§ 2.43 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT TEMPLEWOOD
rose to call attention to the present state of British foreign relations; and to move for Papers. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, in moving the Motion that stands in my name, I do not propose to go over the wide ground that was covered in the debate on foreign affairs in another place; nor do I propose to deal with a number of general questions which might be of interest to noble Lords but which do not seem to me to have the urgency of certain specific points that I propose to raise. During the last two years. I have visited a great many foreign capitals; I have discussed foreign questions with numbers of politicians and men of business, and I have formed in my own mind, certain very definite impressions. I do not suggest that my impressions are comprehensive; still less do I suggest that they are particularly intelligent or infallible. But I do believe that, at any rate as regards my speech this afternoon, they form a 506 sufficient basis for the arguments I propose to address to the House.
The first impression I have formed is that there is a persistent idea in many parts of the world, and particularly in Europe, that another world war is inevitable. I do not agree with that view. Indeed, wherever I have been have tried, whether in public speeches or in private conversations, to rebut it. None the less, the fact remains that from one end of the world to the other there is this persistent view that sooner or later—some of the pessimists say sooner—there will be a war with Russia. Whether we like that impression or not, we have to take it into account when we consider the psychology of the world at large. The second impression that I have formed—and it is an impression which is equally persistent—is that either next year, or in two years' time, or in three years' time, there will he an economic crash. There, again, I do not stop to argue whether or not there is justifiable ground for that impression. I am merely stating the fact that that impression exists. Thirdly, I have found a universal belief in the supreme economic power of the United States to help or to hinder the recovery of the world. My fourth impression—perhaps to some people rather more surprising than my third—is that in spite of all our difficulties here, in spite of our shortages, in spite of the exhaustion of our capital assets, there is in the world, and particularly in Europe, a profound faith in the future of Great Britain and of the British Commonwealth, and a sincere conviction that if the world and Europe are to recover we shall have to take a foremost part in the effort.
From this background there has emerged the momentous proposal of Mr. Marshall, on behalf of the United States Government. It is a proposal fraught with such vast consequences that we could not, even if we wished, discuss it in detail to-day. But let me say here and now that, so far as we are concerned, we ought to welcome it with open arms. We realize the difficulties that are inherent in a proposal of this kind, the difficulty, for instance, of co-ordinating a programme for Europe. But it is just because of those difficulties that it is essential that we here, the Foreign Secretary and His Majesty's Government, should give a lead to the other countries of Europe in helping them to prepare their plans, and in making it possible, without 507 delay, to make a sympathetic and effective reply to the great proposal made by the Government of the United States.
In the meanwhile, whilst Europe is looking to us for a lead in face of this great proposal, Europe is also looking to us to see how far Anglo-American co-operation will prove effective in certain test cases that face us at once and that cannot be avoided. I propose to-day to mention three of these test cases. Each is quite different from the others; in fact, I have selected them because they are so different and I could tell their Lordships that each of them is very much in the minds of the people on the Continent of Europe to-day. I take first of all the case of Germany, secondly the case of Hungary, and thirdly I take the very different case of Spain. First of all Germany: There the test is, can we and the Americans together make a success of a great joint action of very difficult administration? I take secondly the case of Hungary: here the question is, can we protect the principles of the Atlantic Charter where they have been flagrantly violated? I take, thirdly, the case of Spain: the question that I put myself is, can we help a great people to throw off a despotism and make it possible for them to resume the place that they ought to hold in the comity of Europe?
I begin with Germany. I am afraid that in Germany none of the occupying Powers has a record about which it can boast. I am afraid that the Government opposite have not a good record. During the last two years we have had several debates on German questions. Until recently it has always seemed to me that the members of the Government were complacent and that the administration, for all the fine efforts of individual officers, military and civil, was totally inadequate to the complex problems with which it was faced and that generally, instead of getting better, things were steadily getting worse. I do not wish to-day to harp on the past. If I did, I could give your Lordships many quotations from these previous debates to show the complacency with which the German problem was treated. I do not do so. We are glad to think that we have in the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Lord Pakenham, a Minister who is obviously throwing himself heart and soul into these problems, 508 and we wish to give him every sympathy and help in the very difficult administrative job for which he is responsible.
Let me, therefore, in that spirit tell him the kind of things that have worried people like myself, who have followed very closely the course of German events. We have had so many contradictory statements. Looking back over the last two years, scarcely a day or week has passed without some statement being made, by a soldier or civilian or minister, about what is or is not going to happen in Germany, about what is or is not to be the ration, about what wheat is to arrive, and about what coal is to be produced. Mostly those statements have been contradictory. Almost all of them have proved, in actual practice, to be unsubstantiated by results. I hope very much that under the new dispensation we shall avoid this multiplicity of unfulfilled promises, and that the noble Lord opposite will from time to time be able to give considered statements, I hope in this House, as to what is actually happening in Germany. I do not know whether to-day he is yet in a position to give us any information of that kind. It would certainly be a great help to many of us if he could tell us more about the food position.
The Air Marshal commanding in Germany made, two days ago, what was to me a quite unintelligible statement. He said that it was better to state as the ration a much higher figure than there was any possibility of fulfilling. I could not follow his line of argument. Perhaps the noble Lord will be in a position to give us a little information to-day about a point like that. Is it not better to state definitely what we really believe will be the ration, rather than give some guess that in actual practice has never yet been fulfilled? Again, I take another very important question, the question of coal. I do not wish to press the noble Lord to-day, but if he could give to the House some information about this all important question I should be very grateful. I remember some little time ago I started a debate in this House on the question of coal and the necessity of stimulating German production. At that time it did not seem to me that the Government were much interested in it; but now—be that so or not—I hope to-day the noble Lord will be able to tell us something about the effect of the methods now being used with the German miners, and whether it is 509 likely in the comparatively near future that the production of German coal will tend to rise.
I do not press the noble Lord to-day upon the question of Anglo-American co-operation. I would only say this. It seems to me that this is a magnificent opportunity not only of showing Europe what we can do together—and that, incidentally, may have a definite result on the Marshall proposal—but also it is invaluable for us and the Americans to be working side by side from day to day upon these concrete administrative problems. I have now finished the few remarks I intended to make about Germany. Noble Lords will see that I have refrained from pressing the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster into any awkward or embarrassing position. I very much hope that he will be able to give us some reassurance to-day, and that in future he will take this House as fully as he can into his confidence about what is happening.
I now come to my second question—the question of Hungary. It is a question that raises the issue: can we or can we not—the Americans and ourselves—defend and protect the principles of the Atlantic Charter and, incidentally, the principles that we are putting into the various Peace Treaties we are at present making? The Peace Treaties with Hungary, Italy and Roumania each have specific clauses safeguarding the fundamental principles of the Atlantic Charter. I need not go into great detail in the case of Hungary. My noble friend Lord Vansittart is to deal with the question much more fully at a later point in the debate, and I will content myself with drawing the attention of your Lordships to a few specific points connected with it. What is happening in Hungary is no surprise. Some of my friends and myself knew two or three months ago what was Likely to happen, and it was on that account, as some noble Lords may remember, that I put down a notice of Motion to be discussed in your Lordships' House upon the gradual and ruthless campaign for destroying the anti-Communist majority in Hungary. Unfortunately, there was no time for this discussion. More than once I reluctantly took my Motion off the Paper, hoping that the House would at any rate have time to discuss it before any irreparable act took place.
510 The inevitable has happened. We have seen enacted before our eyes, in great detail, steadily and ruthlessly, the infallible technique of a totalitarian Government to suppress liberty of opinion and to liquidate political opponents. Within a few weeks of the Armistice, the Russian Commandant demanded that the ensuing elections in Hungary should take place upon a single Government-sponsored list. Fortunately, the sturdy independence of the Hungarians—and however much we may disapprove of the former policies of their Government, they are sturdy and independent people—made them protest against this attempt to suppress freedom of opinion; and, with the support of the Americans and ourselves, the demand was withdrawn: the elections took place more freely than almost any other elections have taken place since the Armistice. The result was that the Smallholders Party won 246 seats against the 67 seats of the Communists. The Smallholders Party is a Party which I, as a Conservative, regard as a Party of the Left; other people might regard it as a Party of the Centre, but, anyhow, it is a comprehensive Party of smallholders and people in the towns.
That was a blow to the Communists, but it did not mean that they modified their ruthless programme. The next step was to sow dissession within the ranks of the Smallholders Party and to insist upon the key posts in the Government going to notorious Communists. That was not sufficient; there still remained in the Government certain forces of anti-Communist feeling. The result is that since then renewed attempts have been made against the anti-Communists. The Prime Minister had to leave the country, and the usual procedure has been set in train for removing the anti-Communist electors from the electoral lists, and for preparing the world for a so-called General Election in the future in which only Communists will be able to take part. There is the usual totalitarian technique in all its phases—the totalitarian technique, the object of which (whether it be Hungary, Bulgaria, or Roumania, or, in this last day or two, in Austria—possibly with Czechoslovakia to-morrow) is to face the Americans and ourselves with an accomplished fact. It is the old technique so constantly adopted by Hitler, in which he so often succeeded when he applied it between the two World Wars. 511 I ask your Lordships, can we and the Americans ignore this flagrant flouting of the Yalta Agreement and the Armistice Agreement, and all those clauses that, in the last fortnight, we have actually put into the Treaties with the countries of Central Europe? I am not so quixotic as to imagine we can march armies into Hungary, and, even if we could, whether it would be wise on our part to do so. But I do say that we have to make it much clearer to the world at large than the Government have hitherto made it that we profoundly disapprove of what is taking place, and that, wherever we can, we will give encouragement in Hungary, not to a minority but to a majority for in Hungary it is the majority and not the minority who are being suppressed. If, as may well be the case, the Russians refuse our request for an Anglo-American-Russian inquiry (I say "as may well be the case," because it is not a hopeful sign that the Russian Commandant in Budapest has refused even to show to his military colleagues in the American and British Commands the papers under which the Secretary of the Smallholders Party—the well-known and patriotic Hungarian peasant Kovacs—has been arrested and charged before a Russian military court), I say it is incumbent upon the British Government that we join with the American Government in taking the question either to the Council or the Assembly of the United Nations. Let us, at least, make our position clear to the world; and let us in that way give what encouragement we can to the many millions of anti-Communists in Europe who look to us for help and assistance.
I come now to the third of my questions—the question of Spain. I can well imagine that many of your Lordships will say: "Why bother about Spain? Franco, anyhow, is better than Tito. Things do not look like starting a sudden upheaval, and there are many more urgent questions in Europe than the question of Spain." I would say in answer to those observations that, first of all, a long period of residence in Spain made me many Spanish friends. It gave me a great admiration for the high qualities of the Spanish people, and I cannot bear to see a situation that continues to isolate this great people from the rest of Europe. I believe that the particular qualities of the Spaniards would be of great value to 512 Europe as a whole, and it is a calamity that this people, with their magnificent history and outstanding qualities, should be left isolated. Spain has been isolated for the good reason that it is still dominated by a regime that was closely associated with the Axis during the war, and its subsequent actions have in my view made it absolutely impossible to reconcile the various divisions and vendettas between one body of Spaniards and another.
The position to-day is thoroughly unsatisfactory; things in Spain are getting not better but worse. Franco poses as the champion against civil war and the champion against Communism. I believe that the longer the Franco regime goes on the more inevitable is the battle between Fascism and Communism in Spain, and the more certain it is that in some time in the future there will be another civil war. It may be said:" What does that matter to us? Let the Spaniards stew in their own juice. "That is only a superficial view of the position. If your Lordships look back at European history, you will find that these civil wars in Spain almost invariably have a way of embroiling the great Powers. Therefore, I regard with great anxiety and depression the situation which, in my view—based upon a great many years' experience in Spain—will lead, sooner or later, to a state of affairs that will inevitably create a great international upheaval.
You may say: What can we do? At present we seem to have the worst of every world. We have committed the almost unforgivable sin in foreign politics —it is, indeed, quite unforgivable in dealing with Spaniards—of making threats and then doing nothing. U.N.O. made its threats. The result was that we withdrew from Madrid our Chiefs of Mission —in my view, the most futile of all actions. My own view is that the worse your relations with a foreign Government, the more important it is to keep your Mission, particularly the Chief of the Mission, on the spot. Perhaps I speak with a little experience on that point. The Ambassador has, at any rate, a mischief value. We embarked upon this futile policy of threats without subsequent action, and the result is that Franco today is stronger than he was before U.N.O. had this unfortunate discussion.
Your Lordships will be interested to hear what is Franco's particular propaganda at this moment. He is claiming 513 that, whatever we may say about him in public, he and we are the best of friends; and we are the best friends for this very good reason, that there is to be a war with Russia very soon, and we shall rely upon Franco for his help in this great crusade. You and I may not take propaganda of that kind very seriously, but in a totalitarian State, where the whole machine works upon a line of this sort, it is impossible to get away from the fact that many Spaniards believe it. Franco also says that he is protecting Spain from civil war and from Communism. I hope I have said enough to show that, in my view, the longer his regime goes on, the more inevitable civil war, and possibly Communism, will become in Spain. The serious fact is that between these charges of Fascism, on the one hand, and Communism, on the other, the moderate centre in and out of Spain —the Monarchists and the Republicans—to whom we should naturally look to form a constitutional regime in the future, are steadily and, indeed, swiftly being eliminated. That is a fact that fills me with depression, for it means that if and when the Franco regime comes to an end, there will be very few men—as we found in countries like Italy after a long totalitarian domination—who will be capable of forming an alternative Government.
You may say at the end of this long disquisition that I have ventured to make to your Lordships: What are you proposing should be done? The only effective action for getting rid of the Franco régime would be an embargo upon oil, coal and rubber. I do not think there is any doubt about that, but I realize the further fact, that there are a number of grave objections in time of peace against any such policy. If that be so, I still think we should not content ourselves with the present very unsatisfactory situation, and I wish to suggest to the noble Lord to-day, with a view to elaborating some new policy, that the time has come for the American Government and ourselves to review the actual facts.
Many things have happened, both in Spain and outside during the last two years, and I suggest the American Government and ourselves, rather than U.N.O. for this reason. I have no prejudice against U.N.O. but U.N.O. in this matter are compromised by what I believe to be the mistake they made at the begin- 514 ning of the proceedings. I fear also that in U.N.O. there would be a repetition of the kind of public debate with the various sides talking much less to the discussion than to their publics outside. On that account, I should like to see the American Government and ourselves again look seriously at the whole of the Spanish position and see whether we cannot make proposals to persuade or induce Franco to retire, to encourage the men of moderate good will, upon whom we wish to rely for the future Government of Spain, and to make it possible for the Spanish people to resume the place to which they are entitled in the Councils of Europe and the world.
I have finished my discursive speech. It is an appeal, as noble Lords will have realized, for the closest possible American co-operation in European questions, great and small. This co-operation need not be exclusive, nor need it side-tack U.N.O. or the Security Commission. By all means let us freely welcome the help of any country in this great crusade for European recovery, and let us use all and any international machinery that assists our purpose. The rued, however, is to move and to move quickly. To delay would mean not only the economic collapse of a Continent whose markets are the key to world recovery but the destruction of liberty, order, and justice, the three great pillars of European civilization. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.25 p.m.
THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, the Motion which the noble Viscount has on the Order Paper is to call attention to the present state of British foreign relations. As he pointed out you can deal with that Motion in two ways. First of all, you can make a detailed survey, country by country, as to our relations with those countries, but that would be a task to which no speech could do justice. The other method is to take out certain important factors of the existing international situation and to examine them. The noble Viscount chose the second course, and I propose to conform to it. I wish that to-day we could make use of the phraseology we have so often heard in this House in gracious speeches from the Throne: "My relations with foreign Powers continue to be good." I say that that ought to be the case, because we have a Treaty of Alliance and Friend- 515 ship with Soviet Russia, we have a Treaty of Alliance and Friendship with France, and we have very close intimate relations with the United States of America. But alas, what do we find? We find that the world is torn by dissension and there is hardly any measure of importance upon which there is agreement.
