that this joint council be entrusted with research into the development of atomic energy, both constructive and destructive, to present a periodic report and a budget to be assessed on the various nations according to their taxable capacity; and (c)—and here is the vital and, I admit, dubious proposal—that this council be given authority to consult at any time with the military staff committee mentioned in the Charter, and to have authority to use the national air force contingents mentioned in Article 45 for retaliation on anyone using the atomic bomb or other indiscriminating weapons put on a prohibited list by the Security Council, but for no other purpose whatever.
I do not know if that is practical politics; I think myself it is. I should like, however, to know what else is, in the situation in front of us. I think there is hope that such a council might grow fairly quickly if it had the great good fortune to be guided by somebody with anything like the sense and constructive power of the great John Marshall who made the Supreme Court of the United States. It might grow in that tradition, and then you would have, for the first time, a body concerned with world unity and security which was powerful and had overwhelming force behind it. If you did that, I think you might bring it about that these horrible things were never used at all.
But I quite agree that this would have a chance only if we could somehow or other get through the period of bickering and distrust with which we are now confronted. May I just end by saying something about that? It is clear that what dominates us is, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, has already said, that world peace is largely in the hands of three great Powers, two of whom, though in different degrees, are new comers to this game of world responsibility. We have therefore got to be patient. I think—and on this I venture, with great respect, to differ from what Mr. Churchill said about the matter—that we may exaggerate the extent to which we feel just the same and act in the same way as the United States. Their Constitution, their traditions and other things about them do not allow them to play the international game with such freedom and comparative ease as we do. They have 1261 their own manners and ways of conducting foreign relations, and they are not exactly ours. We have to get accustomed to them.
I should say that that is far more true of Russia. When I read the proposals of Mr. Vyshinsky, or the various things which are stated in Russian papers, I am reminded of a governess of my mother's, who used to say to her young charges: "It is not that your manners are bad, my dear, but that you have no manners at all." I think that is the way in which Russia meantime acts. We ought not to be too disturbed about it. I think that Russia, for reasons largely connected with her distrust, "tries it on," and if what she tries comes off, so much the better for her and so much the worse for us. I feel also quite certain that no good whatever is done by appeasement or by being "smarmy," or by not saying exactly what we think about it. I believe we get ever so much more respect from the Russians for standing up to them. They have no grudges about it; it is a difference in manners.
There is a story of Grattan's Parliament. There was a very fierce debate in the House (and your Lordship's will forgive my quoting this even in inverted commas). One statesman, making a fierce attack on another, referred to his "procuress of a wife and his two prostitutes of daughters." Somebody said afterwards to him: "But you must have known the lady was in the House with her two daughters." "Oh yes, I did," he replied, "I came with them to the House." It was all in the game that he said those things, and I venture to suggest, quite seriously, that Russia is partly in that tradition.
One last word. May I ask what our end is? It is a double end: the common end of trying to organize the peace of the world, but also the end of holding up the ideals, the purposes and the hopes of Western Europe and Western European democracy. If we desert and are unfaithful to that, we shall be doing a frightful wrong to the world. It is worth our being clear about the different conceptions of democracy as held by the Russians and as held by ourselves; otherwise confusion is the only result. Russia, quite sincerely, has the same view of democracy as had Aristotle. He defined democracy as, "Government of the poor, 1262 by the poor, for the poor," and Russia thinks the same. Russia, therefore, if she contemplates the existence of the noble Lords opposite, is bound sincerely to say: "Is this called democracy? Why are these people not shot?" And I am not quite certain whether that would be confined to the opposite side of the House. I also wish to say that I am not sure that in certain historical or social conditions that is not the only kind of democracy you could have. I am not sure that Russia is wrong in supposing that democracy in, let us say, Rumania or Bulgaria, or some of these South-Eastern Europe countries, can mean much else but that.
We mean by democracy the kind of thing in which there is a responsible and tolerated opposition. If you will excuse me being pedantic, nobody meant that by the word "Government" before Oliver Cromwell; until his time we all supposed that you had to believe the same thing and have the same faiths and that toleration was a wrong thing. I used to have the pleasure and pride of possessing a rare American pamphlet called The Simple Cobbler of Agawan in America, which, in about page 4, suddenly says:My heart has naturally detested four things; the adulteration of the coinage; the standing of the Apocrypha in the Bible; the coming in of foreigners to take the bread out of our countrymen's mouths, and the toleration of divers religions or of one religion in segregant shapes.'Then it goes on to say that:He that assents to this last, if he examine his conscience by daylight, he will find he is either an atheist, a heretic or at the best the captive of some lust.That is the view of people who do not believe in toleration and who passionately believe the other way. It will, I think,. take a long time before that great country in Eastern Europe, from whom we have learnt a great deal, learns the lesson it took us in favourable circumstances a very long time to learn. But that does not make toleration and our kind of democracy any the less precious, and it does not hide the fact that were that form of democracy to go and were it to be replaced by a democracy based on government of the poor by the poor the world would not be greatly poorer. We have a perfect right—indeed I think we have a duty—to uphold in every possible way we can that conception of western democracy, 1263 and if we think it can best be done by new organisations and by relations between the Western European powers, we have a perfect right to do it, and I hope we will, quite clearly and emphatically, say we have and do so.
In this division of opinion on democracy in Europe, what is to happen to the ambiguous heart of Germany? I say "ambiguous" because Germany has never been quite one or the other. I think it would have been a frightful loss to Europe if German thought had not been there at all. If you think of the centre of Europe as a great vacuum, I think you are entirely mistaken. To go back to what I said earlier, I think you are also mistaken if you suppose we are going to think about the Germans twenty or twenty-five years hence in the same way as we think of them now. I think it is time we stopped indulging in what I call inverted sentimentalism about Germany and asked ourselves what we are going to do about the existence in Europe of 60,000,000 of one of the most capable and efficient races in the world. I do not know the answer. Somehow we have got to contrive to give to Germany something to do without making it possible for her to rule anybody else. I do not think a nation as great as Germany is going to be anything but a source of unhappiness and misery until she is given something to do, but I am sure it has got to be done by making perfectly certain that she cannot do the same as she has done in the past. I see from the Order Paper that we are going to have a discussion about Germany in the future, so I will say no more. Nobody really supposes that we will get democracy and understanding of proper beliefs in Europe by people who are allowed to be desperate and starving. That situation breeds despair, and despair breeds more Hitlers.
§ 6.26 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord who has spoken with such wit and such wisdom about the connexion between the short-distance view and the long-distance view on foreign policy. I am sure that what he has said to you about the atomic bomb and the form in which he has drawn up his proposals will receive careful attention from statesmen 1264 as well as from scientists. My remarks will be confined to a single immediate illustration of the menace of famine, of which the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, spoke in his opening speech. I refer to the drastic cut last Monday in bread and cereals for the average consumer in the British zone in Germany from 1,500 to 1,000 calories. It was a decision of the Cabinet, made, it is said, in face of a direct report from Field-Marshal Viscount Montgomery that this cut would immediately lead to a fall in the output of the Ruhr coal mines, the risk of civil troubles, riots and disorders and a new strain on the British Forces, as well as epidemics difficult to control or confine. The cut is so serious and has such obvious connexion with foreign affairs that I have been encouraged by the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, to bring it up in this debate.
