§ 2.40 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
rose to call attention to the Foreign Situation; and to move for Papers. The noble Marquess said: My Lords, I decided to Table this Motion since it seemed to me, and am sure to other noble Lords in this House—indeed, the fact is borne out by the phenomenal list of speakers that we have this afternoon—that it was important for your Lordships' House to have some discussion on Foreign Affairs before we rose for the Summer Recess. It is a long time since we debated the international situation and, as your Lordships know very well, many important events have occurred since we last directed our attention to this subject. It may be that I shall be told by one or other of the Government spokesmen that the moment is not entirely appropriate for a debate; but in all my experience I never have known when a moment was entirely appropriate for a debate on Foreign Affairs. There is always some situation of a delicate character in some part of the world; and if we waited until the skies were entirely clear we should never have a debate at all. Moreover, in such happy, though unlikely circumstances, there would not be any point in a debate, since there would be nothing to talk about. It is just because there are difficult and intractable problems that Parliament should try to pool its wisdom to see whether together we can work out some solution. There may, of course, be wide divisions of opinion on the course to be followed in regard to this or that question, hut, in that event, in my view it is all the more necessary that our views should be ventilated, for it is in that way alone that the British people, with whom decisions must ultimately rest, can come, to considered conclusions.
At the present moment it seems to me that in the centre of our picture there is one fundamental problem, that of the relations between the Communist and the anti-Communist worlds; and there are two more immediate but subsidiary problems which are, indeed, facets of the main problem: these are the situations in Korea and Persia. There is also one other problem, which is at present, fortunately, rather less acute—namely, the relations between this country and Egypt. I do not propose to say anything about 27 the main problem this afternoon. We have frequently discussed it, and I do not think there is any very great change in it at the moment—I only wish there were. But on all subsidiary questions I should like to say something, so far as is possible in the period of a single speech.
First, I should like to say something about Korea. Here, at any rate, so far as one can see, the sky seems temporarily a little lighter. I do not say that the clouds have blown away—they are still far from having done that—but I think we can fairly say that there are some signs of rifts in the clouds. The original aggression, which was by North Korea against South Korea, has been decisively repelled; and the second wave of aggression, which was by Communist China against the United Nations has, equally, I think, been brought to a standstill. And now, Russia, who was behind both these aggressions (I am afraid that this is, perhaps, a controversial point, but it is certainly my view), has decided to try to take steps to bring to an end this episode, which has been so unsatisfactory from her point of view. That is all to the good, and it entirely justifies the steps taken by the United Nations, at the instance of the United States, to make a test case of that inexcusable resort to force. It would have been very easy to have burked the issue in so remote a country; but that would have been disastrous. It would merely have paved the way to further attempts of the same kind, and a general war would have been brought immeasurably nearer.
Of course, we are not yet out of the wood. Negotiations for an armistice, judging by present reports, are likely to be lengthy and tortuous, but they may well prove that a notable advance has been achieved towards the ending of hostilities. That is something—and something important. In the new situation that has arisen in that country I hope—and this is a personal view—that the United Nations, who have achieved so great a measure of success, will adopt an attitude of moderation. There are those, I know, who used to insist, as a condition of an armistice, on the unification of North and South Korea in a single State, under a Government entirely acceptable to the Western Powers. I fully appreciate the great attractions of such a course, 28 but I am glad that that idea has now, apparently, been discarded. For one thing is absolutely certain: such an attitude must have tended to prolong hostilities, possibly indefinitely. Moreover, I believe such a course to be unnecessary. The purpose of the United Nations in entering this conflict was to repel aggression; and that result, as I see it, has now been achieved. After all the losses of men and material which they have sustained, the Communists are back pretty well where they started. They have entirely failed in their object. That, I suggest, should be sufficient for the purpose for which the United Nations entered this war.
As to the exact line to be fixed by the armistice—about which, as I understand, there appear to be difficulties—I, certainly, in this House, would not seek to dogmatise. There may well be considerations, strategic and otherwise, about which none of us knows anything. It would, however, I think, be interesting and valuable for Parliament and the British people if the Government could give them some information on this point. I have not given any notice of this question, and I do not want to press the Government unduly, but we should, I am sure, be glad to hear anything they can tell us in this connection. On the other hand, I would say definitely that I think there are a great many of us who would feel much more doubtful about any proposal that all foreign forces should be now evacuated from the country. That seems to lay the way open to the recreation of just that position which made the earlier aggression possible. Already, judging from reports in the Press, there seems to be a certain amount of evidence that Chinese forces which are now available may be massing with a view to an offensive, should negotiations for an armistice fail. I do not know how correct those reports are, but, in such circumstances, for the United Nations to put themselves at a disadvantage would surely be an act of folly. Moreover, I should have thought that the retention of at any rate some United Nations troops in Korea might well be desirable for a longer period, simply for the purpose of making clear to any potential aggressor that if he reverted to his evil courses he would have to deal not merely with the South Koreans but with the whole might of the United Nations. So, for this reason, I 29 believe the retention of a force—albeit, possibly, a fairly symbolic force—would he the best safeguard of the continuity of peace in that part of the world.
And now, my Lords, I should like to come to the second great storm area at the present juncture, that is, Persia. I can assure His Majesty's Government that I will try to speak with proper moderation. No one wants to make a bad situation worse, and, as we know, Persia is an area fraught with far more dangerous possibilities than Korea could ever be. The situation in Korea might simmer on for a long time, however deplorably, without immediate risk of a world conflagration; but that is not true of Persia. If things went really wrong in Persia, the extent of the disaster might be immediate and incalculable. But, though I hope I shall speak with a sense of due responsibility, there are certain things that feel must be said. The first is this: for the very reason that Persia is an area of such vital importance to the whole position of the Western world, many of us, and I expect not only in one part of the Horse, must deeply regret that the Government did not grasp the nettle earlier. By that, I do not mean in the last few weeks; but months, and perhaps years, ago They must have had constant reports from their representative in Teheran to the effect that the Persian Government were becoming more and more restive about the financial arrangements between them and the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.
It is difficult to understand why the Government did not intervene directly at that time, when it might have been possible to prevent matters coming to this grievous pass. At that stage, and even, if I may say so, much later, His Majesty's Government seem to have regarded the difficulties which arose as merely a private matter of the Company, in which they were not immediately concerned. An attitude of such complete detachment as that is, in any case, rather queer in a Government which are the largest shareholder in the Company. Perhaps the Socialist Jekyll was unwilling to be associated with the capitalist Hyde! But in this case His Majesty's Government were far more closely interested in averting a crisis than by any more considerations of profits in oil. Persia is a main source of the supply of fuel to the sterling bloc; and, moreover, from the strategic point of view the 30 oilfields are situated in an area of vital interest, to both the Communist and anti-Communist blocs. There was every reason, both military and economic, why a settlement should have been reached before the differences between our two countries were inflamed into a definite dispute. Yet apparently nothing was done at that stage to link His Majesty's Government and the Company in their negotiations, or even to give the Company effective assistance in finding a solution acceptable to the Persian Government.
On the contrary, as I understand it, by applying rigidly to the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company the policy of the limitation of dividends, which should have been merely a domestic affair, the British Government forced down the amount payable to the Persian Government and intensified the crisis. In that way, and in others, the situation was allowed slowly but steadily to deteriorate: and, as we know, eventually the point was reached when the Persians took the law into their own hands, and unilaterally repudiated the contract with the Company and passed through the Majlis a law nationalising both the oil and the installations. That, of course, raised a completely new issue, the sanctity of international contracts—a very important issue, indeed. It may well be argued that in this case the contract was mainly commercial in character, and commercial contracts are frequently subject to modification. But even in the case of such contracts, unilateral repudiation has always been regarded as a completely inadmissible step. At the same time, as we know only too well, in the oilfields themselves, the Persians embarked on a deliberate policy of what has been euphemistically called "pin-pricking."
No doubt, this situation arose in part from an attempt by the two parties to the dispute to interpret two different laws at the same time, one adhering to one law and the other adhering to the other law. It might well be suggested that in such circumstances friction was unavoidable. But what is important to us is the result, which was, in fact, a well-organised and deliberate attempt to make life intolerable for the British employees of the Company. That is how it worked out, whatever the cause. One would have expected that at that point, at any rate, His Majesty's Government would have stepped in and said firmly they could not disassociate 31 themselves any longer from what they could regard only as a deliberate attack on the rights of British citizens pursuing their lawful avocations—that is what has always been done in the past—and that they would have been obliged to take whatever means would be necessary to protect them. But His Majesty's Government did nothing of the kind. They continued to allow the differentiation between themselves and the Company, which was part of the Persian Government's case but which we certainly ought not to have accepted from the earliest stages of this dispute. It is true that the British Government urged the Company's officers to stand firm, but they gave no indication that they were prepared to assist them in doing so. They said that the situation was "intolerable"—that word was used in one of the statements of the Foreign Secretary, and it is a very strong word indeed. They deplored the fact that the Persian intention seemed to beto force the Company to withdraw from the industry it had built and brought up into a high state of efficiency,"?but they took no effective steps to prevent that unhappy result.
Such inaction as that, if I may use a relatively mild word, was merely an encouragement to the Persians to intensify their policy. The interference with our oil men was redoubled, and our prestige sank lower and lower throughout the Middle East and East—I have had very definite evidences of that. His Majesty's Government did, it is true, take two steps which we can all quite properly applaud. First, they withdrew all tankers from Abadan. That was undoubtedly an attempt to make the Persians understand the realities of the situation. Secondly, they appealed to The Hague Court for a judgment on the justice of the Company's case, and in due course, as we have all heard, the Court gave an interim injunction that the position should remain as it was on May 1—that is, previous to the passage of the nationalisation Act. Undoubtedly, that injunction immensely strengthened our legal position. So far as I can see, however, it did not lead to any notable stiffening in the attitude of His Majesty's Government in regard to the situation of our people in Abadan and the oilfields. They still kept appealing to these unhappy men to stand firm, but 32 they showed no signs of standing firm themselves.
At that juncture, when the Government were patently unable or unwilling to deal with the position, and that position was steadily getting worse, the United States decided to take a hand and the President sent Mr. Harriman to Teheran to explain to the Persian Government the dangers into which they were drifting. For that friendly gesture on the part of the President we are all immensely grateful. It is a very good example of that close and cordial friendship between our country and the United States which is to-day the main buttress of peace. Mr. Harriman appears to be achieving by patient yet firm diplomacy some detente in the situation. We all owe him our most sincere thanks, and I am certain that at such a delicate juncture no one would wish to say anything to prejudice his efforts. I hope most wholeheartedly that he will succeed in persuading the Persian Government that an attempt to ride roughshod over International Law would serve only to alienate the whole civilised world, and would be disastrous to Persia herself if it succeeded. If, by his advocacy, a new situation is created, and new negotiations can begin between His Majesty's Government and the Persian Government calculated to lead to a settlement satisfactory and honourable to all, we shall all be delighted, in whatever part of the House we sit. But I hope that in any such settlement His Majesty's Government, who are now buttressed by the declaration by The Hague Court, will not, in order to gain some temporary respite, sacrifice essential British interests. Our object must be to secure an agreement which satisfies the legitimate requirements of both parties. For this, as I see it, we should firmly stand.
Certainly, I hope that the Government, in any resumption of the negotiations, will succeed in obtaining an assurance from the Persian Government that the policy of pinpricks against the British in Abadan and the oilfields will immediately stop. I do not know whether your Lordships saw the report of an interview (it appeared in the Press on July 26) with Mr. Alec Mason, the acting chief of the Anglo-Iranian Company at Abadan. This is what he is reported to have said:The British staff are becoming exasperated at the indifference shown by London and 33 Teheran to their plight. We expected a let-up in the indignities and tail twisting, at least during the Harriman talks. But, instead, the Persians have intensified their pinpricking, such as searching cars and baggage and interfering with staff movements. There must he a limit to the extent to which tails can be twisted.I do not believe that any of us, in any part of the House, would dissent from that: such proceedings really must stop. They are creating an intolerable situation, not only for our men there, who have shown such heroic restraint, but for our country, too; and they are not in accordance with those traditions of courtesy which should, even in times of difference, subsist between civilised nations. I cannot believe that the Persian Government, with whom we have had such friendly relations in the past, will not appreciate this.
Moreover—I think it is necessary that I should say this, as Parliament is now separating for, we may hope, nearly three months—I trust that His Majesty's Government will make it clear, here and now, that should these negotiations, unhappily, fail (as I hope they will not), we are determined to stay, at any rate in Abadan, in accordance with the injunction of The Hague Court; and, in the unhappy event of such a course being forced upon us, we shall use any measures that may be necessary to protect the lives and security of British nationals on that island. I may be told that that question has already been answered in the affirmative by the declaration of the Prime Minister in another place last night, that "our intention is not wholly to evacuate from Persia." I personally was very happy to hear that declaration. I think it should tend to stabilise the situation. But why was it not made before? Why, during the whole of this period, did we have what I can only describe as "waffling" statements from the Foreign Secretary to the effect that he hoped that the Persian Government would not make it necessary for the Company to evacuate, and so on. Even now, the declaration that was made last night was made, so far as I can see, not as an integral part of the Prime Minister's speech, but merely in answer to an interjection from the Opposition Benches as he was about to sit down. He referred in his remarks to all that having been made clear by the statement; but he did not say what statement. I looked all through the Foreign 34 Secretary's statement, and could see no reference to it. However, in spite of the unorthodox manner of so important a declaration, we welcome it.
But, I would ask further: Do His Majesty's Government accept all the implications of that statement? Are they prepared to make it possible for these employees to remain in Abadan? At present, those men are, as I see it, in the situation of a man who is hanging on by his finger nails to a ledge of rock half way down the cliff. It is not much good saying to a man in that situation: "It is my policy that you should stay there." You have got to give him some evidence that you are prepared to help him. Is it the policy of the Government, if necessary, to give that support? I hope very much that it is. Such are the considerations which are worrying, I am sure, not the Opposition only, but the British people as a whole. I hope that it will he possible for the Government spokesman to give us a little more enlightenment on these points this afternoon. A declaration of that kind, in amplification of what the Prime Minister said yesterday, would, I believe, go far to steady the situation; and it would certainly serve to give confidence to our people in Abadan and the oilfields who, without it, cannot be expected to remain permanently passive under the continual pressure which is being exerted against them.
I should now like to turn for a moment to Egypt. Here, no doubt, in many ways, the situation is different, and happily a good deal less acute than it is in Persia. It is, indeed, a matter of deep regret to all of us that there should be any differences between Great Britain and Egypt, who have had, for so many years, happy and friendly relations together. It is not our doing, if those differences have arisen. But here, too—and I think this is perhaps the only point in common with the situation in Persia—as in Persia, so in Egypt, we seem to be faced, during the term of an international agreement which was freely entered into by both parties, with an attempt to alter its terms on conditions not acceptable to one of the parties to the agreement. That seems to me to raise formidable issues, especially as in this particular case the agreement was of a political character, entered into between two sovereign States.
35 As we all know, in 1936 a Treaty was concluded between Great Britain and Egypt which covered the question of the Suez Canal Zone and the presence of British troops for its protection. I was in the Foreign Office at that time as an Under-Secretary, and I well remember those negotiations: they were long and complex, and no doubt there were many matters about which the two countries did not, even at that time, see entirely eye to eye. But eventually the terms of the Treaty were settled, to the satisfaction of both parties, including the provision that the British troops should remain in the Canal Zone for the period of the Treaty; and that Treaty was to run until 1956. No doubt the Treaty could have been altered or even abrogated before that date by agreement between the two parties—that is true of any international instrument—but, in default of agreement, its terms were binding on both parties. That was the nature of it. Therefore, it came as a severe shock, I am sure, to all of us—the British Government, the Opposition and the British people generally, who were loyally keeping their side of the bargain—when we heard that King Farouk, in a speech from the Throne in November, 1950, had demanded that British troops should immediately and totally evacuate the Canal Zone. If the proposal had been that evacuation should take place at the end of the period of the Treaty, I do not think anyone could have complained. Egypt would have been entirely within her rights in making such a proposal, which would, of course, have been a matter for discussion in connection with the negotiations for a new Treaty. But to ask us to leave now was proposing the unilateral cancellation of a Treaty, to the detriment of the other party.
As I understand the position—and the Lord Chancellor will no doubt correct me if I am wrong—His Majesty's Government rightly resisted the Egyptian contention, which was complicated by the question of the Sudan (with which I do not propose to deal to-day), and negotiations have been proceeding ever since without, so far, a satisfactory solution having been reached. I should like to ask the Government to-day: What is the present position regarding those negotiations? As your Lordships know, attempts 36 have been made by the Opposition—I think here, and certainly in another place—on frequent occasions to obtain a statement on this point. But those attempts have always been resisted by the Government, who have refused to accept the view that Parliament must be consulted or informed before a new Treaty is signed. That may be technically correct—probably it is but I submit that it is very undesirable that a Government, who, after all, at this moment (I do not say this in any controversial sense) represents only a minority of the electorate, should keep Parliament and the country in complete ignorance where such far-reaching issues are involved. I hope, therefore, that a spokesman of the Government—either the Lord Chancellor or the noble Lord, Lord Henderson—will be able to tell us more to-day than the Foreign Secretary was able to tell members of another place yesterday, because that was, in fact, nothing at all.
As a result of these differences over the Suez Canal and over the Sudan, as we all know, violent anti-British propaganda has been started in Egypt; and the Egyptians have embarked upon a policy which I am afraid can be described only as "twisting the lion's tail." That I believe to be the inner meaning of the refusal to allow our tankers through the Suez Canal and the recent unjustifiable boarding of the "Empire Roach." I understand that Egypt claims that she is justified in taking such action, in view of the fact that a technical state of war still exists between Egypt and Israel. But that claim really is preposterous. Indeed, as I understand it, His Majesty's Government themselves, by their note of July 11 of this year, have made it abundantly clear that they entirely reject this contention of the Egyptian Government. But in that case, why are the Government taking no further steps? Why have they allowed the situation to drift, as it has drifted now for two years? Why have they acquiesced in the stoppage of British tankers passing through the Suez Canal? Why have they not brought the matter to the notice of the Security Council? Why have they left it to Israel to do this? I think I am right in saying that Article 4 of the Suez Canal Convention guarantees the passage of neutral shipping, both in peace and in war. Well, we are neutral in the dispute between Egypt and Israel. Why not insist upon 37 our rights as neutrals and take steps to ensure that they are maintained?
Passive acquiescence in such illegalities has led, as your Lordships know, only to further and further infringements of our rights and has lowered our prestige throughout the world. Your Lordships may have read in the Press this morning, even if you were not in another place and heard it last night, that Mr. Churchill suggested various ways by which pressure might be brought on the Egyptian Government. We might refuse to make further payments from the sterling balances, pending a satisfactory settlement. We might refuse to deliver the British destroyer which is at present due for delivery in Egypt, and which, I understand, is to be paid for out of those same balances. The Prime Minister replied, I thought with a certain amount of complacency, that he could not agree to anything which savoured of unilateral repudiation of our obligations. I certainly should not dissent from that as a general principle—indeed, if your Lordships have listened to what I have said this afternoon, the sanctity of international contract has been the main burden of my speech. But there is an important proviso to that general principle. It would be impossible to maintain relations between two nations on the basis that one of them always repudiated its contracts and the other always kept them. That would not he practical politics at all. There must he two-way traffic in this as in other matters. If Egypt wants us to honour our bargains with her, she must honour her bargains with us. The Prime Minister, at the end of his remarks on this subject, added this one sentence, which I believe is the real reason behind the submissiveness of the Government. He said:If the Government tried to treat Egypt roughly"—and, personally, I should prefer the word "firmly"—it would hive had a bad effect throughout the Moslem world.That is a very good example of what I might call the "You musn't say boo to a goose" mentality. I believe that it shows a total misunderstanding of the basic principles of foreign pokey. Of course, one must he just. Everybody agrees about that. But it is not necessary, or desirable, to base one's policy on the fear of the results of any given action. That, indeed, would be fatal to arty positive policy at all.
38 That brings me to the last point which I wish to make this afternoon. I can see only two explanations of what I can describe only as the supine attitude of the Government during recent months. The first, which is the more respectable, even if it is misjudged, is that they are afraid that any firm action on their part will increase the danger of war. But experience of the past shows that no idea could he more misplaced. The greatest danger to peace arises from an over-flaccid attitude by Governments in matters of foreign affairs. For other countries with whom such a Government has to deal come to the conclusion that it can be pressed to any extent; that it will submit to any indignity; and then, when the weak Government comes to the point that even it cannot yield any further—when the worm turns—the other party to the dispute has gone too far to retreat; and war becomes inevitable. Any student of history knows that there are innumerable examples of that fact. On the other hand, a firm attitude, so long as it is based on moderation and justice in the earlier stages of a dispute, may entirely recover a position, however dangerous the character of that position may be. I will give your Lordships one instance in recent years—that of the Berlin blockade by the Russians in 1948–49. Had the United States of America and ourselves accepted that position, and allowed ourselves to be driven out of Berlin, the danger of general war would have been immeasurably increased. We should have been pushed further and further, until eventually a conflict became inevitable. The firm stand taken then—for their share in which I would give the Government full credit—was probably the most potent factor in maintaining peace during the last few years. If, therefore, the Government now think, or the new Foreign Secretary thinks, that a weak policy will get them out of their difficulties, I believe that they are profoundly mistaken; and such a view is becoming daily more odious to the British people.
But there is another explanation of what I have called the present flaccidity of Government policy, which I am afraid is less creditable to the Government. I feel bound to mention it this afternoon, though I confess to doing so with reluctance, for one greatly dislikes attributing unworthy motives to political opponents. However, they have thrown so many brickbats at us that I am sure they will 39 not object if I throw one moderate-sized pebble at them. I have been driven to the conclusion, as have many others, on reading the speeches of some Ministers and many Members of Parliament of the Party opposite (though not of any noble Lord in this House) and the utterances of their supporters, that they have been at any rate partly influenced in their conduct of foreign policy in recent months by considerations of purely domestic Party politics. As we all know, an Election is undoubtedly approaching, though we do not know when; and they have to decide on what ground they will stand. The position is admittedly not an easy one for the Government. Socialism is evidently a drug on the market with increasing sections of the British people—I notice that even some of their strongest supporters have given vent to expressions of that kind—and in the debate on identity cards last week it was evident that many noble Lords on the Government Benches were themselves becoming more and more unhappy at the increasing interferences with the liberty of the subject. I believe that feeling to be common to the country as a whole.
Nor is our economic situation improving: the gap between exports and imports is steadily broadening. The cost of living is rising month by month and practically day by day. One cannot wonder that Party managers—of whom the most eminent is certainly the Foreign Secretary himself—have been looking around desperately for ground on which the crumbling Party forces can be rallied to the Government banner. And they seem to have decided—I do not know whether I am right or wrong—that, in a war-weary country, the best ground is to present the Labour Party as the Party of peace and the Tories as warmongers; and so the word has gone out that that subject has, in a modern phrase, "to be plugged." A good example of this was the speech by the Minister of Defence, who is always forthright in his utterances, on May 11. He said:Britain cannot afford another Tory Government. It would he a first class disaster. It would mean trouble for the country as a whole, and might have a devastating effect on the prospects of world peace.That, my Lords, is a clear example of attempting to use foreign policy as a Party political counter.
40 To give another example—I do not want unduly to stress this—the Foreign Secretary himself, in a speech at Durham to which Mr. Churchill referred yesterday, said, in effect—I have not the exact words at hand—that if the Conservatives had their way we should have had two wars in ten days. The same theme appears in innumerable other speeches by Ministers and Members of Parliament throughout the country, It is evidently a definite mot d'ordre. Such a cry may be profitable from the purely Party political point of view—I do not know—but I am sure it is not one in which noble Lords opposite can find any great cause for pride. I suppose that no Opposition in the history of this country has given such consistent support to the foreign policy of the Government in power as the Conservative Party have given to this Government in the last six years. They have supported them over Greece, the Atlantic Pact, the Brussels Treaty, the Berlin blockade—and, incidentally, if we had been in power and had so acted, we should have been told that we> were warmongers on a large scale. We supported them over the Korean intervention, though that did, in fact, mean war, and we supported them over rearmament. The noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor has often in speeches in this House paid tribute to our co-operation.
If we criticise the present policy now, it is because we feel it is necessary to support—as I hope we always shall support—two great principles: first, the sanctity of International Law, and. secondly, the protection of British citizens going about their lawful avocations in foreign lands. It is our support of those principles which the Foreign Secretary has described, I think rather quaintly, as hysterical. My Lords, it would not have been so described in the great days of the past, when Britain's name stood high in the world. And, indeed, it is on the sanctity of International Law, and the willingness of nations to keep their pledged word, that the whole of civilisation depends. If international instruments which have been freely entered into are to become regarded as mere "scraps of paper"—to use a famous phrase—the world will slip steadily back into barbarism. Without support of these principles we cannot have any foreign policy at all.
41 If, then, to stand up for one's country is to be regarded as "warmongering" it only shows how low we have fallen. I imagine I personally may be regarded in Government circles—unless I have been made more respectable by the Prime Minister's statement yesterday—as one of the wildest of warmongers, because I was reckless enough to suggest in this House that our fellow citizens in Persia should be sustained and supported against the almost unbearable tests to which they have been subjected. But I am sure, at any rate, that noble Lords in this House really believe that I have no desire for war. Indeed I should have imagined that no one who fought in the First World War and who saw his children engulfed in the Second World War, could want war, or could doubt that war is one of the greatest of human evils. What is the truth? No one in any Party in this House or in this country wants war. To suggest such a thing is a wicked and dangerous falsehood. But one thing I equally believe is this. If our country is to retain the respect of the nations with which she has to deal—and on that peace largely depends—those nations must know, beyond any peradventure, two things: first that she stands unalterably for certain fundamental principles in human conduct, and secondly, that she has the courage and resolution to sustain those principles. That is the reputation which Britain has always held in the councils of the world. Let us not lose it now, for, if we do, we shall have lost everything. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.28 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
My Lords, I shall not join in the exchange of amiabilities which were manifest in the last passages of the noble Marquess's speech. These Benches are not in the direct line of fire between the other two Benches, and therefore we would wish to maintain our immunity. Only one passage in my speech is likely to prove controversial, and I am sure that my opening sentence will be received with universal approval—it is that I do not propose to detain your Lordships with a lengthy speech. At a public dinner a few days ago, I quoted a saying that the best after-dinner speech is one that is even shorter than anyone his dared to hope. That is an excellent maxim, and it has a Parliamentary application as well. My topics are precisely those on which the noble 42 Marquess has spoken, and, indeed, those which occupy the minds of all who are interested in foreign affairs: Egypt, Persia, Korea, with some little reference to the great rift between the Communist and non-Communist worlds that stretches half across the globe.
