§ 2.38 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON rose to call attention to the present situation in regard to Foreign Affairs; and to move for Papers. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I am sure that all your Lordships will most sincerely regret the absence of the Leader of the Opposition from a Foreign Affairs debate in this House, and we all hope that the sea and sun of South Africa will combine to give him back the fullest health and vigour. Our thoughts turn naturally to another statesman. In a Foreign Affairs debate at this time, in any free Parliament in the world, the grateful good wishes of all members would go out to General George Marshall, who has just laid down the heavy burden which he carried from the earliest days of the war. It has been given to few, if any, men in history, over so wide a field and on so heroic a scale, to be both organiser of victory and architect of peace. May he be completely restored to health and may he long enjoy the leisure which he has so well earned!
§ I think we were wise, as events have proved, to postpone our Foreign Affairs debate until after the Recess. Not only did the delay give us the opportunity for a valuable debate upon Eire, but a great deal has happened in the meantime. There has been the overwhelming Communist advance in China; there have been the events in Indonesia; there has been the recrudescence of fighting in Palestine, with our unfortunate involvement; and there have been the negotiations in Rhodes and elsewhere which we all most sincerely hope and pray will lead to a final and lasting peace. We have had the new organisation in the Ruhr; the formal separation of the municipality in Berlin and developments in Yugoslavia, Greece, Hungary and elsewhere. All these matters will no doubt be raised in this debate, and I shall have some questions to put to the Government on some of them.
§ Before I come to detailed questions, I would like to put to your Lordships some general considerations on the basis of our foreign policy, and to examine the detailed questions in the light of what I conceive to be the broad objectives of our foreign policy. Just as in defence, it is essential to have an overall strategic plan, which determines not only the 28 tactics but all questions of man-power, supply, logistics and priorities, all of which must subserve the main strategic purpose, so in foreign affairs there must be an overall policy and objective to which local and tactical action must conform. I do not think anyone would challenge this rather obvious assertion. What, then, is our overall objective in foreign policy? I take it that, first and foremost, it is to prevent aggression and to preserve peace. To achieve this, our aim, on the negative side, must be to deter aggression and to counteract Communism as a subversive activity, for it runs counter to all our free way of life and seeks to prevent the recovery which is essential to peace and prosperity. On the positive side, our policy, I take it, is to build up individual and collective security, not only in defence but over the whole field of economic recovery.
§ It would be idle to pretend that to-day the world is not divided into two camps with completely opposite and conflicting ways of life. That does not mean that war is inevitable. We know that war as an instrument of political purpose is not only wicked but is not worth while. But even those who believe in force as a political instrument will not wage war unless they think it is worth while; and whether they ever think it worth while will depend upon the success of the defensive and foreign policy—the two must always go together—of ourselves and of all other countries who share our aims and ideals. In foreign policy I include economic policy. Just as in total war, war is waged not only by sea and air and land but by economic warfare and propaganda, so in the prevention of war all these elements must go together, part and parcel of the overall plan. Individual and collective security is not only security in armed defence; it is security in rebuilding the economic prosperity of a shattered world. Surely, then, our aim in defence, in foreign policy, in economics, must be to build up in mutual support the defensive and economic strength of all those countries whose freedom and life are threatened to-day, but who together can create and command such strength, defensive and economic, as will ensure their own Security and prosperity. And that collective security must embrace defensive security and economic security. To this, always and everywhere, our foreign 29 policy should conform. If that policy issues in action, informed by those obvious and fundamental truths, then it will serve the overall objective. If it is floundering, or inconsistent with that objective, it will be wrong in the particular instance and injurious to the whole purpose.
§ I do not think anyone will challenge the considerations I have expressed up till now, and it is in the light of those considerations that I would examine the actions of His Majesty's Government in recent weeks. In a number of detailed instances, in Germany and elsewhere, we have at long last, with our associates, taken positive action independently of Russia. It may well be said that we have lost precious time and much money in delaying so long. There is force in that criticism; but even the critics can understand the desire to play for co-operation so long as the remotest chance of co-operation appeared to exist. It is neither profitable nor constructive to job backwards and to say at what moment the die for separate action should have been cast. But now it is clear that the world is in two camps; and the only chance of making the camp of freedom effective, and of obtaining a working arrangement—or rather a condition of affairs in which the other camp will respect us because of our strength and success—lies in the nations in our camp working together all along the line.
§ That leads me to this. In collective security, in defence, the position is clear. It is our policy to mobilise, in an effective system and organisation of collective security, all the free nations who are willing to join and who realise that it is only in that collective security that they can hope to find individual safety. And we must all have been greatly encouraged by the recent pronouncements by the President of the United States. Similarly, in the economic sphere, thanks to the generous and far-sighted provision of Marshall Aid, the British Commonwealth and Western Europe are combining in long-range plans of economic security. In all this we are facing facts with a sense of realism; in all this we are united nations, becoming more closely knit and more united. These indeed are the very things that over the whole world we hoped the United Nations Organisations would do.
§ But when we turn to the United Nations Organisation itself must we not feel a 30 sense, not only of frustration but of futility and unreality? Is it really useful or practicable, or indeed possible, that with the world divided into two camps and with so many countries in the camp for freedom acting effectively together, we should seek to preserve a façade and camouflage of unity where no unity exists? May not such an attempt not only destroy the utility but endanger the very existence of the United Nations Organisation? Over and over again we have seen the veto employed to prevent the entry of one free country after another into the body where they are entitled to find a place. Time after time the work of the Security Council and other constituent bodies is frustrated by representatives who are determined to make U.N.O. fail. Is it really sensible to attempt to draft a Declaration of the Rights of Man in collaboration with those who deny that men have any rights at all? We have reached the fantastic position that U.N.O. includes a number of Soviet satellite nations determined to make it fail, while Russia uses her veto to blackball the election of other countries who want to make it work. Has not the time come when this Organisation, with all its great potentialities for good will and co-operation, shall, as we always intended, be open to all those who hold the same faith and follow the same way of life, and he operated by them?
§ It may be said that this means that for the theory of the co-operation of all nations, for which we fought in war and have striven so hard to achieve in peace, we are driven to accept the reality that the nations who believe in peace and freedom shall form a real and active union, which will hold the balance of power. But is not that the actual situation to-day? And shall we not make the union more effective, and weight the scales of the balance of power more heavily on the side of peace, if we act as realists? The balance of power is not what we hoped for. But the balance of power has preserved the peace of the world for long periods in the past; and if the balance of power is wielded by many nations and Governments who have the will to peace and the power to preserve it, it may keep the peace of the world for many years, and by its strength and success bring more and more peoples into a real Union of Peace and Good Will. For my part, I cannot resist the conclusion that if we are 31 to maintain the United Nations Organisation, as we all most passionately wish to do, we must devise means to enable it to do its job. I believe that that is necessary to preserve it in the present and to make it more powerful and, it may well be, universal in the future.
§ May I now say a few words about Germany? We have seen the establishment of the International Authority for the Ruhr. The negotiations for this have been going on for so long, and the differences of opinion at one time appeared so wide, that an agreement is very welcome. I think we can all understand, I will not say the French susceptibility but the very genuine anxieties, both on grounds of security and on grounds of economics, which the French Government and the French people held. But we have this agreement. I know there have been criticisms in Germany, but German criticism of the principle is unreasonable and misplaced. After two wars it was necessary and inevitable that there should be a sufficient control of the Ruhr to ensure that it could never again become an arsenal for war.
§ Now the Authority is established, how will it work? As I see it, a wise and practical International Authority should ensure that the production of the Ruhr will serve the best interests of Germany and other countries, and play its full part in European recovery. In control of this undertaking, as I see it, there are three essential conditions. The first is security. The Ruhr must be an arsenal for peace and not for war. The second condition is efficient production; the third is fair distribution. I think it is satisfactory that one of what I think are called the rules provides that there shall be no form of ownership which would constitute an excessive concentration of economic power. I imagine that this would not necessarily prevent the nationalisation of industry, if the Germans decided in favour of that and if the controlling Powers agreed. I do not want to embark here upon doctrinaire arguments about nationalisation or, perhaps what are more important, considerations of how to obtain the most efficient production and management. Confining my thought to those words "excessive concentration of economic power." however, I am bound to say that I have always thought that 32 the nationalisation of the steel industry of the Ruhr was the surest way of concentrating economic power in a single unit which might be seized and misused by a totalitarian Government. Nor is nationalisation in the least necessary to secure a fair and effective distribution. Distribution can best be directed and controlled at the selling end.
§ But, looking at the plan as a whole, I think that those who framed it are to be congratulated. It is not only that they have reached a present agreement in difficult negotiations. Looking to the future, one sees that the interest of the Ruhr and its neighbours alike lies in close industrial working arrangements. That is the practical way to allay suspicions and to strengthen Western unity. I would like to ask the Under-Secretary of State whether he is able to tell us anything further about the Occupation Statute. Also, what will be the relations between the Ruhr Authority and the Military Security Board? Now one word about Berlin. We have all been following with deep interest and intense admiration the achievements of the British and United States Air Forces. I say "British." Surely I should say "Commonwealth" Air Forces, because I rejoice to think that there are many Commonwealth pilots from other Commonwealth countries taking part in this great liberating measure, to which we all give our full support. Can the Government tell us any more about how the Municipality will function in Western Berlin?
§ Before I leave the subject of Europe, I would say one word about Hungary. The Christian world—indeed, the whole civilised world—has been shocked at the summary arrest in Hungary of Cardinal Mindszenty. He appears to have been guilty of two unforgivable offences. He has boldly testified his Christian faith and protested against the persecution of the priests who have followed his example. He has equally boldly testified his faith in democracy and protested against the suppression of the majority by a tyrannous and ruthless minority. I do not know whether the Government can tell us anything about the fate of this brave man.
§ I now turn to Palestine. We await with anxious interest any further information which the Government can give us about events in Palestine. If there are matters 33 in regard to which the Government are open to criticism, that in no way palliates or excuses the attack which was made by Jewish airmen upon British aircraft. I want to deal with that episode. I will assume, as I think the Government have stated, that the British aircraft which were attacked were flying inside Egyptian territory—though how a pilot flying along an undefined frontier in the desert is to know for certain on which side of the frontier he is I find it difficult to understand, unless there are obvious landmarks—and very obvious landmarks—along his whole line of flight. I think, however, that a good deal of further explanation is required as to whether it was necessary or wise to send British aircraft on a reconnaissance along the Egyptian frontier at all; and certainly as to why, if such an expedition was to be sent, it was not sent in much greater force.
§ On the facts at our disposal, it appears to me that the right people to conduct reconnaissance, whether by land or by air in or adjoining the Negev and its frontier, were the United Nations. I know that the Jews had refused to allow the United Nations' observers access to that territory, but surely the right course in that event was for the representatives of His Majesty's Government on the Security Council to press that the Council itself should use its collective influence and insist upon the observers of U.N.O. exercising their rights. If we had been requested by the Security Council to undertake this reconnaissance, that would have been a very different matter. We should then have been acting as the agents of U.N.O., and the Jewish Government would have been notified to that effect.
§ I think it is important at this stage, too, that I should ask whether His Majesty's Government did in fact notify the Jewish authorities of their intention to make this reconnaissance. But, even if it be insisted that in the face of Jewish resistance to the directions of the United Nations it was desirable for the British Government to undertake the reconnaissance themselves, there can be no excuse for sending an inadequate force for this purpose. It was well known to His Majesty's Government that, again in breach of the United Nations' ruling, large reinforcements in aircraft and 34 skilled airmen had been sent from Czechoslovakia to Palestine. It was equally well known, for His Majesty's Government had frequently complained about it, that Jewish forces had disregarded the United Nations' ruling, had recommenced hostilities in the Negev and had violated Egyptian territory. In those circumstances, if the Government were going to order the Royal Air Force to undertake a reconnaissance, not as agents of U.N.O. but on their own, then the Government ought surely to have directed that this operation should be conducted by a force of aircraft so strong as to deter any aggressive attack—or at any rate to ensure that if such an attack did take place it would be overwhelmingly defeated.
§ My Lords, let me, in support of this, give another argument which will I think be endorsed by experienced air officers. As I understand from statements that I have read, the pilots were instructed that they were not to fire unless they were attacked. I submit that that is really an impossible order to give to a pilot, unless he is supported by a very strong deterrent force. It is not like a battle at sea where, though the first salvo may be pretty serious, it is not necessarily fatal. Still less is it like an engagement on land, where one gun starts firing. With fast modern aircraft, air combat is a matter of seconds. The first burst of fire, accurately directed, is decisive, and there is no justification for subjecting our airmen to such a risk unless the circumstances are absolutely unavoidable.
§ At the request of the Transjordan Government, His Majesty's Government have now sent a force to Akaba. There can be no question that Akaba is outside the Negev and is part of the territory of Transjordan. I believe that in the past some claim was made by Saudi-Arabia, but it was not persisted in, and to-day it is universally accepted that Akaba is part and parcel of Transjordan. What is quite certain is that it is not part of Palestine! It may be that the Government were not only entitled but were virtually bound by treaty to send forces there. I am not challenging that. But in view of what has already taken place, I ask for this definite assurance: that the forces which have been sent are amply sufficient, not only to withstand aggression but to deter aggression.35
§ Here again, what is the overall plan and objective to which action should conform? It must be to establish lasting peace between the Arabs and Jews. The war has inflicted grievous losses and suffering on both. Whatever immediate advantages the Jews may gain, without peace and the good will of the Arab countries the State of Israel will be artificial, and its situation uneconomic and precarious. The Jews have done a wonderful job in Palestine, not only in agriculture but also in building up an ingenious and varied industry. But apart from the domestic market, which can take only a fraction, the outlet for that industry must lie predominantly in the adjacent Arab countries. Every interest lies in peace and settlement, and it is indeed our most earnest hope that the present negotiations will succeed. I feel bound to add this: I think we should be in a better position to help, and to discharge out duties and our obligations to the Arab States, and to Transjordan in particular, if His Majesty's Government were represented at Tel-Aviv. The existence of a Jewish State is a fact, and de facto recognition is a logical and desirable recognition of that fact. Finally, of course, the greatest factor for peace, here as elsewhere in the world, is Anglo-American agreement.
§ I turn now to one other topic—namely, Indonesia. A stable and prosperous Indonesia is of supreme importance, both to the security of the Far East and to the economic recovery of the world. I do not think it is possible for us to form a clear judgment of events or of policy unless we have a true picture of the past and the present. It is not irrelevant, in appraising the attitude and action of the Netherlands Government to-day, to consider the Dutch record of administration in the East Indies before the war. They were able and humane administrators. The Dutch islands were productive, rich and prosperous. There was a vast production of fuel oil, tin, rubber, sugar, palm oil and other fats. The first two were produced by great undertakings: mineral oil by private enterprise; tin (if my memory serves me) by state enterprise or by a mixed company. In the other products, in addition to well-managed estates, there was an enormous native production. In the application of science to 36 tropical agriculture the Dutch led the world, and their health services were a model. Thanks to those health services, and to the intensive development of native agriculture, Java was able to maintain a vast and a rapidly increasing population, which was well over 40,000,000 before the war. If in our Colonial Empire we have made more rapid advances in constitutional development, I could wish that we had kept pace with the Dutch in the measures they took for the health and sustenance of their people.
§ At this point I think it is convenient to deal with the legal position, which raises an important question of principle. Throughout the discussions at San Francisco the British delegation, which included the present Prime Minister, insisted that the United Nations should not be entitled to intervene in the administration or affairs of Colonial territories. While advocating the closest consultation between responsible Governments on Colonial affairs, and the fullest pooling of experience and ideas, the British Government consistently maintained the position that Colonial administration was a domestic matter and the responsibility of the parent State. This position was accepted, and the constitution of U.N.O. is framed on that basis. This principle is, for Great Britain and for all other States with Colonial possessions and responsibilities, one of cardinal importance.
§ There can be no question but that Indonesia and the Dutch East Indies are Dutch Colonial possessions and, therefore, under the United Nations system, the responsibility of the Dutch Government. I am, of course, aware that the Dutch Government accepted the assistance of a Good Offices Committee of U.N.O. to observe the situation, to advise the Dutch authorities, and to use their good offices to reach a satisfactory settlement; but I think I am right in saying that in doing so the Dutch Government maintained their constitutional and legal position as the responsible parent State. We are all entitled to form and express our own opinions as to Dutch action and policy; and, certainly, with our responsibilities in the adjacent territories of Malaya, we have a direct and particular interest. But we are also bound to bear well in mind that the Netherlands Government have the same responsibilities in 37 Indonesia that the British Government have in Malaya.
