§ 2.6 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
My Lords, perhaps the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, will allow me to intervene for one moment before he speaks. I note that there are no fewer than nineteen speakers on the list for to-day's debate, and among them are very distinguished members of your Lordships' House. I hope that I shall not be thought to be desirous of causing inconvenience to anyone if I suggest that the speeches should be abbreviated as much as possible. I appreciate, of course, that some speakers will necessarily have to speak at length, but I hope that for the benefit of those who have to come later, as much restraint as possible will be exercised.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY rose to call attention to recent developments in Foreign Affairs; and to move for Papers. The noble Marquess said: My Lords, I beg leave to move the Motion standing in my name. I can assure the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, that I will try to be as brief as possible. It has been said that there is no good time for a debate on foreign 295 affairs; and indeed, as I am quite certain the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, would agree, that is true in the sense that there is never a time when there are not some delicate negotiations pending, taking place, or about to take place, or some important statement by a responsible Minister expected, which might be prejudiced by injudicious utterances in Parliament. As your Lordships know, I had a Motion on foreign policy on the Order Paper at the end of January. I postponed it at the urgent request of the Government, in view of the then impending statement by the Foreign Secretary in another place. Even now, I am told by those who concern themselves with the international scene that the moment is not, in all respects, ideal. But the Government, I am sure, will not expect Parliament to be permanently silent, and I believe that the moment is, in fact, well chosen in view of the formidable events which have taken place in the Middle East and in Central Europe during recent days. I can assure the Government that I have not put down this Motion with the intention of embarrassing them, but rather with a view to strengthening their hands in the perilous situation with which we are all now faced.
§ In the old days there was a tendency for debates on international affairs to range very wide and deal with a number of topics in all parts of the world. To-day, no doubt, there are a multiplicity of issues, some of them vital and some of them not quite so serious. There are, for instance, such problems as those of the Falkland Islands and British Honduras. As your Lordships know, these are not new problems; they have cropped up sporadically for a good many years now. Indeed, attempts were made to raise them when I was at San Francisco, though these proved abortive. I do not propose to go into any detail on these questions to-day. The Government have already proposed that the legal issues involved should be laid before the Hague Court. Clearly, that is the right course. I am sure that we have nothing to fear from putting our case, which we believe to be just, before so eminent a body. Moreover, it is surely Tight and proper that we should show ourselves ready to use the machinery which exists for obtaining an authoritative opinion on issues of this character.296
§ There is one point, however, that I would like briefly to make. It is no accident, I believe, that the Argentine, Chile and Guatemala have moved on the morrow of a much-publicised declaration by His Majesty's Government that they are drastically to reduce the size of our Navy. I am afraid that that declaration may have given the impression that we are much weaker than we really are, and that a suitable opportunity had occurred for tweaking the lion's tail. I hope this will serve as a warning to the Government of the dangers of reducing our Defence Forces too far. I once had the temerity to say to your Lordships that without adequate Armed Forces not only is it impossible to have an effective foreign policy, it is impossible to have any foreign policy at all. What has happened in these areas seems to be an excellent example of that fact. I hope that the Government will continue to make it clear to all concerned that, while they are ready and willing to submit the issues raised to the fullest examination by the appropriate international body, they are as fully alive to the necessity of protecting British interests as were any of their predecessors.
§ Then there is the question of Palestine. That, unhappily, is no secondary issue. As we all know, it contains the seeds of most serious trouble, not only throughout the Middle East but also outside. Every day we are shocked by the news of some new and appalling outrage. It is becoming clear that the solution of partition adopted by the United Nations is not likely to be acceptable to the Arabs and can be imposed only by compulsion, for which it appears that the members of the United Nations have neither the will nor the material. It is easy to draw the moral from these events, but other great nations should have been ready to lend helpful co-operation to us at an earlier stage, when a peaceful solution might have been possible, instead of merely indulging in irresponsible criticism of the British Mandatory Administration who alone were maintaining peace in that distracted country. What is to be done now? Surely it is not possible for this country to adopt a purely negative attitude, when the lives and happiness of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, are involved. We have decided to hand back our Mandate in May of this year and to withdraw the troops which we, as 297 the Mandatory Power, maintain in Palestine. I am sure that this was the right decision, and I hope there will be no question, whatever pressure is brought, of our delaying those dates.
§ But I am not sure that we are on quite such strong grounds in entirety washing our hands of the whole business. After all, we are members of the United Nations. Clearly, we could not provide assistance to impose the carrying out of a policy to which we have not ourselves agreed, but if that policy breaks down, I feel that we should not close our minds to making the same contribution as other great nations make—that and no more—to the maintenance of law and order. Other nations, possibly, are willing to make no contribution. In that unhappy event, the two Palestinian communities, Jews and Arabs, will have to face the problem for themselves. It will be the only course left open to them. Ultimately, of course, the fate of this country must lie in the hands of the Jews and Arabs. Either Party can make impossible organised government by the other, and if, unhappily, both are determined that their country shall be bled to death, no external force can prevent that tragedy. But so long as the United Nations are willing to make an attempt to prevent chaos supervening in Palestine, with all the wider risks involved, I do not believe that we can entirely absolve ourselves, as a member of the United Nations, from any of the responsibilities which membership involves. I hope that that is also the view of the Government.
§ I would now turn from issues which, though not unimportant, are to a certain extent limited, to the main problem which faces this country, and indeed the world, at the present time. That problem is, of course, the problem of Russia—Russian policy and Russian intentions. This is the problem which overshadows all others in the international field, and dominates the minds of statesmen in every country. I would say, in passing, that I do not propose to deal this afternoon with such important but detailed questions as that of the Russian wives. I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, is to deal with that in the course of the debate. I am concerned, rather, with the broad general issues. For six years—six dreadful years—this and every other civilised country waged a war of unparalleled bitterness against Hitlerian Germany. We 298 fought that régime, not for any national advantage but because we were faced with a challenge by despotism, based on brute force and without principles or morality. We fought that war because a German victory would have meant the destruction of free institutions throughout the world, and the substitution for them of a police state, which, as I understand it, is a polite, newfangled phrase for old-fashioned tyranny, with, all the apparatus of cruelty and injustice that tyranny brings in its train. We fought not merely to save the life of our country; we fought to save its soul. After six years of bitter conflict we and our Allies achieved victory.
§ Now, it seems, Europe is faced with something of the same threat from another great country, and one which we had every reason to suppose shared our views. Russia was our Ally in the late war, and enjoyed the sympathy of the British people to a degree unparalleled in recent British history. Even in the midst of our own life and death struggle, we watched with admiration and respect the gallant fight of the Russian troops at Petrograd and at Stalingrad; we felt that they were devoted to the cause to which we too were devoted. But it is idle to deny that with the coming of victory Russian policy began to show a new and sinister side. The same qualities that animated Hitler began to make themselves apparent in those who directed Russian policy. As in the old days the German representatives used to procrastinate at the League of Nations, until they felt themselves strong enough to snap their fingers at it, so the Russian representatives have procrastinated at the United Nations. In the meantime, just as Germany snapped up Austria and Czechoslovakia, so Russia has snapped up Bulgaria, Roumania, Yugoslavia, Poland and Hungary. The same technique was applied in the two cases. Under Russian pressure, and with the aid of Russian agents, democratic Governments, representing the overwhelming majority of the people, have been overset; and puppet régimes, obeying orders from Moscow, have been set up. Liberal leaders have been imprisoned and executed, after trials that can be called only a mockery, and a police state has been set up.
§ Perhaps these events did not arouse the conscience of the nations of the Western world as they should 299 have done; the countries in question were far away; we were harassed with our own problems, and we had not much time to spare for the troubles of others. Moreover, the fund of good will which had been accumulated by Russia owing to her heroic efforts during the late war had not yet been dissipated; we were all anxious to think the best of her, and to maintain good relations with her if that were in any way possible. But, in my view, the events of the last week make it impossible any longer to ignore the threat which again overhangs Europe. Two more countries have been subjected to the same pressure—Czechoslovakia and Finland; and Czechoslovakia has already submitted. Both these countries were democratic States on the Western model; both were based on the principles of individual freedom. It is inconceivable that a country like Czechoslovakia could have accepted Communist domination of its own free will. It is clear that she yielded to the force majeure; and now already, as we see every morning in the papers, she is undergoing the same martyrdom that she experienced at the hands of Germany only a few years ago—the arrests, the imprisonment of non-Communists, the suppression of free speech and thought. It is idle to close our eyes to the fact that events are bringing us perilously close to the situation of 1938.
§ Where is this process to stop? To combat this technique, which is not a technique of invasion but of sapping from within, it seems to me that the Charter of the United Nations provides no remedy; that before the threatened democracy can appeal to the world organisation it is snuffed out of existence. Who is to be next? There is Austria, which stands between Russia and Trieste. She is quite clearly threatened. There is Greece, which has for months been under a constant threat from a Communist minority. Unless the present trend of Russian policy is reversed, there is a very real danger—and it is no good our ignoring it—that the whole dreadful tragedy of 1939 will be re-enacted. No one may want war, but war may ultimately result because Russia gets herself into a position from which she cannot retreat. I may be told by those who dislike to look at what is unpleasant that by saying what I have said I am exacerbating an already delicate situation. But there are times when plain speaking 300 becomes a positive duty. I do not ask the Government to say any more than they think right to-day, but I hope that they will unhesitatingly tell the people the truth, however unpalatable that truth may be. If they fail to do this, after the experiences of the last war, then assuredly history will never forgive them.
The situation is very black, in my view, and it is no good our ignoring that fact. The only bright spot is the decision of the Government to press on with the Western pact. That, undoubtedly, is a development—and an encouraging development—of the first importance. There appears to be a certain conflict of claims among those who direct our affairs as to the paternity of this (I hope) flourishing child. The Government suggest that the credit should go to them. Actually I am afraid that the Government appeared on the scene as champions of a Western pact very late in the day. Even so late as December, 1946, when the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, raised this subject, not for the first time, in your Lordships' House, he received about the most guarded reply I have ever heard from the Leader of the House. The noble Viscount said—and I quote his words:
Whilst I agree that increased neighbourliness among neighbours in practical working fashion is to be encouraged everywhere in the world, in our view the only hope for civilisation is to build up a United Nations Organisation which will step by step and ultimately become effective, both in securing world peace and in helping to deal with the economic inequalities among nations. Having said that, as I feel it is my duty to say it "—
and these are the operative words:
lest it should be thought that we are committing ourselves to any narrower projects, I have deep pleasure, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, in accepting the noble Lord's Motion.
Those remarks, which presumably represented the views of the Foreign Secretary, certainly show no crusading enthusiasm.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
December 3, 1946. I am glad to think that the Government have moved a long way since then, and I only wish they had moved rather earlier. But at any rate, I would suggest to your Lordships that the question of who should have the credit for this is not really important. What 301 does matter, and what is most encouraging, is that all Parties in the State are now committed to this policy. I would ask the Government to-day to give us an assurance that they propose to push ahead with it with all possible speed. In the debate to which I have already referred I used these words:Vital time is passing, and what is practicable now may well not be practicable later on. There is no sphere where it is so true as it is in foreign affairs, that it is essential to strike while the iron is hot. Otherwise new combinations of circumstances arise, and then, too late, it is found that a golden and irrecoverable opportunity has been lost.I repeat those words to-day. The sands are running out, time is running very short, and if a further conflict in Europe is to be avoided there is an urgent necessity for a closer association of the nations of Western Europe, both in the economic and in the military spheres, with the possible adhesion of the Northern nations as well.
It is no longer a question of avoiding the division of Europe into East and West, which is what the noble Viscount feared in December, 1946. It is a question of preventing the swallowing up of Western Europe by the East, and we must act swiftly if we are not to be too late. I hope, therefore, that in the discussions between the sixteen nations, which I understand are to take place in the near future, there will be no standing on diplomatic punctilio. I hope the Foreign Secretary will go there to get quick results, however rough and ready they may be, in the direction of an effective economic and military understanding, and that throughout close touch will be kept with the United States, whose interest in a pact and in the preservation of peace is clearly as great as our own.
Now there is one other matter which must, I think, concern all of us who live in Western Europe, and that is how to deal with those potential hostile forces which exist within our own borders. I have said that Czechoslovakia was not invaded from outside. It was crumpled by a powerful, well-organised minority from within. This minority had appeared to be an ordinary political Party, but on the day it came out in its true colours, and encompassed the downfall of its country. Such a hidden army—as the Canadian spy trial showed—exists in all countries. Here perhaps it is not large, but in many countries it is extremely 302 powerful. It is recruited from all sections of the population, and it works under the protection of free institutions to destroy free institutions. It is easy to castigate such men as traitors, but, in my view, the evil goes even deeper than that. They are mesmerised automata, obeying blindly the orders of their Communist masters. Under any democratic system all political Parties are free to express their views, whatever those views may be and however unpalatable they may be to the majority of their fellow citizens. But if, beneath their public activities, those Parties are, in fact, acting as the agents of a foreign power, a new and intolerable situation arises. Should such a situation arise in this country, I hope the Government will tackle it with courage, energy and resolution. In doing so I feel sure—and I am confident that they know it—that they will have the overwhelming support of their fellow citizens.
Now I come to the last thing I wish to say to-day, and in saying it I speak only for myself, but this is one of those times when one is bound to express one's own convictions. I cannot believe that at this time, when we are threatened with imminent dangers of the greatest kind in the spheres both of economic and of foreign affairs, it can be right that we should allow Party divisions to remain so violent as to sap our national strength, or permit Party considerations to override the national interest. It seems pre-eminently a time when we ought to close our ranks so far as is possible, at any rate on issues, upon which we do agree. I have never concealed my aversion from much of the domestic policy of the Government. I believe that it has been responsible for many of the evils from which we are now suffering, for it has given the impression to the working man that he was more prosperous than ever before, whereas, as a matter of fact, he has been all the time slipping closer and closer to the precipice. The main complaint which we have made against His Majesty's Government is that they have pursued a sectional policy during the last two vital years, and so widened the gap between the Parties at a time when their main preoccupation should have been to unite the nation.
Even now it seems that certain Ministers—though, I agree, by no means all—seem bent on lulling the electorate into a sense of false security for Party ends. How they 303 reconcile it with their conscience I really do not know. But it is clear that the time has now come when we must face hard facts, and in particular the vital fact that not only our economic stability but our hard won rights and liberties are at stake. I am afraid, as I go about the country, that even now the great mass of the British people are entirely unaware of the imminence of the perils which face them. On this great issue surely responsible moderate men in all Parties can speak with a united voice. To move closer and closer to disaster, muttering and squabbling among ourselves, must be the counsel of madness. I still believe—and I am sure there are many other noble Lords who feel the same—that the things which unite us, the love of liberty, the hatred of cruelty and oppression, the belief in justice and fair play and a passionate devotion for our country and all it stands for, are stronger than those things which divide us. In all sincerity, therefore, I urge the Leader of the House and the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, when they come to speak to give to the country the hard bleak facts, of our position. Let us have the truth and do not gloss anything over.
Nearly one hundred years ago, at a time of national peril—though it was by no means so great as the peril facing us at this time—Disraeli said—and I would like to quote his words, because I think they are both noble and applicable:I think there is no mistake so grave on the part of a Minister as to under-value public peril. The English nation is never so great as in adversity. In prosperity it may be accused, and perhaps justly, of being somewhat ostentatious, and, it may be, even insolent: in middle fortunes it may often prove itself unreasonable, but there has never been a time when a great sense of responsibility has been thrown upon the people of this country when they have not answered the occasion and shown that matchless energy which has made and will maintain their position as the leading nation of the world.Those are fine words; and they are very true words. To-day we are faced with one of those grave moments of national peril of which Disraeli spoke. The British people are waiting for a lead. It is for us whose privilege it is to give guidance to them to see that they get it. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.42 p.m.
THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, so far as I can trace, the last debate in 304 your Lordships' House on international affairs took place in June of last year. There have, of course, been debates on specific subjects, such as the Russian wives of British subjects—raised in a Motion put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart—and the non-observance of Peace Treaties by the Russian satellite States. But no discussion of a general kind has take place since that time, and much water has run under the bridge since then. Therefore I feel that we should be very grateful to the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition for giving us the opportunity to-day to express our views on these difficult problems. Of course, there was a two-day debate in the other place towards the end of January, and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on that occasion made an interesting and memorable speech, with the substance of which I found myself in complete agreement. But even that was six weeks ago, and since then there have been further developments—most of them, I fear, of a rather unhappy character, though there have been certain gleams of light.
The noble Marquess said that there are a great number of questions which could be covered by speeches on international affairs at this moment. There are too many of them for me to cover in one speech, and to try to do so would impose an undue strain on your Lordships' patience; moreover, I should not be complying with the request made by the noble Viscount the Leader of the House. I propose, therefore, to confine myself to the subjects of Czechoslovakia, Greece, the Western European Union, Germany and Austria, because in my view they form a coherent whole. That does not mean that we underrate in any way the importance of other problems, such as British Honduras or the non-observance of the Peace Treaties by Roumania, Hungary, and Bulgaria. Before I come to my main thesis, I should like to say a few words about two points which the noble Marquess raised—namely, the Antarctic difficulties and Palestine. As to Antarctica, we on these Benches completely support the line taken by His Majesty's Government. It is obviously right that questions about titles to territories in the Antarctic Ocean should be brought before the Court of Justice at the Hague. Until the question of titles is settled, clearly there can be no 305 conference between the interested Powers and even diplomatic negotiations can hardly be useful.
As regards Palestine, we should like from these Benches to express, in the first place, utter detestation of those last terrible outrages that have taken place, and to express our sympathy with the victims and their relatives. Then I should like to support as strongly as I can the plea recently put forward by the two most reverend Primates in a letter to The Times. Is it not possible that the Jerusalem enclave, which under the partition scheme was to be placed under international administration, should even now be accepted as neutral territory by the two contending Parties? Surely neither the Jewish nor the Arab leaders can wish to see the places which are holy to both, and to all Christians, receive violent damage and possibly destruction. If both are inspired by their religious beliefs, then at least they will agree that these holy places should be safeguarded. We are still the Mandatory Power. Would it not be possible to make a supreme appeal in this sense to the Jewish and Arab religious leaders in Palestine?
I assume that all your Lordships are fully aware of the gravity and import of recent events in Czechoslovakia. I am not going to dwell on the story, because it is now well known. The usual pattern of Communist domination has been followed. I suppose that what has shocked us most is the fact that Czechoslovakia was a true Parliamentary democracy, as we understand it, and has now become a police state, through the violent and forcible action of a Communist minority. I have heard it argued that the action taken was wholly in accord with the constitutional methods and principles of Czechoslovakia. This is an argument which leaves me completely cold. I remember that Hitler observed constitutional practices at the beginning; but he discarded them later, and I feel certain that his example will be followed by the Czech Communists when they find that they can safely do so. I feel that all our sympathy ought to go out to Dr. Benes in his very difficult position. He is a lover of his country and of freedom. We should not, as some have done, cast any blame on him. The Governments of the United States and of France, and our own Government, have issued a statement giving their views upon what has 306 happened. It is an excellent declaration, with which I suppose we all agree. But I feel that more than a manifesto is needed. We want further action, though not necessarily action affecting Czechoslovakia. I will develop that point, if I may, in a minute.
The noble Marquess referred to the policy of the U.S.S.R. That, of course, is a matter which has often beer, discussed in your Lordships' House before Two theories have usually been put forward. The first is that the Soviet Government are simply inspired by the desire to create friendly and buffer States on their boundaries so as to secure themselves from attack. The second is that their ultimate aim is the spread of Communism throughout the world and, since Russia is the leader of the Communism theory, to obtain thereby Rusian domination both in Europe and in Asia. Your Lordships will notice that the two theories are not in any way mutually exclusive. The second could well include the first. However, it is so difficult to believe that Russia can possibly fear attack from the Western Powers that we are bound to conclude that the spread of Communism and of Russian domination is the principal aim.
If this is so, the position of Greece becomes of primary importance, because the conflict there is as yet unresolved. The Greek Government are, in fact, fighting not only for themselves but for all the Western Powers. Whether we like that Government or not is beside the point. It is a properly constituted legal Government. Actually, it is a Coalition Government and it is supported by the majority of members of Parliament who were chosen at elections which were properly and internationally supervised. The Greek Government are defending their country from a subversive minority, helped directly or indirectly by countries under Russian influence. If such help were lacking, it is clear that the rebels would soon be crushed by the Greek Army. They have little support among the Greek population and have to rely on brutality and press gang methods and on the help of certain Communist volunteers from other countries to maintain their numbers.
Believing, as we do, in democracy, we cannot fail to do our utmost to give the Greek Government all possible aid in their struggle. Further, it is in our own 307 interest to do so. If Greece goes, the Communist effort will certainly centre on Italy and the same methods will be followed. We have already given much assistance to Greece, and we have troops there. Would it not be both possible and advisable to add to those troops, provided, of course, that the Greek Government so desire? I do not suggest that those troops should take part in the actual fighting, but their presence might well be a great encouragement and would certainly free Greek troops which are at present engaged on non-fighting duties.
I realise that such a course would involve placing upon us a greater economic burden, which in present circumstances it may be difficult for us to bear. But the issues confronting us in Greece are so grave that I earnestly trust that something of the kind I have suggested will carefully be considered by His Majesty's Government. Whether the troops should come from Palestine, as was suggested, I think, by my noble friend Lord Vansittart, or from elsewhere, is a matter, of course, which the Government alone can decide. I would add that all troops should be withdrawn, and must be withdrawn, as soon as the danger is past. The Government may decide that a further despatch of troops is impracticable. I hope that they will not, because it seems to me to be the best step that we can take to show our desire to help Greece. However, if they do think that such a course is impracticable, there still remain other possibilities, such as the supply of further quantities of military equipment, though I doubt whether such a measure as that would be nearly so effective or impressive.
Apart from this specific question of aid to Greece, it has clearly become essential, as the noble Marquess has pointed out, that those countries of Western Europe which still believe in and practise democracy should get together and defend their way of life, as opposed to this new and horrible totalitarianism. Those of us who have advocated for a long time past a Western European Union were greatly encouraged by Mr. Bevin's speech on January 22. We are also glad to learn from the announcement made by the Prime Minister on Monday in another place that there are to be talks with France and the Benelux countries which are to begin next week in Brussels, and 308 that on March 15 there is to be a conference of the sixteen Powers who adhere to the Marshall Plan. All this is very much to the good. But I notice that the Brussels talks, which happily will cover a wide field—economic, social, political and defence—are to be on an official level. It may be necessary that there should be a preliminary survey on such a basis, but that ought not to be unduly prolonged, and a conference on the highest level should take place in the near future. Discussions on all those subjects which I have mentioned may take a considerable time, and we really cannot afford to wait. The definite formation of a Western European Union is urgent, particularly from the defence point of view. Let us strive to establish the principles, sign the necessary Treaties and then work out the details later. Events in Czechoslovakia and in Finland are proof of the need for speed. The three Powers which condemned the Communist coup in Czechoslovakia have great responsibilities of leadership to-day. During the Second World War, conferences were arranged at very short notice, and the position to-day is equally serious. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, made a very true remark the other day. He said:We are not living in days of peace.I do not intend to deal at any length with the question of United Europe. My noble friend, Lord Layton, who is to speak later in the debate, will develop that theme. However, I would like to say a few words to the Government and their supporters with regard to a Western European Union. Do not let yourselves be influenced internationally by your Socialist outlook. If a Union of Western Europe is to be achieved, you require the help of all men of good will in all the European countries concerned, and not only that of the Socialist Parties It seems to me that the Government do not take sufficiently into account Parties like the M.R.P. in France (of which M. Bidault is an eminent member), the Christian Democrats in Italy (to which the present Prime Minister of Italy belongs) and the Christian Parties in the Benelux countries and also in Germany. All those Parties constitute influential elements in the various countries I have mentioned. In fact, they far outnumber the Socialist Parties. I fear that too many adherents of the Government believe 309 that Christian Parties must necessarily be reactionary. They are not. Of course, they do not base their ideals on the Karl Marx ideology, as the German Social Democrats do. They, too, have their Right and Left wings.
But can a Party be considered reactionary when its main social principles are based on the dignity of the human individual and on the principle that the first claim on profits must be an adequate wage for the workers, that every family has a right to a decent standard of life, with proper housing and reasonable leisure? I am taking those few principles because I feel that they may particularly appeal to noble Lords opposite. Therefore, I repeat, if a Western European Union is to be secured, it cannot be through the Socialist Parties alone. All Parties who favour it must be allowed to join in its promotion—I exclude the Communists, of course, because they do not want such a Union—and we must go ahead with all speed. If we can get such a Union it will be an important and serious barrier to Communist designs. That is why the Communists are doing all they can to wreck both the Marshall Plan and the idea of a Union. The Polish Foreign Minister, in a recent statement, said that a plan for Western European Union cannot promote trade between Eastern and Western Europe. Obviously there is no basis for such an argument. The Union will not be directed against Russia, or against the countries within the Russian sphere of influence. I hold that if it were established, relations between Eastern and Western Europe would be greatly improved, and that the idea of Russian domination would have to be abandoned. That would be an effective step towards peace. Further, the economics of Western European countries would also improve, and their trading capacity would became greater.
I want now to say a few words about the German situation. Western Germany, at any rate, is of vital importance to the recovery of Western Europe. Talks between the United States Government, ourselves, France and the Benelux countries are, I believe, now going on, and I earnestly hope that "Trizonia" may emerge and that arrangements will be made to allow the Benelux countries to have a voice in the future policy to be pursued as regards Germany. The 310 Anglo-American decisions recently announced give more administrative responsibility to the Germans themselves, particularly in the economic sphere, and I am sure that this is the right line. The Länder must, however, be allowed considerable local authority and, above all, their own police. On the other hand, I do not see how we can possibly hope to reconstitute Germany and build it up without having a central authority both for economics and for finance. On this point I differ from the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, who expressed a contrary view in a letter to The Times. Our object must be progressively to diminish controls in Germany to the largest extent possible, so that more and more responsibility falls upon the Germans themselves, always provided that we retain a sufficient measure of authority to ensure that no attempt is made at a restoration of the German pre-war war potential.
