§ 2.46 p.m.
§ Debate resumed (according to Order), on the Motion moved yesterday by the Marquess of Salisbury, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty for Papers relating to Foreign Affairs.
§ VISCOUNT TEMPLEWOOD
My Lords, the long debate that opened yester-day seemed to me to be notable in particular for one feature. It expressed the grave feeling of anxiety which exists in every quarter of the House. Speaker after speaker voiced the feeling that the conduct of the country's policy was going too slowly, that it was vacillating, and that it was often subject to confusion. It is worth noting that the strongest criticism came from the Government's own supporters. There were, for example, the speeches of Lord Chorley and Lord Winster. And it was clear from the speeches made from the Benches of the right reverend Prelates that, there also, there was this general feeling of anxiety and doubt as to whether in recent months the conduct of foreign affairs has proceeded as efficiently as was needed in the face of the very great crisis with which the country is confronted.
Are this vacillation and hesitation due to the Foreign Secretary's illness? Nobody can regret more than I do the Foreign Secretary's illness, and I desire to say nothing that would in any way distress him or impede his complete recovery. The only comment I make is as one who has himself been Foreign Secretary, and that is that there is no post in the Government in which it is more necessary to have the Minister sitting day after day, even night after night, in his room in the Foreign Office. It is an extremely exacting post. Indeed, 729 I have often thought that, perhaps, in future, the main test for it might well be a physical test. I have wondered whether it does not really call for someone with the physique of, say, a champion boxer. But, meanwhile, let me wish the Foreign Secretary a complete recovery, and let me add that, whether that be delayed a long or a short time, an acting Foreign Secretary ought certainly to be appointed to undertake the duties in the interval.
Is this hesitation again due to the fact that the Government have a very precarious majority? It may well be so. I do not seek to answer either of these questions. All I say is that at this moment of crisis it is most unfortunate that the country has a Foreign Secretary who is a sick man and a Government who are dependent upon the temperature of half a dozen of their Members in another place. Meanwhile, anxiety in the country is undoubtedly growing. The country sees that it is faced with a crisis every bit as dangerous as the crises of the years 1937, 1938 and 1939. It is faced with this crisis, and it is bewildered as to whether or not the Government are capable of giving the country a lead in carrying through the great programme of rearmament about which we have heard so much. The country is particularly anxious over three issues. First of all, there is the issue of China and Korea; secondly, there is the issue of the rearmament of Germany; and, thirdly, there is the issue of British rearmament. Let me say a word or two about each of these causes of anxiety.
Let me begin with China and Korea. In the last debate we had in your Lordships' House on Foreign Affairs, several very pessimistic speeches were made about the military operations in Korea. I was bold enough to say that I thought that so long as we maintained command of the air and of the sea, we had a good chance of re-establishing our position. I am glad to say that in the military field the position is definitely very much better to-day than it was at the time of our last debate. I think this debate should not end without a tribute to General Ridgeway and to the transformation that he has affected in a short time in the military field. So far so good.
Nevertheless, it is a fact that upon two of the most important questions the Americans and ourselves are still not in 730 agreement. The Prime Minister went to Washington, and held full and frank discussions with President Truman. At the end of those discussions he frankly stated that upon the questions of Formosa and the entry of the Pekin Government into the United Nations agreement had not been reached. I am genuinely nervous that those disagreements will break out again, and more particularly when we are faced once more with the issue of the 38th Parallel. It was the crossing of the 38th Parallel that brought these disagreements into prominence. Since then, the fact that the military operations have gone better has pushed these disagreements into the background, but I feel profoundly that if and when the question of the Parallel once again becomes a live issue we shall see these difficulties break out once more, and we shall run the risk of another serious disagreement between the United States and ourselves. If that be so, it is essential that we and the Americans reach agreement at the earliest possible moment upon the policy to be adopted if and when we reach the 38th Parrallel.
I had hoped that agreement had already been reached. The Prime Minister seemed to me to make more than one statement in another place giving the impression that at any rate a working agreement had been reached. Yet only yesterday we had the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs stating that agreement had not yet been reached and that the question was still under consideration. Let me read to the House what he actually said.… it is a matter of major importance that before the United Nations forces arrive at the 38th Parallel the question of what is to be the guiding policy should have been settled. As noble Lords know, discussions are proceeding in Washington in which bath the political and military aspects of the question will be fully considered.say frankly that I am disappointed at that statement. I have no inner military knowledge, and I cannot therefore say whether it is likely, or when it is likely, that General Ridgeway's forces will once again reach the 38th Parallel. Looking back at the astonishing vicissitudes of this curious war, however, it seems to me that a contingency of that kind might happen almost at any moment It is essential, therefore, that we should reach agreement at once, and that there should be no 731 dangerous period for discussions when we reach that point in Korea, no danger of a recurrence of all those disastrous differences from which we hoped we had emerged. I venture to say to the Government to-day, that this is not a question that can be left to the future. Every day's delay is a danger. We must come to an agreement with the Americans without any further procrastination.
I pass from Korea and China to the question of German rearmament. I am disturbed by the Government's record over the question of German rearmament. There was a time, not so long ago when it appeared to many of us that the Government were opposed to German rearmament. Then came the visit of the Foreign Secretary to Washington, and what appeared to be a reversal of policy, and an acceptance of the necessity of German rearmament. Since then there have been questions and answers in another place. There has been the Prime Minister's statement, from which, I confess, I cannot see that any clear lead is given by His Majesty's Government upon this very difficult question. Here again, this is a question upon which we cannot delay.
We have asked the Russians to take part in a Four Power Conference. We do not yet know whether they will or will not accept, although we hope that they will. Supposing they do accept, the first issue that will be raised, whether it is put down first on the agenda or not, is the question of German rearmament. The Russians will see that here is a question with which they have a chance of driving a wedge into the Allied front. Here is a question that can be put very cunningly and persuasively to those supporters of the Government who are opposed to German rearmament, or who are doubtful about it. I can almost hear the Russians saying, "Why raise this troublesome question now? You cannot do anything with it for a year, two years or three years; it is the one question that stirs up the satellite countries. Why not drop it, and bargain with us: no German rearmament against the neutralisation and demilitarisation of the Eastern Zone?" I am convinced that inevitably that is the kind of argument the Russians will make. I should feel much happier if I felt that the Gov- 732 ernment had a clear answer to make. Let me be so presumptuous as to suggest to them the kind of answer that they should make. They ought to say: "On no account are we prepared to allow a great vacuum in central Europe in the midst of potentially hostile armed nations. "That ought to be the first condition, with no bargain upon it at all. As I say, I have studied with great care the Prime Minister's statement, and the statements made in another place by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and I have the feeling that the mind of the Government is going that way. But I say to them that it would be a great advantage if they could state it clearly and definitely from the start.
I come now to the third of my causes of anxiety—namely, the question of our own rearmament. When I come to consider the carrying out of the future programme, I cannot forget the past record of the Government in the matter of rearmament. Perhaps I speak with some feeling. Time after time I have tried in a humble way to stimulate the interest of this House in questions of rearmament, and particularly in questions of air rearmament. I have here a whole series of speeches, debates and Government answers. It was like fighting cotton wool: time after time we seemed to have made a strong case for rearmament, and time after time we were assured by this or that representative of the Government that there was no particular cause for anxiety, and that things were going along very well.
