HL Deb 24 September 1948 vol 158 cc242-328

11.8 a.m.

THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY rose to call attention to the international situation; and to move for Papers. The noble Marquess said: My Lords, it is some considerable time since we had a general debate in this House on foreign affairs. As I think your Lordships know, I had tabled a Motion shortly before the House rose for the Summer Recess: but it was postponed because the Government considered the moment in-opportune, and I was most anxious, as we all are, not to embarrass them in this very delicate field. Perhaps the same thing might be said to-day, but it is clearly impossible for your Lordships' House to remain permanently silent, especially now that the Foreign Secretary has made two statements in another place. It seemed to me essential—I hope your Lordships will agree with me—that some statement should be made in this House also before we separate.

Foreign affairs debates inevitably tend to be depressing. For there is always something unpleasant happening in some part of the world, and it is natural that it is on the dark and dangerous aspects that the attention of the House is concentrated. But the prospect which confronts us all to-day must seem, even to us who have lived through the storms and stresses of the last decades, to be a preternaturally grim one. I thought that there were two statements which were made in the debate in another place on September 15—a debate which dealt with the general position—which together defined briefly but quite clearly the situation with which the world is confronted. First of all, there was the statement by Mr. Eden that since Parliament adjourned at the end of July, there had been a marked deterioration in the international situation. Secondly, there was the statement of the Foreign Secretary that it was all "part and parcel of a clash between two philosophies." I believe that no one who examined the present position in an objective spirit would wish to dispute either of those two assessments; and, taken together, they present us all with a pretty formidable problem.

Ordinary disputes between nations, arising from a divergence of interest in some limited and clearly defined sphere, should, with good will on both sides, always be capable of a solution. But a conflict between rival philosophies is something far more fundamental and dangerous. Yet that—and it is no good blinking the fact—is the position with which, it has become ever more clear, the whole human race is now faced. Where-ever one looks, in Europe or Asia, war between these two philosophies—sometimes a fighting war and sometimes what is now called a cold war—is already in progress. Berlin, Malaya, Burma—they are all only skirmishes in a vaster struggle which may easily, and indeed must ultimately, unless some modus vivendi can be found between these conflicting creeds, plunge the world again in blood. That is a prospect which must fill us all with horror.

Nor, I suggest, is it any use for us to pursue a purely delaying, procrastinating policy. It is no good merely hoping for the best. We have seen the result of that in the policy adopted towards Hitlerism in the years before the Second World War. During that period, it was always hoped, not only by the Government of the day, but also by the people of Great Britain, that if only the issue were postponed, a catastrophe might be averted. But in the event it proved that time was not on our side. One by one the outer bastions of the fortress of liberty were progressively reduced and ultimately the point was reached when there could be no further retreat without a complete surrender of all we stood for. Then war became an absolute certainty. Something of the same situation exists to-day. The same technique is being adopted by Russia. There is the same crumbling of democratic institutions in one country after another, and each success provides a jumping-off place for a further advance. Roumania, Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia have already gone, and now the tentacles are stretching out—in the East towards China, in the South towards Burma and Malaya, in the West towards Western Europe: and it may well be that similar influences have inspired the extremists groups in Palestine.

That indeed, it seems to me, is the only reasonable explanation of the atrocious murder of Count Bernadotte, which has so deeply shocked the conscience of the world. That crime, surely, was not to the interest of the Jewish authorities; it was not to the interest of the Arabs; it was certainly not to the interest of the Western Powers. To all of them peace in the Middle East is of vital interest. Here was a man who, by his high character and personal influence, was possibly on the verge of bringing about a peaceful settlement of the Palestine problem. Who stood to gain by his elimination? Only those forces to whom peace—and by peace I do not mean a mere absence of war, but a firm enduring settlement—meant bringing to an end conditions in which alone they could operate for the fulfilment of their ultimate purpose, the domination of the world.

My Lords, I do not intend to-day to speak of Palestine, except in relation to my general theme; but perhaps I may make one comment. Fortunately, it was possible for Count Bernadotte, before his tragic death, to produce recommendations for a solution of the present impasse in Palestine. I understand that the United States Government have already promised sympathetic consideration to these recommendations, and I was very glad to read from the Foreign Secretary's speech yesterday that His Majesty's Government take a similar view. No doubt these recommendations will need further study; but, to use a homely phrase, do not let us "miss the bus" again.

Now I would return to my main argument. This Russian policy of calculated sabotage, of troubling the waters in order that they may hopefully fish there, is equally evident in Berlin. There, I understand, the Government have nothing favourable to report, no relaxation of the tense situation. It is evident that it is the Russian intention to make our position in that city untenable. First they tried by means of a blockade. That attempt failed, owing to the air lift, which merely served to illustrate the immense military and economic power which the Western Allies could deploy if they were fully mobilised. Now an alternative method is being adopted, of making local government in that city impossible. All of us, I think, were glad of the Foreign Secretary's assurance that there was no intention of giving way to that pressure, and I hope that the Government spokes- man will repeat that assurance to-day. The Western Allies are in Berlin by treaty right—by virtue of an Agreement signed by Russia herself. There should be no question of our abandoning our rights. Were we to do that, the results all over Europe would be deplorable. No doubt real difficulties are created by currency and other problems, but there was none of them which could not have been surmounted with a modicum of good will.

It is easy to say now that the Allies were unwise ever to have installed the central control machinery in Berlin, which is isolated in the Russian Zone. Looking back, in the light of what has happened since, it certainly was a mistake. It would have been far better to have established it somewhere near the point where the various main Zones joined. But the selection of that site was based on the assumption that the Allies who fought together in the war would be able to co-operate closely and confidently in peace. Unhappily, Russian intransigence has made that impossible. My Lords, looking back—a rather depressing process in these days—one cannot but feel that the same error was made over the inclusion in the Charter of the United Nations of the veto of the great Powers. In principle, most of us, I suppose, always disliked the veto. We agreed to it only because it provided the sole chance of bringing Russia into the United Nations; and without Russia the United Nations could not be what it purported to be, an organisation embracing all the nations of the World within a single unity. But in fact was this worth while? All we achieved was the admission of a fifth column of Russia and her satellite nations, whose whole object is to sabotage the organisation to which they pledged their faithful support.

These are hard facts, they are unpalatable facts; but can we afford any longer to blink them? I hope very much that to-day we shall not have any nice kind speeches saying that the Russians are really just like ourselves, if only we would understand them. They are not at all like us. It is neither necessary nor desirable to regard them as unprincipled ruffians. No doubt, they have principles just as we have—but they are not the same principles. The Russians believe in the Marxist philosophy which is based on force; they believe that the end justifies any means; they do not recognise any standards but their own, and they think that anyone who holds different views is morally wicked. Human life and liberty mean nothing to them. Such conceptions as "live and let live" or "the rights of individuals" are anathema to them. And, as Mr. Marshall said in the remarkable speech which he delivered to the Assembly of the United Nations in Paris yesterday: Governments which systematically disregard the rights of their own people are not likely to respect the rights of other nations and other people, and are likely to seek their objectives by coercion and force in the international field. It is sometimes suggested that Russian policy is actuated by fear and that, were that fear relieved, the whole attitude of the Russians would change and they would become co-operative members of the society of nations. I must confess that I have hugged that hope myself. But I am beginning to be driven to the conclusion that Russian fears are like Hitler's need of lebensraum—appeased only when their sphere of influence embraces the whole world.

That is the unhappy situation as many of us see it. What is to be done about it? This, no doubt, is the chief question which is to be discussed at the United Nations Assembly in Paris, and, clearly, it is important that the Government should say nothing that prejudices these discussions. But I should like to make bold to offer a suggestion to which I do not expect the Government spokesmen to give an answer to-day. And I would add that in what I am about to say I speak merely for myself. It seems to me that the present situation as between the Russian-dominated territories and the rest of the world cannot continue indefinitely without increasing the risk—and indeed the ultimate certainty—of an explosion. I do not believe that anything is to be gained by continuing negotiations with the Russian Government, even if they are willing to negotiate. They are only, as the modern saying puts it, "stringing us along," in the hope that even if they cannot defeat the air lift, winter will defeat it. There is, so far as I can see, no sign of any change of heart.

My Lords, such an attitude as that is bound to lead to increasing friction. On such a basis as that, a basis of exasperation and distrust, no enduring settlement in Europe is possible. As I see it, the only possible hope of an enduring peace is to make it absolutely clear to the Russian Government, as to all other Governments, big and small, that if they were so reckless as to embark on the gamble of war they could not possibly win. I believe that that is the only way by which peace can be preserved. After all, it is the prevention of war and not the winning of war which is the only really important aim of foreign policy, especially nowadays, for under modern conditions, with modern weapons, the damage inflicted on victor and vanquished is almost equally great. I am afraid, however, that I have been driven to the conclusion that we shall never achieve our object—of making it clear that war cannot succeed—merely through the ordinary machinery of the United Nations as laid down in the Charter; that is, through the Security Council and so on. The existence of the veto makes it always possible for that machinery to be rendered ineffective.

In these circumstances, I suggest, with all diffidence, that there is only one real hope of ensuring peace. The nations represented at Paris who believe that the veto should be abolished, should put forward a proposal at the earliest moment, making it impossible for the veto to be imposed in disputes involving great Powers. Every opportunity should be given to the Russian Government both to discuss this proposal and to put forward suggestions. But a decision one way or the other should be taken before the Assembly ends; or, at any rate, a time limit should be fixed. If it is clear that no decision is possible in the direction of the elimination of the veto, those nations in every part of the world who desire its abolition should enter into a pact pledgeing themselves to resist aggression by any nation, whatever it be, great or small. I wish that such a pact could take the form of a regional arrangement under Article 52 of the Charter of the United Nations. I I think it would be the neatest and most convenient method. But the signatories must have freedom of action not only to act after aggression has taken place but to prevent aggression. They must not be hamstrung by the Great Power veto in the Security Council. Unfortunately, under Article 53 of the Charter, such freedom is granted only to members of regional pacts in the case of action against ex-enemy countries—that means countries which were enemies in the last war—and the danger may, unhappily, well come from a country which was not an enemy at that time. It seems, therefore, that a pact such as I have in mind must be outside the United Nations, though, no doubt, it would be in full accord with the principles of that organisation. I will not elaborate this theme any further. I understand that my noble relative, Lord Cecil, proposes to deal with it and he has been good enough to tell me, broadly, what he proposes to say. No doubt, there are many possible variations of his plan; but I believe that his broad view is essentially right and, indeed, that it is the only possible means of preventing a further deterioration in the situation.

It may appear in what I have said to your Lordships this morning that I have adopted an unduly provocative line. Those of us who spoke before the last war in a similar strain were accused of being war-mongers, jitter-bugs, and I do not know what. No doubt the same thing will be said to-day by people who dislike facing facts. But in fact my one and only object in saying what I have said is to prevent war before it is too late. I hate war—we all do. It is the ultimate evil. The main object of all foreign policy must be the preservation of peace, and if war breaks out it is in reality a confession that a nation's foreign policy has failed. But peace will not be preserved merely by sitting still and hoping for the best. Nor will it be preserved by clinging to machinery which experience has shown to be utterly ineffective for the purpose for which it is needed. It will be preserved only by taking action, however drastic, when that action is likely to convince potential aggressors that they cannot possibly succeed.

That point, I believe, has now been reached. If we delay, we may be too late. None of us wants war with Russia. We are all quite prepared that she should have her own system of government in her own country, however abhorrent that system may be to us. That is a matter for the Russian people and not for us. But to allow the situation steadily to deteriorate all over Europe, without taking any action to call a halt is surely a counsel of madness.

The Western Pact is no doubt a step in the right direction. It is not directed in any offensive sense against Russia. It is a recognition that the nations of Western Europe have a mutual interest in close co-operation. A Western Pact, indeed, would have been equally valuable had Russia not existed at all. By all means let us go ahead with the Western Pact—any information which the Government can give about progress in this direction, we shall be glad to hear—after consultation with other Empire Governments to ensure that it harmonises with the interests of the British Commonwealth. And I would add that we must all welcome the steps that are being taken by the Government to initiate such consultations at an early date.

The Western Pact by itself, however, is not enough to ensure peace; nor, as I have tried to explain, is the Charter of the United Nations as at present drafted—though I would say that the United Nations remain an extremely valuable institution for many purposes. Something more is needed for the prevention of war, some further closing of the ranks by peace-loving and liberty-loving nations. I said to your Lordships about a year ago that the sands were running out. That is still truer to-day, as everyone can see. Time is on our side only if we make it our ally. Let the Government, then, act swiftly and with decision. Let them give that lead which this country, by its experience, is so well qualified to give to the world. Let them provide us with the armaments, even at considerable temporary sacrifice, to enable us to make our contribution effective. If they will do that, I believe that even now humanity may be saved that further catastrophe which looms so menacingly before us. Let the Government but grasp the nettle and they will earn the gratitude not only of the Western peoples but of the Russian people as well. If they show courage and resolution, it may well be that the present clouds will yet disappear and a new era of peace and prosperity open before us. I beg to move for Papers.

11.32 a.m.


My Lords, I greatly regret that my noble friend Lord Perth, who usually speaks from these Benches on matters of foreign policy, is curable to be in the House at this time. It devolves upon me again to occupy the attention of your Lordships, after my speech of yesterday on a very different matter. One advantage may have come about from the holding of this brief Session of Parliament, in that it has given an opportunity to both Houses to show their complete solidarity with the Government in their policy in Germany and in relation to Russia. I am sure that your Lordships feel that it represents the spirit and intention of the whole nation and that you will declare to-day, with every emphasis, that this House, representing a great body of public opinion in the country, stands behind the Foreign Secretary in the policy that he has been and is now pursuing in Berlin, in the midst of difficulties. We congratulate him on the harmony, as he expressed it—and in which he rightly took satisfaction—that has been maintained between ourselves, the United States and France in these most difficult negotiations.

The Russians have been exasperating and have meant to be exasperating. Recently, they have gone beyond words, beyond de denunciation and insult, and have resorted to physical actions. One has been a blockade of the city of Berlin; another has been organised mob interference with the working of its municipality. That has created a dangerous situation. I am glad, however, that our Government and the co-operating Governments have not resorted to physical action in return, though they have made it clear, and in this I feel sure they are supported by the whole British people, that in no circumstances will the Allies allow themselves to be forced out of Berlin. Our presence there rests upon the plain terms of an agreed declaration, entered into at the end of the war, at the time when the occupation of Germany was regularised. We have to recognise that the present situation may end in another outbreak of war, but that is very different fro m saying that it must end in another outbreak of war. I deeply regret to hear occasionally talk of war being inevitable. That is sometimes said in this country, and much more often and much too frequently in the United States. "Inevitable" is a wretched word that ought not to form part of our political vocabulary. It is a cowardly word. It means surrender of responsibility. It means hoisting the black flag of despair.

My political memory goes back a very long way. I was first a candidate for Parliament in the days of Mr. Gladstone's last Administration, when Lord Rosebery was Foreign Secretary and Sir Edward Grey his Under Secretary. At one moment then the situation was in some respects parallel to what it is to-day. There had been for some years continued friction with another great European power, with France. Various issues had arisen all over the world, and feeling was mounting higher and higher. Matters came to a head in 1893, over some questions of detail in Siam; and a naval incident occurred at Bangkok, when a French war vessel trained her guns on a British war vessel. It seemed for a few hours then as though war might be imminent. Lord Grey dealt with this point in his Memoirs, and as his observations are of relevance to our present situation, I think that the House would be interested if I were to read a few paragraphs from that book, Twenty-five Years. Lord Grey wrote: It seems incredible that two great European nations should have become nearly involved in war about anything so ephemeral. The incident remained in my mind as an illustration of the danger of a state of ill-will between nations. It provided also another point for reflection. There were some murmurs, as there always were when such incidents occurred under a Liberal Government, that the British Government had not shown proper firmness and spirit. It was told me that one of the most influential men on the Unionist side had said that it was evident that war between ourselves and France must come, and that it would be better to have it at once. I remember at the time feeling strongly, but by instinct rather than reflection, that deliberately to precipitate the waste and suffering of war before it became clearly inevitable was not only unsound policy, but a crime; it was indeed an act likely to bring unforeseen retribution. Further experience and reflection upon the complexity and uncertainty of human affairs have made me question whether any human brain can so calculate the long chain of consequences as to render it safe for anyone to make unnecessary war. … Far-seeing men may be able to calculate the direct consequences of a public act of policy; the indirect consequences are beyond human calculation; and it is the indirect consequences that in the long run are most important. Those are very wise words of Lord Grey. If in 1893 Rosebery and Grey had acceded to the representations made to them, and had accepted the view that war with Britain and France was inevitable, and that it had better come quickly rather than be delayed, then perhaps we in our own time might say, "People said beforehand that war was inevitable, and so it proved." But Rosebery and Grey did not accept that view. A few years later came the Entente Cordiale between Britain and France, and in two great world conflicts the two countries have stood side by side. In earlier centuries, wars between England and France were incessant. The two countries were regarded as hereditary enemies. The phrase was often used. Now we have had 130 years of peace, and never has the union been closer than it is to-day. We should therefore, condemn any talk about "inevitable" wars.