Special arrangements ought to be made for the Ruhr, and its output should be placed under international administration. That point is likely to be of special importance to the French. Incidentally, I cannot but regret that the recent announcements seem to have been made without adequate consultation with the French Government. Surely, it is of the highest importance that France, America and ourselves should work closely together in all such matters. We have a definite Alliance with France, and I cannot understand why she was ignored before the decisions were made public. That is the past. Happily the mistake seems to have been rectified, but that kind of mistake must not recur, because it arouses only suspicion in the French mind. One last point about Germany. I am quite sure that His Majesty's Government take the view (perhaps they will confirm it) that nothing should be done to give the impression that we do not desire German unity as a whole. That, I believe, has always been our chief aim, both political and economic, and it is in no way our fault that progress towards such unity has not been made. Save for these observations, I think that what has been announced in regard to Germany is both necessary and wise.
If I do not deal with the problem of Austria at any length, it is not because the need of relief from the strain upon her people—a strain which in so many 311 respects is borne with great fortitude—is any less pressing. Talks are, however, still going on between the four Powers, and we can only hope that they will result in a justification of the New Year's appeal of the Austrian President to these Powers, "Conclude the Treaties and leave us in peace." To sum up, our immediate object must be further aid for Greece and the formation of a Western European Union, with the help, and I trust the guarantee, of America. My Lords, as the noble Marquess said, we must make haste. I doubt whether time is on our side.
§ 3.7 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF HALIFAX
My Lords, I am sure that all your Lordships will be anxious to hear what the noble Lord who is to answer for the Government will have to say to the large and wide-ranging speeches to which the House has just listened. For that reason, as well as for others, I shall do my best to conform to the appeal and the friendly counsel extended to us by the Leader of the House. I suppose that most, or many, of us, at one stage or another during the war, became familiar with the argument that war settles nothing, and I suppose to that argument we all gave the same reply: that at all events war decided who would have the responsibility of settling the world when the fighting was finished. But that answer rested upon an assumption which, however legitimate it may have been, has, as we all know and as the noble Marquess pointed out with unanswerable force to-day, been falsified by the event. Accordingly the world to-day presents a very different picture from any we could have anticipated, or at any rate did anticipate. The result has been for ordinary people a combined feeling of disillusionment and frustration of hope, and a very uncomfortable foreboding. Yet it was probably certain that when the centripetal compulsion of common danger was withdrawn, natural and very different forces would reassert themselves.
That, after all, has been the general experience of history. But the result of all that is that the world is left to-day with two large question marks, which tend to grow larger—namely, Russia and the atom bomb. The United Nations Organisation—to which I trust we shall continue to give all support, in hope of better times—does not at present seem able to do 312 much about either; and, for practical purposes, these two question marks appear to me to meet and to react upon one another. It may be, as some are constantly concerned to assert, that Soviet policy is affected by the United States mastery of all the industrial, as well as the scientific, secrets of atomic energy. It is even more certain, I believe, that for other nations the uncertainty—or perhaps one might say the unintelligibility—of Soviet policy takes on a sharper edge by reason of these dangerous secrets which next year, in two years, or in five years, may or may not be secrets from Russian scientific workers. Therefore, like the noble Earl who spoke last, we bend much of our ingenuity to the discovery of what is the most plausible explanation of Soviet policy.
I am not sure that the noble Earl who spoke last would claim to have exhausted the catalogue of possible explanations. It has been held by some that the principal purpose of much of the wordy war of insult and insinuation has been to create the fear on the home Soviet front of an external threat, which might solidify the Russian people behind their Government. Others have held that the obvious explanation, which the noble Earl proffered, was the true one—that while no one is planning for a war, yet a state of world disorder might suit the Soviet Government's book better than that of anyone else, since, if long enough prolonged, it might make conditions favourable to the world revolution, or at least for that intensified Communist infiltration of which both the noble Earl and the noble Marquess have spoken. Again, one has seen it suggested that Russian suspicion of the Western Powers is not less than the suspicion of the Western Powers concerning Russia, and that the so-called cold war is inspired, on the Russian side, by the desire to leave nothing undone that may strengthen her defences against a clash which she deems inevitable. None of these explanations, by itself, seems to me to be wholly satisfying, and it may well be that they all contribute to the result that we know.
I have always thought that, to the convinced disciple of the Marxist theory, the disappearance of the capitalist order, soon or late, is certain; and what is, in their view, a very desirable end is delayed only by prophylactic measures, such as the Marshall Plan, which capitalism may seek 313 to employ in order to stave off its own dissolution. But the fact that the enemy of all good Marxists is, in their opinion, itself decadent, does not mean that it will not be able to put up, and will not in fact put up, before its own dissolution is complete, a desperate struggle for survival. No doubt, to those who follow such reasoning—as I saw it well stated a short time ago in a review—in Soviet eyes the proposed financial support of Europe by America takes on the character of a directly hostile act, since it is judged as being tantamount to gun-running to the enemy.
As has been forcibly said, all the events of recent days lend new insistence to the question of what ought to be the attitude of this country, and of others like-minded, in face of all these cross-currents of uncertainty and potential dangers. A short time ago—I think the noble Marquess who leads the Opposition said this—many people were talking as if the great end of our endeavour must be to avoid the division of Europe. But if the facts are to be faced in realistic fashion, we have to recognise that in spite of all our effort to the contrary, and in spite of such contacts as trade arrangements and the like, Europe is divided to-day. The large question is not whether we can avoid the division but whether, as the problem develops, leaving more serious dangers apart, we can prevent that division becoming permanent.
Meanwhile, we have to be prepared (as both the noble Lords who have preceded me have said) to act with vigour and speed upon the basis of the facts as they exist in Europe at the present moment. For that reason there is great force in the contention that, bad as might be the division of Germany, it is not so bad as would be—in the words of the American Secretary of State, Mr. Marshall—an agreementreached under conditions which would not only enslave the German people, but seriously retard the recovery of all Europe.In other words, the worst course would be, through any failure to appreciate what was happening, to fall short in any action that might assist Western Europe to recover its stature and its independence. I emphasise that, because to me, as no doubt to all your Lordships, the recovery by Western Europe of its stature and independence is something vital, since on it hangs all hope—such hope as there 314 may be—of restoring such a balance as may make the attainment of some modus vivendi with the Soviet at all possible.
No doubt we are watching such a clash of philosophies to-day as makes agreement impossible. But, although agreement is lacking, it need not necessarily mean that we cannot gradually find means of living together, once it is clear that Western Europe is in a fair way to re-establishing something of its old position. Certainly, as has been suggested this afternoon, it would be an immense step forward if the nations who have begun to co-operate on the Marshall Plan could move forward from that into some more permanent close relationship. Therefore, as I see it, we must continue to try to do those things which have been and are the main lines of policy pursued by the Government with the general approval of the nation.
May I briefly set out what I conceive those lines to be? We must continue to take every opportunity of diplomacy to make plain what are the true purpose and motive of our policy for Europe and the world. That will demand great patience, and I hope that with that exhibition of great patience will go a clear indication that patience is not inexhaustible. Secondly, there should be the organisation of economic action that may prevent nations drifting into despair and into the gulf that despair digs, which leads them to feel, as others have felt of old, that it is "better to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness." Thirdly, there should be the organisation of the defensive strength of those who wish to see stable order and security. Fourthly, there should be the extension (and here I associate myself with what has fallen from the two noble Lords who spoke before) of prompt assistance, up to the limit of our power, by whatever means may seem likely in any particular case to be most effective, to any nation who is a victim of the new technique of sapping and mining to which the noble Marquess alluded.
There is nothing original about that prescription, except perhaps the last point, but the history of the years between the wars is filled with deep lessons for all who are prepared to learn them. I think one of the principal lessons we have to learn is that we are to-day living in conditions of naked power politics. That is 315 all too familiar. But the importance of it is that once that is clearly grasped, whatever we may judge it possible or desirable to do about it, we should have no illusions at all about the problem we have to meet. Indeed, once we find ourselves unable to work with other nations in the confidence of international collaboration, we inevitably move into the sphere where power, directly or indirectly employed, is the decisive factor. In one respect the democracies are no doubt at a disadvantage in this latest twentieth century form of power politics. For power to have its full effect, whether in the economic, political or military field, it must be surely predictable in its use, otherwise those who may be weighing the chance of some action in any of those fields are unable to judge with certainty what is the range of odds against them. And, for democracies, with their constitutional processes, that is a condition difficult of complete fulfilment. Therefore to some extent we must perhaps accept, or at all events recognise, that handicap.
But democracies can do a good deal, both by way of warning and positive preparation, that is of value, and that may perhaps suffice. They can, as I have suggested, make their general position plain through the ordinary instruments of diplomacy. They can do all in their capacity to ensure the closest harmony of policy and planned co-operation with other like-minded peoples. They can ensure that in no way do they fall behind in the development and maintenance of the physical instruments of power. And that, as I see it, is what the United States of America and the British Commonwealth must do if they mean effectively to put their strength behind the order of life and values that is to-day under challenge. For not only would they be pooling their strength for the common advantage, but they also would be providing a rally point for all others who desire to see order, liberty and security. Nor, as has been repeatedly stated, is there anything in such a co-operative association which would be aimed at or menace any third party, except any party who might be tempted to fish too deep in troubled waters.
There is one last word, which I will not develop but which I would like to add to 316 what I have said because it represents a large element in my own thought. If we are to maintain our own front, the front of freedom, intact in this conflict of ideas, we must both justify and respect our own faith in freedom. We can never afford to forget that even in these days of economic stress and struggle, when a larger measure of restrictions and controls than any of us like is necessary, the final decision between success and failure will depend upon the character of free citizens in a free society. I think a demonstration of our appreciation in these islands of those values is an indispensable part of any service that it may be given to us to render to the world.
§ 3.28 p.m.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE DUCHY OF LANCASTER (LORD PAKENHAM)
My Lords, without appearing to be fulsome, it is difficult to pay proper tribute to the three splendid speeches and their authors to whom we have just been listening. The noble Marquess is a modest man, but he must have found it difficult to deliver his speech without observing, not for the first time, the very deep regard—a quite exceptional regard—which we on these Benches feel towards him. That regard has been enhanced—if that is possible—by what he has told us this afternoon and by his general attitude throughout this period of great crisis. Perhaps the other two speakers would allow me to say that happy are the Government who can always find in the leading experts outside their ranks authorities of such dispassionate elevation of spirit.
I have a long and sombre tale to tell the House. Perhaps, therefore, one anecdote will be permitted at the beginning. It comes into my mind following the speech of the noble Earl who has just sat down. During the Council of Foreign Ministers, during one of the more pleasant (or shall I say least unpleasant) moments, I found myself talking to M. Molotov in the presence of the Foreign Secretary. M. Molotov asked me whether I had studied the works of Karl Marx. I replied that I had, but that I was anything but a Marxist. M. Molotov suggested that one was unlikely to find a good Marxist in the House of Lords. Mr. Bevin then put in: "That is just where you are wrong, M. Molotov. The House of Lords are the only people in England who have time to read Karl Marx." I 317 think the Foreign Secretary was exaggerating the amount of leisure time available to your Lordships, but I feel, after this afternoon's speeches, that the truth of his remarks has been underlined.
The noble Viscount who leads the House, and who speaks with much greater authority than I, will be winding up the debate for the Government. In the circumstances, the House will perhaps forgive me if I do not cover the entire field, even in a preliminary fashion. Even so, as I have said, I shall have to ask the House to bear with me for a considerable time. I am sure that your Lordships will not misinterpret my silence on certain issues of paramount and overriding significance. We all agree in this House that the intimacy of our relations with the British Commonwealth is the basis of our very existence. We all agree that the United Nations present the only channel, blocked though it is by unhappy obstructions, through which we have much hope of emerging from our present international purgatory to a cleaner and better air. We all agree in our resolution (here I can gladly give the noble Marquess the assurance for which he asked) that British rights will be respected, whether in the Antarctic, in Honduras or anywhere else. And those who think that the time has come when we can be teased or chivvied, or (to use a colloquialism) "kicked around" with impunity, are making the mistake of their lives. With these and other topics arising from the flow of the debate the noble Viscount the Leader of the House will concern himself, if he feels it necessary.
I had hoped to unload on to the noble Viscount the responsibility for dealing also with Palestine, a subject on which he has far greater credentials than myself. But I feel that the first Government speaker must say something, and say it plainly, on the subject of Palestine. In the first place, I would like to repeat with great emphasis what the noble Earl, Lord Perth, has said. I wish to take this opportunity of reiterating that the reckless accusations which have been made against His Majesty's Forces by leaders of the Jewish Agency are entirely without foundation. Your Lordships will have learned with supreme indignation of the heavy loss of life arising from the mining of a troop train in Southern Palestine last Sunday. I take this the earliest opportunity of expressing further detestation of 318 this outrage, and deep sympathy with the relatives and friends of the men who were killed serving their country on that occasion. Their lives—and this should be noted—were lost as the direct result of the irresponsible and contemptible propaganda in which the leaders of the Jewish Agency have been indulging. His Majesty's Government, I repeat, have the fullest confidence in the General Officer Commanding, and in the Services there. I will leave the broader aspects of the Palestine issue to the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, but I would certainly wish it to go out it once, as the noble Viscount may be replying rather late, that there is no change whatever in our policy of withdrawing by the stated dates.
The noble Earl, Lord Perth, raised the question of Austria. This House, I believe, has a warm spot in its heart for Austria. Certainly, as I know from first-hand experience, any discussion on Austria which takes place in this House is followed with the keenest interest, and makes a great impression out there. It is fair to claim that the question of the Austrian Treaty was saved from the wreck of the Council of Foreign Ministers by the initiative of our own Foreign Secretary. As the noble Earl has said, talks are still proceeding. At the moment the Soviet proposals for dealing with the German assets problem are still being explored, but it is too early to talk of progress. I would say, in all seriousness and without any hidden meaning, that it is genuinely far too early to mention deadlock or failure. Whatever happens, the people of Austria may rest assured of our unshakable support for the integrity and independence of their country.
The noble Earl raised the question of the Christian Parties in Europe and our attitude towards them. They are rightly called Christian Parties, but large numbers of Christians are to be found in all the European Parties, unless the Communists are an exception—as I think they probably are. I am not altogether unsympathetic to what the noble Earl has in mind, but I cannot accept the request he made of the Government, that we should refuse to allow ourselves to be influenced internationally by our Socialist outlook. I do not know whether the noble Earl had carefully considered those words, but his request, put in that form, I am bound to reject. We on these Benches 319 (and each Party or section of opinion must draw their inspiration from their own quarter) draw the basic elements of our international outlook from our Socialism. That is the source of our whole view of the brotherhood of man. Other noble Lords, of course, have their own sources of inspiration but, since that is our outlook, I cannot accept the noble Earl's proposition that we should refuse to be influenced by it in our approach to international affairs. Subject to that, I think I can satisfy the noble Earl to some extent with regard to our attitude to these particular Parties.
I naturally know best our relations with them in Germany and Austria, but what is true there, I think, is true everywhere. While our relations with all the democratic Parties in Germany and Austria are good, the only point of criticism that the leaders of these Parties ever bring forward to me is that we seem to slightly favour the other. The Christian Parties suggest that we slightly favour the Socialists, and the Socialists suggest that we slightly favour the Christian Parties. I do not know whether the noble Earl will accept that, but we try to keep a fairly level mean. I can assure him that I have participated in many happy ways in Christian gatherings of the various Christian Parties in Austria and in Germany, just as on the same footing I would participate in gatherings of the Socialist Parties. May I sum up the matter far too briefly—because it happens to be one in which I take the sharpest personal interest—by putting on record, as I see it, the attitude of His Majesty's Government in two simple propositions? On the one hand, we never forget that we are members of a Labour Party, with special ties with Socialist Parties abroad. On the other, we never forget that we are the Government of a Christian country, actively interested in the strengthening of Christian principles, whether or not related to politics, and in whatever Party they may be found.
I turn now to the main problem of Europe, which is naturally in the forefront of all our minds. We have before our eyes, following a series of other sinister events, this new coup in Czechoslovakia—Communist in name, Hitlerite in technique, utterly damnable in every way. Let me first of all indicate the 320 attitude of His Majesty's Government to the whole business. The attitude of His Majesty's Government towards the use of force and intimidation by the Czech Communists has been made quite plain in the joint declaration which was issued on February 26 by the Governments of the United States, France and Britain. In this declaration the three Governments made it clear—and I take this opportunity of repeating it—that, thanks to a crisis artificially and deliberately provoked, certain methods already exploited elsewhere have been used to bring about the suspension of free Parliamentary institutions and the establishment of a disguised dictatorship—and pretty thinly disguised at that—of a single Party under the cloak of a Government of national union. The free Governments can only condemn a development the consequences of which must surely be disastrous to the Czechoslovak people, who again proved, during the sufferings of the Second World War, their devotion to the cause of liberty.
I hope I shall be in harmony with the feeling of the House if I spend a little time on the way in which this crisis was engineered. I think it is essential to establish beyond doubt how it was that the Czechoslovak crisis arose in the first place, since an attempt has been made by Communist propaganda to obscure the issue. The crisis began because the Communist Ministers in the Czechoslovak Government refused to implement a decision taken collectively by the Coalition Government to restrain the recruitment of further Communists into senior positions in the Czechoslovak police. The Communists, I need hardly remind the House, were trying to pack the police with their nominees, doubtless with an eye to the elections which were expected to be held some time during the next three months. I gather that now a postponement seems possible. The Minister of the Interior, supported by the Prime Minister, both of whom were Communists, refused to take the measures which the Cabinet had directed. That was the reason why certain of the non-Communists offered their resignations in the first place.
Let us look next at the machinery employed to bring about the coup. We want to look particularly at the action committees, because they were the main weapons employed during the crisis. They were formed all over the country 321 and they seized a number of Ministries, public offices, the Prague radio station, and the administration of a number of towns. They were particularly active and prominent in Slovakia, where they took over control of the whole machinery of government. In some mysterious way members of the action committees were issued with arms—that is an absolutely crucial point—and they are now to be seen going about with brand new rifles. A significant feature of this development is the discipline under which the local action committees did their work. The Communist-controlled Ministry of the Interior have published an edict to the effect that any member of a committee can be dismissed by a higher committee, on a recommendation being made to the latter by the local committee concerned. Thus, it will be seen that the whole machinery of action committees can in effect be directed from above.
It is obvious that this plot was prepared some while ago. The Communists were most efficiently called out into the streets, factories and Ministries; they were armed where required and their lists of people to be purged must have been prepared weeks ago, to judge by the rapidity with which action has been taken. As usual, the Communists have accused others of preparing to do what they are going to do themselves—in this case to launch a subversive plot to seize control of the State. One of the most crucial steps that they took was to seize control of the police and, to a lesser extent, of the Armed Forces. Experience shows that it is impossible for the ordinary processes of democracy to continue where Communists are able to use the police to intimidate their opponents and trump up charges of plots and conspiracies, The Communists were able to use those methods because they had obtained control of the Czechoslovak Ministry of the Interior, and they did not hesitate to employ the police to make raids on the Party headquarters of their opponents.
Communist influence appears to have been less strong in the Czechoslovak Armed Forces than in the police, but here the Communists gained the day because the Czechoslovak Minister of Defence, who, although officially described as a non-Party man, was a Communist sympathiser. He threw in his lot with the Communists at the critical moment, betraying President Benes, his 322 fellow-countrymen, and democracy itself. This should be a salutary warning to all those who repose confidence in fellow travellers elsewhere, although I do not think any of us on these Benches has ever been guilty of that.
I come now to the control of the Ministry of Information. The control of that Ministry was also used ruthlessly by the Communists. Before the formation of the new Government, and while political negotiations were still proceeding, the Communists were busily suppressing all organs of information hostile to themselves. Thus, at an early stage in the crisis they obtained control of the Czechoslovak radio, which was employed in putting out an unceasing flow of Communist propaganda and misrepresentation. In spite of the absence of any censorship in Czechoslovakia, the Communist Minister of Information was able, when the crisis came, to prevent the Ministers holding views opposed to those of his own Party from publishing them or broadcasting. The Communists obtained control of the Czech Press Office and ensured that supplies of paper were cut off from the newspapers of the Czech Socialists and the Czech People's Party. At a later stage a number of newspapers were banned altogether by the Ministry of Information. Unanimity has now been established in the Czechoslovak Press by the dismissal of those editors whose attitude towards the new régime is described as "negative," and a number of representatives of foreign broadcasting organisations have been brought under control.
I now come to the purge which is going on at this moment. A general purge in every sphere of Czech life is going on in the worst Communist style. The Rector of the Charles University in Prague has been removed from his post and the police have entered the University for the first time since the German occupation. Various professors have been dismissed from their faculties. The Academy of Music have sent professors on leave and appear to be determined that composers of "undemocratic" music are banned in future. I hope that none of the noble Lords who are professors will ever fall under a ban of this kind—and particularly the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell—for teaching "undemocratic experimental philosophy." In the 323 schools many teachers are being dismissed. Portraits of Marshal Stalin are to hang in every school and new text books of political education are to be issued. The new Communist Minister of Education has said that education "must be political, like the Army."
Finally, I come to the steps that are being taken to purge the democratic political Parties, and this is information which has just reached me. The Central Action Committee of the National Front have issued a declaration that all political Parties must be thoroughly purged of the "enemies of the people's democracy." Organs of the Czech Socialist and People's Parties must cease functioning, and action committees must be formed to cleanse the two Parties "inside and out." The Social Democratic Party must also purge itself of "anti-progressive elements." The presidium of the Central Action Committee, in accordance with the wishes of the broad masses of the people—that is its own way of describing its mandate—now reserves to itself the right of approving all new political Party organs and functionaries. Three commissions have been entrusted with the task of "cleansing" the National Front.
There you have a revolution carried through in a few days, and I cannot say that the steps that I have described will be the last that will be taken. Events have followed a pattern that has been employed elsewhere, and by which the unhappy Governments of South Eastern Europe have already been brought under control. And now the unhappy Government of Finland are being embraced with the kiss of death and are being invited to visit Bluebeard's mansion and inspect their predecessor's remains. It is a sad prospect for a country for which we, in this country, have always had great sympathy.
What is the moral of these distressing and deplorable events? There are, I submit, an internal moral and an external moral. The internal moral is surely that organisations whether Governments, trade unions, or anything else, who co-operate with the Communists or allow the Communists to join them are likely sooner or later—and sooner rather than later—to be eaten up. The Czechoslovak Government were a coalition of several Parties and one in which the Communists were able to 324 occupy the key positions with such effect in the recent crisis. In Czechoslovakia, just as in other countries, the Communists have turned on their non-Communist colleagues, and in particular on their Social Democrat colleagues. A purge of all the other Parties is now going on, as I have just described.
The great advantage of the Communists lies in their utter unscrupulousness. In a democratic country they alone fight according to the no-foul rule, while everybody else obeys the Queensberry rules. While none of us desire to copy them in that respect, it is at least the business of democrats everywhere to prevent the seizure in advance by Communists of those key positions which make the final battle a walk-over. If the unhappy Czech democrats can extract any consolation from their present sufferings, it may perhaps be found in the reflection that their tragic experiences leave less excuse—if any existed before—for countries outside the range of Russia's menaces to allow their democracy to be overturned by a treacherous minority within.
So much for the internal moral. But of course the internal story is not the whole story. Communism is not just a poisonous wind coming from no one knows where and blowing where it listeth. It is a germ, systematically disseminated by the fanatical agents of a great Power. No one doubts that the formation and activities of the Cominform represent a decision of high Russian policy. No one doubts but that if Generalissimo Stalin and the Politbureau decided on a new line of co-operation with the West, the Communist packs would come to heel all over Europe. I would not go so far as to say that the problem of dealing with Communism is solely the problem of our relationship with Soviet Russia. There is also the task, of which most of us to-day and certainly the Government are deeply conscious, of removing the social and spiritual conditions which give Communism its chance. If one finds a place where Communism is flourishing, one can be pretty sure that someone has not been doing his job—probably one has oneself failed. Communism thrives on starved bodies and starved minds and there have been too many millions of both in Europe in past centuries. The real reply to Communism is the same degree of revolutionary ardour 325 in the improvement of conditions by constitutional means, and in preaching Christian and democratic ideas, as is shown by these unhappy misguided fanatics in spreading their gospel of hatred.
All who have listened to the noble Earl, Lord Halifax, will feel, if we did not feel before, that the relationship of the Western world to Soviet Russia—and the noble Marquess brought out the same aspect with tremendous force—is the most serious and formidable problem of the age; and on the answer to the question whether or not we solve it successfully will decide whether or not we and our children and many millions in this country and Europe live out our lives in peace. One sometimes hears it debated as to whether one gets a better clue to Soviet Russia's intentions by regarding her as an old-fashioned imperialist Power or a modern totalitarian dictatorship, or quintessentially and beyond all else Marxist. Who can say for certain? The Man with the Iron Curtain is also the Man with the Iron Mask. Any Power that has ever obtained a position remotely resembling that now occupied on the Continent of Europe by Soviet Russia has generally abused it, and therefore we must not behave as though Russia were the first large-scale aggressor.
But I feel that most members of your Lordships' House are coming to believe also that there has been a special quality in the behaviour of Soviet Russia which has not been discovered before and has never been distinguishable before in world affairs, and it can be discovered only in her peculiar interpretation of Marxism. I hope I shall not be detaining your Lordships unduly if I pause to talk for a few moments on what we may call the Western European tradition. It seems to me that we can formulate it, very crudely no doubt, under five propositions: first, that there is an objective difference between truth and falsehood; secondly, that there is an objective difference between right and wrong; thirdly, that there is a natural law against which the edicts of any State authority must be judged; fourthly, that the personality of each one of us is of equal and infinite significance in the sight of God, and fifthly, that there is an ultimate harmony between the interests of all nations which we must 326 eternally seek, even if we never achieve it.