For instance, when the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Trenchard, and I asked for a great air striking force of 500 squadrons, to be formed principally by ourselves, the United States and the British Commonwealth, we were put off with vague statements about the amount of money we were spending, and about the need to be very careful in time of peace as to militarising the country to so great an extent. Supposing three years ago, when Lord Trenchard and I made this proposal—it was a perfectly practicable proposal, and well within the means of the British, the American and the Commonwealth Governments—we had started building up an air force, properly balanced and composed, with a strong force of bombers able to strike at ranges of 5,000 miles, what a different position 733 we should have been in to-day in negotiating with the Russians next week, the week after, or whenever it may be! It is these things which make many of us doubt whether, with their past record of complacency, and, as we have often thought, of indifference, the Government can to-day give the country a lead in carrying out a gigantic programme of rearmament.
Our doubts as to the competency of the Government to carry out a programme of this kind are redoubled by what has happened in the Atlantic storm over the Supreme Naval Commander—and here I speak with some interest as a former First Lord of the Admiralty. Here was a decision that was obviously going to touch the national sentiment to the very quick, and upon which there ought to have been all the regular processes of consultation. I have in mind the kind of procedure that would have been adopted in the past. The Prime Minister would have consulted the Leader of the Opposition; he would have arranged for a Question to asked in the other place; he would have made a statement upon the subject, and he would have accompanied it with a White Paper setting out in detail exactly what the proposal entailed. Instead of that, by some haphazard leakage from a neutral country, we learn that a decision has been taken, by persons unknown, in some place unknown—we have no details as to the procedure—which, whether it be right or wrong, has fundamentally altered the whole system of naval command.
Let us remember that the Royal Navy, in spite of all the changes which have taken place—the developments for instance in the air—is still almost a religion with the British people. Let us remember, also, that, rightly or wrongly, foreign countries still regard the Royal Navy— and I speak with direct experience in this matter—as a great British institution, second only to the British Monarchy in importance. Let us remember that "Rule Britannia" is a second National Anthem. Now, against that background, comes this decision—blurted out quite casually. We have not yet had any detailed explanation of it. We do not know whether this particular command is needed or, if it is needed, what it actually entails. We do not know what the position of the British Government would be in view of the arrangement which has been made.
734 I well remember a not dissimilar arrangement which was made in 1918, with reference to the British Army. After a great deal of discussion, upon many levels, it was decided to place the British Army under the Command of Marshal Foch. The arrangement was made with the greatest possible care; the details were thought out and it was specifically stated that, though the British Army was placed under Marshal Foch, Lord Haig, the Commander-in-Chief, would retain the right of appeal to the British Government. I ask the Government: Has any right of appeal been retained by the Admiralty against the decision of the Supreme Commander, supposing we felt that it endangered the vital interests of this country? It is essential, without necessarily taking sides one way or the other as to the merits of the proposal, that we should know what it actually means. I therefore ask formally and definitely that the Government should: circulate a White Paper, stating clearly how this proposal originated; what are its terms, what is the sphere of action of the various admirals, and whether or not there is a right of appeal to the British Government. I am making no unusual request. In the past, procedure of this kind would have been regarded as a matter of course. I hope that when the First Lord of the Admiralty comes to reply he will willingly accede to this request.
I have now dealt with the main points which cause me—and I believe a great many men and women in the country— very grave anxiety. I say to the Government: Do not ignore them. These anxieties are very genuine, and we urge them to-day out of no Party spirit. We say to the Government: Remember that in these great issues of national importance you are not the Government of a small precarious majority that is here to-day and gone to-morrow, but that you are the Government of the whole people. Take the people into your confidence. Tell us what is happening. Let us know more of the rearmament programme. If you will give the country the lead, I am sure the country will follow.
§ 3.16 p.m.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (VISCOUNT HALL)
My Lords, I ask leave to intervene in this debate to deal with a matter with which 735 the noble Viscount dealt in his speech, and which was dealt with by a number of your Lordships who took part in the debate yesterday—the appointment of a Supreme Naval Commander, North Atlantic. This is a subject of importance, and one much discussed at the present time. We cannot dissociate this appointment from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and in dealing with the matter it is well to bear in mind that N.A.T.O. is in the process of being built up. It is in its infancy, so to speak, and we are now attempting to put flesh on to the bare bones of this body. The problem of the Atlantic cannot be looked at in isolation. It must be looked at as a whole, in relation to other commands in other areas which have yet to be decided. Indeed, it must be looked at in relation to the detailed powers of the Supreme Commanders who will have to be appointed in the various areas, another matter which is still under consideration. Noble Lords complained yesterday that insufficient information has been given in relation to this appointment. It was very unfortunate that, a short time after the appointment was made and while consideration was being given to the detailed powers to which I have referred, this leakage took place. I ask that further comment should be deferred until noble Lords can see the plan as a whole which, when it is completed, His Majesty's Government will certainly make public.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
Discussions are going on at the present time, and I cannot say. Other appointments are to be made, and I think it is rather unfair that there should have been all this discussion without knowledge of the complete facts, for we feel that it is above all important that, in building up an organisation of this nature, we should exercise much more mutual trust and forbearance than has been shown during the course of the last two weeks. Unless the North Atlantic Pact nations can trust each other, any organisation that we build up will be useless in peace and in war. It was pleasing to note how the appointment of General Eisenhower as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe was universally acclaimed. I wish that that example had 736 been followed, for we must look at this problem as a member of an international organisation, and not from our own particular national standpoint. We must be prepared to give here and take there, in order that the overall pattern of organisation to be set up will command the respect and confidence, not only of one of the members of the organisation but of all its members.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
The noble and gallant Earl might just wait and see, and then he can make up his mind.
THE EARL OF CORK AND ORRERY
What is more important to this country than the Eastern portion of the North Atlantic?
§ VISCOUNT HALL
If the noble and gallant Earl will be patient, I will deal with that aspect of the matter. The criticisms during the last weeks have certainly not been a good start for the Anglo-American co-operation to which the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, has just been referring —or indeed for naval unity. Nor can it be said that it is healthy for the Royal Navy. It certainly cannot help those persons who are appointed to positions of great responsibility in what should be a working partnership in this great Allied organisation.
One would imagine, from the criticisms which have been levelled, that it was a new experience to have ships of one country combined under the command of another country during war time. The experience of the last war, and of the Korean war, has brought out forcibly how necessary it is to have our ships under an Allied Commander-in-Chief. When the United States entered the War, in 1941, a number of their ships served with British admirals in the Home Fleet— Admiral Tovey and Admiral Fraser, for example. Admiral Fraser had squadrons of American ships and American naval personnel served in them. In the Mediterranean, strong American forces, under Admiral Hewitt, operated under the overall command of Admiral Cunningham, while for "Operation Overlord" the British Allied Naval Commander, the late Admiral Ramsey, commanded strong British and American naval forces. Finally, the whole British Pacific Fleet, under Admiral Fraser, operated under 737 the Commander-in-Chief, United States Pacific Fleet, Admiral Nimitz—although the British Fleet remained an entity under the tactical command of Vice-Admiral Rawlings.
In Korea at the present time there is an example of United Nations naval task forces having operated with great success, first under the command of an American admiral and now under the command of our own Vice-Admiral Andrewes—a good example oil bringing under one command, where necessary, the forces required to do the job.
THE EARL OF CORK AND ORRERY
I am sorry to interrupt the noble Viscount, but does he really compare the Command of the Korean Coast with the Command of the British Coast?