First, I would like to remark on the extraordinary suddenness of the cut. It has surprised the British officers, it has surprised the Americans and also the Russians, and to the Germans it has brought consternation. Compared with the average British consumer's allowance of 2,800 calories, 1,500 calories means bare subsistence, but that level has been maintained for the last few months by the great ability of the Military Government. The food deficit in the British zone and the reasons for it have long been known. Why is it that, like a bolt from the blue, the order comes now for a reduction by one-third to 1,000 calories, which is near starvation? We are also told that the deficit is so grave that unless large new supplies are brought in the rations will fall to 700 calories by the end of April, and some mention a lower figure and an earlier date. That, for large numbers of the urban population, in the end means a sentence of death. I would like to remind your Lordships that the rations in Belsen camp started at 1,200 calories and never fell below 800. I am quite certain that Military Government has done, and is doing, everything it can to emphasize the gravity of the crisis. There are obvious economic and political repercussions. For example, there must be an immediate fall in the output of coal in the Ruhr; all categories of consumers are affected and severe cuts have been made in the extra rations for the heavy workers. It is impossible for the Indus- 1265 trial workers and for the coal miners, with such reductions, to work to their maximum capacity, and the effects on the European countries which depend so much for their real on the Ruhr must be disastrous.
Nor can Britain, with its own coal-mining difficulties, well supply the deficit. It is feared that there may be riots and civil disorders Last Friday's Daily Telegraph, describing the consternation that had been caused amongst the Germans in the British zone, referred to shadow plans in the possession of local military commanders for dealing with riots." Does the Government suppose that British soldiers could fire on a starving population, including very many women and children, that permanent order could be maintained by such methods, or that democratic recovery could be hastened by such methods? The real question is not whether order will be kept by the soldiers, but whether the soldiers will stand for famine conditions of such gravity in an area under their control. I am sure that your Lordships will not have forgotten the lesson of the end of the last war when Field Marshal Lord Plumer secured the ending of the blockade by Mr. Lloyd George's Government because he said his soldiers on the Rhine could not stand for the misery of a starving population about them. And what about the political effects on the rest of Germany. With 21,000,000 in the British zone starving, and millions likely to die, with industry dead or decaying, British prestige is bound to suffer a deadly blow, and the whole Western democratic idea, of which Lord Lindsay has just spoken, will be fatally compromised, and nihilism will get further and further sway. I do not want to exaggerate the political consequences of the decision, but even if my prophecy were ill-founded, I am on still stronger ground when I turn to our moral obligations. It was Mr. Churchill, speaking in the name of the Coalition Government, who in August, 1940, in the darkest days of the war, said:We can and will arrange in advance for the speedy entry of food into any part of the enslaved area … so that there will always be held up before the eyes of the peoples of Europe, including—I say it deliberately—the German and Austrian peoples, the certainty that the shattering of the Nazi power will bring to them all immediate food, freedom and peace.1266 It was Mr. Churchill, again, who said, speaking for the Coalition Government on January 18, 1945:The President of the United States of America and I, in your name, have repeatedly declared that the enforcement of unconditional surrender upon the enemy in no way relieves the victorious Powers of their obligations to humanity, or of their duties as civilized and Christian nations.Addressing the Germans, he added:We demand unconditional surrender, but you well know how strict are the moral limits within which our action is confined. We are no extirpators of nations, or butchers of peoples. We make no bargain with you. We accord you nothing a: a right. Abandon your resistance unconditionally. We remain bound by our customs and our nature.These pledges, which we all regarded as binding, involve the whole British nation in a moral responsibility.
In addition to the economic there is a political and psychological crisis. A great part can and ought to be played by the Germans themselves in the battle with famine. Let the German farmers recognise their obligations to the country. Let the producers and the distributors work to their maximum capacity. Let it be brought home to every man in the British zone that his personal contribution to recovery is vital. Let central economic agencies be set up in Germany, able to negotiate with other countries about imports. Let industrial activities be spurred so that they may produce exports. But, desirable as all these things are, they can-riot be effectively achieved by the men to whom the appeal is made unless they are given a proper responsibility and a voice.
At present all open criticism of Military Government is banned, and the Parties and the industrial and public organizations are powerless compared with the overriding power of Military Government. As long as the authoritarian system lasts, it is idle to admonish these organizations and leaders to rally to the support of an official policy. Here is a test of Western democracy. In the Russian zone political activity is encouraged, although it is of a nature and pattern very different from our own. With everything at stake in coping with the famine, is Germany to be allowed to see no other pattern of democracy than the Communist? So, in order to get the maximum effort out of the German people for production and for exports to pay for the food, let the Government take steps to give the fullest opportunities in the British 1267 zone for self-government, free speech and free assembly.
But when everything possible has been done by Military Government, and the Control Commission and the Germans themselves, it is true that the crucial factor is the shortage of wheat. As the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, has said, this is not a question of a few months or even of one year, it must extend over at least two years. There is a world deficit for 1946 of seven million tons of wheat and a probable world deficit, unless steps are taken, of eight million tons for 1947. No wonder that high expectations, or high hopes, are entertained of Sir Ben Smith's mission to Washington, and of his conversations with the Combined Food Board. The problem of hunger is a world problem. The whole system of allocations should be put on a world basis and unless there is a general revision of allocations, the political, economic repercussions will be world wide, and all over the world in India as well as in Europe, millions will die.
Lastly, something may very well be expected from ourselves in the United Kingdom. In spite of the strain of the war years, the nation has, according to statistics, enjoyed good health all round and according to the report of the Ministry of Health for 1944, the civilian death rate for that year reached a record. It is a great tribute to the temper of our people that they have stood the controls and the sacrifices for so long and with so little complaint, but I believe that if the British people are informed of all the facts they would be ready to stand the controls and the sacrifices a little longer still. According to Mr. James Byrnes, the American Secretary of State, the prewar stocks of food in the United Kingdom were normally one and a half million tons. According to the same authority, when the war broke out they stood at three million tons. On December 31 last they stood at 4,200,000 tons. On February 28, according to an answer given in another place by Dr. Summerskill yesterday, they stood at 3,600,000 tons, with the remark that this represented a seasonal fluctuation. The suggestion which I should like to make is this, that we should go back to the figure of three millions at the beginning of the war. It seems reasonable to ask that in the present terrible situation, when millions are 1268 doomed to death from starvation, our stocks should not stand higher than they stood when war broke out, and it seems reasonable to infer that there can be nothing very far wrong with ourselves and our security if we leave ourselves with double the ordinary pre-war stocks.
I think there may be other ways, too, in which this country may help. For one thing, we can surely abstain from an in-crease in rations. Dr. Summerskill, either yesterday or the day before, suggested the probability of an increase in the meat ration. Such an increase could only be obtained from the food stocks held in reserve or from imports, or from new production. The question I should like to ask is: Should we add to our own provision just now while there are so many threatened with starvation? I am sure that everybody in your Lordships' House desires to do what is the right thing in this contingency and I do want to maintain that what I am concerned with is not the provision of comforts or luxuries or extras. I should be the first to say that Germany should be at the very bottom of the list with regard to comforts, luxuries and extras. But your Lordships will see that what we are up against is starvation, and when it is a case of sheer starvation, whoever the individual may be, and whatever his nationality, whether Indian, Russian, Pole or German, we cannot decently refuse whatever aid we have if the appeal is simply that of a human being to be allowed to live. I would again remind you that the decision which has been made by the Cabinet is the reduction of the bare subsistence ration by one-third at one blow from 1,500 calories to 1,000, and that by the end of April unless action is taken the reduction will be to 700 or less, lower than Belsen ever reached. So I beg your Lordships to consider my plea that action be taken forthwith.
You will observe that the plea is one which I have not the slightest doubt has the whole-hearted support of Field-Marshal Montgomery, the Military Government, the Control Commission, who are the men on the spot who have to do the work in the British zone. My plea is not for any extraordinary action but for action in accordance with our ordinary British custom of fulfilling the pledges which our leaders made in the nation's name in time of war.
§ 6.49 p.m.
THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, I do not intend to follow the right reverend Prelate in the cause in which he is so gallant a crusader, but I should like to say a few words about the interesting speech of the noble Lord, Lord Lindsay. I do not attempt to compete with him in trying to, estimate the time we shall have before the next war may break out. That, I think, would be a discussion between two Scotsmen who, even if they both come from south of the Border, might unduly detain your Lordships. But I agree with him that we must do everything to prevent such an outbreak. With great deference, I think he spoke of the terrible sanctions of the League of Nations.
THE EARL OF PERTH
Oh, it was not. That answers that part of my question. May I ask a question about the atomic bomb? Do I understand from what Lord Lindsay said that his idea would be that if a nation considered using the atomic bomb it would know that if it did so the atomic bomb would be used against itself and it would be wiped out? That is very important and I agree with him fully.
§ LORD LINDSAY OF BIRKER
My general idea is that nothing will stop it except the knowledge that if anybody uses it it will be used against them and used at once.
THE EARL OF PERTH
There is one point where I do not altogether agree with the noble Lord, and that is the theory that there was not really much democracy in the south-eastern countries of Europe. I visited Rumania and Yugoslavia and attended debates in Parliament. They were making great progress towards democracy, and I do not think the noble Lord can maintain that those countries are not yet sufficiently developed, because the war has put them back so much. There is also a point I should like to mention which what raised I think by the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate. It is that the policy of His Majesty's Government is to have full support for the United Nations and, I think he added, the unity of the world. I quite agree, but I would like to remind him that even under the 1270 Charter there are different arrangements made for regional agreements and so on, and that you cannot really always treat the world as a whole. Sometimes it is necessary, even in the Charter, to treat it, as I say, regionally. I make that point because it is something I wish to come to later.
I am not going to detain your Lordships by talking about the proceedings at the United Nations Conference, because I am in general agreement with what was said by my noble friend Viscount Samuel. I would only add that, in/my own view, the United Nations Organization has emerged strengthened from a test which was a very grave one, and in which some of us thought it might possibly fail because ii was so severe. That being so, it seems to me that the foundations of the Organization have been well and truly laid, though it may be that some change ought to be made in the structure. There is one point upon which I would like to give a warning and which I do not think has been mentioned by anybody up to now, and that is about the international force. I personally welcome the creation of an international force, and particularly I welcome the idea that it shall be composed of air contingents, because it is a proof of the good-neighbour policy and of international co-operation.
Please do not think that the international force foreseen by the Charter is really going to be very effective for the preservation of peace. Its value must necessarily be greatly diminished owing to the veto. For instance, that force can never be used against any of the five permanent members of the Security. Council, nor indeed against any Power which one of those five wishes to shelter. It can really only be used against a small Power not so sheltered. I cannot believe that a small Power, not so sheltered, is going to resist the unanimous pressure exercised by the five big Powers. The point I wish to bring to the attention of your Lordships is, I think, one of very real importance. Having regard to the veto, the international force cannot, and must not, be looked upon as a substitute for our own defences. There we must remain strong. Any attempt to induce public opinion to rely largely on the international force is frankly a continuation of an error which, I am sorry 1271 to say, was prevalent at the time of the League, and which impaired not only the League but our own defensive strength.
There are one or two aspects of foreign affairs to which I would like to call your Lordships' special attention. In the debate in another place, and in the speeches made here, great stress has been laid on the necessity for furthering our relations with the Soviet Union. I agree that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has done his utmost, because he proposes that the alliance with Russia should be prolonged from twenty to fifty years. That is full proof of the desire that our relations with Russia should be as enduring as possible. I think, as far as I can ascertain, we have genuinely tried to carry out our obligations under the Treaty of Alliance, but we have met with little, if any, reciprocity. A treaty of alliance, if only executed by one party, can be of little value, but there it is and for the time being I see really no remedy. It is an admirable idea to have the cards on the table, but the cards of both players must be face upwards, and are both players ready for that? I think it is only really by degrees that the Soviet Union will realize we are most anxious for friendly relations with them, and then, in the words of the Alliance, will work with us in close and friendly co-operation for the security and economic prosperity of Europe.
Meanwhile we cannot allow our foreign policy to stagnate because of lack of collaboration on the Russian side. The Prime Minister of France, in a speech not very long ago, proposed a Franco-British alliance. That seems to me to be of very great significance, because it expressed the views of the three great parties in France which form the Government. But so far as I know there has been no public utterance from His Majesty's Ministers welcoming that proposition, and that must surely be rather discouraging both to the French and to ourselves. Surely we ought to do all that is possible to respond to a gesture of that kind, because I believe an alliance with France which would be open to the smaller Western Powers should be one of the main objects of our foreign policy.
Clearly, we must keep Russia and the United States informed of our intentions, 1272 but we must not be debarred from going ahead with arrangements which are certainly not directed against the Soviet Union, or contrary to the Charter of the United Nations. I may be told it is difficult to come to an arrangement with France until the question of Germany is settled, but I do not accept the validity of that argument. You can put the question of Germany on one side and go ahead with other questions. There is to be a debate later about the position of Germany, but the matter really is of rather urgent importance. I believe that the future of the Rhineland and of the Ruhr must depend upon the treatment of Germany as a whole. If, as I hope, we shall have a federated Germany, then I think the Rhineland and the Ruhr should be one of the Federated States, it being understood that the industrial output of the Ruhr would be under international control and that that control would also be responsible for the distribution of the products. But supposing that either in the near or distant future Germany was to become a strongly centralized State, then I think you would have to reconsider the whole problem of the two provinces. At any rate, the Ruhr would have to be put under international political control.
So much for that very short digression. I want to make it clear that what I said about the conclusion of a treaty with France equally applies to other countries. We must have full power to make treaties, for instance with Egypt, with Iraq, and, as I have said, we must keep the Soviet Union and the United States fully informed. I want to emphasize the United States, because in the debate in another place it seemed to me that whilst much was said with regard to the necessity of maintaining good relations with Russia, little account was taken of the vital need for the continuing of our war comradeship with America. I was brought up in the school of Sir Edward Grey and Lord Balfour, and the closest friendship with America was the principle which underlay the whole of their foreign policy. If friendship was necessary then it is certainly necessary in the troubled world of to-day. In fact, I think that friendship is essential for the success of the United Nations and of world peace and prosperity.
I cannot but regret the attacks which have been made by some of your Lord- 1273 ships on the American Loan. To my mind the terms of that loan are very generous. I should like to state the case as it strikes me. Let us look at it like this. A rich roan in the past, and a man who is going to be potentially rich in the future, wants money to tide him over a difficult period whilst he puts his business affairs in order. He goes to a friend, asks the friend if he will lend him money, and the friend replies, "I will." He then adds, "Well, I am not going to ask you for any interest for the next five years, but if your business prospers then I think it is fair, and I think you will agree, that you should pay me a low rate of interest, let us say, 2 per cent. for the rest of the time." But he adds, "If your business does not prosper, and you cannot afford to pay that rate in any given year, then I will let you off. The interest for that particular year will be cancelled." If anybody treats me like that I say that is both friendly and generous. That is how I feel about the loan.
I come to the last point in respect of which I am going to trouble your Lordships, and that is the question of Poland and of the Poles who are outside Poland. You may or you may not remember that at the time of the Yalta agreement some of us gave our approval to the conditions of that agreement on condition that the pledges in respect of Poland were adequately executed. What were they? They were a strong, free, independent Poland, a reorganized Polish Government which would include all democratic leaders both inside and outside Poland; free elections on the basis of universal suffrage, and a secret ballot. We pointed out at the time that the obligations agreed to by His Majesty's Government at Yalta, which obligations have been assumed by the present Government, were very serious. That Conference took place more than a year ago and we are, I think, entitled to know what progress has been made. I will ask several questions. Is Poland to-day completely independent? Are the democratic leaders inside and outside Poland effective members of the Government? Lastly, when are the promised elections likely to take place? Will they be really free and will there be a secret ballot?
