HL Deb 15 November 1950 vol 169 cc275-356

2.52 p.m.

THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY rose to call attention to recent developments in Foreign Affairs; and to move for Papers. The noble Marquess said: My Lords, as your Lordships know, the traditional occasion at this time of year for a general discussion on foreign policy is the debate on the Address. I have, however, felt that this year it would be for the convenience of the House if, in addition to what was said in that debate, I tabled a separate Motion dealing specifically with the international situation. The debate on the gracious Speech inevitably ranges very wide. It deals with every aspect of public policy, and it is difficult on such an occasion for noble Lords to concentrate their remarks, or indeed for the Government to give any adequate reply, on any individual subject, however important that subject may be.

Noble Lords will have noticed that I have devoted my Motion specifically to recent developments in the situation. I have done that quite deliberately, with the intention of trying still further to canalise our discussions. On the broad issues of international affairs, I imagine that it is generally agreed in all parts of the House that there has been no great change since we last addressed ourselves to this subject. Indeed, it may be said that, during the whole of the last five years, since the war came to an end with the total defeat of the Hitlerite régime in Germany, there has been only one main problem facing us all—the relations between Russia and the countries within the sphere of Russian influence, and the rest of the world. I imagine it is that that has dominated all our minds and the mind of everybody who interests himself at all in international affairs.

Were it not for the Russian problem, to which, unhappily, up to now it has been found impossible to find a solution, we might well look forward to the future with comparative confidence. I do not say that we should be through all our troubles—that would be too much to hope—but we should, at any rate, be moving in the right direction. The United Nations would be operating as it was intended to operate, and the world might well be moving forward to a new era of peace and prosperity. Russia alone stands in the way. What is the motive behind the present attitude of the Russian Government? It is, of course, very difficult to say. It is a matter which we have often discussed in this House. There are some who see in it a fanatical enthusiasm for their new religion—if one can use such a word in connection with Communism. There are others who regard it as merely another example of naked, blatant imperialism. There are some who would even say—though I personally find it a little difficult to accept this explanation—that the whole reason is that the Russians are genuinely afraid of the alleged aggressive intentions of the Western countries against them, and that if those fears were removed they would be very ready to live in peace and amity with the rest of the world.

Certainly I would not presume to dogmatise on this great theme. I have never pretended to be able to understand the Russian mind. Possibly all these motives play their part in determining the attitude of the Kremlin, and it is a blend of all three. Your Lordships will remember in the years before the last war the Hitlerite demand for lebensraum, with which we were all so familiar at that time. That seems to me in many ways to be not altogether unlike the present Russian attitude. On the face of it, Hitler's plea for lebensraum appeared to be fairly moderate and reasonable. He only wanted enough space to enable Germany to develop along her own lines without fear of being crushed by her neighbours. But, in fact, as we all know, that policy worked out as a demand for world domination. For each time Germany extended her boundaries she found beyond the new boundaries some new neighbour from whom further danger was to be apprehended, and this new neighbour in turn had always to be absorbed.

That seems to me to be exactly the same technique as that being applied by Russia to-day. First, there are the countries of Eastern Europe—Poland, Roumania, Bulgaria and so on—which were taken into the Russian sphere. These were required, so we understood, as a sort of cordon sanitaire between Russia and the dangerous Western world. Then the same policy was extended to Czechoslovakia, to Eastern Germany and, at the other end of the world, to such countries as China and Northern Korea. One would have thought that all these developments would have made even the Russians feel comparatively safe—but no. It appears that there is still danger from the outside world, and so now we sec a further movement to Southern Korea and to Tibet; and, no doubt, as occasion offers, the same procedure will be adopted both in the East and in the West. When-ever the chances of success seem favourable, the area of Russian influence will be constantly widened.

That may seem a very desperate situation indeed; but I believe it is not entirely black. For it seems that, at any rate up to now, there have been two limitations to the actions of Russian policy. First, she has never made a direct frontal attack herself. She has either organised a revolt from the elements friendly to her within the country itself, or she has entrusted the job to one of her satellites who could be repudiated if necessary. And, secondly, she has moved only when rapid success seemed certain and the free world, the rest of the world, seemed likely to be faced with a fait accompli. No doubt, so far as it goes, that is an encouraging feature of the situation. It seems to me that the Russian Government wish, at any rate for the time being, to avoid provoking a general war. Whether this is due to the existence of the atom bomb in the hands of the United States or whether she hopes to achieve her objects without the catastrophe of a world conflict, I do not presume to say; but it does look as if we still have a breathing space in which constructive statesmanship can be employed. There is no reason, even now, for pessimism, if only we can combine firmness with moderation. That, if I may say so with all deference, is, I believe, broadly speaking, the situation with which the world to-day is faced. Clearly it is not one which gives rise to any complacency. Russia, with her allies and her satellites, is pushing ahead as fast as possible, and the rest of the world is mobilising to meet their challenge. All of them are at present manoeuvring for position. As I see it, that is the inner meat ing of all the latest developments in the international scene—the events in China and Tibet, the Acheson Plan, the Prague resolutions, the Russian Note to the three Western Powers and so on; and it is in their relationship to the broad picture which I have tried to sketch that all these matters have to be considered.

Of the Acheson Plan itself I propose to say nothing to-day. I gave—I am afraid very briefly and crudely—my general views on it in the debate on the Address, and I propose to leave it to my noble relative. Lord Cecil, and the noble Earl, Lord Perth, who speak, of course, with quits unrivalled authority on these subjects, to express their views to your Lordships to-day. I am sure that both the Government and the House will listen with deep attention to what they have to say. I personally propose to turn immediately to those other events which have occurred during recent weeks and which are facing the Foreign Secretaries of the Western Powers, and indeed all of us, with new and difficult problems.

First of all, I should like to say a word about the Far East. Let me begin by assuring the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor that I do not propose to revert again at any great length to what he has called my King Charles's head—the recognition of the Communist Government in China by His Majesty's Government. I have not changed my views; indeed, recent events in Korea have tended to confirm them. I do not for ons moment believe, if I may say so, that even if the United States, as well as ourselves, had recognised the Red Government of China it would have made a ha'porth of difference to her present attitude, in Korea or anywhere else. That is governed by what may be called, if I may use a phrase which has become fashionable, the "grand strategic concept" of the Communist bloc. After all, both we and the United States have recognised the present Government of Russia, and we both have Ambassadors in Moscow. Yet that has not prevented Russia from helping the North Koreans with both aeroplanes and, I understand, Staff officers, and in any other way that seems possible without involving herself too far. Moreover, what I am sure will be generally agreed to have been an extremely conciliatory attitude on the part of Pandit Nehru has had not the slightest effect in modifying the Chinese plans for invading Tibet, though they must have known that those plans would have been regarded by the Indian Government as a most unfriendly action. Whatever one may feel about that matter, however, all such considerations are now comparatively academic.

What is chiefly important at the present juncture, as I see it, is not what should have been done, but what we can do now. I imagine that no longer can there be any doubt that Chinese troops, whether officially or unofficially, have intervened in the Korean war. That was always a danger. So long as the North Koreans were having the upper hand, there was clearly no necessity for any such intervention; they were doing the job that had been set them, without any outside assistance. But the dangerous moment was likely to arise when it became evident that, unless such assistance was given, they would be defeated. Clearly, that would represent a serious setback for Russian policy. My Lords, what was feared has, as we all know, now happened. The Russians, faced with a severe loss of face, have pushed in the Chinese to prevent it, and an indefinite expansion and prolongation of this war is now threatened. That—and it is no good blinking the fact—is a formidable situation.

In this situation I should like to say, if I may, that whatever I may feel about the recognition of the Communist Government of China, I think His Majesty's Government have been absolutely right to co-operate in a proposal to ask the Chinese to come to the United Nations and put their case there. I am sure that that was the right thing to do. I think, too, that they were entirely right in urging that the approach to the Chinese Government should take the form of an invitation, and not of a summons, for the simple reason that if they had been peremptorily summoned it was almost certain that they would not have come. This was not a time for quibbling over the formal terms of the invitation. By doing that, the United Nations could only have put themselves in the wrong. The hard bleak fact which I have already stated, is that the Chinese soldiers, officially or unofficially—I do not know which—are to-day fighting in Korea. In this situation, to say that we would use only one form of words or another form of words, or, worse still, to fire at them anything in the nature of an ultimatum, would in my view have been extremely foolish. We must keep perpetually in mind the purpose for which the United Nations was created—namely, the removal of the causes of war by methods of conciliation. Our object must be to concentrate on that, and on that alone; and while, of course, doing nothing to embarrass the United States—who, after all, are bearing the vast brunt of this struggle—we ought to do our utmost to get the Chinese to Lake Success to hear what they have to say, in the hope that free and frank discussion may disclose some basis for a settlement.

As we all unhappily know, the latest news from Pekin seems to indicate that the Chinese Government have already decided not to accept this invitation, although I understand that they are willing to discuss the future of Formosa. Nevertheless, I still think that it is right that the invitation should have been sent. Even though it has been refused, the Chinese have been given their chance, and we, on our side, know where we stand. Indeed, we may still hope that once they have reached the United Nations they will be willing to extend the scope of the discussions there. I am not for one moment suggesting that we should adopt an attitude of weakness in China, or that we should show ourselves afraid to face the implications of the present situation. It is not by such means as that, I am quite certain, that we shall wean them from their attachment to Russia. On the contrary, by showing weakness we should only cement the alliance. We should give the impression that we considered their united strength irresistable. But at any rate, let us show ourselves ready to hear their point of view. That, I believe most certainly, is the counsel of wisdom, and I hope that the Government, with the other members of the United Nations, will continue their present efforts to achieve that result. If we do not do anything else, we shall rally the public opinion of the world on our side even more firmly than it is now.

In the meantime, if it is inevitable that this unhappy war should continue, I hope we shall in no circumstances carry it beyond the Manchurian border. I believe that that would extend this conflict indefinitely. I suggest, indeed, that the danger of our present position is that we have, if anything, advanced too far. We have reached a point when the enemy's lines of communication are not in Korea at all, and cannot therefore be attacked without grave diplomatic consequences. Surely, it is far better in the long run to avoid such complications, even if it means leaving a small area of North Korea unoccupied by United Nations Forces. I am not a strategic expert; but with all diffidence, I would commend this consideration to those who are concerned with the conduct of the Korean war. So much for the Far East.

And now, my Lords, I should like to say a word about an even more important part of the world—Europe. I hope that, whatever may now be happening in the Far East, however grave may be the future implications of the present realignment of power in that area, we shall never forget that the main danger spot to international peace is on the European Continent. After all, Asia can go on smouldering for some time without bringing about a general conflagration. But in Europe any rash or unconsidered act, either by Russia or by the Western Allies, is liable to unleash immediately a general conflict. That is a thing of which we should not lose sight for a moment. Already, as a result of successive moves by one side or the other, the situation is becoming steadily more delicate. The action of the Russians in stationing vast armies in their own zone of influence and establishing great paramilitary formations in Eastern Germany has provoked, quite inevitably, counteraction by the Western Allies. We too, now find ourselves compelled to strengthen our defences, to build up an international force, to establish an international General Staff and to seek to bring the Western Germans into our combination, just as the Russians have brought the Eastern Germans into theirs.

This has led in recent weeks to further new moves from the Russian side. They do not like what we are doing. They see in it a threat to their plans, and they are doing their utmost to hamstring our efforts. That is, no doubt, the inner meaning of the Prague resolutions, of the new note to the Allies, and of such subsidiary steps as the International Peace Conference at Sheffield, which now appears to have been called off. All these steps, I think i:. fair to assume, are part of the new diplomatic and propagandist offensive to slow up—if they can do no more—our preparations. It is natural that we should view such moves with deep suspicion. Look at the Prague resolutions, the basis of the Note to the Allies, upon which the Foreign Secretary made a statem;nt on Monday last. I would not dissent from anything he said about those resolutions. For the Russian Government to speak of the demilitarisation of Germany, when ever since the war they themselves have been engaged in massive remilitarisation of that part of the country which is under their control, must seem the very height of cynicism. And the same is surely true of the other proposal, that they should conclude with us an immediate Peace Treaty and that the nations concerned should withdraw all their occupation troops within a year of the conclusion of that Treaty. That would, in reality, give a completely free hand to those great German paramilitary formations—armies in all but name—which have been built up under Soviet aegis in that part of Germany to the East of the Iron Curtain.

Finally, what are we to say about the proposal to set up an All-German Constituent Assembly, composed equally of representatives of East and West Germany? What equity is there in that? For one thing, as your Lordships very well know, the population of Western Germany exceeds the population of Eastern Germany in the proportion of nearly three to one. Moreover, in the light of the elections which took place recently in Eastern Germany, how far are the delegates to this Assembly who come from the Russian zone likely to be representative of freely expressed German opinion? There is no such probability at all. Therefore—and I imagine that in this I shall have the agreement of most of your Lordships—I cannot feel that in their present form the Prague resolutions provide a basis for any fruitful discussions between the Four Powers. Indeed, one's instinct, looking at these proposals, is to dismiss them out of hand as a mere piece of trickery. But I am bound to say that I cannot help feeling that we and our Allies should be very unwise to return a blank negative to the Russian Notes. I hope that it may be possible for us, after due consideration, to put forward at any rate some alternative proposals of a more realistic nature as a basis for a conference. For whatever motive there may be behind this approach, however unworthy that motive may be, it is at any rate an approach. It provides a chance—and the first chance for a very considerable time—of direct discussions with Russia at the highest level. And out of those discussions—however unfavourable the prospect may seem—something might conceivably come.

I tried at the beginning of my remarks to define what lies behind the Russian attitude at the present time. I suggested, greatly daring, three underlying motives—ideology, imperialism and suspicion. Clearly, we can do nothing—or very little—about the first two. If Russia is inspired by an unreasoning fanaticism to spread her ideology over the whole world, or if she is utterly determined to bring about the same result merely for . reasons of imperialism, there is nothing we can say or do to divert the Russians from their purpose, except to show ourselves strong and resolute. But if suspicion of our intentions plays any considerable part in determining their attitude (and it may play some part, for they are a very suspicious people), then I feel that that is something which it is our duty to do everything in our power to remove.

I sometimes feel—and I say this with very great diffidence, for I know the immense difficulties in which the Government have been placed—that it is on this side, on the diplomatic side, that our policy and the policy of the United States has somehow failed. It seems to me that there has been a tendency to write off as hopeless any further attempts to convince the Russians of our pacific intentions. Indeed, I have seemed, perhaps wrongly, to detect evidences of that temper of mind even in the Foreign Secretary's statement on Monday. As a result, it is a very long time, so far as I know, since any such attempt has been made to establish contacts with them at a really high level. No doubt, it may fairly be said that until lately we were not in a very favourable position even to try it, for we should have been regarded as negotiating from weakness. But now, already, we are in some ways not so weak as we were.

We have, for one thing, the atomic bomb; and that remains a bargaining counter of inestimable value. It is worth, I should have thought, a great many divisions. There are those, I know, who feel that this is merely a temporary advantage. The Russians, they say, will also have the bomb, and then they will be able to snap their fingers at ours. But personally I do not share that view. I may be entirely wrong, but as I see it, the atomic bomb is so terrible a weapon that it remains a deterrent to war, whoever has it. It is not much good the Russians' destroying London if simultaneously their enemies are destroying Russian cities, and making the Russian oil and industrial areas—on which their whole economy largely depends—completely uninhabitable. I believe that our possession of the bomb, whether they have it or not, is in itself a factor which gives us a strong negotiating position.