As for Egypt, we are all rejoicing, I think, that at long last the Government are showing signs of some interest in the obstruction of and interference with oil cargoes passing through the Suez Canal. Yesterday, in the House of Commons, the Foreign Secretary used these words:It is intolerable that the maritime nations should be expected to suffer, apparently indefinitely, from an abusive practice which has neither practical nor moral justification.As this interference by Egypt has gone on for two years, and is now described by the Foreign Secretary as being "intolerable" and as "an abusive practice." one wonders why it is that no action whatsoever has been taken during that long period. It is now about a year since some of us on these Benches proposed to raise the matter specifically in this House. We were told from authoritative quarters, however, that there was hope then of arranging a general agreement with Egypt, and that such a debate would have a deleterious and, perhaps, a fatal effect upon those efforts. As we wholly sympathised with those efforts, we decided not to introduce a Motion. But the fact remains that the Government have been remiss in not pressing the matter forward long ago, particularly since the Speech from the Throne at the opening of the Egyptian Parliament, to which the noble Marquess has referred, declared specifically and in unmistakable terms that Egypt would not come to any agreement with us on the defence of the Suez Canal, or on the right of the Sudanese people to decide their own form of government, except such as was wholly in accordance with the policy that they had declared. It is high time that we insisted that this obstruction should be removed from the world's highway.
So far as Persia is concerned, the extreme tension which has prevailed until recently has, fortunately, somewhat abated. The Government, very wisely, are sending to Persia a mission, headed by a Minister, in order, with the assistance of the American representative, to try to reach an agreement—and here I 43 find myself once more in controversy with the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. It was on July 5 that he, very unexpectedly and with great warmth and vehemence, speaking on a Government Statement on events in Persia, put forward the policy to which he has again returned to-day—namely, that it was the duty of the Government at once (this was the beginning of July) to announce to Persia that we should not withdraw from the oil installations and to say that the Government would support British subjects who had remained there in fulfilment of instructions to that effect. I felt obliged immediately to rise in my place, and to remind the noble Marquess and the House of the probable consequences of such a declaration.
Suppose that a statement had been made at that time saying: "His Majesty's Government will not withdraw from the Persian oil installations, and will defend and support any of their officers who remain to carry out that policy." Suppose that that statement had been followed immediately by an order issued by the Persian Government, to some of the leading engineers there, and others, to quit the country. By that time, the Persian people would have been in a state of wild excitement. His Majesty's Government would not have been able to withdraw from their brave words, and they would necessarily have had to enforce what they had said. That would very probably immediately have involved sending a section of the Fleet, or landing Marines, occupying Abadan and generally preparing ourselves to withstand an assault from the Persian Army. The Persian Army may not be a great or highly efficient force, but it is quite sufficient to make a serious attempt to resist what would have been regarded as an invasion in order to defend a merely mercantile position. The effect on world opinion—on India and on the rest of Asia, and possibly also on the United States and on the United Nations—of such a statement by the British Government might have been exceedingly dangerous. But His Majesty's Government did not make it at that time. They took the matter to the International Court. At the same time, they sent a cruiser to watch the situation in the neighbourhood of Abadan, and, no doubt, have been pre- 44 paring reserve forces in case of an emergency.
Since then, the atmosphere has been improved. If the policy of the noble Marquess had been adopted then, in all probability, by the present time it would have most seriously deteriorated, and the intervention of the United States or the mediation of Mr. Harriman might have been precluded from the outset. As it is, the prospect seems to have improved. We all hope that this mission may bring good results. That is largely due to the intervention of the President of the United States, and once again we ourselves and the whole world have to express our gratitude to America for the manner in which, in recent years especially, the United States has played its full part as a good citizen of the world in abandoning the ancient policy of isolation which it had pursued since the very foundation of the Republic, and in now, with great generosity and wisdom giving material aid, economic and military, wherever it may be needed in the cause of peace and of the welfare of the populations.
Three times, on three critical occasions, the present President of the United States has intervened with energy and immediacy. The first was when the aggression took place in Korea. Without waiting for the support of other countries or even for the approval of the United Nations, America stepped into the breach and took up the challenge, instantly occupying Southern Korea. If she had not done so at once, probably the whole of that peninsula would, within a few weeks, have been occupied by the Northern Korean forces.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
That hardly seems to fit in with the policy that the noble Viscount is now recommending in regard to Persia. Although involving war, the United States took a strong line of action. That is not what he is pressing for now.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
Really, I am surprised that that observation receives approval on the Conservative Benches. Is there no difference between the present situation in Persia and the situation in Korea, where a strongly armed and highly organised force suddenly, without notice, swept through the mountains and valleys 45 of Korea with tanks and artillery, and threatened by open violence the régime that had been established there with the approval and under the auspices of the United Nations? Has Persia done that? They have adopted threats and indulged in pinpricks, but to meet a pinprick with artillery is like cracking an egg with a steam-hammer. As a matter of fact, it has proved to be unnecessary, because the whole of this embroglio may be relieved without such drastic measures.
The second instance was when the General in command not only of the American forces but of the United Nations forcesx2014;the armies and other forces of twelve countries—took it upon himself to make political pronouncements of a menacing character against China. Those pronouncements were calculated to extend the war to the whole of China and possibly lead us into a ten years' war in that country, like the war of the Japanese against China, and with the menace of Russia in the background. That General was a most popular figure in the United States, commanding art enormous volume of political support. Nevertheless. President Truman, again with great courage and effect, thought it necessary to remove him from his post as Commander-in-Chief in the field; and it is that action which, perhaps as much as anything else, has made possible the improvement in the situation in Korea. The third occasion is that by now intervening in the Persian dispute and sending Mr. Harriman, cautious and tactful, the American President has done much to make the situation easier and to remove the worst dangers that faced us. Southern Persia is a very inflammable region, in more senses than one, and, if our representatives had been forced out of there, not only would there have been physical danger of fire in Abadan, which might have destroyed the installations, but that conflagration might have spread politically throughout the whole of the Middle East.
The improvement in Korea has been due mainly to the crushing defeat of the forces of North Korea and of China, thanks mainly to the high standard of equipment and efficiency of the United Nations Forces, particularly those of the United States. Why there should be a hitch in the preliminary negotiations it is difficult to understand. We here have 46 little information. As the noble Marquess said, perhaps some spokesman of the Government will explain why the negotiations, which appeared to begin so smoothly, should now have come to a, one hopes, temporary standstill. It may be that the military leaders who have charge of the negotiations quite probably think that unless a certain line is drawn the Chinese will be encouraged to build up great forces for a possible new attack. But when there is a cease-fire and an armistice it is impossible to prevent the building up of forces on either the one side or the other. That is why it is so desirable that the preliminary negotiations should be as quick as possible and the armistice as short as possible. While the armistice is going on, whether the boundary line is drawn here or there, whether the No-man's-land" is twelve miles wide or of whatever width, no one can prevent China from gradually accumulating great forces in the background to resume the conflict, just as the Naval and Air Forces of the United Nations can be built up. They are still engaged in active attack, quite legitimately within the rules of war, upon the opposing forces.
As to the line to be chosen, one had imagined that that had been settled long ago. Mr. Trygve Lie, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, speaking last June in Ottawa, said:I believe the time has come for a new effort to end the fighting in Korea. If a cease-fire could be arranged approximately along the 38th Parallel, then the main purpose of the Security Council Resolutions of June 25 and 27 and July 7 will he fulfilled, providing that the cease-fire is followed by the restoration of peace and security in the area.One thought that that was universally approved; and if the claim is as to whether the cease-fire should be along the line of the 38th Parallel, one wonders on which side that objection has been taken. Afterwards some régime of a temporary character must be set up to provide a Government for the whole of Korea. It is hardly to be expected that there could he immediate self-government, free from all foreign supervision or interference. After the terrible combats between the North Koreans and the South Koreans and the horrible atrocities committed by each side against the other, it is very unlikely that at the sound of the cease-fire they will fall upon one another's necks; they are much more likely to begin cutting 47 each other's throats. There must be some authority established there, and one would think naturally that, as in other parts of the world, that would be under the auspices of the United Nations. But is it possible for that to take place if one of the belligerents—namely, China—has no seat upon the United Nations at all, whilst the other side almost monopolises the representation?
Here, therefore, we shall be faced at once with a matter which has been in dispute between Britain and the United States, as to whether or not the present Chinese Government in Pekin should fill the seat for China in the Security Council. My noble friend Lord Perth, who is an authority on these matters, was, I think, the first in your Lordships' House to emphasise this point. In our view, it is not a matter at our discretion—one which we can decide whichever way we like, according to the virtues or vices of the several representatives of the Chinese people. The United Nations Charter says specifically that China shall hold a seat in the Security Council. Therefore the only question is: who is entitled to speak for China? That China has a right to be there is undenied, and the opening words of the United Nations Charter are:We, the peoples of the United Nations …Who is entitled to occupy the seat in the Security Council of the United Nations which belongs as of right to China? Is it the Government which de facto controls the whole of China except Formosa, or is it the Government which controls Formosa and none of the rest of China? That question has only to be put to answer itself. It is obvious that the Pekin Government, however much we may dislike them and their policy, has the right to fill that allotted post. The United States President, Mr. Truman, has declared that the United States would not vote against the admission of the Pekin Government if the Security Council in general desired that course. Formosa is the other point of prime difficulty in all these matters, and may yet prove to be the most dangerous question still to be solved by the United Nations. In his Report to Congress on July 26—a solemn pronouncement—the President is reported as saying:On the question of Formosa, the President's Report to Congress recalled yet again 48 that the present military neutralisation 'is without prejudice to political questions affecting that island.'So it seems clear that the United States does not stand definitely and unchangeably in favour of the maintenance of Chiang Kai-shek's administration in that island.
It may be that the Korean war, costly as it has been in life and in other ways, will prove to be a kind of inoculation, which may indeed have some serious and even dangerous symptoms but which afterwards gives a protection against graver attacks of some similar disease, because it has shown that the free world, led by the organisation of the United Nations, is a pillar of resistance against aggression. That must be a warning to any other possible aggressors. It is a warning to China and to Russia not to make the same mistake as was made by Germany in 1914, by Germany again in 1939 and by the North Koreans in 1950, to think that the democracies are effete and unable to take vigorous action at the cost of great sacrifices in order to resist aggression by militarist and totalitarian powers. They are liable to be dupes of their own propaganda, and this may prove to be a revelation to them.
Already, since the Revolution, Russia has been subject again and again to sudden and complete changes. At the beginning, internally in economic affairs, she was ruthlessly revolutionary. When that was found to be bringing disaster Lenin suddenly changed his policy and adopted a new economic policy, and all of a sudden it was afterwards again reversed. By February, 1939, Russia and Germany were at daggers drawn. They abused each other in terms of the utmost vituperation. But in 1939 Russia suddenly changed the whole of her policy and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Agreement was entered into, which consciously and deliberately let loose the Second World War. Then again, as soon as she was attacked by Germany, necessarily her policy took a complete change. She became the ally of the Western world and entered into a twenty years' treaty of friendship with this country.
Then, very soon, back again she went into her position of frigid uncompromising hostility. If, when Russia is your friend, you have to realise that at any moment she may become your enemy, there is, at all events, this 49 consolation—that when she is your enemy, at any moment she may become your friend, if it should suit her in the course of her world policy. At the moment there are some signs of this happening. It was a Russian spokesman who initiated the present talks on the cease-fire. And there seems, indeed, to be some willingness to co-operate in various international organisations which have been boycotted hitherto; some little beginning of interchange of ideas. There seems to be starting what I might call a process of "defrigeration." What the reasons for this may be, it is hard to tell, because her proceedings are veiled in Byzantine mystery. More and more, present-day Russia seems to recall, in many respects, certain features, political and otherwise, of the Byzantine Empire.
Possibly it may be that the real reason is to be found much nearer home than in China or Korea, or even in the United Nations. It may be that the true reason for the new development of policy is that the satellite Powers are becoming restless; that in Poland, in Hungary and, perhaps, above all, in Bulgaria, there are many omens that these satellite States may not be, as they have generally been supposed to be, a solid asset for Russian Communism, but a very serious liability. The revolt of Yugoslavia may prove to be a turning point in this stage of the world's history. But all these appearances that I have mentioned may prove deceptive. We cannot rely upon them, or change our policy because of them. There can be no question of unilateral disarmament. The defence programme of this country, and of the other countries of the Atlantic Pact, must be fully maintained; and that is a policy which I believe will command the support of all Parties and both Houses in the State.
§ 3.54 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT TEMPLEWOOD
My Lords, I do not rise to say, in less effective words, what the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, has said so well. I will say only that he seemed to me to be expressing frankly and forcibly what is to-day in the minds of thousands of men and women in this country. Nor do I propose to follow the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, in what he has said about Persia, Egypt, Korea and Russia. I will make only this single observation upon his remarks about Persia. He painted a picture of what, in his view, were the terrible 50 consequences that would have followed if the Government had adopted the vigorous policy urged upon them by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. The noble Viscount has a perfect right to his own opinions as to what would have happened. We, also, have a right to our own opinions, and we can equally say that, supposing a firmer policy had been adopted three and six months ago, the situation to-day would have been much better than it is. But I do not delay to deal with points of this kind. I rise rather to say a word or two about the possibility of certain rifts in the Anglo-American front.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
May I be allowed to interrupt the noble Viscount in order to say that I was not speaking about a time six months ago. I was speaking of the situation at the beginning of July. I agree that the Government are blameworthy for not having taken up this question long ago. On that I entirely agree with what the noble Marquess has said.
§ VISCOUNT TEMPLEWOOD
I am very glad to hear that statement by the noble Viscount. It shows that there is not so much disagreement between the noble Viscount and us as there seemed to be.
When the noble Viscount intervened, I was proposing to say a word or two about the risk of rifts occurring in the Anglo-American front, which was so rightly described by the noble Marquess this afternoon as the buttress of Western defence. It seems to me that there is a danger of a rift in two directions. There is a danger of a rift with regard to American and English policy over China. In spite of what the noble Viscount has just said, the two main questions—the recognition of the Pekin Government and the question of Formosa—are not yet settled; they have only been shelved. All I will say is that I hope we are using this breathing space to find a basis of agreement between ourselves and the Americans.
There is a further question which I am going to take as an illustration of my argument, and that is the question of Spain. I am taking the question of Spain, not because I suggest that in importance it holds an equal position with the questions of Persia, Korea and Egypt, but because I believe that it contains the 51 makings of a rift between the British and the American Governments, and that it is vitally important that, at the very outset in what appears to be a new chapter with reference to Spain, we should do our utmost to remove the possibility of this rift developing. For centuries past, Spanish questions have—rightly or wrongly—divided the Powers of Western Europe. I have here a quotation from a statement of one of the noble Marquess's predecessors—perhaps the greatest member of his family, Lord Burghley—who in 1583 presented a memorandum to Queen Elizabeth in which he used these words:Spain, yea Spain. It is Spain which all causes do concur to give a just alarm.Since the 16th century, there has not been a period in European history in which Spanish questions have not made trouble in the rest of Europe. Particularly was this the case in the years before the war, after the breakdown of constitutional Government in Spain. Those of us who were in the House of Commons at that time will remember the daily battles between the Right and the Left over the merits of the two sides in the Spanish Civil War, and over the policy of non-intervention. It was much the same in France. Unfortunately, however, both here and in France, the Parties of the Right and the Left projected their own internal battles upon the Spanish screen. These divisions of the past—divisions that, as I say, have existed for generation after generation—emphasise the fact that in dealing with Spanish questions we are dealing with very inflammable matters that may have an importance far outside Spain, and may lead to repercussions of a much more important kind.
With these lessons in mind, let me say a word about the present position. The Americans, with their full sovereign rights and the Spaniards, with their full sovereign rights, have agreed upon a defence pact, the compensation for which appears to be economic aid to Spain. It is a pact made in the interests of Western defence. On the other hand, it is no good denying that upon other grounds—political, and, some might even say, moral grounds—a great many people in Western Europe, not only in this country but also in Scandinavia, France and Italy, object to a plan which, in their view, rightly or wrongly, seems likely to strengthen Fascism in the Spanish 52 peninsula. Having spent several years in Spain, I am as anxious as anyone, perhaps, to see the Spanish people take their full part in the general march of Western civilisation. Therefore, I ask myself, with a very strong wish in my mind, whether some kind of reconciliation cannot be found between these two divergent points of view. If they are left as they are at present, they may lead to much more serious rifts in future.
I venture, therefore, to suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, that the time has come when this country, France, possibly Italy, and the United States should have a detailed and comprehensive discussion of the whole Spanish question. I do not suggest a formal international conference. That might be embarrassing and of no great value, but I suggest that instead of treating Spanish questions piecemeal, and leaving this issue unreconciled between politics and defence, the countries mainly concerned should consider in detail the whole Spanish picture. I have particularly in mind the issues that have been directly raised by the American pact. Let me suggest them to the House.
First of all, there is the issue between unilateral action and the collective action and collective responsibility of the Atlantic Treaty Powers. I do not suggest that Spain and the United States have not the full sovereign powers for making this kind of pact, but I think it is necessary to consider it as an illustration of the difficulties that may arise between the unilateral action of one country within the Atlantic Treaty and the more general policy of the other Atlantic Treaty Powers. Let me make it clear that we ourselves have not a clean sheet in this matter. We started these unilateral acts by our action in recognising the Pekin Government and in adopting a policy about Formosa which, to put it at its lowest, was out of harmony with American sentiment and, it may be, with the sentiment of other countries among the Treaty Powers. I urge that the Spanish incident gives point to this danger, and I suggest that, if the discussions I am urging take place, this should be one of the questions that should be fully discussed, and fully discussed among friends who wish to settle it.
Secondly, there is the question of strategy. What effect is the new defence pact with Spain likely to have on the 53 general strategy of the Western Powers? For instance, to what extent will it diminish the supply of arms to the other Western countries if large quantities of munitions are earmarked for Spain? More important, is it going to change the present conception of Western strategy? I ask this question for this reason: I find that in Spain, and to a lesser extent in France, it is suggested that the defence pact with Spain will alter the basis of Western strategy. It is freely said in Spain that the line which it is understood that the Western Powers at present intend to hold is untenable, and that in any war with the Soviets it would be necessary to fall back to a line based on the Pyrenees, the Alps and the Apennines. That is the kind of dangerous statement that ought at once to be repudiated, if we are not to destroy the morale of our defensive Scandinavian alliance. That is certainly one of the questions that should be discussed in the conference I am now urging.
There is still a third issue, that of our general policy towards Spain. Is this new plan simply a pact of limited scope, under which, on the one hand, the Americans would have the use of half a dozen military and air centres and, on the other, Spain would have such-and-such an amount of economic help, or is it meant to be the beginning of a new chapter? As one who has for more than ten years freely expressed his disapproval of the Franco régime, I am afraid that if it is simply a limited exchange of the kind I have just suggested, one of the few results it will have will be to consolidate Fascism in the Spanish peninsula. I would rather see an attempt made between ourselves, France, Italy and the United States to consider the problem on a much wider scale and to agree between us as to what kind of Spanish Government we should like to see—I do not mean by that that we should attempt to dictate the Spanish Government upon the Spanish people, but that we should know generally in our minds what kind of Spanish Government we should like to see; and that if we can agree upon that, then to see what steps we can take to achieve our end.
I feel that this is a great opportunity to face issues of this kind, which, as I have said, have in recent years been faced only piecemeal, with the result that there are divisions between the countries of the 54 Western Treaty which the Franco Government are able to play off one against another. It is because I am so anxious, to see Spain taking its full part in what we are trying to do to defend and develop Western civilisation that I urge upon the Government, not in general terms but quite specifically, that when, as I understand he will, the Foreign Secretary goes to Washington in September, an attempt should be made between him, the Americans and the other countries concerned to arrive at a common policy upon the question that I have just teen discussing.
§ 4.12 p.m.
§ LORD BOYD-ORR
My Lords, this debate up to now has dealt very largely with the stirring events in Persia, Egypt and Korea. I wish to refer briefly to what I believe to be the fundamental cause of the general unrest in Asia, of which these events are but acute symptons. I think it is an over-simplification to say that all this unrest in Asia is due to the Russian Communist. It is true that Communists take advantage of the unrest to promote their ideologies but there would have been unrest there suppose there had never been a revolution in Russia. The position seems to be that the people in these countries have long endured poverty, misery and preventable disease with meekness and resignation, because they thought those conditions were necessary and could not be altered. Then thousands of students came from those countries to America and Europe, and went back with a new outlook. The wireless and the cinematograph spread knowledge, and these people have now come to the conclusion that the conditions of poverty and misery under which they are living are no longer necessary. The unrest is fundamentally a revolt against poverty, a revolt against their own leaders, some of whom are enormously wealthy, and a revolt against the domination of European countries which they believe have been exploiting them.
The Communists help to stimulate the revolt. They hold out the hope that if they apply the Communist ideology, the hunger, the poverty and misery will be eliminated. We, on the other hand, want them to help in the fight for democracy and political liberty. They do not know what that means. Communism is spreading in these countries, and continues to 55 spread, because it has no effective ideological competition. We must, to maintain peace, have forces to resist aggression, but resisting armed aggression, as we have seen in Korea, when the war has already cost 2,000,000 lives, is expensive.
But while you have these forces to maintain the peace of the world, I suggest to your Lordships that the only way to halt the spread of Communism is to eliminate the poverty, disease and misery which is its breeding ground. It is interesting to note that during the war we decided to do that very thing. Your Lordships will remember that we were going to build a new and better world. We were (in the words of Mr. Winston Churchill):going to create conditions under which the just and true aspirations of the common man for the fuller life will be realised.In the words of another great leader:We are going to relegate poverty to the limbo of the past.And they meant to do these things. I was in Washington during the war, and I can assure your Lordships that the Ministers in Washington who were discussing these things did mean to do them. They were full of hope that they were going to build a new and better world. In 1943, President Roosevelt called a conference at Hot Springs of the representatives of all the United Nations to consider ways and means whereby they could make a beginning by eliminating hunger and malnutrition. From that there arose the Food and Agriculture Organisation, which was given the job of bringing about international collaboration to provide sufficient food for the people of the world, and to raise the standard of living of the food producers. They knew that that could not be done by agriculture—it is not so much an agricultural problem as an engineering and industrial problem. To double the world food supply in the next twenty-five years, which is needed to provide for the anticipated population in 1970, calls for enormous quantities of industrial products—steel for flood control and irrigation schemes, for agricultural implements, and for consumer goods in exchange for the great increase in food.
The Economic and Social Council was created to direct industry and trade towards social ends. Enormous credits were needed, and the World Bank for 56 Reconstruction and Development was created to provide credits. In 1946, when I had the honour to be the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, proposals were put forward for a World Development Board through which these specialised agencies of the United Nations could co-operate to develop the vast potential resources of the earth to provide the primary necessities of life to all human inhabitants. When that proposal was put forward, the head of the American delegation said that his Government approved, and proposed that the Commission should be set up to get it going. I am sorry to say that, though the majority of countries approved, this country did not, and the scheme fell through.
The great objectives we had in mind were, first, to allay social unrest in these poverty-stricken countries; to assure them that the great industrial Powers would cooperate with them as equals, and not merely as givers of charity, in a great new venture to provide food and clothing, and to give them hope for the future. That would have allayed the present social unrest which is spreading in Asia and threatens to spread to Africa and Latin America. It would also have prevented another economic crisis, with unemployment such as occurred in 1929, for it would have provided an international harvest for all that the highly industrialised countries could produce. It would have doubled and redoubled world trade. Further, co-operation in such a world development plan would have brought about a better understanding in international politics. As Mr. Truman said, if we could discuss with Russia our mutual interests in developing world agriculture, it would be easier then to get agreement on other problems.
It is now recognised that the only effective means of preventing the spread of Communism is by the elimination of the poverty and misery on which it feeds and grows. That is the object of President Truman's Point 4; but his proposals are on too small a scale. He asked Congress for 35,000,000,000 dollars. Congress cut it to 10,000,000 dollars, which is less than the City of New York spends on keeping its streets clean and disposing of its garbage. The figure was quite inadequate to begin that enormous task. It was subsequently raised but, according to what 57 I have read recently, owing to the emergencies of the military situation, the sum actually being spent is down to 200,000,000 dollars. Then we have the British Colombo plan, to which we are going to give over £300,000,000 for over six years. With such a vast number of people in poverty, with the food position worse than it was before the war, and with the population increasing at such a rate, that sum will not even maintain the present food level in Asia. While Governments have been putting forward their schemes, individuals have been putting forward more realistic schemes. Senator McMahon, with whom I had the honour of discussing these things says: "Let the United States spend 10,000,000,000 dollars a year for five years." Mr. Reuther, the head of the Automobile Workers' Association, said that we should spend 13,000,000,000 dollars, and he arrives at that figure by saying it is 1 per cent. of what America spent during the war. The United Nations appointed a committee, and they arrived at a figure of 14,000,000,000 dollars. Those who mention figures like that, realise something of the magnitude of the problem.