Almost all problems to-day in the international field are treated not on their merits but in accordance with the relationship existing between the Governments of three Powers, the Soviet Government, the Government of America, and the Government of Great Britain. That is the overriding factor, and we find it not only in Europe but also in the Far East—I have in mind China, Japan and Korea. It is, of course, true that there is one other consideration which affects certain large areas of the globe—namely, the growth of nationalism in countries which were previously looked upon as dependencies of European Powers. In these cases, however, I believe that a settlement is likely to be reached, and that these countries will secure independence, or at any rate autonomy. Although the economy of countries such as France and Holland is seriously disturbed—as indeed is the world as a whole, because those countries used to produce, largely and freely, raw materials of which the world has great need—yet the phase, I think, is a passing one.
The relationship between the three great Powers is of a very different character, and as soon as we begin to consider it we are faced with a fundamental question: What are the reasons why the Soviet Government refuse so obstinately to collaborate in the political and economic settlement of Central Europe, and why do they continuously use the veto in the affairs of the United Nations, particularly as regards the control of atomic energy? There took place in your Lordships' House the other day an extremely interesting debate on the international control of atomic energy. I listened attentively to that debate, and I was much struck by the fact that many speakers hardly dealt with the control of atomic energy at all. The whole debate turned on the relations between Russia, Great Britain and the United States of America.
In that debate, and in previous discussions, various explanations have been put forward to account for Soviet policy. First 516 of all there was suspicion. I rather think the noble Lord, Lord Lindsay of Birker, holds that suspicion is one of the main motives for Russia's actions. But suspicion of what, and of whom? There may be something in the theory, because it is true that in the beginning of the Soviet regime, the regime and Government were treated as pariahs by the Western nations. But that is a long time ago, and the fact that Russia was courted before the war by the Western powers and by Germany, and of her tremendous success in the war, must have led to a weakening at any rate of that suspicion, if it still exists. I personally would not put down suspicion as a cause at higher than 10 per cent.
The second explanation that has been given is fear. Can the rulers of Russia to-day really believe that they are threatened by any country whatever? Do they really believe that the United States because she possesses the atomic bomb is going to make aggressive war on Russia? It is completely unthinkable that this country or any country of Western Europe is going to attack Russia. It may be that this theory is spread abroad by the Russian Government among their people to achieve two things: to ensure that their people will endure more patiently the serious privations, economic and otherwise, which they are now undergoing; and secondly, to promote pride in the armed forces. I think those two reasons are fairly likely. We must also remember, when we are talking of fear, that we have an alliance with Russia, and also that the present Foreign Secretary offered to prolong that alliance for a very considerable period. I cannot give more than another 10 per cent. to the explanation of fear.
I could wish strongly that those two, fear and suspicion, were really the only motives. Fears can be dissipated and suspicions can be allayed. But there remains to my mind this terrible 8o per cent. that I give to what I believe to be two dominant motives in Russian policy. First, there is the desire for the spread of Communism throughout Europe and throughout the world, and, secondly, Russian interests and Russian ambitions. Those two are very closely related because the spread of Communism cannot but lead to an increase of Russian influence, since Russia is the protagonist of the system. 517 If this diagnosis is even comparatively correct, Russian action and policy will be found completely logical and completely coherent. It would explain the continual "No" on the Russian side to a speedy settlement of the Austrian and German question. Until the German and Austrian Treaties of Peace are finally concluded Europe cannot settle down either politically or economically, and we shall have a continuance of hunger, misery and hardship throughout Central Europe. The hungry people of the Continent are very apt to turn to Communism, which is held out by its supporters as the one method of alleviating their sufferings and misfortunes. It is in the interests of Communism to delay settlement and to retard or prevent economic recovery in Europe. The proceedings and negative results of the Moscow Conference bear out very largely what I have tried to argue. Long delay in reaching a settlement to establish a free and independent Austria in accordance with the pledges given at the time of the first Moscow Conference, pledges which then heartened all of us who are friends of Austria, may have a secondary ground, because an Austrian settlement would mean that the Russian forces would have to leave both Rumania and Hungary.
The noble Viscount dealt at considerable length with the Hungarian position, and I do not intend to follow him except to say that I agree generally with his conclusions; and I am quite clear that if the Hungarian people had had a free choice, if there had been no Russian troops on Hungarian soil, the present happenings would never have occurred. But they are the logical consequence of the desire of Russia for the spread of Communism. Having talked of Austria, I should like to express the hope that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will before long be able to pay a visit to Austria. His visits to Germany have been very beneficial and a visit to Vienna would be equally helpful. Your Lordships will realize that the Austrian and German questions are completely distinct.
I mentioned, apart from the desire for the spread of Communism, another main-spring of Russian policy—namely, her interests and ambitions. Let us remember that Russia has always been a very hard bargainer. In 1914 her demands upon her allies were extremely severe. The Russians, when dealing with a foreign 518 Government, will never give something for nothing, whatever the merits of the case may be. They believe in what the Germans call "Kuhhandel." That is the attitude which the Italian Government used to take at the League of Nations. In the event of a dispute between two countries coming before the Council, the Italian Government used to send for the representative of one of the countries and say to him, "You have a good case, and we will give you our vote; but you must give us something in return." And, what is more, they almost always got it. In the case of Austria and Germany the Soviet Government have a large number of trumps in their hands, and I believe they intend to get the fullest value for them. I do not think they care very much how much economic unhappiness is caused by their actions in Central Europe and in the world as a whole, because it has very little effect on Russia itself, which is so self-contained.
It is rather a sombre picture which I have put before your Lordships, and you will ask, is there any remedy, or must this deadlock continue? In the debate on the control of atomic energy to which I have already referred, the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, made a very remarkable proposal. He laid stress on the economic weakness of Russia. True, Russia suffered far more greatly than any other Power from the German invasion. Millions of her population were exterminated; her countryside and the towns were devastated. We must bear that in mind when we find these huge and, indeed, impossible demands made by Russia for reparations from Germany and even from Austria. It is perhaps difficult for the Soviet Government to say to their people "Germany is not going to repair or give compensation for the damage which she has done to you." Russia needs financial and material aid for her recovery. She badly lacks industrial equipment and domestic consumer goods. I fear that we in this country are not in any condition. to give Russia, at any rate, any consider-. able help in that direction. If we were, I rather think that the stream of abuse which we get daily from Soviet organs would cease. But as things are perhaps that abuse is rather a compliment. It shows that the British democratic way of life is considered by the Soviet rulers to be a very serious obstacle to Communist proselytism. However, that may be, the 519 United States alone are in a position to undertake to provide the material and the money necessary to Russia's recovery. But if the United States were prepared to undertake that task, then I think it ought to be a matter of bargaining—and here I differ slightly from the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi.
I think there must be definite concessions on the Russian side, both as regards Germany and as regards Austria. As I said, the Russians would really understand horse trading of that kind. I realize the difficulties in America. It might be said that such a loan would be truckling to and encouraging Communism. On the Soviet side it might be said that it would lead to the reinforcement of capitalism, which they believe is doomed in the long run. I believe, however, that the proposal is worth very serious consideration. The only alternative seems to me to go on as we are doing and, if the Russian negative attitude persists, then we must do our utmost, with the co-operation of the United States and those European countries which are willing to organize and build up the recovery, economic and spiritual, of such parts of Europe as are not yet under Soviet domination. It is an unhappy conclusion, but if the loan idea proves impracticable, what else is there? Of course, we all want to have one world, but we may have to be content with two, though happily there will still be a link through the United Nations, and the European Economic Committee set up by that organization.
I am not going to dwell on the working of that Committee, because the noble Lord, Lord Layton, will speak about it later. He will also talk about the magnificent offer made by Mr. Marshall, and I should like to associate myself completely with what the noble Viscount said on that point. We cannot abandon our principles to appease Russia, even though we most ardently desire Russian friendship; it is difficult to go on holding out one's hand in friendship and receiving in return nothing but abuse and, indeed, sometimes a slap in the face. I would like to take this opportunity of paying a tribute to the policy pursued by the Foreign Secretary. His patience, combined with firmness in essentials, has been most remarkable, and I sincerely hope that it will receive its due reward. But I 520 would like to remind him and the Government that the month of November is four months off, and that events in the international field are proceeding at breakneck speed.
I would like to refer to another point, if your Lordships will allow me. It is about the proposals made by President Truman for help to Greece and Turkey. We on these Benches believe that those proposals were in accordance with the principles of the Atlantic Charter. They were based on giving people freedom from want, freedom from fear, and the choice of their own Government. There has been criticism—there has been criticism among my friends— on the ground that these proposals by-pass the United Nations. I do not think that criticism is justified. Just think what would happen if you took the proposal to the United Nations. First of all, that would mean delay, and surely everybody realizes that the proposals made would in the end be vetoed by the Russian representative. What did the United States representative do? He said "I will accept the ruling of the majority, and if they wish the help to come to an end, I agree that it will be done." In fact, all he said in regard to the method of applying the procedure system was that it should be a majority vote, but no veto. Here I would like to say a word about a suggestion I made in a previous debate in regard to questions of procedure—that the question of what was procedure should be referred to the International Court of Justice. The Lord Chancellor said that it would be taken into consideration, but he was inclined to think it might lead to delay. I think he must have misunderstood what I intended to propose. I wanted the Court to be asked for a general classification; and if we had a general classification I think that would help the Security Council when questions of procedure came up, although, of course, there might be cases where the definition of the Court was not adequate.
Before I sit down, there is one other matter connected with international affairs to which I wish to refer. I have a Motion on the Order Paper to bring forward a suggestion that a clause should be inserted in treaties bring violators of treaties automatically before the bar of the United Nations. I thought that might be helpful in securing that nations keep 521 their pledged word, a point to-day of the greatest importance. I have, however, had an exchange of views with the Foreign Office, and I have been persuaded that the time is not ripe to press for the insertion of such a clause in all treaties. We must wait, I think—and rightly wait—to see how the work of the Assembly of the United Nations, of the Security Council and of the Court develops. And particularly, we must wait to see how the working of Article 33 comes into play. Therefore, I intend to take that Motion off the Order Paper. It has been there a long while, and many noble Lords have promised to support it. I thank them for the support that they have offered and I thought that in justice to them and in deference to your Lordships' House I ought to explain the reason for my action.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ LORD LINDSAY OF BIRKER
My Lords, may I ask your indulgence because the task which I have, perhaps rashly, set before myself involves the possible diversion of the course of this debate. We have been concerned, and naturally concerned, about European questions. We are all concerned, and bound to be concerned, with the growing seriousness of the relations between ourselves and Russia. We are bound to be very seriously concerned with the apparently hopeless impasse which characterizes all our dealings with Russia. When we are told that we must: be patient, I think that some of us—I certainly am one of them—are a little concerned at the continual repetition of that advice. I believe that delay, and continued delay, is precisely what Russia wants, and that therefore, one has to ask oneself when the time is coming when we shall say: "We have played this game long enough, and we must make it clear that we do not intend to go on playing it indefinitely."
I should like to be allowed, by way of personal explanation, to say to the noble Earl who has just spoken that if he attributed to me the view that Russia's attitude is entirely due to suspicion I must have spoken in a way which asked to be misinterpreted. I am not sure that I would not agree—I cannot put these thing quantitalively—with his percentages. My trouble about our relations with Russia is, I think, that it is very hard to make up one's mind how far people are going to act on their own doctrines, however fan- 522 tastic and nonsensical those doctrines may seem. I say this very seriously—the Russian's Communist doctrines are fantastic; they are so fantastic, that I think that if you had to deal all the time with immediate practical questions, you would give them up. But I think it is very rash to suppose that because doctrines are obviously fantastic they are not believed in and that people are not prepared to act upon them. The thing that frightens me about Russia and Europe is that it is very hard to tell how far the Russians believe in the orthodox Communist doctrine that starvation and misery are the necessary prelude to Communism, and therefore to a beautiful life.
That is, after all, the orthodox Marxian doctrine as expounded in the pamphlet about the Commune of 1871, which has been taken up by Russia. I do not think that that is the whole of the truth. I think that part of the truth is more hopeful, but I do not think we have any right to assume that because Russia is a great nation Russia does not believe that nonsense. It is not safe to make any such assumption. If Russia were going to act on that doctrine she would say: "There is plenty of time. We can go on saying 'No' and we can go on postponing decisions. We can, in fact, go on behaving exactly as we are doing and everything is going to play into our hands." I agree with both the noble Viscount who opened this debate and the noble Earl who followed him, that that is a hopeless game and it must somehow be stopped.
And now, I hope that the House will bear with me for a short time if I go to the other side of the globe and say something about a situation which I think is more dangerous and also more promising, namely—and the House will be surprised, I expect, to hear this—the situation in China. The Foreign Secretary in a very long and interesting speech which he made the other day in what, perhaps, I should describe as quite another place (a place further from here than "the other place") said this:If we keep our eyes entirely on Europe and forget the Far East a danger may spring up in an unexpected way.If noble Lords will look at this morning's newspaper they will see that danger is springing up in an unexpected way. It seems to me that all that the noble Viscount who opened this debate said so eloquently with regard to Spain applies 523 a fortiori to China. Civil war is there already. Mr. Foster Dulles in an article in Life a few weeks ago said this:America's most important strategic frontier lies on the border line of Soviet-American confrontation in Northern China.It is true, as in Spain so in China, that the result of civil war is to encourage the extreme parties on both sides and to bring about a progressive weakening and disappearance of the moderates of both sides. I think that you get a situation which becomes much more hopeless every day. There is no prospect of civil war in China coming to an end unless something happens, and I want to submit to your Lordships that that something could be brought about without very much difficulty and fairly rapidly. Though the Foreign Secretary called the attention of the Labour Party Conference to the Far East, when he came to deal with it he said a good deal about Japan, quite a lot about Korea, but practically nothing about China. Why? So far as I can make out, it was because he thought there was nothing to be done. Last month he was asked a question in another place—the real "other place"—about China. He was asked whether he would promote a settlement between the parties concerned, and he said that, much as he deplored civil war, he thought there was nothing to be done about it. I venture to suggest, that that is not so. I venture to suggest that what is wanted in China is not interference by any other Power at all but a united guarantee that there is not going to be interference.
I am perfectly certain, in view of all I hear and know about the present situation, that the civil war goes on at the present time with the persistence and fury it does simply because the Kuomintang believe that, in the last resort, America will not allow them to be defeated. When I raised this question in January, the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack in his answer said that the policy of His Majesty's Government was to carry out the declaration of the three Foreign Ministers at Moscow in December, 1945. He said that we were committed to the support of the efforts of the National Government to achieve unity and democracy. That, said the noble and learned Viscount, has been and is our policy. What do you do with a policy like that, when the 524 National Government are not only making no effort to support democracy but every effort to suppress it? I do not think there is any question about it.
One thing that has happened, and happened more and more in the last months, is that the National Government of China are suppressing not just the Communists but all the Liberal elements in the present Government of China. I am not going to weary your Lordships with evidence but there is no doubt that is happening. I am clear that that is going to continue to happen so long as the Kuomintang Government believe that the American Government will not allow them to be defeated. This is not an accusation against the American Government. The American Government, under their representative, General Marshall, proclaimed the doctrine of non-interference in China. It is true they had already interfered a great deal, giving the National Government help in training men and in materials without which they would not have done anything. They withdrew that interference, but I think it is clear that the Kuomintang do not believe in that washing of American hands in regard to China.
I think that what is wanted is what was proposed at the recent conference in Moscow— namely, that the three Powers—Russia, the United States of America and this country—should come together and review the present position of their policy of Moscow of 1945. If they did that and there were a new declaration from the three Powers of their intention not to interfere and not to allow interference, then, from what I hear, the Civil War in China would end in six months. The National Government are doing worse and worse. They are only supported by this mistaken belief and it is a belief which has to be denied. I urge this with great seriousness on the Government for two reasons. I think the present position is extraordinarily dangerous. A large proportion of the population of China believe there is going to be a conflict between the United States and Russia. All that the noble Viscount who opened the debate said about opinion in Europe on that topic could be said much more strongly about the belief in China, and it is that belief which at the present time is doing two evil things: it is encouraging the National Government of China in conducting a Civil War and in their suppressive activities, and it is encouraging the Communists 525 to believe that their only hope is in Russia. We could bring that to an end by a declaration such as I suggest.