§ Having said that, let me now try to give an unbiased appreciation of the facts as I understand them. After the war, on account of lack of Allied shipping, it was impossible for some months for the Dutch Government and troops to re-occupy the Dutch Indies in the way in which we reoccupied Malaya immediately after the Japanese defeat. This greatly increased their difficulties. When the Dutch Government were able to function, they showed their readiness to co-operate with Indonesians who had, or claimed to have, established some authority of governance in different parts of their territories. The Dutch Government also made it plain that their object was to establish a self-governing United States of Indonesia as a component part of a Netherlands Indonesian Union. The declaration made by Her Majesty, Queen Wilhelmina, and recently confirmed by the present Queen, is clear and explicit and bears the hall mark of sincerity.
§ Negotiations proved long and difficult, partly because the men with whom they were negotiating had only a limited authority to represent or hind those for whom they purported to speak and, I must add, partly because it was very doubtful whether some of these negotiators had the will to reach a settlement. It must not be forgotten that some of these men had been active collaborators with the Japanese, and remained so to the very end. According to a recent letter in The Times (which I believe is quite accurate) as late as August, 1945—a few weeks before the Japanese surrender—Soekarno and Hatta went to Saigon to receive the sanction of Indonesian independence from the hands of the retreating Japanese General. I may add that prior to that one of them had received the highest Japanese order for his successful broadcasting and also, I believe, for his organisation of slave labour in the interests of the Japanese. Even where agreements were reached, the Dutch Government allege—and allege, it would appear, with a good deal of truth—that these agreements were either broken or not implemented.
§ Meanwhile, in many parts of the country, the population was terrorised—a situation we can well understand from our own experiences in Malaya—and the 38 people found it difficult to grow enough to eat, and were quite unable to produce or market anything for export. As might be expected in such a distressing situation, Communist activity was not absent; it was in its element. After eighteen months of frustration, the Dutch Government decided to act very much in the way in which we have acted in Malaya, and to restore law and order. In view alike of the events which preceded it and of the immediate and rapid success of the comparatively small Dutch force which was operating over vast areas, it is surely a misuse of language to call this "aggression." If we turn to the Dutch leaders, would anyone suggest that the Dutch Prime Minister, who is now in Java, is an aggressive Imperialist? Doctor Drees is, I understand, a moderate and humane leader of the Socialist Party in Holland. I am told by admirers of our present Prime Minister, that, in these respects, he greatly resembles Mr. Attlee. Certainly no one would accuse either of them of aggressive Imperialism.
§ If the account I have given is true, or, to use an expression of Lord Balfour's, is in some near relation to the truth (and I do not think it will be seriously challenged in any responsible quarter) surely we must all do some fair and clear thinking. If this were an abstract proposition in which we ourselves were not deeply concerned, it would be only fair and right to form a just and informed opinion about Dutch action. But have not we and the other united free nations, who are striving to build up defensive and economic security in the world, in accordance with our overall plan, a very direct interest in this area? Communism is making rapid and overwhelming advances in China. This will give fresh encouragement to Communists in Burma and Indo-China. It is surely vital to our common interest and security that Indonesia should be peaceful and prosperous. The world is short of all the things which Indonesia produces. A peaceful and prosperous Indonesia will rapidly become again an arsenal of the free world's supplies of food and raw materials. Communism will fail, because the conditions will be restored in which Communism cannot flourish.
§ And if this be the need of the world, is it not also the need and the wish of tens of millions of Indonesians who, as 39 recent events have proved, must be longing for the restoration of those physical conditions in which they can live and prosper free from want and free from fear? Without law and order—in other words without security—the self-government which the Netherlands Government have promised to Indonesia—and which, I am sure, it is their sincere aim to achieve—can never come into real being, much less succeed. Someone said to me just now: "What is self-government?" In the first instance, it implies government, and the first element of government is the preservation of law and order. When Communism attacks in these countries it attacks not only the preservation of law and order but the preservation of life itself; and in our pursuit of peace surely our aim must be to resist the spread of Communism. As has been said so often and so truly, Communism thrives on disorder and want, and exploits those conditions wherever it can. To counter this, the prerequisite in any country is a Government stable enough to maintain law and order and to guarantee freedom, a Government concentrated on building up the economic life and prosperity of the people. That is the first prerequisite. The second is the free association of such Governments and States in the collective defence of their common purpose and way of life. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.20 p.m.
THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, in previous debates in your Lordships' House on Foreign Affairs I have continually pressed that foreign affairs should, if possible, be taken out of the sphere of Party politics and become national. I received rather sympathetic replies and I thought I was making headway, but frankly I was distressed by a remark made on one occasion by the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack. I do not think I am misinterpreting him; I have not been able to verify the exact reference, but his remark made a very deep impression on my mind at the time. It was to this effect: "I am all in favour of a non-Party foreign policy, provided that implies following Mr. Bevin's policy." That remark I do not understand. It is evident that if we are to have a non-Party foreign policy the representatives of the Government must be prepared to 40 consult with the leaders of other political Parties in important international emergencies, though, of course, the final decision and the final responsibility must always rest with His Majesty's Government. I doubt whether such consultations in fact have taken place. If they had, and if the advice which would have been tendered had been even partly accepted, I do not think we should have found ourselves to-day confronted with the great difficulties which are facing us in Palestine and the Middle East. The noble Viscount who introduced this Motion dealt with that problem rather shortly and I propose later to follow his example.
The last debate on Foreign Affairs which took place in your Lordships' House was in September last year. It was introduced by the noble Marquess who leads the Opposition, about whom I would like to say that we much regret his absence and we hope that after his visit abroad he will come back here with renewed vitality and vigour. In opening that debate, the noble Marquess referred to the marked deterioration in the international situation which had taken place since July. I fear that that deterioration has continued. Certainly there has been no diminution in the tension between East and West. There are, however, two bright spots. The first is the increasing co-operation between the countries of Western Europe, particularly on the economic side, due very largely to the vision of Mr. Marshall. I would associate myself warmly with the tribute which the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, has paid to him. Also there has been progress in the political and defence fields in Western Europe, though at present that progress is confined to France, Britain and the Benelux countries. I trust that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, when he replies for the Government, will make it quite clear that our Foreign Secretary is as anxious as the Foreign Secretaries of other countries affected to promote the main objects of the European Movement. If he can do so, he will dissipate the fears of many of us who feel that His Majesty's Government are inclined to be over-cautious and, perhaps, have not this matter sufficiently at heart. I do not criticise them in any way for wanting adequate time for consultation. The question is far too important to be rushed and, of course, there must be consultation 41 with other members of the Commonwealth; but I hope there will be no procrastination and that the need for speed will be realised.
The second bright spot is the negotiations which are proceeding about the North Atlantic Pact. To my mind, the conclusion of such a Pact would be the greatest event that has happened in our international policy for many decades. Many of the great statesmen of the past—I have particularly in mind Lord Grey and Lord Balfour—would have rejoiced to see these aspirations, which I know they cherished, fulfilled. I am sure your Lordships would wish in this connection to pay a tribute to Mr. St. Laurent, the successor of Mr. Mackenzie King, to whom this country also owes a deep debt of gratitude. Mr. St. Laurent was the first responsible statesman publicly to sponsor the idea of a North Atlantic Pact. We hope that his vision will be realised and that his efforts will be crowned with success. I would add that if this Pact is concluded while Mr. Bevin is Foreign Secretary, any errors he may have made in other fields of foreign policy will be forgotten and forgiven. But even if this Pact does materialise, and I earnestly pray that it may, I believe that there are further steps which can be taken. I think we should conclude a pact to arrange for the participation in the general scheme of such countries as Australia and New Zealand, and possibly others. Thus we would have a series of pacts linked to each other, in all of which Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations would play a prominent part, as it already does in the Western Five-Power Agreement. We would have a real provision for collective self-defence in accordance with that Article. Above all, a potential aggressor would be confronted with a formidable mass of countries formally bound and determined to come to each other's aid should any one of them be attacked. All these arrangements would be in accordance with the Chatter of the United Nations.
I pass to the question of the Ruhr. In his speech in another place on December 9 last year, Mr. Bevin announced that after much reflection he held that international ownership of the Ruhr industries would lead to endless friction, would depress production, would make German co-operation and European re- 42 construction difficult, if not impossible, and would not bring peace. He therefore relied on the trusteeship agreement and on the control of production by an international authority, on which, of course, Germany would be represented. I doubt whether the solution put forward by the Foreign Secretary is as satisfactory as international ownership. I think that the solution he has put forward is bound to make for great and, indeed, ever-increasing friction. It means German ownership and international control. At this point, I should like to make two quotations from speeches made in another place on November 15 and 16, during the Second Reading of the Iron and Steel Bill by the Minister of Supply and the Chancellor of the Exchequer respectively.
The Minister of Supply, arguing against simple control of the industry, as opposed to Government ownership, said:The industry and individual producers can be told what not to do, but in most matters not what they must do. This means that while any proposals put up to us for the industry can be vetoed neither the Board nor the Minister has effective power to ensure that other proposals, however desirable they may be, will be initiated, let alone carried out, if the industries of the individuals concerned do not like them. The situation is unavoidable where control and ownership are in separate hands. No controller can ever order an owner to spend money he does not want to spend.The Chancellor of the Exchequer said:It is essential for our defence that the State should own a large part of the steel-making resources of the country so that the defence position is always safeguarded. The last word must come from the owners. No one can force them into a policy which may entail a large expenditure of their own resources. It would become necessary to relax Government controls of all kinds, thereby risking the national policy, or else to take over the ownership of the industry.I do not consider that those arguments are applicable to ownership here, because our steel owners are patriotic people, ready to accept Government control and anxious to promote the welfare of the country as a whole, but I feel that the reasoning of those two Ministers may be highly pertinent if the ownership of the Ruhr industry remains in German hands and the control is international. As I see it, such an arrangement is bound to lead to increasing friction, since it will be the object of the German owners (and this is particularly true if the owners are the German State) 43 to rid themselves of international control at the earliest possible moment; there will be great pressure from the German side to relax, and, as I say, ultimately to get rid of, the control. I agree that it is essential that Germany should co-operate in European reconstruction, but international ownership, either by or through a Union of Western Powers, of which Germany would of course be one, might lead, if successful, to an extension of such a system, and thus forward European economic unity, while satisfying the natural national aspirations and feelings of the German people.
As the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, pointed out, the German people must remember that it was largely because of the resources of the Ruhr that their leaders were able to unleash on an unprepared world two wars of aggression, and that the countries then attacked must take every precaution for the future, and are right to do so. In view of what I have said, I hope that the Foreign Secretary may at least reconsider the problem and the question of international ownership. Incidentally, I feel that the situation in Germany requires careful watching. I see signs of a distinct revival of certain militaristic and nationalistic feelings. The demonstration about the destruction of the torpedo factory at Eckernförde and what happened at Bochum are symptoms which I do not think we ought to ignore. I am glad that our military authorities have not yielded to them, and have given no sign of appeasement.
We were all happy over Mr. Schuman's visit to this country and the success which he has apparently achieved. I fear, however, that sometimes we have too little imagination in our dealings with France. We make announcements which are bound to upset French public opinion, and then later we try partly to rectify the harm done. The timing of the announcement of the military authorities as to the future ownership of the Ruhr industry is a good example of the kind of thing I have in mind. I have often heard more or less responsible people say: "It is impossible to work with the French; they think only about themselves." On the other hand, I have heard it said on the French side: "The English are quite intolerable; they are so selfish 44 and bound up with their own interests." There may be a grain of truth in both those statements, but we must try to do everything we can to avoid measures which may give rise to them. After all, the two countries must work together as closely as possible. The success of Western European recovery and of Western union depends mainly upon France and ourselves. The two countries are linked together by ties which I hope will be even closer in future than they have been in the past.
I feel, also, that we show the same lack of imagination occasionally in our dealings with Italy. The Foreign Secretary, in the lengthy speech which he made on foreign affairs, devoted only two sentences to Italy. That is a poor recognition of the efforts which Count Sforza and Signor de Gasperi are making for closer co-operation with the West. However, here again I trust that the recent visit of the Parliamentary delegation to Italy may have cleared away a good many misunderstandings, and may have helped us to retrieve some ground which we had lost.
I now turn for a moment to Palestine and the Middle East. I do not think anything that I shall say can possibly affect the negotiations now going on in Rhodes or elsewhere. I only trust they may succeed and lead ultimately to a durable settlement of this most difficult and troublesome problem. I suppose that when we first heard of the shooting down of five British airplanes by Jewish fighter machines or anti-aircraft we were highly indignant with the Jewish military and civil authorities. As the story gradually unfolded, however—and I agree we have nothing more to go on at the moment than Press reports—my own indignation, while not in any way condoning the Jewish action, turned very largely against the policy of His Majesty's Government. I have failed completely to understand their policy in the past. I am not going to press the point for the moment, in view of the appeal made by the Foreign Secretary in another place, and also in view of the fact that I believe that policy is now changing for the better.
However, I feel bound to point out that His Majesty's Government have declared their support of the Bernadotte plan. The main point of the Bernadotte Report was 45 the existence and consolidation of a Jewish State. It is true, as the Lord Chancellor pointed out, that that Report does not involve recognition. But, with all due respect to him, I do not think that in his speech on September 24 he made a sufficient distinction between de jure and de facto recognition. I agree that de jure recognition requires the existence of definite boundaries of the State in question, but when we come to de facto recognition, surely it is the recognising State which can lay down territorial limits of such recognition. The Jews are in undisputed possession of certain territories in Palestine, and having supported the Bernadotte plan we surely should have accorded de facto recognition. Apart from all other considerations, it is in our own interests to do so. We must wish to be friends with the new State of Israeli. The trend of our policy up to now seems to have alieniated our Jewish sympathisers in Palestine—and there are numbers of them—and has given encouragement to those extreme Zionist elements which are hostile to the West, and whose great desire would be to see a rift between ourselves and the United States of America. That we must prevent at all costs, or else all we stand for in the world will be in danger.
I therefore urge the Government—and here I speak, I know, for the vast majority of Liberals—to accord as quickly as may be de facto recognition to the Israelite State. If the Government had done so at an earlier stage, I believe that these most regrettable incidents might have been avoided altogether. I do not in any way blame the Government for sending troops to Akaba. I have no doubt that, having regard to our Treaty obligations and certain violent Zionist propaganda, they were right to do so. But I cannot but condemn the policy they have adopted up to now towards the Palestine problem. Frankly, I think it has been stupid, and stupidity is a rave sin in international affairs.
Before I come to my final subject, I trust your Lordships will allow me to say a word about Austria. We do not hear much about what is happening in that country, but I think we ought to pay a tribute to its inhabitants. In very difficult circumstances, they are doing their utmost for its rehabilitation. I only hope that when the new negotiations begin— 46 and it is a triumph for the Austrian Government that they have persuaded the great Powers to undertake them—at long last an agreed Treaty will emerge, and that Austria will again be independent and free to work out her own destiny.
In a debate on international affairs, obviously one cannot hope to deal even cursorily with all that is happening in the world; one must pick out certain important aspects. I therefore leave on one side Greece and China, and I will not follow the noble Viscount in his able exposition about Indonesia. In Kashmir there are signs of a happy settlement, through the good offices of U.N.O. I even leave on one side Berlin. They are all matters which one has not time to deal with. But I should be failing in my duty if, before I sat down, I did not mention the grave persecution which members of the Church to which I have the privilege to belong are undergoing in many Eastern European countries. The arrest on charges of treason of Cardinal Mindszenty—to which the noble Viscount referred—is the latest and most serious outrage. Do any of your Lordships believe the story of the tin box containing incriminating documents, alleged to have been found in the cellars of the Cardinal's house? I think the official Hungarian radio rather over-reached itself on that point. There is a deliberate attempt to destroy the Roman Catholic Church in those countries. In Roumania every kind of pressure, economic and political, is exercised to force the adherents of the Uniate body to apostatise. In Yugoslavia and in Czechoslovakia the campaign is raging; it has now been extended to Hungary and is also beginning in Poland.