The question is: Could it be done? Could we find the money or the equipment with which to do it? I believe that it can be done, and that the carrying out of an enormous world development plan of that kind, to create wealth, eliminate poverty and bring contentment, is the only alternative to war or to another economic crisis. I should like to explain why I refer to an economic crisis. War always stimulates research and technology. During the last war the capacity of the United States for industrial production increased by 100 per cent. There was an even larger percentage increase in Canada. In this country we are now producing 40 per cent. more than before the war. Two years ago Sweden was producing 47 per cent. more, in spite of the shortage of materials. The rate at which modern technology can produce wealth is tremendous, and you need to find an outlet for the product of the industrial machines. The extent to which industrial goods can be produced is shown by the amount of money which the United States proposes to spend next year—62,000,000,000 dollars—on rearmament, while at the same time maintaining the standard of living in America. It can be done.
58 We talk about peace. What would happen to the world if suddenly peace descended upon it, and it was said that there was no further need for guns, tanks, atomic bombs or soldiers? We should need some other outlet for the products of the industrial machine. I saw a headline in a Chicago pa per when it was thought that peace was coming in Korea which said, "Peace Scare." Senator McMahon says: "Yes, we must re-arm; we must have defensive forces, but we should take a part of what is being spent on arms and apply it to eliminating the cause of the spread of Communism." I saw recently an estimate that for every £100 being spent in trying to prevent the spread of Communism by arms, 1d. is being spent in an attempt to eliminate poverty in the Asiatic countries and to prevent the spread of Communism.
In my opinion, this world is at the parting of the ways. With the enormous powers of science we can have a great and glorious war, or we can apply science to building up a civilisation such as the world have never thought possible. The United States has this idea, but it finds difficulty in its bilateral agreements, because it is subject to the suspicion that its action is to promote American economic imperialism. Our country, which has given freedom to India, Ceylon and Burma, and is pursuing the same policy for the Colonial Empire is free from the suspicion of imperialism. In addition, this country Las the prestige. At the end of the war I was in Latin America, in Eastern Europe, in Asia and in Asia Minor, and the statesmen of those small countries looked to this country for a lead in creating a world of peace and plenty. The lead which they expected was getting these specialist agencies of the United Nations to which I have referred to do the job for which they were created. In addition to the prestige and freedom from suspicion of imperialism, this country has the financial and the trade experience which is needed to double and re-double world trade, an experience which neither America nor Russia will have for a long time.
It is this country which should be taking the lead in getting nations to cooperate to apply the great powers of modern science to constructive ends. I wish to make a suggestion. The politicians 59 in another place are all very busy. The Ministers are overwhelmed with work. In this House you have men of science and economists; you have leading business men and leading financiers. You have in this House such a group of ability as no other body in the world of which I know possesses. You have a certain freedom from political controversy—I would it were more. You need not worry about the time of the next Election because you are not fighting seats. With that great wisdom, would it not be possible to set up a Committee to consider these things and whether or not there could go out from this House a plan and a call to all nations to co-operate, irrespective of whether they were Fascist or Communist or adherents of any other ideology, to eliminate poverty and to double the wealth of the world for the benefit of all countries?
Now it may be said that Russia would not come in. Well, we do not know because we have not asked her. I know, however, that when the plan for a world board to which I have referred was put forward in 1946, my late friend Mr. La Guardia, the head of U.N.N.R.A., went to Moscow and had a talk with Mr. Stalin and others. They said: "This is the one thing we would come into if we were sure that America and Britain would come in without any strings attached to it." Russia may not come in. We could then say: "Russia refuses to co-operate with the other nations of the world in applying science for the benefit of all mankind: what then is it she is standing for?" We could "plug" that over the head of the Kremlin to the people of Russia and all countries. That would be the effective counter to Communist propaganda. I feel that if such a plan were put forward from this House, your Lordships would be perfectly astonished at the response it would get, not only from people in this country, but from people in every country of the world. Such a plan and call for action on a world scale might change the course of history. It ought to be the destiny of this great Commonwealth to which we belong to lead the world through this present difficult transition period to the new and better world which modern science has made possible.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT JOWITT)
My Lords, the noble Lord who has just spoken will forgive me if I do not follow him in his speech. The reason is a simple one—I was quite unable to hear what he was saying. He made me long for the days of the little Robing Room which formed our House of Lords for so many years, where at least we could always hear. But in the splendid isolation in which I sit here, without any table on which to put my papers, and with the difficulties that come from having a wig and no amplifier near me, it is sometimes quite impossible to hear; and I did not hear enough of what the noble Lord said to enable me to reply to him. He will, therefore, acquit me of any discourtesy, if I assure him that I shall read his speech with interest; and I feel sure that, on reading it, I shall find it worth while and that, like his other speeches, it will contain much material for thought and much original thinking.
For over six years I have been replying for the Government on these Foreign Affairs debates. I confess that I have always found them refreshing and invigorating—and very helpful to the Government. It is good that we should be criticised, and that varied points of view should be put to us; and the sort of criticism we get is completely in accordance with our traditions. The noble Marquess will forgive me, I am sure, if I make one slight criticism of his speech to-day—that it would have been better if it had stopped rather before it did. I thought, when he got to the end and really got into the region of Party politics, that he was not the man to play that game at all. It is not his metier, and I wish that the speech had stopped before that point. I readily concede—if my testimonial is of the slightest good to the noble Marquess—the proposition that he is not a warmonger. I will add that no one on his side is a warmonger, for no one outside a madhouse is. Everyone realises too much what the horrors of war are, and what war means. I will go further and agree that you may slip into a state of war by flaccid inactivity and weakness, as the noble Marquess said, just as much as by strength. On the other hand, we shall all agree that taking what is called a "strong line" may lead you into trouble which you do not want 61 to be led into. For better or worse, the days of Lord Palmerston and Don Pacifico have gone. We have tried to constitute a world which is subject to the rule of law. We try not to be judge in our own case, or take the execution of it into our own hands.
When it is suggested that we might have taken much stronger action and at an earlier date with regard to Persia, I should very much like to ask: what action and at what date? That is rather obscure. I should like to ask a further question. If the noble Marquess had been responsible For the conduct of our foreign affairs at that time, would he have taken that action without consulting—nay, more, without the approval of—our Allies, the United States? Would he have thought it worth while, for instance, to find out the reaction of Canada and the Dominions? It would, indeed, have been a light-hearted and ill-advised experiment if he had taken the sort of line which I imagine he had in mind without being sure beforehand of the moral support, if nothing more, that he would receive. And what would his action have been if he had been brought up before the Security Council, and a Resolution had been passed in the United Nations, in one form of another, condemning him? Would he have vetoed such a procedure?
All these matters have to be thought out—and they are very serious matters to consider. If, before the Court had pronounced its decision, we had occupied Abadan, or perhaps Abadan and the oilfields (I suppose that was the proposal in his mind I do not know; the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, thought we ought to have taken a strong line earlier, which would have been before the Court had pronounced), what sort of position should we, ole of the principal upholders of the rule of law, in the international as in the domestic sphere, have been in? These matters have to be considered. And there is a further question. At what time is it said that we ought to have taken this strong action? Does the noble Marquess realise that it is more than two years ago since the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and the Persian Government agreed to a scheme for the revision of this agreement? it had, it is true, to be approved by the Persian Parliament, the Majlis, but it was in July, 1949, that the agreement was initialled. I take it 62 that no one would have taken strong action before the agreement had been initialled. I take it that no one would have taken strong action before the instrument went before the Majlis for approval. And what terminated that? The answer is, the murder of the Prime Minister, General Razmara. I ask the noble Marquess to tell us in his reply this specific thing: At what time would he have taken what he calls resolute action? Secondly, what would the "resolute action" have been? We have a right to know that. I do not suggest that the noble Marquess is a warmonger—certainly not. But we have a right to see whether he is wise in his concept of the conduct of affairs and to tell us what he would have done, in order that, perhaps, we may profit.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I do not desire to intervene at the present moment, but perhaps the noble and learned Viscount will allow me to say that in my reply I shall be delighted to give answers to those questions.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I am much obliged to the noble Marquess. I shall be interested, and I am sure that the House will be interested, to know what the noble Marquess thinks we ought to have done, and when we ought to have done it.
I agree, of course, most strongly with what the noble Marquess has said with regard to the sanctity of contracts. We cannot get away from the fact that the convention between the Persian Government and the Company has been breached—unilaterally and beyond all argument. But we have shown ourselves willing to come to terms. I noticed in a Sunday paper a report that the Persian statesman, Mr. Makki, had said:Ours is the oil and ours is the soil.We might add that "Ours is the plant and the machinery; and ours is the capital which provided them, and ours is the expertise which works them." Surely, a little good sense and good will could bring about some harmony between those who own the oil and the soil, and those who own the plant and the machines and the capital. That is our endeavour; and we are most grateful for the action of the President of the United States, and for the care and trouble taken by Mr. Harriman in trying to bring reason into the present 63 problem. I entirely agree that it is impossible to hope for fruitful negotiations if these pinpricks, as they are called—I think it is too small a word—are allowed to go on indefinitely as they are to-day. For the rest, I have no authority to go beyond what the Prime Minister has said. He announced yesterday, and I am not attempting to add to anything he said, that we should stay in Abadan. I would announce to the noble Marquess that, in saying that, we accept all the implications that follow from that decision. That is all I desire to say about Persia. I do not think I should be well advised to say more at the present time, for I think I should be more likely to do harm rather than good. I should therefore like to leave the matter there.
I am not going to make a long speech. The next question that I want to discuss is Korea. The noble Marquess said—I hope to goodness he is right—that Russia has taken steps to end that war. I should like to stress the fact, to which all your Lordships will agree: that if Russia really wants that war to come to an end, that war will come to an end. I hope that the Russian will to end war will be here demonstrated. What we are trying to do at the present time is to agree on a line for the purpose of getting a "cease-fire" and an armistice. One thing at a time; do not let us leap the other stiles before we come to them. In due course, we shall have to consider all sorts of problems in connection with unification and the withdrawal of troops, and that sort of thing; but for the moment do not let us bother, if I may venture to suggest this to your Lordships, about those things. Let us try to get a "cease-fire." Of course, that does mean defining "the line." The line we think of drawing is always obviously in the neighbourhood of the 38th Parallel—not precisely on the Parallel, not disregarding that hill or that feature—a few miles north here and a few miles south there perhaps; but, broadly, that is the line. I would tell your Lordships that we have the most complete confidence in General Ridgway. We feel that we may, most certainly and happily, leave this matter of the actual settling, of the line to the wisdom of General Ridgway and to the fact that we have opportunities of making our point of view felt. All those other matters—what is to happen to the foreign forces, whether 64 they are to be withdrawn in toto or in part, unification and all those sorts of matters—should, we think, be left over at the present time.
I pass to Egypt. I wish I could inform your Lordships that the negotiations look like coming to a satisfactory conclusion. I cannot do so. It is the fact that the Treaty stands until 1956. It is the fact that in this case there has been a threat, if not more, of unilateral repudiation. It is the fact that here again we have endeavoured to meet the problem by negotiations, by reason and by good will. I feel that the good will is there, if only we can get away from this curse of nationalism, which I suppose, in modern parlance, is a form of inferiority complex, for which there is no reason. If only we could sit down with Egypt and consult each other's interests without those considerations entering into it, we might surely find a satisfactory solution to our problems. As I see it, the Egyptian problem to-day stands transformed. It is no longer a bilateral matter between Egypt and this country. The problem is now clear for all to see: its solution is fundamental to the peace of the world, and to the defence of Western Europe and the Middle East. For all those countries which are concerned with the defence of Western Europe must be concerned in the pacification and the well-being of the Middle East. I hope, now that that has become so plain, that the problem may be viewed from that point of view and no longer merely as a bilateral problem in which this country and Egypt alone are concerned.
With regard to the deplorable incident, as we see it, of the interference with shipping, it is satisfactory to know that we have at any rate received assurances that incidents such as that relating to the "Empire Roach" shall not be repeated. This matter is, of course, coming up before the Security Council—I think tomorrow. Here again, we are in the closest touch with the United States of America, and with other Governments concerned in the matter. We shall certainly not take any strong measures, which are the words which have been used to-day, save after close consultation with our Allies who are affected in the same way. I cannot tell your Lordships that at the present time there are any further prospects or any better prospects of a successful outcome of these negotiations. They have been 65 going on for a long time. I still hope that reason may prevail, although in this case reason is taking a very long time to come through. There is no divergence of interest. The independence and integrity of Egypt are the close concern of us in this country, and we shall do everything we can to bring them about.
Those are the main topics which have been discussed. Assuredly they are outstanding matters. I am in the fortunate position this evening of not winding up this debate. I am, as it were, a wicketkeeper making what catches I can, but I have a long-stop, a very necessary fieldsman, in the person of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, who will deal with the matters with which I have forgotten to deal. I want to say a word or two about the point made by the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, about Franco. Let me say this at the outset. Of course, the United States of America are perfectly free to make whatever arrangements they like, just as we are; nor do we have the smallest grievance because they thought it right to make this agreement with the Franco Government, the Government of Spain. Frankly, we did not think it was wise. We did not think that the military advantage overcame and outweighed the political disadvantage. I wish your Lordships would look at it from this point of view. Consider the position of some of our neighbours who are less fortunately placed than we are. After all, we have not a single Communist in either of our Houses of Parliament, although, of course, unfortunately, we have them in other positions where they can do a good deal of damage. But some of the other countries on the Continent are not in that position at all. To my mind, it is a complete fallacy to separate the military from the political considerations on the grounds that they are quite separate things. They are not separate things; they twine and intertwine around each other very closely. Anything which encourages the Communists, anything which makes it probable that the Communists will get recruits from the Parties who are not Communist, is a misfortune. All your Lordships are agreed upon that. If we consider the position of Europe as a whole I should think it almost obvious that there is nothing more likely to encourage the Communists than dealings 66 with the Fascists, such as this would appear to be.
Of course, I agree with Lord Temple-wood, that the observation that this agreement is indicative of the fact that the Americans regard the true frontier as the Pyrenees and will, relinquishing all help to Europe, resist from behind the Pyrenees is ridiculously untrue and mischievous. But Lord Templewood suggested that there should be some kind of a conference—not a mere discussion of an informal nature but, as I understood him, something rather more formal than that, such as a conference at which perhaps this country, the United States. France and possibly some other countries should he present. The real trouble here was that this thing was done outside N.A.T.O. That is the vice of it from our point of view. If it had been discussed in N.A.T.O., it is certainly true to say that it would not have been agreed to. So it had to be done outside N.A.T.O. If you were going to have some more limited body dealing with the matter—not N.A.T.O. itself, but some selected members of N.A.T.O., leaving out some of the other members—then that would do more harm than good.
§ VISCOUNT TEMPLEWOOD
I hope the Lord Chancellor will not turn down my suggestion categorically. I am convinced that some detailed preliminary talk is necessary before there is a more general discussion in N.A.T.O. The kind of conference that I contemplate might be preliminary to a N.A.T.O. meeting.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
So far as the noble Viscount means informal discussion which may lead up to something else, I am at one with him. By all means let us have informal discussions, because wherever we can we want to prevent these divergencies from arising. I see no objection to informal discussions, but I see great objection to setting up a formal body which is separate from N.A.T.O. and comprises three, four, or, if you like, five members, instead of the ten. I will of course, convey the noble Viscount's suggestion to my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary. Lord Templewood speaks on this matter with very great authority. He knows the problem in a way that those who have not spent years in Spain cannot know it. I will see that his suggestion is conveyed to my right 67 honourable friend, but at the moment I do not think the answer will be hopeful.
That covers very briefly the various matters which have been raised. I should like to end on this note. We feel quite satisfied that we must go on with our rearmament programme. We have never thought that we could have rearmament without tears. It must mean sacrifices for the people of this country. If we wanted to do merely what was popular we should not have started this programme, and we should not be saying what I am now saying on behalf of the Government. It is because we believe that by being strong we have the best chance of preserving peace in the world, and it is because of our belief that peace overrides everything in importance, that His Majesty's Government intend, though the cost is great, to press on with their rearmament programme in the hope not merely that we may win the war, but that we may avoid a war ever breaking out. Those are the observations which I feel it necessary to make at the present time. My noble friend Lord Henderson will deal with other matters in the course of his speech.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ THE LORD BISHOP OF SHEFFIELD had on the Order Paper a Motion to call attention to the situation being created by the millions of refugees in Western Germany; and to move for Papers. The right reverend Prelate said: My Lords, I understand that it would be to your Lordships' convenience if I were to speak now on the subject of the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. It will have the added merit that I shall speak more briefly than I should otherwise have to do. My intention in putting down this Motion was not to appeal to the sympathy of your Lordships for the human tragedy that can be found in Europe, but rather to stress my anxiety in regard to a situation which might weaken the democratic forces in Germany and possibly even threaten peace in Europe. One understands that the approximate number of refugees in Western Germany is 9,400,000. Of these just over 7,500,000 are expellees from the far Eastern parts of what was Germany; 1,500,000 who have come from the Soviet Zone, and the remainder displaced persons who in time will be migrated.68
§ These expellees have been in Western Germany for the best part of six years. Many were driven from their homes in the East, and many fled. Whether driven or fleeing, they entered Western Germany possessing only what they could carry, and with little or no money, sick at heart and miserable. They arrived at a time when Western Germany was one vast hospital, quite unable to receive them. Surely it was to the lasting credit of the Occupying Powers that this vast mass of people did not die by the thousand from starvation and were not ravaged by disease. It is to the credit of the German people that, since those early days, they have been grappling with this problem. None the less, I venture to think—it may be I am wrong—that the German Government and the Occupying Powers have been content to think of this refugee problem too long in terms of emergency relief, and too slowly and not sufficiently in terms of a long-term plan. In the last four or five years these millions of refugees have been existing in crowded camps, in shelters and in cellars—unwanted members of a society which was itself struggling to stand upon its feet again, and gradually losing hope. Remembering the unemployment situation in this country twenty years ago, I feel that they are to be pitied not so much for their penury as for their hopelessness.
§ But a reasonably healthy man does not sink into total despair without going through a period of desperation, and many of these refugees are becoming desperate. They blame their continued plight on the German Government and the Occupying Powers. They are feeling for political power, and the growth in those States where refugees are most numerous of a Refugee Party, which I am told is being joined by former Nazis posing as refugees, and also the revival of National Socialism in those parts, are ominous signs. That is not all. A considerable proportion of the refugees, and especially those who have come more recently from the Soviet Zone, are boys and girls. Of these, many are just homeless wanderers, who have had little or no schooling and little or no religious or moral training. They have had to learn to live on their wits, and many of them are unemployed. So they are liable to become the very willing instruments of any new Fuehrer who may arise to beguile them with fair promises.69
§ It is important to remember that on the other side of the Iron Curtain, the Communist Government is wooing this age group, on that side of the Curtain, with considerable skill and great pertinacity. Pressure upon young people to join political organisations is growing stronger, and political seminars are being organised at which only the official political teaching is given. Youth is being flattered by being given exceptional responsibilities and privileges. Children are being interested in parades and bright clothing, and all that kind of thing. It is the Hitler Youth movement over again, only more so. And the authorities believe that time is on their side. Set that picture against the continuing refugee situation in the West, and you see the potential dangers.
§ It is reckoned that by this year 30 per cent. of the refugees have been fully integrated into Western German economy. That is a most remarkable achievement, but it must not blind us or lead us to think that all is going well or going fast enough. Nor must it blind us to the fact that the next stage, the last stage, will be the most difficult. To quote more precise statistics of refugees of an age to be employable, 605,000 still need an opportunity to earn a livelihood, and, unfortunately, 57.7 per cent. of that number are crowded into three States where they represent over 29 per cent. of the population. In the case of Schleswig-Holstein, a well-known agricultural area, they represent over 38 per cent. It seems to me—though I may be wrong—that the slowness in integrating these millions into German society and life, and their growing discontent, are producing a dangerous political situation in a country where central Government is still weak. To integrate so vast a number into that country's economic life surely cannot be a marginal activity for the Governments concerned. It is clearly an immense and costly task, which requires an all-out effort over a period of years, an effort in which the German Government will certainly need some help from outside. I ask the question: Is it wise, until all that is well under way, and hope has been reborn, German psychology being what it is, German history being what it has been, to press rearmament on that country unless, at the same time, these refugees are being re-integrated? I can see a very dangerous situation arising.70
§ So one comes to the question: Can so many people be integrated into German life in so short a time? That question has been thoroughly considered during the past winter by a commission of nine American economists and social planners and five Germans, set up by the Economic Co-operation Administration. As probably your Lordships may know, they sent in their report to the German Chancellor about three months ago, and it has been published, though I am not sure whether it is available to the public in this country yet. But summaries have appeared in The Times and the Manchester Guardian, and elsewhere. If I had time I should like to say a little about that report, which is very well documented. A most interesting thing about it is that those responsible are unanimous in their findings, and those findings are explicit and fully argued. And these gentlemen—I think there is one lady among them—are confident that the economy of Western Germany can absorb these millions, provided, first, that the 200,000 that infiltrate annually from the Soviet zone are offset by 200,000 emigrants to other countries, and provided that twelve and a half billions of German marks are spent in the next six years on the programme they recommend and outline.
I may say, in passing, that they reject wholesale emigration as a solution because they feel that it is both impracticable and highly costly. I am not competent to express an opinion on the strength of their economic proposals and arguments. To an amateur, like myself, they seem just a little too optimistic, even allowing for what Germans and Americans can do in the way of large-scale organisation when they really get down to it. But even if the programme takes longer than they think it will, and is not fully achieved, the fact that such an all-out effort was at last being made by the Bonn Government, supported by the Occupying Powers and U.N.O., would give hope to the despairing and would surely produce a radical change for the better in morale and political feeling. I was interested to note that the commission state in their report that they think this present situation dangerous, the more so because some elements in the economic policy of the Bonn Government are producing increasing disparities in wealth.
But these people are confident, however—and they argue their confidence very forcibly—that in six years an efficiently executed plan for integrating the refugees should turn the refugee problem into a source of great moral and economic strength for Western Germany. To quote their words:
Once the plan is completed, Germany is likely to emerge as a much stronger and healthier nation than to-day.
§ To bring what I have to say to a conclusion, I should like to ask a few questions which I hope the noble Lord who is to reply for the Government will answer. First, I would ask whether the Government, in concert with other Occupying Powers, are pressing on the German Government the urgent need for some such radical, sustained effort to re-integrate this great mass of refugees; whether they will use their influence in the United Nations to make available such loans as may be necessary to facilitate this programme; whether the Government's advisers accept the conclusions of this well-documented report; and whether they will encourage the migration of 200,000 people a year from Western Germany to balance this terrifying influx from the East.
§ Even if all this gigantic economic programme can be carried through well and quickly, there remains much that needs doing at other levels, particularly in the spheres of mental and moral health, education and religious faith. There is, and there will be for a good many years to come, a continuing demand on the intelligence, fair-mindedness, friendship and generosity of people in this and other countries. We of the Churches in this country wish to give all the co-operation and encouragement within our power to the Churches in Germany, with their fine record of self-help and charity. To integrate into German life the remaining 5,000,000 people who have suffered so deeply and for so long, and to migrate a small percentage every year to other countries, in addition to the residue of displaced persons who are being migrated to all parts of the world, is a task commensurate, in scale and intensity of effort, with the rearmament drive. If these millions of refugees can be given confidence that this is going to happen, and happen within their lifetime, then I believe that not only will the democratic 72 influences in Germany and the stability of the Bonn Government be strengthened, but it will provide a real and powerful contribution to the peace of Europe and of the world. But time presses, and I have an uneasy feeling that Governments, with all their preoccupations, may not act in this matter unless they are pressed.
§ 5.14 p.m.
My Lords, as this is the first occasion on which I have had the privilege of addressing your Lordships' House, I ask for your Lordships' indulgence in respect of any transgressions on my part against the Rules of the House, if indeed there be any. I agree with the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, who initiated the debate that at the present time a discussion on foreign affairs is eminently necessary. As he said, there are delicate situations all over the world, and if we waited to discuss foreign affairs until those situations ceased to exist, we should never discuss foreign affairs at all. The noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor indicated that these discussions are helpful to His Majesty's Government in enabling them to form their minds on the difficult problems which come before them. I hold the view strongly that the more discussions are held in Parliament and in the country on the difficulties that exist throughout the world, the more likely is it that light will dawn on those difficulties and helpful solutions will be found.
As I listened to this debate, I could not help going back in my mind to the days when certain noble Lords and I sat together in another place and when foreign affairs were discussed in a very different atmosphere. In those days, before the days of open diplomacy, the Foreign Secretary and his assistants were in the position of making up their own minds on problems of foreign policy to an extent that would be quite impossible to-day. Those were the days before the League of Nations. My noble friend the Earl of Perth, who rendered such invaluable service to the League in its younger days, knows well how difficult it was to reconcile the policies initiated by the League and coming before that body with the policies thought to be good by the individual member nations of the League. The same difficulty arises to a greater degree in the United Nations, and we have had witness of that in the debate to-day.
73 In the few remarks which I propose to address to your Lordships, I should like to deal with Far Eastern problems. Perhaps it is not unnatural that I should take some interest in these problems, as fifty years ago I was in command of a mounted infantry company of the China Field Force on the borders of Manchuria. From that day I have had some little knowledge of affairs in the North-West Pacific. I saw the beginning of the great struggle on the part of Japan to dominate the Pacific, and I followed it closely, sometimes on the spot and at other times at home, during all the years which culminated, as we know, in the final collapse of that attempt in the year 1945. But it left many problems behind it. One thing arising out of that was the emergence of a re-born China, which shows, in my humble judgment every sign of becoming united to a degree which has never come to pass in that country's history. I know that there are others who take a different view. I put forward that view as one based upon some little knowledge and experience; and it is one which I know is shared by a number of people who have had long, intimate, and recent experience of China, its history, its peoples, its customs, and the deep-rooted problems which affect Chinese life and habits. If my view has substance behind it, then I say that it should inevitably influence the line that we should take, in regard to the settlement of the tremendous Far Eastern problems that will shortly be upon us.