I will say just one word with regard to the Poles outside Poland and in particular General Anders' army. I understand these men have been told the con- 1274 ditions under which they can return to Poland, and I would ask if we can be informed of any other alternative. Information has reached me from a very reliable source that a rumour went round among these troops that if they did not return to Poland they would be forced to take German nationality. Of course, that is utterly untrue. However, as you know, rumours of that kind do spread very quickly and are apt to be believed. The question I wish to put is this: Were those brave and very valiant soldiers, to whom the Foreign Secretary stated we owed so much, given an alternative choice? Were they told of the declaration made by Mr. Churchill, that, if they did not want to return to Poland, they might start a new life either in this country or in one of our great Dominions? If that alternative was not put before them, then I do not think we have treated these soldiers in the way that they deserve.
Finally, there was a passage in the speech the Foreign Secretary made in another place in which he made an appeal that ethnical boundaries should not be allowed to interfere with the flow of raw materials and produce and transport from one side of the frontier to another. Of course, that is just common sense, but I feel common sense in this particular case will not prevail. I venture to remind the Government of what happened in the case of the Province of Upper Silesia. A boundary was drawn up which went through coalmines, through farms, through gardens, even through houses. Those who drew it up said, "If we do that the people on each side of the line are bound to work together because of their economic interests, and ultimately we shall break down that excessive feeling of nationality." That is just the same idea as is in the mind of the Foreign Secretary today. But what happened? National sentiment was too strong. You could not stop the Poles hating the Germans and the Germans hating the Poles, and they refused to collaborate. I believe that national feeling is even stronger to-day and therefore I think the solutions that seem to be in the mind of the Government and which, as I say, are really based on common sense, are not likely to prove adequate. I wish it were otherwise, but in this particular case I do speak with experience and I would be very grateful if the Government would bear that experience in mind.
§ 7.9 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, I confess I share the diffidence alleged and quite uncalled for which my noble friend Lord Lindsay expressed in having undertaken to make a speech on foreign affairs in your Lordships' House, where so many of your Lordships have given a lifetime both to the study and practice of this exceedingly difficult art. I feel quite sure your Lordships would feel that diffidence in his case was entirely uncalled for, because we were treated to a speech both weighty and penetrating in a debate which has produced speeches of a very high order. I am a great adherent of the view that the expert should be on tap and not on top, and that the end of the plain man should be kept up as far as possible. It is for that reason that I venture to add a few remarks to the discussion which has taken place on this vital subject.
The crux of the matter, of course, is the question of our relationship with Russia, and that will, I venture to think, continue to be the crux of the matter for a substantial time, because the roots of this business are deep down in history. There can be no doubt, as the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, pointed out, that there has been a very serious deterioration in the relationship between the two countries during the months which have gone past since the end of the war. I had the honour to take part in the General Election, and to supplicate the suffrages of the people of a certain constituency, unsuccessfully—I hope your Lordships will think undeservedly so. During the course of the campaign, however, we talked a good deal about foreign policy. There was great interest in our relationship with Russia and great enthusiasm when I put forward on our side the view that we, in this country, were in a position to form a sort of link, a half-way house, the honest broker, between the rugged individualism of the Americans on one side and the fullblooded Communism of the Russians on the other side, combining, as we are attempting to do, the co-operative team work of British Socialism with the initiative and independence which are the good traits of the individualistic system. That view seemed to me to commend itself very much to the audiences to which I was speaking.
1276 Unfortunately, during the months that have gone past it has been more and more difficult to maintain that attitude, but it is quite obvious from the speeches of the Foreign Secretary that he still has that objective in mind and I still believe that it is one which we ought to struggle to bring about. As Mr. Macmillan pointed out in his admirable contribution to the debate in another place not very long ago, during this time the Anglo-American-Russian alliance has virtually, if not formally, fallen into abeyance. It is a very frank but, I am sure your Lordships will agree, a very true analysis of the situation. In the same debate Mr. Philips Price, who is certainly a sympathetic observer of the Russian scene, described the Russian attitude as difficult, and gave it as his view that it was the task of statesmanship to discover what was the cause of that difficult attitude It was very evident in the speeches of some of your Lordships this afternoon that you also regard that as a very accurate diagnosis of the situation: that we have to try and discover what are the causes of this difficult attitude.
I am not at all sure that if one were making a speech in Russia one might not be tempted to say that in some respects the attitude of Britain had been somewhat difficult. I do not think the difficulties have all been on one side, and I was interested to notice that Mr. Byrnes, the Secretary of State, in a recent speech which attracted a good deal of attention, took that view also. There has been a certain lack of the usual good humour which characterizes our own attitude on these affairs. Particularly, I think, the attitude of the Press, both on this side of the Atlantic and on the other, has often been rather deplorable in this matter. There has been a magnification of almost all the petty differences that have arisen.
The outburst in connexion with the atomic bomb business in Canada has been especially deplorable. Surely it is quite ridiculous. It is the duty of any country which knows that another country has got a weapon of outstanding power which it has not got itself, to try and find out what it is. Let us put ourselves in the position of the Russians in regard to this matter, and imagine that this weapon was in the hands of the Russians and that we had not got it. Surely the whole of our intelligence system would be turned on the job of trying 1277 to find out the secret, and the Russians would realize that that was so. Therefore it is quite silly—worse than silly, criminal—to make such a fuss and palaver about a matter of that kind. It is all in the game, and I am quite sure that my noble friend Lord Lindsay is right when he says that one of the really fundamental reasons for this distrust of which we are trying to find the cause is this fact of the atomic bomb. We should feel exactly the same if the other people had it and we had not got it ourselves. There can be no doubt about that.
Therefore you have this feeling of suspicion and difficulty which makes it almost impossible to get that confidence which, in a fine passage in his speech which has been referred to this afternoon already, the Foreign Secretary said we needed in order that we may grow together with the Russians. We have to try and go rather more deeply into this problem of Russian feeling than we have done this afternoon. I am quite sure that the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, is right, and his words were echoed by Lord Altrincham, when he said that the Russians are exceedingly sensitive in regard to the question of invasion. I do not think that point can be sufficiently emphasized. They are invasion sensitive. It is not only a question of going back to the time of Napoleon. From the very dawn of Russian history it has been a question of invasion. Russia has perhaps been the most invaded country in the world.
Your Lordships are aware that the first Russian State that was founded, that at Kiev, made great contributions to the civilizations existing at the time, but it was submerged and destroyed by the Tartar hordes from Central Asia. For hundreds of years the Russians paid tribute, and as soon as they had got their heads above water they were invaded by the Poles from the other side. Their capital city, Moscow, was in the hands of the Poles for many years. No sooner had they driven out the Poles than the Swedes came in under the famous warrior King, Charles XII, and ravaged Russia from the Baltic to the Black Sea. We have heard about what happened during the last no years. It cannot be wondered at that the Russians are exceedingly sensitive in this regard. Nor do I think that enough attention can be given to the fact that we in this country played such a prominent 1278 part in spurring the Polish invasion of Russia just after the end of the first World War. That has been referred to already this afternoon, but I am quite sure it is one of the things which rankle in the minds of the Russians. That was at a time when the success of their revolution was still in doubt. There can, I think, be no doubt that the Poles, who were very successful in the early stages of that war and who actually planted their standards in Kiev, were stimulated in that invasion of the Ukraine by ourselves and, more particularly, by the French.
§ LORD CHORLEY
If the noble Earl will look at the Chatham House history of the Peace Conference he will find a statement to that effect. That is a sufficiently impartial source. Towards the end of that time, active intervention in that affair was only prevented by the concerted and spontaneous action of the British trade union movement, which refused to handle munitions and supplies which had been collected on the docks, to go to Poland for that war.