The reason is quite clear. It is not, as a commentator in the New Statesman recently suggested, an endeavour "to take the Church out of politics." I do not quite know what that slogan means. It seems to me that you might just as well talk of taking religion out of living. It is a deliberate attempt to destroy the church because the Catholics in those countries have been and are the hard core of the resistance to Communism, and, therefore, in the view of the Communist Governments, they must be wiped out. The Cardinal and others are fighting for the respect of the human individual and of human rights—for the Four Freedoms upon which President 47 Roosevelt laid so much stress. The Governments of the countries I have mentioned are, by this persecution, violating the preamble of the Charter of the United Nations, and are completely ignoring the Declaration of Human Rights so recently adopted in Paris. We must not be misled by false propaganda. The real issue is plain: Communism and Christianity are utterly opposed—they cannot exist together—and they have come to grips in those countries.
I would like to take this opportunity of expressing our gratitude to the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury for the sympathy which he has extended on behalf of the Anglican Church in the trials which Roman Catholics are undergoing in Eastern Europe. I feel sure that His Majesty's Government will do all that lies in their power to prevent or moderate persecution—I fear it may not be much—and to assist its courageous victims. Many of them, alas, are dead; but they have died for Freedom.
§ 3.49 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (LORD HENDERSON)
My Lords, I would like to associate Members sitting on these Benches with the expressions of regret at the absence of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. It is our hope, too, that he may soon be back with us restored to good health. I would also like to congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, on his speech. If I may say so, as a very humble Parliamentarian, it was an excellent and helpful speech. We all know that the noble Viscount is an experienced Parliamentarian, and I am coming to the conclusion that there is no limit to the subjects upon which he can speak with great knowledge and authority. I would like to add that I found myself in a good deal of agreement with much of what he said. The two speeches to which we have just listened have directed our attention to some of the serious problems and developments in the present international situation. We are living in an uneasy and troubled world. There are many difficulties and discords, many areas afflicted by disturbance and violence, and great masses of the human family still suffering from the 48 four fears which all nations are pledged to remove. It is obvious, therefore, that it will not be possible for me to deal with all the major issues which call for consideration. Even so, I have a great deal of ground to cover and I apologise in advance to the House if I take a little more time than I usually do.
Noble Lords will not, I hope, expect me, in view of what was agreed and the reasons for the agreement in another place yesterday, to deal with Palestine and the Middle East. This House will, I felt sure, be no less responsive to the Foreign Secretary's advice that we can best contribute to the successful outcome of the delicate negotiations at Rhodes by postponing discussion for a time. I am happy to say that the first reports we have received of these negotiations, and of tendencies elsewhere, indicate that hopeful progress is being made. The noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, referred to the circumstances in which five R.A.F. aircraft were shot down near the Egyptian Palestine frontier on January 7. I will, with the permission of the House, read the text of a factual statement which has been made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Air. The statement is as follows:Towards the end of December, reports were received that Jewish forces had crossed the Egyptian frontier. It was clear that this raised serious questions for us, in view of our Treaty obligations and our vital interests in the Middle East. As United Nations observers were prevented by the Jewish authorities from moving to the front, it was essential to obtain independent confirmation of the fact and extent of Jewish incursion into Egypt. As there were no other means of obtaining accurate information, R.A.F. aircraft were, therefore, sent on reconnaissance flights. On the first two reconnaissances made on December 30, Egyptian aircraft accompanied R.A.F. aircraft but did not take part in subsequent reconnaissances. All the flights took place with the knowledge of the Egyptian authorities. The decision to send these reconnaissance flights was taken on His Majesty's Government's responsibility, but in addition, in conversations which His Majesty's Ambassador in Washington had with the American State Department at the end of the year, the urgent need for precise information on this subject was clear to both sides. The information obtained by these reconnaissances was made available to the United States Government, who were aware of the means by which the information was obtained.The reconnaissance on December 30 established that Jewish forces had reached the area of Abu Aweigla, which is approximately 49 seventeen miles inside Egyptian territory. This was confirmed by reconnaissances on the 1st, 2nd and 4th. A further reconnaissance on the 6th revealed fresh incursion in strength into Egyptian territory. Consequently, on the morning of the 7th a tactical reconnaissance of four Spitfires was ordered. The timing of the reconnaissance was chosen in consultation with the Egyptian Air Force to minimise the risk of encounter with Egyptian aircraft. Four aircraft were briefed, two for reconnaissance, two for cover, and were given the following orders: The Palestine-Egyptian frontier not to be crossed; aircraft not to make hostile approach or fire on any other aircraft unless our aircraft were being attacked; the time over area where land operations were progressing to be limited to the minimum to lessen risk of incident; known anti-aircraft positions were given. Simultaneously, a high photographic reconnaissance by one Mosquito escorted by four Tempests was ordered, with the same briefing as for the tactical reconnaissance.The tactical reconnaissance was executed as ordered. Tactics were to fly at best height to minimise risk of ground fire, but flying lower as necessary for identification. The leader of the formation (Flying Officer Cooper) reports that after turning west from the reconnaissance along the Rafah-El Auja road, he felt his aircraft being hit and saw his number two (Pilot II Close) climb up steeply and bale out from his aircraft which was on fire. He saw him land safely at a position ten miles inside Egyptian territory. After this, the leader himself was attacked by aircraft of the Spitfire type with red spinners similar to those of his own squadron. After a turning engagement, in which the Jewish aircraft had the advantage of height, he was wounded and his aircraft hit. He continued to climb to 9,000 feet when, his aircraft being uncontrollable, he baled out, landing in a position over fifteen miles west of the frontier. This pilot's statement is confirmed by the finding and identification by an R.A.F. search party of parts of all four British Spitfires within a three-mile radius of a point thirteen miles west of the frontier. As far as can be judged, pending full investigation by a Court of Inquiry, it appears that Jewish aircraft dived on the top pair, shooting them down at once. One of the lower pair was shot down by ground fire and the other damaged by ground fire, and subsequently attacked by fighters.All the evidence is that this formation did not cross the frontier and that the pilots were captured by Jewish troops some ten miles inside Egypt. Moreover, there are landmarks, such as the loop of the El Auja-Rafah Road and the road itself, a road block south of Rafah and Rafah itself, all in Egyptian territory. The high photographic reconnaissance was executed without incident.In the afternoon, a further tactical reconnaissance of four Spitfires was ordered to carry out the same reconnaissance as in the morning, and to look out for crashed aircraft on the outward and homeward routes in search of the Spitfires missing from the morning sortie. In view of the possibility that the fate of the missing aircraft might 50 have been due to hostile action by Jewish aircraft over Egyptian territory, two formations of Tempests were ordered to provide cover for the Spitfires at 6,000 and 10,000 feet respectively. When turning west over Rafah railway station the leader saw five aircraft diving steeply on to his Section. As a result of this, the leader at once ordered his section to break to starboard and keep turning. In this initial attack, one Tempest was shot down and finally crashed on the Palestine side of the border. We now knew that the pilot was killed. Three other Tempests were hit and slightly damaged. The top cover, seeing aircraft diving on to the lower Tempest formation, chased the attacking aircraft, having left one section to remain as cover. The hostile aircraft flew back over the border where our aircraft could not follow.As I have said, in all these incidents R.A.F. aircraft were instructed not to cross the frontier and not to make a hostile approach or open fire on any other aircraft unless it was quite certain that our aircraft were being attacked. These instructions were given to minimise as far as possible the risk of a clash. In the event, these instructions placed our pilots at a grave disadvantage when aircraft, which had obtained a tactically superior position, made an unprovoked and surprise attack on them. The risks were fully appreciated by the Air Commander-in-Chief, but in view of the fact that air reconnaissance was the only means available of ascertaining quickly the true facts regarding the incursion into Egyptian territory, I consider he was justified. In these operations the lives of two R.A.F. pilots were lost. Two pilots are in the hands of the Jewish authorities but we hope that they will shortly be repatriated.Our squadrons have carried out a difficult task, calling for accurate flying and good discipline. The results of their reconnaissances, now confirmed from other sources, show that they fully achieved what was asked of them. I am sure the House would wish me to express their sympathy with the next-of-kin of the two officers who lost their lives.I will now deal briefly with China. Noble Lords will be aware, from references which have recently been made in another place, that His Majesty's Government are very carefully watching developments in China. Peking is the only major city in the area still in Nationalist hands, but it is closely invested. The great industrial city of Tientsin was occupied by the Communists on January 15. From reports so far received, I am happy to state that there have been no British casualties nor, on my present information, has British property suffered appreciable damage. His Majesty's Government cannot be indifferent to the fate either of our nationals or of our extensive business interests in China. Our Embassy at Nanking and the Consulates elsewhere are accordingly remaining at their posts. 51 British subjects, too, who have business interests to defend have in general elected to remain. The steadfastness with which these communities, and our diplomatic and consular staffs, are facing the dangers and difficulties of the situation are worthy of the highest British traditions. His Majesty's Government expect both parties to the struggle to respect British lives and British property.
As this House will be aware, the policy towards China which is being consistently pursued by His Majesty's Government is in accordance with the understanding embodied in the Moscow Declaration of December, 1945. In this, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union declared a policy of nonintervention in the internal affairs of China. Our financial and economic position has precluded us from doing anything very material for China in the post-war years. On January 8, the Chinese Government approached His Majesty's Government expressing their desire that hostilities should be brought to an end. They invited an expression of views as to the method of doing so, and signified their readiness to initiate negotiations with the Communists through the possible intermediary of His Majesty's Government.
His Majesty's Government examined this approach with every sympathy, but reached the conclusion that their intervention in the struggle at this stage, besides being contrary to the Moscow Declaration, would only confuse the issue. His Majesty's Government therefore regretfully decided to decline to intervene. I should nevertheless like to repeat the assurance already given in another place that, if peace is restored in China and reconstruction initiated, we shall do our best to assist in whatever way we can. I feel sure that I shall be voicing the opinion of this House when I express the hope that peace may soon be restored to the patient and long-suffering Chinese people who for over forty years have been exposed to all the horrors of revolution, war and civil war. As regards Hong Kong, noble Lords will no doubt have taken note of the statements made in another place on July 7 last year, to the effect that no change is contemplated in the status of Hong Kong as a Crown Colony, and on December 10 52 to the effect that His Majesty's Government appreciate the importance and value of Hong Kong and intend to maintain their position there.
I now turn to Indonesia. I do not intend to deal with some of the particular points raised by the noble Viscount. Especially do I desire to avoid becoming involved in issues of legal disputation, but I hope that the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor will deal with some of these points at the end of the debate. Noble Lords will recall that on December 18 the Dutch resumed police action in Java and Sumatra against the Republicans, after notifying the United Nations Committee of Good Offices that they considered that the truce, which came into force on the signature of the Renville Agreement in January, 1948, was at an end, in view of the repeated infiltrations behind the Dutch lines and violations of the truce by the Republican Armed Forces. His Majesty's Government greatly deplore the fact that the Dutch felt it necessary to resort once more to force, and cannot but feel that the possibilities of a settlement by negotiation through the Good Offices Committee had not been exhausted, in spite of previous failures.
His Majesty's Government had gone to great lengths to counsel patience and moderation on both sides and, as a member of the Security Council, had followed with the keenest interest the course of negotiations between the parties through the Committee of Good Offices, though we ourselves were not represented on the Committee. We had hoped that these negotiations would bear fruit and lead to a peaceful settlement in which the Nationalist aspirations of the Republic, on the one hand, would be honourably satisfied, and the legitimate interests of the Netherlands, on the other, adequately safeguarded. These two main objectives could, we consider, have still been achieved without a resort to force, however great the provocation. The situation in Indonesia to-day resulting from the action of the Netherlands is still confused, and we must await the reports of the United Nations observers on the spot in order to be able to assess the position correctly. We certainly desire, however, as a prerequisite for the establishment of an interim Government, the full release of the Republican leaders from their present confinement, so that they may be allowed 53 to negotiate freely with the Dutch and non-Republican Indonesians for the establishment of the interim Government. Sir Alexander Cadogan's speech in the Security Council on Januarys 14 left no doubt of our attitude over the release of the Republic leaders.
As to the future, it does seem that the only way in which a lasting settlement can be achieved is for the Netherlands to carry out the programme outlined in recent speeches by their Prime Minister and, subsequently, by the Queen of the Netherlands. The representative of the Netherlands at the Security Council in New York declared on January 14 that a Federal interim Government will be set up in Indonesia within one month; that elections will be held throughout Indonesia before October next—
§ LORD HENDERSON
The Dutch representative at the Security Council in New York on January 14. He said that elections will be held throughout Indonesia before October next, and full facilities provided to observers to supervise these elections if desired, and to watch events generally. Finally, he said that the United States of Indonesia is to be set up if possible by January 1, 1950, but that in any case the transfer of sovereignty will be accomplished in the course of 1950. His Majesty's Government welcome this declaration as showing the intention of the Netherlands authorities to implement the undertakings of their Government. It is to be hoped that by these means peace will be restored and the way paved for a just and lasting settlement which will contribute to the stability and prosperity of South-East Asia and of the whole world.
My Lords, I will now return to the subject of Europe, so that I may deal with some of the problems nearer home. With the beginning of the New Year I should very much have liked to be able to announce an improvement in our relations with the Soviet Union with regard to Germany. Unfortunately this is not within my power, since it would not be truthful to say that the Soviet authorities in Germany have shown any signs of greater willingness to co-operate with us in building up a peaceful and united Germany. The blockade of Berlin continues, but so also does the Anglo-American air lift, and 54 it will go on. For over 200 days this remarkable combined operation has been maintained in good weather and in bad, supplying the physical needs and helping to sustain the moral resistance of the Berliners. German appreciation of this vital operation is wholehearted in its admiration; and we ourselves recognise that the greatest possible credit is due to the airmen of both countries for their splendid work.
As the House knows, one of the great difficulties is the question of the currency for Berlin. The Committee of Experts which was set up in December by Señor Bramuglia has produced a study of the whole problem. This study has been examined by experts of the Occupying Powers and certain technical comments have been made upon it by them. This question is highly complicated, since any scheme for a common currency in Berlin must fit in with the actual conditions in that city. These conditions are far from what they should be. In recent months the Soviet Government have introduced a number of measures, in addition to the blockade, which have virtually split the city into two halves. Perhaps the most serious of these was the establishment in the Soviet sector of a puppet Magistrat drawn from the Socialist Unity Party and other Communist-dominated Parties. The Soviet authorities took this step after having refused to allow free elections to be held on a city-wide basis according to the provisional Berlin constitution. The elections, as the House will remember, were held in the Western sectors and resulted in an overwhelming Communist defeat.
In spite of all the provocation which the Western Allies have received in this and other ways, they have refrained to the utmost from taking steps which would further accentuate the division of Berlin and make the resumption of a common policy between the four Occupying Powers more difficult. For instance, when the three Western Commandants resumed their meetings in the Western sectors, they made it clear that it was open for the Soviet Commandant to come in again at any time. In short, in our relations with the Soviet authorities in Germany we are determined to adhere firmly to the policy which we believe is right, but at the same time to take advantage of any signs of readiness to co-operate which the Soviet authorities may make.
55 My Lords, I am sure the House will have seen with satisfaction that the recent visit of M. Schuman to discuss a number of important matters with the Foreign Secretary was a great success. In no field was this more the case than as regards Germany. The two Foreign Ministers saw eye to eye on the question of Germany, and in particular there was complete agreement between them as to the general policy to be pursued in Germany and in Berlin. As to our policy in Germany as a whole, I wish to make clear in a few words what it is. The aim of His Majesty's Government is to ensure that Germany cannot again become a menace to the peace of the world through a revival of militaristic and aggressive power. Subject to this, their object is by progressive steps to bring back Germany as soon as possible into the comity of Western nations, with all that that implies, and on an equal basis. His Majesty's Government have already, in conjunction with their Allies, associated Germany through the European Recovery Programme with the economic reconstruction of Europe. As soon as a West German Government is formed it will be possible to make this association closer on the political side. We plan to set up a representative democratic Government in Germany operating within the limits of an Occupation Statute and in accordance with a Provisional Constitution or Basic Law.