§ VISCOUNT HALL
There is that question of give-and-take; and if the noble and gallant Earl will be patient—and, I almost said, will live faithfully up to his reputation—
§ VISCOUNT HALL
—I propose dealing with the point to which the noble and gallant Earl refers. During this debate we have had the advantage (and I deeply regret that yesterday I was called out of the Chamber, and was unable to hear many of the speeches made by noble Lords, but I have since read them carefully) of a speech from the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Tovey, who has had such a long and distinguished career in the Royal Navy. His opinion, and that of Admiral of the Fleet Lord Cunningham, cannot lightly be disregarded. They have expressed their views in The Times. Similarly, the opinion of Lord Cork cannot be disregarded in these matters. These admirals held the highest posts in the Navy during the war, and they speak from great experience. No one doubts their sincerity, but at the same time it must be remembered that the present naval advisers to His Majesty's Government also have great war experience; and they are convinced that, while we may benefit by the experience of the last war, it is a great mistake to think that another war is going to be like the last. Indeed, a common accusation against the Fighting Services is that they fight a war on the last war's methods; and we must 738 remember that improvements in organisation are just as necessary as improvements in weapons and tactics. The new organisation, we think, will do away with much of the unnecessary business of looking at the Atlantic in parts, instead of looking at it as a single whole.
Whilst we have had the experience of three distinguished admirals who are opposing the plan of treating the Atlantic as a whole, two very distinguished naval officers have taken exactly the opposite view. I refer to Admiral Schofield and Admiral James. A letter from Admiral Schofield appeared in The Times yester-day and one from Admiral James appears to-day. Admiral Schofield served as Director of the Trade Division of the Admiralty from April, 1941, to July, 1943, when the Battle of the Atlantic was at its height. He was directly concerned in the planning of all seaborne trade in the Atlantic, and is therefore uniquely qualified to speak on this subject. He draws attention to the lack of a satisfactory organisation with our American friends during the last war, and considers it right that the protection of trade and the conduct of anti-submarine operations in the Atlantic should be placed under a single authority. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister pointed out in another place, this was the outstanding lesson of the Battle of the Atlantic. Morever—and I must emphasise this point—his opinion is fully supported by that of the Chiefs of Staff, including the Naval Staff.
The main criticism which is made of this appointment is: "Why change the well-tried system of 1939–45? "In reply, it must first be emphasised that the conditions now are, in fact, very different. Until the United States entered the war, in 1941, this country had fought the Battle of the Atlantic single-handed. When America came in we had to adapt the command system to meet the new situation. This was done by dividing the Atlantic into two, each side retaining its own command. Unity of command was achieved only by mutual forbearance and co-operation, and in the last resort by the Combined Chiefs of Staff in Washington. Now, we are planning to make the best possible use of the combined resources, not of two nations but of twelve Allied nations, and we have therefore abided by one of the simplest principles of war— 739 economy of force. The Atlantic Ocean is one, and any battle in it must be treated as one. We believe, therefore, that there can be only one command, with which we shall be able to make full use of that flexibility which is the great advantage of naval forces; and where a concentrated threat arises, there can we move a substantial defence to meet it. If, on the other hand, the enemy spreads his attack throughout the ocean, so too can the defence be spread. Finally, it is most important that there should be a single overall Commander who can co-ordinate all the offensive operations.
There has been much criticism of the fact that the Supreme Commander can move forces from one side of the Atlantic to the other. One of the primary objects of having a Supreme Commander, Atlantic, is to enable him to do this very thing, and to concentrate rapidly Allied forces under his control to wherever the enemy threat develops. That had to be done during the last war. A good example of that sort of flexibility has been quoted by a distinguished naval officer to whom I have already referred, Admiral James, in his letter to The Times to-day. When America entered the war in 1941, the Germans switched their submarine offensive to the American Atlantic Coast, with great loss to American and also British shipping. After discussion between the Admiralty and the Navy Department, we turned over ten corvettes to the United States Navy, and allocated two escort groups and twenty-four anti-submarine trawlers, which remained British-manned but which were under American command in the Western Atlantic. With a single Commander for the whole Atlantic, action of that nature could be taken with the least possible delay. We do not believe that in a future war, with fast submarines and aircraft, time will allow the slow-moving machinery of committee work to take the place of a single and unified overall command and control.
Nevertheless, it should be clearly pointed out that neither we nor our Allies can afford to give the final and absolute control of our forces to any one commander. It is for this reason that the supreme strategic direction of the war in the North Atlantic area will be placed in the hands of the Standing Group, who will be the modern equivalent of the 740 Combined Chiefs of Staff in Washington so far as the North Atlantic is concerned. This Standing Group will consist of representatives of the Chiefs of Staff of the United States, Great Britain and France and will have direct control over the Supreme Commander. The Standing Group will assume the same responsibilities as the Combined Chiefs of Staff had during the last war for that area of the world which is now covered by the North Atlantic Treaty. Thus, although we give the Supreme Command of the North Atlantic Ocean to an American admiral, acting as a kind of international authority and served by an integrated international staff with a British admiral as deputy, we still retain, through the Standing Group, the necessary degree of national control for the protection of our Islands. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Tovey, stated that officers and ratings of the Navy felt very strongly about this new appointment. I know they do. Indeed, the feeling of the country was rightly described by the noble Viscount, but we are hoping that we shall make the position so clear that it will disabuse their minds of much that they are concerned with at the present time.
§ VISCOUNT TEMPLEWOOD
What the noble Viscount has just said is of great importance. For the first time we hear of the Standing Group in this relation. Do I understand that our representative upon the Standing Group will be a British admiral, with responsibility to the Admiralty and the British Government?
§ VISCOUNT HALL
At the moment the British representative upon the Standing Group is Lord Tedder. It does not necessarily mean an admiral. It will mean someone who has had long experience of a Service. This representative has very distinguished men from each of the Services who are advising him.
§ VISCOUNT TEMPLEWOOD
But, in any case, he would be a British officer responsible in the ultimate resort to the British Government?
§ VISCOUNT HALL
And he will be responsible to the British Government. It is an organisation which is set up under N.A.T.O. This is not new. The Prime Minister referred to the Standing Group in the statement which he made on Monday of this week, so it is not news at all. Indeed, the Standing Group has been in existence for a long time.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
We must get this point clear, because it is important. As I understand it, in the unhappy event of there being a disagreement as to the conduct of operations in the North Atlantic, the British admiral covering this side of the Atlantic would have an appeal to the Standing Group, or someone would have an appeal to the Standing Group, and the British representative on the Standing Group would have an appeal to the British Government who would take a final decision so far as British affairs were concerned. Is that the position?
§ VISCOUNT HALL
Of course, as the noble Marquess should know, the Standing Group acts under the N.A.T.O. Defence Organisation. The Ministers of Defence have a Council of Ministers of Defence, just as there is a Council of Foreign Secretaries. It is a part of that body, and there is no doubt about it that any disagreement would quickly be brought to the notice of the Minister of Defence, or to the Government through the Minister of Defence.
I think it is most important that I should make it clear that there is no possible reflection upon British admirals or British naval officers by this appointment. It should be said that no country in the world has such a wealth of naval skill and strategic knowledge as Britain. In two world wars it has met and destroyed the greatest naval challenge ever brought against this country, and the triumphs of the Atlantic and Malta convoys, the rescue at Dunkirk, the engagements with the German battleships, the Battles of the Plats, Taranto, Matapan and North Cape—all these victories will live in history. Similarly, I think it is generally realised that the criticism about this appointment is not intended to cast any reflection upon the American admiral who has been appointed to the post of Supreme Commander, Atlantic, or any other United States Naval officers. The British people have a great admiration 742 for the United States Navy and its officers, just as the Americans have an equally sincere admiration for the Royal Navy and its officers. There should be no competition between them, but the closest co-operation for the benefit not only of our two great countries but of the whole world.
But it must be remembered that we rely on the Americans for an equal share of the forces likely to be assigned to the normal protection of trade, and for the lion's share not only of the forces on which we rely for offensive operations but also for reinforcements. We must not allow ourselves to think that Britain is the only country whose life is threatened by the loss of control of the North Atlantic. While this was true in 1940, in any future war the life of the large Allied land and air forces which America and our European Allies plan to deploy in Europe will be equally dependent upon North Atlantic communications. My Lords, strong as may be our sentiment and our pride—and I know it is strong, and rightly so—we must not allow it to blind us to the facts, or to prevent us from approaching a problem of this magnitude in a realistic manner.