Several noble Lords have rightly said that the matter of the moment is the armistice in Korea. We must all earnestly hope that an armistice will soon be reached. But that is only the beginning. The Lord Chancellor in his speech seemed to suggest that we need not bother about other things. I do not suppose he would go so far as to suggest that we must not consider the problems that are going to arise when an armistice is reached. The noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, indicated that, in his view, this breathing space should be profitably employed in discussing with our American friends any points of difference that there may he between us on these outstanding problems in the Far East. I heartily agree with the noble Viscount. I think they are probably being discussed, but I wonder whether they are being discussed to the extent that they ought to be. Let us be quite clear on this: that as between our- 74 selves and the United States there is a sharp difference of opinion in regard to the proposed settlement of Far Eastern questions. Do not let us beg that fact.
My noble friend Lord Perth knows well of the contacts I have had, and still have, the privilege of possessing in the United States; and he knows that have discussed this question frankly with those contacts. Far from doing harm, I feel sure—and I believe my noble friend will agree with me—that discussions of that nature have done a great deal of good. If that be so, then let us get clown to the fundamental differences on Far Eastern questions that now divide us from the United States. I refer particularly to the grouping into an insoluble form of Russian and Chinese Communism. It is true to say that, for the purposes which suit both, they are aligned one with the other. But that has happened in other countries at different times. If you say to me that the present Chairman of the Central People's Government, Mao Tse-tung, is a Communist of the Kremlin type, I say that that is perfectly fantastic. There may he in his Government Chinese Communists who, if they could, would align China behind Russia on every question, but it is going far beyond the mark to say that Mao Tse-tung and his chief associates are prepared to hand over the direction of their great country (it is a great country, and will be even greater still) to what they would call "a lot of foreigners" in Moscow.
There are far deeper questions that will arise, not only for discussion but for settlement, in the Far East. The Japanese Treaty has not been referred to in this debate to-day. I read the speech made by the Foreign Secretary in another place, and it gave me the impression of a man putting forward a case which he did not very much like and was glad to get rid of, and who would be even more glad when, on September 8, he had put his signature to the Treaty and seen it, as he hoped, for the last time. But I am afraid that he, or succeeding Foreign Secretaries, will not "get away with it" like that. I ask the Government, why was it necessary to rush the Japanese Treaty in the way they have done? Everybody knows that if that Treaty had been submitted to Parliament for revision—and I am not sure that the time has not come when, as in the United States, the Legislature should he part of the Treaty-making power as 75 well as the Executive—it is not too much to say that it would have been revised drastically in many ways before either another place or this House had passed it. I think it is obvious that that would have happened.
The economic side of the Treaty is one which, in my view, will continue for a time but which cannot last. We know that the Treaty was formulated in the United States, but the extent to which the British Government took Dart in the discussions has not been revealed. The Treaty was put over to us by the United States—it was put over in this country on the radio by a member of the United States Government. I wonder what would have happened had the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, with all his powers of persuasion, eloquence and charm of manner, attempted to put over a Treaty to the people of the United States before they had had any mention of it from their own Government? That is the position in which we find ourselves to-day. The economy of the Japanese Treaty is attached to the Western Hemisphere. The result must inevitably be that competition will be fierce from the start. What provision will be made for that? Even if the Japanese are not given most-favoured-nation treatment, that will not prevent competition. What are the Government going to do about it?—it will not he this Government, because it will not happen for some time. It may be that the ordinary sources of supply and demand will come into operation, and that the great markets of the past on the Chinese mainland for Japanese raw material will come again into being. If that is so, it will be in the natural order of events.
So far as the military clauses of the Treaty are concerned, we find a most extraordinary position. I wonder what Italy has to say on the subject of the rearmament clauses. Japan is a country—I do not want to put it too high; I want merely to argue it out as it appears to me—which only a few short years ago was looked upon as inhuman. We now find that, for all practical purposes, it is to be allowed to come back into the comity of nations and eventually rearm at will. How are the Government going to deal with that matter? We know that already in 76 Italy there has been the gravest indignation at the terms of the Japanese Treaty. I wonder whether anybody is really enamoured of the Treaty. I doubt it. We know that Australia and New Zealand have agreed to it, but only after they had handed to them the security of an American pact. I cannot say what is the view of Canada, but not very long ago Canada's Foreign Minister, Mr. Lester Pearson, expressed himself—I speak under correction—as "having grave misgivings as to the Treaty."
No doubt this Treaty is going to be signed, but that is not going to end the trouble. In February, 1950, a thirty years' Treaty of friendship was signed between the Chinese Central Government and the Government of the Soviets. As one who has taken considerable interest in these matters over a number of years, I watched with some interest the progress of those negotiations. I do not mean that I was on the spot in Moscow. I wanted to see how long the Chairman of the People's Representative Government was going to be in Moscow. It was said: "Mao Tse-tung is off to Moscow. He will be back in Pekin by the time it takes to fly from Moscow to Pekin." Nothing, of the sort happened. He was there for nine weeks, and I should be very interested to hear anybody tell me that Mao is a satellite of Moscow. After all, if he was going to Moscow to sign on the dotted line it would have taken him less than nine hours. No doubt your Lordships have studied the Treaty which was arrived at between Mao and the Kremlin. Your Lordships will remember that it contained clauses beyond the ordinary things which one might expect in Treaties of this nature—the "deep friendship"; that they "will not interfere with each other's territorial integrity, or in each other's affairs," in which I think Mao was perfectly sincere and would take good care that those parts of the Treaty were carried out.
What were the main operative clauses of that Treaty of friendship? The first one was that singly and/or jointly they would resist any attempt at a renewal of Japanese imperialism or any attempt to rearm Japan. It is in the face of that that we are confronted with a Treaty which, to my mind, contains not only the seeds but some of the grown plants of the future struggle in the Far East. I hope that that fact is recognised by this Government and 77 that, even though that Treaty may be signed, they are taking active steps to follow the situation, in order that when the discussions over a general settlement in the Far East arise—and those discussions must come sooner or later—it will be defined, in order to ensure that, if possible, no excuse is given for anything that may lead to the necessity for China and Russia, sinirly or jointly, to put that clause of their Treaty into operation.
There was one other operative clause in this Treaty—the only one, other than the one I have just mentioned which, in my judgment, has any real substance. I happened to meet my noble friend Lord Henderson not many days ago, and I told him that I was going to deal with this particular point, and that it was an admirable opportunity for him to make up his mind about it. The clause to which I am going to refer was the one in which Russia agreed to move out of Port Arthur on the signing of the Japanese Treaty or in 1952. In other words if the Japanese Treaty was not signed (and let us remember that the signing of the Japanese Treaty included, from the Moscow angle, a Russian signature to that Treaty—though a Russian signature does not appear very likely in the present Treaty) the second portion of the clause still remains operative—namely, that, when 1952 arrives. Russia undertakes to move out of Port Arthur.
Now, my Lords, I am reviewing the Far Eastern problem as a whole and not just in small portions; and, knowing that part of the world fairly well, I have always regarded that clause, containing the obligation which Russia undertook to leave Port Arthur, as of considerable significance in the whole of the Far Eastern picture. I wonder what significance His Majesty's Government attach to it, to what extent they have studied it, and to what degree they have felt that it has affected the situation in the Far East, and even the entry by Pekin troops into Korea. No doubt we all have our views on that matter, but personally I attach great significance to it. I think that it has affected very considerably the situation in the Far East and particularly the situation of Pekin vis-à-vis Korea. Whether or not it has done so, it is clearly a matter of great interest, both strategically and to the general position of the United Nations in the Far East.
78 I have attempted to put, as briefly as I could, some of the views I hold on these matters. As my noble friend Lord Samuel has said, and as the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor and other speakers have said, it is, of course, essential, whilst we are considering all these other matters, important though they may be, to offer to the U.S.S.R. a convincing display of force. Only by intensive rearmament can we bring that about. But let us not separate too much or too widely the problems that face us in the West and those in the East; and, in dealing with the problems of the East, let us not run away with the theory that any arrangement we may make with the U.S.S.R. is necessarily an arrangement made with Pekin. Furthermore, let us remember that if we conduct our policy well and wisely, we may eventually make an arrangement with Pekin which will redound to the prosperity not only of ourselves but of the new China, whose destiny, as one of the great nations of the world, is, in my view, assured.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, it is my pleasant privilege to congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, on his maiden speech. He bears a name which alone would ensure a welcome for any speech of his, by virtue of its very happy associations in the world of politics, but I am sure, having listened to his speech this afternoon, that the noble Viscount needs no adventitious recommendations for his remarks. I am sure your Lordships will join with me when I say that we shall always look forward to hearing further contributions from him to our debates with the interest and the attention which they deserve.
The speech to-day of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, will inevitably be contrasted with Mr. Morrison's recent maiden speech as Foreign Secretary. No doubt people will come to various conclusions as to their relative merits. Mr. Morrison's maiden speech was, of course, listened to eagerly, to see whether the qualities which make a successful Party manager can be transmuted into the qualities required by a British Foreign Secretary. There again I will not venture my opinion. But on one point I am sure that we can all agree: that the task of a British Foreign Secretary to-day is infinitely more difficult and more complicated 79 than it used to be in days of old, because of the emergence of Russia with the tactic of the cold war, that tactic which has entirely transformed the conducting of foreign affairs as we used to know them. It goes without saying that every British Foreign Secretary, of whatever Party he may be, will work unswervingly in the cause of peace: but, as he does so, he will find that every road along which he tries to travel, every stream that he tries to navigate, towards that objective, has been mined and obstructed by Russia.
I hope that your Lordships will allow me to say a few words this afternoon about Spain and Russia but, if I may, I should like first to say a word or two about Japan. I find myself largely in agreement with many of the fears and apprehensions expressed by the noble Viscount who has just addressed the House. For my part, I am glad that the Treaty recognises the uselessness of imposing deprivations of national sovereignty which there are no means of enforcing. So long as Japan has not a navy to give her command of the sea, I do not think we need worry too much about her rearming. I think our real headache is the question of industrial competition from Japan. I hope that the Government will consider attentively and sympathetically the case for the Lancashire cotton industry which was put forward during a recent debate in another place, with great moderation, and very fairly indeed, by Mr. Anthony Greenwood and by Mr. Ralph Assheton. The good people up in Lancashire have suffered severely in the past at the hands of Japan. The noble Lord who is to reply for the Government, with great consideration, invited me to inform him of any particular points upon which I hoped for a reply. I do not like little boys who ask too many questions and, therefore, I endeavour not to ask questions of Ministers. At the same time, if it is within the compass of his reply to touch upon the question of the Treaty with Japan and the Lancashire cotton industry, I shall certainly listen to him with great attention. I should also like to add that, if the Government hold out any sympathy to the cotton industry, I hope they will also make it clear that it is the duty of the industry to rationalise itself to a greater degree than it has so far done.
80 I noticed that, on the subject of Persia, the Lord Chancellor said he does not like the "big stick" diplomacy. I confess that I do not like it either. He prefers the rule of law. So do I. But so often the rule of law seems to work out against us. I have heard of men who have gone to law and emerged penniless, stripped by the law and the lawyers. That seems to me sometimes to be our fate. I notice that not everybody understands this business of the rule of law. I do not think it is understood in every case. I notice that the Egyptian Foreign Minister has been reported in the Press as saying that:A British Government which shows itself so impotent before Persia's demands can scarcely expect to receive much consideration in Cairo.So much for the rule of law as it appeals to the Egyptian Foreign Minister. Of course, we can all agree with what the Lord Chancellor said on the obvious common sense of co-operation between Persia and ourselves in this dispute over her oil. When I consider that dispute, I am reminded of one of Æsop's Fables, with which your Lordships may be familiar, of the lion and the bear who fought themselves to a state of exhaustion and standstill over the possession of a kid. While they were lying in this condition on the ground, a fox came along and walked off with the kid. With a little transposition of terms, I think we can decide what is the kid and who is the fox, especially when we recollect that, at the time that this dispute is going on with Persia, Russian tank troops are on the frontier of Azerbaijan.
If I may, I will now come to Spain. With Europe in its present mess, I do not think we can always be logical. I think we nearly always have to be expedient. Our attitude towards Spain does not seem to be governed by expediency, but by a profound conviction that Franco is suffering from political halitosis but, unlike the friend in the advertisements, our Government are not at all reluctant to tell him of the unpleasant fact. I do not think that Europe is so much worried about the moral aspect of this question as we are so often told from the Government Benches. My own belief is that at this moment the countries of Europe are far more interested in security than in political ethics, and I have no doubt they ask why, if we help the Communists in Yugoslavia against 81 Moscow, we should be so sensitive on the subject of some assistance from Spain.
America has come in for reproof about her deal with Spain over the bases, but how does America look at it? I do not know, but I can imagine one consideration which is in her mind. The security of Europe at the present moment largely depends upon the American B.36s which are based in this country, and those bombers must have fighter escorts. Unless America is absolutely certain of her bases for her fighter escorts for her bombers, she is in a very awkward position indeed. If they read One Way Only in the Pentagon, and what is said about American bases here, and about the conditions upon which we should allow American bombers to operate, America must begin to wonder a little. Moreover, she notes the Russian efforts to spread the gospel of neutralism in France and notes that, so far, France has been triable to proceed with the construction of those air bases which she undertook to construct. I do not think it would be at all surprising if America decided to reinsure by getting hold of some bases in Spain from which to defend Western Europe. It is a Department of Defence decision, which the Department of State accept but which did not originate with the Department of State. They have accepted he necessity which the Department of Defence have put before them. After all, America is now virtually responsible for Mediterranean defence, and I do not think she will be deterred in a matter such as that of the Spanish bases by hearing that to make sure of them may assist Russian propaganda. After all, I do not know that we come so badly out of the business. If Spain will accept the compromise whereby she affords bases to America and receives in return military and economic assistance, but does not get into N.A.T.O. when we do not want her, it seems to me to be quite a good deal for us. We wet the security which the Spanish bases afford Western defence; we pay nothing for them; America pays the bill, and we can continue our moral attitude of boycotting Franco. So, on the whole, I think it k not too bad a deal for us. In this particular instance, we get the best of both worlds.
To go on to the subject of Russia, one would, of course, have to be a crystal-gazer to know exactly what goes on in 82 the minds of the men in the Kremlin. But I think one can fairly say that, at the moment, Russia has her preoccupations, and probably fairly grave pre-occupations. There are signs of a spirit of nationalism in the Ukraine, in Estonia, in Armenia and in Azerbaijan. The satellite States are causing her some anxiety. The peasa dts in Roumania, Bulgaria and Hungary are hiding their crops and seeds. There are reports of industrial unrest in Czechoslovakia and Poland and, in Eastern Germany, even of sabotage: and of souse Russia depends very greatly upon the industries of those countries for completing her rearmament programme. There is some unrest amongst Russian peasants, and there also this cessation of strategic exports from the West. No doubt those things ate causing Russia a good deal of consideration, and it seems to me that the outward and visible sign of this is the so-called Russian peace move. Mr. Malik was allowed to propose tie truce in Korea, and he spoke about aprogramme of co-operation of the Great Powers for strengthening peace.There are other aspects of this peace move. A Russian Academician, who in a previous incarnation was the chief spokesman of the "Hate America" campaign, and an ex-Russian Ambassador have been allowed to write in a Russian publication about the traditional friendship between Russia and Britain, and Russia and America, and of peace and good relations with the West. It is noticeable that what they have written closely follows the wording of Senator McMahon's Resolution which President Truman sent to Mr. Stalin. They have even gone so far in this paper as to advocate scientific co-operation. The Central Soviet Press was allowed to reprint what the Academician and the ex-Ambassador wrote, and the American correspondents in Moscow were allowed to cable, without, censorship, that a peace offensive was under way.
But Russia, like Wordsworth, has two voices, and I fear that the authentic voice of Russia is not that heard in the incidents of which I have just been speaking. Rather it is that of Molotov, speaking at the recent Communist demonstration in Warsaw. After all, Molotov is the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, and we hear 83 nothing from him (I am quoting) aboutpeaceful co-existenceandcloser understanding between the U.S.S.R. and the Anglo-Saxon world.But the "Anglo-American imperialists" and "Yugoslav spies and provocateurs" caught it "good and proper" in the old, original Molotov vernacular. Britain and America were charged with "open preparation for a Third World War." Then there was the suggestion that "the Titoist Fascist régime" would soon be liquidated and that they are, in any case, in Mr. Molotov's words, "a hired gang of criminals who stole their way to power." Which voice are we to listen to? I myself think that Russia is never more dangerous than when she is crooning a lullaby, and for my own part I prefer to hear her growling like a bear than cooing like a dove.
Not everybody thinks as I do. In the recent debate in another place, Mr. Mayhew, who on one occasion went to the United States and said that we were "round recovery point," seemed in his speech to be finding excuses for Chinese intervention in Korea. He said that China genuinely held the belief that the United Nations, under American leadership, was planning aggression against her; that they were not only concerned to liberate Korea but, sooner or later, they would also go over the frontier. Then he went on to add, referring to the speech of which I have just spoken:When the Russians talk, as Mr. Molotov did on Saturday last, of the aggressive intentions of the Western Powers, it is dangerous and wrong to write that off as sheer cynicism and not as including a degree of genuine apprehension.Further on he said:I am hound to say, looking back upon it, that I think the Government are too shy of talking to the Russian leaders in conference.That remark came after the recent abortive discussions in Paris. I think Mr. Mayhew felt that he was going a little far, because he then said:It is dangerous, I admit, to talk as I am doing.I should like to reassure him that it is not dangerous at all but is merely silly, and leads one to say that one hopes that he will soon grow up. But if we allowed such remarks as those to weaken our reso- 84 lution, we should find that Russia had not stopped her military preparations, or her atomic bomb production, or her economic plots and plans.
My Lords, when I hear speakers deplore the fact that we do not go on having talks with Russia, I myself wonder whether the time has not come to cease harping on the theme of our willingness to have talks with Russia. After all, we stand well in the eyes of the world. There is not a nation represented in U.N.O. except Russia and her "stool-pigeons" which believes that we have any aggressive intentions about anyone. They know as well as we do that all we want to do is to be left alone in peace to lick our war wounds and get restored to economic health. They know perfectly well that any sincere effort to promote peace, to iron out the differences between nation and nation, will always meet with a full response from this country. But on the evidence which is before us to-day, what is the use of pretending that Russia has any sincere intentions in such matters? Surely, Paris ought to have taught us that at least. It ought to have taught us the uselessness of getting entangled in talks. They merely give Russia the opportunity to put us in the wrong by means of double talk. She proclaims her willingness in Canon type to scale down armaments, adding a footnote in semi-Nonpareil that that scaling down should be in proportion to existing armaments, which leaves her relatively just as superior in strength as she is to-day. Similarly, she proposes an absolute ban on atomic warfare, but adds, of course, a condition that there must be no inspection to see whether a country is honestly carrying out the veto.
The world is now conditioned to reading headlines, and does not read very closely what follows the headlines, and certainly not what lies between them. Consequently Russia creates the impression that we refuse to disarm and are responsible for the horrors of atomic warfare. What is the good of going on running after Russia and having talks in this manner? Why not make one final statement on the subject at U.N.O. and thereafter leave it to Mr. Bevan (who, I notice, is, so appropriately, holiday-making at Split, no doubt in preparation for Scarborough) and his satellites to preach that you can disarm Russia with butter, and that guns are quite unnecessary. Mr. Bevan recently asserted that 85In this country only rests the possibilities of rescuing the world from a Third World War,and he then went on to attack America for "participancy" and "foolhardiness" in the matter of rearmament. What is quite certain, of course, is the contrary: that the chances of averting a Third World War would be immensely diminished if Mr. Bevan succeeded in weakening the national will to rearm, and in weakening the Alliance between ourselves and the United States of America. I cannot help remembering that Mr. Stalin gave an interview last February in which his main object was to convince the British public that rearmament must involve the lowering of our standard of living, and would even plunge us into a state of bankruptcy. That seems to me to bear a strange resemblance to the dominant theme in the pamphlet One Way Only.
My Lords, I do not like this talk about relaxing our rearmament efforts at the "slightest sign" from the other side. We want not a slight sign but concrete evidence, "fruits meet for repentance," before we can believe in any Russian change of heart. Let her give some evidence of her good intentions—I could suggest a few examples. Let her lift the Iron Curtain, and allow the free exchange of peoples and of knowledge. Let the truth about the West be known. Stop threatening world peace. Stop threatening Yugoslavia. Co-operate with U.N.O. Be honest about atomic control. Stop instigating risings against established Governments. Stop fishing in troubled waters with what Mr. Dean Acheson calls" the baited hooks of phony propaganda." Mr. Dean Acheson in that very striking speech which he has just delivered at Detroit used these words:The Communists are counting on these strains to make us tire of our burden, to break our nerve, to bring about our collapse, to break down our economic system, and to weaken our political institutions. They stand ready to profit by any weakness which we might show.How true those words are! There is only one course for us—namely, to stand firm and resolute, to show a united front in our politics, and, so far as possible, to keep our foreign policy bi-partisan. The recent acrimony displayed has been deplorable. Let us hope that it may soon come to an end. If we stand firm and resolute in that way then we must come out on top. If we stand by our 86 principles as free men we can heat any dictatorship. In any Nvar of nerves it is always safe to back a democracy against a police State. But with the world as it is to-day, security can be achieved only along the path of sacrifice.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ LORD KILLEARN
My Lords, there is a good old English maxim, "A stitch in time saves nine." I put it to your Lordships that that applies nowhere with greater force than in the field of foreign affairs. It so often happens that little action is necessary to deal with something at the start which, if neglected, later demands heroic measures. As an example, I cast my mind back some way to Manchuria in the 'thirties. Japan brought off a coup at that time and got away with it. Nobody did very much. The League of Nations, it is true, sent a Mission, but it was too late. It was after the horse had been stolen from the stable. We all know that Manchuria was lost in spite of the fact that it was a glaring example of aggression. It was not very long before that unfortunate precedent was followed. On the principle of, "What they can do, we can do better," we had the example of Italy and Abyssinia. I may have been wrong, but I remember thinking at that time that the Italians must have had it in mind, "If the world sits still and lets the Japs get away with Manchuria, they will not worry too much over us in Abyssinia." Later on, of course, there was also Albania.
That is all in the past, but the maxim I have quoted still applies in full force. I do not claim any inside knowledge of recent affairs as regards Persia or Egypt, though the thought has passed through my mind whether possibly the situation might not have been cased or even saved by earlier action. I do not profess to know and cannot suggest that that is so, but the fact remains that it is so much better to cope with these things earlier rather than later when they come to a climax. Another broad generalisation which I would venture to indulge in concerns the subject of concession. Concession from strength, as has been so often and truly said, is all very well and, as we all know, in negotiation there may come a time when concession is desirable—that is if you can afford to make that concession and it is not a question of yielding to threats. But concession from weakness 87 is a very different story and results in one's being jockeyed from position to position, and goodness knows where one may end up.
I will not detain your Lordships much longer over the Middle East. The question of Persia has been already fully covered by previous speakers, and I would not venture to make any further comment. With regard to Egypt, also, I do not feel disposed to say much, save just this: that in my fairly long experience of the Egyptians they were in those days highly legalistically minded; it is all the more surprising, therefore, that they should have taken their present attitude about passage through the Suez Canal. In my time it was always one of the common-places that as long as one was acting strictly within the four corners of the Treaty one's task was comparatively easy. That legalistic tendency on the part of the Egyptians does not on the face of it seem now to apply, and there can surely be no doubt that we arc perfectly right legally in what we claim as regards free passage of the Canal. I hope that His Majesty's Government will stand firm on that matter, as I believe they are doing.
Now, my Lords, in reference to the Middle East, I should just like to refer to one further point, and that is what has been said recently—and very encouragingly said—about the inclusion of Turkey and Greece in the Atlantic Pact. I had the good fortune to be there a few months ago, and nobody can go to those two countries without being struck by one or two things. You are forcibly struck by them immediately on arrival. One is that both countries look solidly and consistently to the West. The other is that both of them are bastions. They both have a frontier of which they are very conscious, and they have the right ideas. They are both of them virile peoples, and when I read that it had been decided to invite them to come into the Atlantic Pact I felt personally that they would be a great addition to the strength of our arrangements, and I sincerely hope that it will materialise. The Turks were, indeed, getting a little restive when I was down there. But "Better late than never."
The Turks are an extremely virile race. We all know how they are exemplifying that by the way in which they are fighting in Korea. They are quite outstandingly 88 virile. The progress which has been made in Turkey in modern times is fantastic. When one reflects what Turkey was like not so many years ago and compares it with the state of affairs there to-day, one realises that the advance has been phenomenal. They now have universal suffrage, women sit on the bench, women are members of Parliament. The change has been extraordinary when one thinks of the conditions which prevailed a comparatively short time ago. The Greeks, too, are wonderful people, but one thing I felt about them was that they suffer rather from over-intelligence. There are, I believe, something like ninety-seven political Parties in Greece, which makes the political scene a bit involved. They seem to feel that, "Good is not good enough"—and not always to appreciate that "Le mieux c'est l'ennemi du bier." They always want something a shade better. But wonderful work has been done there by the King and the Queen. In short Greece is on her toes and so is Turkey. It is excellent news that they are going to be invited to join the Atlantic Pact.
Before leaving the Middle East, there is one general consideration upon which I should like to touch, which affects our whole world policy. That is that we have unfortunately—and I fear there can be no doubt about it—either completely or almost completely lost our old anchor-hold in that area. Whether we need have lost it quite so completely one may perhaps legitimately wonder—but in fact we have. And not only is that so, but since the war we have found ourselves faced with a completely new set-up in relation to our world policy. There are now Pakistan, India and Ceylon as new and independent members of the Commonwealth. Burma has left us. In short, the whole scene has changed completely in its general aspect. That. I think, emphasises still more the results of our having lost our anchor-hold in the Middle East, for when we look around to see—I do not like to say "what is left": that is putting it perhaps in an extreme form, but what we still have, we realise that that gains enormously in importance.