I do not think I differ from a single word either of the two noble Lords who have spoken said in regard to the present attitude of Russia. But I think it worth trying, at any rate, whether co-operation between the three Powers in regard to China might not have fruitful effect. Think what would be the feeling all over the world if something in which the three Powers co-operated were fruitful. I apologize for having diverted the debate from Europe but, as the noble Earl who spoke before me has said, it is the relationship between these three Powers wherever it appears which is really the decisive thing in world affairs.
§ 4.5 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
My Lords, the noble Lord has done well to remind us of the important place China must play in any consideration of international affairs, and the suggestion he made at the end of his speech is clearly one of significance. Moreover, in the United States it is obvious that the further one goes West, the more does the pressure of China's problem weigh upon the American mind. Nevertheless, as Lord Lindsay of Birker will not be surprised to observe, I return to Europe because, although Europe is not the only seed-plot of trouble, it is the most immediate.
The most important event in international history during recent weeks was the Moscow Conference and, as we have been reminded, with the resumption of that Conference only four months ahead the preparations for it and the factors to be borne in mind at it must receive a very great measure of attention. It is no wonder that the outcome of the Moscow Conference leaves us depressed, for it means that there is still great and perilous uncertainty in the centre of Europe. The peace of Europe is of vital interest not only to all European peoples but to the whole world, and it is unquestionably bound up with the future of Germany, to which the Moscow Conference was to such a large extent devoted. I would like to associate myself with what the noble Viscount who initiated the debate said about the vigorous and enlightened way in which the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is attacking his task. I know from correspondence from some of my anti-Nazi friends in Germany what 526 hopes are built on him personally and what confidence they have in his personality.
The future of Europe is inescapably bound up with Germany and we really need to put a searchlight on that particular part of the European problem for the sake of Europe as a whole. There are 70,000,000 Germans lying between Russia and the Western world. If Germany is divided, Europe will be divided. If the Germans become the tool of either East or West against the other, there is no basis of peace in Europe or the world. If they become the prey of nihilism or despair, others will swiftly be influenced; and if they remain an idle and recalcitrant element in Europe, there can be no lasting economic recovery on the Continent. Of course, there are few in Germany who expect that any kind if peace will essentially relieve their situation, but without a settled peace of some kind, the currency question cannot be settled; materials cannot be procured; no houses can be built to shelter the expellees from the East; the Germans cannot plan anything; they cannot encourage the saving of money, and they cannot put the young to be apprenticed. And, above all, the revision of the Eastern frontier will become more and more difficult the longer the status quo exists. The helplessness of the Germans has been intensified by the postponement of everything for another seven months. And, as the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, has said, other things since Moscow have emphasized the critical character of the international situation.
The struggle for peace to-day is a struggle for the lifeblood of Europe. As we all know, there are two dominating Powers in the world of nations—the United States of America and Soviet Russia. Geographically, Europe lies between. It is also true that Europe lies between them from the ideological point of view. The United States stands for the individual as the basis of the whole of human life, while Soviet Russia—and indeed Russia— stands for a type of life in which the community are predominant. A struggle is going on not only for the physical but for the ideological possession of Europe. To put it quite shortly, the issue is this: either Europe will be the battlefield between the two Powers and the two types of life, or it will at last become the bridge which links them 527 peacefully together. If it does not become the bridge, it will be destroyed. Therefore, in my opinion, British foreign policy should be against further division of Europe. So far as we can arrange or promote it, there must be no iron screen, either in imagination or reality. British foreign policy should be equally against the Balkanization of some parts, and against the one-sided Westernization of other parts of Europe. Let Europe be envisaged as a whole; let the old national disruptions and the old national barricades come to an end, so far as we can help it. Let the economic interdependence of all Europe, whether East or West, be one of our foreign policy aims, and, as a part of that, the economic interdependence of the east and west of Germany.
In addition to the bond of economic interest binding America and Russia together, there is a spiritual bond. We all abhor totalitarianism, the dictator regime with its ghastly accessories of secret police, violence, murder, deportation, and labour camps in which millions of men are confined. I do not believe that dictatorship reflects the soul of the Russian people; I believe that the kind of community which is natural to the Russian people is of a very different quality from the kind which has been forcibly imposed upon them for these many years. The ordinary Russian, outside the official classes—and he is found, for example, in the eastern zone of Germany—is said to be a very simple man, very much like other simple men in every country. Further, there is at least one creative spiritual ideal shared in common by the Western and the former Russian civilization; that is, Christianity. They are different types in Russia and the West, but both derive from the same gospel of faith and brotherhood and forgiveness. I believe that there we can yet find the means for a coming together of the two ways of life which would otherwise fight to the death.
The task of British foreign policy for Europe's sake, is to hold fast to the conception of Europe as a bridge, to insist on the unity of Europe and the economic and spiritual unity of Germany for Europe's sake. That means, of course, standing firm by the great principles of freedom and justice, which have meant so truth to Britain in the past, perhaps too much. The world still expects Britain to do its duty, and from my own more 528 limited observations abroad, I agree with the noble Viscount that the prestige of Britain, particularly in respect of its moral leadership, is very high with the peoples of Europe. Such a policy has on the one hand positive consequences, and on the other hand negative consequences. In its positive consequences it should show justice in the government of those under British control, wherever they are, but notably in Austria and Germany. It should offer a pattern of its own democratic ideals so as to leave no doubt of our sincerity. Potsdam, at any rate in large measure, is inconsistent with these ideals. If Potsdam is disregarded in the Russian Zone because it conflicts with the interests of Russia, I see no reason why in the British Zone we should be punctilious in carrying out every letter of the Potsdam decree when it plainly conflicts with the interests of the ultimate possible recovery of Germany, and when one of the chief pre-suppositions of the Potsdam Agreement—the economic unity of Germany—is unfulfilled through the fault of the Russians. This applies especially to the removal of factories, to reparations, and to denazification. As another positive consequence of such a policy, I believe, with the noble Viscount, that we should co-operate to the full with the United States of America both in the control of the two zones and also in the utmost partnership that we can give in the economic rehabilitation of Europe as a whole.
But this policy also has some negative consequences. We should not be afraid to say "No" in those cases where justice is exposed to such outrageous attack that its whole authority is in danger. The conclusion of peace is, in itself, so desirable that some measure of compromise in a very mixed world is inevitable. But it is possible to go too far. If one lesson stands out above others from the pre-war years of Nazi aggression, it is this: It is always wisest to say "No" in the earliest beginnings. Accordingly, when unjust decisions are projected, let us say "No" to begin with, at the quadripartite level in Berlin, and continue to say it—say it in Moscow, in London, in Washington and in Paris.
To give an illustration on a larger field —and with this I shall conclude—I would say that if it is proved after inquiry that a Government, contrary to the declared will of the people of a country, have been 529 forcibly imposed on that country by one Power, we should refuse to recognize it. If it is proved that, contrary to solemn pacts and treaties, a small nation has been forcibly annexed, we should refuse to recognize the annexation as a legitimate possession. Once again, it the proposed final delineation of Poland's western frontier is as unjust and harmful as that provisionally arranged at Potsdam for interim administration, again we should say "No." It is on that platform of justice, freedom and order, of the unity of Europe as a bridge to link the West and the East, America and Russia, economically and spiritually, with the nations of Europe, living, growing and working together, that I conceive the foreign policy of the United Kingdom should be built. If the United Kingdom makes such a policy its own, and tests its immediate decisions as they arise from time to time by that standard, then, though difficult and troubled days certainly lie ahead, one can see a door slowly opening to toleration and peace.
§ 4.22 p.m.
§ LORD VANSITTART
My Lords, whenever there has been a general debate on foreign affairs in this House I have usually confined myself to one subject, and to-day I am going to take the one which is fraught with the most danger to Western civilization: that is, the steady expansion of the police State. Let us begin by remembering what Mr. Bevin said in the other place on May 15. He said:It does not matter how many elections there are. If you have a powerful secret police, operated in secret by a single Minister, and capable of inculcating terror into the people of the country, then there is no democracy—you are miles away from it.Perhaps I might put it more concisely by saying that economic democracy is a considerable economy of democracy. The latest case that we have before us is that of Hungary, and it is one of the worst cases. The noble Viscount who initiated this Motion said a few words upon it. I shall have to go into it in greater detail in order to make my case.
In October, 1945, there were municipal elections in Hungary. They were thought to be a foregone conclusion for the Communists, and their obsequious socialist servitors, headed by Mr. Szakasits. He is the gentleman, I would remind your Lord-ships. who said recently that elections 530 were no more than arithmetic, and binding on nobody. I will leave him at that. These Smallholders sprang a surprise. and scored a victory. Then the occupying Power took alarm and umbrage on behalf of its Communist Party, and great pressure and intimidation were exercised on the Smallholders to force them to go into the impending political elections in November, 1945, as part of a four-Party bloc. I would remind the House that exactly the same tactics of intimidation were applied to Mr. Mikolajczyk. Like Mikolajczyk and his Polish Peasant Party, but with more success, the Small-holders stood firm. They went into those elections on their own, and this time they won a smashing victory. They polled over 57 per cent. of the votes, and the Communists, plus Mr. Szakasits, polled just about 35 per cent. I do not think really that Mr. Szakasits represents the true Hungarian Socialists. If you were to look for them, yon would have to seek them in Peyer and Peydl and Gyorki; but I do not know if yon would find them—they have been eliminated.
After that the occupying Power stepped in again. The Smallholders were not allowed to have a majority in their own Cabinet. That resulted in a Communist being installed in the key position of Minister of the Interior, which is always the first step towards establishing a police State, because control of the Ministry of the interior carries with it control of all the different kinds of Police that pullulate in the police States. So the Communists obtained control not only of the ordinary police, but the military police, the economic police, the frontier police, and, above all, the secret police. In the office of the Minister of the Interior they installed a heavy-handed gentleman who calls himself Rajk. That is not his real name; his real name is Reicher. He is a Transylvanian Saxon. He had a brother in the German S.S. As Chief of the Police he put in a man of notorious cruelty who calls himself Jaber Peter. That, of course, is not his name; his real name is Schlesinger. He is a tailor's assistant of German-Jewish origin. Between them, Herr Reicher and Herr Schlesinger established a complete system of narks, spies and informers; and they introduced from Germany a most sinister feature—the block wardens.
I mention these things to show that, although there are differences between the 531 secret police of the various countries, there are no fundamental differences—whether they call themselves the Gestapo, the Cheka, the O.G.P.U., the N.K.V.D., the Ovra, the Ozna, the U.B., or any other adversity. The next step was that the Hungarian Communists, by a process of intimidation, forced the Smallholders to liquidate a large number of their own adherents. I am going to be scrupulously fair in everything I say on this subject. It may well be that there were some black sheep among them. On the other hand, there were a great many people who were known to me as having a good anti-German record. Then there was enforced a drastic purge of every branch of the public administration. Again I will he scrupulously fair. A good part of that purge was amply justified; there were plenty of people in Hungary who deserved punishment. But not all of that purge, by a long way, was justified. What was, in any case, unjustified was that the Communists seized all the vacant places. But that is only part of the ordinary routine by which a minority deprives a majority of power.
But with all this process of purge and emasculation things were not moving fast enough, so a plot was discovered, and on that plot I have a good deal to say. In it were involved a number of people who had also taken part in the resistance movement against the Germans. It is quite certain that some of them had also been resisting a Communist-dominated State. Again, I will be scrupulously fair. There were some wild men amongst them, but the vast bulk of them simply did not want to be subjected to two totalitarian regimes one after the other—and that is rather a comprehensible taste. It is thus perfectly fair to say that if there had been no police State there would have been none of the minions of Herr Reicher and Herr Schlesinger; there would also have been no plot. But the tragedy of a police State is that it always regards all opposition as a crime and then rages indiscriminately.
There are many degrees of culpability, of innocence and of merit in resisting a police State, but the fanatics and sychophants of the system will have it that there is only one degree of guilt, the extreme degree. None of us who has ever enjoyed free institutions in a free country is ever going to admit that for one moment. Let us draw up a perfectly fair and balanced 532 account. On the one side you may say that there are these varying degrees of culpability, innocence and merit, on the other side the notorious fact that this plot has been grossly exaggerated for political purposes, and above all, for the following purpose. The Communists are well aware of their Own' unpopularity in the country, and therefore they must get a stranglehold on it before the Russian troops are withdrawn.
That, of course, is the reason why the Russians would not make a treaty with Austria. They attached considerable importance to maintaining their troops in Eastern Europe and above all in the non-Slav countries of Hungary and Rumania. In Rumania the same kind of mediæval witch hunt is going on at this moment, and has long been going on. It is going on also in Bulgaria where an honest and eminent man, Mr. Petkov, has been arrested on another of these fake charges. The same thing has happened in Yugoslavia where Jovenovic has encountered the same fate. The same process is going on in Poland where the old guard of the Socialists have been swept into the police net, and the process is beginning in Austria and Czechoslovakia. I take this occasion to say that I hope the Austrian Government will not be intimidated and that Austria will not be enslaved twice.
The Hungarian Communists had to make hay while the Kremlin sun shone. Already a great number of Hungarians have been deported. The usually accepted figure is half a million. Again I will be scrupulously fair, and I will suppose—although I have no warrant whatever for the supposition—that that number has been exaggerated. I will even suppose, for the sake of argument, that it is only a quarter of a million. Half a million or a quarter of a million—why that is nothing. That is a bagatelle judged by the ghastly standards of our twentieth century. But it is a lot if you count them up—one, two, three, four. It is still more if you shut your eyes and try to imagine half a million or a quarter of a million hopeless and haggard faces in a row.
Again I will be scrupulously fair. There were certainly people among them who deserved punishment, but nothing like that. In fact, we know that a great many of them were just picked up at random— I suppose for the purpose of intimidating the others. Well, that is not an encouraging spectacle. It may be said, of course, 533 that some of the Smallholders have confessed. Confessions in a police State! I thought we all knew how those were obtained, or perhaps we do not all know, as I still hear romantic suggestions about talking drugs and that sort of thing. There are no doubt many refinements of torment in police States, but the ordinary routine technique is much simpler than that—it is just sleeplessness, infinite sleeplessness induced by glaring lights and the indefinite multiplication of nocturnal third degree.
On that I must say a few further words, because it has a great bearing on the case before us to-day. In all the prisons of all the secret police in all the police States sleep, of course, is strictly rationed, and if a victim nods out of hours he is jerked back into consciousness. But even in the allotted hours he cannot sleep properly because of this blazing light in his eyes; and if to ease the pain in his aching eyeballs he rolls away from it he is just rolled back. Moreover, it is an established practice in all those prisons to conduct their third degrees, their interrogatories or whatever you like to call them, at all hours of the night. It may be at midnight or at two, three or four o'clock in the morning, and it goes on for eight, ten or twelve hours on end so that the victim never gets back his lost sleep. Actually, he can hardly sleep at all. The calculation is that no human frame can possibly stand 200 third degrees. Now I happen to know personally one or two people who have stood out to something under 150—somewhere around 130 I think is the record, but usually long ere then the human being has been broken down into a cowed and bemused animal, which is the purpose of the whole proceeding. So the police States have achieved one very remarkable thing, and that is that in their hands a confession is the strongest possible presumption of innocence, because otherwise its methods would neither be needed nor used.
It follows that in the police State all confessions are as suspect as the charges and as the means by which those charges are framed. Take the case of Mr. Kovacs, the former Secretary-General of the Smallholders Party, to which the noble Viscount alluded. He was a man of integrity, of strength of character and of capacity for leadership, so he was marked out for destruction. The local Communists could 534 not quite do the job themselves, so they called in the Russian secret police, who arrested him on a series of trumped up charges, including one which is perhaps by now abandoned—of espionage for the British. That was on February 25, over 100 days ago. Your Lordships can do the sum for yourselves—over 100 days, two third degrees a day; that is already far beyond the theoretical maximum, and far beyond the recorded maximum of human endurance. So he confessed—poor devil! He has confessed to a plot in which his own Prime Minister of the same Party, Mr. Nagy, the Foreign Secretary, Mr. Gyoengyoessi, the Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Varga, his deputy as Secretary-General of the Party, Father Balogh, and a number of others have all confessed to being involved in a conspiracy to overthrow themselves. That is a likely story, is it not?