Furthermore, the critics have attributed to the Supreme Allied Commander powers which he will not possess. His area is limited to the deep waters of the North Atlantic, and the only forces over which he will have command are those Allied forces which are specifically allocated to him for operations in his theatre by the Standing Group Moreover, Allied forces placed under his command are not irrevocably committed and may be redeployed to other theatres should the situation demand. Should a threat develop to this country, forces will be switched by the Standing Group from the Atlantic to the British Home Command, as was done in 1940. In peace, there is no question of our placing any of the Royal Navy or Air Forces in the Atlantic under the Supreme Commander. It will be necessary, of course, for the forces to undergo a measure of combined training during peace so that they may be fully ready for their war-time role, and for this purpose the Supreme Commander will assume command only for the period of exercises needed to carry out the combined training.
The North Atlantic Council have recognised that the Standing Group will be 743 responsible for the higher strategic direction in areas in which the combined North Atlantic Treaty Forces are operating. As such it will be the superior military body to which the Supreme Commander will be responsible. It is therefore quite clear that the Standing Group have direct control over the Supreme Commander and, as was pointed out in another place by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, we are fully represented on the Standing Group. This should make it clear to your Lordships that the new arrangement for the command of the Atlantic Ocean in time of war will not in any way prejudice the safety of this country. On the contrary, His Majesty's Government and their Service advisers fully believe that the new organisation is a most effective method of ensuring that the sea-lines to the United Kingdom and Europe will be kept open. The noble Viscount in the course of his speech asked whether His Majesty's Government would consider the preparation of a White Paper giving full information in regard to this matter. As I have informed your Lordships, these are matters which are now being considered. When a final decision has been taken, both in relation to commands and to powers, I have no doubt His Majesty's Government will consider the request made by the noble Viscount.
§ VISCOUNT TEMPLEWOOD
I must point out to the noble Viscount that on this side of the problem a decision has already been made. That being so, surely we should have a White Paper at once, giving us the history of the decision and informing the British people exactly what it means.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
It is true that a decision has been made in relation to the Supreme Commander, but there has been no decision about his powers.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
Until they have been decided one does not know what his powers are in relation to his command. That is being considered at the present time, and further appointments are also being considered at the same time. Until the plan is complete, we cannot submit for information what the plan will be.
§ VISCOUNT TEMPLEWOOD
The trouble is that the British public are suddenly faced with a decision that seems to them to be of great importance at the present time. Looking back to many precedents in the past, there should have been a White Paper giving the background of the procedure, and giving in specific form the kind of observations that the First Lord of the Admiralty has made in general terms this afternoon.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I think this is a very odd procedure. It appears that this officer, who I am sure is most distinguished, has been appointed before anyone knows what he has to do. As I understand, he has been appointed Commander of the North Atlantic, but the extent of his powers is not known and has not been decided. It is in those circumstances that His Majesty's Government have agreed to the appointment, and we are now asked to wait until the whole of the plan is completed before we are told how the appointment was made. I should have thought that the natural thing would be to draw up the complete plan first, and then make the appointment.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
That may be the correct procedure to the noble Marquess's mind, but that is not how things operate in an international or semi-international organisation. There are twelve nations to be consulted in connection with this matter, and it takes time. A broad plan has been drawn up, but the detailed plan has not been fully worked out, and we must wait until the detailed plan in relation to this appointment has been worked out, and, indeed, to fill other appointments which are to be made in relation to the detailed plan as a whole.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I do not want to press this matter to the full to-day. I should like to leave it in this way. The noble Viscount has made a very important and far-reaching statement, and we are grateful to him for that. I do not think anyone in this House can understand at the present moment what are the implications of that statement. Therefore, I think we must read it with all the care that it deserves. But I should like to say to the noble Viscount that we reserve the right to revert to the subject if, when we have read his statement, we 745 come to the conclusion that it is still not clear to Parliament what is involved in this appointment and that a White Paper is necessary.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
My Lords, I hope it is not assumed that His Majesty's Government have anything to hide in connection with this matter.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
His Majesty's Government owe loyalty to eleven other States, and because there was a leakage by one of those States it does not mean that His Majesty's Government can run away with itself without consulting the other States. Until such time as there is this complete agreement, His Majesty's Government would have to abide by a decision of that organisation. There is nothing at all to hide.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I was not suggesting that His Majesty's Government were wishing to hide things. I say merely that we do not understand what the position is, and we feel that Parliament ought to know. As I have said, we reserve the right to ask for a White Paper, should it be necessary.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ LORD CROOK
My Lords, I am not at all sure whether you will be relieved or disappointed to know that I do not propose to make any reference to the question of the appointment of an admiral or to the Navy in any way. I have never intervened in a Foreign Affairs debate on a previous occasion, but I have been persuaded to do so to-day. Noble friends on both sides of the House have suggested that since I was one who had the privilege of being an alternate delegate to the United Nations, I should offer some observations this afternoon. I was delighted to have the opportunity, in company with two other members of your Lordships' House, Lord Ogmore and Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, of going to Lake Success and trying to take some small pan in carrying out the foreign policy of the Government, a foreign policy in which, may I say, I have profound belief. I have profound belief in it because I am convinced that the basic principle of the policy of His Majesty's Government has been the 746 replacement of power politics by an international rule of law, and that policy has governed everything that they have done.
I think, too, that what we have tried to do is to bring into world affairs the conception that the strong shall help the weak and that the rich shall share their plenty with the poor. And, after three months at Lake Success, I am more than ever satisfied that the United Nations, as an instrument, is proper and indispensable for the establishment of that rule of law and the creation of world order. My visit gave me the opportunity of experiencing at first hand what I can only term the distinguished and loyal support which the United Kingdom has given, and is giving, to the United Nations, not only in the political field but in the economic field also; for to the refusal of the United Kingdom to take unilateral action, whatever the provocation, must be added its many actions in the social and economic affairs of the world. One of the greatest and strongest weapons against the growth of Communism in the world and the disruption which it can bring about is the realisation that democracy of itself is not enough, but that the ordinary man must be guaranteed security for his family and a decent standard of living. I have ventured to change the general slant of the discussion, and I suggest to your Lordships that unless we look at that side of foreign affairs we do not debate the subject completely.
In that social and economic field the United Kingdom has made, in the United Nations agencies, a contribution to every project. In that connection I was able to see at first hand the great efforts that my right honourable friend the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the honourable gentleman, Mr. Kenneth Younger, have made. Unfortunately, the contribution which the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics offer is of a different kind, because they seem to be unwilling to accept anything which impinges upon their main and sovereign rights. Their obstruction dominated a great part of the discussions in the United Nations this year. I was astonished on the second day of the sitting of the General Assembly to hear Mr. Vyshinsky use these words:The Soviet Union deems it particularly important that the five great Powers should combine their peaceful efforts and should conclude among themselves a treaty for the strengthening of peace.747 Those are impeccable sentences. I only hope that Mr. Vyshinsky and his colleagues will bear them in mind if a Four Power Conference is held and we really have the opportunity of getting down to discussions.