That, of course, leads up to the subject of Malaya. Malaya, from that angle, has become a vital factor in our policy. I think that everyone agrees on that—there can surely be no doubt about it nor any divergent views. Some of us had hoped that the campaign against the 89 bandits in Malaya would have gone a little faster than it actually has. We know only what we read in the newspapers, and I wonder whether, perhaps, the noble Lord who is going to reply for the Government could tell us something about how things have gone, because we have not heart anything for a long time. Certainly Malaya remains a key position—there is no question about that. Turning to Siam for a moment, may I say that in my view people here are apt to forget that Siam, up in its corner, is an important bulwark. The Siamese are a fine people, and they are right up against their big Communist neighbour. I have long felt that anything we can properly do to help them and to strengthen them is well worth doing. They, too, are a wonderful people. It is true that they were on the wrong side during the war, but I suggest that that was not entirely their fault: anyway, now they are definitely working on the same lines as we are. I suggest that they should be given warm encouragement so far as it is possible for us to give it.
Someone speaking recently in another place referred to a tour d'horizon. I seem to be carrying out such a tour, and, in the course of it, I come next to Indonesia. I would not suggest that your Lordships do not know all about Indonesia—you probably do—but a great many people outside not only Jo not know very much about Indonesia but do not know anything at all. Yet there you have a country with a vast population. Java—one island alone—has a population, I believe, of nearly 50,000,000. Indonesia is the only country which, so far as I know, provides an example of nascent, budding nationalism making good without becoming tainted with or supported by Communism. Not only have these people not become in any way allied with Communism but they have actually, in the past, taken the field against the Communists and fought them—which is, to say the least, unusual. Apart from that, they are a fine people. Here, again, I hope very much that we in this country, as and when we can, will hold out a helping hand to this newly established Republic. The people themselves are apt to be very deceptive when you meet them. They are well-spoken and quiet in manner, and you might be led into thinking that they are soft. That would be a very great mistake indeed. They are, in all ways, a fine, resolute and progressive race. I speak from experi- 90 ence, and again I say that I hope we shall give all the help that we properly can and in the best way that we can devise.
Carrying my tour d'horizon further, I come to China. I personally feel that we must wait until the dust settles a bit more before we finally appraise the situation there. At the same time, it seems to me—this is only a personal opinion—that we were perhaps over hasty in rushing in to give de jure recognition to the present Government of China. I think we All know that great pressure was brought to bear on the Government, and specific reasons were, I think, given why we should extend to them de jure recognition. If what we were hoping for had come off, I suppose we should all have said that it was all right. But, as we know, it did not come off. So we are faced with the rather ridiculous spectacle—if that is the right expression to use—of our recognising de jure the new regime in China and their riot according us the same degree of recognition. We are then faced with what can only be regarded as a ridiculous, undignified, and unfortunate position. It is a case of one of those things that did not come off. So, as I say, I cannot help feeling that we acted a little too quickly—the more so seeing that in acting as we did we were not acting in collaboration and in agreement either with the United States or with some of our own Dominions.
My Lords, I have finished arid I wish to add only this. It always seems to me that the British lion is a bit "dopey": he has been through two wars and he has not entirely recovered from the effects of them. But he still 'Jas claws in those paws of his, and I firmly believe that if someone stands on his tail with sufficient vigour those claws will begin to show. He will not display them by way of being aggressive or anything of that kind but—if I may mix the metaphor—"there is a kick in the old horse yet." The heart of the country is all right, but, sometimes, one does feel that something rather drastic is needed to wake up that old animal, the British lion.
§ 6.28 p.m.
My Lords, I am sure we have all been tremendously interested in the brilliant tour of the world upon which Lord Killearn invited us to accompany him. I am certainly not competent to follow him, or to do otherwise 91 than congratulate him on the most interesting exposition he has given. I should like also, if I may, to offer my personal congratulations to the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, upon his maiden speech this afternoon in your Lordships' House. It was listened to by some of us who were colleagues of his in another place, and it was most refreshing to all of us to note that he has not in any way lost his vigour and combativeness. His reminiscences concerning China were most interesting. I, myself, bestrode that scene some two years after he did, so I can go back in my mind to the old China of about fifty years ago.
With a great deal of what Lord Elibank said I am sure most of your Lordships must have been in complete agreement, but I must confess that I do not see eye to eye with him about the Japanese Peace Treaty. However, before I sit down I propose to offer a few observations on that very important instrument.
But, first, may I express my sympathy with the noble Marquess who performed the great service of initiating this important debate. I really felt sorry for him. Of course, the man in the street who wants above everything else, peace, does not exactly regard his Party as warmongers, but he has it in his mind that the Conservative Party are less likely to prevent war than the Labour Party. If the noble Marquess will enter his local public house and listen to the conversation he will find that clearly stated; the ordinary man says that, in other words, the Conservative Party may be inclined, for historical, traditional and sentimental reasons, to enter on adventures which may lead to war. I am sorry for the noble Marquess, but that is a fact.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, what I was complaining of was that this was being assiduously put into his mind.
I was going on to say that the political tradition of this country being as it is, it is not necessary for us in the Labour Party to make accusations of that kind against the Conservative Party. The people believe it, rightly or wrongly, without our prompting. I am going to perform the friendly act of telling the noble Marquess and his 92 eminent colleagues how they may have some chance—perhaps a slight one; at any rate, much more than they have at present—of winning the next General Election. If they would go back to the old traditional policy of our ancestors, of splendid isolation—and the Conservative Party can do that; the Labour Party cannot, because they are committed to internationalism and have it in their bones, and therefore must support such bodies as United Nations—if the Tories would come out strongly for, if you like, the old "Little England" policy which was fathered on the Liberals in the past, they would get an enormous response, much more than for their present line of policy. The noble Marquess and I know elections from our experience and we know both Houses of Parliament. We know as much about the feelings of the electorate as most people, and if he thinks about it, he will find I am right. If the Conservative Party would return to the policy of our ancestors, of splendid isolation, which was not unsuccessful, while supporting the United Nations on their cultural side and on their labour legislation, and leave aside the military part and declare "No more adventures; let us sit down quietly and restore our shattered economy," I believe they would get a wonderful response. I do not like Lord Killearn's word "dopey", but the people are tired of adventures, and after two wars in one generation they want a chance to rebuild and reconstruct in peace and security.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, what the noble Lord seems incapable of understanding—and perhaps it is impossible for him to understand it—is that the Conservative Party are interested not in doing what is convenient but in doing what is right.
I am not sure that our ancestors, our Conservative ancestors, at any rate, were not right according to their lights and were not thinking about elections or political advantage. I am not at all sure that the old policy would not suit the country very well. Perhaps the noble Marquess will think over my friendly advice to him. I would warn him not to give the impression again that he himself, as a leading light and ornament of the Conservative Party, is an advocate of war.
93 As I told my noble friend Lord Henderson, who is to reply, I want to make some observations on the Treaty with Japan. Here, I am sorry to say for personal reasons. I find myself in conflict with my noble friend Viscount Elibank. Thirty-one years ago I rose in another place—the noble Viscount was there and several other noble Lords were there, as well—and moved the rejection of the Treaty of Versailles, on the grounds that it was unworkable and contained the seeds of future wars. Unfortunately, I was right. That Treaty did contain the seeds of future wars, and all that has happened since is largely the result of it. It was a stern and harsh Treaty, which was impracticable.
That is very arguable. To put down the war of 1939–45 directly to the Versailles Treaty is very arguable indeed. If the United States Senate had passed the Anglo-American Security Pact, I do not think there would have been a war.
I think it is generally conceded that the resurgence of German nationalism, as exemplified in the Nazi movement before and during the last war, was largely the result of the Versailles Treaty. Here we have a treaty on different lines altogether. It has been described as a liberal treaty—the adjective being with a small "1." It is generous in a way, because of all that went before. For that reason I support it. I think, for once in a way, that we should try to revert to the practice of our ancestors who, when they entirely defeated an enemy in war, were prepared to help them on their feet again. The Treaty with France after the Napoleonic Wars avoided a major war in Europe for nearly a hundred years. I hope we can avoid a great war in Asia for a hundred years, and by that time the whole institution of war may have been abolished. The noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, and other noble Lords, have criticised the treaty as again opening the door to fierce commercial competition from Japan. I am surprised to hear that argument from the Liberal Benches. I was brought up to believe that in the long run cheap sweated labour cannot do any harm to the economy of the high-wage nations The answer to Japanese competition is greater efficiency and enterprise on the part of those who may be frightened by it.
94 Here I would make the complaint that I am puzzled about the compensation that is to be paid out of Japanese assets to their former prisoners of war. I have given notice of this question to my noble friend, who, I hope, will be able to give a reply. I think there is a great deal to be said along the lines that the sum is not sufficient. In another place the answer was given that the assets which we can dispose of for this purpose will amount to about £5,000,000, but, speaking in the foreign affairs debate last week, the Foreign Minister indicated that the Japanese assets in the United Kingdom are estimated to be worth only £1,250,000. There may be some explanation, which I hope my noble friend will give us, but taking the higher figure of £5,000.000, if this is to be divided among the 200,000 ex-Service men and interned civilians, it will work out at about £25 each. I suggest that that amount is derisory. What I should like, if at all possible, would be for the suggestion to be conveyed to the Japanese Government that, if they really want to do something to make it possible again for us to renew the former friendship, they should make a voluntary addition to this sum of, say, another £5,000,000. They could raise that loan perfectly easily. For a nation of 80,000,000 people it is very little, but another £5,000,000 over and above the present arrangement divided among those men who suffered so badly in the last war would mean a great deal to them. I believe the effect on public opinion, here and throughout the world, would be very good. That is a suggestion which I hope will be considered. This is only a draft Treaty, but what I should like to see is a purely voluntary arrangement.
I should like to add to what another noble Lord said about the effect of this Treaty on Italy. After this Japanese Treaty, I do not think we can continue to support the survival of the Treaty with Italy in its present form. In any case, I think the Italians were harshly treated, in view of the fact that they fought on our side in the closing stages of the war and performed a great number of services on our behalf as well, especially the Italian Navy, of which I have some knowledge. This matter was raised in another place and the answer given was not unsympathetic. The question was raised of the reconsideration and modification of 95 the Treaty with the Italians, and the Under-Secretary who replied said that this matter was under urgent consideration. I should be glad if my noble friend could add anything to that statement, if only, perhaps, he could say that it was being urgently considered. Some change of policy is required here. I am well aware, as all noble Lords are, that we are not the only parties to the Treaty, and that other countries, including Russia, would have to be consulted. That applies also to the Japanese Treaty. With regard to Italy we hear a great deal about strategy—and I agree with it. I have raised the matter myself. We hear a lot about the strategic importance of Spain, but Italy is most important also. The Italians were our friends for many generations. We can regain their friendship, and maintain it indefinitely. But they are at the present moment sensitive and hurt in their feelings, and I think some generous words from my noble friend (and he can be very generous in his language) would be of advantage on this occasion.
§ 6.42 p.m.
THE EARL OF DARNLEY
My Lords, I always thought that your Lordships considered my proposals rather dull and dreary—possibly because they were too general and not special enough—but to-night I have been advanced to the position of hors d'œuvre in the order of speaking, so I hope that you find them more palatable than I have previously thought. We have to-day learned a lot about dangerous positions and dangerous men. These walls have heard a lot. They have probably heard similar stories about every other nation in the world. The walls of those other nations have also heard masses of stories about other supposed villains. From this talk about villains and evil men we might imagine that there was a choice before the world to-day. But there is no choice at all. There is a choice between peace with honour, by agreement, or finality. The safety of the British citizen, the safety of the world, the kudos and the reputation of the British country, reside entirely in the first alternative. The world is in a very peculiar position. It is rather in the position of a man who cannot burn down his house in order to look for the burglar in it. That is what will happen if the world tries again to settle some question of evil men by force of arms.
96 So we have to find something that is really reliable to argue upon. The only thing that is really reliable is the law of cause and effect, which is inexorable and inescapable. Therefore, the thing to attack to-day is the cause. There are two things about this cause. It must be either man-made, or it must be part of the scheme of existence. We cannot imagine the latter, so we must know that it is the former. Therefore, all apparently dangerous men and dangerous positions—and they certainly exist—are man-made, and the only way to get rid of them is by getting rid of the causes, by way of the greatest man-held wisdom that is available at the moment. The remedy of knocking people on the head to prove that you are in the right has been proved through centuries to be a failure process; and it is more likely than anything else to involve the world in complete destruction. In the few minutes I have allowed myself to address your Lordships and to ask for your kind attention, I suggest that we try to start using this man-held wisdom towards making a world which really has some security, and, even if gradually, to try to advance the co-operation between all types of human beings, in spite of evidence of their hostile intent. I can assure your Lordships—and you know it without my assurance—that this process is as much assured of success as the murder and torture of children and old women, which is inevitable if the question between the nations becomes a trial of force, is doomed to failure. With all respect, I suggest that we ought to have the chance to prove that we do believe in this wisdom, I hope that His Majesty's Government in their reply will show some sign, even if only a small one, that they will try to put it into operation, if only gradually and as a beginning.
§ 6.49 p.m.
§ LORD AILWYN
My Lords, my intervention in this debate will be short and confined to two subjects only—namely, Spain and China. A good deal of reference has already been made in this debate to Spain. In that connection, I find myself in the unfortunate position of disagreeing with the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood. In spite of his great knowledge and experience of that country, I am in disagreement with him over one thing he said. The noble Viscount suggested that there should be a discussion 97 between the N.A.T.O. Powers, Italy, France, the United Nations and ourselves; and he then said that we ought to discuss what Government in Spain would be acceptable to those N.A.T.O. Powers. With all the immense experience that he has had in regard to Spain, I find it difficult to believe that the noble Viscount forgets that the Spaniards are a very proud people. I find it increasingly difficult to understand the continued policy of unfriendliness and ostracism that His Majesty's Government persist in adopting towards that country. I have thought for a lone time that our whole approach and attitude towards Spain has been ill-judged and deplorable. I admit that there was a period when we were unable to help ourselves, for, as a loyal member of the United Nations Organisation, we did as we were bidden, and we withdrew our Ambassador from Madrid in conformity with other member nations. I ventured to say at the time that I thought it an unwise policy, one likely to result in resentment and difficulty and, moreover, unlikely to achieve the result for which it was designed. We now know that in fat that action achieved precisely nothing. Happily, that time has now passed; we once more have full diplomatic representation in Madrid.
But what is the situation to-day? Here we are straining every nerve and sinew to build up an adequate defence force for the protection of ourselves and our Western friends against aggression from the East. A far-flung international organisation of armies, navies and air forces is in process of being welded together into a homogeneous whole. Our great Ally from across the Atlantic sends over the one man who is known to command the confidence of all concerned with his inspired capacity for unifying the heterogeneous assortment of nations and armed forces to act as Supreme Commander—General Eisenhower. Our own Field Marshal Lord Montgomery, as Deputy Supreme Commander, is responsible, I understand, for the actual training of these N.A.T.O. Forces. The Foreign Secretary said last week:Our first task is to do all we can to strengthen the integrated force for the defence of Western Europe under General Eisenhower.Yet away in the south-west, isolated and ignored, lies the Iberian Peninsula, the strategic importance of which, as we all know—and this is not a matter for argu- 98 ment—has been recognised by every great military leader down the ages. Can anyone doubt that the potential value of Spain, shall we say as a base area, for Allied armies fighting in Germany, is overwhelming? Can anyone doubt that the strategical consequences of a hostile occupation of that south-western bastion might well be—and, I venture to think, would be—fatal to our cause?
In the circumstances, would it not be wise to adopt a more realistic attitude towards Spain? How in heaven's name can His Majesty's Government reconcile with our attitude towards Russia, or with our latest action towards Yugoslavia, which I for one cordially welcome, their action in drawing their skirts aside from the danger of contact with Spain? Day after day, and week after week, Government supporters are urging and prodding them—I think rightly so—to leave no stone unturned in order to arrive at an understanding with Russia, in spite of our detestation of Communism and all its works. Have His Majesty's Government ever paused to reflect that Spain was the first country to take up arms against Communism? And is it not about time they ceased to worry about that country's internal affairs and joined with our friends in the United States in making some approach to them? The Foreign Secretary contends that:the strategic advantages which might accrue from associating Spain with Western Defence would be outweighed by the political damage which such an association might inflict on the Western community of nations.I am reading from Hansard, and at the end of that paragraph there appears in brackets these words:An honourable Member: 'Nonsense'.With great respect I find myself unable, in Parliamentary language, to improve upon that interjection. Why economic assistance to Spain should result in political damage, while substantial loans to Yugoslavia should not result in that same political damage, is more than my limited intelligence can grasp. To me there seems to be a complete absence of logic and consistency in the argument.
As we all know, Spain is in urgent need of economic assistance, and until she has had that it is useless to think of her as becoming an effective part of Western defence. It is a long-term project as I see it, and in my view there is no time to be lost. I believe it to be true to say 99 that agricultural machinery, fertilisers, grain and the like are what Spain wants now, and that technical assistance for the improvement of her communications is urgently required. Only when these needs have been met can to-day's potential value of Spain as an eventual partner in Western defence be translated into a tangible and positive value in that sphere. I have far too much respect and regard for the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, to suppose that he will attempt in any way to argue against the strategic importance and implications of what I have been trying to say. For the rest, let me suggest to him that, if we were both trapped in a room on an upper floor of a fiercely blazing house, with the window as our only means of exit, neither he nor I would stop to ask the fireman, on his belated appearance at the top of the fire-escape: "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" If he did, I should certainly hop out and leave him to burn.
I turn to China, and here there are certain questions that I wish to put to His Majesty's Government. Let me reassure the noble Lord at once that I am not going to embarrass him in any way, for I am fully conscious of the negotiations which are proceeding at the present time in Korea, with the object of bringing about an armistice. Nothing that I shall say will impinge in any way upon these supremely important conversations, which we all hope will produce the result which is so urgently desired. I wish to ask His Majesty's Government: What are the conditions in which His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires in Pekin is carrying out his duties? Is he accorded the full status and recognition which is usual and proper towards the emissary of a Government who is conducting negotiations with a country to which we have given de jure recognition? Has he access to the Foreign Secretary himself, Chou En-lai? Is he able to lay before the Foreign Secretary, or even his Under-Secretary, matters of moment as they arise? Or are difficulties placed in the way of his carrying out his mission? Are the facilities accorded to him in any way different from or inferior to those enjoyed by the representatives of other European countries—for example, Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries—who, in common with this country, have accorded 100 full recognition to the Chinese People's Government?
I have had occasion in former debates to question the wisdom of His Majesty's Government in what I then thought and still believe to have been the precipitate action of according de jure recognition to Mao Tse-tung's Government, and I was glad to receive the support of my noble friend Lord Killearn on that question. I still venture to think that de facto recognition was as far as this country should have gone. But since we have given full recognition, it is greatly to be hoped that our representative is not obstructed in the performance of his duties. After a hundred years of flourishing and prosperous Sino-British trade, years of outstanding achievement which have brought mutual benefits to both nations, the British community in China, which at one time numbered about 10,000 souls, is now reduced to about 1,000. My information regarding the situation of those British industrial firms and undertakings which are still functioning is that conditions are slowly but steadily deteriorating. They are "ticking over," and allowed just to keep alive; and unless some amelioration takes place the situation will soon be beyond repair.
That is a sufficiently deplorable situation. But what makes it so tragic is that British nationals in China decided to continue business in that country on the express assurance of the Chinese People's Government, when they assumed power, that they wished them so to continue. That was two years ago. What has happened in the interval? I understand that it is no unusual occurrence for a foreign national to be arrested, incarcerated, and held incommunicado for months at a time, with no reason or explanation vouchsafed to anyone. I understand that British and other foreign nationals are compelled to continue in operation of a business which, if not already insolvent, is rapidly becoming a liability. I believe it to be true to say that managers are held personally responsible for the liabilities of corporate bodies. And, cruellest of all, is it not a fact—I ask His Majesty's Government this question—that when, disillusioned and, perhaps, at the end of their resources, they are forced to the conclusion that they can no longer fight against the odds piling up against them, and wearily decide to pack up and 101 come home, every conceivable difficulty is placed in their way of securing an exit visa? Interminable investigation, resulting in months of delay, may well bring an uncompromising refusal with, as often as not, no reason given for that refusal.
So, in effect, these unfortunate men are held as hostages. These are men who, having exiled themselves in a country at the other end of the world, many of them for the whole of their working lives, have continued at the express wish of the Chinese People's Government. These are the men who in the past have brought trade and prestige of inestimable value to this country, and have brought even more incalculable benefits to China and the Chinese people. Let that fact never be forgotten. These are the men, I repeat, who are held virtually as hostages by a Government to whom we have given full recognition. Is it any wonder that I ask: What are the conditions in which our representative in Pekin is carrying out his work? Everything would appear to point to the fact that he is ignored, boycotted and kept in virtual isolation. And if I am told that that is, in fact, the melancholy truth, then what benefit has accrued to this country, and to our gallant compatriots out there, through our having afforded full recognition to the Pekin Government? It has certainly brought one considerable disadvantage, in that it has divided the United States and ourselves on this particular issue. I do not wish to develop that theme this evening; I referred to it at some length in a Foreign Affairs debate last March. I ventured to say on that occasion that recognition of Mao Tse-tung had brought little more than insult and humiliation to Britain and her interests. I posed the question whether the time had not come for reconsideration of our attitude towards Communist China.
To-day, my Lords, I am not so sure. It seems to me to be a question which requires the wisdom of Solomon to answer. It may be that the physical presence of our representative on the spot, cipher though he may be at the present time, may one day be valuable as a link between His Majesty's Government and those who guide, or misguide, the destinies of the Chinese people. It may be that our sorely-tried nationals out there would feel completely deserted if our representative were removed. I must 102 leave it at that, while begging His Majesty's Government to keep the problem in continual and continuous renewal. I am very unhappy indeed about our people out there. It is a sombre picture. The vultures are gathering, and it seems to me that one can almost hear the beating of their horrid wings as they hover and circle overhead. I earnestly appeal to the Government to do everything they can to ward off these evil birds of prey. If they fail, then it can be only a matter of time before all that is left of British grit and enterprise in China will be a heap of mouldering bones.
§ [The Sitting was suspended at seven minutes past seven o'clock, and resumed at half past eight.]
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, before we adjourned, the speeches to which we listened ranged over a wide field of topics, somewhat sombrely and with a wealth of experience and power of expression which I should be temerarious to try to emulate. But I think that at this stage it would Perhaps not be unsuitable if I sought in some few words to try to define the issues as I see them at present. I may be forgiven if I begin at the point where I am sure all our thoughts begin—at the contemplation of the position of this country as it is now, in the middle of the twentieth century. Our people, not numerous compared with those of the Great Powers of the world as Great Powers are now counted, but dangerously concentrated in a few great conurbations, are ideal targets for modern weapons of war, of which the atomic weapon is only one; dangerously concentrated, fatally dependent in war and in peace upon what they can import from overseas, over the seaways and the airways of the world; dangerously concentrated, fatally dependent, and yet for all that enjoying a standard of life which would render them the objects of envy to nine-tenths of the human race as they live their lives to-day, a circumstance which may be a subject for sober rejoicing here but which has, equally, not escaped the attention of our enemies and opponents in the Kremlin.
Our people enjoy that standard of life and our country supports a population larger than it ever supported before, but we are for ever deprived, so far as we can see, of the sources of material power which made us great. We possess, it is 103 true, a Navy of which we are still proud, but a Navy which can no longer command the undisputed authority of the seas in the way it could—nor, if it could, does the undisputed command of the seas mean what it once meant. We no longer possess in London the financial centre of all the commercial activities of the world, and we no longer enjoy an industrial North representing the workshop of the world in the sense in which we were once proud of it—proud as we are of the products of our industries.
The feature of the twentieth century has been the multiplication of centres of industrial production all over the planet, and whether we are talking about foreign affairs or about home affairs, about economic policies, the cost of living, the situation in Persia or the challenge between East and West, the problem which faces us is that of survival, now that we have been deprived of the material sources of our power. This country once possessed undisputed political dominion, I believe, over a quarter of the planet. The Empire of India is no longer ours to command, even if it be in full partnership in the Commonwealth. As must be conceded, there are other areas of comparable size and importance certainly going the same way in the next sixty years, and probably a great deal sooner than that. Our problem is that of survival in the literal sense, because this is no safe world for fools to live in.
We are faced with a number of alternatives—most of them disagreeable, none of them safe. Fear and Be Slain was the title of a book which a member of your Lordships' House wrote not very long ago. "Fear and Be Slain" ought to be the motto of the British people to-day, because if we showed cowardice or fear at this present moment we should certainly disappear as a great Power. Nor can we delude ourselves by thinking that we could remain for long as a sort of new "sick man of Europe" or the Middle East because our Allies did not know who could take our place. Nor can we hope for a kind of restricted security like that of Switzerland. Our standard of life depends upon the continued possession of the manifold interests and sources of power all over the world which still remain with us, some of them political, 104 some of them economic—a trade agreement here, a political treaty there, shares in the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, shares in the Suez Canal, and personal friendship with such great men as the late King Abdullah, who was a great friend of ours. All kinds of tangible and intangible things continue to represent the source and the strength of the power of our country. We have walked the path which leads to greatness, and along that path there is no return. Great Britain could never be small Britain and survive. We must play the high game of politics in this highly dangerous age. We may be destroyed in so doing, but we shall certainly be destroyed if we do not do so.