I believe, too, that the time has now arrived when another effort might well be made at the highest level—it must be at the highest level; no other level is any good—to reach a settlement, or at least some sort of modus Vivendi, with Russia. The chances may not be great—I do not pretend that I think they are very great—but it is worth trying. I do not for one moment suggest that we should enter this conference without deep thought and intensive preparation. For one thing, complete agreement has to be secured between the Western Allies themselves. They must go to the meeting entirely united, and that must inevitably involve preliminary discussions of a sufficiently detailed kind. Moreover, the problems which have to be tackled are obviously of the most delicate, intricate and thorny character. There is the problem of Germany. I have not time to-day to go into that question. In any case, your Lordships are familiar with it. Then there is the problem of Austria, which has made so gallant a fight to preserve her free institutions and is now again being subjected to intensified pressure. Above all, and perhaps more important than any other problem, there is the problem of removing Russian suspicions of us and, what is equally difficult, our suspicions of her. When one looks at the nature of these problems, actual and psychological, one may well feel aghast at the immensity of the task. But I still believe that it should be attempted.

For what is the alternative? It is, as I see it, a steady drift to war. Meantime, of course, we must not for one moment relax the pace of our rearmament. On the contrary, I feel that we should intensify it over this dangerous time, for by doing so we shall be putting ourselves in a better position to negotiate on equal terms. And it is on equal tennis that we must negotiate—or not at all. I would therefore, most earnestly beg the Foreign Secretary and the Foreign Ministers of the United States and France not to give an entirely negative reply to the Russian Note, however despondent and however disillusioned they may be about what has happened in the past. Do not let them turn this conference down flat: do not even let them make it too difficult for such a conference to take place. Do not let them ask beyond reason for this precondition and that precondition for a meeting. That would merely—and we had better face it—be to kill the conference stone dead before it took place. Is that a prospect which any of us can view with equanimity? There are obviously certain fundamental things which all of us would rather fight for than concede. On these, clearly, we must stand firm. But let firmness go in hand with conciliation, in the hope of breaking this unhappy deadlock which persists.

My Lords, there are a great many questions about which I have said nothing this afternoon. I have said nothing about Spain. I have said nothing about Egypt. I have said nothing about many other questions in many other parts of the world, which would normally have taken up a large part of any foreign affairs debate. I have concentrated on what I believe to be the vital issues; and on these [ hope that I have spoken with a sense of due responsibility. 1 am profoundly convinced that, in the grave situation that now faces humanity, we must do everything we can to gain time for peace. War is the ultimate failure of foreign policy. From war no one stands to gain—neither the Russians nor ourselves. If this be so, do not let us strangle this conference at birth, however unhopeful an infant it may appear to be. Let us go forward, if it is in any way possible, strong in the integrity of our purpose. If we do that, who knows, the counsels of reason and moderation may yet prevail? I beg to move for Papers.

3.25 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, has made one of his admirable speeches to which we are accustomed to listen with great attention. If he will forgive me, I do not intend to follow him into his interesting speculations about the motives which inspire the policy of those few men who sit in the Kremlin. On previous occasions I have expressed my views on that subject, and to-day I wish to deal with other themes. I should like at once, however, to associate myself with his observations about the people and the Government of Austria. They have shown great courage and great perseverance, and I trust that before long they may be free from the shackles by which they are at present fettered. I am glad that the Foreign Secretary has shown a particular interest in the cause of Austria.

I am glad that the foreign policy of His Majesty's Government is based on the Charter of the United Nations, which is buttressed by the Atlantic Pact, not only because I am a strong supporter of the United Nations but also because I feel it is by that method that the principles of our foreign policy an; brought into harmony with those of America, France and the free nations of Europe and, by no means the least, with hose of other members of the Commonwealth. Of the various factors which have emerged in the recent history of our international relationships this unity of purpose seems to me to be of prime importance. I sometimes wonder whether those who were our representatives at the Conference at San Francisco in 1945-and the noble Marquess was one—have felt qualms of conscience at their acceptance at that time of the veto system. I believe that they were absolutely right in the decision they came to at San Francisco. Like other Liberals, I dislike the veto intensely, but it was the price which had to be paid for the entry of Russia into the United Nations. No one at that time could have foreseen the improper and excessive use which has been made of the veto by the Soviet representatives during the last four years. And even if our representatives had had that gift of foreknowledge, I should still hold that their decision was justified. The countries inside the Russian sphere of influence, and the free countries outside that sphere, can still meet round a common table, and it may well happen that, if the free countries visibly increase their strength, a reasonable modus vivendi will be found between the two existing systems; and if that modus vivendi is found, it will be within the ambit of the United Nations.

Meanwhile, proposals have been made, and steps have been taken, to overcome that improper use of the veto to which I have referred, particularly in the case of any fresh aggression. First, we have proposals made by my noble friend Lord Cecil in his speech to your Lordships on July 26. Shortly, they were that if unanimity could not be obtained in the Security Council, because of the exercise of the veto, the view of the majority should be placed before the members of the United Nations as a recommendation, on which each member could act or not, as it saw fit. I ventured to support that proposal because it had worked with success in the meetings of the League of Nations, when we wished to avoid the rule of unanimity blocking the obvious and decisive wish of the majority. I do not know whether His Majesty's Government have examined that proposal with any great care, but if they have, I should like to know what conclusion has been reached.

Next, my Lords, we have the admirable scheme proposed by Dean Acheson which provides, as your Lordships know, for the immediate convocation of the Assembly in case of aggression. The scheme ensures that if there is a veto in the Security Council on action against the aggressor, the question will at once be referred to the Assembly. This plan, which does not conflict with the suggestions made by the noble Viscount Lord Cecil, has been accepted by the Assembly, and therefore speedy action is far more possible now than it was before. This is certainly a great advance. But if the Acheson plan stood by itself there would be a time gap which the aggressor could use for his own advantage, and no doubt supporters of the aggressor in the Security Council, as in the Assembly, would endeavour to make that gap as wide as possible. Happily, my Lords, in my view, that gap can be, and indeed is, filled by the terms of Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, which provides for the exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence if armed attack occurs. Your Lordships are aware that it is on this Article that the Atlantic Pact is based. To my mind it is clear that any Power can participate in collective self-defence without awaiting the decision of. or even discussion in. the Security Council; but of course the action taken would have to be reported to the Security Council.

It has been objected that this right of collective self-defence applies only if the attack is made against a member of the United Nations. I have studied this point, and I do not think any such limitation is valid, since the Article speaks of collective self-defence as an inherent right; and if it is inherent it belongs to every nation, whether a member of the United Nations or not. I believe that the Powers responsible for the Atlantic Charter have already adopted this view, since they have admitted Italy to participate in that Charter, and Italy is not a member of the United Nations. If my thesis is correct, we have. I hope, a system which, by a combination of the Acheson scheme, and Article 51 of the Charter, provides for immediate action against the aggressor, even if there is a veto in the Security Council. That is all to the good, but we must remember that this scheme, however excellent it is. only provides the machinery; what is required for the machinery to be used successfully is will and strength. It is for that reason that the freedom-loving Powers must jointly so increase their forces, not, obviously, for any attacking purposes but in order to ensure that acts of aggression will fail. My Lords, they must do so, though it is very sad that the world has reached such a terrible state that the effort, which will require great economic and other sacrifices, has to be made.

The Motion on the Paper calls attention to "recent developments in foreign affairs." The most notable of these concerns the Korean situation. When the debate on the gracious Speech took place, the events in Korea, under the brilliant strategy of General MacArthur, had gone exceedingly well for the forces of the United Nations. The aggressor had been thrown back, and his armies were in process of being eliminated. It was a great success for the anti-aggression forces, and it was worthy of the praise bestowed on it. at the time by my noble leader, Lord Samuel, and by the Foreign Secretary in his speech at the Anglo-Portuguese dinner. At the same time, perhaps, it is a little dangerous to be over-exuberant about these international affairs. It is true that the original trouble in Korea is in process of being, and indeed practically is, liquidated, but the United Nations are now faced with a new and extremely complex problem, the attitude and actions of the Chinese Government in Pekin.

Here, I am afraid, I am in complete disagreement with the noble Marquess. I still hold that His Majesty's Government were perfectly right in extending recognition to the Government which has its seat in Pekin as the actual Government of China. In fact, there is no other Government. Further, I think that his Majesty's Government were right in pressing for the representation of that Government on the Security Council. Had such representation been accorded, it seems to me possible, and indeed likely, that the aid and comfort given by China to the North Koreans, and what I must call the Chinese imperialist irruption into Tibet, would never have taken place. In any case, had it done so the Chinese Government would have had to give public explanations of their motives before the Security Council. However, that has not happened, and we now have to face the existing situation. As I have said, it is extremely involved. In theory, I am not quite sure whether Communist China is really qualified to be a member of the United Nations, as Article 4 says that membership shall be confined to "peace-loving States."

I feel, therefore, that adequate explanations must be given by the Chinese Government, both as regards Korea and also as regards Tibet, before Communist China can be considered for membership of the Security Council. But if satisfactory explanations and assurances were given, I think she should at once take the place of the present Chines; member, who can hardly be said to occupy a representative position. I have referred to "adequate explanations and assurances." I do not mean by that the professed fear of action against Chinese territory, either from North Korea or from Tibet, because I do not think any sensible person would entertain such a fear. However, I agree entirely with the noble Marquess that it might be most desirable that there should be constituted on the borders of North Korea and the Manchurian frontier something in the nature of a no-man's-land or a neutral strip of territory. That would, at any rate, go far to alleviate any fear that might be felt.

I should like to say a few words about what I may call the German contribution to the defence of Western Europe and that of the free work! generally. I have always strongly oppo5ed any remilitarisation of Germany, and I fully understand the qualms felt by the French Government and by the ordinary Frenchman on this subject. But a German contribution to the defence of the Western world is, surely, utterly different from the re-establishment of German militarism. A Liberal Committee, of which I had the honour to be Chairman, laid down this principle in 1944: That Germany must not be allowed to establish such military force as will permit her to contemplate the possibility of successful aggression. That principle, I feel we should all agree, is still valid. But would a German contribution to Western defence of, say, eleven divisions be of any possible danger to France? I understand that the suggestion is that the French contribution to Western defence will ultimately be in the nature of twenty-two divisions; and. apart from that, we can contemplate other safeguards. Certainly there must be no German General Staff—I expect all noble Lords would agree on that. The Committee to which I referred also thought that the construction of aircraft by Germany should be forbidden, and that those required for civil needs should be imported under licence from abroad. Other safeguards were suggested, such as the prohibition of the building of big tanks and heavy guns. The existing differences seem to me to be capable of a comparatively easy solution, given good will on the part of the French and German Governments, which I believe can be secured with their present Governments. I could wish that the negotiations on the Schuman Plan had been successfully concluded, as I think that would certainly have facilitated matters. To my mind, it is essential that we should work in the closest harmony with France in all these problems. The divergencies between our two nations must not be allowed to become serious, and must be ironed out. I often doubt whether the saying that "History always repeats itself" is true: I am not sure that it ought not to run, "History never repeats itself," because so many new factors are always being introduced. Nevertheless, we ought to learn one lesson from recent history—namely, that our destiny and that of France are closely entwined.

I want to conclude by saying a few words about the Soviet invitation for a Four Power Meeting of the Foreign Ministers. Here I should like to endorse as strongly as I can what the noble Marquess said on this subject. I, too. have read most carefully the statement made by Mr. Bevin in another place, and I agree that acceptance of the Soviet invitation on the basis proposed is impossible, and that no good could come of it. At the same time, the United Nations have called upon the permanent members to meet and discuss all problems relating to world peace. While, therefore, we must reject the Soviet invitation in its present form, I earnestly hope that we may be able to make counter-proposals based on the resolution to which I have referred and which I think we have accepted. In doing so, we must consult our friends and Allies and work in the closest concord with them; and, above all, we must not for a moment be deflected from our present policy and intentions. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, will be able to-day to amplify the statement made by the Foreign Secre- tary, which was extremely cautious. In any event, I hope that the noble Lord will be able to give us an assurance that definite steps will be taken to ensure that effect will be given to that Resolution of the United Nations, which, as I say, we and the other Powers have accepted. We cannot press the Government too far on this point—we must leave the methods and the time to them—but I trust most earnestly that they will not fail us.

3.47 p.m.


My Lords, on all sides of the House we are, I am certain, grateful to the noble Marquess for providing an opportunity to discuss, in the words of his Motion on the Order Paper, "recent developments in Foreign Affairs." I am sure we have all been greatly impressed by what I can describe only as his speech of helpful statesmanship.

On previous occasions when foreign affairs have been debated, we have, as the noble Marquess reminded us, been concerned to observe the advance across the world, sometimes by force, sometimes by subversion, of an alien way of life and a doctrine openly hostile to the fundamental principles of liberty and justice which are the inspiration and guide of free peoples. Apprehension has been expressed on all sides of the House at where this process may lead, despite ail the attempts which have been made to establish friendly relations or, at any rate, a basis of tolerant understanding and co-operation in international affairs. The Government, as is well-known, share this apprehension.

The noble Marquess has in his speech to-day discussed the factors, including fear, in the development of recent Soviet foreign policy. I believe that most of us found ourselves largely in agreement with the noble Marquess's analysis. I would only say that, as I see it, no nation can increase its own security by deepening the sense of insecurity of other nations. Nor do I believe that any nation can count on lasting individual security unless it is related to, and is embraced in, the wider security of the world as a whole. His Majesty's Government say to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and those who think like them: "Put an end to the policy of creating fear; put an end of the policy of exploiting fear." Our object is to do all we can in the interests of the common people to try and produce an honest and genuine settlement based on confidence, understanding and co-operation, without any thought of aggression.

We car to-day, I think, point to certain signs, at any rate, which may well give rise to doubt whether aggression and threats of aggression can be relied on to achieve the object which they are intended to achieve. Two developments in particular may, I suggest, give us cause for satisfaction and encouragement. First, there is the strong and spirited reaction which the United Nations, with the well-nigh unanimous support of the free peoples of the world, have shown to aggression in Korea. And, secondly, there are indications, clear for all to see, that the Powers which signed the Atlantic Pact, not least among them the United States, are determined to give real strength to the Atlantic Community and to the defence of Europe. These are developments of great significance. They may well prove to be major and perhaps even decisive factors in mankind's long struggle to achieve the peaceful conditions of permanent security.

His Majesty's Government have recently published a White Paper setting out the events which led up to the armed invasion of South Korea and the steps which have been taken by the United Nations to meet that aggression. His Majesty's Government have fully supported the measures taken by the United Nations, and all Forces of the Crown have played their part. We recognise, however, that the main burden has been borne by the United States, and we acknowledge with gratitude the predominating role played by them. Our task is now to bring hostilities to an end as soon as can be and to promote the settlement of a unified, independent and democratic Korea. We took the lead in sponsoring proposals to this end in the United Nations General Assembly, and will continue to do all we can to further this basic aim. Noble Lords are aware that reports have recently been received from the Unified Command regarding the presence of Chinese troops in Korea. These reports, which His Majesty's Government view with much concern, are now before the Security Council. This is the appropriate body to deal with this question of international importance. His Majesty's Government are, of course, keeping in close touch with Commonwealth Governments on all these developments, as well as with the United States Administration and other friendly Governments, and they will continue to support all measures aimed at bringing hostilities to an early conclusion, limiting the extent of such hostilities and thereby enabling the vital work of reconstruction and rehabilitation to go forward more quickly.

In the Far East, in Korea, and, above all, in our relations with China, our primary objective has been, and remains, to do everything possible to assist in the early re-establishment of more normal and peaceful conditions in that large and important area of the world. All of us are fully alive to the grave implications inherent in the present critical situation in the Far East, and I can assure your Lordships that all developments are being given the most careful attention. What we have to keep in mind, above all, is the need for a patient and cautious approach. This is essential if we are to succeed in our endeavours to exert a moderating influence on China. We cannot afford to ignore the fact that great new forces in Asia are emerging, and we must face the facts of the situation there. Our approach has to be firm and at the same time reasonable, and it would be unwise to abandon the hope that China will come to see that her best, interests will be served by following a course of moderation and restraint, and by associating herself in the tasks of building a new world which lie ahead.

In this connection, your Lordships will be aware of recent news from Tibet, although our information of events there is necessarily scanty. As was stated by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs in another place on November 6, His Majesty's Government deplore the Chinese resort to force in Tibet and fully support the attitude which the Government of India has adopted in the exchange of Notes with China which has been published. I understand that an appeal for assistance from the Tibetan Government has reached the Secretary-General of the. United Nations. It will be closely studied as soon as the text is received here.