But peace and peaceable intentions are not the monopoly of those who most often and most vociferously proffer them, for words, in fact, may mean little and may mask, instead of revealing, facts. Among other suggestions made to us was one that 400,000,000 people had supported the alleged Stockholm Peace Pact. I have no doubt that in the sacred name of peace there will during the next few months be opposition in this country to rearmament and to the call-up of men from the Reserve. As I say, this opposition will doubtless be put forward in the sacred name of peace and it will be supported by organisations Communist in type which masquerade in order to deceive the people. The noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack, in reply to a question of mine two days ago, disclosed the real basis of that new movement which calls itself the Ex-service Movement for Peace and is trying to set up branches in various parts of the country. I venture to remind your Lordships of the noble and learned Viscount's reply, in order that the widest publicity may be given to organisations of this kind. The noble and learned Viscount said that this body, which professes to be a non-political organisation of ex-Service men and women, has the practical purpose of promoting the campaign of the Communist Party and hindering the defence effort. Members of the public in general cannot have facts such as that brought too often to their minds. These organisations mislead the genuine pacifists into all sorts of fake movements.
We who have to deal with the trade union movement every day of the week are conscious all the time of the way in which organisations are set up by the Communist Party to deflect the efforts of this country. Communists themselves are no pacifists. The truth is that they are as bellicose as they can be when, for instance, they shriek for the punishment of Tito. They are ready to settle by force every problem that worries them externally, while at home they exploit the genuine love of peace in the friendly 748 hearts of the people of this country. I suggest that persons who organise these so-called peace movements to protest against the handling of foreign affairs in this country should post their demands for peace to the Kremlin and not to the British Government. I am convinced, as I am sure the rest of your Lordships are, that the peace of the world can be assured any time the Kremlin likes to make up its mind that peace is what is to rule in the world of to-day.
At Lake Success I saw the real efforts for peace which the United Kingdom made, efforts which produced in a humble delegate like myself nothing but pride. I saw the British delegation unremitting in their attempts to advance the very clear viewpoint of this country. I saw their firm stand against aggression from whomsoever it came, and their efforts for a negotiated settlement of the outstanding problems of the Far East. May I say-also how good it was to witness the way in which the Commonwealth delegates got together to try to secure on the part of this great Commonwealth of ours a common aim in the prosecution of our affairs in the United Nations? May I select two names from many and say with what profound respect I watched the efforts of Sir Benegal Rau, of India, and Mr. Lester Pearson, of Canada? I came back with a clear view that throughout. the poor response of China and the obstruction of the U.S.S.R. were responsible for the lack of success.
The work behind the scenes to co-ordinate activity and secure agreement was of tremendous value, and must have been appreciated by any who had the opportunity of seeing it. In that connection, may I say something which will appear obvious to your Lordships, but which is of profound importance to many people who do not seem to understand one of the essential features of the conduct of our work in the United Nations? We cannot have the best of two worlds. Either we alone put our policy to our opponents or we join with others, who are broadly like-minded, in the formulation of a policy. The critics of any Resolution, therefore, should realise that we cannot at one and the same time stand for a policy of collective security and expect that the final point of view to be pressed will be the point of view of our own country. For oft-times the decision must be made: do we merely vote against the 749 proposition, or do we instead try to alter the nature of it, so as to secure agreement on an alternative?
This brings me to one of the observations which the noble Marquess. Lord Salisbury, made yesterday in his, as usual, excellent speech—excellent whether one agrees with it or not. The noble Marquess referred to the "odd hesitation in the making up of their minds" on the part of the Government in recent Lake Success debates. He added:A great nation such as ours is expected to give a lead in matters of this sort—not to tag along behind all the others…. If we were finally going to take the decision, why did we not do so immediately?For the last twenty-eight years I have been used to negotiating across the table in trade union matters with employers, and I would say that on a large number of occasions the taking of the initiative and good leadership are of great importance, whether it be in trade union or Government affairs. On the other hand, there are times when leadership calls for holding back—perhaps when someone else has rushed in with a proposition, not exactly wise, in our view—in order to seek some amendment behind the scenes before the final decision, so that the Resolution finally submitted may be much more in line with the proposition we would have advanced. I think it would be wrong of me not to try to report something of the background of Lake Success. I should like to pay tribute to the hard work of the Foreign Office staff sent out from here, as well as that of the staff permanently in the Empire State Building in New York.
I feel that I ought to say something about the American people, both as individuals, who were so often my hosts, and in the international sphere. I cannot say enough about the real friendship and desire for understanding on the part of the American colleagues with whom I worked—Senators, Congressmen or members of the State Department, who did so much work with us. Since, in my view, there are those in this country who would misrepresent, or at least represent inaccurately, the relations of our two peoples, may I add that I feel the Alliance of this country and the United States of America is deep and strong, and relies upon the strong emotional motives between the two of us? Our interests are the same, and our purposes are common. Like this 750 country the United States has put herself at the disposal of the United Nations in a policy for the good of the world. But friendship and alliance with the United Stales do not mean that we are not working in the closest harmony with our colleagues in the Commonwealth and our other good international friends, such as France.
I ask myself what would these people who think we are too dose to the United States have us do. Would they have us reach unilateral decisions which would divide us? Would they try to discourage the relationship of our two countries? Would they try to force the United States back into isolationism? They are a great idealistic people to whom we "sold" the idea of collective security. We converted them, and we are no longer living in the days of the League of Nations and of American isolationism. One of the great hopes for the peace of the world is that that great country may continue to support the United Nations and take an active part in world affairs. I am as opposed as anybody else to the domination of this country by the United States, but I do not believe that we are. I do not believe that anybody is seeking such domination. I do not doubt at all the independence of thought and action in every field which we still possess. Our civilisation is not the same as that of America. Our ways of life are not the same; material conditions in the two areas, and their reactions to world events, are different. They arc bound to be, if only because the impact of them are not the same. We are no satellite of the United States, and they do not seek such a relationship. They seek only the relationship of brothers inside the same family. Even brothers can have a row inside a family, and they can certainly disagree.
I found, on the part of the United States people whom I met, a ready acceptance of the place which the United Kingdom has always had in world leadership. I found an appreciation of our abilities in world affairs, and a desire that the United States should benefit from the traditional abilities of Britain in world affairs, while we, in turn, benefited from the contributions to world affairs that the United States were prepared to make. They wanted a real partnership. If I may be forgiven a further tribute, may I say that this partnership is being encouraged and 751 cemented by the actions of our distinguished Ambassador in Washington, Sir Oliver Franks, and by that other ambassadorial figure who has caught the imagination of the American public, Sir Gladwyn Jebb? The value of the Prime Minister's visit to America cannot be overestimated. As one who was there, and was privileged to sec the impact of his personality on those in America who at that time were seeking and wondering about the British people, I can say that that visit was of enormous value. My view is that China would have been recognised by the United Nations, whatever America thought, and would have taken her place in the General Assembly before we left in December, had she not suddenly taken part in the aggression in Korea. But as a result of that aggression, she, too, threw away the good will of many of her friends in the world, in the same way that Russia had thrown away her good will in this country.
While we talk in terms of criticism of the U.S.S.R. to-day, we might remind ourselves and Russia that at the beginning of 1945 there was in this country a great fund of good will towards those gallant Allies of ours, who had made such a firm stand against the aggressor, and who had played a common part in the war. It was that which caused the Coalition Government of 1942 to reach the Treaty of that year. Now, Russia plays no part in the United Nations agencies at all, and to the extent that she plays any part in the General Assembly it is merely a part of opposing any co-operation by anybody. While we live in an atmosphere of trying to carry out the terms of the Treaty that we reached with the Russians, they for their part seem to have made the countries surrounding them mere satellites; and they seem to have built up the armed forces of those countries contrary to the treaties to which they themselves were part. They seem to be building up in Eastern Germany a force (so we are told) of as many as 50,000 armed police. Yet when it is suggested that it may be that we should arm Western Germany against any aggression by Russia, we are told that we might thereby provoke Russia.