The worst that can be said along those lines is to urge that not only is war inevitable but that we ourselves should, because it is inevitable, engage in a preventive war, in order to forestall attack which we know is certain from the other side. The doctrine of a preventive war is, in my view, criminal. If it is right for us to strike the first blow, because we are sure that otherwise it is coming from the other side, then it would be right for the other side to forestall us, and to strike the first blow because they saw that we were about to do so. And if it is right now, then it is right in every future situation of the same kind. Mankind must then expect preventive wars to be followed later by reprisals, incessant anxiety and alarm. We might, indeed, find that future generations were living in a state that Nietzsche anticipated when he said, writing some fifty or sixty years ago, that mankind may be on the eve of "several centuries" of great wars, a prospect which he regarded with satisfaction as being likely to bring about what he called "the heroic age of mankind."

Those notions are fundamentally contrary to the underlying ideas of the Atlantic Charter and the Charter of the United Nations, and I trust that in this country no word will be spoken, in public or in private, in support of such a course. I agree with what has just been said by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury: not preventive war, but preventive defence; that is the right course. Although we should regard war as not certain—and, in my view, not even probable—we must admit that it is possible; that the risk is real. And, that being so, it is our clear duty to provide against it.

Immediately after the recent war ended, with the destruction of the armies, the navies and the air forces of Germany, Italy and Japan, it seemed that there would be no need to maintain great armaments here, and that there was no likelihood of our having to face any immediate issue. To our grief and sorrow we have to admit that that is not so now. Not only is there this situation in Berlin but, as the noble Marquess has reminded us, there is unrest all over the world, all stimulated from one centre: riots, revolts, revolutions, assassinations—in Greece, China, Malaya, Burma and Indonesia. These are not mere coincidences; they do not arise spontaneously. They are evidently part of a world plan and policy. It is lamentable that a movement—the Communist movement—which originally in its purpose was humanitarian, has now become an injury and a peril to mankind.

So, naturally, those who are threatened draw together. The danger is closest in Western Europe. This has been a stimulus to a movement for a Western European Union, which we are glad to think will receive the cordial support and assistance of the United States. But, apart from all these strategic questions, a Western European Union is good in itself. It would not be merely an Alliance against something, it would be a Union for something; it is not only negative, but positive. It would be a Union for peace and for prosperity, for civilisation in its fullest sense. Such a Union, to my mind, should be built up from the bottom. Already there is a great interweaving of cultural relations, as indeed there has been for centuries past. To stimulate that is necessary, because it assists in ensuring a will to co-operate. Ends, after all, are more important than means. I believe that nothing has happened in recent years more profoundly significant than the meeting at Amsterdam of the World Council of Churches. It may prove that no event of recent years has been of greater ultimate importance, because it indicates a much-needed movement of the human spirit; and that is what matters more than anything else.

A Western European Union is also needed for economic reasons. That is widely recognised as a matter of the greatest urgency. It has, of course, already been stimulated by the magnificent and far-sighted action of the United States. I wish the United States could stimulate those tendencies further by securing, by some means, a fall in world prices of staple commodities. Nothing could do more than that to relieve both the economic and the political situation in Europe and throughout the world. Thirdly, a Western European Union is necessary, not only for those cultural and economic reasons, but also for strategic reasons. As we know, efforts for joint defence are now proceeding very rapidly. That is not, of course, a substitute for our own action at home; they all have to work in together.

It is also desirable that in Western Europe there should be some standing political organ to stimulate and co-ordinate all these activities. It would probably be useful (I do not hold any strong view on this point) if there could be some meeting representative of all the Parliaments and Governments concerned to press forward this movement. The French and the Belgian Governments have asked for that, and it may be that others would share in that desire. For my own part, I agree fully with what the Foreign Secretary said in the debate on the Address in reply to the King's Speech: that to begin by summoning a Constituent Assembly to draw up a paper Constitution for the federation of Europe would be quite futile. By "federation" I mean a constitution such as that of the United States, Switzerland, Australia or Canada, in which certain powers are reserved to a Central Parliament and Government, and other powers are left with the Parliaments and Governments of the States.

I do not believe that there is one State in Europe which would agree at the present time to take part in a Federal Government. It is impossible, especially for us, situated as we are at the centre of a Commonwealth and bound to give priority to Commonwealth union and co-operation, to pledge ourselves to enter into a Federation in which we in this. Parliament would no longer have control over our own foreign policy, over our own declaration of peace or of war, over conscription or voluntary service, or over any of the finances required for those matters. We could not agree that those subjects should be handed over to a Federal Parliament, in which we should be bound by a majority vote. That would make our relations with the Commonwealth quite impossible. We should no longer be able to have a free hand in consultations and arrangements for joint action on all-important matters. I feel certain that it is a mistake to hold out this impracticable scheme before the peace-loving peoples of the world, because when they have been taught to set their hopes upon that and they find that those hopes are disappointed, as they must be, they would be doomed to disappointment, and the whole movement for closer co-operation and unified international action would be defeated. But let me add that Western Union need not mean that at all, and while some people may hold that as an ideal to be fulfilled, in future generations, we can proceed at once, as a matter of urgency, with much more modest and practical methods for the purposes which I have previously described.

Before I conclude, let me say a word about Palestine, for it is a subject upon which it is impossible for any of us to keep silent. The dreadful crime of the assassination of Count Bernadotte has been a terrible blow to all well-wishers of mankind, but especially to those who, like myself, belong to the Jewish community. He has proved to be one of the martyrs of humanity. The theatre has been smaller, but in essence it has been the same as in the cases of the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi, who were foully murdered at the very moment when their efforts for human welfare were reaching their fruition. Terrorism is always hateful and wicked. It is also suicidal for the cause which it is intended to serve, first because it arouses against those who are tainted with it a universal anger and hatred; secondly, because sooner or later terrorists always turn their arms against their own leaders, leading to confusion and chaos, and, thirdly, because it deprives any movement which it is intended to serve of its moral basis and sense of mission—and that, in the long run, is the most important element for its success. For my own part, in this House and elsewhere, I have for some years taken any opportunity which was open to me of warning the Jewish community in Palestine that, unless they could extirpate this terrorist element from their midst, it would, in the long run, bring down in ruin the fine National Home which they have been constructing with so much enthusiasm and success. At last—and, I must confess, somewhat belatedly—forceful measures are being taken. I wish they had been taken years ago.

As for the policy to be pursued in Palestine, in my opinion we should support the decisions of the United Nations. My own views as to the ideal solution of the problem of Palestine have proved to be impracticable. Events have marched beyond the kind of bi-national State that I had been hoping for ever since I was myself High Commissioner in that country. Now we should rally round the decisions of the United Nations, hoping that they will be definite and will be applied with vigour and effectiveness. The proposals of Count Bernadotte have already received the support of the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States, and one hopes that, possibly with some minor amendment, generally agreed, they can be carried into effect.

There is one question that I would like to address to the Government to-day and it is my only question. It relates to an incident in the debate in the House of Commons, when the Foreign Secretary, speaking on this subject, said: The influence of His Majesty's Government is placed squarely behind the Mediator's recommendations. Then a Member of the House interrupted to ask whether that involved the recognition of the State of Israel. The Foreign Secretary replied: The statement I have made does not involve recognition. That has given rise to some confusion. The matter was elucidated to some extent by the Under Secretary of State, Mr. Mayhew, who, speaking later in the debate, threw a different light upon the matter. But I should like to ask the Government now whether they can add anything in clarification of what the Foreign Secretary said, for it seems to me—and I am sure it seems to many—that to accept the proposals of the Mediator must involve, sooner or later, the recognition of the State of Israel. Did the observation of the Foreign Secretary mean simply that what he had said did not imply any immediate recognition before decisions had been reached by the United Nations? No doubt consideration will have to be given to the determination of boundaries, and also the world may legitimately require that the new State is in a position not to be dominated by the terrorists in its midst. Subject to those conditions, I should like to be told whether His Majesty's Government would, with the general assent of the United Nations, be ready to recognise the State of Israel, or whether the statement of the Foreign Secretary meant that they are opposed to it in principle.

Let us be thankful that we have such an organisation as the United Nations to intervene in these matters. The work of the United Nations in the cultural and economic sphere, through U.N.E.S.C.O. and other organs, is most valuable; but for the avoidance and the ending of disputes it is essential to the world that there should be someone who is ready to intervene in times of difficulty, crisis or conflict, to investigate the facts impartially through its own observers, to mediate and to persuade. If the United Nations did not exist, at this moment there would probably be raging four or five full-scale wars in the air, on the sea and on the land, with the sacrifice of perhaps tens of thousands of splendid young lives and injury to the whole world. There would be wars in Palestine, between Yugoslavia and Italy, between Greece and her Balkan neighbours, between the Dutch and the Indonesians and between India and Pakistan. In all these matters the United Nations have been able to intervene and, as a rule, with considerable effect.

As to the suggestion made by the noble Marquess towards the end of his speech for definite and early action by the United Nations, that is too great and too grave a matter for any of us to speak about lightly and without consideration. While recognising its importance, I would ask to be excused at this juncture from expressing an opinion. The conclusion is that, in spite of Russian obstruction and ill will—indeed, all the more because of it—our hopes must be set upon the United Nations. Its success is vital to the well-being of mankind.

11.59 a.m.

VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD had given Notice that he would move to resolve, That it is urgently necessary to create international machinery for effective resistance to aggression. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, may I begin by saying how heartily and earnestly I concur—as I have no doubt all your Lordships concur—with all that has fallen from the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, in condemnation of the incredibly wicked and incredibly stupid crime which has been committed by the assassination of Count Bernadotte.

I do not propose to make any attempt to survey the general situation in the world, and I propose only to emphasise one particular point. I agree with what the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, said in his concluding observations as to the excellent work, in many regards, that has been done by the United Nations, but I cannot help feeling that when one looks at the world it is difficult to speak of its present condition without appearing to exaggerate. Wherever one looks there seems to be material for a general conflagration—in Palestine, in India, in Malaya, in Burma, in Indonesia, in the Balkans and the Mediterranean—and above all, no doubt, in the controversy that has arisen over Berlin. In any of those cases, a blunder or a miscalculation might easily plunge us into another world war; and yet I do not believe that any Government, still less any people, want war—at any rate at the present moment. Certainly in this country—and it is right that we should all say it as strongly as we can, and at every opportunity—the hatred of war is intense.

There are doubtless many causes for this apparent contradiction and no doubt one of the most important must be the physical and economic exhaustion from which so many countries are suffering, because where large numbers are uncomfortable—and worse—it is natural that they should feel somebody is to blame and should seek a remedy by violence. That is inevitable. But if that were all, it might pass; sooner or later we should overcome, or perhaps get used to, hardships of this kind. Unfortunately (and this is where I agree very warmly with the noble Marquess, the Leader of the Opposition), it is not all, or nearly all. There is, in addition, a deep difference about the fundamental conceptions on which human society rests. I am told that there are many people, particularly in Eastern Europe, who hold that the only thing that really matters is dialectical materialism. What exactly that means, I do not myself know, and I am therefore saved from any danger of trying to explain it to your Lordships. But one thing about it is quite clear: it involves the rejection not only of Christianity but of all religions and, therefore, of all other principles of government which exist now or ever have existed.

It is important that we should recognise the tremendous change which this involves, since up to now all systems have had a religious foundation of one kind or another. That is not only a question of ideology; it is a very serious practical matter. One cannot cut away the basis of civilisation and leave the superstructure standing. Sooner or later differences will arise and will prove irreconcilable, as the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, has said this morning. Indeed, I understand that that was the conviction of Marx himself; and it has never been disavowed by any of his followers. He was avowedly a revolutionary. He believed in the importance of what he called "practical revolutionary activity." He considered that without that his doctrine was incomplete, one-sided, and devoid of vitality. And as I understand it, Lenin entirely agreed with that point of view. Nor have I seen any kind of contradiction of it from any Russian leader.

I do not want to be misunderstood. I hope and believe that no immediate rupture of the peace is likely to take place. But we should be reckless if we did not take all possible means to prevent its ultimate occurrence. There are those who think that safety may be secured by negotiation and concession. I am unable to share that belief. If our differences were only matters of economics or frontiers they might be capable of settlement. In any case, we should certainly do our best, even now, in that direction. But if I am right in thinking that we are in the presence of one of those vital differences such as in the past have caused some of the most bitter fights in history, then the situation becomes much more anxious. It cannot be remedied by concessions or partial agreements. Nothing short of the abolition of war as the means of settling international controversy can really meet our needs. For that reason the various plans now being discussed for some Union of the nations seem to me, in principle, to be right. My fear is that such schemes must take a considerable time to bring about and may require a period after that before their effectiveness can be relied on. I ask myself: Is there nothing, less perfect perhaps, but more rapidly achieved, which we can do to meet the existing emergency?

At present, we are like people living in a city so ill-constructed that there is grave danger of extensive fires. No doubt the best plan is to rebuild the city, but that must involve considerable delay. In the meantime, let us organise a fire brigade which will for the time being give us a measure of security and will enable us later on to establish a more permanent remedy. In other words, as my noble friend has said, let us make it clear to any State which proposes to resort to war to carry out its policy that it will have to meet such overwhelming force that failure is certain. I do not believe that there are insoluble difficulties in the way of a policy of that kind. All that we need is international machinery to enable the peace-loving countries of the world to join together to prevent aggression. That, no doubt, was one of the objects of the Charter of the United Nations. Unhappily, as has been pointed out, there is grave doubt (to put it mildly) whether, as it stands, the Charter could carry that purpose into effect and, by its constitution, it is difficult to amend. But there is not the same objection to a supplementary agreement outside the Charter. Indeed, as I understand it, that is one of the purposes of the Western Union, in favour of which the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, has spoken so forcibly. But will it be in time? Will it be definite enough? Is it not too much encumbered with other provisions?

Western Union was referrred to in His Majesty's Speech read in this House last Monday week as follows: A Treaty of Economic, Social and Cultural Collaboration and Collective Self-Defence has been signed with the Governments of Belgium, France, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands: permanent machinery for the co-ordination of defence with those countries has been established. … It is My prayer that out of these hopeful beginnings there will develop an increasing degree of union between all the countries of Western Europe.… I ask myself whether that really is enough—three or four States acting not against aggression generally but only for mutual defence. Can we not move faster and speak more plainly? Would it not be a wise plan to have a short simple treaty, open for signature by any member of the United Nations, condemning the international crime of aggression, as it has now been judicially called, and binding the signatories to join one another in resisting it? No doubt, some international machinery would have to be added, but I am satisfied, after some inquiry, that such a treaty need not be elaborate or difficult to draft. Once that was accepted, qt would make a stable—perhaps the only stable—foundation for economic collaboration on the lines suggested in the Western Union.

I venture to submit that, without an assurance of peace, no economic measures can be relied upon. It is often suggested that with an economic settlement peace would follow. I believe that that view is unsound. Peace leads to prosperity, hut, unhappily, experience shows that prosperity does not in itself usually lead to peace. The world was very prosperous indeed in the year 1914 but war came, and it was not until it had recovered in part from the impoverishment caused by the First World War that evil men found it possible to launch the Second World War in 1939. Therefore, I venture to press on your Lordships that war, like other crimes, cannot be restrained without force. For that, one needs not the old type of a partial defensive alliance, which must be a challenge to countries not included in it, but an agreement open to all peace-loving States, confined to the maintenance of peace and leaving all other international reforms to be achieved on that foundation.

I have ventured to submit these brief observations to your Lordships because of the terrible dangers with which we are threatened. Another war like the last might well crush the victors as well as the vanquished; indeed, with the new weapons now available, that result is almost certain. It is no longer a question of fighting for victory—that by itself would be useless—but for bare life, and that when without question the overwhelming majority of mankind passionately desire peace. Surely it is the first duty of the Government and, if I may say so, of your Lordships' House, to do everything they can to secure some such immediate safeguard as I have suggested. Above all, let us act before it is too late.

12.14. p.m.


My Lords, I hope that the noble Viscount will not think me discourteous if I do not follow with any comment on the most interesting proposals that he has made to the House. With your Lordships' permission, I would like to confine myself new to one subject which was touched upon by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, in the latter part of his remarks; that is, the situation in Palestine. I may say that I have been waiting many months for the opportunity of saying a few words about that, but every time I have had a Motion down on the Order Paper, or given Notice that I intended to ask certain questions, I was told that the situation was most delicate or difficult and asked would I therefore refrain from asking questions or raising the subject. I have always done so and now this opportunity has arisen. I propose, therefore, to confine my remarks now to that one subject.

I begin by adding my expression of utter horror and disgust at the brutal murder by Jewish terrorists, under the cruellest circumstances, of Count Bernadotte and his French colleague. These were only the culminating murders. Indeed, it makes a total of no fewer than six of the servants of the United Nations—and therefore our servants—who have been done to death by one side or the other. It has not always been by Jewish extremists, for two French observer officers were murdered by Arab soldiers. I missed this particular point in the speeches which have been delivered So far, but surely one lesson to be learnt from these tragic events is that the United. Nations should have what it was always intended to have—namely, an International Police Force, a mobile force which could be sent to such an area as Palestine and particularly Jerusalem.

The Lord Archbishop of York warned your Lordships some months ago what might happen to the thrice holy city of Jerusalem when we surrendered our Mandate and left that area, if there were no international force available to restore order. We had the terrible spectacle of. I suppose, the most holy place in the world being made the scene of fighting and bloodshed, a disgraceful scandal and a reflection upon the whole of Christianity. It could have been prevented. It was the duty of the United Nations to prevent it, and we are all to blame for the failure to prevent it. During the Second World War, your Lordships will remember that His Majesty's Government issued a warning that if Jerusalem were attacked by the Italian Air Force, there would be immediate reprisals against Rome, so seriously did we regard the sanctity of the Holy City. Yet we have allowed a small band of Arab legionaries first to attack and bombard it, and then fighting to become general in the most holy district in the whole world.