It seems to me that the essential political and constitutional features of Western Europe which are more often alluded to in contemporary discussion and whose importance, of course, is overwhelming—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom of movement, the rule of, law, security against arbitrary arrests, and one or two others—are ultimately derivative from the moral characteristics of Western civilisation as I have attempted to describe them. The Communist rejection of all that we mean by political and civic rights springs, in the last analysis, from their prior rejection of those five moral postulates.
I will not take your Lordships through the first four propositions, but I would ask you to pause for a moment at the last. Surely, through anything we mean by European civilization there has run, beneath all the differences, arguments and disputes, the profound conviction that somewhere, deep down, there lay a community of interest if we could only find it. Without such a common basis between independent nations it is surely difficult to see how normal or civilised relations can ever be possible. But the Communists will have none of them. They believe—and to be fair to them, many of them would give their lives for the belief—that there is a fundamental conflict between them and the non-Communist world, a conflict rooted in the deepest economic facts of their existence. From their point of view, their gain must be our loss and their loss must be our gain. Cursed with that "obsessional neurosis," as the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, described it the other day, they block all effective international co-operation. Indeed, a course of mutual benefit would be positively unreasonable from their point of view, for it is not only that they are convinced that we in the Western countries are being driven, willingly or not, to desire their overthrow, but they believe also that our whole system is fundamentally decadent and unsound, doomed before long to collapse, and destined to give place to their own.
That, my Lords, is where we find ourselves at the beginning of 1948. How will it all end? How can the Western world be saved from Communism without war, as we could not save it from Nazism without war? I am asking no less profound a 327 question. The first answer clearly lies in the sphere of defence—and a very vital answer it is. But if that were the whole answer, what a prospect we should be facing in the era immediately ahead of us! Surely there must be a means of providing a brighter possibility than that. I believe there is. I believe that there are various ways, upon some of which the noble Lords who have already spoken have touched. Clearly, we must spare no effort to live in charity with Russia. We must see what the trading exchanges across the iron curtain can bring about by way of psychological or economic advantage. But in the last resort we shall succeed or fail in affecting the mentality of her rulers, of her people, of her satellites, of the doubtfuls—millions of people, ordinary human beings, nervously glancing over their shoulders across Central Europe. We shall either succeed or fail in the area still under the control of the free nations. If we succeed, as I believe, with the Marshall Plan we shall, we shall win not only Western Europe but, ultimately, Eastern Europe as well. I remember a doubt being expressed last summer—not, if I recall the matter rightly, in this House—as to whether we were taking the Marshall Plan seriously. I do not think that anyone is under any misapprehension on that point to-day. The whole House recalls the Foreign Secretary's initiative last summer with the French Foreign Minister in calling the Paris Conference. Most of your Lordships will have given some study to the Report that subsequently emerged; and all will agree that it represented a remarkable feat of international co-operation, in which special credit must certainly be given to our new Ambassador to the United States, Sir Oliver Franks.
Alike in the United States of America and in Europe, the work of study has been pressed forward through the various technical committees: in Europe through the Customs Union study group set up in Paris, and also through the Economic Commission for Europe, which is, of course, an offshoot of the United Nations. In America, the United States Administration have pressed forward with a Bill which, as the House knows, is now being debated in the Senate. Obviously, we in Europe have to be careful (if I may use a colloquialism) not to count our chickens before they are hatched—in other words, not to outrun the speed of legislation in 328 the American Congress. Naturally, we have been considering the whole time the form in which the programme should be organised on the European side when the necessary legislation is through. An Anglo-French Mission recently visited a number of European capitals in order to exchange views. I am glad to say that these visits were most successful and revealed a general identity of view about the next steps to be taken.
As has been mentioned earlier to-day, a meeting of the full Committee of European Economic Co-operation (that is, of the sixteen countries) will take place in Paris on March 15. The Foreign Secretary considers this meeting of the highest importance, and he is attending it himself. He will take the opportunity of reviewing the Government's, whole attitude towards the European Recovery Programme. I understand that Count Sforza is likely to represent Italy, and I take this opportunity of saying how much we value the co-operation of Italy and welcome her as an equal partner in the economic reconstruction of Europe. I feel that the House will be particularly glad that that should go on record to-day, at a moment when Italy and her prospects in the testing times in front of us are so much in the forefront of our minds.
In the circumstances, it is difficult to say much more this afternoon on the subject of the Marshall Plan. The suggestion that this meeting of Ministers should set up a working party is being carefully studied. The working party should, as quickly as possible, draw up a plan for what has come to be called the "continuing organisation." I do not pretend that that word itself or that combination of words is particularly inspiring, but I believe that this continuing organisation might well carry the hopes of Europe for many years to come. This continuing organisation would come into existence as soon as the Marshall Aid legislation had passed the United States Congress. This continuing organisation would prepare the agreement containing mutual undertakings between the participating countries. But I would not like to-day to leave the House under the impression that the functions of the continuing organisation are going to be limited to the extent that I have just indicated. The more intensively we study the problem of European recovery, the clearer becomes not only the immensity of the 329 effort required but the co-operative character of that effort. We cannot rest, we cannot begin to think of resting, until we have brought Europe back to a position where she can fend economically and socially for herself—and in "Europe" I include ourselves. Our labours to this end will be largely centred in the proposed continuing organisation, which I repeat we all desire to see set up as soon as possible.
I venture, with proper diffidence and with no sense of personal credit or responsibility for its production, good or bad, to commend to the House the Plan for European recovery, recommended in outline by the Labour Party. If noble Lords opposite will repay the compliment, I will gladly study and salute any similar contributions to discussion to which they care to draw to my attention. I am not asking the House to swallow this particular plan wholesale. I say, however, that it is worthy of the most serious attention by every member of the House. If Europe is to recover, she requires a plan for recovery. Whatever the precise character of the new framework, the differing problems of each country will have to be provided for; but a closer degree of economic integration between countries there must be. And it will be the task of the continuing organisation that I have mentioned to plan how such a process can be carried out. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Layton, has given special attention to these matters, not for the last few months but at least since 1931, and for all I know earlier. I know that the whole House is looking forward this evening to his contribution, to which the noble Viscount the Leader of the House will reply.
I pass from the economic to the political, but before doing so, I would call the attention of the House to the significant presence of a Benelux delegation at the informal talks now being conducted in London by the three Western Powers on the German problem. In view of the close economic ties between the Low Countries and Germany, it was thought well to invite a Benelux delegation, and I would ask the House to note in this Benelux participation a distinct step forward towards the economic and political integration of Western Europe. I know that the House wants more, and insists upon more. The noble Marquess has asked me whether he can receive assurances that we are 330 pushing ahead at top speed with the whole project of a Western European Union. I can give him that assurance with an absolutely clear mind and conscience. We all want that more than anything I have mention. But there is a universal feeling, not confined to the Government, that on the political side the destruction of Czechoslovakian liberty should impart a still greater sense of urgency to what was previously being attempted in the field of Western Union.
In that regard, we agree that the events of last week in Czechoslovakia must accelerate and sharpen the steps taken to build up the economy of Western Europe and to provide Western Europe with adequate defence. That, in fact, is what is happening. A little while ago, His Majesty's Government, in conjunction with the French Government after the Foreign Secretary's speech in another place, proposed that as a beginning the two Governments should offer to enter into Treaty relationships with the Benelux Government. This proposal has been under intensive consideration in the five capitals during the last month and now, as the Prime Minister announced in another place on Monday, and as has been mentioned already this afternoon, conversations are opening at the official level in Brussels to-morrow. I will convey with gratitude to the Foreign Secretary the warm response that the noble Marquess, speaking I think for every one in the House and not for any particular section, extended to the initiative displayed in this matter.
These discussions, which will be of a preliminary character, will, as the Prime Minister said, cover general questions of economic, social and defence co-operation. The talks, significant though they are, are still more significant because of what we hope they will lead to. A start is being made—and when it has been made time is too short to allow any dawdling—to give living embodiment to the Western Union idea. If anyone asks me: "Has this Union been embarked on of your own free will, or has it been forced upon you?" I reply, "We would much rather have the whole of Europe; that goal of a completely united Europe will never be abandoned. But unless and until the policy of Soviet Russia makes it possible, we in the West, beginning with the five that I have mentioned (all of us being near and traditionally good neighbours) believe that we 331 are specially qualified to stand together and to benefit the world in doing so; and we intend to do so by directing ourselves against no one but in defence of each other, by every means in our power."
The House will no doubt be expecting to hear something material on the subject of Germany, though not I fancy another account of my stewardship on a scale such as I adopted when we debated Germany in November. When I have dealt with Germany to the best of my ability I will cease to detain the House. There have, of course, been a number of developments since we debated Germany in November. I hope that the right Reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Chichester is encouraged by the steps that we have recently taken to speed up the clearing of the internment camps, and I hope that certain other developments have warmed his heart. Economically, however, I am bound to admit that both in coal and food we have had some sharp setbacks since I addressed the House last November. I was fairly guarded in my language then, and it was just as well, in view of these setbacks. We have now reverted approximately to where we were in November, under those heads, and the general extent of coal production is going upwards. On the whole, there is a slight but definite upward trend all round. I cannot make any promises about food until the harvest. We must hope that it will be maintained at its present level, low though it is.
I would remind the House that the general increase in production in Germany between the last half of 1946 and the last half of 1947 was about equal to that anywhere in Europe. Even so, at the end of 1947, Western Germany—and, though information is denied us, it seems also to be true of the East—was still getting much less than half pre-war production, whereas almost every other leading country had reached or exceeded her pre-war production. The great contemporary danger in Germany is that she will be so badly fed that democracy will not have a chance there, and she will not be able to play a proper part in the recovery of Europe. Food is bound to remain very short in Germany until world harvests improve or the Iron Curtain disappears. But there is no doubt that, if properly distributed, existing supplies could produce a much better standard than at present.
332 I pause for a moment to ask: How far are the Germans to blame for present mal-distribution? I find that a question which, even if it were inquired into at far greater length, it would be hard to answer fairly. Undoubtedly, the contemporary Germans could show a much greater corporate sense of solidarity. They are making greater efforts than they were previously, and the earmarking of the Ruhr and Hamburg as special areas will prove, I hope, an immensely valuable step. It is possible to anticipate marked advantages from that development, but we are entitled to call—and intend to keep on calling—for much greater co-operation between region and region, and between man and man. On their side, the Germans are human beings, and they have their rights. They are entitled to ask us to give them a currency, and there, I believe, the stage is at last set for a decision. Currency reform, however, for whatever the area agreed upon, will take months, rather than hours. They are entitled to ask for an increasing devolution of responsibility on to German shoulders, and in the mean-while we are entitled to call on them to co-operate more closely than hitherto with one another in working such measures of responsibility as have already been devolved upon them.
I know that your Lordships have followed with the greatest interest the development of the bizonal administration at Frankfurt. I can assure the noble Earl that he is quite mistaken if he thinks that the French were not informed. They were given information, but for some reason or other did not find themselves in a position to take advantage of it. They were, however, informed in advance of the steps being taken at Frankfurt. Even if they had not been informed of the steps being taken at Frankfurt, I would remind the noble Earl that the arrangement is between the two Zones, the British and American Zones, and not with the French Zone. So long as the French find themselves unable to join us, we shall never recognise an absolute responsibility to inform them, let alone to secure their consent, in regard to anything done in those two Zones. Having said that, let me emphasise our strong desire that they should join their Zone with ours and work together for a trizonal fusion.
333 While the contribution which France can make to the recovery of Western Europe, including the recovery of Western Germany, is immense, I make it plain to the noble Earl, if only in defence of the Government, that there is no question of our letting the French down in this matter. We shall treat them with the highest courtesy, which we usually extend to France. Members of the House may have seen in the papers to-day this last step in establishing the Frankfurt régime. They may have seen the election by the Lower House of a new administrative council. May I quote The Times of this morning? I would hesitate to use this language myself, but it is at any rate intelligible, and I quote it without committing myself to the language.The Oberdirektor, who, as the head of a shadow Cabinet, has something of the powers of a Prime Minister, is Dr. Hermann Pünder "—that is the description given by The Times, but it must be accepted with some reserve—the chief burgomaster of Cologne and a former State Secretary under the Weimar Republic.He is also a man who showed notable fortitude in the struggle against Hitler. Recently he has co-operated most effectively on behalf of the city of Cologne with the representatives of Birmingham in forging special links between those two, cities. I know Dr. Pünder well, and I have a warm regard for him. I am sure the House will wish him well in assuming these arduous responsibilities.
On the whole subject of Germany I speak with great caution because of the official talks which are ranging over many German issues, and which are continuing in London at this moment with the Americans and the French, and with Benelux participation. The noble Lord, Lord Douglas, is shortly to address the House. It will be his maiden speech, and I cannot imagine anyone whose maiden speech would be more likely to hold the attention of the House from beginning to end. He will be able to speak, probably, with much greater wisdom than I, and, certainly, with much greater candour. I shall be surprised, however, if I disagree with his central contentions. Three things only I will say. First, I am as certain as I am that I stand here that German unity will come one day; but if it is to come, as 334 we all want it to, it must come from the West rather than from the East. We must make this plain to the Germans. We must make it plain to them that our people, our Government—particularly our Foreign Secretary—have consistently stood for the principle of German unity and that the Russians, from the days of Potsdam onwards, have consistently kept the country divided in halves.
Secondly, we must emphasise all over Germany (at least over all those parts of Germany open to us) that Germany will be included in the Marshall plan, and that, as the Prime Minister said on Monday, our policy is to bring back Germany into a united Europe on equal terms, in co-operation with our friends and Allies. But that will depend on Germany herself, whether she convinces her Western neighbours that her fundamental values are the same as ours. Thirdly, I believe that there is so much good material in Germany—among the politicians, among the trade unionists, among the students, among the Churches, of course, and elsewhere—that it will be a tragedy if, somehow or other, we do not help them to help themselves to make their full contribution to the world and to remove the blot on their country's record.
In conclusion, I return once again to the great theme of Western Union, which runs through all our minds. I entirely agree with the noble Marquess that this cannot be—and must not on any account be allowed to become—a Party question. I may live out of the world; perhaps no one tells me anything; but I was not aware that there was such an element of strife and bitter controversy as the noble Marquess had found in certain quarters. Be that as it may, I agree entirely with his fundamental attitude. I believe that this country is facing great difficulties the end of which is not yet obvious. I believe, also, that there never was a time when it was so important for us to pull our full weight on the side of civilisation abroad. In that double set of circumstances I believe that we must at all costs speak as a nation in all our foreign dealings. I believe that any foreign policy worthy of the name must be one which unites behind it to the greatest possible extent every British man, woman and child. That is the aspiration of the Government, and if the generous speeches we have listened to this afternoon are 335 any guide, it meets with the sympathy and good will of the House.
§ LORD BROUGHSHANE
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, can he explain to us how the Communists obtained control of the key Ministries of Justice and Police in Czechoslovakia, where they were in a Parliamentary minority? Can he tell us whether it was because there were threats of violence? Also can he tell us how the Communists forced the resignation of Ministers in a Parliament where Communists were in a minority?
Perhaps I travelled too rapidly over that territory. If the noble Lord does not mind waiting, perhaps the noble Viscount who leads the House will deal with those matters at the end of this debate.
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD
My Lords, the speeches to which we have listened this afternoon have ranged so fully over so many subjects that it would be mere impertinence on my part to attempt to answer or to deal with them. The subject before the House to-day is an immensely wide one. The Motion has, very rightly, been drawn so as not to exclude any department of foreign affairs. Indeed, it covers the relations of this country with any foreign country, and there are many countries which might profitably engage your Lordships' attention, apart from the vitally important economic questions and the proposed Western Union to which my noble friend has referred in considerable detail. So far as I am concerned, I propose to confine my observations to a solitary subject, though it is one which has repercussions far and wide. It is the maintenance of peace. To my mind that is the issue which we have to face now with all our courage and all our determination.
I should like, at the outset, to say that I am not an alarmist in the sense that I think war is imminent. I do not believe anyone thinks that. On the contrary, I believe that now—and I hope for many years to come—the recollection of what we have seen and heard and suffered during the last four or five years will be enough to make war on a large scale impossible, at any rate for a long 336 time. But it is also true—and this is what is weighing on the spirits of every noble Lord in this House—that there is a strong drift towards war actually going on in Europe at this moment, and there is a feeling that safeguards against it are not increasing in strength. I remember that it was said about the time of the Conference at San Francisco that the League of Nations had failed to preserve peace because it lacked "teeth." I will not inquire whether that is true or not. It is enough to say that, in point of fact, whatever teeth it had were not used.
Therefore the San Francisco negotiators set up a new system. As your Lordships know, a Security Council was created and given large powers to settle international quarrels by diplomatic negotiation, enforced by diplomatic pressure and, if necessary, by international military force, and there were provisions for the creation of that force, coupled with an express undertaking (by Clause 25) that all the United Nations would comply with the directions of the Security Council. Then, having gone so far as that, the negotiators of the Charter, were faced with the difficulty of what was to be done if, in point of fact, the nations did not comply. If it were only a small nation that was recalcitrant, a threat of action by its bigger neighbours would, no doubt, quickly bring it into line. Experience in several cases under the League has shown that this was so. But what if it was one of the big Powers? It became clear that some of them, even in the atmosphere of San Francisco, were not ready to undertake to comply with orders by an international authority when they thought those orders were wrong. That was true, not only of Russia, but, at that time, much more of the United States also. Indeed, the larger the Power the less ready was it to submit. That was a difficulty quite familiar to us when we were trying to build up the League of Nations at Paris. Anything proposed there which would have given to the organs of the League the right to compel all its members to obey international orders was stigmatised as an attempt to make the League into a super-State, and had to be abandoned. So a different plan was adopted at that time.
I venture to ask your Lordships' attention to a few words on the subject because I think it has a bearing on the present 337 time. The plan proceeded on these lines. Aggression was not made, in so many words, a crime—as later on it came to be—yet members of the League were practically forbidden to resort to war in support of their claim. If any state did so, it was to be deemed to have committed an act of aggression against other members of the League, who were authorised and encouraged to take action against the aggressor. But it was left to each State, after consultation with the others, to take what action seemed right to it to take. In other words, every member of the League was bound to prevent aggression, but there was no super-State which could compel them to take any particular action. State sovereignty was so far recognised that no State was required to sacrifice its blood and treasure in a war of which it did not approve, though it was hoped that international public opinion would increasingly insist on international solidarity against aggression. That was the plan, and for a time it worked quite well. I believe that international opinion was not then ready for any more rigid system.
Anyhow, at San Francisco a quite rigid system was set up, with the Security Council in the position of what we used to call a super-State. And then, to meet the powerful opposition to which I have referred, it was declared that no action, except in matters of procedure, should be taken by the Council without the consent of all the five Permanent Powers. That is the well-known Veto. I will not discuss the effect of that arrangement on the general work of the Council, nor the devices which have been, and are being, tried to "liberalise" its action—that is, to avoid the Veto. But, as I understand, at present no proposal has been made to get rid of the Veto on the use of force against an aggressor. That is to say, if any of the Great Powers became, or threatened to become, an aggressor, or instigated or supported another Power so to act, no action of any sort could be taken against it under the Charter except with its own consent.
That seems to me to be a very serious state of things. We should certainly regard it as a strange position here if criminal proceedings instituted against a great capitalist or a great democrat could not be proceeded with if the accused refused his assent. In feudal times, I 338 believe, there was a system something like that, but it is not one generally admired now. And yet, if the conception of the Security Council as a super-State—attractive as the idea is—be once accepted, the essential difficulty of enforcing its orders against a great Power becomes apparent. I think the plan adopted at San Francisco was a bad one, and the more I see of it, the less I like it. It seems absurd to construct elaborate machinery for preserving peace and yet to leave unrestrained those wars which are a real danger to world security—namely, wars likely to develop into world wars. But I also think that to try to compel a great Power to go to war against its will is very difficult.
What can be done? I put aside schemes for economic co-operation, because, admirable as they are, I see no evidence in history that commercial interests have been sufficiently strong to prevent war. I feel grave doubts as to whether amendment of the Charter is the right solution. The position and powers of the Security Council are vital to the whole scheme of that document, and as I have said, there is little probability that the great Powers would agree to abandon their veto on directions by the Security Council in which they have not concurred. Moreover, as your Lordships are well aware, no amendment to the Charter can be made without the consent of the Permanent Powers. It is true that under Clause 51 of the Charter the right of self-defence against "armed attack" is preserved to each Power. I have seen a good deal of reliance placed on that clause, but it appears to apply only to "armed attack" and not to threatened aggression. Nor is it clear to me that, if one State is attacked, the clause gives other States the right to go to its assistance. In any case, no machinery is provided for the enforcement of this right. At best, Article 51 does not seem to me to go further than to say that whatever rights of self-defence any country has outside the Charter it shall still possess. In other words, had the Charter existed at the time of Germany's invasion of Poland, assuming that Germany had been one of the Permanent Powers, we should have been no better off than we were then.
It seems to me that for any scheme of international peacekeeping there must be 339 a definite undertaking by the peace-loving Powers that they will unite in suppressing any aggression or threat of aggression. Aggression is now unquestionably criminal. The Nuremberg decision has made that clear. Moreover, I understand that some steps have been taken by the United Nations towards the embodiment in a special Convention of the principles there laid down. It is to this that I desire to draw special attention. I earnestly hope that our Government are prepared to use their whole influence in support of this movement, and, indeed, to quicken it. So far as I can learn, the position at present seems to be that the United Nations have not gone further than to agree to the appointment of a Legal Commission to consider the codification of International Law, especially with regard to the prevention of aggression. That commission, I learn, are not to be appointed until next Autumn and it is not proposed that there should be any actual result of that consultation for some months, or even years, afterwards. In view of the existing state of international relations, that can scarcely be regarded as in any sense satisfactory.
It seems to be expected that the Commission will endorse the proposition that aggression is an international crime which it is the duty of all peace loving States to prevent. That is no doubt implied in the Charter, but it does not appear to be stated in so many words in that document. It would be an advance to have it expressly stated; but that would not be enough. In the debate on atomic energy which we had a few days ago, the general note of gloom was apparent in all the speeches. I have always felt the difficulty that, even if we succeed in establishing a system of control over the use of atomic energy in time of peace, once war breaks out the control set up will cease to function. Each belligerent will be free to prepare atomic bombs and, I am afraid, will do so. In my view, the only really effective protection against mass destruction by atomic weapons is the maintenance of peace. For that and for other reasons I strongly support the adoption as soon as possible of a Convention for the prevention of aggression. In war nowadays victory is not enough. The outbreak of war in itself will entail a colossal destruction for all, whatever 340 may be its ultimate results. That, I think, is generally admitted.
As for the terms of the Convention, no doubt they will have to insist that the principles of peace should be made effective. If that is left to the Security Council we shall be no further forward. Some form of veto will no doubt be insisted upon. That is why I urge that the signatories of the new Convention, by making it clear that aggression is criminal and by calling on all such signatories to combine in enforcing the principle, will leave it to each Power to say, after consultation with the others, what actual steps each of them shall take. The position would then be as follows. The powers of the Security Council would remain as they are. If it were desired under the Charter to compel any Power to use force against an aggressor, that could be done only with the consent of the five Permanent Powers. But, in addition and as ancillary to these provisions, all the nations who accepted the proposed Convention would be bound to do their best to prevent aggression, and would be expressly authorised to consult with one another as to what could best be done with that object. Whatever they agreed upon, of course, they would be bound to carry out. But if any of them did not agree, then those who adopted that attitude might stand aside and the others could proceed without them.
No doubt it is true that this or indeed any scheme for the prevention of war can succeed only if the Powers intend that it should. They may not, and that would be the end of our civilisation. But I hope that the certainty of the danger that now threatens us, and its catastrophic character, are so clear that all must see them. There are two groups of critics of any policy of this kind. One group hold that nothing short of world government, in one form or another, is of any use. Such people despise and even hate the United Nations. It seems to me obvious that if world government is to be attained, as I hope it will be ultimately, it can be only as a result of prolonged international training, such as ought to be provided by the machinery of the United Nations. And if complaint is made that progress there is very slow, then that only shows what a long way we have to go. On the other hand, others urge that no direct measures for enforcing peace are of any avail, and 341 that all we can do is to build up international solidarity and leave the result to Heaven. That seems to me rather like the people who object to sanitary precautions against disease on the ground that they are flying in the face of providence.
I am not sure what difference to the situation has been made by the Prime Minister's statement last Monday—repeated here to-day—as to the aim of the so-called Five-Power negotiations. Even if they are to include further measures for the mutual defence of the live Powers, a world-wide conference, specifically directed against aggression, would still seem necessary. We do not want to drift back into the old system of alliances and the balance of power. I hope that we may receive further information on this subject before the debate closes. I believe that the longing for peace is intense and overwhelming. I know that there are many difficulties in the way, and that in the end nothing but agreement on fundamental beliefs can secure peace. But steps such as I have ventured to press upon your Lordships would be an advance. Few countries would be prepared to persevere in aggression openly condemned and resisted by the great majority of international opinion. We can only hope that if and when that is made certain it will be a preparation for still further progress.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT TEMPLEWOOD
My Lords, the impressive speeches which we have had to-day—and not least the last speech from the Nestor of collective security, to which we have all listened with such interest and appreciation—have already more than justified this debate. It seems to me that it is very important to have a debate of this kind. Contemporaries always find difficulty in realising the magnitude of a crisis through which their times are passing. Being human beings, we are obsessed with our own day-to-day problems, and we do not always realise the great issues that are before the world. I always think as symbolic of that state of affairs of one of Breughal's masterpieces, in which Icarus is falling from the clouds but the ploughman down below does not look round, and merely goes on with the ridge and furrow of his own field. That is the danger in these great crises which are taking place around us, and it takes a debate like this to bring 342 public opinion here, and in the world at large, back to the realities of the challenge with which we are faced. This particular crisis is unlike a great many historic crises, which came about almost imperceptibly. Here this crisis has come about, shall I say, with the clash of a tragic drama: on the one hand, Marshall and the plan of European recovery; on the other hand, Molotov and the pure Marxist doctrine of armed revolution and the collapse of capitalism. The world has never had so clear choice before it, or been faced with so distinctive a contrast. I ask myself the question whether the world at large always realises the implications of this great challenge.