We recognise that this close association with Western Europe is what the overwhelming majority of Germans want, and we are anxious to give effect to it as soon as possible. Nevertheless the past cannot be erased at a stroke, and the process must take time. We are convinced that we shall best achieve our object if we proceed steadily in both the economic and political fields and if we keep in step with the other Western Allies. It is not our policy to keep Germany in a position of permanent inferiority. Provision must be made for security, but this will not prevent Germany playing her part—and a very valuable part, too—in the reconstruction of Europe on peaceful and democratic lines.
It is in connection with this policy that I should like to refer to four important documents. The purpose of these documents is to define the large extension of 56 liberty of action which it is proposed to give to German representative authorities and, as an essential preliminary, to define those controls which the Occupying Powers consider it necessary to retain. In the first of these documents, the agreement for the setting up of a Military Security Board, the element of control predominates. The establishment of this Board was agreed upon at the London talks last year, and its purpose is to stop at its source any renewed danger of German aggression. The Board will have inspectors working throughout Western Germany in pursuance of its duty to prevent the infringement of the prohibitions and restrictions which are imposed on warlike industries; it will be closely linked to the Ruhr Authority and will have powers of supervision over scientific research.
In the second document, that in which the Ruhr Authority is set up, the element of control is likewise important, since the Authority is a security organisation in the sense that its existence is intended to render it impossible for the basic industries of the Ruhr to form the basis of a new aggression on the part of Germany. But it is not solely or even mainly a security organisation. It is intended to facilitate economic co-operation and economic recovery by two means: first, by setting at rest the legitimate fears of Germany's neighbours lest the tremendous sources of the Ruhr should be misapplied, and, secondly, by providing for an equitable distribution of Ruhr coal, coke and steel. I stress the word "equitable" because certain German critics have alleged that the Authority is an attempt to stifle German competition. The agreement itself specifically excludes such a possibility, and on this point I should like to emphasise that His Majesty's Government will in no circumstances lend themselves to such a distortion of the functions of the Authority. There is nothing in the Ruhr Statute in its present form which is incompatible with German economic recovery.
As to future development, the time may come when we shall wish to consider with our friends and with the Germans whether some wider organisation of the resources of Western Europe could not be established of which the Ruhr Authority might be only a part. The German people and the German Government, when formed, can hasten that day by their 57 own efforts, by lending their co-operation to the Ruhr Authority in its present form, and by demonstrating the sincerity of their desire to develop their resources peacefully for the common economic good.
While I am dealing with the Ruhr, I should like to say a word about ownership. It has been argued by the noble Earl, by analogy with an entirely different situation, that the real solution to the problem of the Ruhr's future in Europe is to be found in international ownership of the industries concerned, not in international control. That is a view which His Majesty's Government have carefully considered, but which they believe to be neither practicable nor desirable. His Majesty's Government believe, for their part, that the legitimate anxieties of Germany's neighbours and the legitimate anxieties of the German workers upon whose labours and co-operation the future development of the resources of the Ruhr must, in the last instance, depend, can best be reconciled if, under the international control which has now been agreed, the industries themselves are placed in some form of German public ownership. We considered that this policy was the best safeguard, and to that principle we have stood and still stand.
The third of the important documents to which I have referred is the Occupation Statute. In this, the elements of relaxation and control will be properly adjusted. The object of the Statute is to make a clear definition of the relations between the Occupying Powers and the German authorities. This will mean that when the Provisional Government is set up in the course of the next few months it will know exactly where it stands. The drafting of the Occupation Statute has been carried out by the Military Governors in Germany, and, as a result of their work, it is already almost complete. On certain outstanding points, inter-Governmental talks are now in progress in London, but I think I can assure the House that there are no serious obstacles to agreement on a final draft of the Statute. When the final draft is complete it will be submitted for formal approval to the Governments of the United Kingdom, France and the United States of America, and will then be shown to the German political leaders in the Parliamentary Council at Bonn, 58 so that it can be dovetailed with the Basic Law.
The Basic Law is the fourth of the important documents. It is, in effect, the constitution for the new German Government. In drafting this constitution, the Germans are still subject to an element of control, but it is very remote control. Within the general framework of a federal and democratic constitutional structure they can design the building to their own specification. During the last few months, the Parliamentary Council have put a good deal of hard work into the preparation of this constitution, and, so far as can be judged at this stage, it is a definite improvement on the Weimar constitution. It is unfortunate, in a way, that most major questions have had to be settled by a majority vote. The Social Democrat Party has favoured greater centralisation than the Christian Democrats, and this has led to some friction. However, it is not our intention to intervene in these inter-Party disagreements. Our interest is merely to see that certain principles are observed which will ensure that the new constitutional structure will be built on a genuinely federalist and democratic basis and will, therefore, stand in the way of any revival of a totalitarian machine for a new Hitler.
Those are the four basic documents on Germany. Two of then have already been published, and two more are due for completion before very long. I ask the House not to take a narrow view of any one document or of any single aspect, but to look on them together as parts of a coherent and developing plan for Germany as a whole. The essence of the plan is to grant an increasing measure of liberty and responsibility to the Germans. This process will be hastened if the Germans recognise that evolution towards complete independence and equality of rights with other Western countries must be gradual. Under the Occupation Statute and the Basic Law, great powers will be transferred to the Germans. But these documents will also specify the powers which, for the time being, must be retained by the Occupying Powers. In this sense, they may appear restrictive. But if the Germans address themselves to the task of using their new powers wisely, if they will co-operate in placing the new Germany and Western 59 Europe on the road to recovery, they will hasten the day when a peaceful and democratic Germany can take the place which is being kept for her at the European table.
Finally, in the sphere of Western Union, steady progress has been made in the work of the various organs set up under the Brussels Treaty. The Consultative Council, consisting of the Foreign Ministers of the five Powers, is due to hold its fourth meeting in London on January 26. The Defence Ministers of the five Powers held their third quarterly meeting in Brussels last week. In October last, a Commanders-in-Chief Committee was set up under the chairmanship of Field-Marshal Viscount Montgomery, and has established its headquarters at Fontainebleau. Experts from the five countries have also been busy working out the implementation of those articles of the Treaty which provide for social and cultural collaboration. There have also been a number of meetings of experts on social, cultural and public health matters. Thus the machinery established by the Brussels Treaty is being used to promote collaboration between the Signatory Powers, and His Majesty's Government hope that it will set a pattern for the future collaboration of all the European nations.
Meanwhile, as the House is aware, by decision of the five Foreign Ministers in October a Committee was set up in Paris to study schemes for promoting European unity. This Committee resumed its work yesterday, and hopes to be able to submit a report to the next meeting of the Brussels Treaty Consultative Council in London on January 26. I will not attempt to anticipate the character of this Report. I will only say this. European unity will not be achieved by gestures or by attempting to take short cuts; and precipitate and ill-considered action will only retard the creation of European unity. This has been amply demonstrated in the debates which have attended our efforts to harmonise the economic policy of European countries. The House will also have noticed that in their recent debate on appropriation for the Western Union headquarters at Fontainebleau, the French Chamber expressed misgivings at the creation of a Combined Command in Western Europe on the ground that this would involve an excessive surrender of 60 French national sovereignty. These experiences warn us that we should be wise to advance by a series of practical measures designed to create those common interests on which only can true union be founded.
THE EARL OF PERTH
May I interrupt the noble Lord for one moment. Was not the decision of the French Assembly, which he has just mentioned, reversed later?
§ LORD HENDERSON
I could not say off-hand. But even if it was reversed, the point is that it was taken on that occasion for the reason which I have given. The noble Earl, Lord Perth, has made reference to Italy, and I should like to take the opportunity of saying that His Majesty's Government welcome the association of Italy with the West, and they trust that Italy will become an original member of the political organism which it is now proposed to create in Western Europe. Conversations on the conclusion of the North Atlantic Pact, to which reference has been made, are still proceeding in Washington between the representatives of the United States, Canada and the five Brussels Powers; and I regret that at this stage I am not in a position to make any public statement on the subject. I am, however, confident that the present year will see a notable strengthening of the contractual and sentimental bonds which unite those Western nations which cherish the ideals of freedom and democracy.
My Lords, I regret I have not been able to deal with other matters of interest to your Lordships. Fortunately, as I have already said, the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor is to speak at the end of the debate, and I am sure he will remedy my omissions. I would just like to express my appreciation to the noble Viscount whose Motion has provided an opportunity for the Government to give some account of their own policies and activities.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, in a debate of this world-wide scope, I feel that it is possible for one member, especially for a Back Bencher like myself, to deal with only one particular part of the field. Perhaps, as a Back Bencher, I have a certain advantage in that I shall be able to speak with a little greater 61 freedom than noble Lords who have so far addressed your Lordships. I propose to deal with South-East Asia and the question of Indonesia. Apart from my own personal experience, and I can claim some knowledge of the Netherlands East Indies as well as of Malaya, it is perhaps natural that I, as President of the Association of British Malaya, should take this opportunity of addressing a warning, if that is not too arrogant a term to use to your Lordships, about what is likely to happen if we do not stiffen our policy and face the actual facts in Indonesia.
In listening to the noble Viscount who opened the debate, I could not help reflecting what an exemplification his speech was of the fact that foreign policy knows no Party boundaries. I find myself in great sympathy with what he said about Indonesia, and I hope to convince your Lordships that all Parties here have a common cause. I trust that other voices on this side of the House will be raised to deplore our failure to give moral leadership and publicly defend what we know to be the right. We hear a great deal to-day, perhaps too much, about government of the people by the people for the people. But what else did Abraham Lincoln have to say? Did he not also speak of acting "with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right"? I shall hope to make clear why I think that the action of the Dutch is fundamentally right, a view that is shared by practically every competent critic in the land. I hope I may be forgiven if, in order to sketch the background, I go into a few geographical details which may be familiar to many of your Lordships; but I feel that it is necessary to go into these details because the whole situation has been so obscured in this country that it is almost impossible to arrive at a right decision, or a right opinion, unless one has a personal knowledge of the true facts.
To begin with (though this may sound very elementary), the Netherlands East Indies is a purely artificial unity. It was created by the Dutch in just the same way as we drew a few lines on a map and called it Nigeria. It constitutes a vast archipelago, consisting mainly of five large island groups—Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Celebes, and New Guinea—with thousands of smaller islands. This archipelago occupies a space on the globe 62 approximately 3,000 miles in an east-west direction and 1,000 miles in a south-north direction. It approximates in area to about two-thirds of Europe, and if superimposed upon a map of Europe, it would stretch from Ireland to the Crimea and from Copenhagen to Genoa. The population is about 72,000,000. There are twenty-five distinct languages and 250 dialects. From the earliest days, the Dutch, a nation of 9,000,000, faced this immense task, upheld the authority of such native functionaries as they found in the country, and framed their policy on steady development through native institutions, social, economic and political—a policy very similar to our own.
I have no time now, obviously, to deal with the details of this immense subject, but I would like to say that the Dutch, like other European countries, including ourselves, followed a steadily higher ideal of trusteeship. It grew, just as our own ideal grew, as time went on. The Dutch themselves, after all, are a nation of advanced economic and political development, and unreasonable coercion of the Javanese and other races never would have earned, and does not earn, their approval. It is true that before the war many Dutchmen deplored the speed at which their Government were pushing political responsibility upon the politically immature Indonesians. They felt that the future of Indonesia still depends on its orderly productivity, and that premature encouragement of the democratic urge will turn order into disorder and productivity into sterility. The great problem, of course, was, and always has been, Java, with a present population of nearly 45,000,000 and an annual increase of about 700,000. In the days before the war, the Dutch-controlled Government curtailed the production of non-creative products, enforced the cultivation of staple foodstuffs, encouraged industrial expansion and vigorously promoted transmigration to the outer islands. In fact, as your Lordships may have noticed as I spoke, the Dutch policy in Java was very similar to the policy of His Majesty's Government at the present moment in England. The policies are almost indistinguishable, except perhaps that in Java the Dutch Government were successful finally in making Java self-supporting in foodstuffs. Although it is not the case, I could understand it if the Opposition 63 condemned Dutch rule in Java as too severe; but I cannot understand the present Government in this country doing so. Or is it that strict control in the interests of the people becomes a wicked thing only when another nation does it?
Before the war, all branches of the Government service in the Netherlands East Indies held officers of mixed blood, some of whom have risen to the top (I believe they have even had a Governor-General of mixed blood), and underneath there were many pure Indonesians who were being educated and encouraged to aspire to the top positions. Again, that is a very similar policy to our own, except that the Dutch have carried it further than we have succeeded in carrying it. Then came the war, when the Netherlands East Indies came under Japanese rule. In 1945 came the fall of Japan. Before the British and the Dutch landed in Batavia, Republic Indonesia was self-constituted on August 17, 1945, with the most notorious Japanese collaborators in charge. It was set up by revolutionary means. A small gang in charge were armed by the retiring Japanese, and their aim was not a United States of Indonesia but a Republic Indonesia, centralised in Djokja under their own control—in other words, an empire. Most of the other peoples in Indonesia dreaded and opposed the domination of the Republic, especially East Indonesia and West Java. Let it be understood that the Dutch were always willing and anxious, as they have said, to acknowledge the aspirations of this Republic for independence as a unit of a United States of Indonesia, with the Dutch as protecting Power, retaining reserved powers over defence and foreign affairs. And the Dutch undertook to apply for their inclusion in the United Nations as soon as they were ready for full independence.
Since the war the Dutch have abolished the office of Governor-General and such symbols of a Colonial rule. In his place a high representative of the Crown, a Royal Commissioner, forms the link. They have created seven States, or State-like entities, which have been instituted by decree with Dutch assistance. It is necessary to understand that we are not dealing with a lot of nascent democracies. There are various degrees of feudalism which have survived, and the governing 64 bodies have had to be constituted, some by succession, some by election and some by appointment. Otherwise, there would be complete anarchy. The States have previously been governed autocratically through their native institutions, and they present a picture—a customary picture at this stage of development—of tradition, hereditary feudal rights and an illiterate population. No sane person with a knowledge of the facts would claim that they could get on without the help of Dutch officers. Indeed, East and South Borneo, and New Guinea, are still left out of the new State arrangements because it is totally impossible to find anybody there of native birth who has any capacity whatever for assuming any responsibility.
The reason why Java is more advanced is its dense population—45,000,000—and its long political history, stretching back to the kingdom of Maja Pahit in the fourteenth century. It is easy to see what a glittering prize of empire and exploitation lies before Soekarno and Hatta and their Communist supporters if they can get rid of the Dutch, at whatever cost to the welfare of their people. In any case, by the Linggadjati and the Renville Agreements the Republic undertook to recognise the scheme for a United States of Indonesia and, by implication, undertook to participate in it. Since then they have, in spirit and in letter, evaded and broken all the terms they could.
With your Lordships' permission, I should like to glance first of all at the general qualifications for self-government of Republic Indonesia, and then at the manner of men in charge. They are terribly short of men of the intellectual character required to run a State. It may be of interest to your Lordships to hear the figures which I collected of qualified Indonesians. There are 400 with a medical degree, 300 with a law degree, 50 with an agricultural and engineering degree, 20 with engineering and natural science degrees, 800 with a university degree, but more with middle school training. The intelligentsia number about 2,500 to 3,000.
There are three political groups—namely, a Left Wing group, a small fanatical Moslem group, and a Youth group. The number of men who can discuss affairs with understanding is estimated by pessimists at 300, and by ardent optimists at 5,000. All this is out of a population 65 of 72,000,000. Very few of them have any understanding of what the Linggadjati and Renville Agreements are about. The ordinary people are willing to co-operate with the Dutch and they bear no hatred or resentment against Westerners. The trouble is that democracy is being forced on people not ready for it, and the Dutch problem is to bridge over the time needed to teach them what democracy means. The mass of the population played no rôle at all before the Japanese invasion. In Java they accepted the leadership of the nobility and the divine rule of the four Princes, descendants of the King of Mataram. They were as markedly happy a race at that time—I can speak of that from personal experience—as, indeed, they are bewildered and utterly miserable to-day.