Some words were said and a question was put by the noble Viscount who speaks for the Liberal Party on the matter of the recognition by His Majesty's Government of the State of Israel. I took it upon myself to give Notice to my noble friend who is to reply to this part of the debate that I wanted to pursue that subject also. Our non-recognition of the State of Israel, after sixteen nations have already recognised it, reminds me of the story of the old farmer who, hearing that there was a travelling menagerie in the local village, went to see it. Having gazed for some time at a giraffe in a cage, and not having seen a giraffe before, he said: "I don't believe it." Not to recognise the State of Israel, after Count Bernadotte's report about its recognition, is really like the farmer and the giraffe, for that sooner or later we shall have to do so is quite obvious.

May I deal with the arguments against, as I have heard them? Sometimes the argument is used—I have not seen it used so much in public, but it is often used in private conversation—that a sovereign Israel State would of necessity be an ally of and a base for Russia. The idea seems to be that there is some community of interest and sentiment between Zionism, as expressed in the State of Israel, and present-day Communism. I have been brought up to know something about Zionism all my life. I have devoted some study to it. I have known most of the leaders of the Zionist movement in the last thirty years. I believe I am right in saying that there is a schism, a clear division of views, between Zionism and Communism; and, as for the extremists, the Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Stern Gang (there was a hint of this in the speech delivered by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury), far from being Communists, these men, from all the information which reaches me, incline much more to the Fascist mentality. It is not a matter for laughter.


I quite agree. I merely said—


Of course, you can joke about anything.


I do not see that there is much difference between the Communist and the Fascist mentality.


If the noble Marquess does not see that, then he is hopeless, and it is quite useless to argue with him. Of course they are diametrically opposed. There is a Communist Party existing in Palestine, as elsewhere, but again my information is that it is not particularly powerful and the zealots who have been responsible for these excesses in Palestine which we have all deplored, and deplore to-day, are certainly not Communists. As I said just now, sixteen nations (I believe I am right in saying), including one of our own sister Dominions, the Union of South Africa, have already recognised the State of Israel.

I read very carefully the reply on this point made by my honourable friend, Mr. Mayhew, speaking for the Foreign Office in another place. He is the opposite number in the House of Commons of my noble friend, Lord Henderson, and he seemed to argue that to recognise the State of Israel would be an intervention in the Truce. I presume that those considerations were before the other nations who have already recognised the State of Israel. Here again, I am rather reminded of the old couple who went to see their young son marching for the first time with his regiment. When asked how he got on they said, "Everything was all right, except that the whole regiment was out of step save our Jock." In this case we seem to be out of step with practically the rest of the world. In this connection, I would add a material argument. I would have hoped when recognition came, as I trust it will that it would mean the restoration of the State of Israel within the sterling area. In fact, I could never quite understand why, at very short notice, Palestine was ejected from the sterling area. There may have been technical reasons of which I am not aware. No doubt they exist, but it is a loss to ourselves in the long run. We were carrying on a very important trade with Palestine, and when peace is restored we shall be able to look to them as a most valuable market for our goods. I hope my noble friend will be able to say that this matter is, to use official jargon, "receiving immediate and favourable consideration."

I have already mentioned the question of trade, and in spite of what Lord Cecil has just said about the prosperity of the world not affecting the peace of the world, I still think that trade between the nations is the basis of true peace. One of the forces which will eventually make for peace in Palestine is the necessity for this new State of Israel to trade with its neighbours. They are its natural customers, and the economic forces will bear very much on the side of peace. If the United Nations can rise to this great occasion, and if His Majesty's Government, as I am sure they will, also play their part in assisting, I am not at all in despair of matters settling down in that part of the Middle East. Indeed, I am informed that there is already a strong movement among the Palestine Arabs themselves for peace and accommodation. I have drawn attention to the fact that amongst the Palestine Arabs there always has been an important party which was in favour of coming to an accommodation by arrangement with their Jewish fellow-countrymen and neighbours. One of my regrets has always been that we did not give sufficient encouragement to this section of the Arab community. Under the stress and horror of fighting, this movement is coming again to the front, and I am sure that His Majesty's Government will, for their part, do all they can to encourage it.

Now may I draw attention to only one other matter? I spoke just now of the movement for co-operation and harmony by Palestinian Arabs with the Jews. There was, and always has been, a strong movement among the Jews for co-operation and harmony with the Arabs, and I do not take a gloomy view of the future of Palestine at all. After all, apart from these present tragedies and troubles, and the excesses we have witnessed, we have also seen one of the great events of our time; we have seen the re-birth of a nation after nearly 2,000 years of tribulation. Not to appreciate this and its significance is to be blind to the march of history. The re-emergence of the State and nation of Israel, I submit to your Lordships, has great moral, religious and political implications, and if we ignore this event it will be to our own hurt. To be generous now, to take the long view now, instead of being forced later into recognition, will, I believe, give one more opportunity to heal the present deplorable breach between Britain and Jewry, and to restore the ancient friendship and mutual respect created by British chivalry and magnanimity in the past.

12.28 p.m.


My Lords, I would like first of all to thank your Lordships, not only for your firm support of the Government's foreign policy but also for your restraint and understanding attitude during the period of the talks in Moscow. It is almost two months since the Government's last Statement on the foreign situation was given in this House. As the noble Marquess pointed out, it cannot be said that the situation has improved in the intervening period. In some respects it has worsened. We are far from having established stable conditions of peace and security. We are living in a world that is bedeviled by disputes and torn by violence, a world in which large areas are denied, amongst other things, freedom from fear. As noble Lords have pointed out, we have only to look at what is happening in parts of Europe, in the Middle East, in South-East Asia and in the Far East to realise how bitter and extensive is the strife and dissension of our time.

My Lords, it is a discouraging picture. The progress of the world to political stability, economic prosperity and social advancement has been at a far slower pace than was so urgently needed, and we are faced to-day with an international situation which has seriously disquieting features. The noble Marquess has diagnosed the principal cause, and I think he carried all sections of the House with him. I will not pursue the matter any further at this stage, though I will have something more to say about it in the course of my remarks.

Noble Lords will expect me to say something about the situation in Berlin, and I should like briefly to outline the course of events. Our object throughout has been, and still is, to achieve a democratic, healthy, unified Germany. Despite our patient efforts, it became clear that the Russians were willing to agree to a unified Germany only on their own conditions. Those conditions were designed to ensure the setting up of the German Government on lines with which we are only too familiar—on the pattern of the over-centralised and undemocratic régimes on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Since we could not achieve our object of a unified Germany, and since the Russians were going ahead in their own Zone, we decided, in conjunction with the United States Government, to go ahead in the West. We could no longer delay making our own Zones, at least, into a going concern. The House will recall that, early this year, Six-Power talks on Germany were held in London. The recommendations of this Conference were accepted by Governments, and we set about implementing them without delay.

The Russians did not attempt to hide their displeasure at these developments. In Berlin, the seat of Four-Power Allied control in Germany, they became increasingly unco-operative. On March 20, the Russian representative walked out of the Allied Control Council. Furthermore, they began to interfere with our free access to the city. Sometimes they said that restrictions were necessary in order to protect the economy of their Zone. Sometimes they said they were due to "technical difficulties." But we did not fail to realise that the real object of these moves was to make untenable our position in Berlin. This intention became quite plain when, finally, the Russians instituted the complete land blockade of the city. The failure of this blockade, by which the Russians hoped to gain their political ends at the expense of the men, women, and children in the Western sectors of the city, is common knowledge. Thanks to the air lift, which has been more successful than any of us had dared to hope, we have continued to maintain the people of our sectors and to keep open the link with the West. For eighty-seven days, or close on a quarter of a year, the Western sectors of Berlin, with a population of over 2,000,000, have been supplied exclusively by air, with food, fuel, raw materials and other necessaries of life.

In any reasonable world this could appear only to be an act of extravagant folly. In the conditions of to-day, it is an achievement of which the British and American Air Forces have every reason to be proud. It has put fresh heart into the people of Berlin and Western Germany. It has dismayed and upset the calculations of those who, in defiance of international Agreements, are attempting to dislodge the Western Allies from their rightful positions in Berlin. We are entitled to be proud of this achievement, and all who have had any part in it deserve the congratulations not only of this House but of the whole free world. Yet we cannot rest there. If this air lift has to be kept up through the winter—and we are prepared to do it if necessary; let there be no mistake about that—we shall need more aircraft and fresh crews; we shall have to face many disappointments in bad weather; and conditions in Berlin will, at times, be harsh and difficult. We cannot hope to bring in more than the minimum necessary to maintain a meagre standard of life. The people of Berlin will need to draw on their natural firmness and resilience if they are to endure the hardships ahead. But I can say to them that we and our American friends intend to use every aircraft at our disposal to maintain the flow of supplies through the winter.

The Berliners have made it absolutely clear that they have no desire whatsoever to share in the alleged political freedoms and economic advantages of life in a Communist State. They have appreciated the alternate threats and blandishments of the Russians for what they are worth—an unscrupulous attempt to wipe out the only outpost of democracy in Eastern Germany. As the House are aware, the three Western Powers have approached the Russian Government to see whether it is possible to effect a solution in this abnormal situation. I cannot at present describe the course of these exchanges. It was agreed in Moscow not to disclose anything of what went on during the discussions. We have observed this agreement. I do not, therefore, propose to comment on any accounts, however malicious and distorted, which may be circulated about points raised during the negotiations.

Our position at this moment has been stated by the Foreign Secretary in clear and unambiguous terms. I repeat the assurance which he has given that there is absolute agreement between the three Western Powers on the policy concerning Berlin. We regard the removal of the blockade as an essential condition on which any settlement must be based. We have stated our willingness to have the Soviet currency in Berlin, provided that it is subject to quadripartite authority. In addition, we have asked for, and insisted upon, Four Power control over trade between Berlin and the Western Zones. We have made it clear, however, that we have no intention of abandoning our rights to participate in the occupation of Berlin. On the basis of these rights, we have incurred certain obligations in regard to the efficient administration of our sectors in the city and the well-being of their population. We mean to continue to maintain those rights and to discharge those responsibilities. For the moment, I have nothing more to add. As the House are aware, the three Western Allies have addressed another Note to the Soviet Government. We must await the result of that action.

Then there is the larger problem of Germany. We hear a lot about "democratisation", and the Russians are constantly abusing us for alleged antidemocratic behaviour. It is therefore well to remember what kind of "democracy" has been set up in the Eastern Zone of Germany. Although the façade of elections was maintained in October, 1946, and although, ostensibly, democratic constitutions were passed soon after, they have proved utterly meaningless. The provisions of elective government have been evaded or overridden by the Russian authorities at every turn. The Eastern Zone is dominated by one Party in the Assemblies, in the Administration and through the police. There is no independent judiciary, and no protection for the individual against the might of the State in the persons of the Socialist Unity Party. The Social Democrats' Party have been suppressed. Those who still try to speak in support of the Party, or to criticise the Socialist Unity Party, are arbitrarily arrested. Many have been held in concentration camps for months, without trial. Even children and old people are not safe. A new generation is now being educated to be loyal Communists.

By contrast, it has been the aim of His Majesty's Government to set up a united Germany on a truly democratic basis. As noble Lords know, the foundations have been built from the bottom upwards. Free elections have been held in Western Germany in every commune, every regional district and every Länd. Noble Lords will recall that the Six-Power talks held in London this spring resulted in agreement to set up the next part of the Government structure. The Ministers President of the West German Länder have been fully consulted on these plans, and in some cases the plans have been amended to meet their views. A Parliamentary Council has already held three meetings. A provisional Constitution, to be called a Basic Law, is already being freely discussed by this Council, and its committees are working on the draft. The Germans responsible for drafting the Constitution know and agree that it is to conform to certain basic principles presented to them by the Military Governors, in order to ensure a federal form of government which will safeguard the interests both of the Länder and of the individual.

As noble Lords will have read, the Foreign Secretary has said that he hopes that a provisional West German Government may be established early in the new year. More and more responsibility is constantly being transferred to the German authorities. The decision that the Western Allies are to work out an occupation Statute, which will define the relations between the Occupying Powers and the future German Government body, is therefore welcomed alike by His Majesty's Government and by the German representatives, since it will give the Germans the greatest possible authority without endangering the security or basic purpose of the occupying Powers.

I would particularly emphasise the economic progress which has been made in Western Germany it recent months, especially since the introduction of currency reforms. When I was in Germany recently I found ample evidence of the flow of supplies of consumer goods into the shop windows immediately after currency reform was started. But that is only the outward evidence of an economic transformation scene. I do not think that the British Military Governor exaggerated when he said on Wednesday that "Currency reform has been all but miraculous in its effects." Workers have become wage-conscious, and absenteeism has begun to decline. Labour efficiency is estimated to have increased by 20 per cent., and there is a steady demand for skilled labour, particularly in the metal, textile and building trades. Unemployment, it is true, has risen, but that is only to be expected, particularly as prior to currency reform there was much concealed unemployment: but the increase has been far less than might have been expected.

The need for a rapid turnover of sales in order to build up stocks of the new marks for operating purposes has given a stimulus to industrial production, though in the heavy industries, whose products involve a long-term turnover, difficulties are liable to arise through lack of credits. In general, the timing of currency reform in relation to the harvest and to the flow of E.R.P. goods is believed to have been a fortunate one, and from the point of view of food supplies I think it is now possible, to say that Germany has turned the corner. Moreover, there is good reason to hope that she has now acquired a currency which, with the return of more normal conditions generally, will create confidence and take an established place in international commerce.

The Government know that the German people want responsibility and unity. They know that it is vital to European peace that the German people should play their part as a democratic, peaceful and active member of the international community. The Western Allies are prepared steadily to give them greater power of self-government, so long as the German people play their part. They cannot at present give Germany unity, but it is their firm intention to continue to strive for it. In the meantime, they are forced to safeguard the welfare of Western Germany. But they are fortified in their decision to build up a provisional West German Govern- ment by the knowledge that its construction will help and not hinder the formation of a Central German Government when this becomes possible.

Noble Lords have referred to Palestine. I accept the opportunity to express the feelings of horror with which we all learned of the assassination of the United Nations Mediator in Jerusalem at the very moment when he was due to give a personal account of his work to the United Nations in Paris. I would like to associate all noble Lords on these Benches in the tributes paid to the magnificent services which Count Bernadotte rendered to mankind during his lifetime and which seemed likely to be crowned by his work in Palestine. The courageous and disinterested way in which he tackled perhaps the most difficult task of its kind in the world was beyond praise. His loss, and that of Colonel Serot, has shocked the world.

Fortunately, the Mediator's report and his recommendation for a settlement in Palestine have not been lost with him, and they are now before the United Nations. It was on the initiative of the United Kingdom delegation to the United Nations that the appointment of a Mediator was approved at a time when, with the termination of the British Mandate, civil war had broken out in Palestine and there seemed no chance of an agreed settlement, and little chance of a settlement being imposed on the lines of the United Nations resolution of November 29 last. Few observers could have hoped that Count Bernadotte, with the limited means at his disposal, would have been as successful as he was in securing periods of truce in Palestine during which the world could continue to work for a settlement.

During his work in Palestine, the Mediator had exceptional opportunities to study the problem on the spot, and his report and conclusions are therefore of the first importance. His Majesty's Government believe that his conclusions must be taken as a whole and that it will be best for all concerned if this plan can be put into operation in its entirety. These recommendations, therefore, have the full support of His Majesty's Government. The House will have seen that Mr. Marshall has spoken in a similar sense for the United States Government. Surely the most fitting tribute that can be paid to the Mediator is for the nations to complete his work on the basis of the proposals which he made on the eve of his assassination. It is not to be expected that the parties concerned will spontaneously accept any settlement, now that feelings have run so high on either side. But we urge those concerned to acquiesce in the settlement proposed, and we shall do all we can to see such a settlement accomplished, because we believe in the disinterested sincerity of its author, we do not wish his good work lost, and it has been consistently the policy of His Majesty's Government to secure a just and peaceful settlement in Palestine.

As regards the specific question which was addressed to me by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, the statement of policy which His Majesty's Government have made concerning the late Count Bernadotte's recommendations does not involve the question of immediate recognition. As my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary said, we must first see what emerges from the discussions which will now take place at the United Nations. As regards the point raised by my noble friend, Lord Strabolgi, Palestine was excluded from the sterling area on February 22 because it was foreseen that, with the termination of the Mandate on May 15, it would not be possible to rely on exchange control being exercised in the manner required of members of the sterling area. This situation still exists, and the question of the readmission of part or all of Palestine to the sterling area is not one which can be considered at the present time.

I turn now to the Motion on the Order Paper in the name of the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil. The noble Marquess and the two noble Viscounts who preceded me called attention to the vital importance of effective security arrangements. They spoke with great authority, which we all recognise, and the noble Marquess made suggestions which obviously would require most serious consideration. If I may speak for myself, I found myself in whole-hearted sympathy with the spirit of their speeches, and also with the peace ideals which they proclaimed. I have long been an ardent supporter of a universal system of collective security, a system endowed with teeth to be used when necessary to protect peace and stop aggression. Unhappily, the old League of Nations failed to provide an effective system of collective security. It will, I believe, be agreed that a principle of unanimity was a frustrating factor in the inter-war years.