I hope the House will join me to-day in putting on record its contemptuous disbelief of these police State concoctions. If only all the police States would realize that they only cover themselves with obloquy and derision in giving out these cook and bull stories, they would be slightly less tempted to use them; and that at least would be something gained for humanity. The truth of this story is perfectly simple. The Prime Minister and his colleagues have been charged with being over-subservient to the Communists, and there is much substance in the criticism, though the critics took little account of the physical danger of these poor people. They resisted only when a point was reached where if they had gone further the whole of the Hungarian economy would have been enslaved, and they said "No." I will not go into details but if any noble Lord would like to have the details I have them at my finger tips.
The Communists are hard masters. Nothing less than 100 per cent. subservience will do, as some of our fellow-travellers will find if they venture on a 5 per cent. reservation.
To-day I received a letter from the ex-Prime Minister, Mr. Nagy. I propose to read it to your Lordships. It is his version of the inside story of what has happened. I do not know Mr. Nagy and I have never met him; indeed I have been among his critics. The only conceivable reason I can imagine why he should have 535 written to me is that he believed that he would get a hearing for the truth if I knew it. I propose to read this letter to your Lordships in full. I am afraid it will add to the length of my speech but I would ask the House to be indulgent to me; because we are at the parting of the ways. This is a turning point in history; make no mistake about that. This is the letter:
§ Dictated by Telephone from Geneva,
§ 9.30 p.m. on June 9.
§ "The crisis broke out on May 14, when General Sviridov, Chairman of the A.C.C. presented his note. I had asked the Russian Government that Bela Kovacs, formerly Secretary-General of my Party, should he handed over by the Russians to the Hungarian police. Sviridov sent his reply in my absence, saying that he could not comply with my request as the investigation against Kovacs had not been completed. But he was prepared to place at the disposal of the Hungarian Government the confession of Bela Kovacs according to which Father Bela Balogh and myself had known about the conspiracy discovered in December.
§ In March the Hungarian police transferred to the N.K.V.D. for further investigation several accused of the so-called conspiracy. For weeks these men have been questioned at night; great pressure is being put on them to wring from them statements incriminating President Tildy, Father Varga, and myself.
§ To my mind there is no doubt that the Communists have prepared for months to eliminate leading bourgeois politicians. In a state of inebriation, the Communist judge Janko has repeatedly said that after the conclusion of the first trial it will be my turn and that of my companions. News leaked daily from the Political Police that Varga and myself, and later President Tildy, will be implicated. We had ample evidence that the N.K.V.D. and the Hungarian Political Police were making efforts to induce members of our entourage to spy on us.
§ In Hungary there is no means of producing counter evidence, because at the first attempt the N.K.V.D. intervenes and regardless of position, or parliamentary privilege, spirits away those whom the Hungarian Political Police cannot incriminate. This is borne out by the arrest by the N.K.V.D. of Count Geza Palffy, Ivan Lajos, Colonels Kalman Kery, Otto Hatazegi, Alexander Furjes; most recently Stephen Laszlo and Stephen Tarnai (G. Palffy leader of the Catholic Peoples Party; I. Lajoz, author of the sensational "Grey Book" published in 1938 which predicted Germany's defeat). The three colonels played a distinguished part in the fight against the Germans and at first enjoyed the confidence of the Russian military authorities; S. Laszlo was the Foreign Editor of the Hungarian News Agency and S. Tarnay had acted as Secretary to the Hungarian Armistice Commission in Moscow in 1944–45, then went back to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry, where he became Secretary of Jyoengyoessi.536
§ It is obvious that had I returned, I would have been arrested, and had he not escaped, the same would have happened to Varga.
§ I know that dire threats have been used to induce my Party to assent to the plot against myself. Balint Zsubi, smallholder deputy for the County of Sopron, who fled with Bela Varga, has made a statement that President Tildy was only induced to remain in his place by the threat of deportation to Russia. It is characteristic that the Political Police is keeping watch over him in the President's Palace.
§ The Soviet aim is to smash bourgeois democracy and to place Hungary entirely under Communist yoke. The German Nazis worked with exactly the same methods, also relying on their fifth column.
§ If the bourgeois elements of Hungarian society will be completely demoralized, then the elections will be held which under the Leadership of the Communist Minister of Interior, Laszlo Rajk (Reicher) and of the Communist Police will yield the same results as those of Poland, Roumania and Bulgaria. Thus the illegal Communist aspirations will receive a constitutional basis.
§ The goal of this policy is self evident. Premier Gottwald of Czechoslovakla has already announced that his country must be cleared of reaction; the Austrian Communist leader, Fischer, has demanded that his Party should be given more influence in the Austrian Government; the attacks against the Roumanian Foreign Tatarescu, have begun; in Bulgaria the leader of the Opposition, Nicholas Petkoy, has been arrested on the charge of "conspiracy." In Poland, where last January Mikolajczyk and his Polish Peasant Party were dealt with, now another "plot" has been discovered, as a result of which the entire Socialist old guard has been arrested. In Hungary I have been removed from the Premiership by coup d'état. These steps show clearly that the Soviets are acting on the basis of a master plan.
§ In my humble opinion the Anglo-Saxon powers ought to do the following things:
- (A.) Make a full inquiry into the Hungarian conspiracy, not on Hungarian soil, where the entire administrative apparatus is in Communist hands, but at New York or Geneva Headquarters of the United Nations, where all the original documents should be transferred. It must be ascertained whether this was an anti-constitutional and anti-republican plot, or whether it was merely the preparation of honest patriots against a Communist coup d'état.
- (B). It must he investigated to what extent the Hungarian judicial authorities are fair towards bourgeois politicians, and to what extent they are serving Communist ends.
- (C). It must be ascertained by what right and to what extent the N.K.V.D. interferes in Hungarian public life, and to what extent it serves Russian State interests.
- (D). It ought to be elucidated to what extent the Russians dominate Hungarian political and economic life.
- (E). If it is ascertained that the 'plot' was merely the efforts of honest patriots to defend the country against a Communist coup d'etat then the accused ought to be rehabilitated.
- (F). Only after this, and when a completely new police has been organized, ought the Great Powers to allow new elections to be held in Hungary.
- (G). In the whole of central and south east Europe international commissions should ascertain the abuses practised during various elections, and then order new free elections to be held.
§ Yours very sincerely,
§ FERENCZ NAGY,
§ former Prime Minister of Hungary.
§ Part of that, no doubt, may seem to your Lordships counsel of perfection.
I sum up. These people have been liquidated, persecuted, martyred, and tormented for two reasons. One was that they were not sufficiently subservient, and the second was that they had some Western affinities. That is what I want this House, this country and the world to understand. All over Eastern Europe there are men and women living in mortal danger, and many have been already liquidated for even daring to think what has been familiar music in your ears for generations:
And not through Eastern windows only, When daylight comes, comes in the light.
That spells disaster in a police State. I have seen notices hounding out for destruction one man after another, because he has visited a British Mission. I say "Why the devil shouldn't he?" I say these things are intolerable under any alliance. I say that I wish the Press of this country could help these poor people by more caustic and courageous comment; and I say this is the worst of all possible ways of making the worst of all possible worlds.
§ Be that as it may, whatsoever is done or left undone in Eastern Europe, whoever resists or does not resist a police State, it is our right, our privilege, our duty, to resist it, because the police State is the antithesis of Western civilization, it is the negation of the soul of man, and the bane of homo sapiens. I beg you to see the way we are going. We fought this last war to prevent this evil, and yet it has spread. When I first began to go 538 to Europe towards the end of the last century, there were indeed some States which showed the first symptoms of the malady, in the sense that the police were too authoritative; but there was only one blatant and outstanding example of a police State; and that was Tzarist Russia. Now it has spread all over Eastern Europe, and is extending its tentacles to the West. Both France and Italy are in great danger. And everywhere the new dispensation makes the old Tzarist orhrana look like a bunch of amateurs. Everywhere the modern secret police are far better organized, equipped with powers far more terrific, and everywhere their victims are ten thousand times more numerous. For example, the N.K.V.D. not only control but virtually own all the millions of slave labour that are a part of the Soviet regime.
§ What does the police State mean? It means that nobody can think, or speak, or even breathe, except to order; and anybody who fails to fall into line may be packed into a cattle truck into oblivion. In the liberated States it means that men can still be tormented into inanity or buried alive in a concentration camp taken over from the Germans. Are we expected to accept all this without demur? Before anybody attempts to reply, will he please think of this? We have blamed rightly—how rightly!—the German nation for failing to stand up to its police State until it was too late. We all know the price of that failure. Before the account is closed it will have cost 30,000,000 lives. How arc we to continue to blame the Germans if we, in our turn, tail to resist, even if only vicariously, the police State whenever it shows its ugly head? And before anybody attempts to reply will he please also think of this. On April 3, the deputy chief Hungarian Prosecutor said this: "The accused are guilty because they have resorted to methods of persuasion, infiltration, and underground organization." Very well then; but what are these but the methods of the Communist Party itself all the world over?
§ This 20th Century has been the hell of a time. We have endured, "still are enduring, nursing the unconquerable hope," that at the end of it dl the white road of progress would mount the hills and shine. But the road forks. What if man takes the wrong turning? Is he on the right road? The scenery is unfamiliar. I wonder. I do not know. But I do know 539 that at the end of the wrong road there is a sheer drop of a thousand feet, a thousand years, into the Grand Cañon of chaos. Thirty years ago I wrote "The end is visible by wealth of means." Naturally, nobody paid any attention. I have never expected to command attention, but I submit to you that that prophecy has come true, and that the visible wealth of means is now threefold. First, there is the ghastly growth of international ill-faith on which I recently addressed your Lordships; secondly, there is the failure to control atomic energy, on which the most reverend Primate, the Archbishop of York, addressed you on April 30, and said not one word too much; thirdly, there is this steady growth of the police State.
§ I know that the case to which I have drawn your attention to-day may seem to some small and far off; but are not all far off things small, when seen without true perspective, when judged by sight without vision? Have we forgotten everything we are supposed to have learned? Were not many things done by the Germans in the 20th Century small at the time and at a distance until the crash came? Have we completely overlooked the year 1938? Was not Czechoslovakia small and far off? Yet that optical illusion cost us the peace that we are now vainly trying to regain. We pray for more than "Peace in our time, O Lord "; but how can He bow down to listen if we do not stand up for our principles, and how can Fate hear if we do not raise our voices as we should to-day? It almost breaks my heart when I think that I started life in a world inhabited by hope, and am ending it in one inhibited by doubt of its own duration. In fifty years of progress we have seen bloodshed on a scale which makes the total of the lives spent in the Hundred Years War a mere trickle. We have witnessed an endless chain of camps, dungeons, slaveries, tortures, and tyrannies which, by sheer weight of numbers, make the Dark Ages look very like the Dayspring from on High. Surely man's most growing need is for more and not for even less tolerance, and surely we should reaffirm that need to-day.
§ You will ask what can be done. You can always do something, my Lords. A little while ago I urged you to refer to the 540 United Nations, in its simplest form, this question of international ill-faith. "Are international obligations to be honoured—'Yes' or 'No'?"—I asked. Unfortunately, that course did not commend itself to the noble Lords on my left. That is a pity because now it is to be forced on us. Hungary has applied for membership of the United Nations, and it is unthinkable that the application should be passed without scrutiny or comment on the methods adopted to reduce her to a police State. I also said at the time that I never draw attention to an evil without suggesting a remedy. I am going to be as good as my word to-day: I am going to suggest something which is the simplest thing in the whole wide world, because, in one sense, at least, it involves doing nothing. His Majesty's Government are negotiating an extension and revision of the AngloSoviet Treaty of 1942. Go slow until you have some assurance that the new Treaty will be better observed than the old one was. Go slow; sign nothing, until you are firmly assured that the era of treaty-breaking is over, or that if Treaties must still be broken at least our protests shall be heeded with courtesy and effect.
§ But I think you will have to go a little further still. It is inevitable that not only this case but the whole of the creeping scandal should be referred to the United Nations, and there His Majesty's Government will have to state a perfectly simple truth of which the whole earth is already aware, and that is that the Soviet Government is wilfully and perversely invalidating the existing Treaty by this and a dozen other breaches of faith. I think that they should be asked plainly—and we should insist on a plain answer to a plain question—whether that is really their desire. It is certainly not ours. If, as I hope, they reply that it is not, then they must obviously abandon practices which are entirely incompatible with that Treaty. If, on the other hand, they were to say that they would sooner persevere with the sort of thing they are doing now, then we must begin thinking of an alternative policy, without dallying until November. I suggest that this clarification should take place at the earliest possible moment. I have a good record in this great matter. I was an advocate of Anglo-Russian co-operation long before the idea was popular and long before it was forced upon the Kremlin by Hitler. I 541 believed at the time, and I believe still, that it would have averted the Second World War. I want that co-operation still, if it can be achieved on decent and honourable terms; but not on these terms, because they are far too closely akin to Nazism, because this is Nazism with a different technique and because, more manifestly, it is gleichschaltung with a different label.
My mind goes back to 1939 when Mr. Amery cried "Speak for Britain" or "Speak for England" —the exact words do not matter to me; the sense is plain. My Lords of the Left, it is your turn to speak for Britain now. Are you going to do it? Or are we going to shrink and recede from everything for which we fought. Perhaps the House will allow me to give them a warning from Maurice Baring's parody of an inconclusive politician. He took his text from Keat's famous poem La Belle Dame Sans Merci:
Oh, what can ail thee knight at arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge is withered from the lake
And no birds sing.
In the mouth of the inconclusive politician this became: "Most of the sedge seems to have withered from the pond (lake is rather a large word) and practically no bird is for the moment singing." Therefore, I hope, that if the Government still feel hampered by any consideration of tact or tactics, this House at least will show to-day that we still have a heart, a conscience, a will—not a totalitarian will to power but a British will to justice and humanity.
It may be that it is not within the power of any man to add securely to the balance of human happiness so long as mankind remains unkind. But each one of us can sometimes do something to diminish human unhappiness, if we have the courage. Therefore, I was dismayed when listening to the B.B.C. on Saturday I heard a broadcaster announce that these doings in Hungary had aroused indignation in Washington but only anxiety in this country. Are we officially incapable of indignation when it is most required? I listened to that broadcaster in a company which included some visitors to these shores. With one accord they burst into spontaneous laughter. I well understood that. And while they laughed my mind went back, this time further still, to a vision of the police State. written fifty years before we were confronted with its
fullness. It was called The Old Issue, and it still is the old issue:
Cruel in the shadow, Crafty in the sun, Far beyond his borders shall his teaching run.
And what was the end of those teachings?
Long forgotten bondage, dwarfing heart and brain,
All our fathers died to loose, He shall bind again.
My Lords, those things need not be, but they will he, to the great detriment and ruin of our species and therefore of the police States themselves ultimately, unless we show courage now.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD
My Lords, it is far from my purpose to try to follow the eloquent and moving speech which has just been made by my noble friend, Lord Vansittart. And indeed, your Lordships may be quite easy in your minds on that point, because I should be quite incapable of doing so even if I wished to do it. But I must venture very respectfully to ask what is the real conclusion the noble Lord wishes us to take. We are all agreed, course, in condemning, as he has done with all his fervour and imagination, the scandals which appear to have taken place in Hungary, and which, I am afraid, are taking place in a good many places in Europe and, possibly, other parts of the world as well. The question is, what are we going to do? Are we going to go to war? That is the question you have to ask yourself when you listen to a speech such as that which has just been delivered with such eloquence by the noble Lord. What is going to be done? Perhaps representations are to be made? But not even that, apparently, is suggested by the noble Lord. He said, I gathered, that he thought there was nothing we should do except refuse to make a further Treaty with Russia. With the very great respect that I have for him, I really do not think that that is the way to deal with what is, in my view, a very serious crisis in the history of the world. I think if you are going to make that kind of speech—
§ LORD VANSITTART
I am sorry to interrupt. If the noble Viscount is referring to me, he misrepresents me very considerably. I did not say we should desist from making fresh attempts at clarification. I said I want an immediate 543 clarification as to our intentions now. A very different thing.
§ VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD
I regret if in my reference I have misrepresented the noble Lord and I withdraw anything he objects to. But, in point of fact, if you are going to make a speech of that kind, of unqualified condemnation of another country, you ought to be quite clear what is to be the outcome, if the advice you are tendering to the House and to the Government is followed. If one is to approach the Russian Government in the kind of tone and the kind of sense which my noble friend Lord Vansittart, has adopted, I cannot see that it is going to help the peace of the world.
I am not one of those who think there is any danger of immediate war. I do not believe there is any nation, as General Smuts said the other day, that is desirous of war or anxious for war. Therefore, it is not that I am afraid of. I am afraid of Europe and the world falling into such a condition of suspicion, of misery and of hardship of all kinds that sooner or later war will result, and, if war does result, I confess I see very little hope for the future of this world and of world civilization. It is all very well to make great appeals to the sense of justice and courage of the people of this country. I do not think there is any doubt of their sense of justice and courage, but I do think that before you make an appeal of that character in a House of legislation you ought to be very clear as to what practical results you desire should follow from your appeal.
Subject to that, I would say that with the general sentiments of my noble friend, Lord Vansittart, I am in entire agreement. I notice in several speeches, and of course in all the news that comes from America, this great fear of Communism and of Russian imperialism. Those are the two things that seem to be, and perhaps really are, most in the minds of those who criticize foreign affairs. I am not a Communist, I need not say. I have not approved of Communism wherever I have seen it in operation. Perhaps some half a century ago I might have been content 544 to accept the name of "Imperialist," but now it is apparently almost equal to a breach of the Commandments to admit that you are in favour of imperialism. I do not want to go into the question of names. What I do want to say and what noble Lords know perfecly well, is that the position in the world is one of very great anxiety. I see this country, as it were, upon the edge of a precipice. So long as we are on the edge all is well, but if we make a false step and fall over the precipice then I see very little hope for this country or for civilization.
Therefore I would venture personally to say that, though I disapprove of Communism, I am not so much afraid of it as many people are. I do not think it is likely to be a really serious danger. Russian imperialism is another matter, of course; but that Communism should be in itself a very dangerous thing I do not believe. I think it certainly has no hold to speak of in this country, and I doubt very much if it has anything like the hold ascribed to it in any foreign country. I agree much more with those who ask whether, without going into these deep questions, the real problem of foreign policy at this moment is not what we can do to improve our relations with Russia. I do not mean to say by that, merely friendship with Russia, but working with her for the peace we both profess we are anxious to maintain. I quite admit that there is a very great danger, and unless we can do that we shall be inextricably in misfortune.
Broadly speaking, what has happened is this. At the end of the war we entered with Russia and other countries into the United Nations Charter, and I personally think we did perfectly rightly in doing so. Apart from some particular provisions in that Charter, I am quite sure it was the right thing to have some such document. and, broadly speaking, the objectives and to a very large extent the machinery of the Charter was adequate for the purpose. But if it fails, then peace fails. That is the central fact. There is not any doubt, at least in my mind, that if the conception of some Union of Nations to maintain peace fails, then peace will come to an end. More than that, I agree with what has often been said in meetings of the United Nations, that it is essential to peace that the Great Powers should work together for that object. If you have a 545 split between these Great Powers, a split developing into hostilities, then that means another world war. I think that is true, and therefore, I am all for an agreement between the Great Powers; and so, in theory and in principle, is everybody else.
The difficulty really is that in international affairs you cannot get agreement without some concessions on both sides, something in the nature of a compromise. If you do not do that, it can only mean the domination of one section of the Great Powers. That is to say, in this particular case Russia accuses the United States and England of desiring domination. We fear, with much better grounds, that the policy of the Russian Government does mean domination and nothing else. Anyone who examines the records of the proceedings of the Security Council cannot doubt at all that that is the line on which the Russians are proceeding. They have constantly, over and over again, resisted the majority, sometimes the great majority, of the Council, and by the provisions of the Charter they have been able to stop it. I think if that position goes on we are in very serious danger, and peace is in very great danger also. Therefore, I am forced to ask, what is to be done? The Foreign Secretary says the great thing is that one must have patience. I entirely agree with that. I believe the first condition of diplomacy—and I think my noble friend, Lord Vansittart, will agree with me—is great patience.
§ VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD
We must have patience; there is no doubt about that. I agree with the Foreign Secretary and I am entirely against the kind of view expressed, even in this House, that we must abandon all this attempt to work together and resort to what seems to me to be a mad suggestion which would involve the use of the atomic bomb. I do riot really know what that kind of policy really means. It appears to me to be suicide to promote the use of the atomic bomb, and I cannot believe that that is a policy which finds any real favour in this House.
I am afraid I shall find myself of a different opinion from a good many people when I say that I am against breaking up the United Nations and starting a new 546 organization without Russia. I really do not believe that this is a practical policy. There is a statement in this morning's newspapers which refers to what our representative at Lake Success has been saying on that subject. It is not easy to follow the necessarily brief report, and to find out exactly what has been said; but, as I understand it, he has suggested that if we cannot work together, then all the nations that are agreed might work together to establish the peace policy and conditions they desire. In other words, if he did say that, it means, in effect, that we should break from Russia and have a policy of our own. The friends of Russia would be on one side, and our friends and America would be on the other. That seems to me simply to be a revival of the balance of power. I do not see any distinction between that and the balance of power, and I can only say that my very insufficient reading of history compels me to believe that the balance of power is merely a step towards war.
At the same time, if patience is advocated, then this House has a right to be told what the policy of patience really means. Patience for what? Unless we have some definite policy behind it, then it looks very much. like a policy of drift—simply doing nothing and allowing events to shape the course that ultimately may have to be adopted. That is a policy which I do not advocate in the least. I still think that something can be done of a definite constructive character to organize peace by the consent of all the chief countries of the world, and, if possible, by all the countries of Europe. I still think that is the best chance we have, and the great asset as I see it, is that we have on our side what I believe to be the passionate desire for peace which the whole of the common people of the world possess. I believe that is a great asset, and I am anxious to see that the most that can be made of that asset is made of it.
I believe that if we could really make it clear to the world that the overwhelming mass of the people of the world desired peace and would insist upon their Governments working for peace, there is no Government in the world that would eventually resist such a movement. The difficulty is that our opponents, in this case Russia, say: "Oh, we desire peace as much as anybody else, but what you want to do will not make peace, whereas 547 what we want to do will." I think that is the difficulty; and though it may well be true (as some speakers this afternoon have said) that that is not the real meaning or feeling of the Russians, yet, in point of fact, it is a possible explanation of their conduct. The way to deal with that seems to me to be not only by argument, saying on this question or on that question that we are right and they are wrong, but to try to find some big cause upon which we are plainly and definitely agreed, and then to put that forward as the foundation of the general policy of peace which we desire to pursue.
I suggest that there is one great principle which has emerged from the recent discussions, and upon which we are all agreed—namely, that aggressive war is an international crime. That seems to me to be a fundamental principle and if only it were adopted by every country, genuinely and really, then war would be at an end, because if every country were bound to refrain from aggression, no war could begin. I fully recognize the difficulties that are before you when you want to establish, as a working active principle, even so obvious a truth as that aggressive war is an international crime. To begin with, it is a comparatively new doctrine. It is not many years ago that it was universally admitted that any sovereign country was entitled, when it chose to do so, to make war upon any other country in defence of what were regarded as its rights. The only judge of what those rights were was the country that put them forward. That was the universally accepted principle of International Law, and even in a document about which I used to know a great deal—the Covenant of the League of Nations—there will be found no clear statement contravening that doctrine.
It is quite true that very soon after that, in 1924, there was a definite statement at the Assembly of the League accepting that as a general principle of law, and that was unanimously accepted. Even so, I venture to think that by far the most impressive statement on this point is that contained in the judgment of the Nuremberg Court. I quote a short passage from one of the judgments which was generally accepted:To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme crime, differing only from other 548 crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated will of the whole.Just think, if that statement could be generally accepted as the keynote of the policy of every country, what an immense difference would be made. Of course, the Court went on to decide that all those individuals who had promoted a policy of aggression were guilty of a crime which would be punishable by the proper court. I cannot help thinking that if that were put forward definitely as the policy of this country, and urged upon the Assembly of the United Nations, the Russian Government would be bound to support us—and really support us—because they themselves were parties, through their representative judges, to the laying down of that principle; they would be in favour of it. At any rate, it would be worth trying.
Then I think it would be necessary not only to make this statement—I hope it will be made, and, indeed, to some extent it has been made—that the Government here accept the principles of the Nuremberg Judgment so far as they deal with aggressive crime; I believe, however, that you have to do more than that, and I should like to see it embodied in a convention, to which all the nations should assent, which would be put forward as the fundamental principle on which not only our own foreign policy but, we hope, the foreign policy of the United Nations would be transacted. I think it would be very desirable to do that on every ground and, among others, because the only defence I have read that was put forward at Nuremberg against the thesis that the prisoners who were being tried had promoted aggressive war, and were therefore guilty of this crime, was that it was not a crime at the time the prisoners promoted the war. As to that there was a full argument by the Judges, to which I do not propose to refer. In any case, it is desirable that a doctrine should be finally established, so that nobody will be able to say in future that aggressive war is not an international crime. I think it would be an immense advance if that were definitely established as an international law of the world.
The only other point that was continually raised was that the members of the Court who tried these prisoners, and therefore laid down these principles, all 549 belonged to the victors, whereas the prisoners all belonged to the vanquished. I do not think that was avoidable in the circumstances, and I do not think it makes any difference to the truth of the doctrine on which they proceeded. But it would be much better to have established a regular Court to which all these questions could be referred. I do not think you could take the existing Court at The Hague, because that was established entirely for civil purposes. But I do not see why some other court of the same kind should not be established beforehand, with the primary duty of seeing whether this new convention that I have suggested was being infringed. We shall make a big mistake if we do not make the most of this great judgment that has been delivered—a judgment delivered with every condition of impartiality and knowledge, apart from the fact that all the members of the Court belonged to the victors and not to some neutral body. In all other respects, it was an admirable example of what a judicial pronouncement should be. There we have a great principle laid down in the most formal and unassailable way. I thing we should make a big mistake if we did not make the utmost of that decision—make it the foundation of our policy, and use it to rouse the peoples of the world to the defence of what is really the central doctrine of peace.
We have undoubtedly done a great deal, by the establishment of the Charter, and so on, to advocate and support peace, but we have not done enough. To my mind, there is not yet a satisfactory basis for peace: and for this principal reason. Although, as I have said before, I do not think there is so much wrong with the actual wording of the Charter, I think it is true to say that it has not yet succeeded in attracting the great force of public opinion behind it. It is only a statement of Governments, and not a statement embodying the profound convictions of the whole peoples of the world. I very much hope that the Government will see their way clear to do something on the lines that I have indicated—to take up that Nuremberg judgment, and make it not only more acceptable but more generally supported by the whole force of public opinion. On that I think can be built all that is necessary in order to complete the structure of peace. I am not one of those who think that public 550 opinion alone will do. You must have public opinion supported by force. But you cannot have your force until you have your public opinion. The first step is to organize public opinion, and this is a great opportunity to assist the new organization.
Your Lordships will forgive me if I just repeat in a few sentences exactly what it is that I am submitting to the Government and to the House. The first proposition would be that our Government should formally and clearly express their agreement with the principles laid down in the Nuremberg judgment as to aggressive war; secondly, that those principles should be embodied in a convention to be accepted by all nations: and, thirdly, that an International Criminal Court should be established to try any breach of that convention.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ LORD LAYTON
My Lords, after the brilliant denunciation of the police State by the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, and the wise council of the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, it must scorn something of an anti-climax to come down to economics. But economics and politics are, after all, inextricably interwoven; and if we can get some order in the economic chaos that exists, some of the conditions which the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, so vividly portrayed might find less fruitful soil. I, therefore, come back to the first words of the noble Viscount who moved this Motion. It seems to me that the two statements made within the last few days by the United States Secretary of State have created a new situation, and offered a new hope of an improvement in the confused state of Europe—a continent of which we form a part. Mr. Marshall's letter of Monday to Senator Vandenberg aproves the Fulbright resolution in favour of a United States of Europe within the framework of the United Nations. But it makes it clear that. America does not desire to impose on the peoples of Europe any particular form of political or economic organization.
That is a statement of great significance and, in the long run, perhaps the more important of the two. But the Harvard address, in which he indicates the conditions on which the United States may be ready to give large-scale aid to Europe in the next few years, 551 is of more immediate and urgent importance, for it gives us one more opportunity, after many false starts, of planning the economic recovery of Europe as a whole. My sole purpose in speaking this afternoon is to emphasize, with all the force at my command, that this opportunity should be seized, and the Marshall Plan pressed by His Majesty's Government with the utmost vigour. An all-European approach to this problem is essential for the sake of Europe itself. The picture which Europe presents is a deplorable one. Mr. Marshall sums up a moving account of its difficulties with the blunt assertion that the whole apparatus of production and exchange is breaking down. He says that it is, therefore, essential to restore the confidence of the European peoples in the economic future of their own countries and of Europe as a whole.
A European plan is equally necessary for dealing with Germany, for unless Germany's economy is integrated with that of a prosperous economy in Europe as a whole, there is no way in which it can he restored as a going concern without putting Germany into a position of dangerous economic strength. Thirdly, this approach is essential from the British point of view, because there is no hope of recovery in these islands if Europe remains impoverished. I gave some reasons for that in addressing your Lordships in the Economic debate, and I will not repeat them here, although by now we must very clearly realize that there is no hope of an international trade balance without an increase of production in Europe. Similarly, Europe on the other side is one of the areas, the most important area, which offers expanding markets to the products of this country.
The Marshall plan is also interesting from the point of view of the United States itself. As its author points out, in America the man in the street is far removed from the troubled areas of the world. He says:It would be neither fitting nor efficacious for the American Government to undertake to draw up unilaterally a programme designed to place Europe on its feet economically.The needs of Europe must, therefore, be drawn up by Europeans; they must be the needs of the Continent as a whole. And as it will be some time before Europe's economy is in balance, her requirements 552 of imported food and other essential production should be drawn up for three or four years ahead. The statement must be initiated in Europe; it must be global, and it must be of a substantial period to make it possible to effect a cure. These conditions, read in conjunction with the statement of the Secretary of State about the United States of Europe, are, it seems to me, an ideal definition of the appropriate relations of the United States towards Europe.
The Marshall plan implies, however, much more than merely adding up the deficiencies of a number of European countries and asking the United States to fill the gap. General Marshall also called on Europe for a plan of action. He asked for:agreement among the countries of Europe as to the requirements of the situation and the part those countries themselves will take in order to give proper effect to whatever action might be undertaken by this Government.In other words, before anything is forthcoming, it must be shown that everyone is doing his best to help to clear up the mess. Now anyone with experience of inter-Allied co-operation during the war will at once recognize that General Marshall is drawing on his experience of the Combined Planning mechanism set up after America came into the war, and of which he himself was the head and chief co-ordinator. On the Combined Boards, the requirements of each applicant who came to Washington were tabled, and the available resources—whether of armaments, raw materials or ships—were allotted according to needs. But before the allotments were made, stocks, current output and future production capacity had to be laid on the table. In other words, the allocation was the last stage in combined planning, and it is clear that the Secretary of State is thinking of that to-day.
In the past two years the mechanism of inter-Allied war-time planning, like that of Great Britain, has been more or less scrapped. Mr. Marshall has come to the conclusion that in this twilight between war and peace a similar mechanism is needed if the situation of Europe is not to deteriorate into chaos. To implement the plan, there must be laid on the table a picture of Europe's future production and trade; and each country must contribute its share to the picture and fill in its part on the canvas. To do this in 553 detail would be a monumental and indeed an impossible task. But all countries have been working on these problems and if, as in our British White Paper, attention is confined to a few of the major economic activities, it should be possible quickly to get a general view and to see how far the separate national plans of the European countries were conflicting or out of balance, and to what extent they were dependent upon essential imports or exports.