I would now consider for a moment the type of men in charge at Djokja, the men who rule over 25,000,000 of their immediate subordinates, and aim at hegemony over the remaining 50,000,000 of the rest of Java, Sumatra, and the outer islands. Soekarno and his colleagues are in reality war criminals. They were decorated by the Japanese, and they aim solely at power. They are ready to see Indonesia and their people sink back to any condition that may be involved, so long as they themselves have the power to rule over them. I have no time to go into the details of the records of these gentlemen; they are well enough known to anybody who cares to read. However, I should like to mention two incidents which are not so well known. The Dutch Government before the war joined in the general measures for suppression of the opium traffic, with which I was familiar in Malaya—controlled sales, followed by annual reduction. The Japanese, when they took charge, stopped all that, of course, and increased production by every possible means. On their capitulation, twenty-two tons of the best raw Persian and Turkish opium were taken by the Republican representatives from Batavia to Djokja to prevent it falling into the hands of the Dutch, who would have destroyed it. Since then, with the agreement of the Soekarno Cabinet, and under the direct management of successive Ministers of Finance, this opium has been steadily disposed of in neighbouring countries in order to provide this 66 Republic with precious foreign finance which they needed to further their aims.
The next question is of unusual interest, and it takes the form of a draft agreement between the Republic of Indonesia and a large American financial corporation. I want to make it quite clear that I am not making any reflections upon the Government of the United States—that is not part of my purpose at all. I have no doubt that the State Department stopped these negotiations when they heard of them, and it may be they view them with the same horror that I do myself. I am quoting it in order that I may illustrate the type of man we are asked to put back in charge in this country—the type of man who claims to be the representative of his people rightly struggling to be free.
This is an agreement between the Republican Government and Matthew Fox of New York. It is an:Agreement, made January, 1948, between the Republic of Indonesia, herein called the Government' as party of the first part, and Matthew Fox of New York, N.Y., herein called 'Fox,' as party of the second part.I may say in passing that there is a long preamble which talks about benefits which this agreement will confer upon the people of Indonesia. The Dutch have a very relevant proverb in this respect. It says that:Reynard is still Reynard, though he put on a cowl.This agreement is said to be with farsighted and sympathetic American business interests willing to undertake the risks involved in overcoming obstacles now facing the Indonesian Government. First of all there is a description of what the corporation is to do. The aim of the agreement is:To procure the aid of the Corporation … to assist it (a) in achieving economic stability and commercial expansion by obtaining, when, if and to the extent requested by it, technical, engineering, economic and financial assistance; (b) in fostering the rehabilitation, reconstruction and expansion of existing Indonesian enterprises and facilities; (c) in developing the human, mineral, fishery, agricultural and all other Indonesian resources; and (d) in stimulating the industrialisation of the Indonesian Republic including manufacturing, processing, transportation, communications, shipping, waterways, electrification, public works and construction industries, banking, trading and other commercial activities.67 In other words, selling the country to this corporation. I have no time to go into the full details, but it is interesting to see the various financial provisions including the 7½ per cent. which Mr. Fox and his friends would get out of all these transactions and the various provisions relating to funds and credits. Then there is the provision which makes this corporation the sole and exclusive agent of the Government of Indonesia for the purchases of all commodities made by the Government in the United States, and so on.
§ LORD MILVERTON
"Commodities" is then defined as meaninggoods, wares, merchandise, machinery, equipment, commodities, minerals"—in fact it covers everything you can think of in a modern State. It excludes, for the moment, development enterprises. Then there is another clause which deals with development enterprises. It not only gives the corporation charge over all development of every kind—communications, hydroelectric, railroads, highways, sanitation, public works and so forth—but is even careful enough to say that there are some things which apparently will still have to be done by private enterprise, but… to the extent that such activities are subject to effective control or domination by the Government, they are included within the scope of the Corporation's exclusive representation of the Government …There are many clauses which I could read, but I have not the time. There is, however, one interesting clause which states:Any controversy or claim arising out of or relating to this Agreement or the breach thereof shall be settled in accordance with the rules then obtaining of the American Arbitration Association, and the Government agrees to waive its sovereign immunity and to submit itself and its agencies to the jurisdiction of all courts of the United States or any State thereof having competency to act in the premises …This is not the time or the place to say anything about "dollar imperialism," and, as I have said, I am not for one moment suggesting that the United States Government would do other than view this agreement with the horror that we feel. It does illustrate, however, the manner of men we are asked to put back in charge.
68 When Dr. Jessup condemns the Russians (and I could not agree with him more) and the Dutch (and I could not agree with him less) it prompts one to reflect that if haloes are being worn this season, it is desirable to see that one's own is not tarnished. There are two kinds of nationalism. There is the old traditional type in South-east Asia, based on the ancient glories of race, whether legendary or historical. That is largely a spent force. But there is the new form, based upon the doctrines of Western democracy. It has been taught by us in precept and practice, and by the Dutch. The disagreement to-day is not whether there shall be self-government, but as to the pace at which it shall come; the disagreement is over the pace of approach and not over the goal itself. There is a constant pattern in these things. India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma have, whether they realise it or not, accepted the superiority of the Western way of life, mode of Government and method of trade, and naturally they want economic as well as political control.
But the recent shift in emphasis everywhere is very marked. The struggle is no longer quite the same. Nationalist democracy is itself on the defensive, and the antithesis today is Democracy against Communism, and not Imperialism against Nationalism. Let us never forget that the struggle is for the bodies and souls of millions of unthinking peasants. Now the centre of Communism in the Netherlands East Indies, small though it may be, is Djokja. The Dutch are not opposing nationalism; they are opposing the possibility of the whole nationalist movement in Indonesia falling into the hands of a small but organised group, a group little better than Communists and which certainly has Communist supporters. The Dutch accept and support the Republic, but not the group in nominal charge, who were put there by the Japanese and supplied by them with arms.
When one looks at Northern Korea, Manchuria, North and Central China, Formosa, Indo-China and Burma, one must ask whether, if the Netherlands East Indies are driven into the hands of the Communists by our blindness, Siam and Malaya can long withstand the penetration. America does not seem to realise that to force independence upon the immature States of Indonesia, regardless of consequences, spells chaos, and chaos 69 spells Communism. You then have the fantastic spectacle of America building up the Western Powers in Europe to resist Communism, while she undermines them in South-East Asia in order to help Communism, while we stand in palsied indecision, too weak even to hold up our hands in protest. Very soon we shall be too ashamed to hold up our heads.
I appreciate that India and Australia have joined the chorus of condemnation. They are free to take their own course, and it may be that internal political forces are warping the vision of their leaders. The popular cry of "Asia for the Asiatic" can so easily be misdirected in India; and perhaps the influence of the Sydney waterfront is not the most enlightened one as a director of foreign policy. After all, if the rule of the day is to maintain open house, I see no reason why our laundry and the Dutch laundry should be the only ones open to public inspection. I say this with the greatest respect: If the United States of America were to solve their own Colonial problem in the Southern States, if the Indian Brahmins could wipe out racial and class discrimination in India, and reflect on the freedom of Kashmir and Hyderabad, if Australia could spare the time from denouncing the Dutch for a prolonged scrutiny of her own administration of New Guinea, then their views on Dutch administration of the Netherlands East Indies might carry more weight.
But when one reflects that our Foreign Office, by its negative policy, has led us into this position, where recrimination begins amongst friends, is it not time to ask where they are leading us? The one beneficiary from our differences will be Russia, whose Government daily violate, at home and abroad, every principle of freedom for which the United States of America and ourselves stand. I remember that sixteen years ago, when I was in Borneo, the local amateur dramatic society put on a small playlet—I think by A. P. Herbert—in which there was a beautiful maiden as heroine and she sang a song with a very haunting refrain to each verse, which ran:West wind, East wind, send me a man.…I realise now that Britannia should be cast for this part; but there seems no prospect of either the Foreign Office or the Colonial Office providing an answer to the maiden's prayer! It is the old 70 familiar story: weakness at the beginning, and steady degeneration of a situation until it becomes insoluble. I am not preaching Fascism or totalitarianism; I am only pleading for strength and moral courage. To me, as a practical administrator, knowing something of the methods of other nations—at home and abroad—in their administration, a feeling of unreality pervades the scene. When I think of the average United Nations group, with the phylacteries of democracy bound about their brows, condemning the Dutch with total ignorance or disregard of the facts of the situation, I cannot but be filled with uneasiness as to where all this is heading, and to what chaos the worship of words rather than deeds is leading us all.
I notice that The Times two days ago published a statement of five points which were made by the Indian representative at the Security Council and which presumably are to be seriously considered—though how they can be seriously considered I entirely fail to see. The points are, as your Lordships may know, a demand for the release and restoration to authority of the imprisoned Republican leaders; a more active participation by the Security Council and a peace effort by reconstitution of the Good Offices Committee as a Commission the withdrawal of Dutch troops to take place under the supervision of the Good Offices Committee; the removal of the economic blockade—an economic blockade which was instituted largely in order to stop the smuggling out of arms and of saboteurs who would have done damage in territory not under the jurisdiction of the Republic. I can say, without hesitation or fear of contradiction by any qualified critic, that apart from the extremist elements, which were relatively few, the native population as a whole welcomed the return of the Dutch.
A letter from Mr. Arnold Bake, published in The Times of December 29, gave further factual proof of the true character of Soekarno and Hatta. These two "gangsters," who possess no real loyalty to any cause or country, have, through clever Communist-inspired propaganda and dismally ill-informed public opinion, been elevated in the eyes of the Western world to the status of crusaders, whereas they are, in fact, nothing better 71 than jackals preying upon a war-ravaged and bewildered native population. If the Japanese had not capitulated when they did, and had the Netherlands East Indies been occupied as a result of full-scale operations, the present trouble would never have occurred. Soekarno and his colleagues would have been captured and tried for what they are—namely, war criminals in every sense of the word. The country would then have returned quickly to peace and prosperity, and the world as a whole would now be benefiting from the vital raw materials still denied to it.
This, of course, would not have suited Moscow. The untimely delay in occupying the Netherlands East Indies, and the weak and vacillating policy which followed, was not the responsibility of the Dutch: it was the responsibility of others. As colonists, the Dutch are second to none, as the noble Viscount who opened the debate pointed out. Their general policy towards the native, his education and general wellbeing, was progressive, and in most respects—let me say it with all the weight I can—more advanced than anything practised in our own Colonies. From the point of view of agricultural and other development, scientific research, and so on, the Dutch have few, if any, equals; and it will be a sorry day for the 72,000,000 inhabitants of the Netherlands East Indies, and for the world as a whole, if their past work is brought to nought and their influence unduly impaired or removed from this vast field of vital resources.
I have spent my time—as have many others who know this part of the world most—wondering who it is that can be advising our Foreign Office in this matter. I cannot believe that any of the officers who know the East would endorse this negative policy which has been followed; and I doubt very much whether that hybrid officer, the Commissioner-General in Singapore, who serves both the Foreign and the Colonial Office, and who is in an excellent position to give the true facts of the situation, would agree with this policy of timorous negation. These are not matters which are the subject of diplomatic secrecy, and it is highly desirable that the whole world should know the truth and should know that we are not trying to bolster up imperialist tyranny or anything of that sort. The 72 battle we are fighting, or the battle that I at the present moment am asking the Foreign Office to fight, is the battle of democracy, the battle of the welfare of the working population of the Netherlands East Indies. I am afraid I have detained your Lordships too long. I fear that there is a creeping paralysis of humane indecision lying across our foreign and Colonial field. It seems to me that once more the last laugh will not be in London or in New York, or in New Delhi, but in the Kremlin; and it will be difficult for us to avoid a large share of the blame.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD
My Lords, I do not propose to attempt to follow the noble Lord who has just sat down, in his most informative and interesting speech on the rather specialised subject of the foreign affairs of this country. I propose to confine myself to a more general dealing with the subject. I am glad that your Lordships' House has been given this opportunity to discuss the matter. I venture respectfully to thank my noble friend for having raised this question of the most serious position of international affairs. In my life-time, I do not remember any occasion when the position of this country and all that it stands for has been more critical; and it is right that your Lordships, many of whom have considerable national and international experience, should contribute to a solution of the difficulties. As we are frequently told, the main function of this House is to be a Council of State.
The widespread unrest in Europe has now spread into Asia, China, Malaya, Indonesia (as we have just heard) and Burma. In each of those countries there is something very near to, if it has not actually developed into, war. Of course, there is the prominent question of Palestine. In Egypt there is considerable unrest. In Greece there is a most disturbing condition. Above all, of course, there is the controversy over Berlin. Nor can we get much comfort from the uncomfortable state of affairs in the Balkans, in Spain, in Italy, and even in France. If we ask what is the cause of this, the answer is plain. Certainly the economic position is difficult but, to an onlooker like myself, it seems as though it is becoming more hopeful, except for the political situation. That is 73 the crux. The brutal fact is—and your Lordships will do well to face it—that the policy of the Kremlin is at the root of most of the general disquiet. I am told that Russia does not want war. So far as the Russian people are concerned, I believe that is true. There seems no reason to doubt that they share with the overwhelming majority of the civilised peoples of the world an abiding hatred of war and a longing for a settled peace. It may also be true of the Russian Government, or some part of it—probably it is, at least for the immediate future.
But what of their long-term policy, if they have one? I am a great believer in the old legal maxim that a man must be taken to intend the natural consequences of his acts. As a practical matter, that is true of the ordinary man, and it applies equally to Governments. Therefore, if we hope to attain to any understanding of the present position of the Russian Government, we must examine what they have done or are doing. In the first place, they are said to have kept in being large numbers of organised troops. That is not seriously disputed. In the United States, in the British Commonwealth, in France and in other European countries, great military reductions have been made. We are assured—I speak from an outside point of view—that the reductions in Russia have been much smaller, both on land and in the air. That means, of course, that their arms and equipment have been treated in the same way. I do not forget the atomic bombs. Perhaps the Russians have not yet been able to make them on any considerable scale. Even as to that, their refusal to agree to any effective international inspection is ominous. I remember, as no doubt your Lordships do, how before the last war the Russians were able to conceal their preparations from the whole world. Just before they came into the war, we were told, upon what seemed good authority, that their army would not be able to resist the Germans for more than a few weeks. Fortunately for us, the truth was very different. Therefore, it would be very rash to assume that, because we do not know of them, the Russians are even now without atomic weapons. I will add that they will almost certainly have them before very long, possibly with other even more disastrous inventions.
74 Nor should their actual preparation for war be alone considered. Their whole policy looks the same way. They have not only adopted as their official creed the economic tenets of Marx and Lenin, based upon a crude materialism, which has just been so feelingly referred to by my noble friend, Lord Perth, and which is, in itself, a grave danger to their neighbours, but they have openly announced that they plan that these views should be generally accepted either by persuasion—which they do not think likely—or, if necessary, by force. Remember that their Government is a revolutionary Government. It has behind it no traditions of moderation or self-restraint. We have seen it in action in Central Europe. We have seen the Governments of many of the neighbouring countries brought under Russian domination. All the machinery of justice—again referred to by my noble friend, Lord Perth—and the guarantees of liberty have been transformed in those countries into branches of the executive Government, pledged to enforce the well-known principles of despotism decked out with the catchwords of a false philosophy. In this they are following the precedents set up by Mussolini and Hitler, and we have seen what they led to in their own countries and in large parts of Europe.
I know this is a sombre picture, but there is more to add to it. It seems to be part of the deliberate policy of the present Russian Government to create or keep alive internal troubles in other countries. Through the various so-called Communist organisations they have created difficulties and disquiet in many places. No doubt they have been aided in some of them by defects in the established systems of government, but that has often been a mere pretext. The object has been to create troubled waters in which Russia may fish. Sometimes it takes the root form of using their veto in the United Nations to prevent changes desired by the great majority of its members. On other occasions they have kept alive international disputes, as in Berlin, which serve to bring about a present atmosphere of unrest which at a given moment can easily be stoked up into an atmosphere of war.
I know that all this is familiar to your Lordships, and I have not recalled it merely to excite enmity against Russia. On the contrary, I desire very earnestly 75 the friendship of that country. But the best way of obtaining it is to state, so far as an unofficial member of the House can do so, what is the true position at present. Is it not that, though there may not be any immediate prospect of war—as I hope is the case—yet it does look as if the ground is being prepared to enable the Kremlin at some future time (perhaps not this year or next; but at no very distant date) to require country after country either to adopt Russian principles and accept Russia domination or else to fight? That means a deliberate policy of aggression. I ask myself: how are we going to meet it? If my reading of the facts is sound, I do not see how mere argument, diplomatic negotiation or anything of that kind is going to help us. That is a very useful international implement if the parties desire to reach an agreement; but if they do not it is a mere excuse for doing nothing. Indeed, it is worse than that. It may easily be a screen behind which the aggressor is completing his plans, just as the policy of Munich enabled Germany, as General Keitel explained to us, to put the finishing touches to their armaments. I am glad, therefore, to learn that that is not the policy of the Government.