Those are things which are very much in the minds of the Russians. The Russians are sensitive people, historically minded people. Perhaps your Lordships will forgive a further historical disquisition, because I think this business goes very deep down into history. The invasions of Russia in the early days, which swept over their early kingdoms, came from Asia. From the dawn of world civilization right down to the time when the Russians tackled—and successfully tackled—this problem, the great threat to civilization always came from Central Asia. It was a sort of human volcano of wild and savage tribes who poured out, like the burning lava, in all directions. They overwhelmed civilizations in China; time after time civilizations in India were wiped out by these invaders. We know about Attila; we know how the fair cities which the Greeks had established in Asia Minor were destroyed by Turks coming from the same place. That constant menace to civilization was dealt with, and successfully dealt with, by the Russians, who eventually succeeded in invading Siberia and reducing it to become part of the Russian Empire. That was a contribution of inestimable value to 1279 European civilization and to the civilization of the world.
The Russians made themselves safe on that side by conquering that area and by reducing it to their dominion, thus preventing that thing from happening in the future. But they had no sooner succeeded in doing that on one side than they were attacked by the Poles, the Swedes and the French from the other side. Their reaction to that was a very similar sort of reaction; it was to reduce Poland—in effect, to absorb Poland. During the period between 1770 to the time of Pilsudski they were in no danger from Poland and there was no war. As soon as the Poles were free and had re-established the State of Poland it was a significant thing to the Russians that, stimulated from the west, they were again in Kiev. I have no doubt at all that the Russians as from that time were determined that in some way or another they would see to it that Poland was reduced to a condition in which that could not happen again. I am quite sure that the Russian policy in Eastern Europe, as applied not only to Poland but to the Baltic States, to Rumania and other countries has been founded on that sort of outlook. They want to make themselves secure.
Now that the atom bomb has appeared on the scene, and the range of distance in order to be secure has to be so much wider, obviously they are trying to push themselves out to get a wider glacis between themselves and countries which they are not saying are going to attack them but which they feel might attack them. They are so sensitive that they feel they must take 100 per cent. precautions. There is another important element in this. I think we have a right to a certain confidence in regard to the atom bomb. After all, I suppose nothing made so great an impression during the 1914–18 war as the use of gas. It was condemned; it was felt that it was one of the great stains—perhaps the greatest stain—on military operations during that war. Your Lordships know that, although we all feared it and made tremendous preparations against it, it was not in fact used during the last war, and it was not used because everybody feared it so much. Personally I derive a certain optimism from that fact in regard to the atom bomb. I entirely accept the view of Lord Lindsay that the best thing to 1280 do is to ensure that it will not be used except in the case of some other nation making use of it, and in that case it will be used by the United Nations military organization in order completely to destroy the particular nation which uses it.
I think we have also to take another matter into account. During the years immediately before the last war there is no question at all that there was some suspicion on the part of the Russians as to what they called Fascist sympathies in this country. My own view of the matter is that the rapprochement between Hitler and Stalin which took place in August, 1939, and which directly led up to the war was very largely due to the fact that the Russians had not got sufficient confidence in us. They thought there were elements in this country which were Fascistly inclined, and I do not think they have even now entirely disabused themselves of that feeling, because it is known that—possibly for quite good reasons of a sort—we still are in Italy, in Austria and in Germany making use of prominent Fascists and Nazis—collaborators. We have not in fact got rid of them, and it is now nearly a year since the end of the war. There was an article in The Times the other day about the suspicions of the Yugoslavs, in which the correspondent said that Allied officers admitted that prominent Fascists were still being employed.
In the debate the other day the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, admitted that although efforts were still being made at Klagenfurt to get rid of these people, they were still there. It is known that they are still tremendously used in Germany. A reliable reporter with whom I was speaking the other day said there was some feeling, not only among the Social Democrats but among the Conservative German administrators, the burgomasters of great cities, at the fact that they are not allowed by the British Government control to get rid of these people. He told me about the burgomaster of one of the largest cities of Germany who put up to the local Commandant a scheme for dealing with this situation of Nazis being in these key positions and who had that scheme turned down. The burgomaster then applied to headquarters and at the end of a month no answer was forthcoming. Of course, the Russians look on and see these things 1281 happening. There are, no doubt, good administrative reasons for it, but those are not reasons which appeal to the Russians, who feel strongly and who are sensitive about things of this sort. I do suggest that if we want to get on good terms with the Russians one of the best ways of doing it is to see that there is a real purge of these Nazi and Fascist elements throughout the administrations of Germany, Austria and Italy.
There are many other elements in this situation which give rise, and naturally give rise, to intense suspicion on the part of the Russians that we are not really playing the game in regard to this matter. And as the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, has pointed out, there is this Press censorship which prevents the other side of the picture being presented to the people of Russia. The result: is that they have the whole of what we may call, perhaps, the black picture in their minds all the time. In those circumstances, suspicion, dislike and even hatred tend to grow up. As I say, in a way it is a black picture. We have got to try to get our own case over effectively. We have got to be quite frank about it. I agree with everything that has been said in this debate about the importance of frankness. As Senator Connolly, in the United States, pointed out the other day, frankness does not mean rudeness. By all means let us be frank, but let us stop short of some of the pettiness and even rudeness which has appeared in the statements, not of responsible statesmen, but of many journalists and less responsible people in this country. Let us be frank when we have a good case, a moral case, whether for criticism simply of Russia or against her for breaking a Treaty. Let us make our case in moderate terms, but let us make it firmly.
In the years between the two wars, the Russian Government had a very good reputation indeed for keeping their treaties. We have had very little complaint to make on that score in the past, and that enables us all the better to go to them in a frank and friendly way when such a business as that of Northern Persia arises. That, I think, is the line which we should adopt. After all, the war has not been over very long, and the international position after a war is always particularly difficult. I close on this note. After all, we have been 1282 through a very terrifying time, one of the most terrifying times that any civilized people has ever had to go through. It has been a dark, stormy, terrible night, and when you look out after such a night as that into the dawn, there are almost invariably black clouds scudding across the sky. There may be, also, an angry gleam of red in the East, but, nevertheless, we know that the sun will rise hot and serene in an hour or two's time, the clouds will gradually disperse, and the full light of the day will come with its warmth and gladness heralding a period of peace, happiness and content.
§ 7.35 p.m.
My Lords, I want to ask His Majesty's Government if in their reply they will give me some further information, if it is in their power to do so, as to the causes of and the aims in relation to the present situation in Spain. I hope that the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack will not merely answer: "Franco has not been a very good friend to us and he more or less deserves what is coming to him," because though possibly with Lord Chorley's help, I might be able to make out a case for him, that is not my purpose. I feel that if there are no injuries small enough to be overlooked, then the prospect for the United Nations Organization is not a very good one. And it seems to me that His Majesty's Government are in a rather illogical position.
I put to your Lordships this supposition. Assume that in this country, for example, there had been some great State trial which had resulted in an execution, and—though I should never have had the temerity to do it myself—certain obstinate and ignorant country men of mine had presumed to question that judgment. Supposing an outside Power had then come along and said: "Now we are going to take action against you: this is a miscarriage of justice." Would not everyone of the dissentients have ranged up behind the Government to defend it? I cannot but think that the kind of interference which we are making in Spanish affairs now may have the effect of making all the more stable elements rally round Franco. After all, the Spanish have just as keen a sense of nationality as we have. Your Lordships will remember that probably the 1283 greatest Spaniard of the nineteenth century, General Prim, the man of Reus, was disgraced and finally killed merely because he thought of diminishing the integrity of Spanish nationality, when his advice if taken would probably have avoided the Spanish-American war. Moreover, I think it was one of the grounds of the Foreign Secretary's indignation with our Russian Allies that they presumed to interfere in a purely domestic matter between His Majesty's Government and the Greek Government. I do not think, therefore, that we are in a very logical position with regard to that. My final reason for this question is one, which, perhaps, is not quite so logical. But it is one on which I lay very great stress, and I am certain that His Majesty's Government do also. But I would like to feel that they put the same emphasis upon it that I do.