The first outline—like the first trial balance sheets of wartime planning, will he only approximate, but I have always charged my planning staffs to act on the dictum of Sir Francis Bacon—that "Truth emerges more easily from error than from confusion." The estimates will gradually draw closer to reality and form the data, not only for submitting Europe's case to the United States, but also for getting her own internal economy into order. A five-year plan, such as that suggested, is long overdue. Some of us thought that it should have been prepared before the war ended but, as we all know, the strain of war has been so severe, and the margin between victory and defeat at times so narrow, that the desire for security dominated all others at that time, and was allowed to distort judgment. It is, for example, a shock to recall that the Morgenthau Plan, which was referred to the experts for study by the Quebec Conference of August, 1944, actually contained these phrases in the section dealing with the Ruhr:Within a short period … all industrial plants and equipment not destroyed by military action shall he completely dismantled and transported to Allied Nations as restitution. All equipment shall be removed from the mines and the mines closed.It is difficult for us to believe that that was seriously put forward and discussed so little as three years ago. It may be said that this is only an individual's opinion, but its author publicly proclaimed in the winter of 1945:The basic principles of the programme have represented the official position of the United States Government.I submit that conflicting conceptions which happened two years ago are responsible for the contradictions—and there are perfectly clear contradictions—in the Potsdam Agreement, and that these in turn have largely paralyzed the efforts of the military authorities and the Control 554 Commission, as anyone who has visited Germany during the past two years can see. The instinct of our Occupying Forces in the British Zone has been to repair the devastation and to get things going again. At the same time, it was their duty to pull down and destroy. This conflict in the minds of those who are trying to carry out this vitally important task has never been resolved, with the result that a great deal of precious time has been wasted in highly academic arithmetical calculations on a permitted level of industry which has nothing to do with reality, and in endless debates about administrative organization.
Mr. Marshall's initiative should make it possible for us to put an end to all this economic confusion, and for one clear master plan to be formulated. This is not the place to discuss what would be the constituent elements of such a plan. Clearly it must embrace, among other things, the heavy industries of coal and iron and, in particular, the situation in the Ruhr; the chemical and allied industries—in both those cases care must be given to the question of security measures for the assistance of secondary industries in the backward countries—and assistance to agriculture, including the proper distribution of agricultural machinery, fertilizers, and so forth. Power and transport—upon which we have already made a start—will, of course, he high in the list. The machinery for all this is ready to hand, as has already been said by my noble friend the Earl of Perth, in the European Economic Commission of U.N.O., a body which has the great advantage that its membership includes the Soviet Union and Eastern as Well as Western States. But the Commission at its recent meeting at Geneva spent most of its time discussing its procedure, its relation to other international bodies, and its personnel. I should be the last to say a word in criticism of a body of that kind. All these international bodies are working in the face of great difficulties. Bat in the light of the Secretary of State's proposition the work of that Commission needs to be given the highest priority and its authority greatly increased.
It might be an alternative policy for His Majesty's Government at to call a special Economic Conference of the countries of Europe. Whichever form is adopted, it 555 is axiomatic that the economic future of Germany should be brought into the centre of the picture, and from now on all the neighbours of Germany as well as the quadripartite Powers should be parties to every step that is taken about Germany's economy. For unless we start with the tabling by the States surrounding Germany of the type and quantity of goods which they are prepared to sell to and buy from her, any economic plan for Germany is bound to prove abortive. The advantage of a top level Conference is that it would institute this radical change which is essential in procedure about Germany.
Finally, I wish to make it very clear that in my judgment the Eastern States of Europe should be parties to and included in any economic plan for Europe as a whole if there is any way by which they can be induced to come in. This is the view of the members of the Committee which has recently sponsored the movement in this country for a United Europe. It is also implicit in Mr. Marshall's speech where he says that "the programme should be a joint one agreed to by a number, if not all European nations." There is no ban whatsoever implied in the statement of the Secretary of State. If these States are not included the plan will not be a balanced one. I do not mean that there is no room for special agreements; there may be groups within groups. The American coined trade name, "Benelux," for the Customs Union between Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, is an example of the principles of group within group, and that should be encouraged. But if there are no proper relationships and if the plan as a whole does not cover the whole of Europe, it is unbalanced.
Moreover, many countries of Europe will hesitate to join an enterprise which would place them on the frontier of a divided Europe and expose them to all the internal as well as external strains inherent in so precarious a position. If, on the other hand, these countries are included, the formulation of an economic programme in which both East and West participate should not only help to raise the standard of living of the countries of Eastern Europe, but would provide a background of common interest against which the sharp edges of political distrust 556 and suspicion might ultimately be blunted, and the recent drift towards dualism in Europe reversed. It is not our business to line up against Russia. It is our business to find, if it is humanly possible, some way in which we may live in the same world with Russia; and the economic approach may perhaps be proposed as one of the more hopeful ways of solving this extremely difficult problem.
Nearly thirty years ago the Peace Treaties began a process of breaking up the Continent of Europe into its component parts. They were a great act of liberation. but though politically right they had the effect of creating 6,000 miles of new Customs frontiers, breaking up railways, introducing new currencies, and generally producing the fragmentation of Europe. This blunder must have been realized by those who had the responsibility for the peace this time. But instead of unity, zoning of Germany and Austria has produced another 3,000 miles of frontier and barriers to trade. This process must surely be even now reversed.
In March, 1920, the Supreme Allied Council invited the successor States "to re-establish at once full and friendly cooperation and arrange for the unrestricted interchange of commodities in order that the essential unity of European economic life—pregnant words—might not be impaired by the erection of artificial barriers." The advice was not taken. Indeed, when at various times between the wars attempts were made to carry it out, it was, on more than one occasion, the Great Powers, including Great Britain, who put obstacles in the way. In the result almost nothing was done to restore this essential unity. To-day the United States, which in the past has sometimes been one of the stumbling blocks, offers us another chance. Let us see to it that we do not lose this opportunity for lack of imagination and fall once more into the snare of "too little and too late".
§ 5.57 p.m.
My Lords, when the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, opened the debate this afternoon, he referred to certain conclusions he had come to as the result of several visits to Europe, on one of which he laid special stress: that in every part of Europe it was expected that there would be another war within one or two years and that that war would be with Russia. He further went 557 on to say that so far as he himself was concerned he did not agree with that point of view. I should like to say that I agree with him. I do not think that a war is imminent with Russia and I do not think that war is necessary with Russia, now or in the future, if we take certain lines of action.
At the same time, I cannot agree with my noble friend, Viscount Cecil, or with the noble Lord who has just spoken, that we are going to improve that position purely by appeasement, because for two years now we have been negotiating and trading with Russia and doing everything we could to meet Russia's point of view without achieving any particular successes. In fact, I might say that we have all been pushed about, thwarted and frustrated as far as Russia is concerned, whether at Ministers' Conferences or elsewhere. The Moscow Conference is the latest deplorable illustration of this. We have to face up to facts and see why this feeling does exist in Europe and why Russia has got into the position in which she is regarded as a war factor within such a short period.
If we examine the position it shows that all Russia's actions during the past few years, that is since the War, indicate that she does not want a settlement anywhere, or apparently does not want a settlement anywhere that would involve a compromise of her particular point of view. When a compromised settlement is reached, which as we all know, is very seldom, she immediately proceeds to undermine it and to strive to gain her original intentions by underground means. We have had examples of that pointed out to-night. We had a most brilliant exposition of the police State by my noble friend Lord Vansittart, and my noble friend Viscount Templewood also referred to the same thing in regard to Hungary, Spain and one other country.
It is perfectly true that the recent quite monstrous coups d'et[...]at in Hungary and in Bulgaria are even stronger instances of the little reliance that the Western democracies can place on Russia's words and undertakings to-day. There seems, indeed, very little doubt that those two recent coups will shortly, as has been pointed out to-night. be followed possibly by similar attempts in Italy, in Czechoslovakia, and even in Greece, and the ground is apparently being well prepared for this. 558 The state of France is very unhappy and uncertain to-day. The country is riddled by Russian ideology and by Russian Communism, which my noble friend Viscount Cecil says he does not fear to the extent that most people do. The sands in the glass are quickly running down, and if we do not call a halt to Russia now she will gradually but surely submerge Europe in an ideological and political grip, and then we can say good-bye to any prospect of winning the peace, and the future will indeed be black and bleak.
There are various forms of aggression. My noble friend, Viscount Cecil, spoke about aggression, and he spoke about it as if there was only military aggression. But there is another form. of aggression which is going on to-day, the aggression by Russia by the infiltration of Communism right through Europe, which has been proved and is going on steadily and without a stop. But there is one bright gleam in the dark clouds, and that is the United States of America. She is firmly and courageously playing her part in trying to stave off the Russian bear's octopeian embrace. I do not think we can thank President Truman enough, or give him enough praise for his bold and sagacious act in granting American loans at this time to Greece and Turkey. I think we cannot give enough praise to the recent declaration of Mr. Marshall outlining a further approach to the recuperation of Europe through American financial aid. I believe that His Majesty's Government are giving support to those proposals, and will do all they can to make a success of this generous American gesture. The noble Lord who has just sat down suggested the European difficulties may be settled economically. I agree with him up to a point, but politics and economics are so bound up together to-day that it is quite impossible to separate one from the other, and unless you can get a settlement of the political side as well as the economic side you will not get any settlement in Europe. I suggest that it is of the highest importance that the United States and the British Commonwealth and Empire march hand in hand and work together in the truest spirit of co-operation over all these matters.
I should like to pay a tribute to all that Mr. Bevin has done during the past two years to try and get a settlement of these difficult matters. He has shown the 559 most wonderful patience and skill in handling the many diverse and heartbreaking problems which have come before him. But I would, with all respect, like to suggest to him that the time has come when his patience should be exhausted to the extent of getting ready immediately our own plan for the settlement of Germany—for instance, in cooperation with the United States of America and France in regard to our own zones. At one time I advocated in your Lordships' House the separation of the Ruhr and the Rhineland from Germany under international control, but I agree that the time has passed for that method of arrangement. I hope that to-night we will hear from Lord Pakenham what progress has been made with the co-ordination of the three zonal systems, apart from Russia who, one understands to-day, is not prepared to come into it.
If the future of Germany, and I might add of Austria, to which reference has also been made this evening, are not settled in the ministerial conference in November, it is my view that we must be prepared to go on our own way, together with the United States of America, and with those European nations who will or can co-operate with us. If the conference breaks down I suggest that we should have a plan ready—not to consider a plan then, but to have it ready—to put into operation immediately, and that that plan should include what I know is not an original suggestion, but I wish to emphasize it, the formation of a Western bloc. My own view is that this is the only retort that Russia will really understand, and which will perhaps bring her to reason for the future. In the meantime Russia apparently regards all our efforts towards amelioration and cooperation with her as only so many signs of weakness, and they seem only to lead her on to fresh political aggressions.
Before I conclude there is one further thing that I have to add, and it is this. At the present time the peoples of the countries which Russia has brought under her control in Eastern Europe do not know where they stand in regard to Western Europe. I believe that the inclinations and sympathies (and I believe this is a well known fact) of many of those people are with Western Europe and not with Russia at all; but as things are they stand no chance at all to show where their 560 sympathies really lie, or to throw off the Russian yoke. Why is this? It is because Western Europe is still, after nearly two years of so-called peace, in a chaotic and unsettled state. There is even to-day no real unity among the Western nations concerned. There is nothing solid between them towards which the Eastern European countries can turn or lean upon to help them out of their troubles and difficulties. It seems obvious, therefore, that it is the case that this state of affairs should be altered as soon as possible and before it is too late, and that a solid bloc of Western countries should be formed as soon as possible to save the world from further ruin and disruption. Do not let us waste any more valuable time but let us get a move on, because the golden moments are flying.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ LORD ALTRINCHAM
My Lords, the debate has already exceeded the time which was tentatively allotted to it, and I do not propose to do more than dot a few of the "i's", cross a few of the "t's" that have been mentioned in the course of the speeches today. and emphasize one or two points on which we hope that the noble Lord who is going to reply will give us all the information he can. The debate has really revolved round two points: one the offer of Mr. Marshall, the Secretary of State of the United States, and the other the Russian action in Hungary upon which we have had such an eloquent speech from my noble friend, Lord Vansittart. Nothing could show more clearly that we are dealing at the present moment not with one world but with two. And how utterly dissimilar those two worlds are, how incapable of thinking in the same terms— and what dangers result from that! I think the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, gave us an example of the dangers which arise, and show how easily flash-point may be reached when feelings are deeply aroused, as they must be by the kind of events now taking place in the debatable ground between what you might call, Eastern democracy and Western democracy.
I am convinced—as I imagine that most of your Lordships are also convinced—that there is no possibility whatever of reconciliation in the near future between the Eastern and the Western democracies. They are fundamentally incompatible. 561 There is about as much chance of a reconciliation as of the Hindus in India converting the Moslems or the Moslems converting the Hindus. They speak an utterly different language. We have to accept that. The whole question, it seems to me, is how we are to deal with it. For my part, I believe that this country should still be prepared to show toleration, and I have considerable agreement with the noble Lord who, speaking a little while ago, suggested that the economic aproach to Russia is the most promising at the present time. If it could be known that economic aid was available on reasonable terms which did not appear to endanger the regime under which that country has decided, or has been ordered, to live, I think there might be some prospect of the relations in Europe between the three Great Powers improving. For that, I am convinced, we must work, and I share the admiration which has been expressed by other noble Lords for the patience which has been shown in this respect by Mr. Bevin, the Foreign Secretary.
The speech by the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, as I say, showed how great is the danger of a clash. A head-on clash is quite possible when feelings are roused to such an extent that war may result, though nobody wants it. I entirely agree with my noble friend, who opened this debate in such a wise and comprehensive speech, that nobody wants war at the present time, or is likely to make it of express purpose. But situations can arise from which escape is impossible in Europe, disposed as Europe is at the present time, and that is a danger against which we have to guard. It is not our business, on this side of the House, to suggest what should be done in Hungary. It is only our business to offer our support to His Majesty's Government in taking whatever action they believe the situation requires. But we shall be deeply interested to hear from the noble Lord what the attitude of His Majesty's Government is, particularly as I understand that the authorities expelled from Hungary are proposing to take this subject to the United Nations.
I would prefer to leave that subject, and to speak for a moment of what seems to me a much more promising approach to peace in Europe—that is, not by way of denunciation of what we hate, but by way of a positive effort to reconstruct 562 what we believe in, and what we love. It seems to me that positive action is more important than negative action in the world as it is to-day, and it is from that point of view that I feel that Mr. Marshall's great offer has such elements of hope. I think that one might almost say that in this topsy-turvy world the sun has taken to rising in the West. This is certainly the most hopeful thing that has happened since the peace. I would insist therefore—and I hope that the noble Lord when he replies will he able to reassure us on this—upon the cardinal importance of positive and constructive action on Mr. Marshall's offer, without delay.
The fear of collapse in Europe, as my noble friend has said, is very great. Firmness on the borders between the two worlds into which Europe is divided will be of little use if the Western world cannot rebuild its own shattered life. Imports are absolutely indispensable and they must come mainly from the United States. They cannot be paid for by exports in a relatively short space of time, and the time before the crash threatens to occur, short already, is getting shorter. Therefore, Mr. Marshall's offer of credit seems to me a great act of statesmanship, both for Europe now and for the United States in the future. He has been very wise in laying down that there is to be no dictation about the terms on which this credit is to be given. He has realized how easy it would be in Europe at the present time to raise the cry that national independence is being jeopardized, and, in that way, to give those who want to make American aid impossible the very kind of opportunity which they seek. Some European countries must combine as quickly as possible to put up some plan, and it seems to me that it must be a plan roughly on the lines indicated by the Low Countries in their economic co-operative scheme which is known as "Benelux". The difficulties are enormous, and time is very short.
I would only say to His Majesty's Government that I hope they will realize that the key is France. I have lately been in both France and Belgium. They present a very great contrast. Belgium was fortunately placed at the end of the war, and with great skill and wise government she has made the most of her opportunities. You find there a happy people who are recovering at a remarkable rate. By contrast there is great misery amongst 563 the people in France, particularly in the towns, and I fear there is danger that things may get very much worse, because when people are suffering so much, and when feelings are still taut as they are, by reason of what France has passed through in the last few years, there must always be a danger of things going to extremities quite suddenly, especially in the towns. What France is now suffering from is not the fault of her present leaders; it is entirely a legacy of the past, and I must pay a tribute to the present Prime Minister, M. Ramadier, for the courage, the patience and the wisdom with which he has handled a most difficult task.