Then there are those who believe in world government as the only remedy. That means, I suppose, that all existing national Governments should accept federation into one world organisation, with a World Cabinet and, I suppose, a World Parliament. That seems to me quite impracticable. No such solution has any chance of being practically adopted, still less of practically working, during the life-time of the youngest member of your Lordships' House. There is much more to be said for European Federation. It may well be that some form of European organisation for economic and other like purposes would be useful, but I doubt if it would work for the purposes of defence at the present time. It might grow in that direction, but not for many years; and what is wanted is some present precaution against war.
Even the Western Union seems to me to be open to a similar criticism. It is, in form, an old-fashioned defensive alliance of ourselves with France and three smaller Powers. Economically, that may have great advantages, but as 76 a means of preventing aggression, of convincing the aggressor that his policy cannot succeed, it is evidently not strong enough. May I once again remind the House that we must aim, here and now, not only at victory but at enforcing peace. A Treaty which only promises help for a few countries against invasion is clearly insufficient. That, no doubt, is why it is proposed to merge the alliance—if that is the proposal—in an Atlantic Pact. I very much regretted that it was impossible for the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, to give us any information about the present position of that scheme. We do not yet know what it is to be. I most heartily agree with those who think the attitude of the United States is vital in this matter. It all depends upon them. It may be that if the United States is to come in as a full member, and if the Pact is to deal with war anywhere, there will be little difference between its effect and that of what seems to me to be the more direct plan of a Treaty against aggression. But if it falls short of that—if, like the Western Union, it is to apply only to actual invasion of the territory of any of its signatories—then I should be very much afraid that a powerful aggressor might go on with its policy elsewhere and risk the consequences.
I believe profoundly in the truth of the maxim "Peace is indivisible." Wherever serious war breaks out it may easily spread over the whole world. The First World War began as an almost insignificant dispute between Austria and Serbia. Even the Second World War may be said to have grown out of a series of events which could be each represented as consistent with general peace. That is why I would much rather see our policy based on the broad foundation that aggression is an international crime which it is the duty of all peace-loving States to prevent or arrest. That is the principle which corresponds to the wishes of mankind. Make it incontrovertibly clear that that is our policy, and we shall have the support of the civilised world. But if instead we advocate some device by which this or that Article of the Charter is made to bear a meaning not universally accepted, or propose that by sonic ingenious use of certain of the Charter's phrases the control of action by the Security Council can be evaded, then our policy will be perilous and perhaps disastrous.
77 It is for that reason that I distrust any plan based on the theory that Article 51 of the Charter may, without any enlargement, be made to cover any agreement. I agree, of course, that the general purpose of the Charter is to prevent aggression. But to me it seems that the plain intention of the document is that that function is to be carried out through the instrumentality of the Security Council; and, as we all know, any substantive action by that body requires the consent of all the permanent Powers. It is true that Article 51, in principle, saves the right of self-defence—that is to say, arrangements for self-defence need not necessarily be subject to all the conditions of the Charter. That is a great principle, and well worth consideration. It is further said that the defence contemplated by Article 51 extends to the defence of any State, on the ground that what endangers one endangers all. But there is no machinery under that Article by which this right is to be carried out, except an intimation that the Security Council is, as soon as possible, to take over control of the proceedings. If and when that is done, of course, the veto on all actions revives.
That this is the meaning of the Article is consistent with Article 53, which says specifically that, in any regional proceeding under the Charter, enforcement action is dependent on the consent of the Security Council. It may be that my reading of these Articles is wrong, but at least it seems to me arguable. That means there is a substantial doubt whether, under the Charter, effective action against an aggressor can be taken without the consent of the Security Council. So long as that doubt remains, the danger of aggression exists. A Power aiming at domination will be ready to take risks. Nothing but a perfectly clear warning that overwhelming force will be ready to stop an aggressor will deter him. Any doubt or hesitation on the subject will make peace insecure.
To my mind our aim is clear. We must remove from the world the threat of an impending war which is hampering our recovery and embittering international relations. Nothing short of that will do. It may be that only by a change of heart among the nations can this be fully done. To take an illustration: individual crime still goes on in 78 spite of our criminal law, but it is kept in restraint. What we have to do is to build up a peace structure which will make war as obsolete between nations as duels are between individuals. That may take time. But the first step is to make it clear that no aggression, no resort to war, can succeed, and that any aggressor will find against himself overwhelming forces. That is the object to be secured—if possible, by general agreement, and, at least, by such a concentration of force as will make resistance impossible. What is wanted, as always, is a clear and definite policy on these lines, clothed in unmistakable language. And this must not be long delayed.
§ 5.33 p.m.
§ LORD PETHICK-LAWRENCE
My Lords, your Lordships will forgive me if I do not address myself to some of the questions which have been raised in the debate this afternoon, but deal rather with the larger question raised by the noble Viscount who opened this discussion, when he said that he thought it was right to seek the overall objectives—in other words, I propose to step back a little from the immediate picture and take what will now, I suppose, be called an aeronaut's view of the new atlas of the world which is coming into being in this, the beginning of the second half of the twentieth century, and to see how far the consequences affect ourselves.
But I fear that I must turn aside for a few moments to deal with the speech which has been made by Lord Milverton. It is some considerable time since I was intimately associated, as a member of the British Cabinet, with the events in Indonesia, and I am not, therefore, in the position to answer in anything like detail the speech which the noble Lord made. So I will confine myself to two statements. In the first place, I want to make it perfectly clear that I profoundly disagree with the attitude which he took up. I believe it to be contrary to the facts, and I believe that it is not shared by the men who have studied the matter in the greatest detail. When he says that no competent observers take a view different from the one which he has put forward, I venture to submit that that is merely suggesting that everyone who disagrees with him is not a competent observer.
79 When he says that we in this country, our Foreign Office, have taken a negative attitude, he ignores the fact that for over a year after the end of hostilities against Japan we had large forces in Indonesia, that they took an active part in dealing with the pacification of the country and that we sent out two of our most distinguished diplomats who gave reports to the Cabinet, at the time, on which our policy was based. Those two men could scarcely be called, even by Lord Milverton, "incompetent observers." They were Lord Inverchapel and Lord Killearn. When he suggests that we took a negative attitude, knowing that large numbers of our own troops were killed in action in consequence of our attempt to pacify Indonesia, I find myself at complete variance with the tale which he has told in your Lordships' House. I do not want to pursue the matter further, but I do ask your Lordships most earnestly not to take the statement which the noble Lord has made as in any way representing the facts of the case. As I said before, I profoundly disagree with him, and I venture to think that the views of competent men on whose advice the policy of His Majesty's Government has been based during all this time since the war with Japan came to an end should be thoroughly understood before the alleged facts which have been put before us this afternoon are taken as a correct version of what is going on. I do not propose to go further into the matter at this stage.
I wish now to turn to the larger aspects which prompted me to ask to be allowed to take part in the debate in this House to-day. The facts are that in this last year before the beginning of the second half of the twentieth century we are witnessing great changes in the world. In the first place, we are witnessing the end of Empires. In the second place, we are witnessing the obsolescence of the sovereignty of the European nation-States that have taken such a prominent place in world history during the last hundred years or more. We are witnessing the re-birth of Asia. We are witnessing the coming into nationhood of the Jewish race. We are witnessing the uprising of the subject and coloured peoples of the world. These great events coming to fruition at the end of the first half of the 80 century are the counterparts of the individual changes that have taken place within countries in the first two quarters of the century. We had, in the first quarter, the resurgence of the women of this country, demanding an equal position with men in our civilisation. In the second half we have had coming largely to fruition a similar demand for equality by the working peoples of the various countries of the world.
How is Britain—this United Kingdom of ours—going to survive and function in the situation which will be with us in the second half of the twentieth century? I say this: that just as this country led the way in political democracy and in the Industrial Revolution, so we must be in advance of other countries in comprehending and adapting ourselves to the new atlas of the world which will come into being with the second half of this century. We must realise that nation-States which have held the field during the last centuries are to-day nearly as dead in their sovereignty as the city-States of the ancient world and of the Middle Ages. In place of these all-powerful sovereign States we have to-day great blocs of associated peoples. We have the United States of America; we have the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, China, Latin America, and, last but by no means least, we have the British Commonwealth of Nations. And it may be that we are forming to-day a federated union of the Western nations of Europe, although that bloc at present has not yet come into being.
With the exception of Russia, and possibly China, these great blocs are free assemblies of free peoples and, as I have said, by no means the least of them is the British Commonwealth. If we hold together, we have in the Commonwealth a bloc of the greatest population of all the blocs to which I have referred. It is the case that our position, stretching over many continents and washed by all the oceans of the world, instead of being a weakness is a source of strength. The days were when the land-continuous countries were strong because wars were largely fought on the land, but to-day, when wars are fought largely in the air, our position has a great advantage. No country that has not bases in various parts of the world can hope to wage a successful global war. Therefore, I contend that, from the point of view of war, the British 81 Commonwealth is really one of the most powerful of the great blocs of peoples in the world.
Not only is it strong in war, but it is strong in peace, because our lands, situated in every latitude and on every continent, can produce nearly all the articles which are needed for the life of man. But, of course, it all turns on whether the British Commonwealth holds together, and that is the essential point. That is why it seems to me that the answer I should give to the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood is that the strength we have to develop is not, as he said, in union with two or three nation States in Western Europe but in the cohesion of the British Commonwealth. That is why I find myself at variance with some of the noble Lords who sit opposite who want to be punctilious about the Commonwealth, excluding those who are not prepared to accept certain forms, certain links which bind us together. I am all for keeping all the links we can have, but I would rather keep the free association of peoples of other parts of the world in effective alliance and association with us, even if it involves an agreement to allow them not to accept any particular tie which has hitherto held together the members of the Commonwealth.
In this regard I want to call the attention of your Lordships' House to the great importance of the new Asiatic Dominions. I think few people realise that before the partition of India, the population of that country was greater than that of the whole of the United States of America, the whole of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, and the whole of the white population of the British Empire rolled into one. Even to-day, since the partition of India, when Pandit Nehru was here as Prime Minister of the Dominion of India, he represented a larger population than all the rest of the British Empire taken together, including the Dominion of Pakistan. India is not only a country of great population, but it played a great, almost a decisive, part in the last war. It occupies a strategic position in the world. It has a pivotal site, which means that almost every plane flying East to West and West to East must come down either in India, Pakistan, or Ceylon. Therefore, it is essential to the successful working and defence of this country, and of our kith and kin in Australia and other parts of 82 the Commonwealth, that these two great Dominions shall remain associated with us. I believe that if we can keep their affection and loyalty, world peace can be obtained.
But in my opinion that is not quite all. I believe that we have to take an essentially liberal view with regard to the peoples of the world who are rightly struggling to be freed from subjection and tyranny, whether within or without their borders. I believe that that is the essential defence against Communism, or any domination of the Socialist Soviet Republics. In that connection I venture to commend to your Lordships a small book I have been reading during the Recess. It is written by an American, German by origin, named Fritz Sternberg, and is entitled How to Stop Russia Without War. The author puts forward a thesis which is one which I put before your Lordships some little time back in 1948. Our case must be upheld, not merely by force of arms, not merely by making our own bloc strong, not merely by joining with other blocs in the world, but by preventing the continuous adhesion of new countries to the Russian bloc. How can we do that? We can do that by making it clear to peoples, both by words and deeds, that our sympathy is with their liberty, that our sympathy is with the common man in his struggle to free himself from the injustices to which he has been subject for generations and from the tyrannies which have been imposed upon him by class and racial domination.
§ LORD PETHICK-LAWRENCE
Russia has not gone on for generations in its present form. If the noble Viscount refers to Russia of days gone by, I quite agree, because Russia was dominated by one of the worst tyrannies which have existed. If he suggests that I am not taking the view that we have to resist this Communist attitude of Russia, I think, if he has listened to what I have said, he will realise that I am in full sympathy with him on that point. The right way to combat Russian advance is two-fold. First of all, it is necessary to be strong and to make an association with other peoples who have our way of life. But that is not enough; we have also to make it clear to the peoples of the countries who have not yet decided 83 with which great division they will throw in their lot, that we, the democracies of the West, stand for their liberty and their freedom, and for the equality of class and the abolition of privilege in their countries. When we do that we shall find that it is we who are gathering to ourselves the forces of the world, and not those of the Soviet Union who profess to be out for the liberties of the people, but who in fact very largely impose upon them tyrannies as great as, and possibly greater than, those they suffered under the old régime.
§ 5.51 p.m.
§ LORD VANSITTART
My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Perth, said when he was speaking that there are a number of topics on which one might enlarge, and I feel inclined to follow his example and limit myself to some of my own choice, though I would have wished to say something in regard to the last two speeches which we have heard. I will begin by taking up the decision of the British and United States Governments to remit to some future German Government the decision as to the ownership of the key industries of the Ruhr. That seems to me to be a most colossal leap in the dark, because we have not even seen that Government and we do not know what it is going to be like. The signs and portents so far seem to indicate that it will have at least some features of which we will certainly disapprove. Over-centralisation in Germany has given us two world wars. For thirty years I have been urging that the only salvation for Europe is a genuinely federalised Germany. I am convinced that the vast majority of what is left of Europe would agree with me on that point. The reason for that is quite simple. Our chances of inculcating genuine democracy into Germany are tenuous. The only chance is that democracy should be learned from below and not imposed from above. In other words, there must be the maximum of local government, and that is the main case of federalism against centralism.
I have also spent a good deal of my time in trying to point out the marked differences that exist between British Socialists and their ostensibly opposite numbers in Germany. I am not going to enlarge upon that to-day, because it happens to have been done for me. As I was coming here to-day I saw an article 84 in Forward that had been written by Professor Harold Laski. It starts with a few preliminary jabs at Vansittartism—which, of course, is only part of the ritual—and the whole of the rest of the article might have been written by Vansittart. I am very sorry for any embarrassment I may cause to noble Lords on my left, or to the Professor himself, but there it is. I will not go into that matter further to-day, except to make one point, and that is that nearly all the Social Democrats in Germany have been "dyed-in-the-wool" centralists. They have a majority in the Parliamentary Council at Bonn; they hold thirty-five out of the sixty-six seats. Now it is pretty clear what they have in mind. It is a kind of "phoney" federalism, as I have called it in this House before, and they have shown their hand in a manner that bears me out, not for the first time.
There has just come into my possession a German newspaper which contains the rough draft of the new German constitution. That draft, I understand, leaked out against the wishes of the Parliamentary Council at Bonn, and I am not surprised, because it is full of centralism. It is a whacking great document, and I confess that I have only had time to give it a first reading, but, from that first reading, there already emerge four features to which I take the strongest exception, and I think the Government may be disquieted by them, too. Articles 24 to 27 provide for the remodelling of the States or Laender—Neugliederung is the word which they prefer. I would remind the House that that is exactly what is being done by the Communists in Czechoslovakia to the historic Provinces of Bohemia and Moravia. There they want to go further and abolish the names altogether. Why are they doing that? It is obvious that they wish to increase the stranglehold of the centralists. What the new German constitution apparently proposes does not go so far as that, but it does cut the natural historical root of true federalism. The new federal State will not consist of pre-existing States. On the contrary, by federal law (I ask your Lordships to note this) the Central (I ask your Lordships to note that, too) Assembly will constitute new States, which will in fact be administrative units. I ask you: Is that a promising preliminary for genuine federalism?
85 Articles 30 to 44 bear a great headline which runs Bundesrecht bricht Landesrecht, which means that federal law overrides State law; and Article 31 consists of only those three German words. Do you really think that that is a promising basis for genuine federalism? There is more to come. Articles 108 to 111 provide in certain circumstances for the introduction of legislation by decree. I have spoken of that before. Your Lordships will remember that that was the bane of the Weimar constitution. You may also remember that the offending Article was Article 48. That Article was inserted in the constitution with great reluctance by the draftsman, Doctor Preuss, because he feared that it might lead to future abuses. He did not feel able to oppose it at that time as there were Communist riots going on. But his apprehensions were completely borne out. Your Lordships will remember that Doctor Brunning had increasing resort to that poison, and thereby prepared the way for Hitler who governed by nothing but decree.