I have just come back from the United States and, in particular, from a tour of the great cities of the Middle West. I had the opportunity—no doubt only as a superficial observer, but none the less the opportunity—of comparing the American attitude and our own attitude towards what they call the European Recovery Programme and what we call the Marshall plan. Let me suggest to your Lordships, in a few sentences, the impressions with which my visit left me. First of all, it left me with the impression that there is still a good deal of misunderstanding about the object of the Marshall plan. Secondly, it convinced me that if the plan is to succeed, it needs behind it the fervour of a crusade. Thirdly, if that fervour is to be sustained, it needs the swift and active co-operation of Western Europe. Let me say a word or two about each of those impressions.
First of all, there is the misunderstanding in some quarters, both here and in America, about the plan itself. Some people seem to regard it as a plan for saving capitalism. Others—the Trades Union Congress, for instance—regard it as a plan for establishing Socialism in Europe. Others look upon it as a kind of Maginot Line, set up against the Iron Curtain to defend the Western Bloc. My own view is that these local and partial supports do damage to the great conception of the plan. The plan is a plan for re-establishing the values of Christian civilisation that were so well described towards the end of his speech by the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham. The more there is of this partial, and sometimes partisan, support, the more the Plan appears only as a tactical movement in 343 a political campaign. I would therefore venture to say that the bigger we can make the plan appear here, the bigger and more comprehensive we can make it appear in the United States, the more likely it is to pass quickly; and, even more important than passing quickly, the more likely it is to develop in the future in its full scope.
When I was in the United States I seemed to notice in certain quarters some feeling of disillusionment and disappointment. I had the impression that a good many Americans were wondering whether the post-war America would go the way of inter-war America. It seems to me that in the Marshall plan, if it is kept upon this big and inspiring level, the American people can find the kind of motive in life that so many of them seem to need, and it can give them the opportunity for using for the world the immense power that they now possess.
Now I come to my third impression, the impression of the urgent need of European co-operation. Wherever I went in the United States I was asked questions about European co-operation. It was clear to me that in all the great cities of the Middle West, whilst they were ready to play their part they were still doubtful whether Europe was ready to play its part. We have heard to-day from the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, some encouraging words of the manner in which the Government are attempting to approach the question of greater European unity. I can only say to him that much is expected of us in the United States if the Marshall plan is to avoid heavy weather in the future. Perhaps too much is being expected. It seemed to me that there were quite a number of people who were imagining that quite quickly—perhaps in the next few weeks or the next few months—there would emerge from Western Europe a Western Europe constitution in the spirit of Alexander Hamilton and 1787.
Without pouring cold water upon this great conception, I ventured to point out some of the difficulties and to remind them that even on the American continent—there are sixteen countries there, curiously enough the same number as the sixteen countries of Western Europe—after more than a century and a quarter, the fourteen Spanish-speaking republics 344 have failed to achieve the objective of Latin-American Federation for which in the early part of the nineteenth century Bolivar had worked so hard. Be that as it may, the fact that such great expectations are being placed upon European co-operation does emphasise my point that the Government there and the Governments of Western Europe must move more quickly and more definitely than has at present been the case.
I realise the difficulties of obtaining the full co-operation of a number of Western Governments. None the less there is the fact that the Oliver Franks Committee of European Reconstruction reported as long ago as last September. They made a concrete and specific series of recommendations. I do not know what progress has been made, and I do not think any member of the general public knows what progress has been made. Let me remind the House of the actual recommendation the Committee made. I will quote from the official summary of the Committee's Report. It was a programme that was to be achieved by 1951. We are getting near 1951; we are six months nearer than we were last September. The Report had as its main objectives:
I ask the noble Viscount when he comes to end this debate to give the House some information as to what has been happening with these concrete proposals for 345 greater economic unity in Western Europe. I feel that we must press for information. If we are to keep an interest in the Marshall plan, it is essential that the public should be given as much information as possible about what is happening. The time is getting very short if this great and ambitious programme is to be achieved by 1951. Suppose we fail to convince the United States of America that we are making effective progress upon these lines. What will be the result? The result will be that the old Isolationism that is now almost dead, as I saw for myself in the Middle West, will once again show its head. Americans will say: "What is the good of our making this tremendous effort to help Europe if it is going to be only a dole; if it is not going to re-establish European stability; if it is not going to be met by a co-operative effort upon the part of the Western countries of Europe? Why should we bother about Europe at all?"
- "(i) Restoration of pre-war bread grain and other cereal production, with large increases above pre-war in sugar and potatoes, some increases in oils and fats, and as fast an expansion in livestock products as supplies of feeding stuffs will allow.
- (ii) Increase of coal output to 584 million tons, i.e., 145 million tons above the 1947 level (an increase of one-third) and 30 million tons above the 1938 level.
- (iii) Expansion of electricity output by nearly 70 billion KWH or 40 per cent. above 1947 and a growth of generating capacity by 25 million Kw or two-thirds above pre-war.
- (iv) Development of oil refining capacity in terms of crude oil throughput by 17 million tons to two and a half times the pre-war level.
- (v) Increase of crude steel production by 80 per cent. above 1947 to a level of 55 million tons or 10 million tons (20 per cent.) above 1938.
- (vi) Expansion of inland transport facilities to carry a 25 per cent. greater load in 1951 than in 1938.
- (vii) Restoration of pre-war merchant fleets of the participating countries by 1951.
- (viii) Supply from European production of most of the capital equipment needed for these expansions."
I had an interesting experience that is still very vivid in my mind. I went to a small country town in Ohio. It was the centre of a great agricultural district. The farmers of the neighbourhood (no doubt for the reason that they had never heard me speak before) crowded from miles across the snow to listen to what I had to say. It was clear to me that here were farmers who had gone to the Middle West because Europe had not given them a future. They had left the troubles of Europe that had impeded their lives in the past, and had gone to these lonely homesteads in the West, as far from New York as from Moscow. I thought to myself the whole time, "How can you persuade these men, so remote from Europe, to agree to a programme that is going to send large numbers of tractors and harvesters to Europe, when they themselves have an unsatisfied demand for agricultural implements in the States, unless it is quite obvious to them that Europe is making a great effort and that the effort is likely to result in the re-establishment of civilised life in the West?" I could not help being impressed by such a question in all these meetings that I had in the Middle West.
It seems to me that we should not think of the United States as a great Eldorado, so rich in food, raw materials and luxuries that it can well afford to scatter them about the world. No doubt the 346 United States is immensely rich, but, none the less, what did surprise me was that the priorities that we require in Europe are just the priorities that happen to be short in the United States. I went there under the impression that there were no shortages at all, but I found many shortages. During the blizzard which swept New York I found whole districts of the city without light and heat. I found the rolling stock on the railways urgently needing greater supplies of steel. I went to Detroit and I found: here the whole of the motor industry shut down and 300,000 unemployed in the streets because there was no gas and no coal. I found the housing problem, though no doubt much less serious than the housing problem here, so serious that hundreds of thousands of American men, women and children, were living in Army huts and trailers and all sorts of temporary accommodation.
These facts proved to me that the Marshall plan is not a gift of superfluities but is definitely a sharing of necessities with us in Europe in the interests of a great ideal. If that be so, it is essential that we here in Europe and in Great Britain should play our part. The American people have very warm hearts, and they have never been so friendly to us as they are to-day. They are anxious to play their part in the re-establishment of Christian civilisation. But, being also people with hard heads, they are not prepared to play that part—perhaps the greatest that has ever been played by a people in modern history—unless they see signs here and in Europe of a much quicker approach than we have hitherto seen towards greater union—political, economic and defensive—in Western Europe. That being so I hope that when the noble Viscount, Lord Addison, comes to reply he will give some further information as to how the programme is proceeding, and will assure us that the recommendations I read out to the House are likely to be carried out between now and 1951.
§ 5.6 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
My Lords, I am sure your Lordships will have listened with great attention and profit to the valuable account of his experiences in the United States of America given by the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood. I think your Lordships will also agree that the warning which he has given 347 is a very salutary one, for in this matter of the Marshall plan and in the matter of Western Union and the whole organisation for the preservation of the West, there is great need of speed. Time is not on our side. We must not be content with being in the position of receivers. Immediate action has to be taken if the West is to be saved. In urging immediate action for the preservation of the West, I am not undervaluing—I think it well to say this—the work done in many ways by the Soviet régime for the Russian population, especially on the economic side. Moreover, science and art are honoured in Russia in a way which we might well emulate here. But what shocks the Western conscience is the price at which these achievements are bought: the police State; the far-reaching suppression of personal liberty; and a system founded upon the employment of, at a conservative estimate, 15,000,000 persons in forced labour.
But in relation to this question of speed and of the need of speed, I cannot help thinking that the prolonged uncertainty of British policy is one cause of the present crisis, besides the Soviet policy of ever-expanding control. There was far too much uncertainty as to British policy before the War. I wish those of your Lordships who have not done so would read the diaries of Ambassador von Hassell for 1938–1944, in which he describes the effect of British and Allied passivity and irresolution in the dark days when Hitler's tyranny grew. From these diaries and from other recent books, such as To the Bitter End, and Allen Dulles' Germany's Underground, the public is at last beginning to recognise the extent of the intellectual and moral distinction of the German opposition to Hitler. It was our failure to withstand Hitler in the early stages of his criminal career that unloosed the Second World War; and during the war, while the British people showed an unflinching resolution in military effort, we paid far too little attention to the political weapons, and failed to distinguish between the Nazi gangsters and the champions in Germany of Western democracy who gave their lives for freedom. Nor did we plan then for the future peace and settlement of Europe. On the contrary, we often made the future settlement and the rebuilding of Europe far more difficult, 348 especially by the demand for unconditional surrender and by the obliteration in air attack of vast areas of the principal German towns.
If we yielded to Hitler before the war, we yielded far too much to Russia during the war, both at Teheran and at Yalta. After the war, we yielded too much to Russia at Potsdam and at San Francisco. In this tragic situation, there is just time for us to be saved if we have the will to learn the lessons of the past. The first lesson is that passivity and irresolution must be avoided like the plague. Consider what von Hassell said in his diary for June 20, 1939, about irresolution then:There is increasing tension in the international field. English policies appear to be completely stymied. The Soviets, recognising this situation, blackmail England. In a desperate effort to get an agreement, she yields one position after another.Are we still to be completely stymied, or, what is just as dangerous, much too slow to-day? I am one of those who cleave to peace and to moral principles, which are dearer than peace. The maintenance of peace and the preservation of the West are, I believe, indivisible. It is time now for action—swift and concerted action—between the Western Powers.
The next question is: What kind of action is to be taken? As we have been asked to do in a series of notable speeches this afternoon, we have to look again at Europe. To those who care for Western civilisation, Europe itself is the Fatherland. It has la valeur d'une patrie, into which all member countries seek to fit. The cause of European unity is a sacred cause. I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, say so emphatically that we should all like to see Europe united. We should all like to see Europe united on the Western pattern, with fredom for all Parties to take part in national government. But it is no use thinking that Russia can agree to a European unity of any other than the Communist type. I believe that the only way to avoid a quarrel of a disastrous kind is to accept the fact that Europe is divided, that the largest part of Eastern Europe and some part of central Europe are united under Communist control, and then to take immediate steps to unify the Western nations. If we do not unify them forthwith, there will be 349 less and less left to unify, as the months and the weeks pass by.
I am sure that in saying that Britain must play her part in the unification of the West, I am speaking for multitudes of decent, peace-loving, ordinary British men and women. I appeal to His Majesty's Government to do full justice to the native British tradition which treats freedom as a jewel beyond price, and not to be misled (and I know from what the noble Lord has said that they are not going to be misled) by a small minority of those who still think that you can do what Russian Communists want and not be swallowed. However, the term "Western Union" has to be defined. I believe that we are in serious danger of being mesmerised by phrases. The mere throwing out of general phrases like "Western Association" or "Western Union" or "spiritual union" is not enough. It is time for definition and action, unless we are all to be drowned. So there must be a common economic plan in which all shall join; there must be some sort of common political structure, and there must be a real military alliance. I would say that there should be a Council of Western States, with a Cabinet of Ministers having authority from their own national Governments for a common economic and political plan and for a common defensive scheme, however flexible that Cabinet may be.
The Marshall plan is the indispensable background of Western unity, and we can hardly speak too strongly of the greatness of American initiative here. However, I was glad to hear what the noble Viscount who has just spoken said. Unless the Western European States make the most of their productive capacity and act together quickly with the help of this plan, no Marshall plan can save them. I am also sure that France must take a conspicuous place in the leadership of the Western Union. There is no provocation in this Western Union. Indeed, it is the only way for the solution of the grave European problems without war. We are, or we may be, at the end of a Thirty Years War of the twentieth century. Let us learn a lesson from the Thirty Years War of 1618 to 1648. That war was very bitter, beginning, as it happened, in Prague, with the revolt of the Protestant nobles against the Catholic Emperor. It was a straggle for the supremacy of Europe. It was also a struggle between 350 two religions, ranging far and wide, with Germany as the principal battleground. Her villages were burned, her towns were depopulated and her soldiers and civilians were the victims of, a terrible hunger. At last the rival powers determined to seek peace, and the peace of Westphalia was based on the recognition of accomplished fact. All land in Catholic hands on an agreed day was to remain Catholic, and all land in Protestant hands was to remain Protestant. The religious and the territorial problems were both solved and the historian Wakeman says:Both sides had in the process of time become aware that they could not destroy the other and had learned, if they did not admit, the necessity of toleration.The Treaty of Westphalia was signed exactly three hundred years ago in Munster and Osnabruck, two towns now in the British zone of Germany. It is a good precedent for to-day.
The future of Germany is bound up with the future of Europe. I appreciate what the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham said about the improvement in the conditions of internment camps and other similar matters, and I am grateful to him for the great personal energy which he has consistently shown. But he admits that coal and food are in a bad way, and that we need the co-operation of the German people, or the German agents, farmers and others, in different walks of life. He put his finger on at any rate one part of the answer to his question, when he named the unceasing difficulties caused by the lack of a proper currency; and if the noble Lord will look again at Appendix IV of the Report of the Select Committee on Estimates, and study the memorandum by the Chief of the Food and Agricultural Division in that Appendix, he will see how much there is to be said on the side of the farmers in their present condition and the struggle with the black market.
The noble Lord and everybody knows that Germany needs food and coal, a relief from ever-tightening bonds and, above all, the assurance that there is a political and economic hope for 63,000,000 souls in the heart of Europe. If she cannot get those hopes from the West, the inevitable consequences are plain. The aim of British policy is the unity of Germany on a political and economic basis, in a form in which German citizens are free, and 351 which also protects Europe against a revival of German military power. The aim of Russian policy is also the unity of Germany, but the only basis on which Russia will consent to unity is the Communist basis. Germany, however, belongs to the West, and to Western civilization, and the Communist basis would be the death knell of all hopes of German freedom. The only positive course possible for Britain, if British policy is not to be stymied, is to unify as much of Germany as possible—to effect the unification on Western lines, those of Parliamentary democracy, of all that part of Germany not under Russian control; and for the British, the Americans and the French to remain in occupation until more settled times. Therefore—and this is a matter of haste—I urge that we should proceed as swiftly as we can to the unification, politically and economically, of the three Western zones.
Here, too, France has a great rôle to play. In the long run it is on her more than on any other single European Power—and perhaps any other single Power—that the peace of the West depends, a peace which Britain and the United States play their full part with her in maintaining. If only France and Germany could end the quarrel of centuries, how great a burden of fear and misery would be lifted. I would urge, further—terms between France and Germany having been mutually agreed—that Western Germany should have the full benefit of the Marshall plan, as indeed I understand from a Government statement on Monday, and to-day echoed here, is to be the case. I would urge also that it should have its full place in the Western Union. I urge that it is high time to give Germany a real initiative. Whatever zone or combination of zones you consider, it has fewer rights now than the smallest Crown Colony. Her place, demilitarised, in the Western Union is an essential place, subject to the requirements of military security. She should have, and I believe will have, what has been told us to-day—an equal basis with other partners in the Western Union, with freedom to say in what form she can best make her contribution.
Obviously we shall get far more out of her in that way, both in confidence and co-operation. It is a tragedy to have to give up the hope of all Germany being united at the present moment, but the 352 unification of the three Western zones—and they must all three come together—means no act of hostility to Russia. We make it clear from the start that our ideal is the unification of the whole, and it is most desirable that the Allies of the West should retain their place in Berlin for the discussion of common problems. But this unification of Western Germany as part of the Western Union has the advantage of a frank recognition of accomplished facts, and it is the only way to secure a solution of the German problem without war. It is not now Catholics and Protestants who are in conflict; indeed there are far closer links between the Catholics and Protestants throughout Germany than ever before, because of their common interest in the rights of man and the rights of God. I believe that the faith to which both adhere offers the only basis for a sound ordering of social and international life.
All over Europe, as well as in Germany, the opposing interests are different to-day. It is a clash between the Communist and Western views of life, between the totalitarian State and Parliamentary democracy. Russia has full control over the East of Germany and most of the East of Europe; we ought to secure a similar Western control for the three Western zones and the West of Europe. If we do that, if we unify the three Western German zones, and achieve a Union of the Western nations in which Germany plays her part, then by means of a new peace like the Peace of Westphalia 300 years ago, built on accomplished facts, we may make a powerful and lasting contribution to the peace of the world. If we do not do that then, sooner or later, there will be a relentless war and all the zones of Germany and both Russia and the West will be crushed.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ LORD VANSITTART
My Lords, the horizon of 1948 is dark indeed, and will probably get darker; but there are still some gleams of sunshine for our comfort and guidance. The first of those is the very great difference between a hostile State and an enemy State. Thus all Nazi policy was hostile both to this country and to peace; so, for that matter, was the whole of German policy for fifty years. If that had been recognised sooner it is possible that both world wars would have 353 been avoided. If we had remained armed, united and mistrustful, the hostile State need not have degenerated into the enemy State. Now we must apply that lesson. We have got to revolutionise our thinking, and the first step in that revolution is to recognise that all totalitarian States are alike in all that matters—in their aims, in their methods and in their cruelties.
As early as 1934 there was a bitter riddle which was being bandied among anti-Nazi Germans. It ran: "What is the difference between Germany and Russia?" And the answer was: "It is colder in Russia." All totalitarian States are fundamentally hostile to all democracies. One of the outstanding differences, however, is that the German variety took rather more pains to conceal its intentions than the Russian variety. After all, what could be more open than the resurrection of the Comintern or the Cominform, whichever you like, and the outburst of Zdhanov which accompanied it? What could be more open than the fact that Communism everywhere has passed from the period of infiltration into the period of open seizure—as in the case of Czechoslovakia—or into the period of open incitement to revolution and civil war, as in France and Italy? When we have once recognised this family likeness, which is not that of cousins but of brothers—and indeed not of ordinary brothers but of triplets—we must, obviously, adapt our policy accordingly.
Every thought, word and deed of the Soviet Government for the last three years has been hostile to this country, and, as I think, also to peace. But there is still time to prevent the hostile State from becoming the enemy State. We must recognise that and act quickly, because there are three or four other points where any further Soviet aggression might be fraught with grievous consequences. Great wars are not begun by little countries, but they have often been begun in little countries. Several previous speakers in this debate—notably the Earl of Perth, the Earl of Halifax and, I think, Lord Pakenham—have wondered what is the basis of Soviet foreign policy. I can give your Lordships with complete certainty the answer to a great deal of that. What I have to say in this connection is not a matter of speculation but of knowledge. In January, 1947, Mr. Molotov laid down 354 that for the next three years no one would have the courage or the ability to stand up to Communism by force, and, therefore, during those three years the conquest of Europe might be achieved. If I had needed any confirmation of that it came at the end of last year. One of his henchmen, Herr Koplenig, the Austrian Communist leader, said publicly at that time that if Communism could get a free hand for another two years it would achieve not only the conquest of Europe but of the world.
I would ask your Lordships to note the exact concordance of Mr. Molotov's timetable. Twelve months of the original period for a free hand have gone and the three years are reduced to two. It was only the extent of the conquest which was increased. Herr Koplenig has thus informed us that to-day we are living in 1937—or the equivalent of 1937. I do not dissent from that for a moment. I said so before he did. And I would go further and say that we are living in the equivalent of 1938. What Stalin has done recently in Czechoslovakia shows clearly that he would run the risk of a European war just as recklessly as Hitler were it not for the restraining factor of American strength—a factor which was unknown in 1938. Well, living in 1938 or its equivalent, as we are, it is only fair to say, subject to certain considerations that 1939 need not have followed. Now in the ante-chamber of 1948, we may reflect that neither 1949 nor 1959 need necessarily reproduce the events of 1939 if we learn from the past and act accordingly. We can still have peace: no one would put it higher than that. We can still have peace, subject to six conditions.
The first condition is that we must henceforth attune our minds to look upon Stalin in a similar light to Hitler. We must never again, therefore, place any undue reliance on any Treaty concluded with any totalitarian country. I have explained several times in your Lordships' House that no totalitarian ever keeps a Treaty. It just is not done. Agreement in itself is an admirable thing. I am sure that a great many of your Lordships were brought up, as I was, on the Victorian nursery maxim that: "Birds in their little nests agree." But you all know how Mr. Hilaire Belloc rewrote that:Birds in their little nests agreeWith Chinamen, but not with me.355 In other words, you can get a very indigestible agreement by running after it. I hope that we shall abandon that practice. If there is any running to be done let the Russians do it to us. I hope that we shall finally get rid of the delusion under which we have laboured for nearly three years, the delusion that we are trying to make a peace about Germany. We have been doing nothing of the kind. What we have been trying to do is to conclude a peace with totalitarian Russia. We have not been able to do so; you can never conclude a peace with anyone who is possessed by the lust of world domination. It was for that reason that during the whole of the inter-war years I maintained that we should not conclude a peace with totalitarian Germany.
We could have kept a strong peace with totalitarian Germany, and we can still do the same with totalitarian Russia, subject to my second condition. That condition is that we should maintain our strength. I am not going to say much about that because it was dealt with fully in another place on Monday. But it should be remarked that after the First World War we disarmed too quickly, and rearmed too slowly. Now, once again, we have got into the position of weakness which has laid us open to some unjustified contempt in South America and may lead us into more concrete danger if we do not correct that fairly soon—indeed very soon. The debate in another place the other day will not, I think, have eased anyone's apprehensions, because the truth is that we are in a period of most perilous transition at a moment when the circumstances least warrant it. I hope that we may get out of that quickly.
I hope very much that the Government have not been persuaded or advised to act on any assumption that a definite period of peace can be counted upon. We had something of that kind in the inter-war period, and it acted as a great handicap to our preparations. It was always being put forward by one year, so that we never approached any nearer to reality. Some of us had great difficulty in getting rid of it. I came to the conclusion in 1933 that peace could not be counted upon after the beginning of 1938; but nobody in their senses would allow for such a breathing space now. The circumstances are entirely different. Germany had emerged beaten from the Great 356 War. Now Russia has emerged victorious, and not only armed but constantly pronouncing that more and more re-armament must take place.
The third condition is that we should have a long-term foreign policy; and that must be uncompromisingly anti-totalitarian. It must be against all the things we know to be evil and cruel and unjust, and, above all, against any more of this reactionary expansionism. And it must be uncompromisingly for all those liberties and amenities of life towards which we have struggled for centuries. But during the forty-five years in which I have been connected with diplomacy, I cannot honestly say that I have ever known a British Government in possession of a really long-term policy. It has always seemed to me to be short, or, at best, medium. Now for the first time, since January 22, since Mr. Bevin's speech in the House of Commons, we do seem to be moving towards what I would really call a long-term foreign policy—that of Western Union. We are only at the beginning of it and words are not deeds, but I am sure we shall all expect great things after March 15.
Obviously, the first plank in that long-term policy must be Western Union, and that is my fourth point. I shall say little of that at the present time. It has been touched upon by other speakers. It was a subject on which I spoke in this House several years ago, long before there was any Marshall plan. I will add only that it is a matter of utmost urgency for Western civilisation. I would urge the Government to remember the inscription on the sundial:It is always later than you think,and I would add that the bellowings of the Communists in the French Assembly—exactly the same noise as was made by the Nazis in the Reichstag—ought to ring as an urgent warning in the ears of wise men in the West. We wish the Secretary of State Godspeed, but emphasis is on the speed.
The fifth point is that we should maintain the closest union with the United States. That point is so obvious I shall not labour it. The House is already aware of all the arguments there are. I shall pick out one of the scores which will occur to your imaginations. Herr Koplenig says that we are living in 1937. Well, if the United States in 1937 had offered 357 us their full help and co-operation, would any one have declined it? If so, he should have been certified as an "18 B.F." A little while ago Mr. Sidney Silverman in another place described the Americans as "a bunch of shabby moneylenders." I imagine even he would have preferred the taint of capitalist co-operation to a war in which 6,000,000 of his co-religionists perished. We shall continue to have our differences with the United States, and I, for one, regret very much their weakening on the federal solution in Germany. When the noble Earl, Lord Perth, was speaking, I heard him condemn my letter to The Times in regard to the necessity of a federal solution. I was more or less prepared for that. As a matter of fact, he has never agreed with anything I have said, and I bear his disagreement on this occasion without surprise or dismay. We must, however, allow no wedge-driving between us and our American Allies.