If you look at the history of Spain for the past 150 years, you will see that they have had very few intervals indeed of peace. Even the great triumph of the Congress of Vienna in giving the whole of Europe 35 years of profound peace was not shared by Spain. During all that period they had either public or domestic wars from time to time. The only intervals of peace were in the short and idyllic reign of Alfonso XII and in the latter part of the reign of Alfonso XIII. These were the only two periods of real peace that Spain has enjoyed. The Duke of Wellington, after eighty years of unexampled experience, used to say that, in his view, the greatest crime that a man or a nation could commit was to do anything to foment civil disaffection in a neighbouring country. After sixty years of very undistinguished life, I say exactly the same thing. I think that it is probably the greatest crime that any man or any nation can commit. Having regard to the special position in Spain, the ferocity that is aroused, the murder, the rape and the looting that inevitably take place when there are any civil disturbances in that country, I feel that if the action of His Majesty's Government were, in any way, to produce any unrest in Spain unnecessarily, it would be a stain on every one of us. It would cause me, personally, very great pain, and I am sure that in the end there is a Nemesis for these things.
§ 7.40 p.m.
My Lords, it falls to me to be the last speaker in this debate which puts me in the very invidious position of finding something to say which has not been already said. I am sorry the noble Lord, Lord Lindsay, is not here because I should have liked to have said to him that I held his speech in great esteem but him not so very much because he said so much of what I wanted to say myself. I am entitled to say that, since I had sat at his feet, as I have told your Lordships before, before the last war when he was tutor at the College which he now graces. The speech which he made is, up to a certain point, one with which I find myself in profound agreement because I think to some extent it synthesises so much of what has been said before.
The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, analyzed the curious position in which the Russians are, vis-à-vis the rest of the world at the present moment. In particular he said what must be clearly obvious to everyone, that the Russians did not want war. They cannot have war. If we are in difficulties about our postwar reconstruction it requires very little imagination to think what state the Russians themselves must be in. They have had most of European Russia occupied and they had an economic community which was completely disrupted. It is inconceivable that they should entertain, or have, aggressive designs. Yet we are faced with this curious phenomenon which has been going on for the last month. The explanation, I think, is perhaps not so far and remote. It lies in what Lord Lindsay said and because it lies in that I feel that many of the discussions on foreign affairs and many of the discussions on the United Nations Organization, and, indeed, of the discussions of the United Nations Organization itself, are to some extent unreal. I do not wish to diminish or disparage in any way the outcome of the discussions which took place here in London not far from here, but I would add very modestly to what the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, said about what the Foreign Secretary did. I was going to say—perhaps I should be out of order in saying it—what "our" Foreign Secretary said, not because he is the Foreign Secretary of His Majesty's Government, but because he is the Foreign Secretary who has perhaps enjoyed more support from all Parties in this country 1285 than any before him. So that it is a question of "our" in every sense of the word.
But the explanation of what happened is, I think, to be found in what Lord Lindsay said. We are living, or we are supposed to be living, in a period of scientific enlightenment; but to use the phrase which some of your Lordships may have heard over the wireless lately, we may be living in an age of scientific enlightenment: but we are living under the shadow of the gleaming wings of science. What has made so many of these discussions unreal is that they have turned on what, compared with the problems of scientific discoveries, are small things. They are small things, I am sure, in the Russian eyes. If a key were wanted to that, it lies in a speech little reported perhaps in this country, which was made, I think at the end of January, by Marshal Stalin on the reconstruction of Russia, when he laid what might have appeared to be quite undue emphasis on the necessity for Russia to develop scientific research, in which the future lay. That can only have meant one thing: it can only have meant that "others have something which we have not got and which we intend to get."
I agree with those speakers who preceded me in saying that that attitude is reasonable. It would be our own attitude. It is our own attitude, I think, in all scientific matters, but it brings to the frond the problem of how to deal with this appalling discovery, which we may regret but which has happened and which is a matter of fact. No human ingenuity is going to segregate what has happened and isolate what has happened and say that it must not be used. What has been discovered is going to be used, and the scientists themselves—and so far I must agree with Lord Lindsay, but only so far—will make the discoveries. If noble Lords will return to what is the history of this discovery, they will, subject to correction, know that the elements of what made the atomic bomb were all elements which had been published to the world by the great physicists of all nations. There was nothing which had been concealed. I had the advantage this year of meeting one of the greatest physicists alive to-day. I cannot elaborate the details but nothing that 1286 he had done in the laboratory was not known to the world when he did it.
It is out of that common fund of knowledge that this thing was developed. It is inconceivable that that which was known in laboratories and published to the world and adapted to this use should not become known within a very small space of time to everybody. It is not a question of knowing what is done but of how it is done, and the period of time within which it will be open for everybody to know how it was done must be measured—I hope in years, but, if it is to be misused, it may be in months. The noble Lord, Lord Lindsay, spoke of a period of two, three or perhaps five years during Which this knowledge which is ours will remain ours. I am advised that five years is an excessive period; three years is perhaps an excessive period and two years is likely. That brings us into a state of immediacy in this problem where certain principles have been accepted, but where there has been delay in action. It has, in principle, been decided that that which is known will be placed in trust against misuse in international hands. That principle having been accepted, little action has as yet been taken, and the nature al the discussions that took place at U.N.O. did not touch on that issue.
The next stage before us is an experimental one, in which I am sure all your Lordships will be very glad to have seen the attitude of Mr. Byrnes about sharing the results of those experiments. That again is not enough, and we are faced with the problem of how to exercise that control. Lord Lindsay found one solution, which I think perhaps will not commend itself to your Lordships, and which does not entirely commend itself to me. I do not think it is possible, in the present state of Governments and the people of the world, to set up at this stage a I scientific body in whose hands the life and death of nations can be handled without expecting those nations to have a say in it.
The problem is clearly too difficult at this stage in the debate, or perhaps in any debate, to consider in detail, because curiously enough it is one which perhaps affects us on the moral or higher issue less than it does the United States and Russia. I do not know whether it 1287 is possible for us to play the part of an honest broker between them or not. I am quite sure that there are two, and probably only two, places in the world where this weapon can be developed, and that is, on the one hand, the North-American Continent, and on the other Russia. I doubt whether we will develop it ourselves, if only on account of the cost. I do not mean that in terms of money because money, in the terms of survival, is not a relevant factor. The cost in this context means the diversion of man-power and labour. The problem really resolves itself into ascertaining on the one hand what the United States of America will do and what the Russians wish to do. Between those two we have a very difficult part to play.
In comparison with the other problems which have been discussed and referred to this evening, the problems of Azerbaijan and Greece, and whether the French or British troops stay in the Levant or not, fade into complete insignificance. I must, therefore, without disparaging what U.N.O. did, express a certain amount of disappointment. It may be that it would not have been right to have put a burden of that magnitude on that Organization at this stage. It would be quite beyond my competence to have an opinion about that, but I am quite sure that a diversity of opinion, and indeed possibly the tenor of the discussions which took place, were unconsciously overshadowed by this problem which was much greater than any other that came up.