My Lords, that brings me to the situation in the Middle East which has occupied so much of your Lordships' attention this afternoon. There, if ever, our interests are manifold and multifarious. We showed not ten years since that we were prepared with the same determination and resource as we fought for the Cliffs of Dover, to prevent the Middle East from falling into the hands of an enemy: and we should have to fight again should the situation arise. But our position there depends so much upon prestige, and so little upon material forces, that we cannot afford to see that prestige disappear. What is happening in the Middle East, in Egypt and in Persia? What is the explanation of all that we have been going through? My Lords, surely it is simply that the Persian people believe as a fact—they may be misguided in so believing—that you have only to use force and threats of force against the British and they will give in. If the Persians did not believe that, they would not have done what they have done, and they would not continue to threaten us. They will go on doing what they are doing and what they are threatening to do until they learn that it is not the fact. Your Lordships may refer to the Persians and the Egyptians as unreasonable. They are nothing of the kind. Their reasoning proceeds from the sober, solid reasons of logic. They believe the British can be compelled by threats of violence and force. They wish to get what they want out of the British, and therefore they proceed to threats of violence and force; and until that premise of their argument is challenged—and it cannot be challenged only 105 by words, it must be challenged also by deeds——
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE DUCHY OF LANCASTER (VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH)
Will the noble Viscount allow me to interrupt? It is very important for us to get this matter right. Persia did exactly the same type of thing in 1932–33, and we are now dealing with a breach of the Treaty which was then made. I hope the noble Viscount will not make the position worse by over-stating the case.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
I do not flatter myself that any words from me can make the position either worse or better. I am anxious only to tell your Lordships the truth as I see it, and, as I was venturing to say, it seems to me that His Majesty's Government are persuaded that cowardice is safer than courage, which makes our position most desperately dangerous. I am trying to persuade them away from that position. I am speaking for the line of safety, not of danger. Now, my Lords, so far as our position is concerned, have the Persians not some reason for what they think of us? They have seen us bundled out of Palestine. They have seen Senor Peron (for whom His Majesty's Government have more sympathy than for General Franco) setting up meteorological stations in the Falkland Islands. They have seen Franco asking for Gibraltar. They have seen Farouk demanding the Sudan. They have noted the decision of the International Court in the matter of Albania; and although it was in our favour, we chose to do nothing to defend it. The Persians are not being unreasonable if they draw certain conclusions from such evidence. People say that force is no remedy. I respectfully submit that if the premise of the argument be that the British will not use force, force is the only remedy that will put that situation right.
I share with the noble Lord, Lord Salisbury, the feeling that the Harriman mission was inspired by the purest desire for peace, but I do not share the belief that, on balance, that mission was well-advised. I myself thought that the only sensible thing about it was said by the British Ambassador in Teheran, but he apparently was 106 made to eat his own words after saying them. My Lords, I am half American myself. I am devoted to the friendship between this country and my mother's country. I have never supported those who wish to cause trouble between this country and the United States. But I see in this move, which is related to other moves, the greatest danger in recent months to our friendship with that country. The moment the Americans come to think that they have to help the British every time they are in trouble, it will be to the peril of good relations between our respective countries. The Americans have never seen quite so clearly as we do the benefits of the British Empire, either to themselves or to the world at large; and if people are going to suppose that the Harriman mission is re-cementing the British Empire, at the point at which it seems to be cracking, I think they will have to consider the matter again. The truth of this matter is that if Mr. Harriman is negotiating about anything, after the decision of the International Court in our favour he ought to be negotiating as to whether the Persians are going to implement the injunction of the International Court. If they are not, there is nothing to negotiate about. The Americans know very clearly if we are weak in our affairs, and they have their own interests to pursue having regard to that fact.
There is at present another set of negotiations in progress, about which we know nothing—I refer to those between the Americans and Spain. I do not know whether the Americans have yet raised the subject of Gibraltar, but I know very well that the Spaniards will do so, even if America does not. His Majesty's Government have so far ensured that the British should have nothing whatever to do with those negotiations, for reasons of high policy which have been discussed this afternoon. We therefore find ourselves in this position. The Persians are clearly in breach of International Law. The Hague Court has given us an interlocutory injunction, and it seems to me that we are being asked now to negotiate as to whether or not that interlocutory injunction should be kept. The Lord Chancellor asked us what we should have done. I cannot speak for my noble friend Lord Salisbury, and I would not seek to do so, but if I may venture a joke, 107 upon a subject which does not readily lend itself to pleasantry, I would venture in the first place to call for a certain change of attitude. I should have liked to see on the part of His Majesty's Government—if I may quote Horace—a little less of"Pericos odi, puer, apparatus"—which, being interpreted, I suppose, means that His Majesty's Government deeply deplore the attitude of the Persian authorities—and a little more"Persarum vigui rege beatior,"which, I understand to mean that we are a great deal stronger than the Shah of Persia and our morale is a good deal higher.
In the second place, I venture to think that when the Prime Minister of Persia was murdered (and the Lord Chancellor was inquiring about the time) that was the time when Britain should have spoken out in no uncertain voice. That was the time to give an unequivocal declaration such as that which His Majesty's Government have at last been goaded into giving; weeks too late. That was the time when they should have said, in terms, that we did not propose to stand by and allow our rights to be destroyed by unilateral action, and should have reinforced ostentatiously and with determination all our forces in the Middle East. I venture to suggest—though I think it is foolish to canvass more direct military operations without consultation with the proper experts—that it would have been neither difficult nor wholly unsuccessful had we escorted those tankers through the Red Sea with a flotilla of destroyers, thereby making it clear both to Egypt and Persia, that we proposed to protect our rights. I can see nothing very difficult or wrong in doing just those things. But none of those things has, in fact, been done, and we are therefore faced with the situation that, so far at any rate, the Persians have been given no clear evidence that the premise of their argument is wrong, and that if they go on abusing and threatening and using force against the British they will not get what they want. If I thought that, by giving way on this particular issue, we could be sure of getting peace, I should certainly be in favour of giving in. But my experience, and I believe the experience of your Lordships, has been that, 108 every time you give in to people in this state of mind you will have to give in six more times in about six weeks, unless they learn the contrary. I feel most strongly that the time has come for His Majesty's Government to tell the world in plain terms—that is, by action—that if our rights, as defined by the International Court, are flouted, we shall use force to protect those rights.
That brings me back to the subject of Spain. I myself share—strange as it may seem that I should find myself in such company—the political prejudices of His Majesty's Government against General Franco. Even if I did not, I think the fact that he demanded Gibraltar would make him no friend of the British Empire until he kept quiet about that demand for a considerable period of time. But where has our policy towards Spain led us in the last six years? We started with the idea that it would be desirable that General Franco no longer led the Spanish people; but as a result of the policy pursued by this Government the only solid achievement in our policy towards Spain has been to bind the Spanish people and General Franco together with hoops of steel. In every Spanish heart, so far as one can understand that strange and rather unpredictable people, as the result of this Government's attitude of moral superiority, the idea of friendship with England is indissolubly allied with want of patriotism and lack of love of Spain. That is just the opposite of the situation we should have sought to establish. We should have done everything we could to encourage those elements in Spain which love Great Britain, and made the Spaniards believe that love of Great Britain and the West is the true means of expressing the love of Spain and devotion to their country.
We have penalised the Spanish people for the continued maintenance in power of Franco, although one of the hideous lessons of this appalling century is that it is not possible for people subject to oppression—such are the modern means of government—to overthrow a tyranny entirely from within. When they were starving, we gave them no food; when they were poor, we gave them no assistance. On the contrary, our attitude has been that because they have a dictatorship, we will give them no help, with the result that they have come to look upon 109 the rest of the world as their enemies and not as their friends. Our whole policy should have been to make the Spanish Republic, of whatever political complexion, look forward to the day when their relations with Britain and the West became closer. Our policy should now be to look forward to the day when Franco's Government will fall. If the history of Spain teaches anything else, it teaches us that no Government is immortal—any more than one hopes the Government is here—and we must seek to make sure that when Franco's Government goes the people are in a frame of mind that they will not turn to Communists, as the only alternative, but will turn to the West as if we were their friends, as I am sure we sincerely desire to be.
In the meantime, the only achievement of the Government has been to ensure that the negotiations between Spain and America have been conducted in our absence and, therefore, that they would include the subject of Gibraltar, whether we like it or not, and to make the Spanish people firmer in their belief that we are their enemies, as well as Franco's. Though I was impressed beyond measure by the comparison drawn by the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, between the Government's attitude towards Spain and their attitude towards some of the Eastern dictators, I must say that His Majesty's Government have not rendered their policy less hypocritical by the fact that our relations with Spain can be compared to our relations with Argentina. There is a Government which is at least as contemptible as that of Spain—and, in many ways, a good deal less attractive. It is not a Government of the Left, which might cause forgiveness, in Socialist circles at any rate, but a dictatorship of the Right. Yet because they are afraid of losing the next General Election by sacrificing our meat ration, the British Government will not treat Peron as they treat Franco. They need not think that the Spanish people are not aware of these facts. The Spaniards are quite familiar with the situation in Argentina. It is all very well to take an attitude of great moral probity, to say that our moral, social and political doctrines are such that we must not associate with such scum as those with whom the Americans are now negotiating. If we are taking a moral attitude, we should 110 at least avoid the most obvious forms of hypocrisy. At the moment we seem to have the worst of every possible world.
That brings me back to our relations with America. Our friendship with America is the keystone of our foreign policy, but it is not fool-proof. And if people are going about abusing the Americans, in pamphlets, as they seem to be doing nowadays, saying that we ought to recognise Communist China, when all the time we ourselves—as the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, reminded us—are subjected to every kind of humiliation from the people we recognise; saying that the Americans are really secondary to ourselves in political wisdom and all virtue, while at the same time allowing the Americans to negotiate with Persia about the shares we possess in the oilfields, and with Spain about Gibraltar, then all I can say is that they are not pursuing the real interests of this country.
That leads me, in what I am afraid has been all too short a summary of a very difficult position, to what the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, said about Russia. The noble Viscount seemed to derive some comfort from what he described as a change of attitude in the Russians. I believe that such a sense of comfort is entirely misplaced. The Liberals have been locking for dawns for so long that they see a good many dawns where there are not any. With great respect to the noble Viscount, the whole of Stalin's attitude towards foreign policy has been laid down in black and white; we know what they are thinking, because they have told us. The ebb and flow of tactics, as Stalin happily describes it in his book, which is a text book of his present intentions, changes according to the momentary situation. If the West is strong, then the Russians talk peacefully. But their final objectives, their philosophy of politics, their ultimate policy towards the West, remains, by definition, unchanged. These things are not determined by the ebb and flow of tactics, but by the strategy of the class war. That strategy ought by now to be fairly well known.
I remember that for years after 1945 I was constantly puzzled by people who asked me at public meetings: "What are the Russians at? Why are they so horrible about the Russian wives? Why do they want to murder Tito? Why do 111 they want to be rude to us at every opportunity?" It was all very puzzling, so long as one did not face what they were really up to. But what they are really up to has not been very clearly defined. They regard the use of the one Communist country—that is to say, the Soviet Union—as a base whereby they may promulgate the doctrine of world revolution; and world revolution involves the overthrow of everything we mean by law and order here. The particular tactic which is adopted was laid down by Lenin as long ago as 1905 or 1906, and it involves in this particular instance the development of every kind of trouble in what they call the Colonial and dependent peoples, in order to overthrow the bourgeois imperialism in its last stages of decay at the point where it is believed to be weakest. All these are certain things. When I hear the Minister of Defence out of doors saying that we really might afford, if the Russians will only be nice to us for five minutes, to let up a bit, my thoughts go back to 1947 when he said that there would not be a fuel crisis.
There is only one answer to these problems, and it is this. The time has come in this country for a great resurgence of patriotism and public spirit. Patriotism has often been abused. It has its obvious limitations, and its dangers. But in the end, what is it which enables a country to carry through difficult times; what is it which enables a Government to pursue hard and difficult policies, if it is not the patriotism of its people? I make no secret about it. I should like to see the state of public opinion in this country such that any Government, of whatever political complexion, would be afraid to dissipate our heritage, or to retreat from our just rights, because they would fear the verdict of our own people. When this sentiment is put forward, as it is, not only by myself but by many people not members of my own Party—I thought the sentiments of the noble Lord, Lord Winster, exactly corresponded with my own this afternoon—it is a little unworthy of the occasion to be told that this is mere warmongering. I believe that peace can be attained in the long run only if there is a powerful British Empire. If that curious conglomeration of interests, powers and rights 112 which we call the British Empire—some of them political, some of them military and some of them sentimental—remains in our hands alone throughout the world, then I believe there can be peace. But if it is divided amongst a series of small, petty and increasingly selfish nationalities, then I am absolutely certain that the free world will have war with the East and will degenerate for a period into decay and chaos.
During what I have said, I may have seemed in many ways to have struck a pessimistic note, and I believe quite frankly that the logic of the situation is a logic which leads to a pessimistic conclusion. We ought not to be cast down by that. We have faced such conclusions before, and once we have come to face them bravely we have not faced them in vain. If I am convinced of nothing else, I am sure that we have not been delivered, as we have all seen ourselves delivered in the last ten years, from so many and great perils to go down in these latter years in despair and distress amid a welter of petty animosities and factional antagonisms.
§ 9.2 p.m.
§ LORD TEVIOT
My Lords, I feel considerably embarrassed at following a speech of such brilliance as that of the noble Viscount who has just sat down, and particularly as he has chosen Spain as his major subject. He has, however, left just one or two remarks for me to make in a very humble way. So far as I can help, I am not going to deal at all with Party politics, but, being a friend of the Spanish people, I am going to put to your Lordships certain points of view which I hold, and to say how I visualise what is going to happen if the Government continue their particular policy with regard to Spain. I think it is really quite absurd to lay down that we will have nothing to do with Spain because of its internal political set-up. If that policy had been carried out during the World War we should not have had the support of the Russians, and we might have lost the war. When one thinks of what the Spanish people have done during both wars and since the wars, I think we have every reason to be most grateful to them. I know that they have not the freedom of the Press, but, after all, as your Lordships well know, it is laid down in the United Nations Charter that the policy is 113 not to interfere with the internal affairs of any country but to get on with making amicable and friendly relations in trade and commerce with all nations.
To treat Spain as we are doing now is completely contradictory to our treatment of Yugoslavia and Communist China. It is undoubtedly making or tending to bad feeling between our two countries, and I propose to give your Lordships an instance with regard to shipping as to the sort of thing which has happened and is continuing to happen. It is a matter of exchange. There are great difficulties with regard to our establishing connections with Spain, and I would draw the Government's attention and, incidentally, that of the Bank of England and the Board of Trade, to the exchange question. The trouble at the moment is that outward freights have invariably been paid in sterling in this country, which custom is still maintained. But in the past two years we have found ourselves losing considerable amounts of outward cargo to Spanish vessels whose owners are prepared to accept payment of freight in pesetas at the Spanish discharging port. We cannot do that, as we are precluded by Spanish exchange regulations from using pesetas in Spain to defray the disbursements of our own or consigned vessels. These regulations provide that all such disbursements of British vessels in Spain must be converted into sterling, and we have to remit to Spain the sterling equivalent through the Bank of England. Therefore, under the present regulations the pesetas we should have in Spain would be completely dead money, seeing that they could neither be used for disbursements of our own vessels, nor remitted back to this country.
Our only hope of countering the Spanish action would be for the Bank of England or the Board of Trade, or both, to take up the question energetically and demand that all freights, irrespective of conditions of import licences, should be transferred immediately. Should this not be granted, it should be taken as evidence of Spain's insisting on discriminating in favour of her own vessels. You may ask, "Why should they not?" The answer is that all we ask is for equality of treatment in order to protect British shipping. There is one other point. I think the Bank of England and the Board of Trade should take up energetically the question 114 of payment of ships' disbursements from peseta freights or branch earnings. Spanish vessels pay their disbursements in the United Kingdom from sterling freights, so we should be allowed to pay in Spain with the pesetas that we have available. I have given your Lordships an instance of what happens now. I am certain in my own mind that if it had not been for the policy we are now adopting in regard to Spain we should have overcome this elementary difficulty, as we have done, so far as I know, in all other countries. I dare say many of your Lordships know the Spaniard. I know him pretty well and I must say he is a grand type of man. I feel we should try to help him back to better times. He rendered us great war service in the First World War by refusing the blandishments of the Kaiser, and in the Second by refusing the blandishments of Hitler. Since then he has stood up to the Communists and will have no truck with them. I doubt whether you would get a really patriotic Spaniard on the same platform as, for instance, Mr. Arthur Horner. Frankly, if I had to fight with my back to the wall, I would as soon have a Spaniard with me as anybody else.
Strategically, Spain is an enormous asset as a friend and ally. We ought to bring the Spanish into the comity of nations and help them materially. The United States policy, from the military point of view, is, in my view, unquestionably right, and would greatly help Spanish economic recovery. I believe that there is a chance of very great economic, commercial and trading developments in Spain, if we can help them to carry out what, it is quite obvious to me, can be done in that country. The first thing we have to do is to dispense with all this ideological and political nonsense. That is the one thing that is keeping us apart.
The other day we had a debate in this House on the subject of identity cards. That gave me the idea of making inquiries to ascertain the position of citizens in Spain, as compared with that of citizens in this country. I found that there are no identity cards in Spain; meat is not rationed; there is no purchase tax. Other basic foods, including bread, are rationed. There is no entertainment tax, and taxes generally are lower than here. 115 Generally speaking, so far as I could ascertain, individual freedom there is not unduly restricted. I am not at all sure that in that regard they are not as well off as we are here, if not better off. I do not think there is the same interference with regard to the activities of the individual in Spain as we suffer here to-day. It is all very well for us to talk about the necessity for identity cards, and that sort of thing, and then hold ourselves up to criticise the Spanish regime. It seems to me rather an example of the old saying that:People living in glass houses should not throw stones.I am glad to see that the Lord Chancellor has now returned to the Chamber, because I made a note of a point that I wanted to refer to in regard to something he said about Persia and the help that the United States are giving us now for which, of course, we are all most grateful. But I do not believe that if another Government had been in power here during the last five years there would have been any necessity whatever for help from the United States. Although we welcome what they are doing, I believe that the reason why it is necessary to bring them in, to get us out of the frightful "jam" in which we find ourselves, is due entirely to the policy of drift, or of no policy at all, which has brought about this situation. Although we give them many thanks for what they are doing, I think it is derogatory to our dignity that we should have to look to other nations to extricate ourselves from difficulties of this sort. Let us face it that, without the sanctity of international law, treaties and contracts, war is an absolute certainty. You can hardly ever get everyone to agree on anything, but I feel quite certain that we should not be deterred by the fact that this person or that country does not agree. If we feel that we are doing the right thing, let us pursue it with that great courage which has been a characteristic of our Governments of the past. In my view, weakness and vacillation head straight towards war, and I agree with my noble friend who has just sat down, in the strong words he used on that point. It is my genuine belief that we have never before had such a Government as this which, by its want of 116 courage, has been so dangerous to peace. Looking back into the past history of the ideology of the Socialists, I suppose we cannot expect anything else. My Lords. I can genuinely say that I absolutely support and believe every word that fell from my noble friend Lord Salisbury, and also from the very able speaker to whom we have just listened.
§ 9.15 p.m.
My Lords, since the spring of 1946, when first I raised the question of Spain and received from the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack an answer which, I am sorry to say, I thought quite dreadful, a good deal of time has elapsed, and it is gratifying to find so many noble Lords speaking so strongly and so wisely on the subject today. When I was a young man I thought there were certain landmarks in British foreign policy which could never be altered, whatever Government were in power and whatever their politics might be. One of these was that we preserve friendship and friendly relations with the peoples and Governments of the Low Countries; the other was that we preserve friendship and friendly relations with the peoples and Governments of the Iberian Peninsula. Not alone among the numerous reasons for that is the natural sympathy which obtains between the British and Spanish peoples. For us, if not for many other European countries, Gibraltar is the gate of the Suez Canal. There has always been agitation in Spain over Gibraltar, and when I was there thirty years ago agitation went on just as it does to-day. But at that time one thing was absolutely certain—namely, however exacerbated the question might be, it would never lead to war between Britain and Spain, because to be an Englishman in Spain was to be the guest of a whole nation, and everyone you met was your friend. I believe that then, when the going was good, a great opportunity was lost of settling this Gibraltar question in a way which would have been satisfactory and would have gratified the feelings of both countries. But to-day, with a Government which seems quite determined that its relations with Spain shall always be strained, I am bound to say that I do not see how we can hope for a pleasant or an easy solution of this question.
Noble Lords opposite, many of them my friends, have filled me up with tales 117 about Spain. Therefore, early this year I took the opportunity which was offered to me and went to the country to see what there was to be seen. I am not going to pretend that I saw an enormous lot, and understood everything, but I did find one or two things which might interest your Lordships. In the first place, I found that there were people who disliked the present Spanish Government, and who had no hesitation in expressing their feelings in very strong language. On the other hand, I found that most of the people did not bother their heads very much about the Government at all. I submit that that is not at all a bad sign in any country. But owing, partly, to the economic strain exerted on Spain by her exclusion from the United Nations, and her inability to buy any artificial manure, the Spanish people as a whole seem generally very much undernourished. To that I want to make one exception. However hard up they are, the children look perfectly splendid. Without any exaggeration, I think they compare favourably with any similar group of children that might be found in this country. Apart from the children, the under-nourishment was largely evident, and I can give your Lordships several stories to support what I say.
This is not hard to understand when it is realised that, in general, the soil of Spain is light and, I am certain, deficient in humus. According to the latest returns, the cattle population in Spain is something, like fifteen per square mile, and your Lordships will realise what that means when I say that the cattle population of Britain is 500 per square mile. This is the only source from which in Spain they can increase the humus in their soil. The result of that, and the deprivation of artificial manure, has been that the Spaniards have had great difficulty in feeding themselves. The North, which is mining and industrial, has done very much better, but at the time when I arrived in Spain the pressure of European rearmament had the effect of depriving the factories of the North of a great deal of their raw materials, and they had begun to feel the pinch.
The repeated and, in my opinion, unfortunate pronouncements of His Majesty's Government on the subject of Spain must persuade the Spanish people that we are responsible for a great deal of what they have suffered, and are suffer- 118 ing to-day, and I am bound to say that I cannot differ much from that conclusion. On one occasion recently it was pointed out to me by a noble and learned Lord in this House that the decision in the matter of Spain was that of the United Nations. But we cannot shelter behind the United Nations when we are parties to that United Nations decision, and ourselves enjoined that decision. Your Lordships probably saw a letter, the day before yesterday, in The Times, pointing out how, in the present Festival Exhibition, all mention of early Spanish maritime achievements has been cut out. That is a little thing, and it may be just a careless omission; but it appears to the foreigner like a deliberate slight, and as an effect of the prejudice to which His Majesty's Government, in repeated declarations, have given full force and expression.
If the object of this repeated and carefully formulated unfriendliness is to urge the Spanish people into rebellion against their Government then, in my opinion, that is an utterly wicked aim for any Government to pursue, anywhere and at any time, when they are at peace. Moreover, I would point out, it is one which His Majesty's Government have expressly disclaimed with regard to Russia. In any case, such a policy is unlikely to succeed, and in proof of that I will tell you one story. In Aragon oar party took lunch at the side of the road, and we met a party of children and their mothers. One child was very proud of himself for having killed an eagle. They took some sandwiches and began to talk, and the mother told us of her terrific difficulty in bringing up the family. Then she said, "We hope that there is a chance of Marshall Aid and that we shall do better, but we are afraid that it means we are to be bought by the Americans; and, sooner than that, we will starve." That shows how much chance there is of conquering a nation like Spain by economic pressure.
I should like to say this of the Spanish Government: that, considering their lack of resources, of every kind, the social services which they have instituted are exemplary. I went to lunch in one of the special restaurants instituted by the Government, somewhat on the lines of our British Restaurants. One had three courses—two of them quite substantial—and there was a glass of wine. The whole thing cost two pesetas, which is a little 119 more than fivepence, the Government contributing seven pesetas. After a certain time the customers are changed. The Government's resources are very small, and they have to bring the whole population through the winter. But the whole enterprise is carried out under conditions of complete cleanliness, which are far in advance of any British Restaurant that I have ever visited. Then there are housing schemes in Spain. Their houses are really solid, and after sixty years a tenant becomes the owner of the house. The housing schemes are, therefore, a form of saving, which is extremely valuable to the people. Women are not neglected. There are workrooms for women, where they can make things for sale or for their families, and where they can get a meal. There are excellent orphanages and institutions of that kind in Spain. In the town hall of a town where I stopped, I saw professional periodicals which showed that what I saw around me was going on in every Province of Spain.
I have been told that His Majesty's Government's objection to the Spanish Government is that it is a Government that has come into power by civil war. I think it is an open secret that if the other side had won that fact would never have been mentioned. But what I want to say here is that if, before making any approach to Spain, His Majesty's Government propose to wait until the Government of Spain shows any approach to an imitation of the British Constitution, they will have to wait a very long time. Anyone who knows anything about the people or the history of Spain knows that such a system has never worked in Spain. It has been tried twice in Spanish history, to my knowledge. It has always failed, and failed disastrously. The people of Spain do insist on one thing: they insist on a distinct personality in whomsoever is at the head of the Government. They demand what they call the rule of a man. One of the greatest anarchist writers in Spain, Pio Baroja, said himself, in one of his books, that what Spain demands is "El Rey Caudillo"—a King who is a chieftain. I could tell your Lordships a good many stories about that, but I will content myself with telling you one. That is that the surest way to make yourselves welcome in any Spanish company is to propose the health of Mr. Winston Churchill.