I must regretfully agree that the system of full international security under the Charter of the United Nations has so far proved unworkable. The ground for this, as has been said, is the right of veto accorded by the Charter to the five permanent members of the Security Council. It is true that the right of veto corresponds with practical reality, in the sense that if a great Power is determined on aggression the basis of the Charter of the United Nations, as we know, is immediately undermined; and it is common knowledge that without the right of veto the Soviet Government would never have entered the United Nations at all. But it was never contemplated, when the Charter was drawn up, that any great Power would exercise the right of veto, except in matters of immediate, direct, vital concern to itself. This expectation has, unhappily, not been fulfilled. The Soviet Government have so exercised their right of veto in the Security Council as frequently to prevent the Council from even reaching a decision as to the facts of a complaint brought before it, let alone the taking of action. So long as the Soviet Union continues this policy, it does not seem practicable to amend the Charter so as to abolish the veto.

Nor is it possible to attain a universal security system without the participation of Russia. In these circumstances, we must face the fact that for the moment full international collective security is unattainable, and the only solution is to concentrate in the meantime on inducing like-minded nations to face the realities of the situation and to co-operate in the areas with which they are concerned. That is to say, the only solution is to form regional groupings, which are sanctioned by the Charter, and which, from the military aspect, find their justification in their undoubted right of collective self-defence, recognised in Article 51 of the Charter. This is the policy which His Majesty's Government are following to-day. They recognise that such a system is obviously second best to full international security under the Charter, but it is realistic, it is within the framework of the Charter, it has the merit of being reasonably elastic, and may thus be claimed to be the most satisfactory solution until such time as conditions of international confidence again prevail in which the establishment of full collective international security can be made a reality.


I do not wish to interrupt the noble Lord unnecessarily, but this is an important point, and I would like to say just one word on it. As I read that portion of the Charter which deals with regional pacts, action cannot be taken for the prevention of aggression except in the case of intended aggression by an ex-enemy country. Therefore the proposition which the Government are putting forward at the present time would not, in my view, entirely deal with potential aggression or intended aggression by any country except an ex-enemy country. If the Government are building their peace system upon that basis, there is likely to be a very considerable hole in it. I do not want an answer from the noble Lord to-day, but I should be grateful if he would put that particular point before his right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, because I think it is one which needs consideration, both by His Majesty's Government and by the other Governments concerned.


I will gladly do what the noble Marquess has asked me to do. I would, however, like to point out at this stage that Article 51 opens with the words: Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence… As the noble Marquess will recall, Article 53 deals with enforcement under the authority of the Security Council. They are two quite different things, if I may say so. I think the position as I have expressed it in my speech is borne out by Article 51.


I also have a copy of the Charter. What Article 51 says is this: Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations… That is in the case of actual armed aggression across a frontier. What I was dealing with was the prevention of aggression. If the United Nations can act only after aggression has taken place, or if the regional pacts which the Government have in mind can come into operation only after aggression has taken place, then, in my view, that is too late. I want to get some organisation which can operate to prevent aggression.


The point which the noble Marquess has raised is a very tricky legal point, and I will certainly have it looked into. My own understanding of Article 51 coincides with what I have already said.

The basis I have mentioned is, of course, one that underlies the regional system in which the United Kingdom, leaving apart its relationship with the other members of the British Commonwealth, is primarily concerned—namely, the Western European Union, epitomised in the Brussels Treaty. There have sometimes been suggestions that the work of carrying out the provisions of the Brussels Treaty, and of strengthening the bonds of Western European Union, is not progressing fast enough. There is no task to which the United Kingdom is more closely or earnestly devoted, but it is perhaps easy to forget that it takes time and hard work to clothe the skeleton of a Treaty such as that of Brussels, which extends to all forms of mutual co-operation, with muscle and flesh. It is, therefore, proper to draw attention to some of the work that has been accomplished, and is being accomplished, to give effect to Article 4 of the Brussels Treaty, which binds the Five Powers to give all assistance in their power, in accordance with the provisions of Article 51 of the Charter, should any one of them be the object of an armed attack in Europe.

The Five Power Military Committee is in continuous session in London for the purpose of co-ordinating defence machinery. Arising from its discussions, the Chiefs of Staff of the Five Powers have held two meetings. Further, within the framework of the Brussels Treaty, the Defence Ministers of the Five Powers have already held one meeting. It had been hoped that a second meeting would be held early this month but, as the Foreign Secretary pointed out in another place on September 15, the fall of the French Government led to a postponement. The next meeting, however, is now due to take place next week. Moreover, this Western European Union system, vitally important as it is, is not the only development upon the horizon. It will be recalled how President Truman, in his speech on March 18, said, with reference to the Brussels Treaty, that the United States would extend to the free nations the support which the situation required, and how the United States Senate passed on June 11 the "Vandenberg Resolution," which provided for the association of the United States with regional and collective arrangements for self-defence.

Following these developments, discussions have been proceeding in Washington between the Brussels Treaty Powers and the United States and Canada, concerning Western European security arrangements and the United States and Canadian association with them. It is, of course, not possible to go into any details about this, but it is an earnest of the interest displayed by the United States and Canada in the organisation of the free nations of Western Europe, that by invitation of the five Brussels Treaty Powers the United States and Canada are now represented by observers on the Military Committee in London, set up under Article IV of the Brussels Treaty.

This outline should be sufficient to show that the United Kingdom are pressing on as rapidly as they can with the methods of organising collective security which lie to their hand, and which may well serve to give a strong measure of confidence and security, until the day when full international confidence returns and the organisation of full international collective security contemplated by the Charter of the United Nations becomes attainable. May I say in conclusion that I think it is clear that this country is not only straining its nerves to achieve its own economic recovery and independence: it is also playing a full part in the combined efforts to further the recovery and stability of Western Europe. As I have shown, it is actively and currently engaged in practical plans to establish effective machinery of security against aggression. We are to-day, as always, a nation which seeks peace and prosperity, not only for ourselves but for the world. I do not hesitate to say that, in all these vital enterprises for human good, His Majesty's Government can be relied on to work loyally and with conviction and energy to ensure the realisation of these urgent aims upon which the future security and well-being of all of us so much depends.

[The sitting was suspended at three minutes past one o'clock, and resumed at two o'clock.]

2.0 p.m.


My Lords, I am glad indeed that the Government have faced the necessity of rearmament. In the lurid light of the situation, I wish these measures had been taken sooner, but they are certainly a step in the right direction, I hope that, as the situation requires, any further steps may be swift and firm, for we are again in the position where strength, and strength only, is the assurance of peace. These are rather like the old times. We are very nearly back in the position of 1938, and another Government are learning that you cannot do business with Totalitaria. Again arises the old issue: Can the lesson be learned in time?

For a long time past I have been convinced—just as convinced as I was in the case of Hitler—that Stalin, if unchecked, means war. I do not think there is really much difference between that pair except that one is dead. If you give the survivor a yard he will claw your face off as the bear clawed off the face of Matun, the blinded peasant in Kipling's poem The Truce of the Bear. The question now seems to me to be: Can the democracies be strong enough, soon enough, to act as a deterrent? Well, my Lords, the answer from our Ally France is not particularly tranquillising at the moment, for she is being driven to cutting her expenditure on defences at the very moment when the situation clamours for an increase. I cannot myself feel that we are advancing fast enough for our own part either, in our re-equipment or in our other great safeguard abroad—Western Union.

I read and re-read Mr. Bevin's speech of last week, and I am bound to say that much of the criticism to which he has been recently subjected seems to me to have been unwarranted, because he has had an impossible task in dealing with impossible people; and the situation has been further complicated by the fact that an insatiable and hostile régime was masquerading throughout all the earlier period as an Ally. Still, with all allowance made, I could not detect the needful note of urgency. The impetus seemed to be insufficient, the pace to be pedestrian. And yet what we urgently require is an immediate Alliance with the countries of Western Europe. This by itself will not be sufficient, but backed by the United States of America it would mean a great deal for the prospects of peace and freedom. We cannot have the latter without the former, it appears; and the former seems to be delayed despite the frequent meetings referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. I do wish we could hurry up. It is always later than we think. I should like to ask the Government a pertinent question. What steps have been taken to co-ordinate action with the French and the Netherlands Governments to stamp out the pest of Communism in South-east Asia? I should like to feel that the case for Western Union is one which means something more than words.

While, therefore, I warmly welcome the beginning of re-armament I am disquieted by the course of negotiations in Moscow. Like most people, I had understood that we should not negotiate under duress—but what else have we been doing for the past two months? It seems to me that we have not only been negotiating under duress but sometimes we have been negotiating under insult and humiliation. Never in the course of diplomatic history have negotiations been conducted under the pressure of mob rule such as that fostered by the Soviet in Berlin. I suggested publicly a fortnight ago that negotiations might at least have been suspended until that gross abuse had been rectified; but instead we have gone on persevering and dancing attendance until the end. And what have we got from it in the end? So far, nothing. I gravely doubt whether you ever will get anything from dealing with totalitarian régimes. The best that you can get out of them is had agreements—and even they are not kept. I have pointed out often in this House that the totalitarian régimes' view of treaties is very different from our own. They regard them merely as a means of deceiving their adversaries. I do not think anybody could point to any treaty, convention, or agreement that has ever been kept by either Hitler or Stalin.

I venture to invite the attention of your Lordships to an admirable cartoon in Punch last week. In this cartoon Stalin's face is shown peering round a corner. He is "wiggling" at the end of a string a bunch of papers labelled "Agreements," and the shadows of the Allies are shown being lured towards it. Punch artists have a gift for summarising a situation succinctly. Whatever agreements you conclude with Russia, she will betray them. This is not merely what I suggest; it was said by Professor Ernst Reuter, one of the heads of the German democratic resistance to Communist domination in Berlin, and I fear that he may well be right.

Now I feel that we should make an end of the era of waste paper. I want to pay a full tribute to Mr. Bevin's patience. It has been a remarkable display, but I pointed out in this House long ago that you can have too much of a good thing. The noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, asked me then whether I did not agree that patience is the first requisite of diplomacy. His question was, I think a rhetorical one, and I did not venture to interrupt his eloquence beyond saying "No." But I would like to say "No" again now, more emphatically. Patience is certainly not the first requisite of diplomacy. Clarity, dignity and vigour all come before it, and patience is a bad fourth. By too much patience you can become a punch-bag. I think our diplomacy requires a little more virility and self-respect.

Let me give your Lordships an example. About a fortnight ago there was at Geneva a Conference on Colonial matters. The Soviet Government was represented by a Mr. Kulagenkov. His offensiveness was so studied and sustained that after a while the French representative quite rightly got up, left the room and slammed the door. Mr. Kulagenkov went on undeterred and after a while the Belgian representative got up, left the room and slammed the door. Last of all the British representative got up and left the room; he did not slam the door—like Congreve's Millamant, he was "very strange and well-bred." After forty years in the public service, I made a most interesting discovery, and that is that white collar workers cannot get hot under the collar. I therefore ask the Government whether they will not include in their highly imaginative curriculum at Stoke d'Abernon a test of the capacity for righteous wrath: I should like to feel that there were in our Foreign Office one or two fellows who were capable of slamming a metaphorical door on the Kulagenkovs. I rather hope the Government will not send any representatives of ours in future to participate in conferences attended by this un-housebroken creature.

I am in deadly earnest when I say that I think there are certain standards of international decency below which we ought resolutely to refuse to fall. I feel bound to add that Mr. Vyshinsky belongs to this same type. Look at the way he behaved at the Danubian Conference in Belgrade. I am quite unable to understand why we attended that Conference. Surely me must have known in advance that no good could come of it, and that we should only serve as a target for gibes and jeers. Would it not have been more dignified to notify the Kremlin gangsters (for that is all they are) that we would not even attend a Conference which did not recognise our treaty rights, and that we, in our turn, would not recognise any outcome of what was in effect a confabulation of molls? I think we should have taken that line pending the day when not only the Danube but also Eastern Europe may be free again. Here I would venture with respect to differ from a phrase used by Mr. Bevin in another place on Wednesday, when he said he was prepared to take with the Soviet Government the line of "Live in peace in the area that you have got." I would send no such message of despair to Eastern Europe. On the contrary, I look to the day when the Soviet nightmare will flee away and when, outside Soviet borders, there will be no more of the sickle that cuts down freedom and of the hammer that fastens chains.

To return to Belgrade, we went there and we served as Aunt Sally. All that comes from the neglect of a golden rule to which I have often drawn attention in this House: that it is bad policy to attend conferences unless there is at least a reasonable chance of success. Every time you ignore that rule, it is bound to end in a loss. The Western democracies have been good, even saintly, losers, but they have been having altogether too much practice in losing. They remind me sometimes of our Test cricket team to whom a draw is an outstanding and astounding event. For my part, I do like to be on the winning side sometimes. I hope that your Lordships do too. Therefore, I would propose to the Government that they should set up a strongly manned Department of Counter-propaganda. There is really no reason why we should submit any more to the flood of abuse, of malevolence and of mendacity in which we are always soused by the Soviet Government. Its daily output is a Niagara of sewage. I know that the metaphor is unpleasing, but it is true. There is no reason why we should not hit back and not have any particular regard for the belt. We are bound to aim lower than that because the vulnerable Soviet point is the Achilles' heel of the enslaved territories. The more trouble they have there, the less inclined they will be to clash.

The noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, has asked to-day, and urgently asked—I thank him for that word—for an efficient international machine to prevent aggression. Amen to that! I only wish that that could be fulfilled. But for that major purpose we must recognise that the United Nations are dead. They have been murdered, and deliberately murdered, by Soviet policy, and so the spectre of war walks again. If we would lay that ghost, we must resort to structural alterations. Even if then the Soviet Government should elect to leave the haunted chamber, half a loaf is unalterably better than no bread, and so far we have been given only a stone.

In conclusion, I wish to say just a few words about Hyderabad. I am rather shocked that that episode has aroused so little attention. I know very well that the palliators say that Hyderabad was too small for independence. Well, Hyderabad had 3,000,000 more inhabitants than Czechoslovakia; more than twice as many inhabitants as Belgium or the Netherlands; three times as many inhabitants as Sweden; and five or six times as many inhabitants as Denmark or Norway. Are they too small for independence? "Oh," say the faint-hearts, "Hyderabad was in the heart of India." Is not Switzerland in the heart of Europe? On June 17, Nehru said: Situated as it is, Hyderabad cannot conceivably be independent. "Situated as it is": but that is exactly what the Nazis said about Czechoslovakia. They said: "Situated as it is, Czechoslovakia is a pistol pointed at the heart of Germany." "Situated as it is"—that again is exactly what Stalin said about Poland. He said: "Situated as it is, I must annexe half of Poland and dominate the rest. Situated as it is, I must have Roumania, Bulgaria and Hungary as well. Situated as it is, above all, I must have the whole of Germany." That is precisely why we are within measurable distance of war again. Now, in all this ugly and ominous affair we played a sad part. Both the British and the Indian Governments alike had promised self-determination to the Princes. We have had to watch while that pledge was reduced to the traditional scrap of paper. So another small country has been bludgeoned into submission, another independent State has lost its independence, and another treaty breaker has had his desires. That is a series of events which fills me with grave misgivings and bodes ill for international morality.

2.18 p.m.


My Lords, at the very outset I want to associate myself with the expressions of horror which have been made over the assassination of Count Bernadotte. It was a cold-blooded murder of a man who was doing great and noble work for humanity. It is, of course, the latest of a long series of outrages, and the horror which has been felt throughout the world over this assassination may help other nations to understand better what we felt when our young soldiers were cruelly and treacherously murdered. After every one of these murders, or after a large number of them, there has come, either from the Agency or from the Jewish Government, an expression, of horror; but, so far as I know, no criminal has yet been brought to justice. If The Times statement is correct, in this particular case twenty hours elapsed after the murder of Count Bernadotte before the Jewish Government took active steps. In those twenty hours, there was plenty of time for the criminals to escape to another country. I very much hope that the Jews in Palestine will take heed of the warnings which have been addressed to them from time to time by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel. Until they eradicate this régime of violence, they cannot be regarded as a civilised nation.

This murder, however, reinforces an appeal which I and others have made from time to time. This murder took place in a part of Jerusalem which was under the control of the Jews and which they were policing for better order. This, surely, justifies our fear of what will happen if ever Jerusalem comes under the control of the Jews. Many of us have pleaded that Jerusalem should be put under an international régime. At one time the Jews themselves agreed to this. When I said publicly that there was some danger of the Jews seizing Jerusalem, I was told I was slandering the Jewish people. To-day the Jews are claiming that Jerusalem should be theirs. If Jerusalem were to come under the rule of men like those at the head of the Hebrew University, or under the rule of the cultured men whom we know in various countries of Europe, we should not have the fear we now possess; but it would come under the rule of those who are not orthodox Jews but fanatical nationalists. And under those conditions neither Christian nor Moslem could be certain of any toleration in the Holy City.

I am glad to see that Count Bernadotte suggests that Jerusalem and its environment should be put under international control. I am quite certain that that is the wish of all the ancient Churches. Recently there was held the Lambeth Conference and at that Conference attended men from different lands, not only from the British Empire. The Conference passed a Resolution urging the United Nations to place Jerusalem and its immediate environment under permanent international control, with freedom of access to sacred places secured for the adherents to the three religions. I hope very much indeed that when this question of Palestine comes up for discussion our representatives at the United Nations will press for Jerusalem and its immediate environment to be brought under international control.