I do not wish to seem to diminish in any way what our Foreign Secretary and those who were with him did, but I believe your Lordships will agree in feeling that when those problems are viewed in the perspective of this thing they are matters which will be forgotten in a few months and perhaps in a few weeks. I ask that the problem should be treated with a sense of urgency and immediacy, because I do not believe it is a question of years. It may be a question of a year or so, or it may be a question of months before the Russians in their present state of mind obtain the application of something which we applied, and which they think they are entitled to have. If they obtain that solution within the few months that are left in antithesis of our position to the 1288 others I think the problem is almost irremediable. It is irremediable, not in terms even of a War between nations, but irremediable in terms of the survival of whole nations and perhaps even more than that. With all the strength I have, thinking in terms of foreign policy, may I urge your Lordships to think of those things in terms of this shadow under the gleaming wings of science under which we are living, and direct your attention to that rather than to the immediate and smaller problems of international affairs which are here to-day and very prevalent and, I think, gone to-morrow?
§ 7.58 p.m.
§ LORD DE L'ISLE AND DUDLEY
My Lords, the hour is late, and it would be an impertinence for me to detain your Lordships' House for more than a very few minutes, but there are one or two points to which I would like to draw your Lordships' attention. Some of you may recall a broadcast speech made by Mr. Churchill in the years between the wars, somewhere about 1936 or 1937, when he was endeavouring to bring to the attention of the nation at large the dangers which he rightly conceived faced us from Germany. He said:It may seem to you of small importance whether we are to remain a first-class power or become a second-class power. But I assure you that if we do not remain a first-class power it will be difficult for more than half the population of this island to survive.May I underline that by saying that the real problem that will arise is which half will survive? I am certain that we can, and shall, remain a great Power, but we are not like our great neighbours, the United States of America, or Russia, in that we comprise a great land massed with great economic resources in a ringed fence, as it were. Our status is a much more delicate and complicated affair. I am certain we shall only remain a great Power if we exercise the wisdom, which our forefathers handed down to us, to maintain and build up our position in the world. For, after all, numerically, in relation to other Powers throughout history, we have been small. But it is the quality of our country which has made its name great. It is a truism (I think the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, did enunciate the thesis) that you cannot separate foreign policy and defence. So I would first of all beg His Majesty's 1289 Government to see that our defences are built up not next year, or the year after, but now.
A White Paper on Defence has just been issued. It would not be proper for me to enter in detail into the realm of defence. But I could not help feeling rather disturbed when I read the White Paper and indeed the Prime Minister's speech. It seemed to me that he regarded that as a stop-gap. We cannot maintain our place or our prestige or importance in the world on stop-gap forces. Demobilization is proceeding. We had a great fighting machine during the war, but it is of the most vital importance that we should build up a new machine adapted to our present needs.
During the course of this debate, naturally and inevitably, considerable attention has been focussed on Anglo-Russian relations. A great many noble Lords have attempted in their various ways to analyse the state of mind of the Russian nation and of its rulers. I myself am by no means sure that, however well-intentioned these noble Lords were, their remarks would really find favour among the rulers of Russia. I do not think myself that they like to be regarded as an able but slightly recalcitrant and rather a problem child. I personally think that they believe, and very rightly, that they have full adult status and are capable of managing their own affairs, are capable of perfectly rational thought, and are not tormented by inhibitions. I personally do not intend to follow the noble Lords in that line because personally I do not think it is a profitable line of approach. It seems to me that we must look to events and to actions rather than to motives.
If I were a Russian ruler, I must confess I should be tempted to the line of action which is being taken very much by the policy of the other Powers, and, in particular, of this country itself. I feel, much as I hope for and much as I desire good Anglo-Russian relations, if we make that an end in itself rather than a means to an end, and if we pursue it with excessive enthusiasm, we shall lose it. Let us remember that the end of our policy must be directed, as it was when we entered the war in 1939, to maintain liberty and justice even at great cost to ourselves. We shall not found, I am cer- 1290 tain reliable organizations for the government and regulation of the world unless we recognize the rule of law. I cannot see how confidence can be founded on any other basis, and, so long as treaties are not respected, I cannot see how we can build on that foundation. It is building on a quicksand.
I know I shall be saying something controversial here, but I think it ought to be said, so I will say it. The Foreign Secretary, whose conduct in these negotiations I admire greatly, when he went to Moscow, offered to extend our treaty with the Russians from twenty to fifty years. In Article (5) it is specifically laid down that the contracting parties will eschew all territorial aggrandisement or interference in the power of independent States. To put it at its mildest, it is questionable whether Article (5) has been observed. If it has not been observed, is it: really wise to extend a treaty from twenty to fifty years when we are not certain that the terms are being observed now? The hour is late, and you will be anxious to hear the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor. I ask him when he replies to give his attention to these two points: first of all, that we should be adequately provided with armed forces now; secondly, whether in fact it is wise to build on treaties when you are not certain that observance has been in accordance either with the spirit or the letter.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD JOWITT)
My Lords, at this late hour you need have no fear that I am going to detain you for any length of time, nor indeed am I going to make a set speech. I think we must all be grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, for raising this topic to-day, and we must all agree that the debate to-day has maintained the very high level which such debates in your Lordships' House have frequently achieved. My noble friend Viscount Stansgate spoke after the first few speeches and dealt with the matters which they covered. I propose hi the few remarks I make, therefore, to deal more specifically with direct questions which was asked in the course of the subsequent speeches. It is idle to imagine that there is not with all of us a sense of anxiety, a sense, perhaps, even of foreboding, but I must say, 1291 for myself, that I think the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, went rather too far when he said that unless something was done shortly things looked like becoming irremediable. I do not myself take that view at all.
I believe that this much must be plain to all the nations of the world, that the consequences of another war will be so terrible, every nation will lose so much more than it can gain, that there is no nation which is willingly going to promote another war, at any rate so long as the memory of the last war is in the minds of the Governments of nations. Therefore, I was particularly interested in Lord Lindsay's speech. I must say I thought it was a very remarkable contribution to our deliberations. He put forward, as I understood him, a perfectly concrete suggestion and the suggestion was this. Under no circumstances whatever should any nation be allowed to use the atomic bomb, and if any nation did use the atomic bomb, then all the other nations of the world would retort in like kind. That is a very practical suggestion, and I would remind him, and I would remind also the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, who also spoke with regard to this matter, that the General Assembly of the United Nations, which has really only just started, has not lost any time on this subject. At their recent meeting on January 24 they unanimously approved a resolution to set up a Commission to deal with the problems raised by the discovery of atomic energy and other related measures. The suggestion that has been made will obviously find its way to them, and I think what we should do at the present time is to hold our hands and wait until we receive the first report of that Commission. Then we will certainly discuss the matter again and see if there is anything further we can do.
Then the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chichester spoke about rather a different matter, and I want to reply to what he said. It is really quite unnecessary to point out to your Lordships' House the consequences of the cut in rations in Germany that has had to be made. I agree with the right reverend Prelate that it is a tragedy that it has had to be made. The fact that Germany is undernourished is likely to lead to 1292 disease, rioting, trouble, disorder and unhappiness. That is self-evident. We do not want convincing of the fact that we should do what we can to keep the Germans—even the Germans, our late enemies—without privation. The dictates of the religion which he and I hold in common make it essential to do so, and common sense also makes it necessary, for a disease black spot in the centre of Europe, which used to produce all sorts of commodities for all parts of the world, is obviously a danger. That is all agreed. But the right reverend Prelate must face the fact that the problem is that there is not the food. It is no good blinking the fact. He said that the cut had been suddenly imposed, and he asked, would our soldiers stand for famine conditions? My Lords, our soldiers must stand for famine conditions if there is not the food. That is the problem.
As to the suddenness of the cut, it was not so sudden as all that. It had been anticipated, and on November it the British Commander-in-Chief issued a statement to Press representatives which was very widely reported in the Press at the time, in which he stressed the fact that the food situation was critical and pointed out that he could not promise whether it would be possible to maintain the already somewhat scanty rations. There followed on that, as your Lordships know, the failure of the monsoon in India, the difficulty in South Africa, and droughts and floods all over the world. The situation is such as I have told the right reverend Prelate: there is not the food which we should most certainly provide for the Germans if we could.