Owing to the pressure of economic circumstances, the Chief, General Franco, has probably had to adopt a good many courses which he would otherwise have preferred to avoid. Notwithstanding this, there is not the smallest doubt as to his personal prestige and his hold on Spain. His personal character has a great deal to do with this. He is a very gallant solider. He is a great leader of men. He has been wounded in action I think probably as badly as any member of your Lordships' House has ever been wounded. And he has many other attributes and qualities. I will tell your Lordships about one of them. General Franco comes of an honourable but not, I think, very wealthy Spanish family; and I have not been able to learn that, whoever else has made a fortune in the Spain of to-day, the family from which he derives his origin have benefited in any way. That is a very unusual thing in connection with dictators, and I think it is greatly to his credit.
The whole question of this Spanish Government is dominated by the Civil War. Wherever you go in that battle-scarred land—and it is still very battlescarred—you are conscious of the hidden fires. Again and again, you are conscious of those words of Horace: Bellique causas et vitia et modos et arma""nondum expiatis uncta cruoribus."Wherever I went, I was conscious that incessi per ignes"suppositos cineri doloso."The curious thing is that in Spain people generally know their classics, and they recognise the lines and their applicability. The Civil War is a delicate subject, but very soon you will discover that in Spain, whatever else may be the case, everybody is determined that there never shall be another; and they look on General Franco as the greatest safeguard against another civil war. The similarity that shows itself between General Franco and the Emperor Augustus is extraordinary: both kept in power, not entirely but very largely, by the determination of the people they governed that they would never have a civil war again. Augustus had the advantage over Franco, in that the Rome 121 of his day had far greater resources, and the Barbarians were still far distant in space and time. Spain has few resources, and I am sorry to say that His Majesty's Government are not so far away, and are a menacing influence.
I am sure that the efforts of the British Government to disturb General Franco are not likely to succeed. All they have done is to arouse a dislike of England which, if I may judge from Hakluyt's Voyages, has not been equalled even in Elizabeth's time. I travelled with a young man and won his confidence, and he said to me "I am just old enough to remember before the Civil War and how, if we chanced upon an Englishman, we liked to make much of him. To-day I am afraid you will find all that changed as you go about." That is the measure of what has been thrown away by the Government's insisting on disturbing the natural relations which ought to subsist between the two countries and peoples, whatever their Governments might be. It is one of the most extraordinary things in history that the British Government, dedicated to the United Nations and the cause of world peace, are trying to prevent a good understanding between the United States, our closest Ally, and another nation, lest the boundaries of peace and good will should be enlarged in an unacceptable direction—and this not for any Imperial interest, but rather contrary to Imperial interest, and on what I would call quasi-religious grounds. I am afraid that in the future, when the history of our period comes to be written, it will be said that the Socialist Government scrambled the Empire so that it could never be unscrambled again.
§ 9.34 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, in his opening remarks the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor welcomed this debate because it afforded an opportunity for criticism of the Government, and welcomed criticism because it was helpful. I feel he has no cause to complain of the debate so far as it has gone. There has been a good deal of criticism. It has been a little difficult to gather it together and classify it, but, after the last few speeches, one could put the criticism under two main heads: the first is that the Government have been weak in their action in the Middle East, and the second is as regards Spain. I think the Lord Chancellor put his finger on 122 the spot when he asked the noble Marquess to explain what he meant by "showing strength." I believe the noble Marquess in his reply is going to elaborate that point, and tell the House in what way he would have shown greater strength of action than the Government have done. But he was assisted by a number of speeches from his followers behind him, and particularly by the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, who made it quite clear, with the obvious support of his friends, that what he meant by showing strength was actually to use armed force for the purpose of getting acceptance of our views. In my opinion, that is the real issue between the majority of noble Lords opposite and noble Lords on this side of the House. Noble Lords opposite still take the view that we are living in the days of Lord Palmerston, in the middle of the last century, and that we have got to show these inferior beings that we are stronger than they, and that that is the only way in which we can secure their submission.
I should like to make it abundantly clear that in the particular disputes that have taken place in Persia and Egypt, I have absolutely no doubt that we are right and they are wrong. There has been a clear breach of international agreement on the part of both Egypt and Persia. It has been unilateral and, as the noble Marquess has said, there can be no defence whatever. Nevertheless, the question which we in these days have to make up our minds about is: what is the remedy? Is the true remedy to show force, and in the last resort to land an army and occupy the country—because the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, went as far as that—or is there any other way? We are to-day members of the United Nations Organisation. We have solemnly renounced—and I hope that we have done it sincerely—the solution of international disagreements by force.
If we mean what we say, then the only policy that we can adopt is that which the present Government are adopting, of patience, tolerance and restraint, and, if that fails, then an appeal to the United Nations and the International Court at The Hague. I can see no other way, short of embarking on the wars of the kind which were scattered throughout the nineteenth century and which we today regard as purely imperialist wars. I 123 believe that the solution which noble Lords opposite have put forward to-day for the situation in the Middle East really affords the acid test of the difference between their policy and ours.
As regards Spain, listening to the last two noble Lords who have spoken one would imagine that Spain is more democratic than we are; that their people have greater freedom; that they have a higher standard of living; and that Spain is, indeed, a perfect country. That is quite new to most of us. I have been under the impression that it was conceded that Spain was not democratic; that it was a dictatorship; that conditions were not satisfactory there, but that, nevertheless, it was none of our business; that whatever the internal conditions of Spain might be, we ought not to resist their entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, because they are able to give us strong help in our resistance against aggression. Now that is an intelligent view, although it is one with which I do not agree, for the reasons given by the Lord Chancellor. But to lean over backwards, so to speak, in order to establish that Spain really is democratic—more democratic than we are because they have no identity cards and we have—and to say that their standard of living is higher than ours, and that generally it is a far better country than ours, presumably because of the form of Government—because the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, was at great pains to indicate what a great General Franco is, and I presume that all the flowery conditions of which he spoke——
I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but I did stress that I found Spain in very grievous conditions owing to lack of food and nourishment, and that I should like to see those conditions improved and the pressure taken off.
§ LORD SILKIN
I know that there are black spots, but I thought he gave a general picture of very fine social services, the children looking well, and so on. I gathered that on the whole he was very satisfied with the conditions in Spain which he attributes to General Franco. One can go to any country and see what one wants to see. I have no doubt that there are some who would go to countries 124 behind the Iron Curtain and see exactly the same kind of conditions there if they wanted to see them, and would come back and extol the virtues of freedom and democracy in those countries, the condition of the children and so on.
I intervened mainly to raise an entirely different question. Throughout his speech the noble Marquess emphasised the vital importance of the sanctity of treaties which had been freely arrived at, and how wrong it was that there should be unilateral repudiation. The noble Marquess said that that was completely inadmissible, and over and over again he used that expression in the course of his speech, which, if I may say so with all deference, was a very helpful speech and one which I enjoyed very much. But throughout he adopted the very high tone of standing for sanctity of international contracts. Indeed, in an interjection during the course of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, he said that he was not interested in what is expedient but in what is right.
§ LORD SILKIN
Yes, I agree. Now I want to raise the question of the two Polish tankers, and I ought to tell the House something about them. These are the tankers which have been requisitioned by His Majesty's Government in the course of the last few days. The contracts for those tankers were entered into on May 14, 1948, and their price was put at something like £600,000 each, on January 14, 1949—that is, eight months after the contract was entered into and the trading and finance Agreement between the British and Polish Governments was signed, which provided for the sale by Poland to this country of a large variety of foodstuffs and of all kinds of timber, including pit-props and pulp wood, all of which have been duly delivered in accordance with the Agreement. We were to supply to Poland textiles, chemicals, metal goods, glass and so on. The various types of goods that may be exchanged are set out in the 125 appendices to the Trade Agreement. I want to draw your Lordships' attention to one clause of that Agreement—Article 6. It provides that the Government of the United Kingdom shall not prohibit the export to Poland of capital equipment produced in fulfilment of orders placed by or on behalf of the Polish Government with United Kingdom firms on or before the date of signature of the present Agreement. In other words, the Government undertook, whatever they might do about future deliveries under the Trade Agreement, that they would not interfere with anything that had been contracted for before the date of the Agreement. I would remind your Lordships that these particular tankers were contracted for eight months before the date of the Agreement.
This is rather an extraordinary provision, because it seems to contemplate that the Government may interfere with other types of deliveries, but not with those which were contracted for before the date of the contract. There is no suggestion, so far as I know, that tankers are not covered by Article 6 of the Trade Agreement. Then, some two or three months after the Trade Agreement, the President of the Board of Trade announced that there would be large numbers of types or goods which would not be allowed to be exported from this country to Eastern countries. There were some fifty-one items, including presses, forging hammers and so on, but there was no mention of tankers—and there could not have been, because these tankers were covered by Article 6. On September 1, 1950, there was a debate in another place. It was raised, I think, by Mr. Lyttelton, who was complaining of our sending machine tools to Eastern countries which could be used by them for warlike purposes. On that occasion the President of the Board of Trade announced that he had added fifty-nine items to the previous list for complete prohibition and a number of other items for quantitative control. Again, there was no mention whatever of these tankers. One of these tankers is today actually completed. The Government of Poland have paid for it in full the sum of £600,000. They had made all arrangements for collecting the tanker. They had actually sent crews to this country to work it back. The second tanker had been paid for up to the point of its completion, and it is due to be completed in 126 about two months' time. Without any notice whatever, the Government have requisitioned—and I draw your Lordships' attention to the word "requisitioned"; they do not say "compulsorily acquired"—both these tankers under the Defence Regulations, which Regulations, I think, formed the subject of some criticism in this House a few days ago.
The reason given for the requisition is that these tankers might possibly be used for warlike purposes and, alternatively, that they would be of great use to us in connection with the Persian dispute. But I would draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that that is exactly what the noble Marquess has condemned. It is absolutely a unilateral repudiation of a solemn Agreement entered into between this country and another country with whom we were at peace. It is a unilateral repudiation, and the reason given is that it is to our advantage to repudiate this Agreement, in exactly the same way as the Persian Government and the Egyptian Government and, as the noble Marquess himself said in the course of his speech, the German Governments in 1914 and in 1939, found it convenient to repudiate solemn obligations entered into internationally. We have treated this Trade Agreement as a scrap of paper. I do not deny for a moment that it is convenient to us, that it is to our advantage, to repudiate it; but it is, nevertheless, a solemn repudiation of an Agreement entered into. I should perfectly understand if the Government had decided that they did not want a Trade Agreement with Poland, or with any of the Eastern countries. That is a perfectly intelligible and understandable attitude. But, on the contrary, the Government only a year or so ago welcomed this Agreement. They thought it was to their advantage as well as to the advantage of the Government of Poland, because the introductory words of the Agreement are that:The Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of Poland, prompted by a sincere desire to ensure the development of Anglo-Polish trade to their mutual advantage and attaching particular importance to the development of Anglo-Polish trade on a long-term basis,and so onhave agreed as follows ….Therefore, we solemnly admitted and put in writing that this Agreement is to our advantage. Nevertheless, in spite of an 127 absolute undertaking that this particular contract would not be interfered with, we are taking to ourselves the right to repudiate it when we think it suits us.
There are one or two rather difficult consequences of requisitioning. One is that, although the property has passed to the Polish Government, at any rate in the case of the first tanker, and they have spent large sums of money both on the first and the second tankers, the Government can have the use of both those tankers without paying for them and merely by coming, to some arrangement for the use of the tankers so long as they do use them. In the meantime, we have had the benefit of the large capital sums of money paid by the Polish Government. The second consequence is that this kind of repudiation of a trade agreement is one which may have very wide repercussions. Some noble Lords have spoken about Spain. What will be the view of Spain if they contemplate having ships built in this country? This Government's attitude to Spain is by no means friendly. Supposing that at some time we felt that it would suit us to requisition ships which had been built and paid for by Spain or by the Argentine, are we not just as likely to requisition them as in the case of Poland? Is that any encouragement to these countries to get their ships built here, when they can go elsewhere and get them built without that danger?
I think it was Lord Samuel who made the point that all was not necessarily well in the relationship between the Soviet Government and its satellite countries. In my judgment it would certainly be a great mistake to assume that Poland and the Soviet Union are so permanently tied together that nothing can separate them. I believe it is very ominous that Mr. Molotov and Marshal Zhukov went to Warsaw on Polish Independence Day and made those strong speeches. I think those speeches were directed to the Polish people and not to the world outside. They were to make them feel the might of the Soviet Union and to hesitate before they weakened their allegiance to the Soviet Union. But the fact that on this day they found it necessary to send to Warsaw these high officials of the Soviet Government to make those speeches seems to me a sign of weakness rather than of strength. What we are doing as a result 128 of our repudiation of this Agreement is to force Poland back into the arms of the Soviet Union, and to make her feel that there is no hope whatever of any possible friendship between our two countries.
Therefore, I should like to ask whether my noble friend can give us a little more information about these requisitions. Over what period do the British Government intend to keep these ships, which in equity and in every other way belong to the Polish Government? Is it intended to be a short-term or a long-term requisition? Are discussions going on for the payment of reasonable compensation? I am afraid that it will be a very costly business for the Government if they are going to pay reasonable compensation, because these ships are worth much more to-day than the price which the Polish Government paid for them. Lastly, I should be very interested to know what is my noble friend's reply to the point that undoubtedly this is a unilateral repudiation of a solemn international agreement, freely arrived at and expressly stated to be for the benefit of both parties.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
My Lords, we have had a very long debate, with many interesting and eloquent speeches, and I do not intend to do more than occupy a very few minutes of your time. I would not say anything at all were it not for the fact that, as the debate began, I indicated to Lord Henderson two or three concrete matters on which I hoped he would be able to say something. Therefore, it is only due to him that I should say, very briefly, what they are. This is not the hour in which to conduct a world tour, and foreign affairs is a very big subject. First, as regards Persia. There were three questions I hoped the Minister might see his way to deal with. The first is as to the phrase, which has been constantly used by the Government during these months of debate about the Persian crisis, thatit is hoped for a solution on the basis of the principle of nationalisation.I am using the exact phrase employed by the Foreign Secretary, certainly in a speech last month and, in effect, repeated yesterday. I venture to ask the question: What does that mean? Nationalisation of what? It cannot mean nationalisation of oil, for, of course, Persia owns the oil; 129 and, indeed, the Foreign Secretary himself, in the course of that same speech, said.Persian oil is already in the ownership of the Persian people.So it cannot be the oil. It was because Persia owned the oil that she was able to make the agreement with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company for its extraction and treatment.
Does the phrase refer to the nationalisation of the refineries and the installations belonging to the company? I had some difficulty in thinking that out, because, if that, is what is meant by accepting "the principle of nationalisation," why did the Government appeal to The Hague Court? The whole point of that appeal was that in view of the agreement freely entered into in 1933—an agreement for which, as it happens, I had some special responsibility—Persia has no right to effect such nationalisation and is committing an international wrong in seeking to do so. I have noticed in debate on this matter the use of such phrases as "unilateral nationalisation" It is said that that is what is objected to. But all nationalisation by any Government is unilateral, unless the people who are taken over consent to be so taken. It is no objection at all to the exercise of nationalisation by a sovereign State to say "Oh, but the steel industry (or whatever it may be) does not like it." It is the essence of nationalisation that it is an act of State.
The matter is the more remarkable because I noticed that the Foreign Secretary said, in that same speech,The term rationalisation appears to us to have been consistently misused by Persian spokesmen.It would be a pity if the term were used in any misleading sense by the spokesmen of any other country. This question has appeared in letters to the newspapers, and has been raised in other ways on several occasions, and I do not think any attempt has been made to answer it until the very last moments of the debate last night. Just as the debate was being brought to an end, the Prime Minister said that the right thingis, I think, to work for some kind of working agreement or partnership in which we supply the knowledge, the 'know-how' and all the rest of it, and the Persians manage this thing in the interests of all.Considering that this phrase about reaching an agreement "on the basis of the 130 principle of nationalisation" has been in the mouths of Ministers for so long, that statement was extraordinarily vague. I am not asking for details, but surely it is not too much to ask for some intelligible account of "the principle," to which such constant reference is being made.
Does anyone really suppose that Persian management will secure the continued success of the Company? Is it really suggested that it is possible to have a partnership in which only the Persians manage? Is it really suggested that the interests of Persia are not being served when Persia is getting its most assured source of revenue—and a very considerable revenue—from its arrangements with the Company? While, therefore, I understand that this is a matter which is the subject of negotiation, and is full of difficulty, and while none of us wants to demand unseasonable information, I hope that I am not going too far when I ask whether the Under-Secretary is able to give us some little information as to what this, in principle, means. The legal side of this matter is of infinitely less importance than its other and more serious aspects, and nothing is gained by using phrases so difficult to interpret and so easy to misunderstand. Without more words, therefore, I ask the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, whether he can explain further what is meant in this connection by the application of "the principle of nationalisation." That is the first question I should like to ask. I am far from saying that the debate in another place yesterday did not throw some light on this difficult subject. It is a relief to know that, if satisfactory conditions can he established, it is the Lord Privy Seal who will go to Persia. He is a business man, and I hope that the country is duly impressed by the portentous announcement made last night, that one of the first actions of Mr. Stokes will be to pay a visit to Abadan, in order to familiarise himself with the conditions there and in the oilfields area. This will, indeed, be bringing a business brain to the study of a practical matter.
The second question is this. The Foreign Secretary has again and again said that we could not make a new agreement under duress. Since then, there has been a continuous stream of insult and pressure on British technicians in the oilfields; indeed, it has gone to lengths 131 which have been described as "intolerable." I must say that I think it was a very unhappy way of describing the attitude of His Majesty's Government to say, in effect, that, while we sympathised with the officials' difficulties, we hoped that they would stick it out as long as they could. "Stand firm" was the order. That way of putting it seems perilously like admitting that, if the Persian violence and intransigence became worse, then the men would have to come home. Of course, it was never intended to encourage the Persians in such conduct, but I cannot feel that the order was very happily worded. So far as I have followed the matter (and I have been concerned to follow it as closely as I can), I do not think that until yesterday—though this trouble has now gone on for months—we have ever had a clear statement from the Government as to whether they meant the men to stay or contemplated that they would have to leave.
I noticed that in the very last sentence of his speech, which was then being stopped by the Order of the House, the Prime Minister was saying:our intention is not to evacuate entirely.In the debate to-day the Lord Chancellor, after warning us that he was going no further than the Prime Minister, said, "We will stay in Abadan." He went on to say that the Government accepted all the implications of that announcement. I am glad to hear it, though, if it is right to take that step at this late moment, I have a certain difficulty in seeing why there is so much fuss raised about the suggestion that a little more firmness might have been shown earlier. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, is in error if he thinks the only alternative is between what has been done and a mere rattling of the sabre and threatening military violence. Not at all. We understand the enormous change that has taken place, not least in the near East, so that that which is right and fair in our judgment has to be secured by different means from those used in what are called Palmerstonian days. The principal means is to say what we mean, as clearly as we can, as firmly as we can and as soon as we can.
I have watched the story and what I find is this. Months ago, when this trouble first arose and questions were asked in another place, Mr. Morrison's answer was 132 merely this: he was "advised" that the Persian Government were acting illegally towards the Company. I think it ought to be possible for a Foreign Minister to master a situation of this sort and give an answer of his own knowledge in another place which does not depend on his legal advisers. What was the result? As I read at the time, the result was that in Persia Ministers actually complained to our own Ambassador of the "intrusion" of the British Government into this matter between Persia and the Company. The right thing to do was to make it perfectly plain from the very beginning that it was His Majesty's Government who were the party chiefly and vitally interested. The Anglo-Persian Oil Company (as it used to be called) was created by a former British Government. It was formed on the basis that the British Government held the majority of the shares, and for the purpose that supplies of refined oil from Persia would be available for the Western world and for the British Navy. This is not a matter between the Company and the Persian Government; it is a very serious issue between this country, as a country, and Persia. Instead of that being made plain, we have been given the comfort of these irrelevant phrases about "objection to unilateral nationalisation."
In the next place I would ask about duress. Will His Majesty's Government negotiate under duress? I do not think they can say so. Then what are the conditions which they have laid down as essential for free negotiation? Because up to the present there is no indication at all that the monstrous treatment of these officers in Persia is being altered or minimised. If there is any assurance that the Persian Government are prepared to enter into negotiation upon the matter on a different and more reasonable basis, I think everyone will warmly congratulate the Government on having secured that improvement. My third question is: What is happening to the proceedings which His Majesty's Government initiated at The Hague? The interim pronouncement of The Hague Court was merely for the purpose of preserving the status quo until the dispute itself had been judicially determined. So far, so good. But can we be informed whether the proceedings which we have instituted at The Hague Court are being pushed forward? When is it expected that the case will be heard? Would it not be 133 well to publish, for public information, especially here and in America, the statement laid before The Hague Court by His Majesty's Government in May last, which presents the British case? I have no doubt at all that it was very ably and fairly presented, and I think it would be a great advantage if the public were able to examine it.
I would only say, in conclusion on this subject, that I perfectly understand that we are living under a new international system, which some people describe as the acceptance of the rule of law. Certainly that is true. As the Lord Chancellor, in his speech, said, very justly, "You are not to be judge in your own cause, however righteous you think your cause to be." That is quite right. But if you substitute acceptance of the rule of law for your own decision, what is important to secure is that you really get the rule of law applied and accepted. In this Persian business, what some of us would like to know is what steps we have taken to have the law enforced. Are we really pressing this matter forward in The Hague Court? And what prospect is there of the Persian Government accepting the rule of law? My impression is that they have announced—I hope hastily, and without due consideration—that they will not accept it. For if the alternative course does not lead to a practical result, then the end of it is that British claims, although they are the claims of justice, are simply disregarded and thrown aside. I have spoken, I hope, with complete moderation. I perfectly understand the importance of not butting in when negotiations are in progress. But it seems to me that these questions are not unreasonable questions to put at the end of a debate of this sort.
I should like to put one question in regard to the Suez Canal and Egypt. What was said yesterday has been already quoted in your Lordships' House: "Flouting maritime tradition and international convention," described by the Foreign Secretary as "irresponsible action," and "intolerable and without justification." What I want to know is what is being done about it, because the matter is already two years old. The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, spoke in a most moderate way, but he pointed out that this is a very long-standing grievance. What has been done about it? The only answer I have heard hitherto on behalf 134 of His Majesty's Government is that the matter is now before the Security Council of the United Nations. But am I not right in thinking that it was not His Majesty's Government who took it there? His Majesty's Government have done nothing at all. As I understand it, it was brought to the attention of the Security Council, I believe only last month, by an authority speaking in the name of the Government of Israel. This is not a matter just between Israel and Egypt. It is a matter of an international waterway, the right to use which is secured by a Treaty which is none the worse because the Convention is dated 1888. May I remind your Lordships what the first clause of that Treaty says? It says that the Suez Canalshall be always free and open, in time of war as in time of peace, to all ships of commerce or of war without distinction of flag.It seems to me rather extraordinary that, so far as I know, there is no indication that His Majesty's Government for two years past have taken any action to bring that flagrant disregard of the Convention to the notice of any international tribunal.
Lastly, I venture to put this question in a couple of sentences. It is with regard to the "Empire Roach," to which the Lord Chancellor referred in his speech. If I may say so, he did not use quite the same language as was used in another place. In another place the statement was:Measures have been agreed upon between, the Egyptian Government and ourselves to prevent the recurrence at incidents such as occurred recently in the case of the s.s. 'Empire Roach'.I ask, I hope, a useful and harmless question: What are those measures which have been agreed upon? The Lord Chancellor's expression was that we had an assurance that the incident would not be repeated, which is hardly the same thing. I myself have never understood why, when this matter came up prominently, these spokesmen from the Foreign Office should have emphasised the fact that, after all, the search of this steamer took place in Egyptian territorial waters. When I saw what the Foreign Secretary said, I must confess that I had some doubt as to whether he understood what are the purposes for which it is material to consider whether waters are territorial. Territorial waters are nothing more, of course, than a strip of the sea next to your coast—a strip which is often treated as 135 being three miles wide. For some purposes it is very important to know whether or not waters are territorial. It may decide rights of fishing; it may decide the ownership of the soil under the sea; or it may decide the jurisdiction of a criminal court to try a crime which has been committed on a ship in those territorial waters. Unless I quite misunderstand it, no book on International Law would ever suggest that the right of visit and search, the right of a belligerent to stop a merchant ship and ask what she has on board, has anything whatever to do with territorial waters. If the belligerent has the right to visit and search a merchant ship, it is not because the merchant ship is in territorial waters—the belligerent has exactly the same right (if he has it at all) if the ship is further out. It depends upon whether the party which is claiming to search is a belligerent. I must say that Egypt in this matter is in a very curious position if she is a belligerent: She seems to have shown no more belligerancy in this matter than she showed when her existence was being protected in the war in North Africa.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
The noble Viscount will forgive my interrupting, but tribute has been paid by our own Generals to the part that the Egyptians took in the last war.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
Certainly, but I do not think the part which she took was that of joining in the fighting at El Alamein.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
They under-went a great deal of bombing, and carried on the production of munitions during the war. Let us be fair to them.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
I am being fair. Not only am I being fair, but we are paying them very large sums for that out of their sterling balances. I do not want to be in the least unfair. What I am saying is that it is nothing but confusion of thought or ignorance which makes people suppose that the claim of the Egyptian Government in respect of the "Empire Roach" has anything whatever to do with territorial waters.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
May I intervene? The Egyptian Government do not base their rights on territorial rights at all; they base their rights on 136 the right of visit and search. It has nothing to do with war.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
I am still in some confusion. It may be that I am quite misinformed. I did not know that there was any right in our own Government to visit and search a neutral ship because it was passing in territorial waters unless, indeed, the claim was that we were belligerents engaged in stopping either contraband or in breaking blockade or un-neutral service.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The search has to do with sanitary laws—possibly connected with drugs and so on. That is the sort of ground on which they asserted—as I think quite wrongly—that they had the right to stop and search. It was not based on belligerency.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
I am greatly obliged to the noble and learned Viscount, because he has cleared up my own misunderstanding of this matter. But the Egyptian excuse is none the less indefensible in present conditions. I think it was a pity to introduce any reference to territorial waters when it did not assist the Egyptian case in the least. Those are the questions I wanted to put, and I shall be very grateful if the noble Lord can give me an aswer. I had prepared some observations of a more general and eloquent character, but at this hour I have not the slightest intention of making them. We all want to hear the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and I know that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, will have something to say a little later in reply to the Lord Chancellor's challenge.