How can we provoke a country which watched us demobilise, yet only pretended to demobilise herself? His 752 Majesty's Government have given the clearest and specific statements to the Government of Russia that Western Germany will not be used at any time, or in any circumstances, as a base for aggression. I have no doubt that the principle of the German contribution to the defence of Europe is sound, although I think that its timing must be the subject of the most careful consideration by the Government, in the light of all the facts and of the advice which General Eisenhower may give. Here I should like to say how much we on this side of the House welcome the appointment of General Eisenhower.
We cannot, in the present state of things, sit idly by and let matters develop, being deceived by speeches while treaties are broken. It is a tragic commentary, as the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, reminded us yesterday, that we must examine Notes when they are received from Russia to see whether there is any hope in them; to examine them—as The Times so well put it a few days ago—in the way that the Romans used to scrutinise the entrails of fowls for a sign of good news or bad about the future. What a tragedy in a world which, if we liked, could be good for us all to live in! The best measure I have seen of the world's absurdity is that men who would prefer to hold an agricultural implement in their hand are forced instead to hold a rifle, and men who would prefer to drive a farm tractor have to drive an army tank. So it is that, when we review Foreign Affairs, those of us whose philosophy relates to the cause of peace, and whose hopes have always been for disarmament, find it regretfully essential to declare in favour of rearmament for defence against those who, seeking to destroy the independence of free nations, threaten the freedom and democratic ways of life of the world by a military despotism openly dedicated to their destruction.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ LORD LAYTON
My Lords, I shall not detain your Lordships many minutes. My main purpose is to address to the Lord Chancellor a question to which I shall come shortly. We have been forced by events in the last few years to face the important task of organising the free world, and the noble Lord who has just spoken has given his testimony as one 753 who is playing his part in that task. But anybody who listened to the debate on rearmament in this House last week, and to the speeches of yesterday and to-day, will appreciate what a long way we have yet to go and how far we are from having achieved anything like an adequate organisation of the free world: how, indeed, it contrasts with the organisation on the other side of the Iron Curtain. He would be a very rash man who would try to debate at this moment with the noble Viscount, the First Lord of the Admiralty, the statement he has just made. However, I venture to think that the issue as regards the appointment of the Supreme Commander of the Atlantic goes very near to the heart of all the questions which are concerned with the international organisation of the free world.
As I say, I should not attempt to debate with the noble Viscount that statement, made only twenty minutes ago, without having had an opportunity of studying it carefully—and, in any case, I speak as a non-technical person on this issue. However, I hope that His Majesty's Government will state their position on this issue clearly. When it conies to setting it out, I would say this, because it is an example of the preoccupation of people who are approaching this question from a non-technical point of view: that one must be quite clear why it is necessary to-day to have a unified command of the Atlantic, when it was unnecessary in the last and the First World Wars, although it was then necessary to have a unified command on land. There is, at least, an implication that there is an essential difference between land and sea warfare; indeed, perhaps the distinction is between specific operations, such as the North African campaign, or the appointment of a commander to undertake the invasion of Europe. That is surely different from a long-drawn-out sea campaign, which has no boundaries but extends all over the world.
In that connection there is another preoccupation which I am sure will have to be removed—namely, that while the country might accept the appointment of a Supreme Commander, either of the Army or the Navy, in time of war, it might hesitate to do so as a permanency. The moment you come to that point you have to consider the question of political direction and control. It was possible in 754 the First and the Second World War to appoint a Supreme Army Commander for a purpose, when it was clear where the political responsibility lay—political responsibility which, in a democratic community, is above (as it must be) any military command. What is the political authority that is put above the Supreme Commanders of N.A.T.O.? There is uneasiness about that matter. In the N.A.T.O. there are six committees consisting of a dozen or so people each. Now that is a very different proposition from the duumvirate which controlled the Chiefs of Staff and, under them, the Supreme Commander during the late war. In the statement which is to be put before this country, the relationship between the military Supreme Commander over forces which are vital to the nation and the political organisation must be made clear.
While I am referring to that point, may I go even further? It is hard to conceive of any greater service that any man could render at this particular moment than that which General Eisenhower has rendered by coming over here and holding together, encouraging and stimulating the countries of Europe. It is an immense service, and we must all pay tribute to it. He has done his job excellently. But we should stop and think that what in fact he has done in the last five months has not been a military job at all, but a political job, a diplomatic job. So long as he is there, he is not merely Supreme Commander; he expresses in himself a political concept, and he is doing the job as a world ambassador, if one may so call it. But you cannot always rely upon a personality to hold together the countries of Europe and produce the consolidation which is essential, however great a personality he may be. For that reason, I hope that His Majesty's Government will not take advantage of this asset which they have and avoid the issue which lies behind the consolidation of the forces: the problem which may be referred to as the creation of a European army and a European organisation. All those questions emphasise that, in the consolidation of the free world, we must be clear about the nature of the sovereignty which is being delegated. On those grounds I would repeat once again the plea which I have made more than once in this House for a bipartisan policy; an attempt as between Parties to get down to this basic issue of what degree of sovereignty we are going 755 to pool and for what purposes, and what is the organisation through which it may be controlled.
What I have said may be regarded as critical of what is happening. I did not mean it in that sense at all; I was trying to show the need for getting down to basic things. Although we describe this situation as chaotic, perhaps the free world is slowly coming out of chaos. Something is emerging, and certainly some of the pieces are beginning to take shape and will be fitted into the final picture. I want to refer briefly to one of these—the Convention of Human Rights. It may seem that that is a far cry from the specific questions which we have been discussing in the last two days, but it is really not very far away; in fact, it is closely related to foreign policy generally. Yesterday the noble Lord, Lord Winster, referred to this fact when he quoted General Eisenhower as saying that a political platform must be achieved. In other words, we cannot hope to go very far on the military line, or, indeed, on any other line, until we have a comnon political basis. It is for that reason that I believe that the Convention of Human Rights of the Council of Europe is absolutely crucial. It is the beginning of the creation of solidarity which is vital for the safety of Europe.
Four weeks ago I put a Motion on the Order Paper asking the Government to ratify the Convention of Human Rights, but almost immediately I took it off again. I did so because the Convention was laid on the Table and it has laid there for twenty-one days. As nobody prayed against that document, or moved a Motion for its rejection, I believe I am right in saying that it will now automatically be ratified. The Deed of Ratification will be sent automatically to Strasbourg, and when nine other countries have done the same that Convention will come into force and will be binding upon this country. I wish to say one or two words upon that matter. First I wish to express my appreciation to His Majesty's Government for having taken this step so promptly. They have often been accused —although I have never used the phrase myself—of dragging their feet. They have the honour of being the first of the Governments of Western Europe to ratify this Convention. This is an im- 756 portant act, because unless you begin to build up a political basis you will never get very far with the military side or with the economic integration of the Continent of Europe. Secondly, this is not just a question of prestige, though that is in itself important. May I recall to your Lordships' recollection that this Convention, unlike the United Nations Declaration, is not a mere paper statement but is a Treaty commitment binding on this country? it establishes for this country, with the other countries signatory to the Convention, a joint responsibility for certain basic human rights, and it gives to each signatory the right to call to account other countries who do not fulfil, or who commit a breach of, the Rights in the Convention. It is a pooling of sovereignty in respect of definitely indicated purposes.