While I am dealing with affairs in Asia and the Far East, I should like to say that your Lordships will shortly be able to see in print the Colombo Plan for Economic Development in South and South-East Asia, which was prepared by the Commonwealth Consultative Committee in September. I am sure that noble Lords will agree, when they have studied the plan, that it is realistic and practical. It is a six-year plan, due to start in mid-1951 and to end in mid-1957. At the end of this period the foundations will have been laid for further economic progress. The urgency of the task of raising the standard of living in the area was present in the minds of all the Commonwealth representatives and there was a common resolve that self-help and mutual help within the Commonwealth should be the basis of the plan. The problem of effecting orderly economic development in an area populated by some 570,000,000 people is a big one, but we believe that the Colombo Plan is an important and vital step in the right direction and that it will bring hope to millions of Asians who now live on the borderline of starvation.

We have seen the vigour of the United Nations reaction in Korea. As your Lord-ships have been reminded, the United Nations has still more recently taken further action to strengthen its own ability to resist aggression. The noble Marquess in his speech on the Address expressed approval of the "Uniting for Peace" resolution and of the full support which His Majesty's Government are giving to it. To-day the noble Earl, Lord Perth, speaking on behalf of the Liberal Party, also indicated his approval. Your Lordships' House will have displayed striking unanimity if this general welcome is also shared by the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, whose sustained interest in and advocacy of effective peace organisation we all admire. The noble Earl, Lord Perth, discussed the effects which the resolution on "Uniting for Peace" will have. I should like to say that I agree with what he has said. As His Majesty's Government was one of the sponsors of this important resolution before the General Assembly, your Lord-ships may wish to hear from me a rather fuller statement of the Government's views. The purpose of the resolution is to ensure that the General Assembly should be in a position to make prompt and efficacious recommendations in the face of a breach of the peace or act of aggression. The resolution was adopted by the General Assembly on November 3, by a large majority, the only members voting against any part of it being the countries of the Soviet bloc.

The resolution provides for the prompt calling of an emergency session of the General Assembly should the Security Council have been paralysed by the veto and rendered unable to act in the face of an act of aggression or breach of the peace. It establishes a Peace Observation Commission to enable United Nations observers to be sent at short notice to any area where peace is threatened, with the consent of the State concerned. It also recommends members of the United Nations to maintain, within their national armed forces, elements so trained, organised and equipped that they can promptly be made available for service as a United Nations unit in response to a recommendation by the Security Council or the General Assembly. It establishes a Collective Measures Committee to study and report upon the methods which might be used to maintain and strengthen international peace and security in accordance with the purpose and principles of the Charter, taking account of existing arrangements for collective self-defence. Finally, the resolution reaffirms that lasting peace can be based only upon the preservation of social and economic justice within each member State.

The "Uniting for Peace" resolution gives expression to the perfectly legitimate intention of the General Assembly to shoulder its residual responsibility for international peace and security under the Charter when the Security Council is prevented from exercising its primary responsibility in that sphere because of the abuse of the veto. The Charter gives the Council the "primary" but not the "exclusive" responsibility in these matters. The resolution does not detract from the authority of the Security Council whose primary responsibility it clearly recognises. It is only when a clear majority in the Council wishes to take some action "in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression," and is prevented from doing so by the lack of unanimity on the part of the permanent members, that an emergency session of the General Assembly can be called at twenty-four hours' notice at the request of a majority of the members of the United Nations or of at least seven members of the Security Council, to give the matter urgent consideration. It is, of course, true that the General Assembly can only make a recommendation and that if the subject is one of importance this recommendation requires a two-thirds majority. But although a recommendation (either by the Security Council or the General Assembly) that armed force should be used has no binding force legally, the response in Korea has shown that such a recommendation has a powerful moral effect.

As the noble Earl has said, there is, of course, nothing in this resolution which detracts in any way from the force of Article 51 of the Charter, which preserves to all member States the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence "until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain the international peace and security." The present machinery might therefore operate as follows in the face of a clear act of aggression. The Security Council would be the first body to deal with the matter. Since, ex hypothesi, a clear case of aggression has taken place, the Council would presumably wish to make some recommendation. If such a recommendation commands at least seven votes in the Council, but cannot be adopted because the permanent members are not unanimous, it would then be possible for the Security Council to drop this question from its agenda by a procedural decision not subject to the veto and for an emergency session of the General Assembly to be called to deal with the matter.

It is within the powers of the Assembly to recommend, by two-thirds majority, such measures as it thinks necessary to deal with the situation. This might include a recommendation to members of the United Nations to employ armed force. The "Uniting for Peace" resolution does, in fact, as I have stated, include the recommendation to members to maintain within their national armed forces elements which could be used by that Member State to meet such a contingency. It is, of course, recognised that there might be some inevitable delay before such a recommendation was adopted. But it should be remembered, as the noble Earl pointed out, that Article 51 makes it possible for a State which has been attacked, and for any Member States who may wish to go to its assistance to take action immediately to repel the aggressor. It will thus be seen that the "Uniting for Peace" resolution and Article 51 of the Charter together provide effective authority and procedure to enable member States to take, if they are prepared to do so, prompt collective action against future aggression.

I now turn to the important developments that have taken place in the field of Western defence, which, as I said earlier, give the second major indication that the way of the aggressor will be hard. The policy of His Majesty's Government on this question has been to co-operate with the other Atlantic Powers in producing an organisation for our mutual security and resistance to aggression. There has been a good deal of talk about a European army and other forms of military organisation, but a purely European force, bearing in mind that Europe has been torn to pieces twice in the last thirty years, would not give the necessary power and strength. It was essential to bring about the greatest co-operation between the United States, Canada and those European Powers who were willing to co-operate in their military defence, and to make a common effort. The result of this endeavour was the creation of the Atlantic Pact, which was signed in Washington in April, 1949.

Exchanges have gore on since that date between the political and military authorities of the different countries in regard to the machinery that was essential to achieve the objectives of the Atlantic Pact, and a very important discussion took place in the meeting of the Atlantic Council in London in May of this year. At that meeting, there was a full discussion about the principles that would have to be accepted if the organisation was to be built correctly. A fundamental principle was at stake: should it be the organisation of Europe with aid from the United States and Canada, or should it be based on mutuality and partnership? While no final decision was taken at that meeting, it was strongly represented that the only adequate method to get the kind of force that would be ready at all times to resist aggression was on the basis of partnership. I will not go into the other matters that were discussed, but this was the fundamental one.

At the May meeting, there were appointed the Atlantic Council Deputies, who would be a permanent body, able to co-ordinate all types of North Atlantic Treaty activity and act for the Foreign Ministers in between meetings of the Council. They prepared a report of great practical value for the meeting of the Council held in New York in September. As a result of this work, each country had to decide what contribution it could make. Much depended upon the decision of the United States since, in view of their productive capacity and financial strength, their contribution was clearly of the highest importance. Therefore it was particularly welcome to everyone, I am sure, when President Truman made his historic announcement of the United States willingness to put troops in Europe in peace time, over and above those required for occupation duties in Germany. This announcement represented a new departure in American foreign policy, and one which offers new confidence and security to the peoples of Western Europe. His Majesty's Government are grateful to the United States Government for taking this imaginative step at a time when American forces are already heavily committed in the common cause in Korea.

With President Truman's offer before us, His Majesty's Government felt that here was a great opportunity which must not be missed. Inevitably the American decision brought up the question of who would contribute, and what would be the position of Germany. With the history of Europe, the conflicts and fears of France and other countries loomed large. But it was felt that, if Europe was to be defended effectively, Germany must play a part. What part should she play? How should she play it? Naturally this has brought about very delicate negotiations and exchanges of views. It is not yet finally settled, and we do not want to be too dogmatic about it. His Majesty's Government are, however, confident that a settlement will be found, and that an integrated force under a single Supreme Commander will be produced. At the same time, it is the unanimous view of the North Atlantic Treaty Powers that the creation of a German national Army and General Staff would be against the interests of Europe and of Germany herself, and any settlement that is reached on the general problem will have to take account of this view.

The New York Conference of Foreign Ministers was followed by the meeting of North Atlantic Defence Ministers in Washington. Your Lordships will have seen the communiqué issued after the meeting. Although the Defence Ministers were unanimous on the need for a German contribution, the detailed proposals have been remitted for further study to the Council of Deputies, who are now meeting, and to the Military Committee. These two bodies will jointly report back to the Defence Ministers at an early date.

My Lords, let me now say a word about the rôle of Germany herself in the discussions of this question. A full and vigorous debate took place in the Bundestag at Bonn on this subject on November 8. All three Government Parties supported a declaration by the Federal Chancellor stating that the Federal Government considered that the Federal Republic, if called upon by the Western Powers, must be ready to make an appropriate contribution to the setting up of a defensive front in the West. There were two pre-conditions for German participation in defence: first, that the defensive front must be so strong that it would make any Russian aggression impossible; and, second, that the Federal Government, in accepting equal obligations, must also have equal rights with other States participating.

His Majesty's Government welcome the declaration of readiness to co-operate. They fully agree that the defensive front to be built up in Europe must be strong enough to deter aggression, not merely to defeat it as far East as possible, if it should come. It is the whole basis of their policy to prevent and not merely to win a future war. That is why they consider it so important that if the security of the whole Western community, including Germany, is to be safeguarded, all the free nations, including the Federal Re-public, should play their full part. His Majesty's Government also agree that the German people have a right to ask that, if they are to contribute freely to the common defence, they should do so on an honourable basis. As has frequently been stated, it is the constant policy of His Majesty's Government, in common with their Western Allies, that the German Federal Republic should be enabled progressively to enter the community of free nations, and that Germany should be liberated from controls and accorded her sovereignty to the maximum extent compatible, with the maintenance of the essential basis of the Occupation régime.

These considerations, in the view of the Government, apply also in the field of defence. But here, too, the progress towards Germany's full integration as an equal partner must inevitably be gradual, and must depend in large degree upon the efforts of the German people themselves and of their Government. It is generally agreed, as I have already explained, that there should be no question of forming a German National Army as such, and a German General Staff. As was stated by the Foreign Ministers of the three Western Occupying Powers after their meeting in New York last September, they are fully agreed that the recreation of a German National Army would not serve the best interests of Germany or of Europe, and they are confident that this is the view of the great majority of the German people. It is therefore necessary to devise methods by which a German contribution to the common defence effort can be made, while taking into account the views of German public opinion on this subject.

The problem before us now is thus to try to bring about some rapprochement between the views of those North Atlantic Powers who are prepared to discuss the American plan and those of the French Government, and to reach general agreement on how German forces can be set up without constituting an eventual danger to peace in Germany and the rest of Western Europe. There is some reason to believe that such a rapprochement is not so remote as it seemed at the conclusion of the Washington meetings, and His Majesty's Government are giving the closest consideration to the means of achieving it in such a manner as to be acceptable both to the North Atlantic Powers and to Germany, and to speed up the creation of a Western force strong enough to deter potential aggression and preserve the peace of Europe.

My Lords, both noble Lords who have spoken reminded the House that the Soviet Government recently proposed a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers to examine the question of carrying out the Potsdam Agreement on the demilitarisation of Germany. This proposal has already formed the subject of a statement in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. His Majesty's Government are at all times ready, in the spirit of the recent United Nations resolution, to make their contribution to a sincere attempt to achieve through negotiation the removal of the underlying causes of the present international tension. But they could undertake this only after careful preparation, and in circumstances which provided a real opportunity for them to contribute effectively to a solution of fundamental world problems. I thought the noble Marquess indicated that in his view this was necessary.

His Majesty's Government cannot regard the Prague communiqué, which was referred to in the Soviet Note, as affording an adequate basis for dealing with these great issues. Present German problems, which are the result of Soviet policy, are only a part of those which would require discussion in any four-Power meeting. In considering the Soviet proposal for a four-Power meeting, therefore, the Western Powers must take into acount their experience of such meetings since the war and of the whole trend of Soviet policy, not only in Germany but throughout the world, and notably with regard to a treaty to restore the full independence of Austria. His Majesty's Government have noted with interest that, in the course of the Bundestag debate on November 8, the German Federal Chancellor justly remarked that the Soviet Note completely ignored the remilitarisation that had in fact taken place in the Soviet zone. He also rejected the proposal in the Prague communiqué that the unity of Germany should be achieved though the meeting of a constitutional Assembly in which, as the noble Marquess reminded your Lord-ships, the 18,000,000 inhabitants of the Soviet zone under the Communist regime should have exactly equal representation with the 47,000,000 free Germans in the Federal Republic. In the same debate, Dr. Schumacher, on behalf of the Social Democrat Opposition, was equally clear in describing the Prague proposals as completely unacceptable.

The House will recall that after the Foreign Ministers' meeting last May the three Western Occupation Powers re-affirmed their own views as to the basis upon which German unity should be achieved. It is their belief that a cardinal feature of any proposals designed to achieve this end must be the holding throughout Germany of genuinely free elections, based upon genuine democratic principles and held under effective international supervision. His Majesty's Government are satisfied that these proposals, rather than those in the Prague communiqué, correspond to the wishes and desires of the German people. These are some of the main principles which His Majesty's Government will have in mind in examining the Russian proposals in close collaboration with the French and United States Governments.

I have tried this afternoon to show what His Majesty's Government are doing, in common with their partners in the North Atlantic Treaty and the other free members of the United Nations, to preserve peace and to give the would-be aggressor reason to pause. We threaten no one. We believe that the only threat to peace is that which lurks behind a false facade of championship of peace itself. The people of Korea already know what value can be attached to Communist championship of peace. We are determined to do all we can to prevent any other free peoples from learning in the same terrible way.

4.22 p.m.


My Lords, I feel somewhat in the same position as did the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, the other day, in speaking from this Box. I can assure your Lordships that this proceeding has no hidden meaning. I speak from this place merely because, when other people speak from it, I can best hear what they say. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, in the earlier part of his speech, explained that the policy of the Government (and I am sure we entirely agree with it) was the preservation of peace. Indeed, that part of his speech was little more than a commentary on the ancient proposition that the greatest of British interests is peace. It is also the greatest interest of all civilised peoples in the world. Therefore, I cannot help feeling that there is only one question of really first-rate importance before us. That is: Will the organisation that the world has set up for the preservation of peace, the United Nations, be successful in preventing war? If not, the best that we can hope for is a renewal of the old system of the balance of power, resting on two or more groups of alliances. That system always has led to war, and I am afraid that it always will lead to war. And a war fought with modern weapons would almost certainly mean the destruction of our present civilisation. That is the broad fact, and that is the central question with which we have to deal.

I venture to say that this proposition was foreseen at the end of the First World War, and it was that which led to the establishment of the League of Nations. It is true that the effort failed, as I think entirely because it did not receive sufficient support from the leading European nations, and also because the United States decided not to take part in it. And the consequence was that at the end of the Second World War a fresh attempt was made in the same direction by the agreement on the Charter. It is on that aspect of the question that I want to say a few words to your Lordships. The Charter followed broadly on the provisions of the Covenant, especially in making the "maintenance of peace and security" its first object. But, in order to give it more "teeth," the new organisation was in terms directed to restrain aggression from wherever it came, and if necessary to use force. And, as your Lordships well know, machinery was established for that purpose. It consisted mainly in the creation of a Security Council. That was the main change that was made. As we all know, this Council consisted of eleven members, five of whom represented the successful nations in the Second World War, and provision was made that none of the powers given to the Security Council could be exercised without the unanimous consent of all the five Powers. The theory was that the countries which had been successful in the war could be trusted to preserve peace, and to maintain the provisions for peace. Unfortunately, that anticipation has proved incorrect.