Before I leave the subject of Palestine there is one other matter to which I feel bound to refer. So far, no mention has been made in this debate of the 360,000 Arabs who have been driven away or have fled from their country, and who are now in conditions of the utmost poverty and distress. Some of them were deliberately driven out; others fled the country after the massacre of 150 women and children in one of their villages. They have gone to countries which are impoverished. They have no rich friends in America or elsewhere who will help them. They have no powerful vote to support their claims in different countries. But it will be an appalling scandal if these unhappy people are allowed to die—as they will die—from starvation, typhus, and tuberculosis in the coming winter. Count Bernadotte refers to this in his commendations, when he says: I must emphasise the desperate urgency of the problem. The situation of these unhappy refugees is already tragic: It is, he says, an international responsibility—one of the minimum conditions for the success of the United Nations' efforts to bring peace to Palestine. I hope, therefore, that the United Nations will take up this matter most seriously, and will not be content merely with giving some temporary help but will find some way in which these people can be again settled either in their own homes or elsewhere.

I turn now to the much larger and more difficult problem of Germany, and especially of Berlin, for in Berlin there is now being fought out a conflict between two opposing philosophies—one might almost say, between two opposing religions. On the one hand, there are ranged the forces of those who deny the value and the rights of an individual, and deny, therefore, that he has any freedom. Upon the other hand, there are the democracies which believe that every individual is of value and, therefore, should have freedom so that he may be able to make the best use, for himself and for others, of the gifts and talents which he possesses. On the one side, there is ranged a philosophy which denies the existence of any absolute moral law and regards morality merely as a matter of expediency, of what is beneficial for the State. On the other hand, there are the democratic Allies who, though they have often fallen short of clear moral laws, nevertheless recognise that there are absolute moral laws, binding both upon States and upon individuals. There in Berlin this struggle is now being fought out.

What happens in Berlin will affect the whole of the future of Europe. The Foreign Secretary has been able to go back to Paris feeling that behind him he has the support of the whole country. We support him because of his policy, a policy which has the characteristics both of perseverance and of firmness. There is perseverance in his policy. He has been carrying on these negotiations most patiently, and I personally—here possibly I differ from some noble Lords who have already spoken—believe that those negotiations ought to be carried on until it is quite clear that it is hopeless to pursue them any further. This country has had a great shock in the last few days. For the first time it has realised that there is a possibility of war. This policy of the Government for rearmament has come as a very real surprise to the great mass of the people of this country, who will never support war unless they are convinced that every possible avenue has been explored to avoid it, and every possible step has been taken to avert it.

For that reason, I am somewhat more cautious than the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, when he speaks of urgency. I recognise indeed the importance and the value of urgency on many of these matters. On the other hand, I also recognise the great anxiety of the country as a whole, and the necessity of the Government's carrying the country with it. Therefore, I feel it is a matter of very great importance that the Government should still continue perseveringly, trying to find some understanding, some agreement, with Russia. When it is plain that these negotiations in Moscow can lead to no result, then of course they must come to an end. Let the Government then bring the matter before the United Nations. And I, with my ignorance of what is correct in diplomacy, would say that, if that fails, let the matter be taken up on the highest possible level. I am not suggesting that the Prime Minister himself, unaccompanied by his ambassador or the Foreign Secretary, should see Stalin; but I am suggesting that on the very highest level the dangers of the situation should be made perfectly plain to Stalin. Every kind of effort must be made to avert the horror of war, for we all have to recognise, terrible as the fact is, that the possibility of war is nearer to-day than it was some months ago.

With this policy of perseverance and persuasion there must go the policy of absolute firmness. I would agree with everything that has been said by the noble Lord who has just spoken if perseverance and persuasion were not accompanied by firmness. Weakness is impossible in face of the totalitarian Powers, and I am glad that the Government have made it so plain that they propose to remain in Berlin, at all costs and whatever may happen. To withdraw from Berlin would not only be a moral evil, it would also be a gigantic political blunder. Morally, as I say, it would be wrong. We may not have been right originally in going to Berlin under Present conditions, but we are there; and, again and again, we have pledged ourselves, publicly and openly, that we will remain there, whatever happens. If we were to withdraw from Berlin now, we should be handing over people who have trusted us and who have been co-operating with us to the mercies of those who have been attempting to intimidate them and to undermine the support they are giving to us. If we were to withdraw from Berlin, never again would anyone trust our word in any part of the world. To do so would also be a political blunder of the greatest magnitude. If we withdraw from Berlin, where are we to take our stand? We would be driven from post to post. If once we yield to pressure there, we could not withstand pressure which might be brought on us elsewhere. The result would be that the whole of Germany and the greater part of Europe would go under the domination of the Communist totalitarian State.

The noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, has spoken about the importance of having some international organisation which would secure peace. I still put my faith, not, perhaps, overconfidently, in the United Nations. I hesitate with regard to any attempt to set up another body, but I agree entirely with what has just been said, to the effect that the veto is rendering useless the work of the United Nations in certain directions. If the United Nations organisation is to be effective in the future, if it is to preserve the peace of the world, some modification in the use of the veto must be secured. If that fails, I think that regional pacts provide the only solution to this problem. If I may venture to say so, I thought that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, raised a point of the utmost importance when he asked the Government how far these regional pacts can be used to prevent, as well as to resist, aggression. There is one particular direction in which I consider it is of vital importance that, without delay, an effective international authority should be set up.

Since we last discussed foreign affairs here it has become plain, I think, that the proposed international organisation to control the use of atomic power has come to an end in complete failure. Once again the veto has stood in the way. The scheme which was drawn up by the Commission was practical, in the view of all members of the Commission, with the exception of Russia and her supporters. Now, those responsible for the Commission feel that they can do nothing further. The situation is this. At the moment, so far as we know, the atomic bomb is possessed by the United States alone, but within a very few years it will be possessed by other nations. Within five years, at the outside, other nations will possess it. When other nations possess it, then out of very fear that their opponents may use it first, it will probably be used; and when once the atom bomb is used there will come devastation over the whole face of the world, and our civilisation will collapse in ruins. Success in short-term policies will avail very little if, in the long run, this ruin comes upon the world.

Therefore, I would urge once again that the question of the control, manufacture and use of atomic energy be taken up. If Russia refuses to co-operate, let other nations who are prepared to do so form an atomic development authority without Russia. Let them pool their bombs. Let them bind themselves by a pact to ensure that those bombs will be used unitedly against any nation which used such a bomb in warfare. I know of the difficulties which exist in this connection, and I am also aware of the objections and the criticisms to which that proposal is open. Yet I think that, at the moment, while Russia stands out, it is the only practical solution of the problem.

The noble Marquess who opened the debate told us that the problems which are threatening us are as great as any which have ever threatened this nation. I agree with him. I think that the very existence of the nation may be threatened in the years in front of us. We may have to pass through an ordeal as fierce and as terrible as any which we have had to endure in the past. Therefore it is all the more essential that the nation should meet this crisis in complete unity. We have, in the past, overcome great problems because the nation has been united and determined. I regret, therefore, that domestic problems are now interfering with the unity of the nation—not that I think the great mass of the people will be divided because of our discussions on the composition and reform of the House of Lords, or even on steel. The mass of the people, so far as I know, are not in the least interested in these subjects. But people who ought to be dealing with these greater questions, statesmen on both sides who have responsibility in such things, will necessarily be occupied with these matters when all their thoughts ought to be diverted towards avoiding the great dangers which are now threatening the nation.

A day or two ago I came across an interesting extract from a letter written some 400 years ago by an Ambassador to his Emperor—the Emperor Charles V, I think—when the nation was threatened by great dangers from without and within. The Ambassador wrote to the Emperor saying: Parliament is discussing the sumptuary laws and the prohibition of the pastime of cross bows and hand guns especially to foreigners. Nearly the whole time of Parliament has been occupied with these petty matters. Heaven forbid that I should describe the reform and composition of this House or the question of the nationalisation of steel as petty matters. If I did, I should lay myself open to the most devastating retort from the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor. But these matters are domestic matters, which might be postponed; they are not of comparable importance to those which now threaten the safety of mankind. Just as in the past, united we have been able to overcome the greatest dangers, so both in the present and in the future we shall be able to overcome them if they are faced by a united nation.

2.40 p.m.


My Lords, my contribution to this debate will be a very modest one, following the very remarkable speeches to which we have been listening to-day. With your Lordships' permission, I would like to say a word or two about Malaya and about Hyderabad. I welcome the energy with which the Malayan campaign is now being pursued, but one cannot help raising one's eyebrows a little at the Foreign Secretary's remark in another place when he said that the way in which His Majesty's Government had tackled the Malayan problem did great credit to them. There must be something very wrong with his sense of values if he really feels like that; or, if that is being unkind, then I think his sense of loyalty to his colleague at the Colonial Office must be very strong to allow him to be betrayed into such a statement.

As I listened a little later to the slashing attack made on the Colonial Secretary for the failure of his Department and of the Malayan Government to take energetic action and to recognise the seriousness of the situation out there months before they did, I almost had it in my heart to be sorry for the little man, or, perhaps I should say, the right honourable gentleman. And I reflected on the good fortune of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, who I am sorry to see is not in his place to-day, in not having to meet such sledge hammer tactics when we discussed Malaya on July 1 in the somewhat more rarified atmosphere of your Lordships' House. But because we are more prone to use the rapier than the battle-axe, that does not mean that your Lordships were anything but supremely dissatisfied with the complacency shown by the noble Earl on that occasion, and indeed on a subsequent occasion when answering questions on Malaya.

As your Lordships well know, there is overwhelming evidence of the dilatoriness displayed by the Malayan Government in taking, prompt measures to deal with the danger that was clear for all to see months before the tardy augmentation of the Malayan police and the sending out of military reinforcements. A heavy price has had to be paid for the obtuseness and obstinancy of the authorities concerned; and it may well be that the price has not even yet been paid in full. I should like to pay tribute to the dauntless courage of all those men and women who have been carrying on out there in the face of the gravest peril and hardship, and particularly to the Malayan police for their steadfastness, vigilance and loyalty in the face of immense danger and difficulty. And in this connection I greatly welcome the letter in last Saturday's Times from Sir Shenton Thomas and his sturdy defence of the Malayan police forces. I hope the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, when he comes to reply, will be able to tell your Lordships that all the necessary arms and equipment are now in the hands of our forces and police in Malaya and that His Majesty's Government are determined to pursue the campaign with the utmost energy and ruthlessness until the elimination of these murdering and disruptive elements—and more than that, the putting down of this rebellion—is finally achieved.

With regard to the melancholy happenings in India, I agree with the Sunday Times when they said that the surrender of Hyderabad proves nothing of the merits of the dispute between the contestants. Those merits were complex and I think we in this country, remembering with gratitude the loyalty over many years of our faithful ally the Nizam, were inclined to pre-judge the issue. While nothing can justify India's aggression and resort to force, one can well understand the exasperation of the Indian Government at what appeared to be the indecision and wavering policy of the Hyderabad Government, and it well may be that the rise of the Razakars and their militant attitude constituted in their mind a threat to the security not only of the State but of the Dominion itself. We have seen that that fear, as regards India certainly, was unfounded.

Of one thing I am reasonably sure, from conversations I had with members of the Indian Government in Delhi last March: that there was at that time no intention of forcing the issue. I was assured that the position of the Indian States would solve itself. My suggestion that it appeared that a certain amount of pressure was being brought to bear on the Indian rulers was repudiated. I was told that soon after British rule had ended in August, 1947, the Indian Government began to receive appeals from certain States for assistance, owing to certain forces arising in those States which threatened to embarrass the rulers. Those requests for protection, I was told, were embarrassing to the Indian Government, who were not yet ready to deal with the question and were in no hurry to absorb the States. It was pointed out to me, moreover, that the existence of these Indian States was an anomaly, and that no self-respecting country, Dominion or otherwise, could tolerate the existence of so-called pockets of independence dotted about the country. It suited British economy to have such an arrangement, but it could not be expected that it would suit India on the termination of British rule. I offer no comments. I am telling your Lordships what I was told by members of the Indian Government.

I should be glad if the noble and learned Viscount would say whether any British lives have been lost in these lamentable occurrences in Hyderabad and whether the position of British subjects in the State has been in any way prejudiced since the fall of the Nizam's Government. I have a feeling of special concern in this matter, if your Lordships will forgive a slight personal reference, for the reason that I met with great kindness and courtesy in Hyderabad and received the hospitality of the State while staying in Aurungabad six months ago. I hope the Mukbara and other monuments escaped damage and that no harm has befallen the priceless caves and frescoes of Ajanta and Ellora. Finally I wish to say with what distress, bordering on disgust, I read of the violent attack made by a member of another place on the late Governor-General of India. Not only was it to my mind in the worst possible taste but I believe the accusations to have been largely untrue. Anybody who saw Lord Mountbatten at work out there and who took the trouble to make himself acquainted with the sentiments of British and Indians alike all over the Dominion, and making every allowance for isolated criticism, which even the Archangel Gabriel, let alone a mere human being, could not hope to avoid incurring in such a position, could form only one opinion—that the noble Earl did an outstandingly successful job of work and scored a great personal triumph in doing it. This deplorable attack on a great public servant who has deserved well of his country, is in the highest degree regrettable, and I, for one, wish to register my protest against the perpetration of such an offence.

2.49 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord will forgive me if I do not attempt to follow the line he has been taking, as I have none of his specialised knowledge of the subject. All my adult life I have taken a very deep interest in the question of international relations and world peace, but I have refrained from addressing your Lordships on this subject, because I have felt that the situation was so intensely difficult, and that His Majesty's Government and His Majesty's Foreign Secretary were following, so far as I could see, the best line. Therefore I had no helpful suggestions to make and it was better for me to keep quiet. But to-day I feel that the situation is desperately grave, and there is growing up in this country a feeling of resignation to an inevitable war which I deplore intensely, and which I think is terribly dangerous. I feel, therefore, that it is necessary to say a few words in this debate, though the things I shall say seem to me to be quite obvious.

I believe it is an understatement to say that no one in this country wants war. There is a passionate desire in this country for peace. There is a clear realisation that war might be the final catastrophe, the very end of this England of ours and of our Western civilisation. I think I am typical of my fellow countrymen, and as I grow older I have a deeper and deeper love of this country of ours, of the beauty of its hills and valleys, its lakes and rivers; a deeper and deeper appreciation of its freedoms; a deeper love for its people, with their splendid tolerance and sense of fair play; and a deeper love of the outstanding political wisdom of this people, who have built up the finest political institutions that the world has ever seen and have perhaps the kindliest political life in all the world. These qualities and these political institutions have enabled us in the last few years (I am not limiting that merely to the years of the Labour Government) to carry through what I believe is a major social revolution, and to carry that revolution through by consent—that is the wonderful thing—without any violence and without any aggravating hatreds of one another. I believe that that is an example of incalculable value to the world. To many of us it would be the bitterest of all tragedies if this great achievement were to be swept away at its very birth, before it had time to bear its fruit, in the flood of destruction of another world war.

But in spite of this passionate desire for peace, which I believe I share with all my fellow countrymen, I think there is evidence of a growing feeling that there may be no alternative to war. I refuse absolutely to accept that position. The first point I want to make is that war would be no alternative. Assume complete victory, ignore for the moment all the inevitable ghastly consequences of war, and war is still no alternative to the very difficult situation in which we are placed. At the very best, it could be nothing but a postponement of our difficulties. After the war, after the victory, after the ghastly destructions, the problem would still be there, more aggravated, more difficult of solution. I believe that Clausewitz and other military writers (I am no expert on these matters) said something to the effect that a war was only the continuation of policy. I would say most emphatically that war cannot further the policy that we seek to pursue.

The policy that we seek to pursue, the achievement at which we are aiming, is to abolish war and to build a world community, and a World Government, with mutual security and mutual co-operation. We believe that the world already is a unity, bound together by the ease of communication and transport and by the inter-dependence of its parts. No important event in any part of the world, no important move by any national Government, can take place without affecting the rest of the world. Our policy is to recognise this unity and to make the necessary political adjustments; to build into this world—which is in fact, one—a World Government, which would not interfere with the right of any nation to conduct its own affairs in its own way, but would combine the resources of all for the benefit of each.

War with Russia could not possibly further that policy one iota. To fight Russia, to compel her to co-operate, would make real co-operation impossible for a great number of years. As I have listened to this debate I have felt more and more that if we are really seeking peace, it surely is not wise to assume that all the fault and all the folly is on the other side. There may be a solid basis for that fault and that folly which, if we really want peace, it is our business to discover. There can be no hope of peace unless we are prepared to look at the whole problem with some degree of impartiality. The noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition said that he wants "no nice, kind speeches about Russia." I am not going to make any such speech, but I am going to appeal for a completely impartial survey of the whole problem with a real desire to find some point at which we can bring peace into this terrible conflict, if possible.

The noble Marquess said that his speech would be condemned by those who refused to face facts. I felt that his speech revealed that he was not facing all the facts. I am not a military strategist, but it seems to me that it would be absurd for us to fight Russia for Berlin, in spite of all the importance of Berlin as a symbol and in spite of all the tremendous assumed responsibilities to its inhabitants which we have taken upon ourselves, because the first effect of the war would be that we should have to withdraw from Berlin. I believe that Berlin is not the real cause of this conflict. There is a deeper conflict behind it, and Berlin is only an indication of that deeper conflict. To fight a war with Russia because we cannot tolerate Communist infiltration would be the best possible way of spreading Communism throughout Europe. For these reasons I say again that war is no alternative and no solution of our present difficulties, and can only magnify them a thousandfold.