The sixth condition is that we should henceforth be alert and stalwart to repel all totalitarian myths and libels. For that purpose, if I may say so, it is necessary that social democracy everywhere should show a greater instinct of self-preservation than has been the case for the last twenty years. It is really necessary that the noble Lords on the Left and their corresponding numbers in Europe—or what is left of them, alas!—should realise that Eastern totalitarians are just as bent on eliminating the whole lot of them as German totalitarians were on crushing social democracy in Germany. From that point of view I was greatly heartened by the statement made by the National Executive of the Labour Party which appears in the Press this morning. That is talking—and I hope it is more than talking. I hope it will be acted on. The noble Lords on the Left have a considerable rôle to fulfil in the coming year. Who better than they can explode the myth of economic democracy? We all know perfectly well that economic democracy standing alone is nothing at all. It is nothing without political democracy. That needs to be driven in every time. The Prime Minister has begun it, but it needs to be put over the whole time. And while we are about it, why should we not explain in detail what economic democracy has meant in Eastern Europe? What it has meant in practice is just this. Those wretched little 358 countries, after having been thoroughly looted by Russian imperialism, are now being thoroughly exploited by Russian imperialism. All the wagtails have been turned on to work for the Russian cuckoo. And if any one of you have seen a cuckoo in the nest asking for more, you will understand. You can see half-way down its throat. You can see the whole way down M. Molotov's throat. Let me point to the iniquitous and exorbitant terms he is asking of Austria. I think some of that material might well be used. The Soviet attitude at the present moment is really an impossible ore, I regret to say. I am trying to show how best it can be rectified.
We should now realise that, treaty or no treaty, the Soviet Government will continue their policy of trying to dominate all Germany. If they cannot dominate the whole now, they will continue to rule with a rod of iron the part that they do dominate already. They have reduced it to a police State, with all the concentration camps plentifully stocked with social-democrats. Treaty or no Treaty, they will pursue this line in two ways—Left and Right. On the Left, of course, they will continue to use their stooge party, the Socialist Unity Party, and they will continue to back that Party to the limit. That means the elimination of every other Party. The Socialist Party are already gone in Eastern Germany, and the Christian Democrats are on their way out, too. The Liberal Democrats have already been sold by their servile leader, Kuelz. For this purpose, too, the Soviet Government will use the so-called People's Congress. That People's Congress, I am glad to say, has been recognised for what it is—at least, I hope so—by the Government. I understand they have already taken stern action against it. I suggest that their severities should go still further. We should give these Communazis no rein at all in Western Germany. I should like to point out on this subject that it was to these Communazis that the Zilliacus clique sent a telegram of encouragement. It seems to me that shows either their colossal ignorance or their servility to the Kremlin.
But, of course, the Socialist Unity Party and the People's Congress are not enough, because their stoogery is too transparent. The Kremlin is now sidling up to German nationalism. They 359 attempted to make a separate peace with German nationalism in 1939 and they were very near to doing it again during the war. Now the same thing is being done all over again, for a third time. That, in view of what German nationalism has inflicted on the world, is really a very great crime. I knew this was going to happen, from the moment when the Kremlin set up the so-called Free German Committee during the war, and I said so publicly. Now Stalin is using the tools thus forged. Hitherto the job of the Socialist Unity Party has been to coo to the social-democrats that the enemy is on the Right. But when the Kremlin goes according to the Right, you will hear no more of that. On the contrary, the enemy is to the Left; it is you, my Lords of the Left, and you can listen every day to the ugly names they call you, day in and day out, in what Stalin himself called in 1930 (and I hope you have not forgotten the occasion) his "irreconcilable war against Social Democracy." I hope that phrase will not be so easily forgotten again; I think it has been too far overlooked during the last eighteen years. To the Right, therefore, the Kremlin promises power, power as principal satellite, and that is a bait that has always been very attractive.
You have heard a lot of the German Drang nach Osten—the German advance to the East. But you have heard a great deal less of other German advances to the East, and much more oleaginous ones called Ostorientierung, that has been a two-way traffic for 200 years. I will take only some of the latter phases of it in illustration. We all know that after the First World War the Russians re-armed the Germans in the prohibited categories of heavy weapons. We all know that at Rapallo the two expansionists, the frustrated and the débutante, got together again. But how many people have ever known or heard that when the Germans were finally beaten in 1918 Lenin tried to re-start in 1919 the Second World War that his successors, Stalin and Hitler, only brought off in 1939? In the beginning of December, 1918, he made to Herr Haase, the leader of the German Independent Socialists, a proposal that the war should be renewed in 1919 in conjunction as a so-called Jacobin war. But Herr Haase, though a man of the extreme Left, was a pacifist; and for that, of course, as you 360 know, he was murdered—and we possibly have not seen the end of that kind of thing yet.
When that was turned down by the German Left, Lenin addressed himself to the German Right. How many people have ever heard, for instance, that in 1920 Lenin proposed to German nationalism that iniquitous fourth partition of Poland, which again was brought off by Hitler and Stalin only in 1939? You will be very unlucky, my Lords, if in all these captured German documents you do not find a good deal about that. Anyhow, I can tell you exactly where to look. It occurred at the time when Fehrenbach was Chancellor, and Simons was Foreign Secretary. When you have found this fresh accumulation of dirt I hope you will be a little more forthcoming in using it than you have hitherto been about publishing the turpitudes of the Russo-German correspondence from 1939–41. When you are always being accused of misconduct in Western Germany, I cannot think why you do not hand out some of the rough stuff of which I have given you a few samples to-day. And if you want any more, I can give you plenty more, believe me. I really think you should retaliate. After all, the Americans have done it. Why not we?
I have only briefly re-opened these soiled pages of secret history to-day, because I want to show you that the Soviet Government have run true to form from the first. Therefore I do hope that we shall at last rid ourselves of the notion that in trying to make peace about one totalitarian Party with another totalitarian Party we shall ever get anything but the danger of the continual double-cross. Look, after all, at the Treaties that you have already concluded. The Treaties with the satellite countries have all been broken: (1) in regard to the clauses dealing with human rights; (2) in regard to the clauses prohibiting economic discrimination; (3) in at least one case they have been broken in clauses relating to military levels; (4) they are going to be broken in regard to the free navigation of the Danube; and (5) they will certainly be broken, also, in regard to their most important territorial provisions, unless we maintain the strength to enforce them. Mussolini often talked about turning the Mediterranean into an Italian Lake. Look at Stalin's policy in Greece. 361 in Italy and in France. Does that not come to the same thing? What is the difference between these dictators? I submit that what has happened in Czechoslovakia should really be the end to the era of illusion. It is much better for us to see things as they are; far better than once more to flounder forth on the road to Otherwise which runs along the precipice. I submit that if we will accept these six points, and act upon them with sufficient firmness, we can still have peace, but in no other way.
Before I sit down there is one other topic to which I must allude, and allude with regret. On January 22 in this House I put down a Motion on behalf of the husbands of the detained Russian wives. The Motion was unanimously adopted by the House, that the time had come for appropriate and effective action. I do not want to be in any way unfair about this matter. I know perfectly well that noble Lords on the Government Front Bench here, in accepting that Motion, could only do so ad referendum. But at the same time the noble Lord who replied to me did say—and it stands in Hansard—that he accepted that Motion on behalf of the Government. I feel sure all left this House—I am sure those unhappy husbands did—feeling a great deal better, because we were all convinced that something was going to be done. What, then, was my dismay to hear last week that the Foreign Secretary had announced in another place that not only was he not going to do anything further, but he was not even going to try, because he did not think it could possibly be effective. My answer to that, of course, would be: How do you know until you have tried?
This is not a matter that I can abandon. I am not prepared to be bullied by these tyrants in the Kremlin. They are bullies, and they need standing up to, and I certainly will not knuckle down to them. I do not expect the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, who is going to reply, to say anything further about it to-day, because obviously he will have to consult the Government again. What I am going to do is to put down another Motion. It will probably be some time before I can get a day and my hope is that between now and then the Government will have reconsidered the matter. But I shall ask for another Motion, in order that this matter may be really brought to a conclusion, because I 362 am sure that effective action can be taken, and that it should be taken.
§ 5.59 p.m.
§ LORD PETHICK-LAWRENCE
My Lords, I am sure your Lordships and the noble Lord who has just spoken will forgive me if I do not follow him into the precise aspect of the general question or into the specific question with which he concluded his speech. I propose instead to confine myself largely to one aspect of the question to which little reference has been made to-day except that it was slightly touched upon by my noble friend, Lord Pakenham. I agree with the last speaker and with the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, in the view that we are not at present in immediate sight of the shooting war, but there is no doubt that at the present time we are already at the stage of what the Americans call "the cold war." We have to understand what it involves and what steps we can take to prevent the cold war from becoming a shooting war in the future.
Let us be under no misunderstanding. If the cold war does become a shooting war the condition of Western Europe will be similar to that of Belgium down the centuries, when she was made the cockpit for the battle of countries greater than herself. Belgium, it is true, has survived those ordeals, but when your Lordships remember that the next war, if it comes, will certainly not exclude the use of atomic warfare, the condition of the whole of Western Europe, including this country, after such a war fought between the colossi of the nations, will be one which it is difficult to contemplate with equanimity. We have recently been brought face to face with the great gravity of this situation by the events in Czechoslovakia in the last few days. It is true that there are special circumstances relating to Czechoslovakia which differentiate it from other countries where we have seen similar events occurring. In Czechoslovakia they have memories of events in the past; they have memories of Munich, and we cannot expect the people of Czechoslovakia to be particularly fond of the Western Powers after the way they were let down at Munich.
But that is not the only point about Czechoslovakia. Owing to the agreements made at Yalta, and later at Potsdam, the position of Czechoslovakia 363 to-day is that it is almost—I think not completely—surrounded by Russia-dominated countries. It is cut off geographically from the West and to a greater extent ideologically than it was before the war. Those facts with regard to Czechoslovakia must not be forgotten. At the same time, the technique of dealing with countries on the Eastern front of Germany, from the Baltic to the Black Sea has been more or less the same. We are witnessing this capture of countries, one by one, by the Russian totalitarian régime. I want your Lordships to realise what seems to me this most essential fact. None of these citadels would have fallen but for the presence of enemies within the citadel who were prepared to give the country away.
What is it that leads to these enemies within the citadel of these various countries, so that they fall one by one; and what is it that causes enemies within the citadel, even in countries further West? It is the condition of misery, degradation, oppression and injustice suffered by a large section of its population. Throughout the 19th century, and the beginning of the 20th century, there existed in almost every country of the world a gross maldistribution of the decent things of life. It was not that there were luxuries for some and no luxuries for others; it was that a large section of these populations were denied the elementary necessities and decencies of existence. It is because of that fact that we have the hotbed in those countries in which the insidious programme and propaganda of Communism finds a ready means of growth. In Germany—here I agree to this extent with the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, that you have to treat these totalitarian régimes in much the same way—what was it which, in the last resort, gave Hitler the opportunity of springing to power? It was that in Germany for a considerable time there had been no fewer than 5,000,000 unemployed people, in utter misery and degradation, denied the means of existence in a civilised society. In the last resort that was the element which enabled Hitler to spring to power.
What was the position in Russia which brought the Bolshevist régime into existence? It was the gross tyranny of 364 the Czarist régime, and a misery so complete and so terrible for the common people of Russia that they would go to any expedient rather than bear the evils any longer. Those who know the countries of Eastern Europe know quite well that the peasantry and lowest labourers have had oppression upon them and a standard of life which has produced utter misery. That is why they have been open to Communist propaganda. I know something of Hungary. I know the extraordinary oppression of the common people of Hungary. That is what, in 1918, resulted in the revolution of Bela Kun. That revolution was suppressed, but I am not surprised, from what I knew took place, that when in later days the opportunity presented itself, by which these peoples were able to take on a Communist revolution, they welcomed the idea.
I suggest to your Lordships that the main task and the greatest contribution that we in this country can make towards preserving the peace of the world—I am not ruling out the necessity of getting strong; I am not ruling out the need for making a Western Union in Europe—is to change the degrading system throughout the world, so far as we can, and prevent there being a large mass of discontented, miserable people who will fly to any revolution in an attempt to throw off the chains which bind them. This country is fortunate. This country has maintained a sense of proportion, and maintained its realisation that an evolutionary reform is always better than a bloody revolution. This present Government, this Government of Labour men and Socialists, have been the means by which this country has passed from a society divided into classes in which one class was at the mercy of another—as it was during the days of my childhood in the 19th century—to a degree of equality. I do not believe that there is any country in the world at the present time in which there is greater class equality than there is in this country.
We owe that largely to the initiative of the Labour movement, although I give this credit to noble Lords in other Parties. It is not only that we have a Labour Party who have an evolutionary and not a revolutionary programme. I agree that in days gone by the Liberal Party never opposed substantial reform. They did not do a great deal to provide economic reform but they did a great deal to provide 365 political reform and to establish political democracy. They did not do much to provide economic equality, though they did not oppose it to any great extent—
§ LORD PETHICK-LAWRENCE
I was saying something which I thought was rather creditable. I was pointing out that the Liberal Party in this country had differed from the Liberal Parties in other parts of Europe, in that they did not confine themselves to purely political reform but have not stood in the way, as Liberal Parties in other parts of the world have done, of economic reform—which has been the special work of the Labour Party. I thought that was rather creditable.
§ LORD PETHICK-LAWRENCE
I am sorry that the noble Viscount takes it that way. I intended it as something in the nature of a compliment. I was going to add that even the Conservative Party, which have opposed a great many reforms, have nevertheless not opposed them to the limit; they have recognised the force of circumstances and the need for reform. Both the Conservative and the Liberal Parties, when the evidence has been strongly put before them, have themselves even initiated measures of reform and carried them through Parliament. But if the noble Viscount or Conservative noble Lords suggest that it has not been the coming of the Labour Party which has really made the great evolutionary changes then I think they are talking quite beyond the facts.
That is what we have done in this country: we have done it in our own land. But I would like to remind noble Lords that until quite recently we had done very little in other parts of the world under our own rule. I am not going to speak of the Dominions, because they are outside the control of the Government of this country. I am going to start with the Colonies, and I may tell those of your Lordships who are not aware of the fact that up to 1929 there had been practically no labour legislation in the Colonies. The great bulk of the working people in the Colonies, whether they were white or coloured, were in a position of the greatest inferiority and grave misery. 366 If it had not been for the Colonial Secretary of the Labour Government of that time, Sidney Webb, ably assisted by his Under-Secretary, Sir Drummond Shiels, the labour laws in those Colonies would still be in the archaic state that they had been for a whole century. Now that the move has been made, all Parties in this country have quite properly and rightly taken a new view. But if noble Lords imagine that there is not a great deal still to remedy in the Colonies, and that that in itself may not easily be a cause of a breach of the peace of the world, then I say that they are unaware of the facts.
I pass from the Colonies to a country of which I have personal knowledge of a very close kind—India. I am not one of those who denounce what was done by our country in India, all down the years in which it was part of our Empire. I recognise the number of great things that were done by our Governments and by the individual members of our Civil Service in India, and I am not going to run that down. Nevertheless, during the whole of our rule we did very little to relieve the misery of the ordinary humble peasant and the humble worker in the factories in India. That fact accounted largely for the bitterness with which the campaign for throwing off the British yoke developed in that country. Even to-day, now that British over-rule has gone, the divisions existing among the Government Parties in India are clue largely to the fact that there is still this unrighted economic wrong which has left its stain upon the people of India.
I would like to illustrate the importance of my general proposition from the lips of a man who I think all Parties in this House will admit was a very great man. Some forty years ago I was given an introduction to Lord Cramer who was then, in fact, if not in theory, the Governor of Egypt. He was very kind to a young man of no importance whatever and he gave me a whole hour's interview. This is, in effect, what he said to me: "I have a number of wonderful theories about the government of Egypt, but I cannot get them across, as such, to the ordinary common man of the country. I do not speak his language, I cannot influence him; but there is one way in which our lives touch, and that is the economic factor. If I, while I am here, improve the economic position of the common man 367 in Egypt, then the common man of Egypt, if he understands what I am doing, will bless me. If I cannot do that, I have done nothing and I cannot gain his confidence or support." That is the point I am trying to make. At this important time, when Communism might have been growing here, as it is growing all over Europe—even in a country just across the Channel—this country owes its immunity from the growth of Communism largely to the fact that we have a Labour Government in office at the present time, and that we have a Conservative Party and a Liberal Party who have shown quite a reasonable attitude to the proposals which the Government have put forward. I am thinking of such things as the Social Charter, which is coming into being in July and to which the Conservatives and Liberals, both in your Lordships' House and in another place, made notable and worthy contributions. But it is our business so far as possible (and it is the one solid bulwark against Communism) to try to remove the causes which make people Communist. We must do that, first of all, in our Colonies and Dependencies, and help it to be done in all the countries that we may be able to influence.
Let us think of some of the places where the matter arises. Where are the danger signals? One danger signal at the present time is in Greece. If there is one country in Europe where there is gross poverty and deep misery among the population, it is Greece. It is no good talking merely of sending an Army to help the Greek Government. What we have to do is everything that lies in our power to help the Greek Government to relieve the misery of the people of Greece; and in so far as we do not do that we do not do anything to stem Communism. By increasing the misery of the people, through an intensification of the civil war, we merely increase the trend towards Communism. Then let us turn to Spain. We know perfectly well that the Civil War left great misery and unrelieved poverty in Spain. The Spaniard is a somewhat different kind of person from other Europeans. He does not take naturally to Communism; he is a great individualist, and goes towards Anarchism rather than Communism. Nevertheless—and it is an important point—in spite of that fact, if he finds that the Russian Communists are the one people 368 upon whom he can count for assistance, he will be one of the Fifth Columnists in his own country if ever there is an advance of Russia into that country.
Let us turn to Italy for a moment. Italy is what one might almost call the key country of the whole of Europe in this matter. It is absolutely essential that Italy should be held for Western Europe and should not be allowed to fall into Communist hands. How is it to be held? I say, by doing everything in our power to prevent the common man in Italy from being wholly degraded and depressed. Then let us come to another country with which the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, is concerned a great deal—Germany. I have always realised that great mistakes were made at Yalta and Potsdam with regard to Germany. I thoroughly believed in the taking away from Germany of East Prussia and doing away with the Corridor, but I recognised that the insistence of Russia and Poland in overunning Pomerania and pushing all the Germans out of that country (I think there were some 7,000,000) was a grievous action which would produce serious consequences. My noble friend knows that that has happened.
Also, it was a serious thing not to take into account the fact that the destruction of German industry beyond a certain point must necessarily involve the weakening of the whole economic basis of Europe, because Germany, to a large extent, is the factory of Europe. To attempt to drive German industry down below a certain point was inevitably to produce disaster for the economic position of Europe in the days to come. I trust that my noble friend, realising that fact as I am sure he does, is doing his best to see that German industry is allowed and encouraged to go so far, at any rate, that it is able to assist the recovery of Western Europe in the manufacturing field. I hope that the idea about German industry which prevailed immediately after the war, has come to an end and no longer holds sway in that country.
Finally, there is the question of China. I do not say that I am necessarily asking for information now from the noble Viscount who is to reply, but I should like to know something of what the Government's information is with regard to conditions in China to-day. I have been reading lately alarming accounts of 369 the position of the Chinese Government vis-à-vis the Communists which are not very favourable to the Chinese Government. If the money of the victorious Powers of the West is being poured into China on behalf of the Government of the day there, I hope it is being accompanied by investigations as to where the hope of progress for the people of China really lies. Because if it be true that the present Government are illiberal and corrupt and are destroying the life of China, then to pump resources into their hands is not of benefit but of the greatest danger. My Lords, I have laid before you the point that I wanted to make. I do not rule out by any means the need to be strong, I do not rule out at all the immense importance of forming a Western Union, but I say that the permanent check on Communism is not to be found by physical means of that kind. It is to be found by removing from the people of the world the causes which have formed the hotbed for Communism and have allowed Communist propaganda to gain the day. It is because we, on these Benches, have realised that fact better than Peers who sit on the Liberal or the Conservative Benches that I say that I put my trust in the policy of His Majesty's Government. I am convinced that the points which I have made have been and will be ever uppermost in their minds.
§ 5.26 p.m.
§ LORD DOUGLAS OF KIRTLESIDE
My Lords, this is the first time that I have had the honour of addressing your Lordships' House, and, being no born orator, I would crave your Lordships' indulgence. However, I thought that perhaps I might be able to make a useful contribution to this debate in view of the fact that I have just spent nearly two-and-a-half years in Germany, during eighteen months of which I was the Commander-in-Chief and Military Governor of the British Zone. I shall confine my remarks to Germany, because I think your Lordships will agree that, as I speak from a great deal of personal experience, those remarks, will be of more value to your Lordships than would be a talk upon a wider field.
The first matter I would like to talk about is the German Economic Council which, although it has been set up in Frankfurt for some time, has just been given a new charter or constitution. That 370 constitution has been criticised in various quarters—for instance, the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, in his letter appearing in The Times of February 25, 1948, criticises it—as being too centralised and not in accordance with the ideas of many people who thought, and perhaps still think, that Germany should be organised on a strongly federalised system, or even as a confederation of semi-independent States, so that she may still be kept weak. I suggest that the problem must be viewed in the light of all that we have listened to this afternoon about the growing menace of Communism.
The problem in Europe to-day, as I am sure your Lordships will agree, is not the rise of German militarism. That is a thing which we have to watch for and guard against, but it is not a pressing and immediate danger. The real danger, as has been pointed out by almost every noble Lord who has spoken, is the insidious and sinister advance of Communism westwards across Europe. Germany is in the front line trenches against that advance. So far, I am glad to say, we have been able to hold the position there. The Communist Party has not increased in size during the past two years. The argument of the people who do not like the new constitution of the Economic Council at Frankfurt is that they say it would be far easier for the Communists to capture a centralised German administration. I take liberty to disagree with them on that point. I personally think—and this indeed has been our experience from the way that Russian Communism has advanced across Europe—that it would be far easier for the Communists to nibble off one by one, bit by bit, a number of small, weak German States of a semi-independent nature, than for them to get in their grasp at one fell swoop a strong German administration in the West.
There is another point. I believe that we have now to take account of German public opinion. A strongly federalised system or a confederation of German States would be contrary to the desires of most of the people and of almost all the political Parties in Germany. The only people who favour a system of that sort are a small Party in Bavaria. Therefore that system would have to be imposed upon the German people against their will and, no doubt, they would seek to change it as soon as they were 371 in a position to do so. Meanwhile, of course, the Russians would make capital out of that situation with the Germans. The Russians have always paid lip-service to the principle of German unity, although they have not done much to advance it. They would undoubtedly make play with the Germans if we tried to impose on them a system which the Russians could describe as not being German unity but a splitting-up of Germany.
I wish now to turn to another point. As everyone knows, Germany is in an economic mess at the present time, and it seems to me that there is no chance of pulling her out unless there is some strong central administration and co-ordinating authority between the various Länder. For instance, we have to ensure that the food produced in Bavaria goes to the Ruhr, and that the industrial products of the Ruhr go to Bavaria. That can only be brought about, I suggest, by a fairly strong central administration. The weak and unco-ordinated efforts of a number of small States would not solve that problem. Indeed, all our experiences in Germany point to that fact most strongly. The trouble all along has been that when the Länder Ministers meet together at the centre they agree on a certain course of action, but when they get back to their Länder, they fail to carry it out. In his letter to The Times, Lord Vansittart said that economic questions of the first order are inevitably political, and I entirely agree with him in that statement; but I do not agree with the deduction he made from it. My deduction from it is that this Economic Council is not enough and that, within a short time, we shall inevitably be driven to start up a fully-fledged Western Government.
I think we shall be forced to do that for many reasons, some of which I have outlined already. There are other reasons, however. One is—and this was a matter which was a continual pre-occupation of mine in Germany—that whenever things go wrong, the Germans blame the Military Government, and say that the Military Government has the responsibility to put things right as that they are the Government of the country. There is a good deal in that argument. On the other hand, of course, the day-to-day administration of Germany over a very large field is already in the hands of the Germans, and I think 372 we should place squarely on their shoulders full responsibility for that administration. At the same time, in order to help in this direction the responsibility of the Military Government must be clearly defined, so that the Germans know where they are, what they are responsible for and what the Military Government is responsible for. I think the time has come when we can whittle down considerably the responsibility of the Military Government and hand over more responsibility to the Germans.
I believe that the responsibility of the Military Government can be confined to about five subjects. There is security, of course, and the need to see that German military power does not recur. That is, of course, the main reason for our being in occupation at all. Again, large sums of money are supplied to the Germans mainly now by the American Treasury but also, to some extent, by our Treasury, in order that they may buy the food on which they live and the raw materials on which their industry is being gradually and all too slowly built up. Therefore, the second responsibility of the Military Government, as I see it, is to ensure that those funds are wisely and economically spent. Both the British and the American administrations obviously have a responsibility to their respective taxpayers in this regard. The third responsibility of the Military Government is to see that democratic ideas of government are maintained in the Anglo-American Zone. Then, of course, reparations and the reparations policy must remain the responsibility of the Military Government. And, finally, there is the problem of the displaced persons. Apart from those five subjects, however, I cannot think why the Military Government should be saddled with more responsibility. I consider that the remaining job of administering the Anglo-American Zone should be placed squarely on German shoulders.
So far I have talked merely about what is rather horridly known as "Bizonia," and I very much hope, as I think everyone does, that the French will bring their Zone into this organisation and that it will become "Trizonia." It is very important that that should happen, but, of course, there are difficulties. As is well known, French ideas on the future of Germany and, in particular, on the control of the Ruhr, are not quite the same as those of 373 ourselves or the Americans. Therefore the French, before bringing their Zone into Trizonia, will want to make terms on which it shall be done. We must obviously do everything possible to meet their point of view, and I do not see at all why we should not succeed. But I hope that any negotiations will not be used as an excuse or reason for delay in the economic building up and recovery of the present Bizonal area. We must not waste time in haggling too long with the French about the terms on which they will bring their Zone into line. Speed is important, and we must go ahead. However, I trust that they will come in, and I do not believe that the difficulties are by any means insurmountable.