As your Lordships know, Russia, acting alone or with the occasional support of one of her more immediate satellite countries, has prevented action in the Security Council by vetoing proposals in no fewer than forty-five different cases. A return has been made to your Lordships' House of those cases. They related mainly to questions dealing with tension or dangerous disputes between countries, and there was one concerning the election of new members to the United Nations. The result of this use of the Veto has been to create a kind of creeping paralysis of the Security Council and, therefore, of the United Nations—at any rate so far as the prevention of war is concerned. Time after time proposals have been presented to the Council which have received the support of more than two-thirds of the members of the Council, on the ground that they were in the interest of peace—and for no other reasons. But they were rejected by the veto of the Russians after acrimonious, and, I am afraid, futile debates. No wonder the common people of this country, as I know from my own experience, were beginning to say that the whole conception of the United Nations was a failure, that it was no use. And they were beginning to take very little interest in its proceedings. It is very difficult for me to believe that that result was not deliberately intended by the Russian Government.

After that, the position became very serious indeed. There came the invasion of Southern Korea and three resolutions were passed by the Security Council on June 25, June 27, and July 7 this year, deciding, in effect, that if necessary the invasion by North Korea must be repelled by force. It is remarkable that no attempt was made by the Russians to veto these three resolutions—not one of them—though there was some suggestion that they were seeking authority from Moscow; but there was ample time for that to have arrived before the third resolution, at any rate, was passed. So far as I can see, no explanation has been made by the Russians as to why they did not veto the resolutions. Could it be that the invasion, which had evidently been elaborately prepared, was regarded by the advisers of the Kremlin as certain to succeed, and that in consequence the Americans would be driven out of the peninsula and a great blow would be struck at the powers for peace of the United Nations? The answer to that question depends, of course, on what is one's estimate of the Russian policy in this matter.

I am bound to say that I think a good deal of misunderstanding has taken place. We talk a great deal about Russian Communism, but that seems to me to give a very misleading account of what is going on there Communism, properly so called, is an economic doctrine aimed at the destruction of private property. But Russian Communism goes much further than that. It involves the rejection of everything we know as spiritual life and, indeed, of all freedom of the individual. And since most religions and every form of Christianity reject such a doctrine, they readily become the objects of suspicion and punishment in Russia and in other countries controlled by her. It is important that we should realise that this creed is quite a genuine thing. It is held passionately in Moscow as being a remedy for every kind of suffering and injustice throughout the world, and it is regarded, therefore, as the duty of the Soviet Government to enforce it every-where by every means in their power. Clearly, to those who take such a view the existence of an organisation to maintain international peace is a nuisance and may be a danger. If that is correct, any step that can be taken to weaken or destroy it must be supported. There is another circumstance which must not be forgotten. To considerable numbers of Russian people, who certainly used to be a very religious people, these new opinions must be obnoxious; and accordingly in modern Russian propaganda there is a second line of teaching which relies on the ordinary topics of imperialism—on the greatness of Russia, the courage of her soldiers, the magnitude of her armies and armaments, and particularly on the wickedness of foreign, and especially American, warmongers. By these means the United Nations are easily made as suspect to the imperialists as to the so-called Communists.

The difficulties which faced us by the invasion of Korea were very considerable, but, in spite of these, it is a subject of immense satisfaction to me, and I am sure to the whole House, that in Korea an international force has been successfully employed for the first time to prevent an international crime. For this result our thanks are due, no doubt, to the energy and decision of the American Government and to the courage and skill of their troops and ours. It is evident that so long as the present form of government exists in Russia it may at any time become a danger to the peace of the world, and our Government and other Governments are clearly right in taking all military precautions they can to preserve the peace. On this point of military precautions I could not venture to ask your Lordships to listen to any observations, because I am quite unqualified to make them; but I wish to add that it is equally important to take care that aggressors and their friends should not be able to render the peace forces useless by such devices as the Veto, and, as I said just now, that is practically what has been done by the Russians in the Security Council up to now.

I am not able to take quite so much consolation on that point as my noble friend, Lord Perth, does with the assistance of Article 51 of the Charter. He and I have never been able to agree about what is the true construction of that Article. I feel it may easily be stretched too far, and the danger of stretching it too far is that when a showdown comes and the Government of a country wish to employ it and begin to consider whether they are safe in relying on their powers under the Charter, then if they are relying on a provision of the Charter which is not really quite sound, the position may be very difficult and dangerous. That is why I rejoice that the American Secretary of State, supported by our Government and several other Powers, has presented to the Assembly of the United Nations certain proposals to which my noble friend has referred, and which I understand have been adopted by that body.

To my mind, the vital contention in these proposals, the thing that really matters, is that the view which has hitherto prevailed, that no step could be taken for peace without the assent of the Security Council, is wrong. That is definitely said in so many words in the resolution passed by the Assembly. The former view, therefore, has been formally abandoned. In its place it is laid down quite definitely that the duty to maintain peace and security, incumbent by the Charter on all members of the United Nations, remains, whatever may be the action or inaction of the Security Council. To my mind that is a complete change of the view which was commonly held in this House and elsewhere as to the international situation. It is now just as much the duty of this country, and of every other country which has accepted the Charter of the United Nations, to maintain peace and security, even though the Security Council have declined to act and the matter is left without any assistance of the machinery (so far as any assistance was afforded by the machinery) dealing with the question. As my noble friend has already told us, the procedure for the future is that if aggression actually takes place, or is threatened, directly or in-directly, the matter is to be raised, in the first instance, before the Security Council; and, if that body fails, or refuses, to take action, the Assembly is to be forthwith summoned, at twenty-four hours' notice, and authorised to do whatever is required to prevent war. Since there is no Veto applicable in the Assembly, that can be carried out by a two-thirds majority of that body.

I cannot help feeling, I say quite frankly, a little anxious about this proposal. On paper it looks all right, but will it work with the necessary speed? In modern war, a delay of a few days may well be vital—certainly a delay of weeks might be. The Assembly comprises some fifty nations, each having a right to several representatives, with all the necessarily deliberate apparatus of an international body. Some of its members, either from sympathy with the aggressor or from a dislike of international peace, may desire to put all possible delays in the way of action. Then there are the provisions of the Charter, which may well cause difficulties. The Assembly is specifically forbidden, by Article 12 of the Charter, to make any recommendation on any dispute or situation which is being dealt with by the Security Council, so long as the Security Council can keep any hand on it. The Assembly, even under the new Resolution, will be powerless. Is it quite clear that that provision will not offer opportunity for international obstruction?

There are other provisions in the scheme about which similar doubts may occur. There are to be two more new Committees of the Assembly, each of fourteen members. One is to deal with the methods of collective defence. That I do not trouble myself with, because I am not able to do so. And no doubt it has been carefully considered by the military advisers of the different Governments. The other Committee is called a Peace Observation Commission. Its function is to observe and report on international tension wherever it may exist, and for that purpose to visit any country, with the consent of its Government, provided that the Security Council is not dealing with the matter. I have some experience of the difficulties which may meet an international body in investigations of this kind, and I was not altogether surprised when I read in. the newspapers that the Russians had supported this proposal. That is exactly what I should have expected of them; if they thought the proposal would add to the difficulties of the situation they would support it.

I do not wish to be misunderstood. I am not making these criticisms in any hostile spirit. I warmly admire, and I support in essence, the American proposals, and particularly the sweeping away of the doctrine that the Security Council has a monopoly in dealing with the preservation of peace. But it is just because I regard that as so important that I feel very anxious lest, by attempting to make a peace plan too perfect, we may find we have tried too much. It is very dangerous to assume that an organisation of a number of independent Governments can be made to work with the same smoothness that one expects in a national Administration, In the first place, each of the component Governments, though they may be ready to combine for peace, has its own interests and its own traditions, which at a given moment may stop the machine. In the second place (and I was glad to notice that my noble friend alluded to this point), there is no means of coercing an independent Government to do something of which it disapproves. That, to my mind, is a vital consideration in dealing with all these matters.

The outcome of considerations of this kind is that in the end effective international action must depend on persuasion and public opinion. There are no means of coercing countries; they have to be persuaded to take action. That consequence is not such a difficulty for us as it is for those countries which live under, and like, a written Constitution. Our institutions, and especially the most successful of them, rest for their success on the consent of the governed. That is why I have always been a little distrustful of the policy of "putting teeth" into any international organisation, if it means attempting to overrule the independence of the uniting Governments. The main objects of these projects is to enable the peace-loving Powers to maintain and, if necessary to enforce, peace. That, in the last analysis, depends on their consent. I hope, therefore, that when the admirable schemes which have been made by Mr. Acheson are worked out, the considerations that I have ventured to put forward will be borne in mind. When a dangerous situation has been brought before the Security Council it might be best—I say only "might" be best—that those members of it who believed that immediate action was required should be authorised to go ahead, with such assistance as may be voluntarily given to them, just as they did in Korea—subject always to the matter coming as soon as possible before the Assembly for its approval and authorisation. My idea is that action should be taken immediately, without delay, because delay is fatal in these matters. I fully agree that ultimately there must be somebody who will have the authority of the whole United Nations to express its authorisation for what has been done.

In any case, do not let us underrate the danger of the present crisis. If we have to admit that the plans devised for peace have not succeeded, the position may well become one of extreme peril. We already have one very powerful Government openly actuated by fanatical and revolutionary projects to enslave the world. There are some signs that they may be joined by the Chinese. I am very glad (and I entirely agree with what has been said this afternoon on the point) that the Chinese Government were asked to come to Lake Success, and I trust that they will have a full opportunity to explain their whole point of view and to listen to objections to it. I am altogether against any hole-and-corner diplomacy in a matter of this kind. I believe very much in the old phrase about open covenants openly arrived at—although perhaps in some ways that idea was pressed too far. I believe, however, that it is a great guarantee of peace. However that may be, the history of China, and its power, obviously make its action one of tremendous importance for the future of the world. I trust that we shall never forget that we have a great cause, perhaps the greatest cause in the history of the world, and that we have sufficient power to achieve a solution of the difficulties involved if only we show the required energy and decision, and do not allow our strength to be frittered away by obstructive ingenuity or even by pedantic detail.

4.50 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Viscount, to whom we all listen with such profound respect, thought it right to make an apology, or at least an explanation, for speaking from the Front Bench. I can tell my noble friend that he is most welcome on this Bench; indeed, I think he is welcome upon any Bench, on whatever side of the House it may be. I do not propose to follow his weighty argument, except in a sentence to emphasise the point he made about simplifying the contemplated security machinery in the Council and the Assembly of the United Nations. I hope that the noble Lord opposite has taken note of what he said, and will see whether we cannot use our influence at Lake Success to make the machinery simpler, and to make it probable that it will move more quickly than seems to be the case at the present time.

I propose to-day, in the few minutes during which I shall occupy the attention of the House, to say something about two other recent developments in the field of foreign affairs—namely, our relations with Spain, and the newly signed Convention of Human Rights. I hope in the course of my remarks to show that there is a certain connection between the two. In recent weeks the Assembly of the United Nations has rectified what I always regarded as a serious mistake. More than once I have said in this House that I thought it was a grave error to withdraw our Ambassador, whatever might be our attitude towards the Franco Government. I took the view that it was the kind of gesture that was well described by Ambassador Page during the First World War, when he spoke of "first shaking your fist, and then wagging your little ringer." I have always taken the view that a Government keeps an Ambassador in a country, not to give pleasure to that particular Government, but for its own convenience; and that, further, when relations are unsatisfactory between one Government and another it is all the more important to have an Ambassador on the spot. Now the Assembly of the United Nations are prepared to rectify this error and send Ambassadors back to Madrid. Let me say, in passing, that I believe it would have been much better if His Majesty's Government had taken their courage in two hands and voted for that resolution instead of abstaining. We hold so great a position in the world as a whole that abstention is not an attitude for the British Government to take upon any substantial issue. Be that as it may, Ambassadors are now going back to Madrid, and I should like to ask two questions. The first is: When are they going back? The second is: In what conditions are they going back?

Let me say something about both those questions. First of all, when are they going back? I believe it is necessary to press this question, for I observed that President Truman made a statement the other day implying that a long time was going to elapse before the Government of the United States sent an Ambassador to Madrid. I was scarcely less reassured when I observed the answer given in another place by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, when he talked about sending back an Ambassador "in due time." The noble Lord and I know well the phraseology of Government answers in this House and in another place, and I own that I have some doubt as to what is behind the phrase "in due time." What I want to say to the noble Lord and the Government this evening—and I say it as one who has freely criticised the Franco Government, and who profoundly disapproves of many things that that Government has done—is that the sooner an Ambassador is sent back to Madrid, the better for everyone concerned.

I come now to my second question: What are the kind of instructions that we should give this Ambassador when he goes back? Noble Lords will remember that it was in 1946 that we withdrew the Ambassador. In 1946 we were still living in the heated atmosphere immediately following the war, and were still deeply incensed—and I claim rightly incensed—against the Franco Government. It was shortly after the time when Mr. Churchill made the following statement in answer to a communication sent to him by General Franco: Throughout the war German influence in Spain has been consistently allowed to hinder the war effort of Great Britain and her Allies. I need not go into detail here, as these activities have been the subject of repeated protests to your Government by His Majesty's Embassy in Madrid. I feel, however, that 1 must mention the arbitrary suppression in 1940 of the international regime in Tangier in violation of two treaties which Spain had signed, and the number of speeches in which your Excellency contemptuously referred to this country and other members of the United Nations, and spoke of their defeat as desirable and unavoidable I agree with every one of those charges contained in Mr. Churchill's statement. I ask myself the question, however, now that we arc sending an Ambassador back to Madrid, whether we should simply go back to the status quo ante and not take into account certain conspicuous and important changes that have since taken place in the world. I have two of these changes particularly in mind: first, the intensification of Communist aggression and the need for strengthening Western defences; and secondly, the movement towards Western European unity. As to the intensification of Communist aggression and the need for strengthening Western defences, let me say in a sentence or two that I am not one of those who believe that any Fascist regime is a bulwark against Communism. This, perhaps, is my chief charge against the Franco regime. I believe that, at least beneath the surface, it stimulates and encourages extreme movements. I also think that in present conditions the limited supply of arms and ammunition should be kept primarily for ourselves, France and the Allies upon whom we can depend. None the less, I do consider that the time has come to consider the inclusion of the Spanish peninsula, Spain and Portugal—Portugal, our most ancient Ally—in the plans for Western defence.

I do not linger upon this part of the problem, but come to the second change to which I have just alluded—the movement towards Western unity. One of the most promising developments has been, to my mind, the creation of the Council and the Assembly of Europe. Now, obviously, Western Europe, based upon the principles of the Council and the Assembly of Europe, should include a country like Spain which has in the past conferred so many benefits upon Western European civilisation—the country of Hadrian, Trajon, St. Isidore, St. Ignatius, the Cervantes, Velasquez and Goya, should certainly form a part of the comity of nations based upon Western civilisation. The question then arises: Should Spain be at once admitted into this comity? My answer is that Spain should be admitted only upon one specific condition, and the condition should be the acceptance in the letter and in the spirit of the recent Convention of Human Rights signed by the countries of Western Europe. Let me remind the House in outline what this Convention means. It is something much more than an abbreviated version of the wider Declaration of Human Rights accepted by the United Nations. It is much more in the nature of rules for an intimate circle of Governments who, upon the whole, think alike, and upon which in one way or another their civilisation is based. The supremacy of law; the prohibition of slavery; security from arbitrary arrest; speedy trial; no retrospective legislation; the freedom of thought and religion; the freedom of the Press; the freedom for the activities of an Opposition to the Government; the freedom of assembly; the freedom of redress against officials, and free elections—those, I claim, are the rules of the club of Western Europe, and it is upon that basis that I would admit the Spanish Government and the Spanish people into the club.