Many people in this country think that because I am a tough fighter in these matters I am unfair. But I am not. I give to their friends, German or Russian, just as much justice as truth allows, and no more. I am so fair that I am quite prepared to make the German case in this instance. They might well turn round and say: "What are you picking on us for? Why, your own Government took powers for something very similar in August, 1947." I remember that very clearly, because it happens to be the occasion of my solitary incursion into internal politics. In order to make quite certain that my memory had not played me false, I looked it up in Hansard this afternoon and found that I made a speech on August 12, 1947, in which I emphasised the sequence—Article 48, Brunning, Hitler—and said that I viewed those powers with considerable apprehension. The noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, who replied to me, said that I need not be apprehensive of him and his colleagues turning into Hiders, and thereby missed the precise point that I had already made in my speech: that I did not mistrust the Front Bench then, but that I had considerable apprehensions as to what use might be made of those powers by unscrupulous successors. That is what I say to the 86 Germans. No one knows where that might lead us, even if it proved innocuous at first. I would remind the House that it took over ten years to go definitely wrong in the inter-war period. It might take no longer now, and, in view of the existing spirit in Germany, it might take less time. Anyhow, it offers an opening which disquiets me very much.
Articles 122 to l26 provide for the financial domination of the central organs. In them is vested all real sovereignty; in them resides all the power that really matters. The States Council is left with a circumscribed veto which might easily be over-ridden. Not only is there the financial domination of the central organs, which means centralisation in the financial field, but they actually provide for a central financial administration in the State, and these people may well lord it over the Laender.
That seems very disquieting, but again that is not the whole of the story. There is a very distinct tendency in Germany now—I noticed it in the German Press myself—to talk of centralised parties, of centralised trade unions, of centralised youth movements and the whole outfit. All that is destructive of federalism and, therefore, of democracy, which I repeat can only he learned from the bottom up. I do not like that at all. There is something else. I think that the one thing about which everybody in Europe has always agreed with me is that the essential feature of a true federation must be that the police are in the exclusive control of the Laender and not of the central authority. Already in the German Press I see talk of a centralized criminal police. That could easily be the thin end of the wedge. There is more than that again. There is also talk of what is called the Kasernierte Polizei. Literally translated, that is "police in barracks," but it means a great deal more than that. The police in barracks during the inter-war period left a very evil reputation. They had their generals, their tanks and their artillery, and it was, in fact, a branch of the German Army and very fertile ground for breaking the Disarmament Clauses of the Treaty of Versailles.
I should be glad to have some assurance that nothing of that kind will happen again. Do not think I am 87 exaggerating. I am not saying that this could lead to any immediate result which would be fatal, but I do say that if a constitution containing those features is brought into force, we may very likely thereby be allowing the first step to a return of power politics. It really is up to the Germans to adopt a genuine federal constitution by checking the system which has caused the death of 50,000,000 people in this unhappy world. It is all too easily forgotten there, and very often all too easily forgotten elsewhere, but I do not forget. Do not misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that we should impose any constitution on the Germans—certainly not. That would be futile and foolish. But we are entitled to say that certain features have had lethal results in the past, and that those at least we should not endure again.
The alternative to that is the defeatism of last week's Economist, which said: "Let them have any constitution they like," in their own words; give them carte blanche. I differ from that. I believe it is possible to be modern without forgetting every lesson of the past. I think it is already rather a bad sign that I should have to be saying this. We all know—as was mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Perth, this afternoon—that the spirit of Germany is visibly changing for the worse. Nationalism is rampant, and not only that, but there is a kind of neo-Nazism which is latent. We have to face the possibility at least that the good Germans may again find themselves at some future date in an impotent minority. I had a letter the other day from Professor Foerster—I think many of you may know him by name. He is the most courageous of all fighters against tyranny in Germany. He is now in the United States, as his own land was made uninhabitable for him. He has resisted tyranny since the beginning of the century, and in that letter he expressed the anxiety lest the better Germans might again find themselves overrun.
After that analysis, I return to the point which I made originally. Is it really proposed to hand over this really vital decision to any such Government? Now let us suppose that the Social Democrats are still in a majority. Their decision will obviously be that these vital industries should be nationalised. Very well, 88 that might work in certain circumstances. I am not going to say anything to-day about the merits or demerits of nationalisation, because that is right "off my beat." This is a Foreign Affairs debate, and I will not go into Home Affairs. I would, however, like to say this: that so far nationalisation in France has not been a great success. It might not only be a great success in Germany, but it might be a very terrible success, because if there is an over-centralised Government, animated by the spirit which we all agree now exists, we might find that all we have done has been to create a greater concentration of power than has ever existed before. Believe me, Hitler's path would have been more eased if he had inherited nationalised industry. He even played with the idea himself. Not that I hold any brief for the German heavy industrialists—they have been evil men throughout my life—but they did occasionally grumble at what he did. For instance, they did not like the Hermann Goering works at all. I hope that what I have said to-day, on a preliminary reading of this vast document, will at least be borne in mind before the Government finally make up their minds. I shall be much happier if they at least have a "look see" before they decide.
I pass to another subject, and that is Italy. I have seen much in the Press lately about the intention of the Western Powers to invite Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Portugal and Eire to join the Western Union. I am particularly glad to see those Scandinavian invitations. I hope they will be accepted, and I hope they have some effect on the rather timorous and obstructive Swedes. But I have never seen any mention of an intention to invite Italy. I have seen in the Press some speculations as to why she should not be invited, and one was that she was not yet in a strong enough position. Well, whose fault is that? I would have thought that it was obvious to anyone from the start that under the Peace Treaty Italy was considerably over-disarmed. I said something to the effect at the time. Anyhow, be that as it may, the satellite States with whom we concluded Treaties at the same time have all broken those Treaties and are re-arming beyond the authorised strength. I know the Government can do nothing to stop that now, but I should 89 have thought it was only common sense to allow to Italy a little corresponding latitude.
The point I want to put to your Lordships is this: Italy is not now in a strong enough position to cope at one and the same time with the Communist putsch inside and a Communist putsch across her north-eastern frontier. We have had a warning in this respect during the recent coal strike in France. The warning was not noticed. I never saw anything about it in the Press, and I heard no politician or statesman say anything about it. But if the Communists had then employed everywhere the same violence that they used at Saint Etienne, there would not have been enough force to go round. The position is much better now, so there is no indiscretion in mentioning it.
That is largely the position of Italy today, so I very much hope that the British, the United States and the French Governments may see their way to intimating to Italy that they will not object to any measures taken, within reason, to enable them to cope with their dual obligation. If the respective Governments feel too hound by formalities to convey any such information, I do not hesitate to say that I hope that the Italian Government will discreetly and reasonably improve their own position as required. Believe me, my Lords, it misses the point altogether to say, as Mr. R. A. Butler recently said during the Parliamentary tour in Italy, that he hoped Italy would make herself as strong as she could within the bounds of the Treaties. She cannot make herself strong enough like that; and the Western Democracies really cannot have it both ways. If they want Italy to be a valid member of Western Union they must not deny to her the means of becoming valid. I should hope that anything of that nature might be done with moderation, and I do not doubt that it would be; but we must not be too rigid, otherwise we shall always prevent these objects from being attained.
I come to another subject, on which it had not been my intention to speak, because it had already been eloquently dealt with by a number of previous speakers to-day, and that is the subject of Indonesia. But because of the speech that preceded mine, I decided to say a few words after all. Criticism of the Dutch has been exaggerated; it has been 90 wild and unstatesmanlike—and it is an extremely funny way of trying to cement Western Union. We are engaged in a life and death struggle with Communism. Stalin has called it, in his own words, "a contest of catch-as-catch-can," and we shall be mad if we do not take him at his word. The Dutch have taken action against an unreliable and incompetent body of men permeated by fellow travellers and headed by a brace of quislings. Some people may not like that action; but I should have thought that it was at least comprehensible, in view of the landslide that has taken place in China. Believe me, my Lords, in a very little while indeed, civilisation is going to find itself confronted with one of the greatest perils it has ever faced, in view of the addition of another 500,000,000 of manpower to the Communist ranks. At any rate that is what it looks like now, and I should have thought that that might have been well understood.
Yet when the Dutch were arraigned in the United Nations it seemed to me that the British, French, and Belgians took a very cautious attitude. They seemed to me to be sitting on the fence. I understand their difficulties, but the fence is no place for me. The Americans took a real "header" into forthright and utter condemnation. It is perhaps not the first "header" they have taken but this form of aquatics does not seem to me very suitable in high policy. As for the Indians, Pandit Nehru is now calling a conference of censure and reprisal. In a short while, the Communist tide will be lapping at his India, and I should have thought that on any long view—and mark you, my Lords, short views may kill us, and will certainly kill him !—it was unwise to throw too many stones against people who are trying to dam that tide. But the worst exhibition of the whole lot was that of the Australian representative. He flapped and cackled that what the Dutch had done in Indonesia was worse than what Hitler had done to Holland. Such irresponsible "tripe" does no credit either to the speaker or to United Nations, whose credit is already sufficiently shaken. I think it quite likely that when he talked like that Colonel Hodson had an eye on the Australian dockers. But if democracy is to survive, it must stand up to its own extremists.
91 Finally, I feel impelled to say a few words on Palestine. I cannot conscientiously go with the tide of facile criticism now running against the policy of the British Government in Palestine. That is a subject on which advice, admonition, and animadversion have been ceaseless since the beginning. And it is high time that we placed things into their proper perspective. If your Lordships will allow me, I shall be very frank. When Mr. Bevin first took office he was greeted with a wave of over-expectancy which ran not only ahead of performance but far ahead of any possible performance. Then, when it was seen that he was no miracle man able to bring down manna from heaven, the tide turned and began to run, just as unreasonably, in the other direction. The fact is that from the start His Majesty's Government—not only this Government but preceding Governments—had a well-nigh impossible task; that was well recognised by all of us from the first.
I remember well that when the Mandate was first given there was a contest as to whether it would be administered by Mr. Churchill in the Colonial Office or Lord Curzon at the Foreign Office; and I remember also my own relief, and that of all of us at the Foreign Office, when Mr. Churchill won, because we realised that the task would be an extremely thankless one, unless there was great moderation and good will and, above all, calm, not only in Palestine itself but among all the parties interested in the question outside. That moderation, good will, and calm have never fully existed. Therefore, while I have criticised the policy of the Government on other matters and shall have occasion to do so again, I have never criticised either this Government or any other Government for failure to settle the Palestine problem—any more than I have criticised them for failing to settle with Russia, which is another "impossible."
On the particular episode of the reconnaissance, it is possible to go on arguing for ages in one direction or another—and inconclusively. It is quite possible that this air reconnaissance was bungled from the purely technical point of view; I am no authority on that. On the other hand, it seems to be also quite possible that this most unhappy episode may 92 have had some influence in preventing any further Israeli incursion into Egypt, and it may have had some influence in bringing the parties together in Rhodes at long last. In any case, there would have been no need for the reconnaissance at all if the Israelis had not arbitrarily prevented the use of observers by the United Nations. All this goes to show that this is one of those subjects which can so easily deteriorate into side issues and slanging matches.
A particular and continuous overdose of that slanging has come to us through the years from the United States, or at any rate from the less responsible Press there, and from the more irresponsible politician—who abounds. That abuse has flowed to us, the founders and creators of Zionism, from people who, in our long arduous days, never did anything to facilitate our efforts. There is no more staunch Americophile than myself. I know that the American people are endowed with great and exhilarating qualities. But in the provision of gifts and favours tossed into their cradle by Providence there was one slipped in by a malevolent fairy godmother, and that is one that sometimes goads even their best and warmest friends towards the desire of adding to those gifts one of home truth. That I shall resist this afternoon.
Let us by all means differ there or at home—difference is democracy—but do not let us quarrel, anyhow to this extent. I believe that we shall be both wiser and safer if we decline to generate quite so much heat, and if we resolutely refuse to have ourselves all set by the ears on any issue, however important (as this one is), but which yet in the whole scheme of things is still a minor issue. All the row and hullaballoo that has been going on for the last week or ten days in Western democracy is just what the Kremlin "doctors" ordered. They must think us great "suckers" at times—and at times we are. Now, Mr. Crossman will temporarily oust on the Soviet radio Molotov's regular "sweetie," Mr. Zilliacus, who figures there so often; and the new "prima donna" will have to take a number of Iron Curtain calls—I think a good many of them most reluctantly. All these rows and ructions are luxuries which we might well afford in time of peace, but we are not at peace, nor are we likely to be; and that is what we have all to remember, at all times and in all places. If we 93 had all remembered that in the inter-war period, the history of the world would have been very different and, I think, far happier.
§ 6.22 p.m.
My Lords, if the noble Viscount who initiated this debate is correct when he states that the United Nations has no locus standi in Indonesian affairs, then I suppose we ought not to be discussing it here, because it is an entirely domestic matter for the Netherlands Government. In support of that, I will at least remind your Lordships that on more than one occasion the Netherlands Government have expressed to the United Nations their willingness to refer the matter to the International Court of Justice; but that offer has not been accepted. I am bound to say that I was rather shaken by what the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, with his great experience, said, when he turned round and gave the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, a severe rap on the knuckles, and I began to consider what we really have to go on. Surely it is a fact that Dr. Soekarno was the man who, in the later stages of Japanese rule, proposed conscription to assist the Japanese.
Then there is Mohammed Hatta, one of the leading lights in the Japanese youth movement to which, I am sorry to say, very large numbers of horrible atrocities are attributed; and, if reports are true, they out-Belsen Belsen. I never can understand how the United Nations takes upon itself the setting-up of a court to try people in Germany for such offences, and is entirely blind or deaf to the occurrence of the same things in other parts of the world. If that belonged to the past only, one might well say that the Dutch Government, having entered into the Renville Truce Agreement with these very people, wiped that out. But when we find that the Republican Armed Forces themselves repudiated that Agreement, when we find that they not only gained control of their own Government by measures similar to those practised by Hitler, but also, by every kind of infiltration, started a period of murder and all sorts and kinds of outrage in Dutch territory, with a view to trying to set up a reign of terror, then I think we must not forget the past.
As usual, they accused their opponents—a technique which is an old one—of 94 doing precisely what they were doing themselves. As your Lordships know, in addition to that they started in their own country, in their own area, systematic devastation of the crops and plantations, and when the Good Offices Committee tried to inspect what was being done there, they were not allowed access. I believe that there is proof and information that a large-scale intensification of this campaign was planned at the beginning of this year, and would have taken place had not the Dutch taken the initiative themselves and prevented it. In these circumstances, I could not help being surprised at the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, who said that he felt that the Dutch were wrong and that there was some method of conciliation through the Good Offices Committee—though he never suggested what it was. I submit that that kind of wringing your hands is bad in foreign policy. If you condemn a responsible Government like the Netherlands Government, it is at least your duty to suggest what effective measures might have been taken which they did not take.
The United Nations, which has been blind and deaf to everything that went before, has now poured the vials of its indignation upon the Dutch action. As I said, I do not think that they have any locus standi in the matter, but at least I think the Dutch might have been treated with more sympathy and more courtesy, because those of us who know anything about Colonial administration know that the Dutch have long had a record of which we ourselves might be proud. The only special treatment that the natives of the Dutch Indies received was what I remember very well—the exceptional care that the Dutch Government tried to take, when people from Holland went out to the Dutch Indies, in determining not to have the native population there exploited in Dutch interests or in the interests of anybody else. I think it is a very poor reward for a highly civilised nation with a record at least as high as its civilised neighbours—and in my opinion even higher—to be blackguarded and bullied at the behest of people whom I believe to be Japanese-inspired extremists. If they are not, I am ready to be answered. I hope that His Majesty's Government will dissociate themselves from anything of the kind, 95 and that they will do their best to prevent the matter being carried any further in that way.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT JOWITT)
My Lords, the position of a Lord Chancellor who gets up at the end of a Foreign Affairs debate which has ranged over great areas is not one to be envied. I am bound to tell your Lordships, however, that whether I am able to give you any satisfactory replies or not, I have no doubt the fact that your Lordships have made the speeches which you have made to-day has been of great advantage to the country. The noble Earl, Lord Perth, in the course of his speech, accused me of saying, on one occasion, that I was all in favour of a common policy being agreed to among all Parties, always provided that everybody should agree with Mr. Bevin. I feel that if I did say such a thing I probably dressed it up rather more than that. I think he rather stripped off the draperies, and presented us with, I will not say a perfect specimen of the nude, but a rather ungainly specimen.