If the French do come in and Trizonia is brought about, there is just one point about the organisation of the Allied Control which I think will be important. Having sat in the Control Council in Berlin for eighteen months or more, I cannot describe to your Lordships the sense of frustration winch one gets, simply owing to the fact that if one Commander-in-Chief of the four disagrees with anything that is proposed, the Motion is defeated and nothing happens. I do not see how anything—not merely a country like Germany, but even a small club or institution—can possibly be administered in that way. So when we come, as I hope we will, to Trizonia, it will be most important that the will of the majority shall prevail. If that is not done, I am afraid we may drop back into the same sort of frustrated spirit which characterises the deliberations of the Control Council in Berlin. As I say, I think it most important that the French should come in, that they do so on reasonable terms, and that we should take account of their point of view, because I entirely agree with everything that has been said to the effect that we, the French, Benelux and the other countries of Western Europe must stick together if we are to defeat or stop the westward advance of Communism and, what is more, make this very generous Marshall plan work.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ LORD LINDSAY OF BIRKER
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, prepared us to listen with delight and pleasure to what the noble Lord who has just sat down would say, and we have not been disapppointed in listening to a speech delivered with all 374 that wisdom and authority. If the noble Lord will allow me to say so, it gives me particular personal pleasure to have the privilege of congratulating him not merey because, like him, I am a Scot but also as one coming from the best part of Scotland.
§ LORD LINDSAY OF BIRKER
The South-West of Scotland, of course. Even though I now live in exile, I can still see over the Solway the lovely form of Criffell that he sees from the East.
I should like to follow up some of the things that the noble Lord has told us about Germany. But time is short, and there are two matters upon which I badly want to speak. One of them has been referred to already, but I should like to re-emphasise it. Being one of your Lordships who, before he lost by attending your Lordships' House what little leisure he once had, read Karl Marx pretty thoroughly, I am convinced, from all I can find out, that the firm and settled belief of Stalin is a belief in the general scheme of Karl Marx. It is a scheme which has that kind of broad sweep, that fine disregard of uncomfortable details which appeals to the half educated mind; and I am sure that he is entirely convinced by it. When once you are convinced by it you know—you do not think—that Communism and any kind of non-Communism (social democracy, you believe, is just as bad as American capitalism) cannot subsist together. You also know that capitalism and—using that wide name for anything—non-Communism, are bound to decay. That is consistent with it being your duty to push it a little further down. You also know if you have read—as these people in Russia have read—Karl Marx's historical pamphlet on the Commune of 1870 that misery is the widwife of millenium—that the more misery there is, the more likely there is to come that stage when we move over to perfect Communism, the one kind of society that is, good. Therefore, you can persuade yourself that it is your duty, if you cannot promote Communism, to promote anarchy.
I think it is correct that at the present time, Russia would rather see China in chaos than China under the control of a Party which, though it alls itself Communist, cannot be controlled by Russia. 375 If that is so, the answer to that point of view is simple—it is to show that it is not true. We shall do that only by making Western Europe at least prosperous, happy and free. Therefore, to put energy into promoting this state of affairs in Western Europe and promoting Union is the only way, the only complete and sufficient way, of answering Communism and the drive behind it. When we make the countries which have been told that they will not be allowed to come into the Marshall plan believe that the Marshall plan is coming, and that it does not imply domination of other countries by America or by this country, we shall have done a great deal to push Communism back.
If your Lordships will allow me, I want now to turn to the Far East, and say something about China, although the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, has already referred to it. I wish to do so because I think that what is happening in China now is in some ways as portentous—in the literal meaning of that word—as alarming, and yet as fraught with possibilties as anything in the West. What is happening in China at this moment is that the Civil War is moving towards a decision. The Communists already hold most of Manchuria. Enlightened American opinion holds that they will have the whole of Manchuria by the early summer. I do not know how many of your Lordships read the devastating evidence given by Mr. Marshall the other day before the Congressional Committee about the thorough incompetence and inefficiency of the present Chinese Government. Opinion holds, I think, that by the end of the year, at the latest, the Communists will hold the whole of China at least as far south as the Yellow River; and, unless something striking happens, they will shortly hold China all but the very extreme South and Formosa. That, I think, will happen if America does not support Chiang Kai-shek more than she is supporting him already. The result will be that Mao Tse-tung, the opposite number of Chiang Kai-shek—a man who was very moderate and sensible—will be gradually driven into the hands of his extremists. And they now talk a language not so unlike the language that might come from Tito.
376 If we do nothing about this state of affairs, it will mean that that great country will be in the hands of a Government feeling sore and bitter about the way in which the Western Powers have treated them. What are we going to do? What is America going to do? America, so far as I can follow, is dissatisfied with the results of her present policies in China. They have earned America a great deal of enmity and suspicion—I think unfairly. I think that America got into this mess by acting with the sort of intentions with which this Government tend to act, by being very formal and very polite, and by supposing that there is any sense whatsoever in treating China as a whole as though it were a soveriegn State and these people in the North just rebels. I believe that America has been acting on the view that, because China is an Ally, she must take the word of that Ally however untrue you know it to be. That has committed America into helping the official Government and getting into enmity with the North.
America and ourselves stand between two alternatives. You may, as I think Mr. Bullitt said in his evidence yesterday, resolve to interfere with great strength. Mr. Bullitt, I believe, thought that it could be done with ten divisions; other people do not believe it. If America did make war on Northern China with great strength, it would probably stop the present advance. But it would not put an end to the guerilla war any more than the Japs were able to stop it. Moreover, you would commit yourselves to supporting the kind of Government which the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, has told us to have nothing to do with—because if ever there was a totalitarian Government in this world, it is the present Government of China. It has all the characteristics, such as concentration camps and censorship; and only one Party is allowed. Are we really going to do that and make war on behalf of that? The only possibility is to try once more to see whether it is possible to make a new approach to both sides in China.
From what I hear, and from what I have heard in the past about Mao Tse-Tung and his followers, I believe that they are people with whom you can, to use an Amercan phrase, play ball. They have as much reason to be suspicious of Russia as they have of the United States. 377 They are not at the beck and call of Russia, as are most Communist Parties. My information may be wrong, but will the Government please find out? It seems to be absolutely essential that they should. You cannot find out about it by listening to the gossip about the Northern Communists in Shanghai or in Nanking, or even in Pekin. You find out by sending someone to Mao Tse-Tung to talk with him, and you must send someone who really can find out about the Northern Communists. I implore the Government to do that. It is worth while to get behind the iron curtain which prevents us having any communication with the Northern Communists. I will not go on calling them the "so-called Northern Communists"; it is not worth while. We should get behind the iron curtain because their present position is that they hear nothing about the West except what they are told on the Moscow radio. And most of us know what that sort of thing is. They know nothing about us, and I would like your Lordships to realise that this is a vital matter.
Just think of the situation if all China is to be conquered by a Government who feel they have reason to hate, distrust and be hostile to the Western Powers. Is it not worth while to find out whether that is wrong, or whether it is possible to make some sort of arrangement and, with the Americans—you must do it with the Americans—act in such a way that that may be prevented? Otherwise there is great danger. It seems to me that China at this moment is like Spain in the 'thirties; and the civil war in China will far more easily embroil Great Britain, Russia and America than anything in the West. Russia, so far as I can understand (and I have made such inquiries as one can), has not supported the Communists; they have not gone further than to insist on giving the arms which they took from Japan to Mao Tse-tung. And this, it seems to me, they had no right to do. If there is on behalf of the American or Western Powers any more formidable assistance to the Chinese Government, I do not see how Russia can keep out of it. On the other hand, unless such assistance as is now given to the Chinese Government is stopped, there is no hope of finding that the new victorious Government will be at least friendly to this country. If it is possible to reverse 378 that, it is worth a lot to do it. I plead with the Government to try and find out. I do not want them in the least to take my words for it, but to find out what the facts are.
§ [The sitting was suspended at four minutes before seven o'clock and resumed at half-past eight.]
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF BUCKINGHAMSHIRE
My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Douglas, I too rise to address your Lordships' House on the subject of Germany. I will endeavour to observe the request of the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, as I do not intend to delay your Lordships for more than a few moments. I think I may claim to have some experience of the German and Germany since for twenty-one months I was a youth officer of the Education Branch, and I spent seventeen of those months as youth officer for Schleswig-Holstein. As a result of that, I feel it only right that I should put one or two points to the noble Lord opposite. I would say, first of all, that I entirely agree with the Education Adviser, Mr. Robert Birley, that what the German needs to-day is not re-education, but new education—especially, if I may say so, in view of the Communist threat from the East. Nazism was nothing new. I suggest that it was the product of an education which has been going on in Germany for a considerable number of years.
I propose to speak from the point of view of having met the man-in-the-street in Germany, and I can say that the German has a number of good points and a number of bad points. He is very correct in his manner; he is very polite. The British find him wiling to do things when he is asked. On the other hand, he is sentimental. And he does show—I regret to say this—a lack of initiative. No doubt your Lordships are aware that if a German is given a direct order that order is carried out without question; if there is one thing he understands it is the meaning of "You will." This leads me to the German conception of democracy. With some exceptions, his conception of democracy is lamentable. That is the only word for it. Those Germans who know me, if they read these words of mine, may be surprised at this statement, but I ask them to think for a moment. I attended many meetings of Germans while I was out there, and many times 379 have I heard them say that things must be discussed in a democratic way and done in a democratic way. The German is adept at talking democracy, but can he live it? In the majority of cases, I am sorry to tell your Lordships, it is talk; and what talk!
If we are to educate the German, how is it to be done? I would suggest that the most effective way is for members of the Control Commission to mix freely with the Germans and get to know them. It is my belief that a large number are already doing so. One of the greatest forces we have for that purpose in Germany to-day is the Education Branch. I must say at once that the members of the Education Branch have established excellent relations with their German counterparts. Some people may have the idea that an education officer's job is simply to go round inspecting schools. If that is so, this misconception must be corrected. That is not his most valuable work. It is by attending social functions—meetings of teachers' associations, discussion groups, visits to youth clubs and so on—that an education officer can do his most valuable work.
I am sure your Lordships will agree with me that it would be disastrous if the establishment of the Education Branch were to be reduced. The idea that a few high-powered people at the centre can carry on the work of the Branch is, to my mind, ridiculous. If the staff were to be reduced if would have the most unfortunate effect in Germany. It would make the Germans think that we were there only to get what we could out of them. Through the Education Branch we have a chance of doing something really constructive. What is wanted, and what is being gained by the Branch, is a large number of personal contacts. From my own experience, I can tell your Lordships that the German was always glad to come and discuss his problems with me in my office. I found, too, that one was always welcome at any meetings, such as youth meetings or youth leaders' meetings, at their camps or in their homes. I would also say that we found Anglo-German discussion groups and Anglo-German clubs extremely valuable. I earnestly hope that we may see an increase in the establishment of the Education Branch, though I appreciate the difficulties in the way of this project in these times.
380 The work of the Branch, particularly of the youth section, as the noble Lord opposite is no doubt aware, is much handicapped by shortages. While I was there, one of the largest shortages on the British side was that of transport. I understand that that situation is now much better. I suggest that it would be much better for the work of the Branch if each officer were to have his own car, on which he could count at a moment's notice, particularly if some important matter cropped up. At the risk of making myself unpopular with some of my old fellow members of the Commission, I would suggest that transport for the Education Branch should be placed on a high priority.
So far as the Germans are concerned, there is no commodity in Germany to-day—from the needle to clothing, from sports equipment to accommodation, and, in fact, any necessity of life—which is not short. Noble Lords opposite are, I am sure, aware of this fact, but I would put out an appeal to the House that just a little more material help from this country would have a tremendous effect in Germany to-day, short of material though we ourselves are. There is another aspect of the Commission which is exercising its members, and that is the vexed question of security of tenure. Those members of the Commission who have seven-year contracts, such as heads of branches, are fairly well off; but there are those with only two or three-year contracts who are uneasy and feel very insecure. As a result, good men are being lost to the Commission. May I offer the suggestion that if a trizonia should be formed, that would be the time to look into the whole question of security of tenure for members of the Commission?
I trust that I have not given the impression that I am completely in sympathy with the German. The problem is to make the man-in-the-street realise that the blame for the two World Wars lies at his door. It will take years to bring about a change of outlook in the German mind. I submit, with all respect, that the mission of members, not only of the Education Branch but of all in C.C.G., is to train the Germans not to talk democracy, which they are so fond of doing, but to live it. Give the members of the Control Commission a sense of security in their job, and so help them to bring about that change of heart which 381 is necessary if Germany is to come back and play her part in the nations of the world to-day.
§ 8.42 p.m.
My Lords, I am sure that I speak for the whole of your Lordships' House in offering my sincere congratulations to the noble Earl on his admirable maiden speech. Your Lordships always listen with great attention to a member who has first-hand knowledge of his subject—which obviously the noble Earl has—and with pleasure when he presents it so clearly as he has done. I am sure we shall appreciate further contributions from the noble Earl in subsequent debates.
This has been an extraordinary debate. I found it a very sombre and, in some ways, a terrifying debate. The speech which shook me the most was the speech of my noble friend Lord Pakenham. He painted a horrifying picture of the state of the world and the awful menaces we had to face. I agree with every word he said, especially when he asked what we were to do about it, and when he said that we must be patient and must open out all the channels and avenues of trade we can. I will return to that briefly, if I may, in a moment. I have also given a good deal of thought to this subject, not in the last few weeks, but ever since 1917. I happened to be in the Planning Division of the Admiralty when the first Russian Revolution of March, 1917, took place, and the problems were added to by the greater Revolution of October, 1917. I have come to this conclusion, for what it is worth, and I present it to my noble friends on this side of the House, if they will be kind enough to listen to me.
I do not believe that the world will embark upon a third great war for any reason of ideology. I do not believe that men to-day will fight the equivalent of the religious wars of the 17th century, described so vividly by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chichester. But I do see a danger—and this is a cause which, so far as I know, has not been referred to in this debate. First of all, I agree that we need not anticipate a war for ideological reasons, unless one or other of the leaders of the contending parties in a so-called cold war completely loses control of himself. Apart from that, in the ordinary course of events, I do not see it. After all, you cannot fight ideas 382 with guns, or even with atom bombs; and I do so agree with my noble friends who spoke on this side—the noble Lords, Lord Lindsay of Birker, Lord Pethick-Lawrence and the noble Lord who spoke for the Government—that the only way we can fight the idealism or the ideology of Communism is by presenting something better ourselves. We cannot do it by violence.
When I was last in the United States I discussed this matter with apparently normal people who were talking, just as some of your Lordships have been talking this afternoon, about the coming war. They said: "Let us get it over. Let us fight it now. We cannot stop it and it is inevitable"; and all that sort of thing. I argued along these lines: "Very well, apparently you think you can win this war by bombing with your atom weapon a number of great cities. What do you do then? Having forced your enemy—in this case, Russia—to surrender by atomising her great cities and centres of population, then what do you do? How big an army of occupation do you have to send to the country?" They then always changed the subject or opened a fresh bottle, or used some other means of escaping further argument along those lines. That is all stupid talk—I do not think it comes from leading Americans in responsible positions—of which we have heard a greet deal, I regret to say, in your Lordships" House this afternoon. It does no good at all, and it can do a great deal of harm.
At the risk of making myself extremely unpopular—not for the first time in a long political career, mostly mis-spent—I must say that I think it is a mistake to level criticisms and strictures on countries which, for one reason or another, come under the control of Communist Governments. Take the case of Czechoslovakia, of which we have heard so much this afternoon. I know that country well, and I have a tremendous admiration for the Czechs. They are one of the finest peoples in Europe, and I have great affection for them. Certainly, they are a true democracy in the real sense of the word. The idea that the Czechs are to be absorbed and denationalised by the Russians is, I believe, completely fallacious; and the Russians know it as well as anyone. For 300 years—and here the right reverend Prelate will support me—the 383 Germans were using the most intensive methods and the most efficient methods (and they are far more efficient than the Russians; the Russians are comparatively easy-going) in trying to Germanise the Czechs, and they failed utterly. The idea that the Czechs are now to be Russianised is absurd.
It may be unpleasant that another Government dominated by Communists exists in this important country in Europe, but I still believe that the bulk of the Czechs are friendly to us. I still believe that they want to be the bridge between the East and the West. After all, these changes—which have caused such terrible suffering in the minds of so many noble Lords present here to-night—have left two great names associated with the revival of Czechoslovakian nationalism in the Government. One is the President, Dr. Benes, and the other is the Foreign Secretary, in the person of a gentleman of whom I am honoured to claim the friendship, Jan Masaryk. I had the privilege of being received by the same Prime Minister, M. Gottwald, when I was last in Czechoslovakia. I know that we should always be careful to use very long spoons when we sup with the devil, but I found M. Gottwald a very sensible man who professed to having nothing but friendship and the desire for friendship with Britain. Noble Lords may laugh, but how do they know the Czechs are going to be unfriendly? When all is said and done, the nature of a Government is the affair of the people themselves, and I have not heard that there was a great show of Russian soldiery during the sombre events in Prague or Bratislava. They may have been there, but it does not appear in the newspapers.
What I was going to plead for was that in the case of these countries of Eastern Europe which are supposed to be on the other side of the iron curtain we should show a little sympathy, and not use mere blind abuse and criticism. That is why I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, say that one of the ways in which we could seek to improve relations was by the development of any channels of trade that we could manage to open. That brings me to a point which I particularly wish to make. I agree with Mr. Winston Churchill in a sentiment which he expressed at the beginning of the war. It is reported that 384 when some of his Cabinet colleagues were desirous that we should go to war with Russia over Finland, during the period of the so-called "phoney war" with Germany, Mr. Churchill said: "One war at a time is enough." We already have a war on our hands, a war against economic ruin and bankruptcy, and I submit that that is quite enough. If we lose that war, everything else is lost. And this idea of a Communist Europe—including this country—might indeed be fulfilled.
Sir Stafford Cripps, who always speaks with great caution, has warned us more than once that if we fail in this economic war some form of totalitarianism is likely to come about in this country. If we win this war against poverty, and can present a better picture of our society, of a happier people, then we win both struggles. We save ourselves and our friends, and indeed we may save the Russian people; and then perhaps they will become a real democracy in our sense of the word—as Lenin and other great protagonists of their system always prophesied would eventually happen. I agree, of course, that it has not happened yet. With regard to the question of trade, I hope that my noble friend who is to speak for the Government will tell us that we are going to push on with our trade drive. To return for a moment to Czechslovakia, we have a valuable trade with them and at the present time the balance of trade is in our favour. The Czechs are anxious to send us goods to effect this balance. Let us encourage that.
Look at another totalitarian State. I do not see the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart in his place, but a great many noble Lords who cheered him early in the afternoon are here. We are doing valuable trade with Poland—another of these awful "totalitarian" states, with all these "horrors" going on there. I wonder how many of your Lordships to-morrow morning will eat bacon for breakfast; I wonder whether those who do will inquire whether it is Polish bacon. There is a great deal of Polish bacon coming here, and a great many Polish eggs. One day last week I secured an excellent Polish turkey, a "totalitarian" turkey—raised, I suppose by some bloodthirsty Polish peasant; but we were glad to have the turkey, and the country is buying thousands more like it at the present time.
385 Every Party has its lunatic fringe. I am afraid that we have ours, though I think the lunatic fringe of the Conservative Party is rather thicker. Some members of our lunatic fringe say, for example, "You must not trade with Spain. Spain is a totalitarian country." And they ask, "How dare we do business with Spain?" Others say "Why do business with Greece? We don't like the Government." I have even heard people in the Labour Party say that we ought not to have any dealings with the Argentine because they do not like the form of government in the Argentine. In the same way, the lunatic fringe of the Party opposite suggest that we should not trade with Hungary, Poland, Roumania or Bulgaria—with all of whom we are doing successful and satisfactory business. For the last three centuries we have not inquired into the politics of countries with which we did business, and we cannot afford to do so now. I once heard Mr. Lloyd George say that we used to do a flourishing trade with the Cannibal Islands—I suppose in Sheffield cutlery! We cannot expect to continue to do business as a trading nation if we allow politics to interfere with it.
I said that I would venture to suggest the only way in which a shooting war could come about. I have studied this subject for many years, ever since the memorable days of 1917 when we had to deal at the Admiralty with the virtual collapse of the Russian naval and military machine. Perhaps I may be allowed to pay a tribute here to the late Commander Harold Grenville, Naval Attaché in Petrograd at that time, who died three days ago. He was one of the finest naval officers of his generation. As a Russian linguist he went aboard the ships at the risk of his life, when discipline had collapsed, and rallied the sailors to get the Russian Baltic Fleet going again as a fighting unit; and he carried out valuable operations against German raiders in the Gulf of Riga. Here I would make a constructive suggestion for improving relations between the Big Four. In passing, I hope I shall not shock the noble Viscount the Leader of the House too much if I make a plea once more for a return to the machinery and methods of what used to be called secret diplomacy. Let Treaties and engagements be published and explained in Parliament, but 386 let the negotiations be rather more private and secret, and not merely a means of propaganda. I used to be a great believer in open diplomacy, but I an beginning to learn wisdom in my old age.
The situation is this. At the peak of Russian oil production the total Russian output of petroleum was between 32,000,000 and 33,000,000 tons a year. From that production, for various reasons such as the exhaustion of wells and so on, the figure has gone down to between 22,000,000 and 23,000,000 tons. From Hungary, Poland, Austria, Roumania and other sources the Russians are getting between 7,000,000 and 8,000,000 tons of oil a year. Therefore they are getting about 29,000,000 or 31,000,000 tons a year from all sources. Their needs for their highly mechanised agriculture and reconstruction, and for their developing industries, are about 65,000,000 to 70,000,000 tons a year. So they have only about half the amount of oil that they require for peaceful purposes. This incidentally is a "bull point" for peace (if I may use the expression), because I cannot see them going to war until they have acquired much better supplies of oil. There is a large oilfield, to which they have some legal title, I believe, in Northern Persia. I believe that they have a right to exploit this oilfield in Northern Persia—just as we are exploiting oilfields in Southern Persia. All over the world there is a coming petrol shortage. The United States of America are experiencing a shortage. The great unexploited oilfields are in the Middle East, where there is enough for everybody. If we and the Americans could reconsider our position in Persia and encourage the Persian Government to come to an equitable arrangement with ourselves to let the Russians exploit the oilfields of Northern Persia I believe that that would do more than anything else to improve relations. On the other hand, if we do not do that, the danger that the oil famine may force the Russians into actions with Persia which we and the Americans and others would be bound to resist, would be a serious matter. I know the argument, "Oh, if they exploit the oil there, they will Bolshevise or Communise Persia." But they have means of access and of infiltration in any case.
In that connection, may I draw the attention of the noble Viscount the Leader 387 of the House to what I consider is a badly worded statement in this highly important document Statement Relating to Defence, 1948 (Cmd. 7327). In dealing with the future, these words occur:In the present situation, where the United Nations Organisation is not yet able to enforce peace, the best deterrent to war is tangible evidence of our intention and ability to withstand attack.I do not take any exception to the last part of that sentence, but I do suggest that it is not a very good thing to say that the United Nations organisation is not yet able to enforce peace, when so far nobody has tried to use the machinery for that purpose. May I remind my noble friends on this side of the House that our whole policy is based most firmly upon the support and development of the United Nations organisation? As the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, said, that is the ultimate hope for a long-term policy for preserving the peace of the world. I suggest that, if one is going to make further statements of a highly official character like this, those words might be improved upon. I apologise for this digression, but I think that this subject is so important and we so seldom debate it in this House that I could not miss the opportunity of referring to the matter now.
§ 9.04 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT BRUCE OF MELBOURNE
My Lords, the discussion which has taken place on this Motion has resulted in the drawing of an extremely gloomy picture as to the present world situation. I think that, unhappily, we all have to admit that that gloomy impression is the correct one, because the debate has shown that there has been a rapid deterioration in international relations. It has pointed to the growing menace of Communism and to the number of nations which are falling under the domination of the Communist Party and which have become police States. It has shown that the sanguine hopes of the United Nations organisation, the preservers of peace and security for all people, are at the moment very much dimmed. It has also been suggested that perhaps the United Nations organisation is going the way of the League of Nations. That last sentiment I would emphatically challenge. I associate myself with the noble Earl, Lord Halifax, who protested against our taking that view of the future. 388 However, we cannot get away from the fact that the present position is one in which, in a sense, we have to think what we have to do, and what our policy must be to prevent further encroachment and a further deterioration in the position.
The form of encroachment is the march of Communism and the absorption of further countries. I cannot take quite the optimistic view of the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, when he said that after all we must not regard this too seriously; that the Czechs are the soul of democracy and that they defied the Germans for 300 years. I accept all that as being a fact, but what the noble Lord is overlooking is that the efficiency of these new methods employed by the Communists has far exceeded anything we have previously seen. I entirely agree that those countries do not like what is happening to them—and I am in a position to say that because I am closely associated with the Food and Agricultural Organisation. To the Food and Agricultural Organisation come all these satellite States. They want to co-operate, they want to participate; and I believe that, if we pursue the wise course, we shall in the end wean them away from Russia and this menace will disappear. But the fact is that at this moment we have not done any of these things. We are in a difficult position and we have to see that this menace does not spread.
I accept the views that have been expressed, that we have got to remain strong, that we have got to go forward with a Western Union. The only point I would like to make is that we have heard a tremendous amount about a Western Union and about the linking of the European Powers on the Western side; but I have heard very little stress laid on the part that the rest of the British Empire should play in this beside Britain. I believe that that is a criticism that might well be levelled at this debate. I also accept the view that we must stand up to Russia now. To use a completely vulgar expression, we must cease being "kicked about" by Russia, and must stop going and pleading with Russia.