Hitherto, the British Government have signed the Convention, but with certain reservations. I say to the members of the Government here to-night, that if they are to persuade a country like Spain to accept these club rules they must themselves show much greater sympathy with the objects and much greater fervour for carrying them into effect than at present seems to be the case. Take, for instance, the example of the clause about free elections. I can assure the noble Lord opposite that in any question of admitting Spain into this comity of the Western Governments, the freedom of elections is an essential factor. It is also worth noting that there has been, I understand, a great deal of discussion in the Assembly upon this question, and unanimity was reached upon it, not only amongst the various Governments concerned but amongst the members of the delegation from this country, both Governmental and Opposition. I hope, therefore, that when the Foreign Secretary gives these questions further consideration (as he promised at the end of his speech the other evening) he will see that it is necessary to have this clause about freedom of elections included in the Convention. I cannot help saying that I was taken aback by the very strong words of criticism which the Foreign Secretary used about the Convention. He said at one point in his speech that the clause with reference to the setting up of a Court was one of the most mischievous clauses to which it is possible to be a party. Some of the phrases he used I should have thought were more likely to find a place in a propaganda article of Pravda or Izvestia. Be that as it may, he did encourage me a little by saying at the end of his speech that, in spite of these rather strong criticisms of what had been happening, he was prepared to reconsider the whole position and see whether he could go into it any further.

Let me say that I know the kind of objections which are always made against a Convention like the Convention of Human Rights—I have heard them made time after time when on previous occasions I have made the kind of argument that I am making this afternoon. We are told that one cannot avoid the dilemma that they are either a pious aspiration or a pious ideal; that they do not mean very much or that, if they do mean anything, they interfere with the system of legislation and administration in this or that country, and that anyhow we have no need of them. I do not take that view. I believe that at this moment, when we are trying to strengthen the unity of Western Europe, a Convention of Rules of this kind would be a distinct advantage. It is carefully stated that the particular institutions and practices of each country will be taken into account. It is also stated that a Government can make it clear that the Convention covers only the metropolitan area and need not cover all the various overseas Dominions. I believe that the more that that Convention is studied, the more it will be seen that here is a body of rules that is susceptible of enforcement. They are the kind of rules that would make it possible for us and a Government like the Spanish Government to co-operate together in a full and friendly manner.

To come back to Spain, I do not think that Spain should be admitted into either the comity of Western nations or into the wider community of the Atlantic Pact until the Spanish Government have shown by their conduct that, whether they sign this Convention or whether they do not. these are the principles upon which they intend to govern Spain. Let me say again that I attach very great importance to this Convention. I hope that the Government will put down a Resolution that will bring it specifically before the House when we are asked to ratify it. I can assure them that, from my experience of Spain, if our Ambassador could go back with a definite instruction that this was the line upon which we were prepared to have the friendliest possible relations with Spain, his action could do nothing but good.

5.12 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Viscount will forgive me if I do not follow the very interesting and constructive speech which he has made. I wish to direct attention for a few moments to what seem to me to be the basic facts of the present international situation. This country, its Allies, and indeed the whole of Western civilisation, stand in peril, perhaps in greater danger than at any time in history. This does not give grounds for panic, or for despair, but we must take account of what we are up against. At the commencement of the Second World War, we were con-fronted by the 80,000,000 of Germany-Italy came in only when Mussolini thought that victory was assured. Now we are confronted by the 180,000,000 of Soviet Russia, to which must be added the 70,000,000 of her European satellites. There are thus arrayed against us 250,000,000. out of Europe's 400,000,000. This disparity of man-power creates a terrific temptation to an aggressive and ambitious Power. On the other hand, it may be said, and said truly, that we now have the immense advantage of the backing of the United States, and the active and coordinated planning and fabrication of means of defence under the Atlantic Pact, backed by the superior productive powers of the free countries. All this is true, and affords much to be thankful for.

But a new factor in world affairs has arisen which gravely concerns us and the other countries of the Commonwealth, as well as the United States. I refer to the emergence of China as a strongly armed, militant and aggressive Power in East Asia. It may be the case that China is not under the domination of Soviet Russia. The truth is far worse. China is in the grip of a Communist régime. the leaders of which are fully indoctrinated with the Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist outlook on life and upon world affairs. They walk hand in hand with the Kremlin and the Cominform, by community of belief and conviction of mutual interest, which is far moire ominous than if one acted under pressure of the other. Let us not delude ourselves into thinking that Communism in China differs from that elsewhere. Although its tactics have shown amazing variations, the underlying motive has always been the same—to prepare the way for a well-organised and ruthless minority to seize and to keep power. This was the purpose of the alliance of the Communist Party in China with Chiang Kai-Shek in 1937, ostensibly for the purpose of a united front against the Japanese, but really in order to save the remnants of the Red Army, which at that time were threatened with destruction. Its strength then had fallen to 25,000 men. In April, 1945, after eight years of war, Mao Tse-tung reported that the Red Army had expanded to 910,000 men, in addition to which there was a people's militia force of 2,000,000. On August 1 of this year, the Red Army of China was said to number 5,000,000.

The identity of purpose and interest between Russian Communism and Chinese Communism is made quite plain by reiterated declarations. Mao Tse-tung, for example, calls the Soviet Union the fatherland of the working people of the world, and denounces those who are trying to maintain some kind of inter-mediate position between the counter-revolutionary front of the Imperialists and the revolutionary front against imperialism and its lackeys in all countries. When the Cominform was founded he called its manifesto "a summons to battle," and declared: all anti-imperialist forces of the various Oriental countries should also unite to oppose the oppression of imperialism and the reactionaries within each country, taking as the objective of their struggle the liberation of more than one billion oppressed people of the East. Such statements—and many others could be quoted—are not mere wild declamation; they deserve our most serious con-sideration, The affiliations of China are revealed by action, as well as by words. Although all Western influences in China are denounced, not a word has ever been said about the presence of Soviet forces in Manchuria. In Dairen and at Port Arthur there are unlimited numbers of these forces. As they gain fresh strength the Communists are stretching out their tentacles. In Korea, Indo-China, Tibet and Malaya, attempts are being made to draw more countries under their control.

Although I applaud the humanitarian purpose of aiding the economic development of backward countries with low standards of living, and although this may be useful in preventing Communist ideology from getting a greater hold upon the peoples of these countries, that is not enough. There is no country in the world in which Communism has gained power by the free will of the majority of the people. On the contrary, the Communists have always been a bold and well-disciplined minority who, when the opportunity afforded, either by war or by internal dissension, have seized power by force—and in many cases by force brought in from outside. Further, it is almost certain that they could not remain in power if that de-pended simply upon a free vote of the people—perhaps not even in Russia it-self, after so many years of indoctrination and suppression of all contrary opinion. If they could, why is all con-tact with the West so sternly forbidden? Force is the basis of this regime, and that is what we are up against. Militant dictatorships are not halted by ideas alone, but only by resistance and strength. Our rearmament programme has come not a moment too soon and no effort must be spared to concert with our Allies the most effective methods of defence. It is grievous to see the energy and the talents of our people diverted from the tasks of peace to making weapons of destruction but we shall be saved from a third world war only by not underrating the forces which are arrayed against us, and by being pre-pared in time.

5.25 p.m.


My Lords, the focus of this afternoon's discussion has in large measure been centred on the situa-tion in the Far East. The noble Lord to whom we have just had the pleasure of listening has devoted a considerable part of his speech to what I think is a wrong estimate of the situation in China. It is, of course, exceedingly difficult for anyone who has no practical knowledge of that country to make a really satisfactory estimate of what has happened there. But, so far as I have had the opportunity of discussing the matter with them, most knowledgeable people who have been in China in recent months have not given me the same sort of impression as the noble Lord has apparently received. I do not think that there is any real evidence that China is, in effect, a catspaw of Russia. The view which the noble Lord has just been putting forward is almost the same as that put forward by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, in a speech which I felt was one of the most brilliant he has ever delivered. It was one of the few points on which I found myself in disagreement with him. Normally, I do not find myself agreeing with him very much, except on the subject of the preservation of rural England, which is a long way from the problems we are discussing this afternoon. But I did agree with a very great deal of what the noble Marquess said this afternoon. His speech was couched in terms which I am sure the whole House very much enjoyed.

Since we last had a general debate on Foreign Affairs, the situation, from the military point of view, has changed very much indeed, and there have been spectacular military successes within a very short time, undoubtedly due to a large extent to the brilliant strategy of General MacArthur. Unfortunately, as it appears to me, the very quality of these military successes has weakened the political situation. In my reading of history—and I say this with considerable reluctance—this will be very far from the last time that, in effect, the victor in war has not had the moral strength to use his triumph with moderation and good sense. It frequently happens that, after brilliant victories in war, an intemperate use of the success achieved has been the principal begetter of further wars. If the people of this country had been asked in July what would happen when the forces of the United Nations drove the North Koreans back to the 38th Parallel, nine out of ten would have said: "Well, we have been told that our object is to drive the aggressive forces back to the place from which they started. When that objective has been achieved, we shall in fact have demonstrated the strength of the United Nations, and the fact that defence will be set up immediately against aggression. We shall have achieved the object which we had in view, and we shall have taught the aggressive forces the lesson which it has been so important that they should learn." Unfortunately, my Lords, that has not been done. Of course, one does not know what happened behind the scenes, but the only statesman in the British Commonwealth who set out in public to prevent the invasion of North Korea was Pandit Nehru, who undoubtedly had the sympathies of very large numbers of ordinary men and women, of all political Parties, in this country.

My Lords, in my view the conquest of North Korea which is taking place in effect plays directly into the hands of those who have been promulgating the view that the United States of America, particularly, and the English-speaking world supporting her, have aggressive imperialistic designs on the Far East. As we all know, that is quite contrary to the facts. But when, as a result of spectacular military achievements of this kind, these armies are found over that border, it is obviously very easy to persuade people in many parts of the world—and particularly in the Far East, where unfortunately in respect of Western imperialism the experience of some people has not an the past been too happy—that what had been preached to them for so many months, and, indeed, for so many years, was in fact true. It is, of course, very difficult to know what goes on behind the scenes, but one suspects that General MacArthur himself was the dominant influence in bringing about this decision to cross the Thirty-Eighth Parallel. He appears to me to be one of the most brilliant soldiers of modern times, but not a statesman. The qualities which make a great soldier are very seldom qualities which make for statesmanship. In England, fortunately, we have for long been free of successful soldiers wishing also to dominate the political scene. I do not think it has happened in this country since the time of Oliver Cromwell.


What about the Duke of Wellington?


The Duke of Wellington might possibly be an exception, but he did not dominate the political scene in the same way. Certainly, he did not dominate it as a soldier. He was a great man because he was able to turn from the sword to the plough-share as very few other soldiers have done in history. He might be an exception. What I am suggesting in this case is that what should have been decisions of statesmen have been largely brought about by the military dispositions of the General. Already in any part of England, whether in London or the Provinces, in the West End or the East End, in the clubs of Pall Mall or in the pubs of Barking, people are asking: "Is General MacArthur going to start a Third World War? "I am afraid that if there is a Third World War within the next months, General MacArthur will have to share a good deal of responsibility for having brought it about.

As usual, the policy which should have been dictated by principle is, in my sub-mission to your Lordships, the policy which would have been the most practical policy in the circumstances. The Sino-Korean border is clearly a much less defensible frontier than either the Thirty-Eighth Parallel or what is called the Waist of Korea. Moreover, the advance towards the frontier, clearly, can be regarded by the Chinese as a direct threat to them and to their interests in Manchuria. And it is, in fact, being so regarded. I would remind my noble friend that it was not until the American Forces and the South Korean Forces reached places a very short distance from these important interests that the Chinese struck back. Reading of history teaches that, in circum-stances of this kind, the chances are ten to one that people will strike back, even if they are not really threatened. They have the feeling that they are threatened, and they wish to strike back while there is still time. Undoubtedly, it has aroused the direct antagonism of China, and the continued intransigence of China seems to me to be a most dangerous element in the present situation. I entirely agree with the noble Earl, Lord Perth, that the attitude which has been adopted to China, more particularly by the United States Government over the last year, is a very important element in this business. More-over, the decision to go into Northern Korea has had the unfortunate effect of locking up large numbers of highly-trained and valuable troops in that very distant sphere of operations when they may well be required in the West. As the noble Marquess pointed out—and his words have been echoed by other noble Lords this afternoon—the West is indeed the crucial area. We cannot afford to leave it undefended or even only partially defended.

That brings me to he question which has occupied a good deal of our time this afternoon and which has been dealt with at some length by Lord Henderson—the question of the defence of the West and the unfortunate difference of opinion which has arisen over what is called the Pléven Plan. I listened with the greatest interest to the most eloquent speech of the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, on this matter when he spoke on the Address, and I agreed with almost everything he said about that subject. We are really, of course, concerned with the defence of Western Europe. We are secondarily concerned with peace. I think that the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, said that peace was our first objective. I did not altogether agree with him, but it was very good to hear him speaking from that Box. Pro hac vice, I can assure him that we on this side of the House are very glad to see him there, and we should not feel in any way aggrieved if he appeared there more frequently. The defence of its own way of life is surely the first interest of any country. It must always come before peace if that way of life is threatened. Quite clearly, we shall defend it, even at the cost of peace. Our way of life in this country is an aspect of the Western European way of life which all the nations of Western Europe must join together in defending.

The question is, where is the frontier to be drawn, and, on which side of that frontier does Germany stand? Is she a Western European Power, or does she naturally fall into the East? Germany is undoubtedly a border State. Much of German civilisation is Eastern civilisation, though outstanding contributions have undoubtedly been made by great Germans to Western European culture. In this connection one could mention the names of Goethe, Schiller and many others. The question is: How are we to bring Germany into this Western European defence? Knowledgeable and acute observers of the German situation who have been spending much time there in recent months, tell me that the feeling in Germany is that she is not prepared to be a bastion for Western European defence against the East on the basis of being a bastion to be abandoned when the time is thought fit by dominant Powers further West. It is very natural that the Germans should not wish to have their country fought over just, so to speak, as a delaying action. On the other hand, if Germany is brought genuinely into a Western European defence scheme, as an integral part of it, that is another proposition. I have been told that Germans would not be prepared to volunteer, and might even resist conscription into a Ger-man Army of the old type, and that at the present time men would be found in Germany to undertake military service if it was on the basis of a real contribution to Western European defence, in which Germany was to be regarded as a partner.

It seems to me that the Germans can be brought in more easily and safely on the basis of the French suggestions than on the basis of those put forward by the United States. We gathered from Lord Henderson's speech that the British Government are playing the part of the honest broker in these difficult negotiations. I warmly welcome his statement. I also welcome his statement to the effect that His Majesty's Government are completely ready to discuss with the Powers on the other side of the Iron Curtain, the difficulties of the present situation. What I could wish is that they would be a little more positive and active in the steps which they have been taking. One hears frequently that we are always ready to discuss, but nobody really seems to take any active steps towards getting discussions going. We leave it to the other side to take the initiative, as they have been doing within past weeks, and that always puts one in a position of disadvantage. I think we should take positive steps to see that discussions—and discussions at a very high level, as was suggested by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, earlier—take place as quickly as possible, because there have been a number of straws in the wind which suggest that the Russians are seeking a modus vivendi at the present time.

I suggest that we should avoid the kind of pinpricks which, in a sense inadvert-ently, have been going on during the last few days in what amounts to the closing down of the so-called Peace Conference at Sheffield. I always hesitate to disagree with my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, whose liberal outlook on questions of civil liberty is well known to everybody, but I think that on this occasion a mistake has been made. I agree that the object of the organisers of this Conference was not peace at all, but simply to do their best to disorganise the Atlantic Treaty. For that reason, when I was approached to take part in it I declined, as did other noble Lords on this side of the House. I have wondered since whether that was possibly a mistake, because I feel that on occasions of this sort it is a good thing for somebody to be there to give the other point of view. I think that if it had been properly handled the Sheffield Peace Conference, so-called, might well have been shown up and made to redound to the disadvantage of its Communist organisers. Instead of that, we have made the mistake of giving the appearance of burking the discussion. This country, more than any other country in the world, has stood for freedom of discussion. I cannot feel that it has been a freedom of discussion limited to the citizens of this country in this country: we have been prepared to put up with criticism from foreign people also. It seems to me a very doubtful policy indeed to tell these eminent Communists from overseas coming to speak at Sheffield that we shall not give them a platform.


The noble Lord will forgive me, but is he aware that visas to enter this country were given to 300, and that only 80 of the people who received visas troubled to come?