By this Convention we agree to allow the other countries concerned to call us to account if we commit breaches of the rights of free speech, freedom of religion, freedom against arbitrary arrest, and the other articles which are in the Convention. As from the moment of the coming into force of this Convention we may be called before the commission to explain our actions. We do that in return for the right to call upon France, Italy, Sweden, Germany or any other countries who are parties to the Convention. That is a crucial issue. It is a political act of the countries concerned which makes them jointly responsible for democracy. It is the first democratic rule of the Western European club, if I may so call it. It involves a measured pooling of sovereignty, and I call attention to it because it seems to me— and what has happened about the appointment of an admiral to command in the Atlantic illustrates the point—that it is important that Parliament should be fully cognisant of whatever step is taken in the direction of pooling sovereignty. This should not pass unnoticed by being put on the Table, as one of many documents, and thus easily passed over. The matter should be brought to the attention of Parliament, and it should be made clear that we are being bound in this way.
My third comment is that the Convention provides two forms for dealing with petitions that are brought forward. All petitions go to the Commission, but it is at the option of the country concerned 757 whether, after that, if there is a prima facie case, the case goes to an international court or to the Committee of Ministers, where it would be decided by a two-thirds majority. I understand that on that issue His Majesty's Government are not prepared to accept the automatic jurisdiction of the court. But by signing the Convention they accept that any accusation against this country in respect of a breach of these rights will go to a Committee of Ministers; and agree to accept a two-thirds majority decision of that Committee. The principle of accountability is accepted, but for the present His Majesty's Government have announced that they will accept a political but not a legal judgment. Personally I regret this decision, because I think it would have been an excellent example for this country to have accepted compulsory jurisdiction. But, as this may be altered at any time by contracting in, I say no more except to express the hope that His Majesty's Government will have second thoughts.
Finally, there are certain other rights which it is thought by the Assembly of the Council and by certain countries in Europe should be included in the Convention. I am not going to discuss those, except one —the clause that was originally drafted and which committed the countries concerned to hold free elections. It was laid down that one of the rights which must be accepted in all countries who were parties to the European group was that they must give their nationals the right to take part in such elections. That clause was omitted by the Committee of Ministers, and personally I regret that that happened. But the Committee of Ministers have agreed to reconsider it; and it is now, in fact, being reconsidered, and should be added by the time the Convention comes into force, or shortly afterwards.
I ask His Majesty's Government to support the addition, to this Convention of the right to hold free elections. I can illustrate the importance of this point by asking your Lordships to consider for a moment the significance it would have if Western Germany were at this moment committed, by her own free will and by her voluntary signature, to the obligation to hold free elections, and to agree that she might be called to account by any of her co-signatories if she failed to 758 do so. Sooner or later the point will be discussed between Eastern and Western Germany, and will certainly arise before we ever get to the point of a reunion of Germany. It will strengthen the hands of the Western Germans if this particular Convention quickly comes into force and becomes mandatory and binding on them. I hope His Majesty's Government will agree to add that clause and do it quickly.
It is probable that the Convention will come into force within the next three or four months. It is a prototype for common legislation in Western Europe; it will be the first Statute of the Council of Europe. It is also illustrative of the fact that the future evolution of the free world lies first in defining exactly what you want to do and how far you are prepared to pool your sovereignty, and not. as in the case of the Supreme Commander at sea, in choosing the man and then deciding what are his powers. We must decide exactly what must be done, and then it is comparatively easy to set up the right machinery to carry the purpose out.
§ 4.38 p.m.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Layton, has made a valuable contribution to this debate, particularly in his remarks about the free election convention. I understand that the East German Government in their approaches to the West German Government—like the famous approach of the Governor of North Carolina to the Governor of South Carolina—suggested free elections as part of the arrangements for bringing about a united Germany. This struck me as a very substantial advance, and a vast improvement in what we have regarded hitherto as a Communist area. I know that in large areas, even in this country, there is no such thing as a free election: whoever is put up by one Party is certain to be elected in a particular kind of constituency. I agree with Lord Layton in believing that this matter is of some urgency.
Several noble Lords in this debate, including the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, and the noble Marquess who leads the Opposition, and, to my surprise, one or two of my noble friends on this side of the House, have referred to the long illness of the Foreign Secretary and suggested that it is a great scandal that he should continue to hold office. 759 When these things are said, whatever my views as to certain past policies of the Government in international affairs, I immediately rally to the defence of the Foreign Secretary. When I think of some of the Foreign Secretaries we have had in the past, I would rather have one hour or one day of Ernest Bevin than many of the others put together for all the time. If he is still able to work in the mornings, and he is held in prestige in so many parts of the world, then let us utilise him, although I must say that about one or two of his policies, including that in regard to Palestine, I have had to express some dubiety in the past. Perhaps I may make a suggestion to my noble friend representing the Government at the present moment in this House. It is none of my business, of course, but if the Prime Minister is looking for a successor to Mr. Bevin, if Mr. Bevin feels he cannot carry the burden any longer, I think he should not overlook the claims of Billingsgate Market, the modern Billingsgate, the great fish market. I will explain quite simply to the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, exactly what I mean. The modern diplomacy of which there is much criticism, seems to consist, as the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, put it, of a series of long-range slanging matches. I have made the same criticism in more than one debate with which I have troubled your Lordships in the present Session. This continual stream of abuse across the frontiers is getting us nowhere. It is common to all the partisans, but, if it is to continue, then—I have not been to Billingsgate Market for a long time, but it had a reputation for developing amongst its habitués an exceptionally rich and varied vocabulary—a suitable gentleman from Billingsgate Market, who may also have held high office in, say, the London County Council, might be admirable for this purpose in the Foreign Office to-day. I hope that suggestion will be taken in the right spirit.
The noble Viscount, Lord Hall, gave us, if I may say so, a useful and lucid account of the circumstances that have aroused this storm about the appointment of an American Admiral as Supreme Commander for the North Atlantic Ocean. I raised this matter last Thursday on the second day of the debate on Defence. I did not know that at the same time the Leader of the Opposition 760 in another place was going to raise the same subject. Mr. Churchill did not give me any message that he was going to do so, and I was quite ignorant of the fact—I might have approached it a little differently, had I known beforehand. But, as so much trouble has been stirred up, I think it is necessary to say this. We must never overlook the fact that, whereas in this country you can make fun of Parliament, you can make fun of the Army —you can always make fun of the Army and the Army does not seem to mind— you can even make fun of the Monarchy, you can make fun of the Church and most of our institutions, the one thing that the British people are most sensitive about is the reputation and the standing of the Royal Navy.
It is a kind of hereditary feeling. I remember Sir Charles Dilke saying that you could go into an open field in the broad countryside and talk about the abolition of the Royal Navy, or the cutting down of the Royal Navy, and you would have a roaring angry crowd around you within five minutes. That may have been an exaggeration, but it illustrates the extraordinary feeling of the British people for the Senior Service. I know that noble Lords have realised, from what they have heard, that this matter was bound to arouse serious misgivings, as I ventured to say last Thursday. We have now had an explanation, and my noble friend has admitted that we have not yet got the complete picture. May I, however, put a question on this matter of this Standing Group? Is this Standing Group an executive or operational authority, or is it a planning group? Does it make plans only, or can it give the direct orders? Above all, I think we must know exactly what area it controls. My noble friend spoke of the deep waters of the Atlantic. That is a new phrase to me; I have never heard it before. I do not know how much of the so-called home waters that covers.
There is also the important question of the South Atlantic, which is linked with the question of defending our trade routes. As I gather, this Standing Group is in the nature of a sort of combined operations division. It deals not only with naval matters but also with air matters, and I should have thought it would have some sort of say in combined operations if there are to be any. I saw in the newspapers 761 to-day a report that an American officer, no doubt of very high attainments, is to be appointed to command the combined bomber squadrons, too. If there is to be an American general in command of the European forces on land, an American admiral in command of all the naval forces in the North Atlantic, and an American air officer (and I would point out that the Americans do not yet possess a separate air service, although that may come one day) to command the combined bomber forces, the truth of the matter is —and we may as well face it; it is no use trying to smooth the matter over— there will be apprehension in this country, and on both sides of the House. That apprehension was voiced by the Conservatives in another place.