Moreover, I do not believe that Russia wants war. The only other point I wish to make is this. When we have reached an impasse like the present one, it is surely wise to look all round the whole problem to see whether it is not possible to find some point at which we can ease the situation. There was a fine saying by Mr. Marshall in his great speech at the U.N.O. General Assembly yesterday. It did not seem to me to be reported in The Times, but I may have looked through the report too carelessly. He said: Despite the co-operative action of most nations to rebuild peace and well-being, the leaders of the other nations are creating a deep rift between their countries and the rest of the world community. We must not allow that rift to widen any further, and we must redouble our efforts to find a common ground. That is what I am pleading for, and I believe that that is the determination of the British Government and of the British Foreign Secretary—to redouble our efforts to find a common ground.

Noble Lords may think that I am overlooking the ideological conflict. I do not overlook that at all, but I do doubt the assumption that it is the root cause of Russia's refusal to join in this great cause of world unity. Many of us think that the League of Nations failed because it was given an impossible task, the task of re-establishing the rule of law in a world in which there were three Powers who were utterly dissatisfied with their position in the world and determined that it should not become a final position. They believed, rightly or wrongly, that the rule of law meant the final establishment of their inferior position in the world. I plead with your Lordships to consider that there may be some similar point in the mind of the Russian Government. If there is any possibility of that, we should make a great effort to find out where it is that the shoe is pinching, and whether it is not possible to give relief in order to win her co-operation.

I do not think for a moment that any noble Lord would have difficulty in naming at least two possible points where the shoe may be pinching. There is the old demand for a warm water port—or, at all events, access through the Dardanelles into the Mediterranean—promised to Russia, I believe, during the First World War. I ask your Lordships to consider whether this is not another of those points where advantage in war is preferred to security from war. There was one statement made by the noble Marquess this morning which I welcomed most heartily. I hope I have his words correctly, but he said something to this effect: "It is the prevention of war and not the winning of war that is vital." I believe that that is profoundly true, and it is a very great mistake if we are still thinking more of security or advantage in war than of the possibility of preventing war altogether. If this question of Russia's access to the southern seas, shall we put it, is considered, it might be said that under a world of law no such difficulty would arise and, therefore, if Russia would come into the community of nations the whole problem would immediately be solved. I believe that is profoundly true. The whole situation for Russia would be perfectly plain and simple if she would come into this community of nations. Her access then to the southern seas would be perfectly free through the Dardanelles.

On the other hand, let us remember that if we believe in such a world of law, then our refusal to grant Russia this access to the southern seas is altogether in contradiction of our belief in the success of world government. I always remember the saying—I forget whose it was—that the responsibility for tolerance is on those of the wider vision. If we think that we have a wider vision than Russia, then the responsibility for us is to make the first move. Conversely, of course, every noble Lord must realise that the bolstering of Turkey and of Greece—not by any means innocent democratic Governments—is bound to be regarded by Russia as a determination to prevent her having this access to the Mediterranean.

The other sphere where I think there might be a possibility is in a reversal of our policy in China. The noble Lord, Lord Lindsay of Birker, has mentioned this two or three times in the House, but no notice seems to have been taken of it. I believe that this matter of United States of America's intervention in China is a most important point. It is exactly the same sort of intervention that we object to when Russia does it; it is resulting in the prolongation of civil war in China. The Kuomintang are now almost a completely Fascist Government, riddled with bribery and corruption. Boys of sixteen are hauled out of school and put into concentration camps for the mildest expressions of Liberalism, and the whole of this corrupt government system is kept alive only by United States dollars. Russia naturally regards all that as a preparation for war against herself.


I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord but we have listened very patiently—and many of us are deeply shocked by his observations. He asks what has happened to the Liberals in China? I must ask him, what has happened to the Liberals in Russia?


I do not think it is necesary for me to answer that question, because we all know what has happened to the Liberals in Russia. The whole point is that in the case of China we Western nations are actually supporting this Fascist Government. I believe that a review of our policy in China is one of the points that we must consider when we are trying to arrive at peace with Russia. I will repeat to your Lordships the words of Mt. Marshall and with them I will conclude. His words were: We must redouble our efforts to find a common ground.

3.12 p.m.


My Lords, it has been my privilege once or twice to follow the noble Lord who has just sat down. I am sure he will not expect me to follow him in everything he said, but perhaps he will permit me one or two observations. My adolescent life and my early mature years were passed in a time when people went about saying that peace was everything. I must say that I thought the British nation believed as passionately in peace as the noble Lord, Lord Darwen, I think correctly, says they do now; but I did observe that when the British nation had to choose between peace at any price and subjection to Hitler their choice was made, and made most firmly. The second observation I should like to make is that the noble Lord's remedy for the present stage of international affairs is apparently to give Russia a warm water port at the expense of either Turkey or Greece—and that does not seem to me a particularly happy solution or one upon which an enduring and just peace could rest.


That is not the only possible way of meeting the requirements of Russia. It might be possible to do that by internationalising the Dardanelles.


Perhaps the noble Lord would tell us how to obtain the consent of Turkey or Greece to the internationilisation of their territorial waters.

We are passing through a time of prolonged anxiety, and for one, look forward only to a very long period of tension—if we do not actually undergo a war. I do not see any sign of any sudden lessening of the tension, because, as some noble Lords have said—I think rightly—we are witnessing a great contest between ideologies, and that will not easily be resolved. But it is of some interest to anyone of my generation who recalls very vividly the feeling in inter-war years that there should be no more secret diplomacy, no more of what was called the "Wilsonian" type of diplomacy, that we are now witnessing a very prolonged and secret diplomatic manœuvre. I do not criticise either the Foreign Secretary or the other Western Powers for negotiating in secret; we do not want what I think Harold Nicolson once called the "horrors of open diplomacy." But I would make this observation: that it is the duty of Parliament to debate this question and it is the duty of the Government to pay attention to the debate. We live under Parliamentary rule and not under Executive rule, as do some other countries. The Government's policy should be determined after discussion and not merely on the direction of His Majesty's Ministers.

Mr. Bevin has said that Berlin is a symbol. It certainly is; and I believe that the public mind should be prepared for the consequences of our holding on to Berlin. If we maintain ourselves in Berlin then we must risk war: I do not think that the public mind is sufficiently aware of that. And, if we risk war, then, as my noble friend Lord Vansittart so rightly said, we must put our defences in order with the utmost possible speed. War in this modern age has changed, both in character and in quality. There is no doubt, as the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, has so often told your Lordships, that if we decide to stop the perpetual process of Russian aggression and infiltration we must make up our minds that at some stage we say, "Thus far and no farther." I think that stage has now come in Berlin—but let us all face the consequences of that decision.

I must confess that I, for one, am not in the least surprised by the Russian behaviour. I have held for a considerable time that we are not entitled to expect anything different. I think they are behaving, as the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury has said, merely in conformity with their political beliefs and practice. I do not think it is necessary for us to rend ourselves in indignation about this matter, but it is necessary for us to study the past thirty years. As I see it, one of the causes of the present confusion is the fact that in certain cases we have employed Satan to rebuke sin. We have defeated the exponents of one particular brand of totalitarian philosophy by calling to our assistance the exponents of another. A good many of the recent difficulties, and much of the confusion in the national mind at the moment, arise from the fact that we have been unwilling to admit that. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, has already made that point. But that development of affairs does set up a new relationship with Germany. Let us candidly admit that it provides a situation which might well be exploited once again by the Germans, as they exploited similar situations in the past. It is a situation which imposes particular responsibilies upon Great Britain, especially in her conduct towards Germany.

I yield to no one in my detestation of the manifestations of German aggressiveness, which has been illustrated twice in my life-time, and possibly three or four times in the life-time of many of your Lordships. I think that their national ethos, if I may put it that way, springs from a faulty philosophy, carried out ruthlessly and practised whenever they were able. I am by no means certain that, if the opportunity occurred again, there would not appear once more in Germany men of a similar mentality to those who have twice led her to defeat. Nevertheless, it is our duty as a nation, in our relationships with a defeated Germany, both to display firmness and to follow the highest tenets of Western justice and Christian values. I myself fear that, if we follow any other course, or if in the course which we follow we feel that in our consciences we have not upheld those values, there will be a reaction such as followed the end of the last war. I should be very sorry to see that happen because I should fear that the same consequences would ensue.

I hope that we shall continue to occupy Germany for many years. I hope that the Occupation Statute which the Government propose to draw up in conjunction with the Western Allies, will be as carefully and explicitly drafted as possible; I hope that we shall not get out of Germany until the Germans realise why we have beeen there. None the less, in our conduct with Germany and towards the Germans we ought to be especially scrupulous. That is why, on more than one occasion, I have thought it right to bring to your Lordships' notice instances where I felt that our conduct towards Germany fell short of the standards which we ought to pursue in relation to that country.

I have quoted to your Lordships already in this House—I hope that your Lordships will not mind my quoting this extract once again—from an Instruction that was issued about the denazification of Germany: The first criterion of all members of the Denazification Panel is that they should be confirmed Anti-Nazis; that is to say, they must have, in the past, given evidence of their positive antipathy for the Nazi régime. Only if it proves impossible to find confirmed Anti-Nazis should non-Nazis be allowed on the Panel. To a considerable extent a man's political views will indicate the strength of his opposition to Nazi principles. In industrial regions, German panels and committees must be predominantly but not exclusively, composed of trade unionists and representatives of the workers' interests; in other regions representation of trade unions must also be provided where possible. It must not be forgotten that Nazis and many of their sympathisers had, as their first object, the destruction of working-class organisations, and it is"— I ask you to note these words— particularly desirable that these organisations should be given a chance to name their oppressors. That is not a method of conducting justice, where you have a panel, which is supposed to be testing a man on his record, composed of people who are thus biased by their own treatment.

I have already condemned what I think was a bad practice, although I must confess that I have had no reasonable explanation from the Government. I hope that this process of denazification has now ended, because I am sure that in a great community such as that it is not possible to segregate persons on the grounds of their past political sympathies. By all means take war criminals; try them; and, if they are guilty, convict them. Segregate those who are especially dangerous, but do not set apart and stigmatise large classes of a community because they are to be regarded as militarists or profiteers. If we are to maintain our self-respect, and to maintain those standards in Western Germany which we value in our own country, that is not the way to achieve our object. I am sure that we shall re-educate Germany not so much by teaching as by example. I welcome the measures of currency reform that have taken place in recent months. We must all be glad to see that the economy of Germany is certainly mending, if it is not yet healthy. I am glad to see that the present Government attach such importance to a stable currency. We all recollect a well-known Social Democrat, Herr Grünwald, who poured contempt on marks and pfennigs, and described them as meaningless symbols I am glad to see that the present Government have learnt a little better.

I come next to a point in our treatment of Germany which has caused my own conscience, and those of a great many of my fellow-countrymen, deep concern. I refer to the trial of the German Field-Marshals. The Foreign Secretary, in another place, made a statement upon this question the other day. After an interjection, he ended his statement by saying that he did not understand why people were so disturbed about this trial. I will endeavour to explain at least why I am so disturbed. Let me say at the outset that it is no part of my philosophy that those who have committed crimes against the recognised rules of war should go untried. After all, we have had several conventions, notably the Hague Convention, about the proper conduct of civilised nations in war. If it can be shown that that code was broken, then those who are guilty should be tried; but it is a principle of British justice that it must be done, and that it must be done expeditiously. That is my principal complaint in this particular matter.

May I take the time-table as set out in another place by the Foreign Secretary? He told us of the process by which these Generals are to be brought to trial. In May or June, 1945, these officers were captured and became prisoners of war. As such, they were subject, as I understand it, to all the rules of the Hague Convention. In Otcober, 1946, there was delivered at Nuremberg the judgment of the International Court set up to try the major war criminals. As a result of that judgment, the United States—apparently not our own Governmem—set about investigating the responsibility of other persons who might be held to be equally guilty with some of those war criminals who were convicted. In August, 1947—that is, over two years after they had been taken prisoner—the United States indicated to our own Government that these four General officers might be guilty of war crimes. In October, 1947, the Memorandum sent to our Government by the United States was considered by our Government, and it was decided, in the words of Mr. Bevin: to ask the United States authorities to include these four officers in the trials which they were then preparing of certain other members of the General Staff at Nuremberg. The United States authorities replied that as they had completed the indictment, to have included the four officers at that stage would have delayed the opening of the case which they had then prepared. In December, 1947, two months later, a meeting of Ministers was held. The officers had then been in captivity for two and half years.

The Lord Chancellor advised that the memorandum of evidence prepared by the United States disclosed a prima facie case against each of the four officers. It was then decided to obtain the evidence, and a great deal of further investigation and preliminary work had to be undertaken. In the meantime a doubt arose whether the officers were fit for trial. After a series of medical boards it was decided in April, 1948, that three of the four were fit for trial. Then His Majesty's Government set about taking the actual evidence on the memorandum which the United States had lodged—that is, nearly three years after these officers had been taken into captivity. At the end of July the officers were returned to Germany and, in the words of Mr. Bevin, "are now kept in military custody." In August, 1948, it was made public that they were to be tried.

Your Lordships will have noted the correspondence which has taken place in several reputable journals describing the conditions in which these officers were held in captivity. I will not delay your Lordships by reading at length from this correspondence. Suffice it to say, that before any of these officers were charged, and while they were presumably prisoners of war, they were kept by themselves in cells, with a sentry perpetually present and apparently with the light always burning. As I understand it, they were not treated in conformity with the Hague Convention Rules which prescribe, under the heading of "Maintenance of Prisoners," how the Government into whose hands prisoners of war have fallen is bound to maintain them. Failing a special agreement between the belligerents, prisoners of war should be treated as regards food, quarters and clothing on the same footing as the troops of the Government which has captured them. I submit, first of all, that it is a defiance of that rule to keep men for over three years in captivity, whether they be guilty or not, and not to inform them until the third year or well on the way to the fourth year that they are to be tried for their lives.

As I have said, expedition is a part of British justice. Surely we as a country are doing our own reputation no good by this conduct. Surely we are injuring ourselves and our standards of British conduct in the eyes of the German people. If there have been such delays (which are admitted), rather than pursue this matter to the bitter end, surely it would be better to drop the trial. This is no Party matter. The consciences of people in all walks of life are deeply stirred. They will demand from the Government a much fuller explanation than that which has already been given. They will want to know why there was this delay, why there was this hesitation. They will also want to know why junior officers were tried, convicted and sentenced without senior officers being first-charged—why the proper order was thus inverted. But, these officers have endured so long a delay, and I am certain that the public conscience will not bear to see British justice distorted, as I believe it to be in this case. My Lords, we live in times when standards have often been degraded. I do not believe that there is any hope of a lasting peace until, once again, it is expected of nations that they should keep treaties; until once again it is expected of civilised man that he should follow justice and not revenge.

Before I sit down I would make a comment (because it seems to me germane to the present international situation) on the remarks that fell from the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, about Hyderabad. The noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, I think, went to the heart of the matter when he remarked how great a damage has been done, and is being done, by this imitation on the part of the Indian leaders of the practices and policy of Hitler. It matters not the quality or type of the régime in Hyderabad; it is a question of good faith between sovereign States and the observance of certain standards of conduct. Surely it can never be said in this House that Hyderabad had no right to decide for herself. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, assured your Lordships that the States will be entirely free to choose whether to associate with others of the Dominion Governments or to stand alone, and that should be the answer to the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, when he refers to the assurances which were given him by Indian leaders last year. Surely, we cannot go on ignoring breaches of treaty or such lapses of conduct between States. There is no short cut to peace, no system which will work, unless, once again, the sanctity of the pledged word, the security of treaties and the respect for law is the rule among nations, and unless we ourselves are certain that we are pursuing it.

3.28 p.m.


My Lords, I am afraid my few short words will be put into the category of "nice, kind speeches" by the noble Marquess; but I assure him that I am trying to face the facts, although he and I may possibly look at them from a different angle. In these few words I would like to say something about the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, and especially about the form of his Motion. He wants to find a mechanism for stopping aggression. If he will not mind my saying so, I think that that formation of words nowadays is somewhat naïve and out-of-date. Is it possible to stop aggression? The words of the Motion rather suggest that a war takes place in this way: that everybody knows that at a certain date 5,000 hostile soldiers are going to arrive, and all that it is necessary to do is to have 10,000 soldiers ready to meet them. But it is not anything like that. Nowadays a nation of 5,000,000 people can quite easily conquer a nation of 50,000,000, if their scientists are sufficiently superior. There will be no time to collect forces, to put machinery into action. There will be no warning. There will just be millions devastated acres, millions of dead human beings, and millions of acres of obliterated life. If, as we suppose, atomic devilishness has increased at a corresponding rate since Hiroshima—I am sorry that the scientific Lord who sits next to the noble Marquess is not here, as he probably would be able to bear me out—it occurs to me that the only possible physical machine that we could put into motion to stop aggression now is to give the scientists in their burrows extra beer and rations.