That may be so, but that docs not alter the fact that a number of people to whom visas had been given were not allowed to enter this country when they arrived That may be legally within the power of the Government, but it is really not playing the game.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord this question? If he had taken part in the Sheffield Conference, docs he think he would have been allowed to speak and given a fair hearing? I cannot imagine that he would have been allowed to speak.


The noble Earl must realise that this is a free country, and if I had gone to the Sheffield Conference and had not been allowed to speak, it would have been published in every paper in England. Instead of that, we have taken action which has removed this conference to Warsaw and nobody will know what happens, because there is no free Press in Poland and in the other Eastern countries on the other side of the Iron Curtain, where the newspapers publish only what the Governments desire. If the conference had been held in this country that situation could not arise; we should have had the whole searchlight of the Press turned upon them. As it is, we have made a number of people into martyrs.

There are unfortunately large numbers of people in this country who are in no sense Communists, and in no sense fellow-travellers with the Communist movement, but who are such enthusiasts, such un-reflecting enthusiasts, for peace, that they had built up great hopes around this so-called Peace Conference at Sheffield. Now, by, in effect, preventing this taking place—I do not think that that was the object of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, but that has been the result of his action—the Government have frustrated the hopes of all these people. I believe that it will have an unfortunate effect over the whole of Europe. I cannot see that any really useful purpose has been served by preventing these discussions from taking place. One paragraph in the newspapers said that the delegates were going to have their midday meal in an enormous marquee put up in the open in Sheffield—in the middle of November! Half of them would probably never have gone home!

Joking apart, it seems to me that this is all part of a rather intransigent attitude which is being more and more adopted between East and West. The East has no doubt been more to blame than the West, but surely then; is no earthly reason why, because Eastern Governments adopt this sort of attitude, we should try and repay them in their own coin. By all means strengthen our Armed Forces; by all means be prepared to resist aggression. But if we are not to have a third world war we have to find some way of coming to terms with and living with these people. We do not do it by behaving in this way. I was greatly impressed by the plea of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, for a policy of firmness and moderation, of firmness and conciliation—the motif which continually reappeared throughout his speech. I hope that the Government will pay attention to what he said, and see whether they cannot be a little more conciliatory and moderate, in addition to maintaining the firmness which they have shewn over these last months and years.

5.47 p.m.


My Lords, I am not one of those who would follow the noble Lord in criticising the Government for the action they have taken, but I would say that when many of us weigh that action we have an urgent sense that we must be watchful. "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance" and, while I do not think that many of us would criticise the action of the Government, I feel we must be on our guard. Perhaps something of an apology is needed from me for speaking again to your Lordships on Europe and its problems. But the noble Marquess who opened the debate said that while the East is immensely important, the West is really the key to world stability and peace. Obviously, it is a first priority to consolidate Europe in its defence, in its economic life, and in its political stability. There is also a personal reason which affects my noble friend Earl Birkenhead and myself. During the Assembly of the Council of Europe, we gave an undertaking, as did all the delegates, that we would do our best to bring before our Parliaments a selection of the resolutions that were passed. These resolutions have been included in a White Paper which was issued three days ago. As representatives on the Assembly, we must fulfil our obligations, though it is hardly possible for us to expound in full all the points we should like to discuss. There may be another occasion when a Motion may be put forward which will cover these points, but, seeing that the Assembly is meeting again on Saturday, I will, with your Lordships' permission, detain you for a moment on some of these points.

There has been criticism that the Committee of Ministers and the Assembly have not entirely hit off the partnership which it was hoped that they would form. Hitherto the Ministers have been criticised for being negative and aloof and the Assembly has been criticised for being up in the clouds, but I think these are to be regarded really as teething troubles. In making arrangements for simultaneous debates in the various Parliaments, I think the Assembly this year took an action which may have an important effect in giving solidity and reality to the debates of the Assembly of the Council of Europe. For example, at the end of this week the members will go back having acquired the atmosphere of their respective Parliaments. Debates have been held in the Dutch and Belgian Parliaments in which all the proposals put forward by the Assembly were approved. A debate took place in the House of Commons yesterday, to-day it is taking place in the Chamber of Deputies in Paris, and on Thursday it is taking place in Bonn, all on identical resolutions. I think there is here another bond that can be developed and strengthened in building a European opinion, and for my part I am hopeful that it may have considerable results.

I believe that real progress has already been made. The Assembly of the Council of Europe has now met twice, but the meetings covered altogether only seven weeks—four weeks last year and three weeks this. That is a very short time in which to develop an international organ of this type. I say there is progress because it is quite evident this year that there has been a development of opinion and a greater understanding of the attitude which other countries were taking. The result was that the vexed issue of federalism against non-federalism was settled by a very substantial majority, and it was settled in favour of what is called—not very happily, because it is not exactly an easily understood term for popular purposes—a "functional approach." That resolution is the first and, in a sense, the most important of those which were submitted for discussion in Parliament. The functional approach really is the alternative to the federalist concept, in the sense that it repudiates the idea that there shall be any general pooling of sovereignty, but that under some general political organisation there may be special organisations or institutions in respect of which sovereignty is pooled. I shall later refer to one or two illustrations. As I say, federalism was rejected because it was realised that certain countries, notably Britain and some Scandinavian countries, could not adopt a federalist solution involving a general transfer of sovereignty. That has never been in the picture. Yet one has to try and produce unity; therefore one is forced to consider some other type of concept. It is quite clear that we shall not have a United States of Europe on the United States of America pattern, for many reasons—historic traditions, relationship to overseas Dominions, difficulty of the balance of control on a population basis, language and so on. And yet we cannot go on with the fully independent nation State.

Now this resolution, providing for a political organisation over the specialised organisations under it, is an attempt to answer that question. Whilst I dare say a considerable number of people who voted in favour of that key resolution did so in spite of the fact that they would have liked to have federalism, they did it because our Continental friends, and many of the French federalists particularly, at that time felt it was more important to have unity than to go on fighting for an unattainable idea and therefore oroducing disunity in Europe. The resolution defining the type of the future constitution of Europe does, however, include the paragraph which says: There is nothing in this plan to prevent "— and indeed many of its supporters said we may even encourage— smaller groups federating within the general grouping of the council of Europe. That was repeated again in another place by a Government spokesman two days ago. While it is in a sense wise and sensible to put that proviso in. I personally do not think it is very likely that there will arise a smaller federation within the larger grouping of the Council of Europe. Certainly the Socialist Party in Germany is not ready to contemplate that, partly for political reasons—the fact of the Rightish Governments in Italy and France, and the desire to be in close touch with the Labour Party in Britain, and so on. Similarly with the French there are reasons why I think it is unlikely that that development will take place.

The final vote on this resolution approving the development of the unity of Europe on the functionalist method was, as I say, given because of the overwhelming, the overriding, consideration in favour of unity. But if the attitude of Britain, as well as other countries which took that view, definitely decided the issue, as I think it did, in the sense that I have just described, it has a very important corollary. In France there has been a great desire for federation. Many of the German delegates came to the Assembly this year saying that they believed federation was the only answer. Without any question, there is a dropping of the temperature, a feeling of disappointment. Actually, when I was in Rome for the Standing Committee twelve days ago the President of the Italian Republic and the Prime Minister went to an outdoor ceremony in the middle of Rome, and publicly signed a petition in favour of a European federation. The Foreign Minister did not follow their example only because he was occupied at the time with the Council of Ministers.

I believe there is a corollary to that. Those who have dissuaded some of the countries of Europe from pressing their federalist concept, but have persuaded them to agree that for unity's sake the major need is to stay in the Council of Europe, have an obligation to make sure that the functionalist method is a reality and not merely an excuse for avoiding action. This country, and other countries, must go as far as they can in organising international institutions in a way which will affect the life of the European peoples and thereby help them to realise that they are part of a European entity. This functionalist approach can be dealt with in a number of ways. The Foreign Minister referred to one of them in another place the day before yesterday, when he spoke of 1 is hope that there would be uniform legislation.


Uniform legislation about what?


He hoped that, as a result of the work of the Committee of Ministers and the Assembly, there would be uniform legislation, by which I take it he meant the application of Conventions. An example of the kind of thing of which he was thinking was one of the six Resolutions enumerated by the Bureau of the Council of Europe—namely, a social security code for Europe. The Resolution of the Assembly dealing with the security code is to lead directly (and the Ministers have agreed on it) to a European Conference on equalising security arrangements. Clearly it is important that we should try to get as far as possible in matters of that kind so as to allow mobility of labour. The proposal would adapt the method and use the experience of the I.L.O. to produce a security code for Europe. Clearly, the method of convention, of standardising legislation, is one which the Foreign Ministers had in mind. Another method is regular conferences between the appropriate Ministers to harmonise policy. I hope that method will be applied in the case of full employment. You may try and get your social legislation as nearly equal as possible, and you may harmonise your social policy, but when you have done that there still remains a large sphere which you have to fill in this functional organisation by setting up international institutions.

Of those, there are three examples in the six resolutions which were submitted by the Council of Europe. Those three are that relating to European defence—a European Army—which is a type of this specialised organisation of which I am speaking; the Schuman Plan is another; and the Convention of Human Rights is a third. Of the resolutions that were circulated by the Council of Europe with the request that they should be discussed, one falls into the convention class; the second is one for harmonising policy, and the third, fourth and filth involve special institutions.

I spoke at some length on the subject of a European Army during our Defence debate on September 13, and therefore I do not propose to say more about it now. Indeed, I believe that it would be unwise for anyone to comment on that until he has read and studied carefully, as I hope to do, the statement made on behalf of the Government by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson this afternoon. I was glad to hear the noble Lord say that there was some rapprochement between those who approve the American attitude and those who approve the French. I gather that no solution has yet emerged, although everyone in Europe, as well as in this country, is concerned with this major problem of solving the dilemma of getting Germany associated with her own defence, but at the same time preventing the creation of a new military staff. It is spoken of in quite general terms as "finding safeguards." The Assembly made the suggestion of a European Army as a way of resolving that dilemma. Safeguards are imperative; they are the crux of the whole matter.

In this country people are very much alive to the danger of the revival of German militarism. Anyone who sees, for example, the letters that come into every newspaper office will realise that. I happen to have been one of the two British representatives on the Committee that drew up the disarmament clause of the Treaty of Versailles. At that time we really thought there was a safeguard in prohibiting conscription and limiting the German Army to 100,000 men. But that has proved to be utterly illusory. The safeguards need to be scrutinised most carefully; it is not enough to have safeguards that will apply for two or three years. Incidentally, a comment of considerable relevance was made in another place on Monday on the European Army concept, when it was pointed out that even if a European defence force could include an American group, independently organised, it may well be that in the process of time the United States will find that they will have to transfer a great part of those forces elsewhere, or for political reasons the position many change. If one considers over ten or twenty years perhaps, or even permanently, one wants to see a system where those Germans who take to a military career will find the top of that career in an international, not a purely German atmosphere.

I am not going to say anything about the Schuman Plan, because I have spoken about that before, but I do want to say a word about the Convention of Human Rights. This is a type of functionalist development in Europe, for it creates an organisation operating in a strictly limited field and with absolutely clearly defined responsibilities. That Convention has now been signed. It is the first Statute emerging from the Council of Europe, and it is greatly to be welcomed, both for its own sake and also because it is the first example of the type of thing which may emerge from the Council of Europe. But the Convention is not the last word. The Ministers have said that they will consider amendments which have not yet been included in the Convention and, if need be, will put them in a supplementary Protocol. The Convention is therefore not definitely finalised. It may be that the points which I am going to raise, with others, will be debated in your Lordships' House at a later time. They must be settled between now and the next meeting of the Committee of Ministers.

Your Lordships will remember that the Convention was drafted a year ago by the Assembly. In the interval it has been referred by the Committee of Ministers to two committees which modified the original draft; it was then resubmitted to the Assembly for their opinion. As it came back this year to the Assembly, the clause requiring submission to a court if the Commission finds that a complaint is valid was omitted. Secondly, reference to the court was made optional, and if a country opts out its case will go to the Committee of Ministers, where a two-thirds majority of the Committee will be binding. This is an alternative form of decision, and any country may decide which form it will accept. Thirdly, individual petitions would be given consideration only if the country concerned voluntarily allowed them to be brought in. When the Convention came back to the Assembly, it put back those clauses in a modified form. But the Convention has now been signed by the Ministers without these amendments—though they will be reconsidered for insertion later.

I should like to ask the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor whether he can tell us why the election clause was dropped. This Convention has been developed as the first rule of the European club. It is the test of democracy, and it is vital to us to see that democracy is maintained. For example, it clearly matters to us whether Western Germany remains democratic. Therefore, this Convention is not merely a declaration but it is a first attempt—as the Preamble says—at "collective enforcement," for it gives the right to any of the members of the Council of Europe to intervene with their neighbours if those rights are not being observed.


Would the noble Lord explain exactly what he means by "intervene "?


The complaint is first made to a Commission of Human Rights, and the Commission must consider the case and satisfy itself that the remedies provided by the laws of the country concerned have been exhausted. It goes into the case, and attempts conciliation. It goes through a prescribed procedure, and only if all fails is it taken to a European court, which is set up by the Convention. Compulsion to go to the court was made optional; but, clearly, if you do not go to court, but the Commission says that there is a prima facie case, something must be done about it. Therefore, the official Committee who produced the final draft inserted a provision that the case must be taken to the Committee of Ministers, where a two-thirds majority would be binding.

The first question I would ask is: Why has the election clause been dropped? If this Convention is really a test of democracy, surely the right to hold an election is a key issue. The noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, has just been speaking about an entrance test for Western Europe on democratic lines. That applies to Germany. I asked the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, who attended the debates of the Assembly, whether he could explain why the Committee of Ministers wished the Assembly to change their minds on this issue. I was unable to get any opinion from him, and the Foreign Secretary was asked the question two days ago in another place but—I think owing to shortage of time—failed to answer. I should therefore like to ask the Lord Chancellor why this has been dropped, because it looks very strange indeed in Europe. This Convention has been presented as a test for countries such as Germany and Spain. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from arbitrary arrest, must be assured, but there must also be freedom of elections, and the right to form an Opposition. The German representative went to Rome ten days ago, ready to sign the Convention with this vital clause, but the clause was not in at all. When we are asked to discuss the matter it will be difficult to explain why that clause was omitted, seeing that it is intended to be one of the pledges binding on the countries concerned, and on which we may get the right to intervene and to bring up cases at a very early stage.

That is one of my questions. The second concerns the statement of the Foreign Secretary in another place two days ago that we should not sign the optional clauses—in other words, that Britain would not allow herself to be taken to court. As the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, said, the Foreign Secretary used very striking words about a Convention to which the Government are party and which they have signed, when he said of the clause about the setting up of the court that: with an Empire like ours, it could in certain respects be one of the most mischievous clauses to which it is possible to be a party. I should like to ask the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor this question. The Government are now committed to this Convention, and there are two forms of judgment. One is the European court and the other is the Committee of Ministers. I myself do not understand why it is considered mischievous to take a case to court, but not mischievous for Britain to undertake to accept the decision of two-thirds of the Committee of Ministers, who may be the Foreign Ministers of small countries like the Saar or Iceland. There seems to be a suggestion in Mr. Bevin's remark that there is a very definite difference between accepting international opinion when it is expressed through Ministers, and an international opinion when it is expressed through a very carefully organised court. That is the second point I should like to put to the Lord Chancellor.

In signing this Convention, the British Minister concerned said: In these days, when the essential rights of the individual are threatened by totalitarian doctrine and practice, there can be no Government more determined than the British to stand up for these human rights. Several other Ministers said they very much regretted that the amendments proposed by the Assembly had not been included. I believe that Mr. Davies was perfectly right. I am sure that His Majesty's Government, like all the British peoples, do attach enormous importance to these rights. All who have the responsibility of discussing these things in foreign assemblies are constantly driven to the position of having to explain why we go slowly, or be apologetic about it. I would express the hope that during the next six months in which these further amendments to this Convention are considered—which is now something to which we are definitely committed—His Majesty's Government will somehow contrive to secure agreement to the amendments of the Assembly, or to something like them, so that this country may be taking the lead, and not in fact falling behind the other peoples in such a vital question as this collective responsibility for human rights.