I believe that our case for doing that is a good deal better than most people think. We have drawn the picture of an all-powerful Russia that has adopted the whole of the Marx doctrine, that is marching ruthlessly and powerfully through 389 Europe and that has the great and tremendous objective of converting the whole world to Communism. I do not believe that the Russians are as respectable as that, because, after all, if they believe in Marxism, they believe in something. They say that that is the only thing that will bring happiness to the peoples of the world. One cannot protest against their getting on with something in which they have a firm belief. But I do not believe it. I think that all the actions which the Russians take against the Western States day by day are due to a fear in the hearts of the small group that dominate the Russian people to-day. They know the Russians are ordinary, decent people. I believe that if those people ever understood and knew the facts, they would not want any of these things. But they are dominated by this small group; and this small group is dominated by fear, because what has happened is that in the Second World War millions of Russians went out of their country into other countries—such as Bulgaria, Roumania and Hungary—and discovered to their amazement that their own standard of living was infinitely worse than in those countries.
The Russian leaders are fearful of that realisation permeating the whole of the Russian people, and fearful that they might at last rise against them. We have got to be as strong as we can. We must get a Union of Western Europe, and we must stand up to Russia. But I suggest that all that is simply a negative policy. What matters is to decide how to hang on and ensure that things do not become worse—that the situation is not changed from what I think Lord Vansittart described as a hostile position into an actual enemy position. But we shall not realise any of the things for which we fought the last war nor shall we accomplish our purpose if we pursue a negative policy of that sort. Therefore, I suggest we must have a positive policy and get on with it, and we must drive it much harder than we have attempted to drive it up to date.
If anything is to be done there must be a complete alteration in the atmosphere. That complete alteration can only be brought about by getting the nations to co-operate together more than they are doing at present, and also by adopting some real objective towards which the 390 various countries realise we are working. That objective must be one that will destroy the breeding grounds of Communism that exist in the world to-day. I believe it can be done, not on the political plane but on the economic plane. I think that the economic plane affords the only approach. A real improvement in the economic position of the world can only be brought about by an increase in total world production—in other words, by an increase in total world wealth. Any clear-thinking person must realise that these things can only be achieved by an expanding world economy and by a great extension of world trade. I venture to say, however, that up to the present, international thinking seems to have believed that the volume of world trade could be increased by changing the rules of such trade, by agreements in regard to tariffs, by agreements about prohibitions, quotas, currency clearing, and that sort of thing.
For six months of last year, almost the pick of the brains of seventeen nations; were trying at Geneva to arrive at an agreement. Now the pick of the brains of fifty nations are meeting in Havana, trying to evolve an arrangement for altering the rules of the game. Well, I cannot believe that that is the way in which it will be done. My impression is that if for six months of last year those brains had been employed on trying to work out ways and means by which the total wealth of the world could be increased, we should now be much farther advanced. They should have been considering what could be done for restoration, rehabilitation, and a certain measure of expansion in the old and advanced countries, and methods of developing the latent resources of the other countries. That that fact is now becoming recognised is evidenced by the Marshall plan.
The Marshall plan is an admirable conception and must be carried through. But, after all, even if the Marshall plan succeeds to as great an extent as any of us could hope, it will only restore Europe to her pre-war position, with possibly a slight advance. That is net going to solve the world's problems. We must go much farther than that. New wealth, and the latent resources of the less advanced countries, must be developed. We have established, with meticulous care, almost all the agencies for doing those things. A Report has been made (which I refer 391 to with all modesty, because I was Chairman of the Commission which prepared it), which has set out in the fullest detail why it is essential to carry out this policy, and how we should set about doing it. That Report has been issued, and all the machinery exists for achieving the objects set out in it. There is the Economic and Social Council, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the International Trade Organisation, the Bank of Reconstruction and Development, the Monetary Fund, the International Labour Organisation, and the Health Organisation. A tremendous machine has been created to do what I am suggesting. My complaint is, however, that with the notable exception of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, they are not getting on with their jobs.
What I would urge is that all the nations who are interested should put a drive into this effort. There have been rather encouraging signs over the last few months. The thing is beginning to move a little better and we are getting what is vitally necessary—namely, some cooperation among all these organisations. Interestingly enough, they are developing along the lines of regional arrangements, which would mean the consultation and co-operation of groups of nations in different areas of the world to achieve the objectives laid down. That surely is a pointer for the British Empire and Commonwealth, and I will say a word about that matter later.
Now I wish to turn to a matter that appears to me to be vital. Suppose that these Organisations get on with their job, and that the development aimed at—the creation of new wealth—is secured. Surely that ought to provide the basis of a great expansion of world trade which would result in increasing prosperity everywhere. But what I want to ask is: Will that be achieved if we go on as we are going? I have pointed to the fact that in Geneva last year the best minds of seventeen nations met and sat for six months with the object of framing a Charter for the International Trade Organisation. They succeeded in preparing a draft Charter, which laid down the rules for the conduct of international trade. But for practically every rule that was laid down, an escape clause was provided. I have heard the number of escape clauses resulting from the Geneva deliberations put as high as 200. There are now 392 something over fifty nations meeting in Havana, and if they get a Charter, God knows how many escape clauses there will be then! The point I want to make is that if these escape clauses are provided nations will constantly want to use them. There will be international discussion and consultation and in innumerable cases tremendous friction will result. I cannot conceive that that will contribute much to the expansion of world trade.
I was interested to find that the view I have formed is shared by people who, I suggest, really know something about the matter—namely, the London Chamber of Commerce. They issued last September a pamphlet on the economic situation to which there was a preface, and that preface indicates exactly who they represent. It read as follows:The London Chamber of Commerce has 14,000 direct members and, through its forty-five affiliated Associations, represents a further 50,000 firms and companies. Not only does it speak for the export merchants by, or through whom, before the war, the larger part of the total export trade of the country was done but it also has in its membership 6,000 manufacturers.I suggest that the views of the Chamber are entitled to some consideration. That is reinforced by the fact that the Federation of British Industries entirely endorse the views expressed by the Chamber in that pamphlet. The Chamber express considered and very definite views. I will not deal with them in detail, but I would commend the pamphlet to all your Lordships as well worth reading. It states, among other things, that the old system of international free trade in money is unworkable under the totally changed conditions of the 20th century. Nations, it is pointed out, must balance their accounts in goods and services. There cannot be a balance in money unless there is a balance in trade. Further, the pamphlet advocates a system of multilateral contra accounts between nations. Under such a system a nation would acquire credits when it exported. It could clear those credits only when it imported. It need not necessarily import from the country to which it sold, but if it wished to take payment it could do so only by importing from the world to the value of its exports to the world, visible and invisible. The credits so created would have an agreed life.
393 To take a specific example, that of the United States of America—the great exporting creditor country of the world—this would mean that so long as the exports from the United States of America annually exceeded their imports by some 1,200,000,000 dollars, as they did in 1947, it could clear this 1,200,000,000 dollars only as and when it took imports. Unless some method of regulating the situation is found the result eventually will be a complete breakdown of the economic system in one country after another, the reason being that the countries will not have the dollars to pay for the things they want to purchase Britain has already been forced to limit, in the most drastic way, what she will purchase in the way of goods and services from America. Other countries are rapidly following suit. As I say, if that situation goes on developing, the only result can be a complete breakdown of the whole international exchange of goods' and services. The Americans themselves are now realising that, and to meet this world shortage of dollars they are making loans and grants. But for America to continue going on down that path is almost politically impossible. Her people will not understand why these loans and grants are made, and they will begin to become resentful of what they will consider an unfair burden placed upon them. The upshot of it will be that America will not be able to continue as she has been doing, whereas if there were an automatic system of the character I have outlined it would get over the difficulty. Moreover, it would put an end to a tremendous amount of the criticism that is directed from various parts of the world to-day against America.
Nations are progressively developing a repugnance to accepting loans or aid from America. They feel that to do so may imply economic domination by America, and this creates apprehension that economic domination will inevitably lead to political domination. If this system is adopted, that criticism will be ended. Certain criticism by the U.S.S.R., which has of late been widely disseminated as propaganda, and for which there is a substantial basis of justification—namely, that the present system is placing nations in a position of unpayable indebtedness—would be answered. The dollar position, too, would automatically regulate itself. What I have been 394 trying to emphasise to your Lordships is that international political co-operation at the moment is in a mess, and I suggest that the only way to achieve a change is by altering the atmosphere and by following the economic path. If we follow that path steadily then, progressively, we shall secure more and more co-operation from States, including the satellite States, because in a prosperous world these States will gradually be weaned from what will inevitably become a very undesirable and isolated economic position in Eastern Europe.
The times are perilous beyond words. Two world wars have taken place, and the shadow of another is on the horizon I suggest that we have to recognise that our whole system of civilisation has to be evolved along new lines compatible with the tremendous forces that to-day are loose in the world. Great scientific discoveries are being made; conditions generally are changing rapidly. To face this situation we need the co-operation of the maximum number of nations who sincerely detest the idea of war, whose only desire is for peace and who believe in the fundamental ideals of democracy. If we can do that, there is hope for the world. But if that co-operation is to be achieved, leadership will most certainly be required. I suggest that that leadership must come from the British Commonwealth and Empire. With its prestige and its political experience of running a great Empire, it can assume the moral leader-ship of the world to-day. If we are to assume this responsibility, surely the closest consultation and co-operation inside the British Commonwealth and Empire is essential.
Some of your Lordships may remember that I ventured to raise this subject in your Lordships' House two weeks age. I made certain quite definite and, I venture to think, practical suggestions. As I anticipated, my proposals had a distinctly mixed reception. I was not surprised at that. But I want to say a word again upon this subject. I am convinced that closer and more effective consultation and co-operation within the Commonwealth and Empire must come. All the indications to-day are that that is the direction in which we are heading In all the great areas of the world—the Middle East, the Far East, Latin America—regional groupings are contemplated 395 which would mean constant consultation and co-operation between individual nations in those regions. In Europe, under the Marshall plan, the closest links between the sixteen nations concerned are visualised. One can hardly pick up a paper without reading of plans for consultations on the highest level, or for a Customs Union. If that sort of thing is going to happen in all these other fields, surely we shall have it, too, inside this group of associated British nations.
When I put forward my proposals, I suggested a secretariat. That met with an even more hostile response than most of the ideas I put forward, and appeared to create a tremendous amount of alarm in the minds of a number of people. But only the other day I read a document issued by the T.U.C. of this country, in which they said that they believe a secretariat is essential for the European countries. They go on to say that, if this is not practicable, it is vital that "frequent meetings of responsible representatives of the nations concerned should take place." I suggested a secretariat, but I am prepared to accept the lead of the T.U.C. I will abandon the proposal for a secretariat if, as has been suggested, it is not practicable. But I would follow the lead of the T.U.C. and urge that "frequent meetings of responsible representatives of the nations concerned should take place." I suggested that there should be a monthly meeting between the Prime Minister of this country and the representatives of the Dominions. In the ordinary way these representatives would be the respective High Commissioners, but in these days of rapid travel it is possible for the responsible Minister to come from any Dominion to attend these meetings; and in cases of extreme urgency there is nothing on earth to prevent the Prime Minister himself coming. I again put forward this suggestion. I want to reiterate that I have not changed my view in the least, in spite of the discussion we had in your Lordships' House. I believe that it is essential that something should be done, and I appeal to the Government to act, and act quickly.
§ 9.33 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, in rising to make a brief contribution to this debate, I appreciate that it requires a certain amount of hardihood to interpose 396 the views of an inexpert Back-Bencher on a subject on which so many highly qualified experts have given advice. But in these days, when even the expert has to admit that many points cannot be known to those outside the inner circle of government, it perhaps may be of some small value if expression is given to the way in which these things appear to the ordinary common man who sits on the Back Benches. In passing, I would like, before I forget to do so, to dissociate myself with the greatest diffidence from the economic day-dream in which my noble friend, Lord Strabolgi, indulged just now. I cannot believe that one can attain success in dealing with a menace like this by turning the other cheek and concentrating on trade. I fully appreciate the importance of trade, but I believe that even in business one does not attain to high success by merely giving everything to one's rival.
I would like to envisage this problem for a moment from a general view. Look at the world to-day. From China to Paris we see nothing but trouble, turmoil and unrest. Fear haunts the world to-day—fear of suffering, starvation and misery. The people of the world expected so much after the war, and the feeling now prevalent is one of dismal disappointment with the result. At least we expected a long reign of peace during which the ordinary man could rebuild his home. Most men, despite the warning of the aftermath of the 1914–1918 war, really hoped that peace would be like a train coming out of a long tunnel into the sunlit fields of security, but the picture which we have had to look at to-day is a very different and dismal one. We are not fortified by all that we read. So much was expected of co-operation among the nations, and so little has eventuated.
We see facing each other across a sea of mistrust the two most powerful groups the world has ever seen, the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union. Human evolution has been so accelerated by two world wars that we now realise that we can have peace only if the world becomes in reality one world. Total war has at least taught us that total peace is the only possible kind of peace the world can have. That eminent historian, Professor Toynbee, has told us that in his view the world is going to be one, and there is no longer any argument about it. It is not a question open to argument: the only question which remains 397 is in what way the world will become one. I think it will be by the greatest co-operation of the nations of the world under the developing organisation of the United Nations, or by the last most horrible war in which the victor will be able to impose his will and his views upon a vanquished world. The chances of being able to delimit the world in two spheres, without those spheres inevitably moving to a terrible and final clash, seem to me too remote to be worthy of any hope at all. We can only hope for a temporary postponement of that sort of thing. The American and British faith in individual liberty, and the Soviet faith in the utter supremacy of the State and the servile subjection of the individual, are so fundamentally antagonistic as to be incapable of mixture.
It may be, as has been said, that we are suffering the Nemesis of Western materialism; that the decay of social values and the decline of the Christian spirit has exposed us to the terrible choice which faces us to-day. We live in the days of mass movements—the cinema, the broadcasting system and the general annihilation of space have completely dwarfed the individual. Now the atomic bomb and all its possible horrible descendants have completely altered the background of our lives and of any political problem of an international nature. Is there no alternative to a fight to the finish between two great ideologies? In England, we believe that there is a way of preventing the spread of Communism. It lies in presenting to the world the prospect of successful social democracy. Such, presumably, are the principles and policy of the present Government. We believe that the defects of an undiluted capitalist system can be remedied by the practice of democratic socialism, which aims at ensuring social justice while it guards the rights of the individual. After all, Communism can hope for willing recruits only from the existence of social injustice which is not in process of being remedied, from the existence of countries where masses of the people have lost hope of betterment and the means to ensure it. We believe that the future of the world may hang on our success in proving that social democracy can and does work.
To-day it is only the peace-time strength, the balanced domestic economy and the consciousness of social justice at home that make any democracy capable 398 of looking the world in the face and of being strong to defend its own principles. The danger of war for economic reasons, which has been one of the main causes of war in the past, is not with us to-day. Neither the United States of America nor the Soviet Union have any such need; and certainly the British Empire has no such urge. We know that none of the people of any nation wants war. Why then, the ordinary citizen asks, does war seem steadily to loom nearer to us? In the Western democracies we have been bewildered, because we are allowed the freedom to see the truth. The truth is grim enough, in all conscience. Behind the Iron Curtain a ruling group has installed itself in power on the plea of freeing the people, who are to-day more than ever slaves. If the next war comes at all, we know it will come because the people of the Soviet Union have been told, until they believe it, that self-preservation demands such a war. The Iron Curtains let down mainly to prevent the seeping through of truth. It is noteworthy, as has been said so often to-day, that the first act of Communist rulers is to suppress freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and freedom of movement.
What, then, can we do about it, in order to be strong abroad? Defence, my Lords, like charity, begins at home. The repetition of impending calamity is in itself surely no help in meeting it; nor, incidentally, is the habit of blaming the Government in office for all the ills of the age any help in curing them. Democracy is on trial to-day in a way that it has never been before. It is a question of whether it shall survive at all in the future world. National strength, whether it rests immediately on battleships, big battalions or big factories, rests ultimately on national morale. I should like to associate myself with those noble Lords who have said that it would be fatal folly for us not to be strong to defend our interests abroad. But I regard that as only a temporary method of dealing with the situation; it does not help us at all in the final showdown which, apparently, so far as the most intelligent of our observers can see, will ultimately face us in the near or the fairly immediate future. In setting themselves to strengthen the foundations of our national life, the present Government are, surely, putting first things first. There is no doubt of our national danger and, in, face of it, I sometimes think that it is a 399 pity that, while we are freezing wages, profits and prices it is not possible to include in the same refrigerating process Party strife and recrimination.
As an Englishman, I see the future not only of my own country but also of the world at stake. A thousand million people in India and China, where there are millions of underprivileged people who will presently emerge to take one road or the other, are waiting, almost literally, on the result of this struggle. We have also to remember that there are 60,000,000 people in our own Colonies whose fate also depends upon this result. It seems to me, having had personal responsibility for some of them, that if is the utmost folly to adopt a passive attitude in relation to Communism. I have seen too much of the effects of the steady infiltration of those pernicious doctrines into our Colonies, and the deliberate way in which the natives of those Colonies are being taken quietly abroad and educated in all the methods of sabotage of orderly government.
Apart from those things, there is the question of development, which has already been dealt with adequately. I would stress the fact that I regard the plans for the development of our Colonies as one of the sure ways of helping to meet the economic menace by providing a better life for the people. We regard our system here in England to-day as an advance—not, as is often said, as a middle road between the two rival ideologies. In that view, Russia represents a relapse of despotism—of a super-Oriental type, at that. Our own system of social democracy we regard as a step forward, an advance on the purely capitalist system which admittedly suited its own day, but which is no longer abreast of modern thought or modern needs. The Russian system is not democracy, and it is not Socialism; it is organised tyranny, and has nothing in common with our ideals. It has adopted "hate" as its watchword, and the State as its God. We believe that social democracy, where freedom is tempered by State control and State control is limited by liberty, is an amalgam which will be strong enough to face the attacks of any ideology of the type with which we are dealing. So we are left with the hope that our Government will combine foresight at home with strength abroad, and that the Foreign 400 Secretary will have, as indeed he has, the support of the entire country in the superlative patience with which he has faced his difficulties in the hope of making a success of international co-operation.
§ 9.49 p.m.
§ LORD LAYTON
My Lords, it would be tempting to follow the last speaker into the paths of political philosophy, but I desire to confine my comments to the topic of the Western Union. This is not the first time that some of us have spoken, both in this House and elsewhere, on this topic. But whereas a few months ago such speeches seemed academic or Utopian, to-day the topic is obviously in the realm of practical politics and is a matter of the greatest urgency. I may add that the great forces which have brought about this change are such that, in my opinion, we and our neighbours are ready for far-reaching and imaginative solutions. I believe this is a moment in which, if we seize the opportunity, a great step forward may be made in the historic evolution of international relations. I do not propose to discuss the causes of those changes but to make some suggestions on what we have to do and how to do it. Several speakers have said that in their opinion there are three aspects of Western Union, political, economic and defence. The noble Viscount, Lord Brace, seemed rather to differ from the majority in thinking that in the economic field alone we might—
§ VISCOUNT BRUCE OF MELBOURNE
Will the noble Lord permit me to interrupt? I did not say that. I entirely embraced the political, economic and defence aspects of the Union in Europe.
§ LORD LAYTON
I accept that fully, and I am glad that we are unanimous on that point, because I think it is not yet fully understood by public opinion. A few days ago my newspaper published the results of a Gallup Poll dealing with this question. People were asked whether they knew about the Western Union, and then three questions were put to them. The first question was whether they were in favour of closer economic association with the countries of Europe, and the ratio was twelve in favour to one against. The second question was whether they were in favour of an alliance with the countries of Europe. Of those who answered the question the majority in favour was in the 401 ratio of three to one. The third question was: Are you in favour of common citizenship? There the majority in favour was in the ratio of one-and-a-quarter to one. It may be that that truly represents the feeling in this country, but I rather think that it is due to the fact that for the best part of a year there has been a great deal of discussion of the Marshall Plan, our own economic difficulties and the rôle which Europe may play in helping to solve them. I think if that Poll had been taken a fortnight later, certainly the second question would have been answered differently and there might also have been a different answer to the third question. But it remains true, I believe, that there is not yet a general appreciation that the great change we shall perhaps go through in the next weeks or months is one which must necessarily be made in those three fields.
May I take them briefly, one after the other? I will deal first with economics. The Marshall Plan of course has two sides, it has what is sometimes described as the charitable side, the preparation of "shopping lists" of what has to be supplied to the countries of Europe. Its other, and more important, side is the problem of self-help and mutual aid. Considerable progress has been made in the first of those fields. Less progress has been made in the second field, but, of course, it is a much more difficult proposition to devise and plan a scheme of mutual assistance. Nevertheless, the Marshall countries are committed to the general policy of mutual aid. In the Report itself—and it has been repeated again and again in the documents which have appeared in Washington in the last two or three months—there is a long list of possible methods of co-operation. I am not going to read that list or comment upon it, but the ways in which there can be economic co-operation divide, as it were, into two parts. One is the coordination of economic policy and the other is action to integrate the economies of the countries, with a view to increasing production and raising the standard of living.
There are numerous examples that could be given of the need for co-ordination of policy. For example, at the present time officials and Ministers are meeting in many capitals throughout Europe, conducting bilateral trade negotiations. It surely is common sense that if there is no drawing together of all the different bargains 402 in those bilateral trade negotiations, chaos will result. An effort should be made gradually to co-ordinate them. For example, if they were made under one roof, as is the case with the negotiations in Geneva on tariffs, it would be an immense step forward, both in the atmosphere in which negotiations were made, and in the prevention of deals which were contradictory.
I turn now to questions of currency and exchange credit policy. If there is to be union, quite clearly we have to come to an understanding on a uniform policy in credit matters; if there is to be what is called full, employment through credit policy, that must be a common policy, and so on. That agreement on policy will lead to the setting up of organisations to do certain things. For example, the currency and credit field may well be one in which it will be necessary to start something akin to either an international bank or a finance institution of some kind, if we are to facilitate what is obviously necessary in a Western Union of this kind, the free movement of capital. On the side of integration, as distinct from co-ordination, I would briefly observe that while there may be national resistance to integration, surely all recent experience shows very forcibly that the small countries into which Europe is divided are not really fitted to compete as independent units in the modern world. I think there is agreement that an endeavour must be made to get a larger economic unity. It would give to Western Europe—or indeed to the whole of Europe, if we could get all the countries in—the advantages which the United States enjoy in their continental market from the resulting specialisation and the division of labour.
That objective can be approached first, negatively, by removing barriers of trade. A great deal has been said in recent times of Customs Unions; but the barriers to trade which it is important to remove at the present time are not the tariffs, because tariffs have relatively little influence to-day in directing trade. It is a question of removing the quotas, the licensing and other positive controls of trade. I spoke in the autumn on this subject in this House, and I endeavoured to put forward the point of view that the Customs Union was in fact not suited to 403 Europe, and that the system that would have to be introduced when the quotas, and so forth, are removed, must largely depend on preferences, with moderate tariffs in relation to the rest of the world.
The negative side of the task of integrating Europe is to remove the barriers. It is necessary also in the present state of Europe to take positive measures, and that involves planning. I do not mean elaborate, detailed planning and control; that may or may not be done in individual countries. The conception necessary here in Europe, however, is to agree upon a picture, or, if you like, a programme, the purpose of which is to guide the economic policy of the participating countries, to avoid the duplication of capital investment during the present period of penury, and also to embark on joint projects (such as the development of power) which may be convenient and possible for members of the group. I will not trouble your Lordships with other examples which must arise to everybody's mind. This development would cover the field of agriculture, power, transport and the many items which were referred to by a previous speaker. In particular, this positive planning clearly involves, for both economic and military reasons, a steel plan for Europe. That again is a question upon which I cannot touch to-night. I would merely say in this connection that the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, commended to us the Labour Party's proposition about Western Union and said that if we had anything to offer he would be glad. I accept his invitation, and I hope shortly to be able to put into his hands the proposals which will come before the Congress of Europe which will be held in May.
§ LORD LAYTON
I have mentioned these points because I want to emphasise that one of the aspects of economic cooperation in Western Union is that it involves the integration and the increasing interdependence of Great Britain with the other countries of the Union. That is a point which really needs to be kept in mind for it is one which has important implications for the future of this country. It is the point on which, when the details come to be worked out, there may 404 be resistances and criticisms. For example, it is said that a free movement of labour will lead to a lower standard of living in this country, because we shall be flooded with cheap Continental labour. I believe that to be a complete misconception. We are told that cheap goods will come into this country, and that the industries of Western Europe are more economical than our own. If that is so, then our hope in the export markets of the world is a very slight one indeed. When you come to examine it, all experience of recent times shows that at least Great Britain is able to maintain her position as a competitor with European manufacturers as a whole; and the effect of lowering barriers would be not to push us out of business, but to increase the total volume of production and trade, and thereby to raise our standard of living.
I have enumerated these aspects that will come into the picture in the formation of a Western Union, because it underlines the far-reaching character of the agenda that will have to be dealt with, and dealt with very quickly. That brings me to the question of how to deal with it. I would emphasise most strongly that it is absolutely imperative that there should be a permanent Economic Council set up to deal with this question, aided by a permanent secretariat. The council should be on the ministerial level. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, referred to the fact that there is to be set up a continuing organisation; but what I want to emphasise is that the secretariat must be permanent and work under the direction of a ministerial Council. I should also like to ask whether, without waiting for this development or the permanent organisation, conversations are proceeding upon some of the more urgent and vexed questions, such as anti-inflation policies.
Before leaving this problem of economic organisation, I want to say a word about Germany. Germany is one of the major factors in a Western Union. Britain and Western Germany are the two great industrial workshops of the Union as a whole. Under the Marshall Plan, Germany is put down for a definite programme of production of steel, chemicals and other products as part of the whole production programme for Europe. But there were no Germans in these discussions at Paris. Nevertheless, it is clear that during the period of the next five years and the five years that will come after— 405 because there will have to be a new programme to follow—it is the Germans, to whom it is our policy to hand over administration, who will have to assume responsibility for endeavouring to carry out that programme. It is very important, I suggest, that the German technicians and experts in German industry should not be presented with a programme fixing their future, but should at least be present and have their say in the discussions which take place. I would, therefore, like to ask what steps, if any, are in contemplation for associating Germany with these talks.