Now to deal again with this form of machinery to resist aggression. There is only one form of machinery that can stop aggression, and that is a form which will take away from nations all the disabilities and complexes which cause it. You may have a form of machinery of force to stop aggression, but when you use it you produce an aggressor either in the person you have defeated or in someone else, as we have seen recently. The machinery of force may subdue aggressors but it creates others. The subduing of the Kaiser, for instance, produced Hitler and the Russian Revolution. The subduing of Hitler produced the second half of the present Russian bogey. It seems to me that it is the idea in international politics, if I may be rash enough to say so, that you can have a nice war, subdue your enemy, and all meet together for a happy garden party as soon as it is all over; whereas, in reality, the slaughter, the suffering and the misery involved create a decline in human morale which takes ages to put right, and if it does not make a future new aggressor of the defeated side it finds one somewhere else from among recent friends and allies.

How on earth can man expect all this frightful carnage and waste of money to produce anything but further wars, misery, disaffection and aggression? How can we affect surprise at it? We must now surely look around and see if there is not some better supported way of settling man's differences, and substitute the words "race suicide" for "aggression" when we discuss it. Mr. Marshall said only yesterday that the chief cause of to-day's troubles was the neglect of human rights. So it is; but surely not in the way he meant it. What about the human rights of the 10,000,000 or 15,000,000 or 20,000,000 wretched human beings killed, lacerated, invalided, suffocated, burnt and buried alive in the last war? Who considered them then? Were they not just shoved into the furnace because humanity could not find any better way of settling differences? If it is desired to stop aggression, the first thing to do is to guard the human rights of the world's citizens; then there will not be any aggression.

May we look briefly at what the violation of human rights has produced to-day? Disease, hunger, Communism, rebellion, murder, disaffection and many other such things are rife everywhere. And yet, even with these perfectly plain evidences of the results of trying to settle international human differences by murder and destruction staring mankind in the face, once again the old fallacious bogey is gaining ground daily, that preparations must be made apace for settling the present precarious position by the same old methods which can only hasten the collapse of our already tottering civilisation and bring it nearer to its already visualisable end. No one was blind in the past to the fact that Hitler was preparing an aggressive comeback. No one is blind to the fact that there is potential danger in certain quarters now. Everyone knows that atrocities and cruelties were committed by the Germans. Everyone knows also, if they pause to think for one moment, that no one has been or will be aggressive or cruel unless they believe that, according to the foul standards of historical precedent, they have what is called "a good cause." A good cause means revenge for a defeat or stolen land or colonies or poverty or overcrowding or some complex of that kind.

Among those causes were Hitler's. War was the great maker and creator of war, having made these causes for him. Similarly, this last war has made most of the world's citizens bloody-minded—if I may use that term—from sheer misery, and has turned decent men into subversive agitators, made nations difficult and unco-operative and brought a future war into the horizon. These things are war's fault and not the fault of the Russians. The lesson of collapsing civilisation is now clear for those who wish to see it. In that I go further than the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel. I say that however dangerous or cruel the disputant may be or seem to be, there must now be a different method employed for bringing him to reason, because another war will finally and irrevocably end what we call civilisation and bring the world to savagery again. So I suggest, with all respect to the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, who I see has disappeared at the psychological moment—I am sure he will not mind my saying this in his absence—that he would be much more profitably employed, with his great skill and acumen, in finding methods for dealing successfully and peacefully with those whose lives and antecedents and ancestors he now so ably denounces, one after another, when they appear on a dangerous horizon, rather than in abusing them and thereby adding to the ill-feeling now so prevalent in the world, which might lead to a final debacle.

The Dean of Canterbury perhaps goes to the other extreme, but surely he, unlike the noble Lord, does seem to realise that everyone in every country is really much alike, and that all are innately directed towards a peaceful life. We are very much alike although some of us pride ourselves on being different and superior to everyone else. I believe that everyone in the world is, within five per cent. or ten per cent., much the same. They are all, I repeat, innately directed towards a peaceful life, though intense and long suffering has made their methods subversive and in many cases dangerous. Now the noble Viscount wants machinery to stop aggression. I suggest to him again that there is only one form of machinery which will stop aggression and that is one which removes disabilities from the minds of malcontents and assures them of general co-operation and co-operative desire by the rest of the world, for in this particular case everyone in the world has at one time or another been a cog in the wheel of the juggernaut of the moment.

This Russian bogey has been caused by a world-wide belief in power politics which has terminated in world wars in which Russia was invaded, over-run, and largely destroyed on two occasions. So they have become a Communist State, difficult, intractable and bitter. I suggest that they can be induced to relax only by a complete understanding of their condition and its causes, together with an abolition of the process of bear-baiting or "bomb boasting"—that is a new word, somewhat similar to bombast but not quite the same—secret meetings, threatening speeches and secret diplomacy which is now going on. In their place should be the insertion of large scale and generous co-operative offers by the Powers now in conflict with them and of whom they are probably genuinely terrified.

You may perhaps say that the Russians are entirely in the wrong. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, may have understated his case against them. They may not deserve all this. Possibly they do not. But it would cure them as it would have cured Hitler, for this reason—that everyone can resist force but no one can resist generosity and sympathy. A war just means that two people or nations have had a trial of strength and have tried to put themselves right by force. There should be a whole-hearted realisation by the world that the ethical orders of neighbourly kindness in face of all danger, all risk and all reason, must achieve their result, because they have come through a gap in the dark cloud that conceals all-powerful wisdom, If this could be put into the mechanism which the noble Viscount desires, it would bring the required result as surely, but possibly as ununderstandably, as the acorn produces the oak.

It seems to me that it is a question now of either believing in that or of throwing the whole of civilisation into the melting pot. The mechanism as such has first to decide that it will not tolerate another war, whatever happens. That is an important point. It has to be decided, once and for ever. Then, in the face of repeated failure, this mechanism has to start to break down the Russian curtain with repeated generous gestures, with which America and the other nations concerned would have to be brought into line, and continue these gestures until the great spring which began to be tightened up in 1914 begins to unwind. If suffering wound it up, so co-operation, if really genuine and unafraid, can unwind it. This is not weakness, but a sign of understanding. There strength lies, and a new example for humanity.

Finally, the mechanism must decide that a cause, however good it may be, cannot be furthered successfully by going contrary to ethical wisdom and throwing the gratuitous gifts of life on the rubbish heaps and bonfires of final dissolution. There is, and must be, an alternative. I make these respectful suggestions to one of the world's greatest workers for peace, and I hope he will treat them as such. The noble Viscount, if he wishes, can again call it all verbiage. But I venture to hope that before doing that he will consider in every detail the disastrous state of the world caused by so-called reality, and seek to give reality at long last its proper meaning.

3.53 p.m.


My Lords, I will stand between your Lordships and the reply for which you are waiting from the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor for only a few moments, the more so as, unfortunately, I was not able to be present to hear the speeches which were delivered in this House before lunchtime. I am going to speak about only two points. The first concerns the issue raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, who pleaded here, as he has so often pleaded, for some form of world organisation to ensure peace. Other speakers have also referred to that question. If we ask ourselves why the League of Nations failed, and now unfortunately, to some extent, the United Nations has failed, there are a number of reasons, all largely bound up with the political malaise, the chaos, the split in the world.

Although political reasons are largely at the back of it all, I want to suggest that there have also been serious structural defects. I believe that insufficient attention has been given to the proper articulation of international bodies and the relation of regional organisations to the world organisation. There has been much too great a tendency to over-weight a world organisation with tasks which it is quite incapable of doing. It is a perfectly sound rule that the greater the number of participants in an organisation, the smaller is the number of functions that the organisation can undertake. That is specially true in the international field.

I happened to be in Geneva two weeks ago, listening to the proceedings of the Economic and Social Council. It was most disheartening. There were over fifty items on the agenda and after six weeks of discussion perhaps half a dozen had resulted in specific action. Of course, it was largely due to the East-West split, but the agenda was enormously over-weighted. The Council could never have gone through the whole of that mass of important and less important matters which were mingled together. If that is so, it is bad for the organisation. It tends to discredit it. My own view, which I am not going to argue, is that we have to think of a world organisation in terms of a federation of federations or groups. The only function of an international organisation about which we are 100 per cent. sure is that it is its business to keep the peace. We all agree that the question of peace should be in the hands of a world organisation. All the rest we should think out in terms of the proper articulation of regional or subordinate groups.

It is clear that of these groups Western Union is the most important at the present time. Great credit is due to the Government for the immense progress that has been made in the last six months. The settlement of the sharing of Marshall Aid, reached about a fortnight ago, a problem which had given the impression of great disputation, was a real achievement. In the words of a highly-placed American, who is perhaps in the best of all positions to judge, it represents a "much greater degree of agreement" than he expected. I also think the Government are to be congratulated on pushing forward with the financial aid between the countries of Europe themselves. There again, they have done something which, perhaps more than anything else, has impressed people, especially in the United States, that Britain is not so half-hearted as has sometimes been suggested.

But all this elaborate work is only a beginning. Up to the present, Western Union has had no real strength. There ought to be further consideration of how Western Europe should develop, of its relation to the United Nations and to other international bodies. In the set-up which already exists there are many strengths and weaknesses. I will mention only two of the latter. First, these bodies follow the analogy of the various organisations set up by the League of Nations and the United Nations. The Group of Five and the Group of Eighteen are both subject to the rule of unanimity and the right of withdrawal. There is no pooling of sovereignty of any kind. That type of organisation can do much, but all experience shows that it tends to become slow and timid. The defect of the rule of unanimity is well illustrated by the delay which took place a month ago over this very question of the distribution of Marshall Aid.

That difficulty of the unanimity rule may be surmounted by evolving international organs of co-operation which are given a separate existence under Treaty. There are many prototypes. One is the International Bank at Basle; I happened to be concerned with drawing up its Statutes. There the rule of unanimity was set aside by the establishment of an international institution under Swiss law with the appointment of a Board of Directors operating by majority vote; but the very fact that it was set up in Switzerland, at the request and under treaty with half a dozen Powers, meant that it was almost impossible to change the Statutes of the Bank if that required to be done. In fact, the Bank's functions were not elastic enough to let it adjust itself to the monetary crisis in the early thirties. It is worth the while of those interested to study the Bank at Basle as an example of how far you can in fact go in setting up international organs of this type.

The second and most important weakness that I want to mention is one to which I have referred before in your Lordships' House. It is that those who are working out this great experiment—and it is, to some extent, shaping the form and future of Western Europe—are a very small group of people, and they are doing it behind closed doors. The agenda includes (among many other items) the study and the working out, if possible, of a Customs Union, free convertibility between the currencies of Europe, and a production plan for the basic industries which, if carried out, will affect the degree of industrialisation of each country and the nature of its economic activities for years to come. This is an immense and far-reaching undertaking, which is essential to Europe's survival. But it is one which can be achieved only if it commands the full support, not only of the public but of organised labour and employers, and the approval and co-operation of the agricultural and commercial communities generally. So far the peoples of the countries concerned have not been brought into the picture. In other words, the structure at the moment has no roots, and because it has not that basic support some small change in the political situation might blow it right away.

My noble friend Lord Samuel spoke this morning of the need of a political background for this organisation. That is the point I want to emphasise. It is also necessary to ascertain very clearly how far the nations of Western Europe are prepared to go. I suggest—and this is my major point—that the proposal of the French and Belgian Governments deserves a more friendly reception than it appeared to receive from the speech of the Foreign Secretary in another place a week ago. This impression of luke-warmness was perhaps due to the fact that Mr. Bevin concentrated specifically on certain proposals suggested at Interlaken. It is important to distinguish these proposals from those made by the French and Belgian Governments at the suggestion of the International Committee. They propose that there should be a deliberative and advisory assembly, and that its terms of reference should be:

  1. "(a) To give expression to the desire of the European peoples for unity and peace.
  2. (b) To consider practical measures for the progressive political and economic integration of Europe.
  3. (c) To study the constitutional, economic and social problems inherent in the creation of a European union.
  4. (d) To consider methods of developing closer understanding among the European peoples in the spiritual and cultural spheres.
  5. (e) To approve a Charter of Human Rights, and to make proposals for the establishment of a European Supreme Court, with adequate sanctions to secure the implementation of the Charter.
  6. (f) To make recommendations for action in regard to the above matters to the Governments of the participating nations, and to appropriate European inter-governmental Agencies."
It is further proposed that there should be a preparatory Committee to prepare for this Assembly, whose business would include consideration of the countries to be represented, the number and allocation of seats, the method of selection of representatives, rules of procedure, the date and place of the first session, and its agency. That is very far from being a proposition to create, design and draw up a Constitution for Europe like that of the United States. It is a proposal for exploration. I suggest that that would be a most useful and valuable task, which should give powerful help to Mr. Bevin. Mr. Bevin did not close the door on that proposal, and I earnestly hope that after the consultations with the Dominions have taken place His Majesty's Government will support it.

I strongly believe that that proposal would receive the full support of public opinion—on three conditions. The first is one which specially concerns His Majesty's Government: it is that the Government would not be committed to the views expressed. There is a great deal of misunderstanding on that point. It is assumed that if the Government concern themselves with the organisation of a conference, what is said at that conference must be Government policy. That is not the case, and has not been the case in many examples of conferences of an international character. For example, in the First World Economic Conference of 1927 the delegates were nominated and appointed by the Government, but they spoke merely in their own personal capacities, and all that was resolved was referred back to the Government for consideration. The Government's function in relation to conferences of that kind is to satisfy themselves that the delegates are reasonably representative of the country's opinion. Secondly, it should be clear that the kind of association to which Britain could move with Western Europe must be one in which there is no prejudice to our special relations with our Commonwealth. That goes without saying. Finally, the conception would be one not to create a complete system for Europe but to set in motion an evolutionary process aiming at the development of a European organisation which would draw its authority from the nations, either directly or through their Parliaments.

Under the conditions which I have suggested, I would urge the Government to give their hacking to that proposal, subject, of course, to the fact that the terms of reference are open to consideration. I urge that that proposal be accepted, first, because the morale of Western Europe needs strengthening. I need not elaborate on that point. It is clear that Western Europe needs a sense of leadership, of hope that there will emerge something which will strengthen Western Europe in all the ways which we have discussed so often before—namely, militarily, politically and economically. I suggest that this strengthening of morale is a matter of urgency. If, as I believe, the calling of this Assembly would strengthen morale, it needs to be done quickly, and now.

Finally, I believe that there is a good practical reason why the Government should support this proposal. I think if they reflect upon it, they will agree that it is the only way, without making premature commitments, of assuring the United States that we are not putting on the brake, but are honestly exploring ways to get order and co-operation out of the chaos of Europe. If it should prove that the form of co-operation must be different—and most of us believe it must be radically different—from that which Americans, thinking of their own country, expect, a change of opinion in America is much more likely to come about without detriment to the good relations of the United States and the countries of Europe if that change emerges from open and clear debate. For that reason, in the interest not only of those relations, but in particular of British relations with the United States, I think the Government should welcome and not throw cold water on this particular suggestion.

4.12 p.m.


My Lords, we have had a very interesting debate, and I welcome the fact that we have had such a debate. It is, of course, always a subject which must be handled with care and discretion, and I must say there always seems to be a good reason for not having the debate at any particular moment of time. Knowing as I do what strain and stress the Foreign Secretary is under, I am hound to say that I sympathise with him in having to have this debate at the present time. None the less, I think it was only right that both in another place and in this House these matters should come up for discussion; and, as always happens, your Lordships have discussed them with the necessary discretion.

Speaking for myself, I think the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition correctly diagnosed the root trouble. All the manifestations in various parts of the globe spring, of course, from the trouble at the centre. That trouble is that there are two rival philosophies which are not able to find accommodation between each other. Like the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil. I do not understand the Communist philosophy, but in so far as I do understand the materialism upon which it is based, I believe it to be wholly false, to be wholly wrong, and it is a philosophy to which I should never, in any circumstances whatever, subscribe. Equally, so far as Russia herself is concerned, and so far as her own territories are concerned, I would say: Let her do exactly what she desires within her own territories, without any sort of interference from us. Equally, we should demand that we should be allowed—and when I say "we" I mean all other countries—to work out our own destiny in our own way, always providing we are not a menace to our neighbours. That is the philosophy for which we stand.

I think we all agree that war, particularly war under modern conditions, would be a most horrible thing. We would all of us, I suppose, do anything we could to avoid the risk of war, if we could avoid it without giving up things which are absolutely essential. The noble Lord, Lord Darwen, whose speeches are always listened to by your Lordships with care and attention, and who has the courage to express his view, obviously believes that war is the greatest of all evils. I do not accept that view. I think that, horrible as war is, there may be still greater evils, and the complete subjugation of our people, our complete loss of liberty and complete domination by a foreign system which is wholly alien to our traditions, would be a worse fate for us than going to war. The noble Lord, Lord Darwen, suggested that we must try to meet the Russians and conciliate them still further. Well, that used to go by the name of appeasement, and that is all it is. What was suggested? To come out of Berlin. I agree that Berlin is really symptomatic of the whole thing. May I ask the noble Lord—I know he is not able to be present—what would happen to the 2,250,000 Germans who remain in Berlin? Has the noble Lord thought of that? If we had got out of Berlin and gone somewhere else from that particular pillar to some new post, what guarantee has the noble Lord that when we reach the new post the same situation will not arise again as in Berlin?