But, of course, it is a fact that any Government must be responsible for adopting a particular foreign policy. If the Government can obtain the support of the other Parties in the country, all well and good. But one cannot expect any Government, or any Foreign Secretary, to take a line which he does not think to be the right line or the appropriate line merely because it pleases the Opposition. Therefore, with that limitation, and putting on some drapery—which I am now trying to do—it is, broadly speaking, true that the Foreign Secretary must, with the concurrence of his colleagues in the Cabinet, be responsible for foreign policy, and we must take what decisions thereon we think right. Of course, any member of the Cabinet who does not agree has the constitutional right and duty to resign. That is the doctrine.
I would like to say here and now about Mr. Bevin, a colleague of mine, that in the last few years he has faced a most appalling and difficult series of situations, and he has met one problem after another with ingenuity and unfailing courage. It would be idle to pretend that in the course of the last three and a half 96 years, in this, that or the other respect, mistakes have not been made. I have no particular mistake in mind, but I am perfectly certain that if we had not made mistakes, we should have made nothing at all. The situation is one of immense complexity and difficulty. It is very easy, looking back in the light of after events, for anyone to criticise the timing of this or the phrasing of that, or something of that sort. My Lords, the problem is one of the greatest possible complexity; and I stand here, speaking on his behalf, and say quite frankly that I have nothing to apologise for at all in the policy he has carried out.
Not only is it desirable to obtain, if we can, the agreement of all Parties in the country—I do not belittle that for one moment—but in view of the problems with which we are faced, it is obviously all to the good if we can speak as a united country. I feel that it has been rather lost sight of, that it is also very desirable to try to obtain the agreement of other countries with whom we are closely associated. It is very desirable for us to try to secure the agreement of the Western European countries; it is very desirable for us to obtain the agreement of the United States of America; and particularly is it desirable for us to obtain the agreement of our fellow members of the Commonwealth—that is particularly important, although I have left it to the last. The position of the Foreign Secretary, or of any Foreign Secretary, to-day must therefore not be judged by what any of your Lordships would do if you were sitting in a room and thinking out this or that problem for yourselves, without regard to what other people feel about it. In practice to-day one has to try to obtain the largest possible measure of common agreement amongst all the people concerned, and to secure that one may unfortunately, in this, that or the other respect, have to do something which differs slightly from what one would do if acting alone.
I have been dealing with general considerations, but there is one other consideration to which I should like to refer—namely, that of not making the mistake of viewing a particular problem in isolation. The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, in a very interesting and forceful speech, looked at Indonesia, but the noble Lord looked at it, as I venture to think, in isolation, and he looked at it 97 rather without regard to events which have been happening all over the world. One cannot consider Indonesia unless one considers the general trend and movement of events in the whole of the Far East—in India, in Pakistan, in Ceylon, in Malaya and in Indonesia. Indonesia is merely one facet of a much wider and more general problem.
What I hope is nearly my last general conclusion is this. Lord Cecil referred (and I think with truth) to the fact that whereas the economic difficulties were perhaps getting rather less than they have been, the political difficulties still weighed us down. That, of course, is true, but one must always remember—if one is to be a realist—that economic problems cannot be isolated from political problems, or from defence problems. In foreign affairs one must cut one's coat according to one's cloth. One must consider all these problems as they act and react upon each other. The dangers with which we are confronted to-day must be considered from two points of view—first of all, from the material point of view of arms. To-day we must be strongly armed, and it is a lamentable thought that after the last war we in this country, in our impoverished condition, are now spending so much on armaments.
During the three years 1933–1935, the average expenditure on the Defence Services was £120,000,000 a year. The original Estimate—and I choose my words with some care—for the current year, including provision for the Defence expenditure of the Ministry of Supply, was nearly £700,000,000. Making all allowances for the changes in the value of money, we spent £120,000,000 when we were comparatively rich people; now the original Estimate for this year is nearly £700,000,000. I believe that we are right to do it, and I believe, in view of the difficulties and the dangers, that everybody thinks we are right to do it. But, my Lords, it is not enough to rely on mere physical force in order to combat Communism. I am firmly convinced you must show that you have a better idea than Communism which works; and I believe that a less material outlook (I think all your Lordships will agree) is just as important as the amount spent on armaments—indeed, it is more important.
What is this better idea? I can illustrate what I believe it is by the case of 98 Indonesia. I have not a word to say against the Dutch Colonial administration; I believe it was exceedingly good, and the tributes which have been paid to it to-day by those who know seem to show that it was. But whether we like it or whether we do not, in the world to-day a Colonial administration, however good it may be, will not do. We are confronted with this upsurge of nationalism and one must provide for that feeling. I do not believe it is a bit of good saying, with regard to an Indonesian leader: "This man was a friend of the Japanese." Of course he was; but he regards himself as a fighter for liberation, and that is how he came to be in contact with the Japanese, whom he regarded as fighters for liberation.
And it really is impossible to compare this situation, as the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, did, with that in Malaya. What are the facts in the case of Malaya? A handful of armed bandits, mainly of alien stock, seek to terrorise the community. They are not even seeking, or claiming, to act in the interests of a genuine nationalist movement. But in Indonesia there is a nationalist movement. Whatever view we may take as to its authority, its unity or its coherence, it is there, and Indonesia raises issues of far-reaching significance which, failing settlement, may indeed affect world stability and world security. That is why it is that though, from one aspect and in one sense, I quite agree it is a question for the Dutch, yet directly it becomes a matter which concerns world peace it then comes within the purview of the United Nations. It was from the wider angle, having heard the opinion of the very competent advisers we had on the spot—I do not pretend, myself, to have any personal knowledge of the matter—that we regretted the fact that the Dutch had felt it necessary to resort, once more, to force. It is odd, when one thinks of it, how little, in the long run, force accomplishes. If one can possibly reach agreement it accomplishes so much more.
It seemed to me that the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, sought to prove too much. "After all," he, in effect, said, "in this great area there is only a handful of people who are in any way competent to look after themselves, to govern themselves or anyone else." Let me remind your Lordships of the Dutch 99 policy. Let me remind your Lordships what the representative of the Netherlands at the Security Council declared on January 14—that is only a few days ago. He said that a federal interim Government would be set up in Indonesia within one month, that elections would be held throughout Indonesia before October next, and he added that full facilities would be provided for observers to supervise these elections, if desired, and to watch events generally. Finally, he said that the United States of Indonesia is to be set up if possible by January 1, 1950, but that, in any case, the transfer of sovereignty will be accomplished in the course of 1950. That is the Dutch policy, and if one says that these people are all utterly incompetent, that one cannot have any dealing with them at all, that they are quislings and the like, then I ask, why should the Dutch themselves adopt this policy? It is because they realise, in the light of events which are happening throughout the world and in the Far East particularly, that that is the right policy to pursue.
I firmly hope that the Dutch will carry through that policy, and I know the Dutch people well enough to declare that if they say that they intend to do a thing they will carry it out. In the face of this declaration of the policy of the Dutch (in the carrying out of which the Good Offices Committee will give them all the assistance they can, and in which we shall do what we can to help), it seems to me to be idle to suggest that one can revert to a system of Colonial administration—admirable though it was and well suited though it was for those times—which no longer has any meaning whatever in view of the difficult problems with which we are now faced.
Now I come to the point which the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, raised, in regard to getting together and resisting aggression. While I am not in a position at the present moment to tell your Lordships anything about the Atlantic Pact, I do say that the wider and the more far-reaching the provisions of the Atlantic Pact are, the better I shall be pleased. So, I think, will the noble Viscount. But we must not look at these problems from too legalistic a point of view. We must be completely realist about them. Because I agree with the noble Viscount that peace 100 is indivisible, I hope that we shall get people out of the frame of mind which leads them to think that some dispute which disturbs the peace is "so far away" I remember the late Mr. Neville Chamberlain saying that Czechoslovakia was "so far away." And I recall that at the time the majority of the people of this country agreed with the view that Czechoslovakia was far away, that we could hardly pronounce its name, and so on. Of course, that is a profoundly wrong point of view. Czechoslovakia, if it was being attacked and war was going to come, was as near to us as the "other place" is to where I am standing. Still, human nature being what it is, there is always a danger that people may run out if they are called upon to embark upon a war in respect of some country which, to their minds, is far away. It ought not to be so, but we are only being realistic if we recognise that it is so.
Therefore, I believe that the policy which we ought to adopt is a policy of regional pacts—regional pacts getting in as many people as we can. And I believe, for the reason which I have given, that that is the most practical way of approach. Of course, I realise that we may have to come to a form of pact completely outside the Charter. If we do (and it is quite possible) then the division of the world into two camps would be still further hardened. If we do, probably the Soviet Government would decide to leave the United Nations. But while there is life there is hope, and I would be very sorry to bring that about earlier than need be. We shall, therefore, regard ourselves for the time being as bound in this respect by the United Nations Charter, and we shall make our agreements for protection against aggression under Article 51, because there is no way, consistent with the Charter, in which we can do otherwise.
As regards the adequacy of a system based on Article 51, I would like to say this. Unless a system is put into operation by a series of individual small groups, you may have some State, as I have just said, running out. But if any State is contemplating aggression it is much less likely to commit it, if it knows that it would be faced by resolute resistance even from a relatively small group, than if it feels it may merely come up against a more widely flung but less closely knit community. I believe that is a very practical consideration which, 101 in the present state of the world, we have to keep in mind. Though I am not prejudging what may have to happen, I believe that at the present time we can get all that effectively under the form of regional pacts, and I place great hopes and great reliance on the Atlantic Pact. Throughout the debate every speaker has stated that there are great dangers. Obviously, the world is confronted with the most frightful danger of tyranny unsurpassed, and I would like to add my word to something which the noble Earl, Lord Perth, said about the arrest of the Cardinal. All people, to whatever Church they belong, must view that sort of thing with horror, and we must all do whatever we can, if we can do anything, to help. I would like the Cardinal to know that we all feel with him and his co-religionists, because, after all, this is a matter of common liberty and the decencies of life.
I now come to the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart. His remarks about the Basic Law will certainly be considered. At present the Basic Law is in a loose transitional state. In polishing it and putting it into a final form, we shall try to steer a course between two dangers. As the noble Lord knows, the Basic Law is subject to the approval of the Occupying Powers and if the dangers which he mentioned are real, then they will be guarded against. We are fully alive to the need for avoiding anything which would open the way or point the road to totalitarianism; but at the same time we must realise that in a modern State an excessive degree of decentralisation is impracticable and would inevitably lead to a breakdown. I think our policy in this matter must be this. We must have particular regard to the feelings of France, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg, because we can well understand that the experience they have gone through has left its mark upon them. On the other hand, I say most firmly that I do not believe it is to the interests of this country or of civilisation or of the world that Germany should be left discontented, unhappy and miserable. That is the very condition which would send her, too, into the Communist camp. I would beg your Lordships to realise this danger. All through the war we used to think of this problem and talk about it. We want a happy, prosperous and contented Germany, but a Germany who will 102 not be a menace to her neighbours, and we shall never achieve that if we continue to treat her as a kind of pariah State. I feel that very strongly.
With regard to Italy, I agree very strongly with what the noble Lord said about the necessity of trying to bring Italy in with all the nations of Western Europe. The noble Lord said that mistakes had been made. Well, let bygones be bygones. Italy belongs to the group of civilised Western Nations and I have no doubt that Italy will once more play a distinguished part in the life of Western Europe. We have some very difficult problems to solve in the aftermath of the war. That is the worst of war; it leaves so many difficult problems to be cleared up. I can assure your Lordships that we shall approach the clearing up of these problems with the earnest desire to help Italy and to bring Italy in with us once more in the van of liberty and freedom.
I would like to say a word about a matter which has not yet been mentioned—namely, the problem of Greece. The United Nations General Assembly passed on November 27, 1948, a resolution endorsing the Reports of the Special Committee on the Balkans, and especially their conclusion that the Greek guerrillas had been receiving aid on a large scale from Albania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. That is merely another illustration of the sort of danger which your Lordships have been pointing out. In Greece, the Communist minority continue a ruthless sabotage of civilised life and government. At widely separated points, in Northern and in Central Greece, the guerrillas have raided and sacked isolated towns and villages. Only last week they occupied Naoussa in Macedonia, where, in addition to burning and looting generally, they caused widespread damage to the important textile mills there. Refugees from these areas still crowd the towns.
It is in this very difficult circumstance that, in response to an appeal from the King of Greece, all political Parties have combined to co-operate in a broadly based Government under the veteran leader, M. Sophoulis. I think it would be fitting that I should express our earnest hope that he may have success in dealing with the frightful problems which confront him, and that he may remember that this problem, though it 103 requires firmness, will never be solved by the suppression of liberty. M. Sophoulis has to do those two difficult things—to be firm in restoring law and order, which is the basis of civilisation, and at the same time see that the Greek people have an opportunity of working out their own destiny in their own way, as free people and not as the subjects of any dictatorship. I know that I speak for all your Lordships when I say that we wish him Godspeed in his very difficult task.
My Lords, I have not attempted to conceal the difficulties. I do not think I ever have. The economic difficulties are still very grave, and the political difficulties are no less grave. The events that have happened in China will perhaps be regarded by historians a few centuries hence as some of the most significant that have ever taken place in the history of the world. All that this country can do is to try to be strong and ready to rally round it like-minded people, to play its full part in defence of its way of life, to encourage Europe in its ideals of freedom and democracy, and to encourage the new nations in the Far East which are springing into birth to realise that if they stand by democracy their destiny will be a happy one.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, I feel that we would all agree, whatever views may have been expressed, that this debate has been well worth while, and that the Lord Chancellor has wound it up with a characteristically able speech. I am not going to inflict another speech on the House, otherwise I would be tempted to follow him in the very odd explanation he gave about Indonesia. I would only say this. If his argument is sound, that criminal collaborators with the Japanese in Java are to be regarded as persons who so acted in the cause of freedom, then that is an excuse which any quisling in Europe would have been able to plead for his collaboration with Hitler.
There is one subject on which I must say a word or two, because it is of paramount importance. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, for a very kind reference to me at the beginning of his speech. If I was not too old to blush, I should be blushing now. I am also 104 grateful to the noble Lord for the full account which he gave about the unhappy incidents with regard to the Air Force reconnaissance. He gave us an absolutely accurate and unvarnished account, and concealed nothing from us. That was characteristic of him. But I am bound to say that the explanation which he gave was a most complete condemnation of the enterprise. There was no answer to my question: Why, if the reconnaissance was to be made at all, did we not propose that we should do it as the agents of U.N.O.?
As the story unfolded itself it was really more strange, almost more incomprehensible, than I had at first supposed. Why on earth did we send out a few fighters of our own in company with Egyptian fighters, unless we were asking for trouble? I really cannot understand that. Why did we go on with these reconnaissances day after day? I think there were seven of them, and certainly there were six. One I could understand: but why go on day after day sending out these fighters until, one might almost say, the inevitable happened and the clash came? The last two fatal reconnaissances seem to be the least explicable of all, because those two reconnaissances, in both of which our aircraft were shot down, were sent out, so far as I could follow from the dates, long after we knew that the Jews had been across the Egyptian border, and were within a few hours of the cease fire. If that is the fact, it really passes my understanding.
Then there is the story the noble Lord told us of how the attack came. Could there be a more complete justification of what I said at the beginning of the debate, that we had no business at all to send out fighters with orders that they were not to fight unless attacked? It was all over in a second. It is a most unhappy story. It ought not to have happened. I am still not clear as to on whose orders the reconnaissances were made. I am quite clear about this: the Air Force—indeed, any of the three Services—will never question or hesitate to obey an order which is given them, however hazardous the carrying out of that order may be. That is right. But when an order so wrong is sought to be given, then I say it is the duty of the Secretary of State for Air to say: "That is not an order which should be given to the Service for which I am respon- 105 sible." I say no more. I felt that I could not say less. I think this has been a most unhappy occurrence, and I pray God that such an episode will not occur again. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.