And let this be said for our people. We have provided, out of our very slender dollar resources, very large sums of money to-day in order that the Germans might be fed. If the food were there we would pledge ourselves even further, but it is not. He gave certain figures. He stated that our food reserves at the end of December were 4,000,000 tons, and at the end of February 3,600,000. Those figures include oils and fats which are used for industrial purpose. He compared those figures with what he said was the pre-war average of 1,500,000 tons. I am unable to check that figure. I do not dispute it, but the right reverend Prelate will realize that the stock we carried in those days, when 1293 you could fill up your stocks without any difficulty, when there was plenty of wheat all over the world, when what you were carrying was simply a reasonable balance in hand which you could replenish as you required, has no relevance whatever to the present situation.
The problem for the Minister of Food to-day is this. He is the trustee for the people of this country, and he has to be sure that the people of this country are not themselves going to be faced with famine conditions. He has no right to gamble, for whatever high motive, with the food of the people of this country. But, subject to that, we must do all we can for all nations—Germany, India and all nations. That is quite obvious. And, my Lords, that we have done.
Now the right reverend Prelate raised some other questions. He asked about the system of government in Germany. We are very anxious to re-establish self-government in Germany and we are doing all we can to bring it about. Only recently the British authorities in Germany have appointed a zonal advisory council composed of German representatives of various political Parties, and we are doing what we can to encourage the Germans to interest themselves in local self-government. We look forward to the time when we shall be able to entrust these matters to the Germans themselves. So long always as the security of the world is not going to be impinged upon, we desire it. It is a little hard when by one noble Lord we are accused of not trusting the Germans, and by another noble Lord of trusting the Germans with Nazi tendencies. Of course, if you trust Germans you must run the risk of error, and you must weed out those with Nazi tendencies as soon as you can. It is evident that if you trust Germans you must trust the Germans you believe to be right, and weed them out if you find them to be wrong.
Therefore I say that as far as my heart goes it is with that of the right reverend Prelate. I do not view with equanimity or calm the prospect of starvation anywhere in the world. It is a terrible prospect. Unfortunately we cannot create food and we cannot give the Germans or anybody else more than there is. All we can see is that it is fairly shared.
1294 Then I come to the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Perth. He asked me some specific questions. He made, if I may say so, what I think was a very useful reminder to all of us, namely, that an international force, for the reasons he gave, dependent upon the veto, would not be any substitute for forces of our own. Indeed, it is probable that owing to the veto an international force would only be able to be used in cases where it really would be unnecessary to use it. That is the trouble. Therefore I assent to what he said, and I assent also to what the noble Lord, Lord de L'Isle, said. It is quite certain that we must not let our defences go. This is neither the time nor the occasion to debate whether the figure in the White Paper which has been issued recently is too high a figure or too low a figure or rightly divided, but, my Lords, it is a very high figure. Let us not forget that, with the shortage of manpower from which we are suffering, we want all the men we can have for civil production, production on the land and everything else. Therefore we have to balance these two considerations very carefully. Let me assure you that we have no intention whatever of thinking that in a world like this we can afford to do away with all our forces and rely on the suggestion of an international force.
Then the noble Lord asked me a specific question. I am sorry if I am jumping about from one matter to another, but it is, I am afraid, inevitable. He asked me a question about M. Gouin's speech. I should like to say something about that. I have said before in this House and I have always believed, that friendship between this country and France is both natural and the most essential thing for Europe.
Our ancient civilizations being so different yet so much alike, the fact that they are close to us, the fact that a great many of us speak, after a fashion at any rate, their language and that they, after a like fashion, speak ours—all those things make it possible, probable and, I hope, inevitable that we shall be very good friends with France. It is a fact that M. Gouin made a most interesting suggestion on this and I am glad the question has been raised. On the 29th January last he suggested that the French Government should try to bring about the conclusion of a tripartite alliance between 1295 Great Britain, France and Russia. His Majesty's Government welcome that statement because they also hope that, just as Anglo-Soviet relations and Franco-Soviet relations are governed by treaties of alliance, relations between this country and France may also formally be defined by some treaty of alliance.
But having said that, I venture to think that the fact that we have not a formal treaty at the present time does not mean that we are not, both of us, determined to work with one another to prevent a recurrence of the things that have happened within the last twenty-five years. The closeness of our relations with France is in fact illustrated by the very fact that the conclusion of a formal treaty of alliance would not make any practical difference to them. It may be asked why, if that is so, we have not hitherto answered the French proposal. The fact is that since the French proposal was made we have been so busy dealing with the very urgent affairs of the United Nations Organization and so on that we have not taken this matter up, but I would say that in principle, the conclusion of an alliance of this sort would make, I think, no difference. But now we have dealt with the various matters connected with the United Nations Organization we shall certainly take it up. We desire, as a fundamental matter, to have the closest possible friendship and relations with France.
I was asked two questions about Poland. The first was about the Yalta Agreement. Let us remember what the Agreement was. It was that the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity should hold free and unfettered elections as soon as possible, on the basis of universal suffrage and secret ballot, in which all democratic and anti-Nazi parties should have the right to take part and put forward their candidates. It was on that and on the reconstitution of the Lublin Government that we recognized the Polish Government. Mr. Bevin was told at Potsdam that it was hoped the elections would be held in the spring of this year. Further than that I cannot go. I hope the elections will be held in the spring of this year and I hope they will be free and unfettered elections. That is the clear pledge that we had but I can- 1296 not tell your Lordships more than that. I do not know when the elections are going to be held or whether they will be in accordance with the obligations which the Poles are clearly under.
I was asked a question about General Anders and his troops. The statement which has been put to them and which was agreed by our Government and the Polish Government will, I hope and think, be published in due course. It did not suggest alternative courses but it did put forward to the Poles in the clearest possible way the desirability and the advantages of going back to Poland. I believe that a great majority of the men, so long as they are going to be given a fair deal and personal security, will be willing to go back to their own country. If they are not, then will be the time for us to consider alternative methods of dealing with them, but at the present moment the statement is a frank statement as to the way in which they can go back and what can be done for them when they get back. If they go back to Poland and if they are received fairly I am sure all your Lordships will agree that that is much the most satisfactory solution of what has been a terribly difficult problem.
I was asked a question by Lord Saltoun about Franco's Spain. I cannot pretend that I cannot feel in my bones a sense of horror at what has been going on there recently. I cannot pretend to be absolutely neutral or indifferent. I am not. I think some of these recent trials are perfectly terrible but, having said that, His Majesty's Government, who have expressed their detestation of this régime, do not desire to become embroiled in Spanish affairs and do not desire to see another war. They realize, as does everybody who has studied the history of Spain—and, may I add, who has seen Goya's drawings—what brutality and horrors civil war in Spain has caused in the past. Therefore by precept and example, by saying what we feel about that Government, we shall do what we can to enable Spaniards to emerge into a condition of freedom where they can elect freely whatever leaders they like, and we shall long that the nightmare which prevails over Spain at the present time comes to an end at the earliest possible moment. Those are, I think, the main points which your Lordships put to me in the course of the 1297 debate. I need hardly tell your Lordships that all the suggestions that have been made will be very carefully considered by His Majesty's Government. I am grateful to your Lordships for having given us so much help and encouragement and for having contributed in such a constructive fashion.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
My Lords, I am sure that the House will desire me to express the thanks of all your Lordships to the members of the Government who have participated in the debate to-day for their contributions, and for the full and frank replies which they have given to the numerous questions addressed to them. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion which is before the House.
Motion for Papers, by leave, with drawn.