As the noble Lord, Lord De L'Isle and Dudley said in an interjection when the noble Lord was speaking about the warm water port: Who are we to say that Turkey is to surrender her territory at the present time? No doubt it would be perfectly reasonable to say that Russia should have freedom of access to her ports on all her peaceable errands, but the trouble cannot be solved, I believe, by methods of appeasement. Indeed, I should have thought that if one thing was quite plain, the lesson of the last war would surely have taught us that. I, for my part, am as much opposed to "bear baiting"—to use the phrase of the noble Earl, Lord Darnley—as I am to "door-slamming," which was the phrase of the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart. I would rather be accused of keeping the door open too long. Perhaps we have kept it open too long, but so long as there is a chance of doing anything by an open door, let us err on the side of keeping it open. The time may come—it may come all too soon—when the door has to be slammed.

The noble Earl, Lord Darnley, referred to what he described as the "Russian bogey." I hope he is right. He said that we must have some mechanism which will ensure that there shall be no more war. That is wholly admirable. But what is the mechanism, and who enters into the agreement? Those are the vital questions. Confronted with the present situation, a situation of gravity, His Majesty's Government feel that they are bound to take steps to strengthen their Forces. We want to be strong, not so that we may conquer in a war, but so that we may prevent a war arising. We want to be strong enough, soon enough—to use again a phrase of the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart. That is where, if I may say so, and if it is not impertinent for me to say so, I thought the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, made such a valuable contribution in his speech. I agree with every word the noble Lord, Lord Layton, said about the necessity of working out all the immense problems which he adumbrated. I am not a good enough historian to remember, and I am afraid I have not looked it up, how long it took the American Colonies after the War of Independence to work out their Federation.


Eleven years.


That was a comparatively easy task compared to this one. It will not be any good unless we can get some system together, not in eleven years but in eleven months—or preferably eleven weeks. I accept what the noble Lord says—and we must work towards his ideal; work towards it after we have had our Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers. I do not want to be lukewarm about it, and I do not want the noble Lord to think that his ideal is going to be beyond achievement. But I do not believe that it is in any way inconsistent with what the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, said, if I say that we must start with first steps, and the first steps surely may be comparatively simple—namely, we must have some method of regional defence.

Here I come to a question which the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, asked me about the true construction of Articles 51, 52 and 53 (I think) of the Covenant. I do not want to pronounce on that now, but, whatever the true construction may be, it seems to me that, whether within or without the Covenant, we must now get together with like-minded people to see if we cannot build up an organisation whereby we can have regional security and regional defence. And that must be coupled with the steps which we feel ourselves bound to take—bound with the greatest regret to take, because we know that they must have repercussions on the valiant effort that the people of this country are making to meet their economic difficulties—to put our defences in order at the present time. Having said that, let me emphasise again that there will be no door-banging. We shall go on with perseverance and patience, and it may be that if the Russians learn that we are not to be pushed about from pillar to post, if they learn that there must come a point at which we must stand, if they learn that we intend to remain in Berlin notwithstanding what the difficulties may be, a happier frame of mind will be brought about.

With regard to the observations of the noble Marquess, the Leader of the Opposition, he was good enough to say that he did not require an immediate answer. I should like to do him the courtesy of saying that they were observations of such importance that I shell take him at his word and not attempt to give an immediate answer, but I can assure him that the observations which he has made will be most carefully considered.

Now I come to a few specific points with which I was asked to deal—though I do not want to cover the ground which the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, covered in his very careful and interesting speech. I want to deal with one matter which perhaps lies within my province, and that is the question asked by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, regarding the recognition of the State of Israel. When Mr. Bevin was asked whether the Bernadotte proposals involved recognition, he answered in the only way that he possibly could—that they did not. For a very long time our principle of law has said that the requirements for recognition are always stipulated beforehand. Perhaps I may be allowed to quote your Lordships some words from Professor Lauterpacht's recent book Recognition in International Law, page 26: The requirements of recognition are identical with the requirements of statehood as laid down by international law, namely, the existence of an independent Government exercising effective authority within a defined area. Your Lordships may remember that after the last war there was a question of the recognition of Lithuania. There was a point as to whether Vilna was or was not to be in Lithuania. The fact that there was some uncertainty as to boundaries made it impossible for us to recognise Lithuania. There are many precedents—I have them here. Canning took exactly the same view about Mexico and the United States, and President Grant took the same view. At the present moment, the question of recognition cannot arise; but when Mr. Bevin said that, he did not mean that the question of recognition might not arise in the future. It obviously may, but not at the present moment.


Does what the noble and learned Viscount says apply to de facto recognition as well as to de jure recognition?


There can be, I think, de facto recognition of a Government or of a country, and I think that that position will apply.

The Archbishop of York referred to three matters. One was the question of Arab refugees. I agree with what he says and he will find that this is dealt with in the Bernadotte Report. There is an obligation upon us to see that those refugees are properly cared for. There is also the duty of the United Nations to see that the boundaries agreed to, whatever they may be, are maintained and kept. The other matter which I wish to mention and which is dealt with in the Report—as no doubt your Lordships have seen—is the protection of the Holy Places.


If I may interrupt the noble and learned Viscount, may I ask whether this question of the refugees is one for us alone? The noble and learned Viscount says that the responsibility rests upon us, but surely he means that it rests upon the United Nations?


I am obliged to the noble Lord. I meant, of course, upon us as a member of the United Nations. If we accept the Bernadotte Report, we accept as a member of the United Nations, together with others, those obligations.

I was asked some questions about Hyderabad. I feel that this is a question which calls for very great discretion at the present moment. It may be a case of "least said, soonest mended." I have seen, as no doubt your Lordships have, reports in to-day's paper of a statement made by the Nizam. I cannot say whether this statement is right or wrong. But whatever the rights and wrongs, whatever the provocations may have been, I think I might call your Lordships' attention to the declaration which was made by the delegate of India when this matter came up before the United Nations. Your Lordships will be aware that the question was provisionally placed on the agenda of the Security Council and that there was discussion there, but you may not have read the declaration made at the last meeting. It was made, as I say, by the delegate of India. Perhaps I may be allowed to read it to your Lordships: I gather that the Hyderabad Delegation has not received so far any official instructions, but we are agreeable to this, that while we maintain the domestic character of the dispute, we would nevertheless be prepared as an earnest of our desire to work in harmony with the United Nations to report in due course to the Security Council full details of steps which we propose to take for the restoration of order and for ascertaining and giving effect to the will of the Hyderabad people. We are willing to place all our cards on the table, and voluntarily, apart from the question of jurisdiction of the Council to be seized of the matter, to give every co-operation which will be of help to the Security Council in understanding the position as it develops. Our Government is anxious to see that the will of the people of Hyderabad prevails in this matter. That was a very satisfactory statement and I earnestly hope and believe that that statement will be made good.

With regard to the specific questions asked of me by the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, so far as we know no British lives were lost in the recent events in Hyderabad. So far as the effects upon British interests are concerned, I cannot say anything at the present moment. It is too early as yet to assess them, though up to the present time I am not aware of any such effects. Then I was asked a question or two about Malaya, also by the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn. He asked me whether I could give him an assurance that we had out there all the necessary arms and equipment. I can give the noble Lori that assurance, and I can tell him—as indeed the Secretary of State for the Colonies said some time ago—that for a long time we have been sending the Government of Malaya that for which they have asked. At the present time, they have that for which they have asked.

The noble Lord, Lord De L'Isle and Dudley, asked me some questions about Germany, in particular about the trial of the German Generals. I have said in this House—I know it is on record somewhere—that I was looking forward anxiously to the time when all these trials should come to an end. I am. I think we are all heartily tired of them. I do not conceal from your Lordships that the delay in bringing these Generals to trial was most regrettable. I have myself been out in Germany several times, and I have seen trials going on. I have seen Germans in a comparatively humble position under trial—for instance, for shooting our airmen, murdering our airmen. The defence always has been "We did it in accordance with orders which we received." If it be the fact—and please do not think that I am prejudging the issue at all—that these other people gave such orders, would it be right to try the subordinates who acted on the orders and not to try those who gave them? We have not, or had not until quite recently, the evidence against these people. As I say, I told your Lordships, some months ago, my feelings generally with regard to these trials. You will understand, therefore, that when I was asked to look at what was a mere statement of what the evidence would be I did so with a strong bias in favour of saying "Do not go oil."

Let me make it quite plain: it is one thing to have a statement, but it is quite a different thing to be able to prove that which is in the statement. But, from the statement which I saw, it was plain that the allegations were of such a nature that, if they were substantiated, all these people ought to be placed on their trial. And I was bound so to advise. On the face of the document—and I am speaking merely on the face of the document; I am not in any way prejudging the issue—there would appear to be a prima fade case. That is really all there is to say about it. I regret that there has been this delay. I concede, quite frankly, that there has been delay. It is not a position I like, but the information which was placed before us by the Americans—the Foreign Secretary gave the various dates; the noble Lord himself called attention to it—and examined by us, in my view, made it necessary that this matter should be proceeded with. That is all I have to say on that particular mater.


Could the noble and learned Viscount clarify another question? Perhaps I did not put it in an interrogatory form. It is the question of the status of these officers before any suggestion was made that they should be dealt with as prisoners of war. Noble Lords will have seen the various allegations matte by prominent people, and by newspaper correspondents in this country, as to the treatment and the way in which they have been incarcerated and the rigorous method of their confinement. Could the noble and learned Viscount deal with that?


I am afraid that I have not prepared myself to answer that question. As an ordinary reader of the papers I have seen that; and I should say, of course, that I should like the method of imprisonment and conditions of the incarceration to be as lenient as possible, subject always to the fact that these people are accused of serious crimes.


I mean before they were actually accused.


I am afraid that I am not prepared to deal with that now. I did not know that that question was going to be raised.

One of the few comforting features on the whole horizon, I think, is this question of Germany. I have recently been in contact with prominent Germans. I am impressed by the resolution which they are now showing. I am impressed by the fact that the German economy does seem to be recovering. I do not believe that Europe will ever be prosperous and happy so long as there is a prostrate and unhappy Germany lying in the centre. Equally, however, I do believe that it is necessary to see, whether by a continued occupation or otherwise, that Germany does not again attack our French friends. We must always remember the very natural feelings of France who went through it in 1870, 1914, and 1939. We are entitled to be given every assurance that they will not have to go through it again. That is the position. I wish I could say that in the international situation there was a bright sky overhead. I cannot. We have to face a grave and threatening situation. I rejoice to think that in this matter, at any rate, we are facing it as a united nation.

4.38 p.m.


My Lords, your Lordships will no doubt be relieved to hear that I shall speak extremely briefly in replying to the debate. I propose to confine myself to the broad issues that have been raised. Before I come to them, there are just two points about which I should like to say a word. First of all, there is the question of Hyderabad, which was introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn. To use the noble Lord's own words, it is not my purpose to "prejudge the case." I think that that would be most undesirable. But, in answer to the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, I must say that there are many of us who cannot regard the new Indian State as so entirely satisfactory as he does. The fact remains—and this is a thing which I think it is perfectly appropriate to say in a foreign affairs debate—that, whatever the rights or wrongs of that case, there was no possible excuse for a State which is a member of the United Nations taking the law into its own hands. The Nizam has, in fact, appealed to the United Nations, but it was really for India to put her case there and not to anticipate the result by marching into the country. By doing what she did, India succeeded only in inflicting a severe injury upon the authority of the world organisation of which she is a member. I feel obliged to say that because to make an inquiry now, when the war is over, when they have marched in and occupied the country, is not to my mind the way in which members of the United Nations ought to fulfil their obligations.

The other point on which I would say just a word is the position of the German Generals. I do not want to go into the whole case of the trial, but the noble Lord, Lord De L'Isle and Dudley, mentioned one point (I think in the course of an intervention which he made in the Lord Chancellor's speech, to which, very naturally, the Lord Chancellor could not give an answer), relating to the conditions under which these Generals were kept prior to the time when they were charged with war crimes. Whatever the rights or wrongs of the case, I cannot imagine anything more liable to impair relations between ourselves and Germany at the present time than a feeling that these men who were their war leaders—their Montgomery and Alexander—were subjected to persecution. Whatever the rights or wrongs of the case for the trial, that is a point which, at any rate, might very properly be cleared up.

I would like now to come to the main point of the debate. First of all, I would like to thank most sincerely both the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor for the clear and frank statements they have made this afternoon. I think both their speeches will be greatly appreciated by the House. I was glad to hear from the Lord Chancellor that he thought the debate had been very useful. I think it has, if only because it has shown a fundamental unity of outlook among all Parties in this House. It has also shown a healthy realisation of the fundamental character of the issues with which we are faced—those issues which were, I think, so impressively analysed by the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, and by the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart. If only we can see how fundamental are these issues, then at any rate something will have been gained.

I would agree most sincerely with what was said by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, that a preventive war is most undesirable—if it can be avoided. I think that will be the general view. But, of course, the absence of an armed conflict is not in itself, I am sure he will agree, evidence of the success of a foreign policy, because nowadays there is a new technique of aggression which does not involve the use of Armed Forces, but is based on the undermining of free institution's by more subtle methods—by propaganda and so on; and in effect the whole of Europe might well be subjugated without a single armed soldier crossing the frontier. That is a danger. Therefore, for the Western countries to sit tight and ignore that type of aggression would be to adopt the policy of an ostrich.


Would the noble Marquess permit me? He is talking now of a war of ideas. Flow does he propose to fight that?


If the noble Lord will wait a minute, perhaps I may be able to suggest a means. What I was going to say was that an improvement in economic conditions no doubt would, and will, help to immunise peoples against such methods of infiltration. But for the very reason that the improving of the economic situation in Western Europe may increase the resistance to Communism, it may also increase the danger of an armed aggression of the old-fashioned type. I think it is quite possible that Russia, or the Cominform—or whatever you like to call them—would prefer to act by infiltration and without the use of Armed Forces. It is just as effective, it is not so expensive and it has many advantages. But supposing they found an increase in resistance to that type of infiltration, there would very possibly, I believe, be an increased danger of armed aggression. How are we to deal with that method—the method of armed aggression? As the Lord Chancellor himself said, I do not think that appeasement would be of the slightest use.

I respect what was said this afternoon by the noble Lord, Lord Darwen, and by the noble Earl, Lord Darnley, but it was, in effect, a policy of running away. I see the noble Earl, Lord Darnley, shaking his head, but that is what it comes to. The noble Lord said he would retire from Berlin; he would give Russia a warm-water port; he would give them anything they wanted at anybody's expense—and possibly our own expense. The noble Earl, Lord Darnley, did not quite say that, but he did say that on his calculation there was only 7½ per cent. difference between the Russians and ourselves; that that difference could be satisfied, and they could be made exactly like us by what he called "a generous gesture." I do not know what he meant by "a generous gesture," but I have a shrewd suspicion that he meant very much what the noble Lord, Lord Darwen meant, and I do not think that is the cure for the present situation.

I believe that I speak here for the majority of noble Lords in all parts of the House, and I feel that the only method to deal with a threat of this kind is for the nations who believe in free institutions to close their ranks, so that they may be in a position to say to any aggressor nation, "If you continue this policy your own interests will be the first to suffer." I believe that if the Russians really recognised that, they would moderate their policy, and I think nothing else will produce that result. That is why I put forward a certain definite suggestion for the consideration of His Majesty's Government, and I am most grateful for the assurance given by the spokesman for the Government that the proposal will be put before the Foreign Secretary. As I understand, from what Lord Henderson said, the object of Government policy was to induce like-minded persons who are ready to face reality to co-operate in the areas concerned, in the form of regional pacts under the United Nations organisation. I had a certain exchange with him in the middle of his speech as to the exact meaning of that and the exact possibilities of action by regional pacts, and I do not want to go over the same ground again—as he said, it is an extremely difficult and technical subject. But I would be glad if he would consider the point I made about Article 53 because if I am right—I may, of course, be quite wrong—it does knock the bottom out of the Government's policy, at least so far as the prevention of war is concerned, although perhaps not so far as the winning of a war is concerned.

Now I would like to say a word about the speech of the most reverend Primate, the Archbishop of York. He pressed for still further negotiations with Russia. I fully recognise the necessity (as I suppose we all do) of convincing the people in a democratic country that no stone has been left unturned in order to obtain a peaceful solution. But, my Lords, there is another angle from which we must look at the situation. It is equally important to leave, in this case the Russian Government, and in any case the foreign Government concerned, under no illusion—to make them understand that they cannot keep us on the end of a string while their plans mature. That is really the danger of the present position. We have had these long enduring talks, first in Berlin, then in Moscow, then in Berlin and then in Moscow, and we do not get any further with them. In the meantime the Russians appear to be proceeding with their plans for infiltration in central Europe.

At any rate, whether or not we continue to negotiate, it still remains vital that we should strengthen our own position and that of the Western nations. On this particular point I was very glad to hear—and I think from the point of view of the debate it has been a most important result—that the Government and others of us who have been considering this aspect are really thinking on the same lines. I would only say that if the Government agree, as I think Lord Henderson did specifically in his speech, that the existing machinery of the United Nations is not adequate to deal with potential aggression or the prevention of aggression by a Great Power, I beg them not to daily. Do not insist upon the building up of elaborate machinery. Get your pact of mutual support by like-minded nations in as large a region as you can possibly make it. Have it simple and straightforward and unequivocal. When you have once got that, you will have done much to stabilise the situation. Like the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, I do not believe that war is inevitable, but it is for us to see that it does not become so. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

House adjourned at seven minutes before five o'clock until Monday, 25th October, at twelve noon.