§ 10.26 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (LORD HENDERSON)
My Lords, this has been a long debate, and it has produced a large number of questions which I am expected to answer. Perhaps I had better begin with the three questions of which the noble and learned Viscount was good enough to give me notice earlier in the afternoon. He will appreciate, I am sure, that in the present state of discussions and negotiations on this matter I am not able to expand or to go into interpretations or definitions to the extent that, perhaps, he is hoping for. He asked me what "nationalisation" means. The position is 137 that the Persians passed a law containing in most general terms a proposal for the nationalisation of the industry. The term is nowhere defined in that law, which was the first law dealing with the matter, but we are prepared to negotiate on that law. That is the position as regards nationalisation in the context of the negotiations which are taking place. As regards the second point, it is true, as the noble Viscount said, that His Majesty's Government do not intend to negotiate under duress. They are ready to begin negotiations with the utmost good will, and they hope that the Persian Government will approach negotiations in the same spirit. Relief in the present tension in the South would be an indication of the Persian Government's willingness to do so.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am sorry to interrupt, but I still do not quite understand what is meant by "negotiating under duress." Is the relief of tension to be a condition of negotiation or not? I do not wish to press the noble Lord too hard, but it does seem that he has not completely answered the question.
§ LORD HENDERSON
I hope the noble Marquess will not press me to define further the statements I have made. I think what I have said is clear, and I do not wish to be pressed into any further definition. I hope noble Lords will appreciate that the position is serious and delicate, and I do not want to extemporise and use words which may cause difficulty.
As regards the third point—the application to The Hague Court—the application instituting proceedings was filed by His Majesty's Government on May 26, 1951. On July 5, the Court made an order with regard to the future conduct of the case, providing that the memorial of the Government of the United Kingdom should be filed with the Court on September 3, 1951, and that the counter-memorial of the Persian Government should be filed on December 3. Following its normal practice, the Court reserved the rest of the procedure for further decision. His Majesty's Government are now actively preparing their memorial. On June 22, His Majesty's Government filed a request for interim measures of protection. The Court arranged an oral hearing on this request on June 30, at which the Attorney-General put His Majesty's Government's case. On July 5, the Court gave 138 its order indicating certain interim measures which the Persian Government have since rejected. Copies of the Application to the International Court dated May 26, 1951, will be placed in the Library of the House.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
I am obliged to the noble Lord, but is there not a difference between an application, which is, I think, a document of many pages, and a memorial? I thought that the application of last May is what lawyers call the pleadings of the case by the British Government, including a great number of exhibits. Is that not so?
§ LORD HENDERSON
The noble and learned Viscount has me at a disadvantage here, because I have to consult my Department as to the position. I am not familiar with these legal distinctions between one set of documents and another. If the noble and learned Viscount is agreeable, I will take the trouble to find out the answer to that question and let him have it later on.
§ LORD HENDERSON
The noble and learned Viscount asked me what are the measures agreed upon between His Majesty's Government and the Egyptian Government to prevent a recurrence of incidents like that of the "Empire Roach." I think perhaps it would be better if I were to read the text of the Agreement. It is as follows:The Egyptian customs authorities at Suez and Adabia, after searching and issuing clearances for such vessels, will immediately inform the Egyptian naval authorities at Tiran Island so as to preclude any necessity for the latter to make a further visit and search the vessels in question. On the other hand, all British vessels will, of course, comply with normal practice when passing through Egyptian territorial waters.I understand that in connection with the "Empire Roach" there had been a break in the liaison between the Port and the Egyptian naval vessels. Presumably, if the liaison had not been broken there would have been no such incident as that which took place.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
Again I am obliged to the noble Lord, but, without seeking to discuss it, I really do not understand what he has referred to as "the normal practice in territorial waters." Hundreds of merchant ships pass through our terri- 139 torial waters every day of the year. What is the normal practice which is referred to there? I do not know of any except to let them go.
§ LORD HENDERSON
I suppose it is a matter of practice and not of interpretation but, so far as I understand such questions, it is proper signalling, and so forth, between the naval vessel and the merchant vessel; and if the merchant vessel conforms to these normal practices, then, presumably, according to this Agreement, there would be no interference. There was one further point which I think the noble and learned Viscount raised. He made a reference to the Suez Canal and to the fact that this difficulty has been going on for two years. It is true that the British Government have made a number of protests during that period, and the matter has been before the United Nations since October of last year. I think it was natural that it should be the Israeli Government, which, after all, is the party most directly concerned in the light of the history of the case, which raised the matter at the United Nations. I understand that a Resolution is now being discussed. Indeed, I think the Lord Chancellor said that it would be up for discussion to-morrow. If I have not given quite satisfactory replies, at least I have attempted to give correct answers to the questions that I have been asked.
§ LORD HENDERSON
I have been asked a series of specific questions which I think I should try to answer, although the time is very late. I will be as quick as I can, but there are one or two questions which were given to me by early notice and I think I ought to proceed to deal with them. Before I do so, I think it only right, in view of the fact that the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Sheffield has a Motion on the Order Paper, that I should say a few words in answer to his representations. He sent me a note earlier in the proceedings apologising for his absence when I came to reply. It is the common problem—that he had to catch the last train if he was to get away from London this evening. I 140 am quite sure the House will not expect me to ignore his representations merely because of his absence.
First, I should like to express thanks to the right reverend Prelate because he wrote to me and asked whether it would be for the convenience of the House if he dealt with his Motion in the context of the general international debate. I am grateful to him for doing so, because I am sure that it has been for the assistance of us all. I agree with the right reverend Prelate that the problem of German refugees is one of the greatest importance, and if it is not solved it may seriously affect the edifice we are now trying to raise in Germany. This question of German refugees was raised with me on my first visit to Germany three years ago by the Minister-President of Schleswig-Holstein. I went into it very thoroughly in different parts of Germany, and I can express complete agreement with the right reverend Prelate in his conception of the seriousness of the problem. It is still with us and, as he has pointed out, although much has been done a great deal more remains to be accomplished. In my view, there can be no doubt of the serious social, economic and political effects and implications which this tragic human problem has for Federal Germany, and we must do our best to lighten the burden under which the Federal German Government is labouring.
I have prepared a fairly long reply, but in view of the lateness of the hour I think I can reduce it to the material which is the effective answer to the inquiry that was made. The right reverend Prelate inquired whether His Majesty's Government had raised this question in the international forum. Last November the German representative at the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe stressed the urgency of the refugee problem, and the Committee adopted a United Kingdom Resolution instructing the Secretary-General to make the necessary studies and to advise the Committee as to what further action was called for. Last March the Secretary-General submitted proposals for a Council of Europe Organisation Committee to deal with the problem of refugees and surplus population. At a meeting of the Committee of Ministers in May, at which I represented His Majesty's Government, a proposal, with which His Majesty's Government agreed, was adopted at the instance of 141 the German Federal Chancellor, Dr. Adenauer, that a Committee of experts representing member Governments, the O.E.E.C. and the I.R.O., and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, should be set up to examine the problem and the Secretary-General's report. I understand that that Committee have now made a report which is this week being considered by the Committee of Ministers at Strasbourg. In the next three months Governments will be considering the whole question of refugees and surplus population in the O.E.E.C., the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and the International Labour Organisation. It is particularly hoped to stimulate and concert the work of those organisations. It will be seen, therefore, that the problem of German refugees is being actually and urgently considered and it is hoped that practical results will come out of these responsible discussions. I trust that that will be regarded as a sufficient answer at this moment to the right reverend Prelate.
Before I pass from the subject of Germany I should like to call the attention of the House to the question of Berlin trade. As your Lordships know, the High Commissioners of the three Western Zones of Germany made a statement at the end of last week about the restrictions which have been imposed by the Soviet authorities on the export of goods from Berlin. The High Commissioners pointed out that, while they had every desire to solve the present difficulties and to co-operate with the Soviet Control Commission to prevent illegal trade, they could not admit the right of the Soviet authorities to assume an arbitrary control over the shipments of goods from West Berlin. They stated that the present restrictions had serious implications for the West Berlin economy. They therefore reserved the right to take such steps as might be necessary to ensure that the free movement of West Berlin's legitimate trade was restored. Accordingly, United States 'planes have already started to transport goods out of West Berlin into the territory of the German Federal Republic. I am glad to inform your Lord-ships that British participation in this commercial operation will begin shortly, perhaps even to-morrow or the day after.
The noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, to whom I would express my congratulations on what (in view of his long asso- 142 ciation with another place) is mis-called a "maiden" speech, referred to one or two points concerning the Japanese Peace Treaty, and asked why it was necessary to rush it through. In reply, I would remind the noble Viscount that it is now nearly six years since the end of hostilities with Japan, and there is very general agreement among the Commonwealth and other Governments concerned that it is high time that this unnaturally prolonged state of war was terminated, and that Japan was enabled to resume her place among the free nations of the world. The noble Viscount also suggested that this Treaty was one which the United States Government had "put over" His Majesty's Government. In reply, I would draw his attention to the fact that the Draft Treaty is sponsored by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom jointly with the United States Government, and I would assure him that this joint sponsorship is far from being an empty formality. We have been in close contact with the United States Government on this subject at all stages in the preparation of the Draft Treaty, and the draft itself represents a very fair compromise between earlier drafts prepared separately by our two Governments. His Majesty's Government were able to bring to this process the fruits of a long period of consultation with Commonwealth Governments, and although, naturally, the Commonwealth Governments were not committed in these discussions, it can be said that the broad outlines of the present draft are acceptable to most, if not all, of them.
The noble Viscount also referred to the Sino-Soviet Pact, which, he said, might lead to danger of war should Japan be allowed to rearm. What this Pact provides against is aggression by Japan, or by other Powers uniting with her in acts of aggression. I can assure the noble Viscount that neither His Majesty's Government nor the United States Government have the slightest intention of uniting with Japan in acts of aggression. He may also rest assured that His Majesty's Government have this point very much in mind, and they have no intention of allowing the Japanese Peace Treaty to be taken as an excuse for bringing the Sino-Soviet Pact into operation.
The noble Lord, Lord Winster, asked for an assurance that everything possible 143 would be done to safeguard the interests of Lancashire against Japanese competition. My noble friend will realise that in a liberal Peace Treaty of this type, which we believe to be right, it would be out of place to include restrictions on Japanese industry designed to protect industries of other Powers. I can assure the noble Lord, however, that His Majesty's Government have the interests of Lancashire very much in mind, and everything possible has been done in the Treaty, and will be done after the Treaty is signed, to prevent a revival of unfair Japanese trade practices.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
Do I understand, from what the noble Lord has just said, that the imposition of quotas is not precluded by the Treaty?
§ LORD HENDERSON
I am afraid that I cannot answer a technical point of that nature without notice. I will let the noble Viscount have a reply.
May I ask the noble Lord whether he is prepared to deal with the other point which I raised? That was the significance which His Majesty's Government attach to the obligation upon Russia to evacuate Port Arthur, either upon the signing of the Japanese Peace Treaty or in 1952.
§ LORD HENDERSON
The noble Viscount can rest assured that His Majesty's Government are conscious of the obligations entered into in the Treaty in that respect, and no doubt will watch the way in which the Soviet Government fulfil their obligations.
The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, referred to the question of compensation for former prisoners of war of the Japanese in connection with the disposal of Japanese assets abroad. As he is aware, there are two Articles in the Treaty which refer to this. First, Article 12, 2 (1) provides that each Allied Power may dispose of all Japanese assets in its own territory. These assets in the United Kingdom amount to about £1,250,000. His Majesty's Government's proposals for the disposal of assets in the United Kingdom were contained in a reply given in another place on July 25. Briefly, this provides that the money obtained shall be given to existing voluntary organisations attending to the 144 needs of Service and civilian victims of hardship during the last war. In working out the application of this principle, due weight will be given to the views of these prisoners of war organisations. Secondly, Article 16 provides for the surrender of Japanese assets in neutral and ex-enemy countries to the International Committee of the Red Cross to be used for the benefit of former prisoners of war. The assets available here for division to all the Governments concerned amount to about £5,000,000. My noble friend suggested that this amount should be increased by voluntary act on the part of the Japanese. He will realise that, in the present economic circumstances, the money for any voluntary gesture of that sort would have to be supplied by the United States, and it is unlikely that such a gesture will become practicable.
My noble friend Lord Silkin referred to the Polish tankers and asked what were the views of His Majesty's Government on this matter. The answer to his query is that the two Polish tankers were requisitioned by His Majesty's Government because they were required for purposes of national defence. Adequate powers of requisition are vested in His Majesty's Government under the Defence Regulations and Enactments, and there is no doubt that His Majesty's Government acted within their powers. As regards the suggestion that this action constitutes a violation of the Anglo-Polish Trade and Finance Agreement, this is a matter of interpretation. His Majesty's Government are advised that in fact there has been no violation of the Agreement, since Article 6 can never have been intended to override the inherent right of His Majesty's Government to requisition for defence purposes. In requisitioning these vessels, the Government had no intention of interfering with the normal flow of mutually advantageous trade between the United Kingdom and Poland. Indeed, they consider that, apart from goods required for defence purposes, there is a wide range of goods available for export to Poland. Likewise the Government will continue to import useful quantities of goods from Poland, and they see no reason why this arrangement should not continue. As regards the other part of the question which my noble friend addressed to me, the Polish authorities have been informed that His 145 Majesty's Government are willing to discuss compensation and this matter is being studied by the competent Departments. Since this information was conveyed orally to the Polish Ambassador on July 14, no communication of any kind on the subject has been received from the Polish authorities.
Before I sit down, I think I had better deal with some of the questions addressed to me by the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn. He wanted to know the position of the British Chargé d'Affaires in China. Although His Majesty's Government recognised the Central People's Government on January 6, 1950, the position is that the latter still only recognise His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires in Peking as being competent to negotiate the exchange of diplomatic representatives. In the Chinese view, he cannot make official representations to the Chinese Government on any other subjects. In the view of His Majesty's Government, he is entitled as Chargé d'Affaires, to speak to the Chinese Government on any subject concerning Anglo-Chinese relations. The Chinese Government do not permit access to the Minister of Foreign Affairs by the representatives of any countries which have recognised the Chinese People's Government but with which they have not established diplomatic relations. This category consists of the United Kingdom, Holland and Norway. The countries which have established diplomatic relations with China, apart from the Soviet bloc, are India, Pakistan, Burma, Indonesia, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Switzerland.
The highest official in the Chinese Foreign Ministry who has received His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires is one of the three vice-Ministers, Chang Han Fu. The Minister received Sir John Hutchison, when he was Chargé d'Affaires, ten times, and Mr. Lamb who succeeded Sir John last March, once; so that His Majesty's Chargés d'Affaires have had several interviews with the head of the Foreign Ministry. In these interviews, some of which have been at the request of the Chargé d'Affaires and to some of which he has been summoned, representations have been made by both sides. It is clear that he serves a useful purpose as a channel of communication with the Chinese Government.
With regard to the last point unquestionably it has been of advantage, 146 not only from the point of view of being able to make communications to the Chinese Government regarding the treatment of individual British subjects and their interests, but also from the morale point of view. If there were no British representative in China, British businessmen would undoubtedly feel that they had been abandoned by His Majesty's Government, and would feel far more cut off and isolated from the world than they are. His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires, His Majesty's Consular Offices, and British subjects who have remained in China are all doing a great job and are keeping the flag flying in the face of considerable difficulties. How to ease these difficulties is a matter which is constantly in our minds, and one with which we have been, and are at present, in consultation with other interested Governments who find their nationals in China placed in the same unfortunate position as our own. I should like to emphasise most strongly that the Chinese could make an important contribution now to the easing of tension in the Far East, and as an earnest of their intentions: this would be the relaxation of the many restrictions and difficulties which they have imposed on foreign nationals in China over the last years, which have seemed to us arbitrary and unjust. I still have a number of answers to questions, but I feel that I have done my utmost within a reasonable time to cover as many points put to me as was possible.
My noble friend has been extremely good, but would he say a word about the Italian Peace Treaty?
§ LORD HENDERSON
I have a paper about it somewhere, but I can briefly tell the noble Lord what the position is. The noble Lord referred to it arising out of the Japanese Treaty, and pointed out the difference between the provisions in the Japanese Treaty regarding national defence and the restrictions in the Italian Treaty. One point to bear in mind is that the Japanese Treaty is a new document. It has just been completed; it has not yet been signed, and has not come into operation. On the other hand, the Italian Treaty was signed in, I think, 1947, by something like twenty Governments, including the U.S.S.R. The question of amendment, therefore, is a matter which concerns not only His Majesty's 147 Government, but all the other signatories to the Treaty. The Italian Government have made representations to the British, French and American Governments, and these representations will be considered. I do not think at this stage I can give any further answer than that the representation of the views of the Italian Government will receive the consideration which they deserve.
§ LORD KILLEARN
Before the noble Lord sits down, may I remind him that I did ask if there was any information about progress in Malaya which he could give the House?
§ LORD HENDERSON
I have taken a long time to get some of the information asked for, and I have not had the time to deal with that point. I apologise. However, as I used all the time noble Lords had for dinner without having dinner myself, I think I did reasonably well to get together the information which I did.
§ 11.0 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords we have had an extremely long sitting, something quite unusual for your Lordships' House, and I have no doubt that all noble Lords who have sat it out are ready to go home. I therefore hope that they will forgive me—indeed, I expect that they will bless me—if I am extremely brief. I am sure that we shall all agree, in whatever part of the House we sit, that we have had a valuable debate, and I think we can fairly say that it has been conducted with your Lordships' normal good temper and moderation. As was to be expected, there have been wide differences of opinion on certain subjects, and that was especially true of Persia. We on this side of the House continue to believe that this crisis with which, unfortunately, this country has been faced ought never to have occurred. We feel that a more active policy in the early stages would have produced fruitful results.
The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, in his interesting speech, rebuked us for our attitude. He said, "These are not the days of Palmerston," which is, of course, true. And he added, "But we are now members of the United Nations." I gathered from that remark that the remedy he proposed was for us to appeal 148 to the United Nations on the question of Persia. I would point out to him that that is just what his own Government did not do. They may have been quite right, and there may have been good reasons why they should not do so; but the fact remains that, although they had plenty of time, they did not do so. The Lord Chancellor, following normal Government practice, asked me what action I should have taken, and, if I may say so, I take it as a great compliment that he should have asked me. He also asked me at what stages I should have taken that action. My task in answering has been made easier by the fact that the answers have already been given, far better than I could give them, by my noble and learned friend Lord Simon, in the very brilliant speech which he delivered to your Lordships at the end of the debate.
However, if I may put the matter very briefly, I would say this. In the early stages—that is to say, on the whole, before the nationalisation Act was passed through the Majlis—I should not have left the whole of the negotiations to the Company. I should have come out, as a Government, as a principal and as a negotiator; and I should have tried, as a Government, to make a comparable offer to that made by other Governments in similar circumstances. I should have continued to negotiate as a Government until I had arrived at a division of the profits that was satisfactory to both parties.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I entirely agree. But is the noble Marquess aware that the Persians declined to negotiate with the Government, and insisted on negotiating with the Company who, they said, and said truly, were the only parties to the contract with them?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I should have told the Persian Government that there could be no question of their negotiating with the Company. What His Majesty's Government did was to accept the Persians' view. The Persians were never asked to accept our view, and I think they should have done so. My information, from such sources as are available to me, is that at that stage, if His Majesty's Government had come into the open something might have been done; but, in fact, nothing was done. The Government always remained in the background and, indeed, by other action 149 in connection to the limitation of dividends they intensified the crisis. I would remind the House of what was said in another place on this subject by Mr. Eden. He said:As they"—that is, the Persian Government—saw it, the Company was earning 150 per cent. or thereabouts, but they were still paying 30 per cent. His Majesty's Government were getting a good 'rake-off' not as a shareholder, but from taxation.In those circumstances, it is not very surprising that the Persians became more and more intransigent. Perhaps the noble and learned Viscount can tell me this: Did the Government, in view of the special circumstances, do their best to make a differentiation between this Company and other companies which were asked to limit their dividends? Or did they suggest to the Company the payment of some large sum to reimburse the Persian Government for the sums which they lost by the domestic policy which we were pursuing here? They ought to have done one of those two things.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The Persian Government were made an offer in the early stages of a share of profits on a fifty-fifty basis. That was done by the Company, who were acting with our full support and approval. It was only the unfortunate and tragic assassination of the Prime Minister which prevented that bargain from being concluded. The Persian Government were not in the least prejudiced by any question of limitation of dividends. That was the position. Then the Prime Minister was assassinated, and thereafter, I suspect, no Persian statesman felt able to accept that proposal without fear of also being assassinated.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble and learned Viscount is entitled to his opinion, as we are to ours. But I cannot believe that it was wise to leave the Company, until recently, as the negotiator. From such practical experience as I have in these matters, I am sure that if His Majesty's Government had insisted that they must be the principal in the negotiations, that would ultimately have been accepted, and it would have been a far sounder basis for talking.
Now with regard to the later stage—that is after the introduction of the Nationalisation Bill, when the situation 150 deteriorated and when the Persians embarked on a policy of "chivvying" our people in the oilfields—could we not then immediately have made just such an unequivocal declaration as that which the Prime Minister made yesterday? He said that the Government had no intention of leaving Persia. The Lord Chancellor has said that we intend to stay in Abadan. I like that statement rather better—for I think it more accurately represents the possibilities of the situation—with the further stress which was put on it to-day, that the Government accept all the implications of that statement. That would include, I should have thought, the protecting of British citizens in accordance with the law whenever it is possible to do so. Possibly in remote districts the Government could not do so, and I am not asking for that. I am delighted to have had this amplification of the Prime Minister's statement, because it means that there is no great difference between the Government and the Opposition. I am not clear whether the Liberal Party also has come into line with the new advance of the Government, but I am still bewildered and puzzled to know why the Government were so shocked when I said exactly the same thing three weeks ago. Perhaps I may be allowed to quote my exact words.They"—that is, of course, the Government—must say—and the sooner the better—that they are strongly opposed to the evacuation of the British oil personnel in Persia, and that they will take all steps necessary, if the situation requires it, to protect them.That is exactly what the Government have now said. Why did they not say it sooner?
I understood from the Lord Chancellor that it was a question of timing: he thought that it would have been too dangerous at that time. He was apparently afraid—if I do not misunderstand him—that the matter would be brought before the United Nations, and that the United Nations might have taken the Persian view, which would have been very embarrassing. Personally, I was never very much afraid of that. The Persian action was so clearly a breach of international Law that, even before the injunction of The Hague Court, I do not believe that the Security Council would have found against us. Afterwards our position in law was impregnable.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Let me make this clear at once. The Security Council would not have found against us, of course, unless we had occupied Abadan. The question I want to ask the noble Marquess quite plainly is this: Does he suggest that we ought to have occupied Abadan?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The answer I give to that is this: Does the noble and learned Viscount suggest that in any circumstances we should now occupy Abadan—because that is exactly what he has pledged the Government to do?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I certainly do. I maintain that we have the right to protect the lives of our citizens. Whatever it is necessary to do, that we shall do.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Viscount really must not interrupt me. I am having an argument with the Lord Chancellor. That is all I can manage at the moment.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
When charges are being made in the form in which the noble Marquess is making them, I am entitled to say that what the Lord Chancellor has just said has been said quite openly by the Government for weeks.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
What the Government said, until last night, was that they hoped that the personnel would stay there as long as they possibly could.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
That is what the Foreign Secretary and other Ministers have said: that whatever steps were necessary to be taken to protect British lives would be taken.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
But they did not say that they would stay in Abadan, and protect British lives for that purpose. They never said that. I have here the Foreign Secretary's words in 152 another place On July 5 (OFFICIAL REPORT, Col. 2508). He said this:The Company"—at that time, your Lordships will note, the Government were still differentiating themselves from the Company—has no desire to withdraw from an industry which it has built and brought into a high state of efficiency. Yet this, with all the disasrous consequences to Persia that would ensue, is what the Persian Government appear bent on forcing the Company to do.At that time, the view was that the Company should hold on as long as possible, and that then, if they were forced to do so, they should evacuate. I would agree that, in helping them to get away and ensuring their safety, the Government were prepared to do what was necessary. But now the position is quite different, and I am happy to think so. The Government now say: "We are going to stay in Abadan and for that purpose we are willing to take all measures that may be necessary for the protection of British lives." That entirely satisfies me. It is the only thing that I have ever wanted and my Party have ever wanted. Therefore I am very glad that the Lord Chancellor has been able to make that statement to-day. I shall go away for the Recess in a far happier frame of mind than I otherwise might have gone.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I think there is nothing I can add about Korea, upon which there appears to be general agreement, or about Egypt and Spain, about which there is apparently not. I hope the Government will take account, as I am sure they will, of what has been said on these matters, and not only from the Opposition Benches. With regard to the rule of law, I have considerable sympathy with what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Winster. I believe that the rule of law is vital, as I am sure he thinks, for the survival of civilisation. But if that is to be interpreted as meaning, only that we keep our engagements and that other people do not, then that is not what I mean by the rule of law. As I think was said by Marshal Canrobert years ago about the Charge of the Light BrigadeC'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre."In spite of what the Lord Chancellor has said, I still believe that a little more firmness in our foreign policy would not only 153 be to our benefit but would stem the abasement which has so recently been apparent in the currency of international relations. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
My Lords, the right reverend Bishop, who, as your Lordships are aware, has been obliged to leave, has asked me to say on his behalf that in the circumstances he does not wish to move his Motion for Papers.