6.24 p.m.


My Lords, I feel that this is a most appropriate moment for a debate on Foreign Affairs. It was the habit of many people in 1939 to remark that it transcended human belief that, a mere twenty years after the slaughter of the 1914–18 war, the great nations should have resorted again to this backward and inhuman arbitrament. And yet to-day, only five years after this last devastating experience, we find ourselves in a position as ominous as that of 1939-perhaps more so, for we are now facing again not only mighty armaments but also a voracious secular religion which has already eaten into China and nine European States like a rodent ulcer, and is now testing out the possibility of further aggressions in Malaya, Indo-China, Tibet, Korea and elsewhere.

Moreover, we find ourselves confronted in Europe to-day with a fanatical fifth column such as Hitler never envisaged, totally divorced from any sense of national obligation. It is a system which holds as its dogma the poisonous doctrine that the end justifies the means, and which is now systematically grinding out of its youth the last vestiges of independent thought. For one thing, I suppose, we ought to thank this latest example of Red-politik. At least, it has made its purpose quite plain. No one in his senses can any longer doubt that their fundamental object remains that which was originally proclaimed by their sinister founder—the destruction of the capitalist order and the accomplishment of world Communism. Of course, there have been frequent tactical withdrawals and Judas kisses, and all these are cynically laid down as an instrument of policy in the Communist text-books. This appears to me to be a great advantage. Now at last we are all perfectly clear what is happening. I must say that few, if any, of us on this side of the House have ever been tempted into the embrace of the ogress, but it is satisfactory to observe that all the more realistic members of the Party opposite have renounced at last their untimely salutations of the Red Dawn.

It was, I suppose, this admirable confidence in anti-Communist unity which enabled us to face the prospect of the Sheffield Peace Party—if that be the right description. I find myself unable to share the views of the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, on this subject. Although it goes rather against the grain to say so, I thought that the Home Secretary did extremely well. I think we should also be grateful to my noble friend Lord Pakenham for preventing the more uncleanly elements from polluting his hygienic aeroplanes, although when I saw pictures of some of the quaint menageries which the noble Lord was prepared to carry, I could not help feeling that he could have spread his net a little wider. It is pleasant to reflect that all this oratory will be let loose in Warsaw, rather than in Sheffield, and that others than ourselves will have to listen to the endless stereotyped vocabulary of abuse and the muddy stream of doctored news. But it will no doubt be a relief to the Poles to reflect that the Mongolian delegation will probably be brief.

It is in relation to this sombre background that I venture to make a few observations, as the noble Lord, Lord Layton, has just done, about the Council of Europe. I do so because the noble Lord and myself were, I think, the only members of your Lordships' House who sat in the Assembly. Many of us at Strasbourg were conscious of a warming and unfamiliar sensation that we were the hub of the universe: and it was a chastening, if no doubt salutary, experience, on our return to get the impression from our friends that we had been away for months, buried in oblivion, returning, as it were, from some Arctic expedition without having discovered the North Pole. I could not escape the conclusion that many regarded the Council of Europe as a polyglot debating society which was merely duplicating the functions of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the Brussels Treaty Organisation and O.E.E.C. I hold this to be largely an erroneous impression, and I attribute it partly to the famine in newsprint which, although all reporters did their best, made it virtually impossible to present the work of the Assembly in true perspective.

Of course, there are formidable obstacles to European Union. I think there is much force in the suggestion that the functions of these different bodies arc being duplicated, and it is my purely personal opinion that, if the Council is to develop as a European authority, steps should some time be taken to merge the functions of all these various bodies in the Council of Europe. If this were done, the Committee of Ministers would become a real European Council with proper functions to perform. Of course, too. there is reluctance to surrender national sovereignty. Inevitably, there are religious cleavages; and also, as the noble Lord, Lord Layton, has said, there are the differences between the federalists, whose interests at Strasbourg should by no means be underrated, and those of us who wish to proceed more gradually. But, as my noble friend said, we must remember that the Assembly was only in its second session. Its progress is in no way comparable to the slow organic development of our own institutions. I think Lord Layton will agree with me that we were impressed at Strasbourg, not so much by the various snags that have arisen as by the solid amount of work which was achieved, and by the admirable co-operation which prevailed, mostly between men of different countries, different outlooks and different languages.

One of the most important recommendations made was, of course, that for the Convention of Human Rights. This matter has been dealt with at some length by the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, and by the noble Lord, Lord Layton, so I do not propose to go into it in detail. But I should just like to endorse the fact that the Assembly recommended three additional rights—namely, free elections with a secret ballot; the right of the citizen to own property; and the right of parents to choose their children's religious and moral education. I think it most unfortunate that the Council of Ministers found itself unable to accept these very important additions and referred them, rather weakly in my opinion, to a committee of experts for further study. I must tell your Lordships plainly that this decision caused such annoyance that three members of the French delegation, Monsieur Bidault, Monsieur Renault and Monsieur de Menthon and one German delegate. Herr von Brendano, went so far as to absent themselves from the signing.

I agree with Lord Layton in saying that by far the most important of these omissions is the right of free elections, which has been brutally abrogated in the Communist-controlled countries, and which must surely remain one of the most vital rights of the citizens of Western Europe. I cannot understand or accept the reasoning which led the Committee of Ministers to the attitude they adopted on this question. I suppose it is a question of legal definition; but I was always told that, while all definitions are difficult, there is no definition which it is beyond the resources and the ingenuity of the law to provide. The proposals concerning the rights of property and the right of parents to choose their children's education were drafted by a remarkable sub-committee, consisting of delegates of widely differing views. There was a French Right-Wing Catholic, a French free-thinking Radical, a Dutch Protestant Conservative, and a leading Belgian Socialist. These gentlemen reached agreement on a compromise, which was accepted by the legal Committee and by the whole Assembly. Again, it appears to me to be regrettable that, after agreement had been reached between different religious denominations and political Parties, the Ministers were unable to accept it.

My Lords, I agree that the question of a European Army is very vexed and difficult. I agree also that one should take time to digest the important pronouncement which was made to-day by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. But I do not think that this proposal has been rendered superfluous by the decision to create an Atlantic Defence Force, because it is designed not only to contain immediate Soviet aggression but also to meet the possibility of a resurgence of German militarism. If Western Europe is to be defended from the line of the Elbe, it appears plain to me that the 47,000,000 people in the Western Zone must play their full part in that defence. I entirely agree that there must be safeguards, and the first is that the German troops must be confined to those which are contributed to an international force: there must be no question of a new national German Army or a new General Staff. I was very pleased indeed to hear the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, state that fact in categorical terms this afternoon. Such an Army would, of course, have co-operated closely with American Forces, but if these should at any time be withdrawn they would have left not a German Army but German contingents in a European Army under European control. Such a Force would also be a great reassurance to the Americans who, as we all know, have been spending vast sums for European recovery and to keep Communism away from the West. The creation of a strong European force will surely show them that their efforts have not been in vain, and that the rest of the free world is not merely in a condition of supine dependence.

Two other recommendations of importance were made, one being that of full employment, which was put forward by the British Labour delegation and supported by the Conservative delegates. It was welcomed by the Committee of Ministers. That is a recommendation with which I am sure all your Lordships will be in full agreement. The other was a recommendation of a European code of social security, intended to raise standards of social security in every country to equal heights, rather than to standardise legislation in different countries. This code was to be prepared in collaboration with the I.L.O., and it was proposed that the Committee of Ministers, with I.L.O., should summon a European Labour Conference representing Governments, employers and workers. This principle was approved by the Ministers and will be discussed by the Committee of Social Experts at Strasbourg on the 20th of this month.

Lastly, my Lords, the Assembly called the attention of the Committee of Ministers to the necessity of helping refugees of all categories, and particularly those who were not receiving assistance from any international organisation. I am quite sure that it is unnecessary to stress to His Majesty's Government the gravity of this extremely painful question. But it might be well to remember that, apart from the residue of the displaced persons, mostly from the Communist-controlled countries, there is also the problem of what are called the "near-refugees" in Germany, who number, I believe, some 9,000,000 persons, and who come from the East German territories and the Sudetenland. My Lords, it is perhaps also a matter for cautious and careful consideration to decide how far refugee labour can and should be used in this country to deal with housing and rearmament problems. I am informed that Australia, and to a lesser degree Canada, have absorbed a large number of displaced persons, mostly from the Baltic States, with success, and it might be useful to discover the reactions of Commonwealth countries to further such possibilities.

In conclusion, I must frankly confess that I went to Strasbourg in a cynical mood. What little faith I had ever reposed in international gatherings had long since wilted, in the blighting failures of the past. I foresaw with consternation another multilingual battle royal, waged angrily through earphones, but these suspicions, I am happy to say, proved unworthy. Indeed, I was conscious from the very beginning of an earnestness and a determination to succeed on the part of all the delegates which I have never seen in any other international body. The first session opened auspiciously—certainly much better than I had expected it to do—and the strong resentment aroused since by the frequent vacillations of the Committee of Ministers appeared to me to be indicative of health and purpose. Also, it is no small advantage to meet these delegates from other countries, to appreciate their point of view and their particular difficulties, and to become friendly and familiar with them in agreeable social exchanges.

I think I am right in saying that those of us who have attended the Assembly believe in the Council of Europe, and, to our minds, it would be a tragedy if it were allowed to languish by reason of any lack of support from this country, above all others. As the noble Lord, Lord Layton, has told your Lordships, the Dutch and Belgian Parliaments have already discussed and approved the work of the Assembly, and there are to be debates in the French and German Parliaments this week on the same subject. And, of course, there was a debate last Monday in another place. We may, I think, be sure that serious students of foreign affairs in Europe and America will collate these various discussions and assess the future by them. Speaking for the British Conservative delegates at Strasbourg, at any rate, I wish to make it clear that we at least have no intention of speaking with one voice at Strasbourg and with another in our Parliament at home. I believe that the success of the Council of Europe will depend very largely upon the support it receives from His Majesty's Government. I beg them to extend it with no grudging hand, for this, I feel, should be an issue quite aloof from any Party consideration. I suggest to your Lordships that the collapse of the Council would be a death blow to hopes of unity and reconciliation which have been so highly sustained. And who can say how many uncontemplated destructions would be effected by its fall?

6.43 p.m.


My Lords, I desire to intervene for a few moments only, in order to say something upon the question of Spain. The noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, said that he disapproved of the Government's action in withdrawing our Ambassador from Madrid. May I say, respectfully, that I entirely agree with him? I have always thought that action was wrong. Now we find that the Government's representative at Lake Success is unable to vote on the question of whether or not we should restore our Ambassador to Madrid. I felt deeply sorry and pained when I read that in the newspapers. It makes one almost ashamed to think that this country is unable to make up its mind on a question of that nature. I have seen it suggested—and I should like to know whether it is true—that the reason is that it is felt that if we supported by affirmative vote the sending of an Ambassador to Madrid we should thereby be signifying our agreement with the Franco regime and Constitution. If that be so, does it mean that we also agree with the Russian regime and Constitution? If it does not mean that, then what does it mean? There is another possible explanation, and that is that we maintain an Ambassador in Moscow in order to help and encourage trade. If that is the explanation, then I ask: Why do we not wish to encourage trade with Spain? If the Government could give us some explanation of their extraordinary attitude on this particular question I should be very much obliged. Lest it be thought that I am in any way connected with Spain, or know anyone in that country, or have ever been there in my life, I should like to say that none of those things is true.

6.45 p.m.


My Lords, at this time of the evening I will not reply to your Lordships at any length, first because my noble friend Lord Henderson, in a very careful reply, dealt, so far as he could, with the various matters which had been raised up to that point and, secondly, because both Lord Layton, and the noble Earl, Lord Birkenhead—whom, I may say, we do not hear often enough in this House—have suggested that there might be an opportunity (and I should think one might be found, with the agreement of the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, and the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition) for a special date to be set aside for debating the question of the Council of Europe and the other European questions which the noble Lords have mentioned.

May I just say one or two words about the opening speeches of the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition, and the noble Earl, Lord Perth? I should like to say at once how pleased I was to think that, in a matter concerning foreign affairs, at a grave time like this, I found nothing in those two speeches to which I could take exception. It is satisfactory to think that, by and large, speaking broadly, all Parties in this country are agreed as to the nature of the problem and the sort of lines on which it should be tackled. One or two noble Lords had a word or two to say about the old question of whether we were right or wrong in recog- nising Communist China. I am not going back on that. The noble Marquess abstained and so shall I. I would say merely that I have always felt that, if only there were people round a table with whom we could hold discussions, misunderstandings, so far as there are misunderstandings, might possibly have been cleared away. However, there it is. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, was anxious that we should not give an entirely negative answer to the Russian proposal. I entirely agree with his point of view about that. We do not want to be drawn into futile discussions merely for propaganda purposes. On the other hand, we do want to demonstrate to the world that if there is any chance of solving any of these problems by genuine discussion we are only too ready to enter into such discussions.

The noble Earl, Lord Perth, suggested, to use his own phrase, that we might consider the possibility of a no-man's land in Korea—though perhaps it was the noble Marquess who suggested that; I forget for the moment. But clearly the idea is one that must be considered; and I can assure your Lordships that it has been and will be considered. The noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, in a most interesting speech, referred to the new arrangements made on Mr. Acheson's suggestion with regard to the Assembly of the United Nations. I always feel that the justification for these arrangements is one that the noble Earl once privately pointed out to me. The United Nations conferred upon the Security Council the primary responsibility for safeguarding peace. That presupposes that there was some part of the responsibility which was not primary and which was not then transferred. What in fact has been done—and to my mind it involves no amendment to the Charter—is to fill up that lacuna by making it plain that that part of the responsibility which does not come under the phrase "primary responsibility" is now fairly and squarely placed on the General Assembly.

From that, it seems to me, there is drawn this corollary. Before the General Assembly, under the terms of the Charter, can start their operations they must have given the Security Council a chance of getting in first. Otherwise, this would conflict with the obligation of placing the primary responsibility on the Security Council. Of course, I entirely agree with the noble Viscount that we might easily lose a war if we went on debating something day after day, and were not able to take prompt action. Therefore, we must devise a plan for taking action which is as prompt and effective as possible, always provided that we do not interfere with the primary obligation of the Security Council to deal with the matter first. Whether it will prove that there are too many chances of delay in this plan, I do not know, but all your Lordships have agreed that it is a great improvement on what has existed hereto-fore, when the whole organisation could be rendered completely ineffective by the continued use of the Veto. That is the matter which we shall certainly continue to keep under our consideration. What I have said also answers one of the points which was raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood.

The noble Viscount, Lord Temple-wood, spoke about Spain and wanted to know when the Ambassador goes back. I cannot give him any date, if that is what he means. First of all, we have to obtain agreement with the Spanish authorities, then we shall have to find the right man to go and build up the organisation of the Embassy. But I can assure him that there is no intention of finding excuses to put off the evil day, or anything of that sort. We have not done this with our tongues in our cheeks. We have always been friendly with the Spanish people, and now this has happened it is obviously desirable that that friendship should become closer and firmer, as it will be if we get a suitable man to go there as Amabassador. Whether we were right or wrong in abstaining I do not know. This case is not like Russia. Here we had deliberately withdrawn our Ambassador, in order to show our disapproval of the Franco régime. This had been done in accordance with the Resolution of the United Nations organisation. When it was proposed that the Ambassador should go back, we were anxious to make it plain that the view we had formed was not altered, and therefore we did not vote for the Resolution. But I hope we always have been, and will continue to be, great friends with the Spanish people, and the more the new Ambassador continues to bring out that friendship and clear away the differences and difficulties which arise, the better it will be for all of us. I shall deal in a moment with a question of the Convention of Human Rights to which the noble Viscount also referred.