There is another aspect, too, of the German relationship to these plans. It is again in the field of finance. German currency has already been referred to in the course of this debate. A stable currency for Germany is obviously very urgently needed. I would like to ask whether the Government consider that recent events in Central Europe materially affect the prospects of the Berlin Four-Power discussions about the stabilisation of German currency. In view of the urgency of this matter, is it intended to introduce a new West German currency in the event of those discussions being prolonged or broken off? That may seem a technical point, but those who have been to Germany know that the drain upon this country in the matter of feeding Germany is intimately tied up with the fact that in effect Germany has no currency at all. Little business is done by means of currency; to a large extent currency at this moment is replaced by barter. Are we going to hold up the introduction of a currency into West Germany in the hope of being able to obtain a currency for the whole of the area of Germany, or not? In other words, do we accept that for the time being the line is finally drawn?
I will say little about defence. There is at this time an air of unreality about Treaties for defence against Germany's aggression. It is perfectly true that history makes it inevitable that Continental countries feel, and will continue to feel, a possible danger from Germany; but we all realise that at the present time it is not an imminent danger, particularly at a moment when we are contemplating setting up such a structure in Western Germany that will enable countries to come in under conditions where danger of aggression from Germany 406 will not exist. However, if we are agreed that it is necessary to integrate the economy of countries who are going to lower the barriers between themselves, we cannot ignore the problem of defence. It involves a joint staff, the standardisation of weapons and (linking up with the economic problem), the co-ordination of war potential. The integration of production and the balancing of industry as between countries are in themselves directly related to war potential. Quite apart from the question of whether there is imminent danger of war from this quarter or from that quarter, it is inevitable that, in planning for a Continent, one should consider where, and in what proportion, its war potential is to be placed.
I pass quickly to the third point, the political issue. Here I suggest that, if for no other reason, the integration of the economy of countries demands that there shall be in the background a political understanding. The integration of the economy of countries is not an economic flirtation; it is a marriage. You must be certain that you are integrating your economy with countries who you know will always be on the same side of the fence as yourself in the event of trouble. That cannot be taken for granted with Europe as it has been in the past with the British Empire and Dominions. We may be, nearer geographically, but we have not the same long association, habit of thought, traditions and institutions But history has been bringing us closer to the European countries. Moreover nearly half the population of Canada is of French origin, and the greater part of the population of South Africa is Dutch.
We are now compelled by circumstances to act together in the economic field. I suggest that it is an imperative necessity also to find and to define a common political background. That political background must not be based on any one political dogma. Mr. Attlee made that plain in his speech in the debate on foreign affairs, which has been referred to earlier in this debate. He spoke of the need for diversity, not uniformity. How are we to leave room for diversity of outlook and for Party differences, and, at the same time, ensure that the members of our Union do not depart from the basic principles of our Western civilisation? There are a number of ways in which this can be done, 407 ranging from a complete federation downwards. After all, in a complete federation there is the single controlling force of a legislative Assembly. Indeed, it is useful to bear in mind the different types of association of the kind that might be possible in Western Europe. You can enter into agreement with your neighbours by Treaty, relying on the country with whom you make the Treaty to carry it out. If it is not carried out, you give notice to terminate the Treaty. Or you can agree to pool certain functions. You can set up an organisation or a council which will be concerned with the administration of something which is done in common. You can set up a council which might own an international railway and do other things of that kind in common—transferring functions without fusion. Or you can go the whole hog and set up a joint legislative body. There is every possible variation between those alternatives.
The kind of union that we are talking about now consists in part of a Treaty—making association and in part of setting up special international organs to carry out positive functions. We are somewhere in the middle of alternatives number one and number two. Whether we are proceeding to number three, nobody can foretell. Public opinion will decide that. Perhaps we shall get the right answer if we consider exactly what we want to do, and then decide how we shall do it. I suggest that the least that the situation of Europe demands to-day is a guarantee of certain basic rights to all the inhabitants of the Western Union. That guarantee, after all, is the touchstone that distinguishes democracy, as we understand it, from totalitarianism. It is a matter which, as Mr. Attlee stated recently, has been under discussion at Geneva.
But there is a difficulty. It is not difficult to define the basic rights of democracy; that has been done many times. The problem is to see that they are enforced, otherwise the whole exercise is little more than window dressing. I would suggest that, without waiting for the rest of the world, the adherents of a Western Union should proceed as a matter of urgency to draw up a Bill of Rights, dealing in particular with those freedoms that are most in danger in Europe at the present time, and should agree to establish a Supreme Court to enforce it. That step, 408 I believe, would do more than anything else to restore the morale and consolidate the opinion of all peoples in Western Europe. Such a step would serve to define our position. An agreement on enforcement would be a test of our sincerity. In passing, for example, the issue as between Spain and the other Western countries would at once be clarified by that course.
I very much regret that the noble Lord, Lord Dukeston, who has given an immense amount of time to this matter, is not here to-day, because I feel certain that if he had been he would have given this House his advice on that particular issue which goes straight to the heart of the political aspect, the third aspect of Western Union. Finally, let me say that one sometimes comes across people who fear that the creation of a Western Union may raise difficulties with the United States. Such people fear that, in the end, the endeavour to make Europe's economy independent of United States imports, or proposals to introduce preferences will, when the pinch comes, create friction which might endanger the voting year by year, as it must be voted year by year, of Marshall aid. I do not think there is any danger of that sort. Certainly there would be none if the people of the United States endorse the State Paper which commended the Marshall Plan to Congress. It is a most interesting document and, speaking as a journalist, I wish the covering memoranda which His Majesty's Government issue with Parliamentary Bills could be couched in similar terms.
After asserting that the foreign policy of the United States is based on support of the United Nations, the document goes on to say that assistance to Europe is a vital step which they, as supporters of the United Nations, feel bound to take. Referring to the sixteen nations, it recalls that two of them are among the five who share a major responsibility for the world as a whole, and others are small nations who have played a great rôle in developing the rule of law. It concludes with these words:Without an essential margin of American assistance, Western Europe cannot be expected to achieve economic and social recovery, the foundation for the maintenance of the institutions of freemen. The rise of totalitarianism would not be stemmed; it would be fostered by economic want and desperation. If totalitarianism were to sweep Europe, its repercussions throughout the 409 world would operate slowly but inexorably to compel adoption by the United States, in its own defence, of measures inconsistent with American traditions and the opposite of American hopes. With the, persistent slow progress of freemen thus brought to a pause, there could in the future be little justice, no stability, hazardous and transient peace and the ultimate degradation of the subordination of men to state.
§ 10.25 p.m.
§ LORD SCHUSTER
My Lords, I will stand for only a few minutes between your Lordships and the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, whose reply we are all awaiting. There are one or two things I would like to say. In the first place, I am sorry that it is impossible for me to follow the learned, intricate and interesting argument addressed to us by the noble Lord who has just sat down. If that speech had been made earlier in the evening I would have liked to say something about the Bill of Rights and Lord Dukeston's work upon it. I feel, however, that our minds are set much more on immediate problems in Germany, Austria and Russia; and it is on them that for a few minutes I venture to detain you.
Some few weeks ago, during the debate on satellite States, I mentioned to your Lordships the cases of Czechoslovakia and Austria, and it was pointed out to me (with some asperity I thought), that as neither of those were satellite States I might better have held my tongue about them. The rôle of Cassandra was probably never a pleasant one to play, and I do not suppose that when she met her death the thought that, if she had survived, she would have been able to say "I told you so" would have thrilled her very much.
§ LORD SCHUSTER
The Lord Chancellor. Well, Czechoslovakia has gone and, when I heard Lord Strabolgi talk about it, I felt very varied emotions. It is quite possible to talk about the enslavement of a country without realising clearly what it means, either to the country or to the people who live in it; and when I hear what has happened to Czechoslovakia treated in that vein I think, not of any political theory, but of the Czechs who entertained me six months ago. I think of the crushed body of the Minister of 410 Justice, now lying in hospital—whether or not to survive I do not know—and I am bound to admit that I find it difficult to restrain my language. Passing from Czechoslovakia to Austria, my friendly quarrel, if I may so call it, with the Chancellor of the Duchy is going to be renewed. On many previous occasions and (as I tried to put them) in many different words, I have continually complained that this House was taught all that happened in Germany, and that Austria was a side issue. Nobody is more ready than myself to realise that Germany is a large country and has a great many inhabitants and that the problems which arise with, regard to it and them are very many and very grievous. No doubt we stand in a different relation to Austria from that in which we stand to Germany. We stand in a different relation to Austria principally because we have given pledges and made promises, some in words and some merely by conduct, which have caused the Austrians to look to us for protection and for succour. As the noble Lord well knows—for I believe that there is nobody in this House, including myself, who has the welfare of Austria in real truth nearer to his heart—the case of Austria is very dark, and her fate very uncertain.
All those methods which the Chancellor of the Duchy has described to the House this evening—whereby Czechoslovakia was penetrated gradually, bit by bit, by infiltration into the factories and into the police, by fighting over a Communist Minister of the Interior and a Communist head of the police—have been employed and attempted daily in Austria. The Austrians, helped I hope by at least two-thirds of the Control Commission, have, I think, succeeded up to now in warding them off. But these dangers are ever present. In Czechoslovakia they succeeded. In Austria they must succeed unless we stand by our bargain. I am not going to ask the noble Viscount tonight, or on any other occasion, to make a statement of British policy towards Austria. That has been proclaimed many times, and the way in which that policy can be carried out must lie in the discretion of His Majesty's Government. We cannot fully know what is being done We can only, at the risk of being bores—and I am afraid that, perhaps, I am being a bore—by saying the same things over and over again continually insist that that duty and that privilege lie at the 411 door of His Majesty's Government. We must leave it to the Government to discharge them.
That is all I am going to say about Austria, but there are one or two general observations I want to make before I sit down. The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, echoing what had been said by two previous speakers at least, declared that this was no time for Party strife or bitterness; at any rate, he used expressions like that. But from this side of the House, no attack has been launched upon His Majesty's Government. It may be that words have been said here which might have embarrassed His Majesty's Government because they constitute support for the Government from over here. Be that as it may, I am certain—I speak only for myself, but by myself I judge others who sit on these Benches—that we stand by the foreign policy which the noble Lord has adumbrated to-night; for that policy the Government have our support. But I must say that both the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham and Lord Pethick-Lawrence, make it difficult for us if, in the middle of a cry for lack of strife and lack of Party feeling, we have professions again and again of Socialist opinions. We have no desire to convert the noble Lords and their friends from their opinions. We know well that they are unteachable by experience and impervious to argument; but we ask that they should not mix up appeals to these Benches for sympathy and help with continual iterations of their Socialist creed and of their intention to cling to those things which, we believe, have already brought them to the verge of ruin and, if persisted in, will in our opinion bring them to catastrophe. That is all I have to say. I hope that I have not been discourteous either to the noble Lord or to the noble Viscount from whom I have had many courtesies in the past and from whom I confidently hope to have many more in the future.
Perhaps I may be allowed to say just a word with regard to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi. At one point in his remarks he appeared in some way to entangle the noble and gallant Viscount Lord Stansgate—if I may still refer to him as such—with the Cannibal Islands. I could not understand what those remarks meant, but I am glad to see that Lord Stansgate has at any rate sufficiently recovered from his experiences 412 in those Islands to occupy a seat on the Benches opposite to-day.
§ 10.36 p.m.
THE EARL OF CORK AND ORRERY
My Lords, I will occupy your attention for only two minutes, but I feel compelled to mention a danger which I see before this country, and which has not been mentioned during this debate except in so far as the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart hinted at it. The noble Marquess who introduced the Motion which we are now discussing, seemed to envisage that when we withdraw our troops from Palestine there will then be civil war between Arabs and Jews. With that I quite agree. It is impossible that any International Force can be formed in three months and made sufficiently efficient to go and take over the duties which our troops have been performing in Palestine. What will happen? Nature abhors a vacuum, and we shall have, I am sure, Jews and Arabs fighting in these holy places. And what will be the next thing? The next thing will be the appearance of Russian troops. Quite likely they will be airborne and they will land in Palestine in the name of the Greek Church—
The noble Earl speaks of Russian troops intervening. On whose behalf does he suggest that they will intervene?
THE EARL OF CORK AND ORRERY
Will the noble Lord be kind enough to give me one moment in which to express myself? The Russians will have every excuse to come in, on behalf of the Greek Church, to defend the holy places of Christendom. There will be no other troops there. When civil war breaks out, what is to prevent the Russians going to Palestine on behalf of the Greek Church to keep order? And when they go there who is going to turn them out again? They will stay. To get into the warm waters of the Mediterranean has been a Russian ambition for 400 years, and now we are to let them enter. We are going to do something which will allow Peter the Great's dream to come true.
§ 10.37 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
My Lords, this debate, greatly distinguished as it has 413 been by those who have taken part in it, has been closed by two charming and striking utterances. I would like to assure the noble Lord, Lord Schuster, with regard to his moving references to Austria, that he has our fullest sympathy. He knows where we stand in that matter, and our policy has not altered. With regard to his admonition to ourselves and others on the expression of Party sentiments, we accept his admonition with all due respect. The point put by the noble and gallant Earl, Lord Cork, who sits behind me, has, of course, been referred to in speeches here more than once. It recalls to me a sentence which Lord Strabolgi to me a sentence in the Defence Paper to which Lord Strabolgi objected. He referred, I think, to Paragraph 52 and objected to the words:The supreme object of British policy must continue to be the prevention of war. In the present situation where the United Nations organisation is not yet able to enforce peace….I understood him to say he regretted that reference to the absence of a United Nations Organisation force for that purpose. It would have been a blessing to the world if it had been available in the circumstances which may possibly arise in Palestine, but which, of course, we earnestly hope will not arise. All I can say of that paragraph is that it is nothing but a statement of a sad truth.
Before I come to the main theme of our discussion, may I first refer to various questions which have been put to me? At the outset I should like to join with other noble Lords in offering congratulations to the noble Lords, the Earl of Buckinghamshire and Lord Douglas, on their maiden speeches. I can tell the noble Earl that he need have no apprehensions as to a diminution of the education services. It has, in fact, been decided to increase them. The remarks of the noble and gallant Lord will, I am sure, have been received by all of us as setting out the first-hand experience of a man who has been doing the job for some two years. We were all delighted to hear him and I was glad to note that there was a considerable relationship of conclusion between what he said and what system was adopted, while all the time was said by the right reverend Prelate.
I am not going to take up again the argument which the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, addressed to us. 414 Nevertheless it is true that regional areas are developing fast and are likely to develop more. I do not think he gave sufficient credit to the frequency of meetings which do occur. For example, the Royal Princess's wedding might have been the occasion for a meeting of Prime Ministers, but the inability of them all to attend only illustrated the exceedingly great difficulty in getting them together even on a well advertised occasion such as this. For all that, the more these consultations develop, the better for us all.
With regard to what the noble Lord Lord Vansittart, said about the Russian wives, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has said he is willing to consider any practical suggestions which may be helpful. And I am authorised to tell the noble Lord that if he will go and talk it over with him, the Foreign Secretary will be very glad to see him. That is all I can say on that subject at the moment. In reply to the question put to me by the noble Earl, Lord Perth, consultations, are now being promoted between the leaders of the different religious denominations with regard to safeguarding the Holy Places. American assistance is being given, as I think he knows, to the furnishing of further protective troops in Greece.
When we recollect, as we do, that for years we were fighting in the same cause as the Soviet troops, sending them supplies, that many of our sailors met their death in Arctic waters carrying supplies to our Soviet Allies, and that great common sacrifices were imposed upon and borne by us all, it is impossible to express other than the keen sense of tragic disappointment which must possess all of us here, when we recognise the fact, which this debate has revealed—and there is no good at all in avoiding the naked and unpleasant truth—that there has been this progressive absorption of free States and their replacement by police States. The noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, has referred to the ease with which this system can be promoted when you have a mass of poverty and misery to work upon. Here in Great Britain we have to remember that the procedure adopted is to promote disorder where possible and to foster in the minds of people such a measure of discontent that they want a change of system.
415 I have a list here of some of the actual procedures which were adopted in Czechoslovakia. First, there was an alleged plot. Then others were accused of conspiracy against the nation. There followed a demonstration by a certain minority group, which sought to show that many points in the national defence were being given away by responsible people. Some of the intended victims were accused of treason, and a terrorist system was adopted, while all the time previously there had been a steady penetration of the trade unions and the Police Force. It is a system which, if it penetrates into the body of an organised people, means sooner or later that every man is encouraged to be a spy on his neighbour. It is a system which, to my mind, is completely detestable to our way of life and system of thought.
It is right to say that we are glad to sec the manifesto published yesterday which says that a determined attempt is to be made to resist the steady penetration of our organisations in this country by those whose purpose it is to cause discontent and finally disrupt them. We have fought for our liberties in this country for centuries, and the love of them is embedded in the very heart and mind of the British people. I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Halifax, who told us that it behoved us to be alert and steadfast. It does. I think that, having marked what goes on in those other countries, described so eloquently and completely by many speakers, that it behoves us to be extraordinarily vigilant in seeing that that system does not spread in our own midst to our undoing.
I have taken note of the suggestions of the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, but he will forgive me if at this stage in the debate I do not propose to go over them. After all, we have to remember that, as my noble friend, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, said, we must not only take account of making the spread of these doctrines difficult in our midst, but we must also remove the causes, or perhaps rather the circumstances, which make their spread easy. That is one of the important considerations which lie behind the Western Union. The noble Earl, Lord Halifax, urged us to be speedy and vigorous in promoting it. I think there has never been an organisation involving the cooperation of different nations which has 416 been more rapidly developed than this. It is quite a short time ago that the Foreign Secretary initiated this movement, and it has led to an elaborate set of organisations already being brought into being to deal with the co-operation of the nations.
With respect to the many suggestions made by the noble Lord, Lord Layton, the Marshall Plan has of course not yet been approved by Congress, and we do not know all the conditions that will attach to it. I can say, however, that there have already been set up the study groups for the various commodities which the noble Lord mentioned. There is an Economic Commission, and it has been suggested that the European economic co-operation meeting which will take place in Paris next week should be followed by the setting up of a working party, which will lead to the formation of the kind of continuing organisation which the noble Lord has in mind. As a matter of fact, the machinery for international co-operation in connection with the Marshall Plan is remarkably well advanced, considering the immense difficulties and intricacies that are involved.
I think that every one in this House will agree that the success of the Marshall Plan in Europe is essential, not only for the recovery of the world and for peace, but for the support of the hopes which are in the minds of us all to-day. We have to remember, too, that this aid at the best will be for only a short term of years, whatever may be the conditions, and it must and will be the aim of this Government to do everything we can to see that during that time vigorous efforts are made throughout the whole organisation of nations to make them at the end of it, if possible, independent of any sort of repetition of this kind of assistance. That is absolutely essential. I believe myself, also, that the people of the United States will want to see that this immensely generous gesture—because it is that—is used by the nations concerned to put themselves into a strong position with regard to their own restoration. All I can say to the House is that His Majesty's Government are determined to do everything they can actively to support the cooperation of the Western nations concerned, and to see that every possible use is made of the facilities that will become available to get Europe restored economically. 417 For my part, I may say that, having studied the figures many times with great care, I am satisfied that the outlook for Western Europe without some such scheme as this would be exceedingly black, and it is to be hoped that rapid progress will be made with it.
I would also like to say that it seems to us that the success of this effort will be an important weapon in the defence against the spread of Communism, because it as a fact that, if Europe continues in misery and there is large-scale unemployment, inflation and that sort of thing, it produces the very set of conditions which makes the spread of any kind of doctrine of that kind easier, for the people then are looking for some escape from their troubles. That is a point which was insisted upon with great force, and, if I may say so, with great attractiveness by my noble friend Lord Pethick-Lawrence, and I am sure it is of vital and fundamental importance. Let us hope that this path to the defence of our liberties in Western Europe—namely, its economic restoration through these means—will be successful. I can say, without any qualification, that His Majesty's Government are determined to do everything they possibly can to help.
I have not said a word, and I do not propose to, to conceal my disappointment at the development of affairs in the world. For some reason, it seems to be impossible to get agreement on anything. But I feel sure that the events of the last fortnight must have convinced the most optimistic person that we must be prepared to exercise as almost never before that vigilance which is necessary for the defence of liberty. We take warning from these events. It may be, of course, that with time and patience—and we shall seek to exercise it—trade with the countries which are controlled at present behind what is called the Iron Curtain will gradually mean that we shall get to know one another better. Let us hope it will gradually break down some of the stupid and impossible barriers that are now being interposed between us. That is the best that we can hope for. At all events, we shall do everything we can, as we have done by the trade agreements which are being made quite rapidly, to encourage and foster trade between ourselves and those other countries. That is not only a hopeful but a sensible thing 418 to do, and we shall continue to do our best. My Lords, I think this discussion will prove to have been of great value, because it will show that, whatever may be our other differences, we are determined to stand together and strive for those things which we believe make for the social development of the people, and for the preservation of those precious personal liberties in which we all believe and for which we are prepared to sacrifice ourselves. I think that this discussion, concentrated as it has been, without a doubt, on that central theme, will have assisted in the consolidation of public opinion in this time of danger, which will prove to be exceedingly valuable.
§ 10.58 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, in rising to withdraw my Motion, there are a few comments I would like to make. I think it will be agreed that we have had a notable debate, probably the most notable that has taken place on foreign affairs in either place in recent months. I hope and believe that this debate will seem to your Lordships to have justified the action which I took in putting down my Motion. It is invidious to distinguish between so many admirable contributions as we have had this evening; there are many speeches which we should all of us especially remember. There was the wise and thoughtful speech of the noble Earl, Lord Perth—one of the best, I think, that I have ever heard him deliver in this House. There was the reminder of the noble Earl, Lord Halifax, that we are living in an age of naked power politics, a fact that we should do well always to remember. Then there was the remarkable and penetrating analysis of the noble Lord, Lord Milverton. Although perhaps I am biased, I was a little less certain about his remedy. The noble Lord seems to be rather like a doctor whose diagnosis is admirable but whose prescriptions are not always successful. Up to now the social democracy to which he attached so much importance does not seem to have saved the nations of Europe, and I am afraid that in many cases it has only paved the way to Communism. If, instead of making his speech to us, the noble Lord had made it at this moment to a number of eminent Czechs, I am afraid that he would have had a rather discouraging answer.
419 Then, of course, there was the forthright speech of the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, which we all greatly appreciated. I appealed in my opening remarks to the Government not to mince their words, and certainly I cannot complain of the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, in that respect. I think a casual visitor might have found from his speech the explanation of the fact that he is universally known here as "Frank." The speech of the noble Lord gave us reassurances, which I hope will be carried out, on a great many aspects of foreign policy. He said—and we were delighted to hear it—that the Government were determined to protect British interests wherever they were. He repeated the assurance that the Government have no intention of delaying their departure from Palestine. He pledged the unshakable support of the Government to the integrity and independence of Austria. He gave us a full-blooded repudiation of the Czech coup, and there, I think, he had the sympathy of almost every noble Lord in the House. I was a little interested, and a little surprised, at the intervention in this matter of the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi. I will say only a word about that because it has already been referred to by later speakers. I listened to him carefully and the noble Lord practically ignored the complete collapse of free institutions in Czechoslovakia. At any rate, he glossed them over; and such things as the imprisonment of anti-Communists and the wholesale arrests seem to have passed him by. I have always known the noble Lord as a great traveller, I must confess that as I listened to him I was inclined to think he was also a great fellow traveller. It was the type of speech that I would have expected from a man who was ready to excuse a Soviet coup—the type of coup which, to all of us who believe in free institutions, as the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham himself said, I should have thought would be anathema.
To return to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham: we welcome his announcement that at a meeting of the sixteen nations Italy will take part. We also welcome his assurance that arrangements are being made for continuing the organisation—I think he called it a "continuing organisation," a new expression to me—to ensure that the work of the 420 meeting will go on after the members have separated. The noble Viscount the Leader of the House also dealt with this organisation, and I would like to say this to him. We are glad to hear that the arrangements have gone so far as they have, and I hope that we in Parliament may be kept informed, at suitable intervals, of the progress that is being made. This is a matter of vital interest to us all, and the more the Government can tell us the better pleased we shall be. We were glad, too, of his further announcement that the aim of the Government with regard to Western Pact, is to set up machinery to cover not only the economic sphere but also the social and military spheres. All these declarations are of first-rate importance, and I am grateful to the Government, if I may say so, for giving such satisfactory replies on so large a number of aspects of foreign policy. I am also grateful to the Leader of the House for the great candour and sincerity with which he spoke at the end of his remarks.
But, when I have said that, the fact remains that we must all be clear that the situation is extremely sombre, and that nothing which we can say will make it any different. Whatever may be the motive of the Russian Government at the present time, whether it is devotion to an ideology or (as I think Lord Bruce said) a mere policy of "grab" on the part of the small group at the top, the fact remains that they are at this moment, without any declaration of war, engulfing one small country after another; and a large part of the civilised world, as our fathers knew it, is disappearing beneath the Communist wave. We have tried ever since the war to deal with the Russian Government on a basis of friendly co-operation, and I think that has applied to every Party in the State. Certainly we have always supported that policy from this side of the House. Every effort has been repulsed and brushed aside and, in the meantime, what used to be known as the Russian steamroller has gone ahead. It seems to me that there is now no option before Western Europe but to organise for the protection of their mutual interests, so that in the future we may be able to negotiate with the Russians on a basis of strength and not weakness. This Western Pact is not an offensive weapon; it is a weapon of defence. We are all glad that the Government have already embarked 421 upon that policy, and before I sit down I should like to wish them all success and Godspeed in their negotiations. We hope that they will succeed, for on their success will depend not only their own reputation but the whole future of this country. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, with drawn.