From all quarters in this country there has been a welcome to the alliance at last formed between this country and France on the initiative of M. Blum. It is as warmly welcomed in France. The task now is to give that alliance some positive effect, some practical significance, and I believe that its virtue will depend very largely on the response which we are able to make in common with France to this great American offer. But we are better placed to take the lead than France, because we have in this country a strong Government unhampered by Party faction, or rather unhampered by Party faction from the side of the Opposition.
There appear to be difficulties for which we are not responsible, and on this matter I would like to ask the noble Lord who is to reply one or two questions. We shall get nowhere if we are to have Party factions in foreign policy at the present time. The unity of this country is one of the reasons for people throughout Europe and the world putting their trust in Britain, and anything that suggests this country is divided is a terrible harm to its own cause and the cause of world peace. If there is one thing I should dislike more than a Conservative foreign policy, it is a Socialist foreign policy. We do not want either. We want a national foreign policy, and one which the world may count upon whatever Government are in power. After all, the noble Lords opposite are not going to be there for ever.
I would therefore like to say a word about a pamphlet called Cards on the Table, which played some part in the recent Labour Conference. I believe that pamphlet is not part of the accepted Socialist canon, but is in some way an 564 apocrypha. So far as we can learn from the very diplomatic statements made about it at the Conference, that is its position. It seems that the pamphlet was issued from Transport House and that it has some standing in the Party, whatever reserves Ministers may have about it. It is a very undiplomatic document, and I need not repeat what Mr. Eden said about it—that the process of diplomacy by insult was not a wise thing at the present time. But it is also bitterly and violently partisan in tone. For instance, it makes a reference to Mr. Churchill which is unintelligible to me. It says on page 14:Many Labour people feel that the division of Europe into zones of influence which Churchill promoted during the war with a brutal disregard of human factors, is responsible for many of the heaviest problems the Labour Government now has to face.I have not the faintest conception what that means.
In any case was there not Cabinet Government in force in this country at that time? Was the present Prime Minister not Deputy Prime Minister in that War Cabinet, and were not the Foreign Secretary and the Lord President of the Council both members of it, and have they not, as a matter of fact, much greater responsibility than my noble friends behind me, who were not in the War Cabinet, for whatever was done in Europe at that time? The responsibility is theirs, just as much as it is that of the Conservative side, and I think, in discussing the past, some respect should be shown for Cabinet solidarity and responsibility. The words "Labour Britain" occur again and again, as if Britain would not exist if it were not a Labour country, a country dominated entirely by one class. It is a phrase which suggests that a catastrophe would follow if by any chance power in this country changed hands. I appreciate the difficulty of the Ministers in dealing with factions in their own Party, and I know that the noble Lord who is to reply may not be able to give me any assurance on these points. They are possibly beyond his scope, but I express the strong hope that we have seen the last of effusions of this character.
On the question of unity I would make only one other point, and I am sure on this I shall have the agreement of the whole House. In peace, as in war, our strength lies not in ourselves alone, however united we may be, but in the moral 565 unity of the Commonwealth. Britain is still a great Power, but only in virtue of, and in unity with, the Commonwealth. It is no longer a great Power by herself. We have the idea of co-operation between sovereign nations—an idea which the world needs at the present time. It is the idea on which the United Nations—if it ever works—will work, as we have shown in our Commonwealth brotherhood. And I venture to express the hope that whatever is done in the reconstruction of Europe will not in any way imperil economic co-operation in the Commonwealth itself. I am sure the noble Lord will be able to give me an assurance on that point. I know there have been difficulties in this matter at the Geneva Conference, and we cannot insist too strongly that Commonwealth solidarity is the first principle of our policy in world affairs.
Perhaps I may intervene, as I had not proposed to deal with that at any length, to say that I am in entire agreement with the statement just made by the noble Lord.
§ LORD ALTRINCHAM
I have only one last word to say regarding Mr. Marshall's proposal, that I hope the Government will show no half-heartedness in dealing with it. The future of Europe, I verily believe, depends on Europe's response. Here is a constructive lead, which is what we require; and we want from the Government more than cordial phrases, which is all we have had so far. We want action, an immediate and practical response, and I hope the noble Lord will be able to assure us that such action will be taken without a week's delay.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ LORD ROCHESTER
My Lords, without delaying your Lordships, I want, in as few words as possible, to associate myself with what the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Chichester, said about the arduous work of the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. On behalf of a large number of Free Churchmen I desire to express in no measured terms our deep appreciation of the painstaking efforts of the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, in seeking to ameliorate conditions in Germany. From all evidence that reaches us, we are convinced that the noble Lord's influence is already making itself felt. His unflagging Indus- 566 try is recognized on all sides. I can assure him he has already established the reputation in Germany of being straightforward and honourable in every word and action. That in itself is a great asset. For myself I add that he possesses inestimable qualities and generous and sympathetic understanding of the difficulties of others.
§ 6.30 p.m.
My Lords, I hope the House will allow me to thank the noble Lord who has just spoken, for the all too generous, but I know absolutely sincere, words he has used about me, and at the same time thank other noble Lords who have spoken in a way which does me far more than justice but which I greatly appreciate. Speaking for the Government, I have every reason to thank the House for the spirit in which this great question of our foreign relations has been handled this afternoon. I entirely agree with practically everything that fell from the noble Lord who has just spoken. I endorse his call for a constructive approach, and I feel he has set a very good example of the lines on which such an approach should be conducted. I am bound to dissent from what the noble Lord said when lie dealt with this pamphlet Cards on the Table. I was rather surprised that he felt it necessary to devote so much time to the work of a very gifted young man who is a personal friend of mine, a work which has been described by my Party as "a contribution to discussion." Without insisting in every ease that a Party rubber stamp has to be placed upon the doctrines which emerge in that way—
§ LORD ALTRINCHAM
I hate to interrupt the noble Lord but he is probably unaware that the official description of the pamphlet—it is printed on the cover—is "An Interpretation of Labour's Foreign Policy."
This is a free country, and it is open to anybody, including the noble Lord, to interpret our policy in any way he chooses.
I can give the noble Viscount the name afterwards, but I am not quite sure whether I can mention his name in public, as he is an official. He is a young man who, while not a pupil of mine at Oxford, may have owed 567 something to my influence. I feel quite seriously that we must make sure that all kinds of views can be put forward in this country, whatever may be the case in some parts of Eastern Europe. Unless I am much mistaken, the right honourable gentleman, Mr. Winston Churchill, has played a prominent part in encouraging and promoting a United Europe Movement. I do not know whether the noble Lord who has just spoken is prepared to dot all the "i's" and cross all the "t's" of the United Europe Movement.
§ LORD ALTRINCHAM
I hesitate to interrupt the noble Lord again, but I would be really glad to know from him whether he agrees that the leaders of his Party who were members of the War Cabinet were as responsible as anybody else during the war. They certainly claimed the credit for it, and, therefore, they should take the other consequences as well.
It is obvious that when a Party are in a minority during the war, they have less influence than the Party that are in the majority. But they are certainly bound to accept a high measure of responsibility, in the same way as any member of the Government, whether or not he agrees with anything the Government do, is bound constitutionally to accept responsibility. One cannot put it more clearly than that. But I was developing that; and surely I was entitled to, in view of what the noble Lord said. Surely if Mr. Churchill is allowed to lead.a[...] movement not officially sanctioned by the Conservative Party, a young and talented author is allowed to write a pamphlet which does not necessarily represent all the views of the Labour Party.
I think we all agree that the noble Viscount has left a very deep impression upon the House, and I believe the echoes of his speech will reverberate far from this place. He himself has many claims to distinction. He has played a controversial part on the world stage for many years. With some aspects of his record I find myself in violent dissent, but I would pay my tribute to all he has accomplished in Spain and, in passing, to the many things he has accomplished in other spheres, such as prison reform. In his own account of his mission, he has drawn a very pleasing and, at the same time, a very modest pic- 568 ture of himself. In the book that we have all read, Ambassador on Special Mission, he has described himself as "very English, very respectable, and very traditional." I feel that applies to everything he has said this afternoon. In some phrases, which are far too modest, and which do him much less than justice, he also described himself as "alert both in body and in mind." I feel that this afternoon, both in mind and in gesture, he has set a model of alertness. I must say how much I enjoyed the speech of the noble Viscount.
The noble Viscount asked for, and other noble Lords, in very cogent speeches, pressed for, a clear statement of British foreign policy in the middle of this year of grace, 1947. It is of ten said in this country and abroad that the foreign policy of Great Britain never changes. There is, I think, a sense in which that is true. Ever since 1815, though one could go still further back to make the same point, the two main objects of British foreign policy have been—indeed they still are—the preservation of this country and the peace of the world. Of course, when I refer in this connexion to "this country," I naturally include the Commonwealth and Empire. A third object, almost as persistent, has been a support, always in sentiment and not infrequently in deeds, for constitutional government abroad, as opposed to arbitrary despotic power wherever we may find it. What are often spoken of in text and by publicists as the main principles of British foreign policy, the balance of power, maritime superiority, the independence of the Low Countries—to name three—are, in my view, nothing but methods for achieving the great objects to which I have referred.
I would say that, while all these objects are constantly before us, and we are pursuing them with all the energy at our command, in the last twenty-five years (and perhaps more than ever since the end of the war) His Majesty's Government—it would be the same with any Government in power in this country—have had a further objective which previously was regarded rather as a byproduct of world peace, and not an independent target: I mean the economic recovery of the world. I have been much impressed this afternoon by the attention devoted to economic matters. The noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, has referred to them. and the noble Lord, Lord 569 Layton, and other speakers concentrated upon them. But I would say that at the present time it is impossible to discuss the relations of this country with any other great Power, or, indeed, with any small Power, without constantly studying the economic aspect of the matter. I hope I shall not be deemed to be unduly obsequious if I say that, in the view of the majority of the country, reflected here in this House, one of the many qualifications which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs possesses for his present position is a lifelong concentration upon the economic approach to things.
It seems to me impossible to discuss the relations of the United States, France, Russia and ourselves, without taking note of the main effects of the recent war on their respective economics. Industrial production in the United States is running to-day at a level nearly twice as high as before the war. In France and in this country, as a result of what was suffered and inflicted, industrial production had by the end of last year barely reached the pre-war level. We all know what special difficulties arising from the fuel crisis have afflicted us since then. In Russia it is not anticipated that the prewar level of production will be reached until 1948; and the same general comparison would hold true if we took Europe as a whole and compared it with the United States. Of course, if we look at the export position, the contrast is still more glaring. In the early part of 1947 the favourable trade balance of the United States was running at the rate of what would amount—if it continues—to £3,000,000,000 a year, while both we ourselves and France are bound to have unfavourable balances, even without all the invisible items of the order of £3,00,000,000 a year each being taken into account. Russia has kept herself relatively insulated at the cost, no doubt, of the standard of living of her people, so in a sense she is less vulnerable to any exchange crisis. But when we add together all these facts of production and trade we are surely faced with a curious situation and a situation which is unprecedented in the world.
It is obvious to the most casual observer, but also to the shrewdest student, that a special responsibility, unique perhaps in history, falls on one part of the world for the recovery of the other. Left entirely 570 to ourselves, there is little doubt that eventually Europe will recover and get on to her feet at some time, at some level; but it is difficult to resist the conclusion that only imaginative action by the United States can assist the prompt and full recovery of world economy. It is, therefore, with the liveliest interest and with genuine pleasure that we in this country have read the speech of.Mr. Marshall—a speech which may well mark an epoch. In that speech the people of Europe are invited to get together and indicate their ideas as to how help from the United States would be most fruitful. The responsibility is now placed upon European countries of working out their own needs and then co-ordinating them with a view to making European rehabilitation proceed in an orderly and planned manner. A new opportunity has been created for a new initiative, and we are considering in the most active way how best to make sure that full advantage is taken of it.
I hope that no one will suppose for a moment that any of those far-reaching possibilities conflict in the slightest degree with our desire for the friendliest cooperation in the economic and in other fields, with the Soviet Union. The House will recall that on May 12 my right honoureble friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Board of Trade explained in another place the progress that had been made in the preliminary talks on trade with the Soviet Union. I have nothing to add to-day to my right honourable friend's progress report, but the omens are not hopeless. If I may be permitted an observation based on personal experience of discussions with our Russian friends—not in my present office, but last year when I was a delegate az a Conference on the devastated areas—I would suggest that one finds a world of difference in the Russian attitude when. one is talking economics, as against what one finds when one is talking politics. As long as one is talking politics, the Russian suspicions render the atmosphere something like a competition between two rival. intelligence services trying to defeat one another. Heaven knows, they have no grounds for their suspicions in anything that His Majesty's Government have done or failed to do since the war, but no one can deny that their suspicions, legitimate, or, as I say, totally unfounded, have been the main factor in retarding a peace settlement. They have been the 571 main factor in preventing the United Nations Organization from performing the tasks which all of us, including, I believe, the Russians, are sincerely anxious it should eventually accomplish.
We on our side, as my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has repeatedly stressed, think that Anglo-Russian friendship should be a reality; that Europe should not fall apart into two halves, but that the existing centres should be drawn together. With this in view, we attach even wider significance than might occur to most of your Lordships to the success of the Anglo-Russian trade negotiations. I would suggest myself that the Russians mean what they say—though to some of us it is bound to be rather a tragic admission—when they claim to possess a materialist philosophy. Their great dream is the material prosperity for all peoples in their borders—in itself a thoroughly laudable desire. It is only rather sad that they cannot couple idealism with materialism of that kind.
But, that being so, I believe that the one sure way to the Russian heart is to convince the Russians that we are genuinely concerned for the material welfare of the Soviet Union. I feel that that may be the big cause that the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, was seeking; and I know that what I am saying is very much in accord with what has been said by other speakers earlier. We must somehow find this bridge. Various speakers have made various suggestions, and the noble Viscount thought that we might approach the matter by agreeing to outlaw aggressive war. I entirely accept that, and His Majesty's Government stands strongly for that policy, though exactly how one codifies that in international law is a matter of great difficulty. But we do accept that proposition. The only doubt is whether that in itself supplies the constructive driving force such as might be found in the principle of economic co-operation.
I come now to Hungary, and I would say straight away how I particularly appreciated the attitude of support that was indicated by the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham. We have naturally been watching events in Hungary with anxiety, but we must be clear about the facts. Since the Soviet Chairman of the Allied Control Commission in Hungary has 572 played a leading part in the crisis which led to the resignation of the Hungarian Prime Minister, and since his British and American colleagues on. the Commission have not been kept informed in accordance with their rights, His Majesty's Ambassador in Moscow has been instructed to take up the matter direct with Mr. Molotov and to seek an explanation, with a view to obtaining the facts and an explanation of their policy, and why we, their Allies, who are signatories to the Armistice terms, have not been kept informed.
In the last few hours we have received a telegram containing an account of our Ambassador's interview with Mr. Molotov. The House will readily understand that it would be premature to comment on this fully until it has been studied with great care, but it is clear that Mr. Molotov, while apparently unwilling to meet our straightforward request for information, has replied with a charge that His Majesty's Government themselves have been interfering with the internal affairs of Hungary. I desire to take the earliest opportunity of repudiating in public such a travesty of the facts. The British political representative in Budapest has also been instructed to make it clear to the Hungarian Government that His Majesty's Government are watching the situation with the utmost care, and that any departure from democratic principles would necessarily have serious repercussions on Anglo-Hungarian relations, both in the political and economic fields.