My noble friend Lord Douglas of Barloch referred to the vast number of potential enemies which confront us to-day. Unfortunately what the noble Lord says is right. He stressed the need for rearmament. That also is right, and sometimes, in listening to some of the discussions., such as we have had this afternoon, I have felt that many of us forget that it is absolutely essential that we should get our armament as strong as possible with as little delay as possible. That is quite fundamental.

I am sorry to say that the speech of my noble friend Lord Chorley was the speech with which I most profoundly disagreed. I cannot agree for one moment that we are guilty of any aggression in going beyond the 38th Parallel. Why is it aggression to say that we want to bring about a united democratic Korea, a Korea which can stand on her own feet as one whole? It was obviously difficult, if we are really to achieve that, to think we could do so if we stopped at the 38th Parallel—or the 39th Parallel, or the 40th Parallel, or wherever you like to go. Bearing in mind what I have already described, I cannot think that that was aggression, and that certainly was not the view of the United Nations. Whether it was wise or foolish is a different question, but it is not right to brand us as an aggressor, and the noble Lord rather suggested that.


My Lords, what I said was that it gave some support to the propaganda which had been put forward by the other side. I hoped that I had made it clear in my speech that it was quite untrue to say that the United States and the British Commonwealth of Nations were aggressors.


I am glad to hear that, but I am bound to tell the noble Lord that the propaganda from the other side will say that, whether there are any facts to support it or not. I beg the noble Lord's pardon if I misunderstood him, and it is sufficient for me to say that we all agree now that our action in going beyond the 38th Parallel is in no sense whatever aggression.

The noble Lord, Lord Chorley then discussed the question of our answer to Russia. I agree with him that we should have discussions, so long as they are genuine discussions, but we know it is no good having discussions until it is quite plain that we are discussing out of strength, instead of out of weakness. Surely the more effective our armaments become, the more likely we are to have effective discussion with Russia. The noble Lord referred to the Sheffield Peace Conference. I cannot help feeling that if the noble Lord had gone there he would have been one of the sheep and not one of the shepherds. Into what particular pastures he would have been led, I do not know. But it is idle to say that we prevented that Conference taking place. That is not true. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has given the figures, and I speak from recollection. So far as visa countries are concerned, we had granted 300 visas. Of these 300 persons to whom visas had been granted, only 80 turned up, and of the 80 who turned up 75 were allowed in. Why did the other 220 not come? Did they ever intend to come? I do not know. Of the non-visa countries (I have not the figures in my mind, but anybody can check them by referents to Hansard), a larger number of people were allowed to come in than were refused. Although I fully subscribe to the liberal doctrine that the best way to destroy Communism is to meet it face to face and destroy it in argument by demonstrating that we have a better idea, I cannot think that we infringe in any way that liberal doctrine by preventing these gentlemen from coming to Sheffield. This was not a peace conference at all but clearly a propaganda campaign to try and mislead innocent people all over the world. I venture to think that we took the right course, and indeed the only possible course.

Now I come to the speeches of Lord Layton and Lord Birkenhead. I am sorry to say that I do not always clearly understand what is in Lord Layton's mind about these matters I think his head is rather in the clouds. It may be a very good thing to hitch your wagon to a star, but you must not omit to notice the potholes on the road, otherwise you get into trouble. But he did advance a point of view which struck in my breast a slight note of questioning. I want to say quite clearly for this Government, and I believe I should be speaking for any Government in this country, that, situate as we are, of Europe but not in Europe, at the centre of a great Commonwealth and Empire spreading all over the world, closely allied with our friends on the other side of the Atlantic, the United States of America, I do not believe it is possible for this country to integrate itself completely in a European Federation. The sooner that is said and understood, the better.


Of course.


The noble Lord says, "Of course," but there are a great many people amongst our French friends who do not say, "Of course "; they are still agitating, complaining and grumbling because we are not willing to take that step. I am certain it is desirable that everybody should understand, as Lord Layton does, that that step is impossible for us in view of our situation; and I believe any Government in this country would realise that it is impossible.


I have tried to explain that it was not merely the point of view of myself but it was the point of view accepted by the French and the Italians. In the crucial division, out of the eighteen French delegates, ten voted for the functionalist Resolution, four against and four abstained. It has been accepted by most Frenchmen.


Then let us be agreed that it is to be said quite plainly and there is to be no doubt about it The noble Lord seems to think that the converse of what he called the federal solution is what he called the functional solution or the functional institution. For many years of my life, I had the privilege of arguing before our Privy Council cases touching on the Constitutions of many of our Commonwealth countries—Canada, Australia and so on. When you are dealing with a Federal State you will nearly always find a list of subjects which are reserved to the States and a list of subjects which are reserved to the centre; sometimes you have questions of residual powers which are reserved to one or the other. You can reach a Federation solution in one of two ways: you can bring it about either by dividing your powers between the centre and the State, or you can approach it from the other end; you can take all the powers and divide them between the centre and the State, at the same time avoiding that word "Federation." The result is exactly the same.

If the noble Lord, Lord Layton, and I are now agreed that we are not going into a Federation, then I would say to him that we must keep clear of those institutions which are appropriate to a Federation and not appropriate to a co-operative system. He referred to various institutions: a European Army. We have had the gloss on it now; we know what is meant by it—a European Minister of Defence. Responsible to whom, my Lords? Under the control of what electorate? How are the people to criticise what the Minister does if he moves troops here or there, or takes this course or neglects to take that course? Who is going to criticise him? I do not know. No one knows. It is not in the least worked out. If any countries in Europe choose to have some system such as is described by the rather inaccurate phrase "European Army," we are perfectly prepared to co-operate with that Army in any way they wish. The only thing I would say to the noble Lord is this: that I believe the biggest event in the history of the last few years, it may perhaps be for all time, is the fact that America is prepared to come into Europe and give us the benefit of her enormous assistance. It is a wholly new factor. All this talk about a European Army, excluding, for instance, the American Army and the Canadian Army, does seem to me, with great respect, to be a novel emphasis. Is it suggested by the noble Lord that we should be connected more closely with some of the armies of the Continent than we are, for instance, with the Canadian Army? Is that the suggestion? If that is not the suggestion, I do not know what the suggestion of our joining a European Army is. It does seem to me, if I may say so, that people who talk in this way have got their heads in the clouds. We must come down and do a little thinking on this matter. If it is really an aspect of a federal solution, then, speaking for myself, I am opposed to it.


It is not.


Then it is not, but I am suggesting that it is an institution which is appropriate to a federal solution, and it is not appropriate to any other.


Take an institution like an Army or an institution like the International Bank.


Take an Array.


In these cases where we are members of certain international institutions, we have surrendered a certain amount of sovereignty. We have done it several times, but it does not lead to a Federation. The point was fully debated for some hours in another place two days ago. The concept of a European Army has, of course, to be associated with the organisation of Atlantic defence, as, indeed, is stated in the Resolution itself. Nobody in their senses put this up as a rival course. But you can have a European Army, and you can create certain other institutions to which you delegate responsibility—just as you delegate responsibility to a commander-in-chief—either in a Federation or not. Also the existence of the Minister was explained in another place two days ago. The existence of a Minister with a certain responsibility delegated to him for such an institution, without having a separate Parliament or transferring sovereignty, is a perfectly feasible proposal.


It may be so, but at the present moment I remain entirely unconvinced. I have never yet heard of an Army which did not belong to a country. The country may be a Federation, in which case you have an Army belonging to that Federation. I am not aware, as I say, that there has ever been an Army which belonged to something which was not a Federation but a series of States. It may be so, but I do not know how it would work. We had two other illustrations of the noble Lord's approach. He wants to go through the whole gamut and arrive at the Federation. There was the Schuman Plan. We had a debate on that some time ago and I think we made it quite clear that we were not prepared to accept the Schuman Plan with its supranational authority to whom we should hand over our iron and steel industries. That remains our opinion to this day. But here again we are perfectly willing to co-operate in any way we can with any organisation they set up and, by agreement, get as close to them as we can and help each other.

Lastly, there conies the subject of human rights. If I was quite sure that these were "the rules of the club," to use the phrase which I believe the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, used, I should be perfectly happy. I am bound to tell your Lordships that, though we signed this document, and it will be ratified, to a mere pedantic lawyer it has given some little anxiety. Have your Lordships seen it? I should very much like your Lord-ships to study it, because this is a statement of the relevant law in a very few paragraphs. When I think that in my library I have the law of this country in book after book, running into hundreds of books, it is remarkable to me that this aspect of the law can be stated in so few paragraphs. The result is inevitably that it is stated vaguely. The noble Earl, Lord Birkenhead, rather "let the cat out of the bag" in this matter. He referred to the various elements negotiating a particular clause, and said that there might be representatives of the Catholic Right in one country and the Socialist Left in another who all got together and fixed up a compromise. That is exactly it: this document is a compromise, as can be seen in every single clause. When you are setting out a code you hardly want to see a compromise in it, however admirable a compromise may be in other cases. And before you set up a federal court, you first want to have a clear statement of the law that federal court is going to apply. I would not weary your Lord-ships with this now, although I could easily do so: and I could easily show that if one construes this document strictly we should get into all sorts of funny consequences. I hope that the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, is right in thinking that this will be treated as "the rules of the club." If that is so, then it is quite all right.

That leads me to say something about the question of elections. I am not sure that I have ever been able to get into the head of the noble Lord, Lord Layton, the distinction I draw between a code, a statement of the law which has to be administered by the courts, and a declaration. If you want us to make a declaration that we accept the system of free elections at regular intervals, with the people able freely to decide what Government shall come in, of course we will make it—and we have made it. But is that really a justiciable issue? Can you go to law about it? That is the problem. Let us consider it. Here you contemplate a Commission, and you contemplate after the Commission that there may be a Court. You may accept the jurisdiction of the Court, and you go to the Court. What is the Court? It is a Court consisting of seven judges, not more than one from any of the Member States. Most of the States of Europe have very different systems of law, and these seven judges, who have to be jurisconsults of good moral character, will come to the court with very different ideas of what the law is. They are the supreme interpreters, and what they say goes. They have the right to interpret this document. It is sometimes difficult enough to tell our English judges how to interpret a document, but if I were asked to tell a court of seven judges drawn from these different countries how to interpret a document, I should not feel at all confident that I should be right.

This is the proposal. As a statement of principle this is entirely unexceptionable; it is what we want and believe in. But is it something you put in a code, which, if you accept the Court, has to be decided upon by the Court as to its exact meaning? I will read it to your Lord-ships. It says: The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect the political liberty of their nationals"— that is perfectly all right— and in particular, with regard to their home territories, to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot under conditions which will ensure that the government and Legislature shall represent the opinion of the people. As a statement of broad principle we should all agree with that. But let me give one illustration. It says "at reasonable intervals." Bear in mind that it would be for the court to decide, under the terms of this document, whether any given interval was reasonable or not. They would be able to say: "You have been long enough now." In the National Government I believe we went for ten years without an Election. The court would say, possibly by a majority of four to three: "You must have an Election." But under conditions which will ensure that the government and Legislature shall represent the opinion of the people. I believe I nave heard the Liberal Party complain before now that our system of Elections did not procure a Government and Legislature which represented the opinion of the people. There are a large number of people who think that we ought to have an alternative vote, or proportional representation, or things of that sort. Does it mean that? As I have said, if this is a statement of broad principle, if this is "the rules of the club," then no one will object to a single word, and it is a statement to which we all agree. If, on the other hand, it can be taken as something different from that, then obviously it is a matter which needs consideration. Therefore what the Foreign Secretary said is that this is a matter at which he is going to look, and which he wants time to consider: he wants to see what is involved. Is there anything unreasonable in that?

One thing about this country which I like to believe is that, though we may be a little slow and hesitant to enter into a bargain, having once entered into a bargain we keep it. Let us, therefore, never hesitate to weigh carefully what obligations we are undertaking. Perhaps your Lordships remember the parable in the Bible of the two sons who were told to go and work in the vineyard. The one son hesitated and refused to go, but ultimately went into the vineyard and worked very hard. The other son said: "Yes, of course I will go," but went off and did something else. That happens quite often in life. Though I am not saying it about our colleagues in the Council of Europe, I have sometimes thought with regard to other countries that the readiness with which they accept conventions is in exactly inverse proportion to the carefulness with which they carry them out. Let that never be said about us.

Therefore I make no apology for asking that the Foreign Secretary should look carefully at this matter to see whether this, which as a statement of principle is wholly unexceptionable, and as one of "the rules of the club" is unexceptionable, is really a matter which should be included in a code to be pronounced upon by a Court, which has to declare whether or not we have carried out the requirements of this clause. There may be a coup d'état. We shall not have one here, I suppose—it is not our custom—but it has happened in Europe. If that happens, what is the position then? These things do not happen in a leisurely way, as I understand, but happen rather quickly. Do we go to law about that and have an injunction issued by the Court, or what? Would it be very effective? I do not know. As a declaration, as a statement of principle, it is admirable. But should it be a justiciable matter? Those are the sort of problems that arise. I agree with what the noble Earl, Lord Birkenhead, said: I do not see why this should be a Party matter at all. But if we are to have a debate on this matter I do ask your Lordships this favour: get hold of this Convention and study it. and see whether there are not a great many clauses which, by reason of the necessary compromise, are so vague that the idea of having this further clause is one which we should reflect upon very carefully.

I have not dealt with the other clauses recommended by the Consultative Assembly; I have not turned down any of them. The Foreign Secretary made it quite plain that he was going into them and would decide whether to accept them or not; and that we shall do. But I do beg of your Lordships to do what you can to prevent this matter becoming a bone of contention between the Parties which would conflict with the general outlook on foreign affairs, which is, fortunately, one which in these very grave days is shared by all Parties. I am grateful to your Lordships for listening to me. I have not attempted to add any definite information to that given by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, in a very carefully prepared speech, but I think your Lordships will all agree that we have had an interesting and instructive debate.

7.22 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to agree with the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor that it has been a useful debate. It has covered a fairly wide range of ground, and it has not ranged too far. It has dealt with the Russian Notes, with the Acheson proposals, with the Far East, Spain, human rights and the Strasbourg Resolutions. That is not bad for one afternoon. We have had very valuable contributions in various speeches from noble Lords. We had—and I am grateful for it—a full exposition of the Government's opinion from the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. I hope that he will allow me not to comment upon his statement this evening, because I think it needs reading rather carefully. We have also had a powerful fighting speech from the Lord Chancellor. I should have liked to say a good deal on many of these questions, but as the hour is late I do not propose to deal with any of them, except to say one word about Strasbourg. I thought that the Lord Chancellor was a little hard on the two noble Lords who spoke on that subject. He began by saying that it would be an admirable subject for a later debate and then, I suppose to save time, he made his own speech, when there was no chance of a reply.


If I were to speak on that subject, it would be a very long one indeed.


He included, if I may say so, a parable of which I have no recollection. I have no doubt that the noble and learned Viscount is right. It was about one son who said he would go into the vineyard, and the other who said he would not and did.


I am surprised and somewhat shocked at the noble Marquess. I think he will find it in Chapter XXI of the Gospel according to St. Matthew.


In any case the Lord Chancellor's speech will now stimulate Lord Layton and Lord Birkenhead to further efforts, and I have no doubt that they will put down a Motion which will give us a further opportunity for discussing these various questions. I should like to say how welcome was the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Birkenhead. If I may say so, he comes here far too seldom, and we shall be very glad to see more of him. The highest compliment I think I can pay him is that, as I listened to his speech, it reminded me very much of speeches I have heard from his father.

Apart from Strasbourg, I do not think I can embark on any of these issues at this late hour. The Lord Chancellor said that he was very happy to think that there was so wide a measure of agreement on these great issues. I am sure we are all happy to think that. Of course, we cannot agree about everything. We do not agree, apparently, about the recognition of China. Matters such as Strasbourg and human rights do raise very difficult and controversial issues, but on the great main problems with which we are faced, I think it would be true to say that, as always in time of danger and difficulty, there is a great consensus of opinion in this country, in all Parties, as to the general line which this country should take. That, I was happy to see to-day, and I hope your Lordships will feel that the fact that that agreement was shown was in itself a justification for having this debate. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

House adjourned at twenty-six minutes past seven o'clock.