As things stand at present, the Smallholders Party, to which the late Prime Minister belonged, still have a majority of seats in the Assembly and a number of portfolios in the Cabinet equal to those held by the so-called Left Wing bloc. It is true that since two Smallholders in the Cabinet each hold two portfolios, the Smallholders are now outnumbered in the Cabinet; but it must be realized that so far an appearance of constitutionality has been retained, and that the will of the Hungarian people, as expressed in the 1945 elections, has not been overtly flouted. On the other hand, there is no doubt that, as a result of recent events, the Communist Party now exercise effective control of the country out of all proportion to the support they received at the elections. Until we know whether or 573 not it is the intention of the Soviet authorities to give the Communist Party such support that they can consolidate their position against the wishes of the Hungarian Parliament and people, or whether, as we hope, the Soviet Government intends to honour its obligations under the Yalta Agreement, it will be hard for His Majesty's Government to define their attitude.
All that can be said at the moment is this. What we want in Hungary is, first, that the past should be forgotten and that true friendship between the British and Hungarian peoples should be established on the basis of mutual respect and economic co-operation. We never have wished and we do not now wish to exclude Soviet Russia from the influence which she has a right to enjoy in Hungary, in view of her great contribution to the liberation of the country. There is, however, no reason why Hungary should not share her friendship and her association with other countries as well: we do not believe that the Hungarian people want their country to become an apanage of any one power.
Secondly, we desire to establish Anglo-Hungarian trade on a mutually profitable basis. This would be potentially of great value to both countries, since Hungary is in a position to supply the United Kingdom with food which we require and we, for our part, can provide in exchange raw materials and manufactured goods which are sorely needed by the Hungarians. Thirdly, we desire to help the reconstruction of the country after the serious damage, both material and economic, which she suffered during the war. Fourthly, we desire to encourage the development of free institutions such as the Hungarian people have been denied for many years past, arid to foster cultural relations between the two countries. Fifthly, we desire to welcome the return of Hungary to her proper place in European and world affairs, and to encourage her to contribute to the solution of the many problems which confront Europe.
If, however, the result of the present situation is that Hungary becomes a totalitarian State, and that the present democratic regime is suppressed in all but name, these visions will fade and we must necessarily revise our attitude. We have no doubt that the Hungarian people are genuinely anxious to avoid this, and we hope that the Soviet Union will realize that 574 it is neither in the interests of Hungary nor of Europe, nor indeed of the United Nations, that it should be necessary for His Majesty's Government to abandon the policy of friendship and co-operation with Hungary which, during the last two years, they have been most anxious to pursue.
I turn next to Bulgaria. Noble Lords will have seen that His Majesty's Government have protested strongly to the Bulgarian Government about the measures which have been take a to prevent the publication and distribution during the last six weeks of the two Opposition newspapers. These newspapers had been outspoken in their criticism of the measures taken by the Government, but no impartial observer could pretend that they were guilty of incitement to treason or of any offence meriting their suppression. There is no doubt that, whatever the reasons given, the measures which were taken against these newspapers were on the deliberate initiative of the Bulgarian Government. It is the more disturbing to His Majesty's Government because they recognized the Bulgarian Government last February on the understanding that it was their intention to honour Article 2 of the Peace Treaty. which they so recently signed, and which will, it is hoped, shortly be brought into force. Article 2 guarantees, among other things, the freedom of the Press and of political opinion.
Now in addition to obstructing the circulation of these papers, the Bulgarian Government have taken measures—as was mentioned earlier this afternoon—to arrest M. Petkov, whose courage in the Bulgarian Assembly had won him the respect even of many of his opponents. The explanations for his arrest are not in the least convincing. Combined with the apparent determination of the Bulgarian Government to destroy die freedom of the Press, it represents a tendency towards the imposition of a complete totalitarian Government which is certainly most unwelcome to the Bulgarian people, and which His Majesty's Government could hardly feel consonant with the professed wish of the Bulgarian Government to maintain democratic Government, to co-operate with all the democratic Powers, and to re-establish their right to be heard and respected in international affairs.
I turn next to Austria. The House will perhaps forgive me for sticking rather 575 closely to my manuscript on this occasion, but these are considered statements which will circulate far outside this House. I would say how kind it was of the noble Earl, Lord Perth, to suggest that I should go out to Austria, and your Lordships' House will perhaps remember that when I reported on my visit in January I hoped to be going out there before the end of the present month. I know I must be careful about suggesting to any member of this House or another place that he should go out there, but I must say that if the noble Earl found himself out there at the same time, no one would be happier than I would be. But perhaps it is not for me to issue any kind of official suggestion.
Our policy towards Austria has been consistent throughout. The occupation was a military necessity while the remnants of Hitler's forces were being demilitarized. Now that that task has long since been accomplished, the main object of all the Occupying Powers should be to carry out the overriding purpose of the Moscow declaration of 1943, to the effect that Austria was to be restored as an independent and economically viable State. It has been our constant endeavour for many weary months to secure agreement on a Peace Treaty with Austria which will carry out this agreed intention. The essence of such a treaty must be that Austria's territorial integrity is not impaired, and that Austria can freely dispose of sufficient of her own economic resources to have a good chance of reasonable economic prosperity. Your Lordships are well aware what I have in mind in saying that. It is on this last point that at the present time we are having so much difficulty in securing agreement in the Treaty Commission now sitting in Vienna on a settlement of the question of German assets in Austria to be incorporated in the Treaty.
We do not deny the Russian need of reparations, nor do we deny the Russian right to take as reparations genuinely German assets in Eastern Austria. What we cannot accept is that these claims should be interpreted unilaterally in such a way as to nullify the intention of the Moscow Declaration to re-establish Austria as an economically viable State. We are making every effort to resolve this difficult and intricate problem. It continues to be our firm object to end, at the earliest 576 possible moment, the occupation of Austria and its consequent division into zones, and to see the Austrian Government in sovereign and independent control of the whole of their territory. We have not ourselves the slightest intention of infringing in any way the political or economic independence of Austria, and we earnestly hope that the difficulties now experienced in agreeing on a Treaty are due simply to differences of opinion on procedure and not to the intention of any other Power to establish itself or its predominant influence permanently in any part of Austria, or to infringe in any other way the spirit of the Moscow Declaration.
In this connexion we have been disturbed to hear of Press reports that discussions have been proceeding between various Austrian politicians on the subject of a change of the composition of the Austrian Government, apparently designed to change the character of the Government. We regard the present Government as fully representative of the state of political opinion as revealed by the elections of last year, which were universally admitted to have been fairly conducted. We are awaiting further reports on the situation, and I can only say at present that we should regard any step to make the Government unrepresentative and not corresponding to the declared will of the people as expressed at the elections, as dictated by pressure from outside and not as representing the wishes of the Austrian people. We have every confidence in the Austrian Government maintaining firmly its democratic basis and refusing to give in to any pressure of this kind.
I will say one or two words—far less than the subject deserves—in connexion with Spain. As the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, is aware, His Majesty's Government have always made clear their dislike of the Franco regime, both as a survival of the Fascist State and for its distortion of the will of the Spanish people. Franco and his supporters can be under no illusions on this point, nor is it possible that they can hope for any sympathy or assistance from this country. It is our earnest hope that the Spanish people will succeed in their search for a democratic solution of their problem. We believe that they will succeed and that we may then look forward to the cooperation of our two countries, to the 577 advancement of both countries and of all Europe. I cannot take the matter further to-day, but I have no doubt that the noble Viscount will be raising this matter—about which he knows such a great deal—on a later occasion, and we will be able to discuss it when that occurs.
I now come to Germany, for which, as your Lordships know, I possess a special responsibility under the Foreign Secretary. I would say straight away that I do not this afternoon intend to deal in adequate detail, or really in any detail at all, with Germany. I hope I am not being unduly rash when I throw to the House the suggestion that we have a full discussion on Germany as soon as it can be arranged through the proper channels. I am looking forward to every possibility of consultation with your Lordships'.House, both on the floor and privately. I hope that all members of the House will regard me as infinitely accessible in that way.
I agree with those who stress the magnitude and complexity of our task in Germany. Indeed, I cannot think of any historical parallel. The appalling character of the Nazi regime, the immense effort of re-education required, the terrific physical destruction: all these and other factors add up to something which must be unique in the history of occupations. The task envisaged at Potsdam was one of great difficulty, and it has been rendered much more so, as we are well aware, by the refusal of the Russians to agree to economic unity, which was one of the main hypotheses on which Potsdam was based. I believe we can accomplish the tasks we have set ourselves in Germany, but only if we face fairly and squarely the situation as it exists to-day. Our particular responsibility is to face the situation as we find it in the British Zone.
We have in our Zone in Germany what is potentially almost the richest area for its size in the world, and one which should be a tremendous economic asset. We have in the Ruhr what may be called the economic heart of Europe. It should supply the whole European economy with its life-blood. We know that to-day that heart is beating very feebly and fitfully. We all know that without the recovery of Germany, more particularly of the Ruhr, the recovery of Europe is surely inconceivable. It must, of course, be a 578 peaceful Germany that is to recover, and unless a peaceful Germany recovers I cannot myself see how Europe can recover, or the rest of the world long maintain such prosperity as it possesses to-day.
The first question we come to is coal. If you talk to any Frenchman about Germany you will not talk to him long before he raises the question of coal. And it is not only our French friends; an Austrian will point out that the Austrian economy is strangled at the present time, producing only a fraction of what it could produce, owing to shortage of coal from the Ruhr. And Germany herself depends for the whole prosperity of her industry upon her coal production recovery. Per haps when we have a full day on Germany we can get right down to this question of coal production. I have investigated it more than once, in the best fashion open to me, in the last two weeks, but it is a matter where we must all pool our minds and experience. There is not one simple answer to the question of coal production and why more coal is rot being produced. The first and biggest answer is undoubtedly food. So, when we study European economy we come down to Germany; when we come down to Germany we come to coal; and when we come down to coal in Germany we come down to food in Germany.
The food shortage springs from three causes: the world scarcity, which itself was a product of the war; the failure to secure economic unity as intended at Potsdam; and the loss of eastern agricultural areas to Poland. I will not discuss at any length the question of whether or not, in view of our existing supplies, we have fixed the ration entirely correctly. I would only defend my gallant friend the Commander-in-Chief against the suggestion that he said anything which was not readily intelligible. I found him a man of plain and blunt speech.
I am not suggesting that the noble Viscount was stupid; there may have been a mistake on the part of a reporter or an interpreter. The Commander-in-Chief gave an interview on the subject of food which I thought was most helpful, and was praised by the Manchester Guardian—rather a stern critic of what is going on in Germany. 579 I quite agree, however, that there is a real problem here, whether you think that we fixed the ration within our means or not. There are arguments on both sides, but at the moment, in existing circumstances, I am satisfied that the Commander-in-Chief has gone on the right lines. He has expressed himself with his usual clarity, but I accept the proposition that it is not a matter about which one can be dogmatic, and we will explore it further.
What are the prospects? When we talk about Germany, the word "November" crops up. What is to happen in November? No one can say; but before the Council of Foreign Ministers meet the Government have no intention of taking any step that would impair the prospects. At the same time we are not going to sit back and twiddle our thumbs. We are determined to make a success of our Zone in the meantime. If my short experience is any guide, the relations in Germany between our people and the Americans at the present time are particularly happy. We have recently reached an arrangement under which an Economic Council is to be set up for the Zones, with supporting organizations and adequate powers to see that their will is enforced. I was gently taken to task by some of the wisest and best of journalists for saying that this agreement opened up a new era in the history of the Zone. But we must not expect any sudden increase in food supplies as a result of the great improvement in the administrative machinery.
I believe, however, that when the history of this time comes to be written, credit for the improvement must go to our Commander-in-Chief, Sir Sholto Douglas, his deputy, Sir Brian Robertson, and, on the American side, to General Clay—who, if I may say so without impertinence, is one of the few men I have ever met who is not only remarkable but looks remarkable. He is a man of brilliant intellect and of brilliant gaze; he has piercing eyes and a piercing mentality. The credit must go, primarily, to these three gentlemen, and to others who assisted them. I believe that this agreement will be seen as constituting a turning point.
Can the noble Lord say anything about the French 580 Zone? I asked in my speech what had transpired there.
I am afraid I have nothing to report on that subject but I am grateful to the noble Viscount for the opportunity of saying that we shall welcome the chance of co-operating with the other Powers. The door of that bi-zonal arrangement is always open to the French, and also, of course to the Russians, if they choose to enter.
Before I leave the subject of Germany I should like to say a word about the human side of this problem. When I—or any of us—speak in Germany, we always try to make a point of telling the Germans that recovery can only come about through their own exertions, and I have found that responsible Germans I have met recognize that point for themselves. A trade union leader said to me in Düsseldorf last Saturday: "We do not want alms, we want just sufficient help to get on to our feet to pay our own way." That is clearly recognized among the best Germans at the present time. When we call on the Germans for those exertions I would suggest that we shall only obtain the exertions over a very long period, but we can hold out—perhaps not to-day, or to-morrow, but at any rate at some date not too far ahead—a positive hope of improvement, if they exert themselves in the way we are asking them to do.
A wise authority on German young people said to me a week or two ago that the young people of Germany have great courage; they are prepared to face the lean period till the harvest. If necessary, they can face another hard winter; but they must feel that somewhere beyond there is this positive hope; and I can assure the House that the policy of His Majesty's Government is a policy of hope for Germany—a policy based on the idea that the Germans are human beings. I would add that, in my experience in that country in the last few weeks, that kind of approach is the one which accords with the natural instincts and first-hand experience of our own people on the spot during the last two years. I would like to say one word about the men in the Commission—that sorely tried, unfairly criticized, hardworking body of public servants. I do not say that everyone who works for the Commission is perfect; I do not know if every member of your Lordships' House 581 is perfect. But for the most part the public in this country are rather unaware of the enormous difficulties with which our men out there have been faced, and it is high time, I think, that our public gave them their due measure of praise.
I have already trespassed on your time at considerable length. A great number of points have been raised with which I have failed to deal, as one so often does at the end of an interesting and constructive debate; but I will attempt to take them in in other ways. I think it would be positively improper to conclude without referring—I am afraid, much too briefly—to two cardinal points in our foreign policy, one particular and one general. The particular point is the exceptional intimacy of our relationship with France. I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, laid so much stress on that point. It is now forty-three years since our entente with France was first formulated. It has passed through various vicissitudes, and has survived two wars. All I would do to-day is to reiterate our unfaltering devotion to the Treaty signed at Dunkirk, and to offer the suggestion—indeed the conviction—that both the great wars of this century would almost certainly have been averted if the present pledge of mutual automatic support between ourselves and France had been in operation in the past.
I am afraid that I have left far too late to do it justice all reference to the United Nations. I said earlier that the two underlying purposes of our traditional foreign policy were the preservation of our country and the promotion of world peace. Our greatest statesmen, from Lord Castlereagh, after the Napoleonic war, to Mr. Arthur Henderson, just the other day, have always recognized the need, from both points of view, of some organized international body for mutual conciliation, co-operation and defence. That need for mutual conciliation, cooperation and defence is more pressing and more obvious to-day than it has ever been in the past. I know I have the House with me when I say that our record—and I am not now referring to any one Party when I say "our" record—in the United Nations is one of which we have, every single roan and woman in this country, a right to be proud. We have faithfully observed its obligations, we have loyally observed its discipline. If I may attempt to sum up our foreign 582 policy in a single sentence, and if I may be permitted a quotation from a great statesman in the past, I would say that the ultimate aim of our foreign policy is to lead hack the world to peaceful habits. I would suggest that the best form of precept is example, and that our example in the United Nations during the last two years has been of a kind to strengthen everywhere the hands of those who work for peace. On behalf of the Government I would like, once again, to thank very warmly the noble Viscount who initiated this debate.
§ 7.18 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT TEMPLEWOOD
My Lords, I feel sure that noble Lords will agree that the Motion that I ventured to place before them has had a very useful result. It has provided, if I may say so an excellent debate, and it has also provided an opportunity for the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, to make a series of extremely important statements, and to delight the House with a vivid and human speech. As to the statements that he has made, they are obviously so important that it would be improper for me, even if I had the time, to comment upon them now. My only comment upon them would be again to impress upon him the great need for speed of action in meeting Mr. Marshall's proposal, speed of action in dealing with Hungary, and speed of action in dealing with Germany. But I feel, after what he has said, that I leave the House, reassured that he has vividly in his mind the need for this great speed of action if Europe is not, economically and politically, to be collapsed. Having made that very short comment, I ask the leave of the House to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.