There is apprehension in this country— I do not think it is well-founded but the feeling exists—that we have not been independent enough in our dealings with our American ally and friend, and that we have been inclined—and the same criticisms have been made in France and in other countries on this matter—to be too subservient to the Americans in matters of high policy. As I say, I do not think that apprehension is altogether justified. We have had a most difficult task in dealing with the Americans in their present state of mind, but the British people, and I think some of the Continental people as well, are very sensitive about any undue diminution of their sovereignty. In my view, this appointment of an American admiral to the Supreme Command. North Atlantic, really stoked up the flames, if I may put it in that way, of this feeling of resentment which has existed for a long time. It is, however, absolutely necessary, if we are to continue harmonious working with the Americans, that these flames of resentment should be damped down or, better still, put out altogether. In the future, we shall have to be extremely careful how we make announcements of this kind to the British public.
May I for a moment refer to a speech made yesterday by the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart?—I am sorry that he has been called away to-day. There are one or two points in his remarks with which I feel I must deal. The noble Lord spoke about the troubles in Malaya, and said that the Chinese Government in Pekin could stop the Malayan jungle warfare by just holding up their fingers—or words to that 762 effect. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, for once is completely misinformed. My information from the very highest authority possible is that the movement in Malaya, unfortunate and difficult as it is, is an indigenous movement. I know that there may be sympathy for it amongst the Chinese; but it was not started and initiated upon the authority of the Chinese Government— that is true—and I think that that fact should be stated in Parliament.
With regard to Formosa, the latest idea, apparently, is that Formosa should have a plebiscite and that the inhabitants should decide what they want to do in the future with regard to their allegiance. We are committed by the Cairo Declaration to return Formosa to China. We cannot go back on that Declaration. It will be very unfortunate if we do. I think all the precedents are against a plebiscite. The most obvious case which springs to mind is that of Alsace-Lorraine. After all, forty-eight years elapsed between the German annexation of Alsace-Lorraine after the 1870 war and its rendition to France after the 1918 war. There was no question of a plebiscite. That was a case where the French-speaking people there and in France demanded the rendition of Alsace-Lorraine, and any idea of a plebiscite would have been laughed at. I think the same applies to Formosa to-day. There are other precedents as well.
My Lords, I have only one other subject with which, if I may be permitted to do so, I wish briefly to deal—namely, the latest Russian Note. I had the unfortunate necessity to interrupt the Leader of the Liberal Party in this House during his very delightful speech yesterday, when he quoted from the Russian Note. I asked him where he found the wording of that Note. With one exception no newspaper published that Note. The Times gave perhaps the best report of it, but even in The Times the Note was very truncated; and the other newspapers simply picked out parts of it. That is not treating the British people, or for that matter Parliament, fairly. We are not children. That Note is of the greatest importance. We are now dealing with issues of life and death for millions of people and we ought to have the right to know exactly what was said. The only newspaper which carried that Note in full was the Daily Worker, which has a very small circulation. Of course, it may be pleaded that 763 there is a great shortage of newsprint, and that there are many other matters of tremendous importance—cricket matches in Australia, and divorce cases in the Courts, and so on—which must be dealt with. But that Note was something which should have been printed in full, together, of course, with any reply that the Government cared to make.
I understand that this meeting of the officials, to settle, as is to be hoped, the preliminaries and agenda of the Four Power Conference, assembles next Monday in Paris. In this debate we have heard very little about this forthcoming Conference. For once I must correct Lord Templewood. It is seldom that one can do that, but the invitation to this Conference came from Russia and not from us; it was their initiative. Tremendous issues hang on this Conference. While it is sitting, and even more if the subsequent meetings of the senior representatives of the Powers take place, I hope that there will be a truce to continual goading and backbiting and girding and abuse across the frontiers. We are not by any means the only ones to blame. This propaganda that has been going on, over the air, in the newspapers and in the speeches of public men, does not carry us anywhere.
As I read this last Russian Note in the Daily Worker (as I say, the only paper to give it in full) I was reminded of what I hope not too many of your Lordships have experienced—a family quarrel. It is very like a family quarrel which gets worse and worse, with the people concerned getting more and more heated towards each other. Then it suddenly ends, and they find that after all they love each other, and they can be friends. That is usually the course of a family quarrel, unless of course there is an irreparable breach and a complete breakup. Usually this sort of family squabble ends like that. Two of the nations concerned in this matter are comparatively young. The United States and Russia are both comparatively young nations. Present-day Russia is comparatively young as a nation, and when the young quarrel it can usually be ended amicably. We and the French are the old nations and have the old culture; and I hope that presently we shall be able to call on the Chinese, with their even older culture, to 764 come in to redress the balance. It is for the older nations, ourselves and France, and also the Indians, who were referred to by Lord Crook in his most interesting speech on his experiences at Lake Success —and I believe that the Indians have given very valuable advice in the difficult time that has led up to the present juncture. Above all, it is for our older nations, and particularly for the British, if they can, to restrain extravagances on both sides in this verbal contest. The stakes are too high not to risk rebuffs and not to be prepared to endanger our dignity. The risks in a matter of this kind are the life and death of millions of people, and the survival of our whole civilisation; and therefore real efforts must be made to bring about some kind of arrangement between these great Powers, each of whose people is most reluctant to engage in another great struggle.
§ 4.57 p.m.
§ EARL HOWE
My Lords. I take part in this debate under certain difficulty, because, unfortunately, I was not able to be in my place to hear the statement that I understand was made by the First Lord of the Admiralty and which was obviously of the greatest importance. I arrived just at the concluding sentences, and I think I heard the noble Marquess ask the First Lord whether a White Paper could be provided to explain the details of the appointment of the Supreme Naval Commander. I hope most profoundly that His Majesty's Government will agree to that proposal, which I think is of vital importance. I bitterly resent the attacks of people upon America, alleging all sorts of motives to her and trying to make out that we are content to trot along in the wake of America in everything. I am one of those who has had plenty of opportunity of coming into contact with the American Navy, and at very close quarters, and I have nothing but the greatest possible admiration for them. But there are certain points about this business that the country wishes to understand. Yesterday, Lord Winster told us what his chauffeur said—that he thought the incident might make Nelson hop off his column. It is curious how Trafalgar Square leaps to the minds of most people whenever they talk about the Navy. I was talking to an equally humble member of society the other day, and he said that 765 he hoped the lions round the statue would get up and bite the pants off anybody who was responsible for the idea.
Be that as it may, there are several questions which I want to ask relating to this appointment. In explaining it in another place on February 26, the Prime Minister said that it was considered to be necessary in the light of experience in the last war, and had been agreed to accordingly. I happen to have with me the terms of an Agreement called the A.B.C.l Staff Agreement, which was come to between representatives of the American Navy and of our own Service before America came into the War, and which governed the whole procedure afterwards. The Agreement was the result of several conferences which took place in January, 1941. and the particular clause in the Agreement to which I wish to draw your Lordships' attention is No. 4, headed: "Principles of Command." There it says:Each Power to be charged with strategic direction of all Allied forces in specific areas of responsibility; but the forces of each Ally to operate under its own task force commanders, not to be broken up into small units, Specifically, the United States naval air arm operating in British strategic areas to be under United States, not Royal Air Force command. Special and separate arrangements to be made for each combined operation.It seems to me that that Agreement governed the procedure for the whole of the rest of the late war, and I cannot understand how and why it is that the Prime Minister considers that now we must have a Supreme Naval Commander.
All your Lordships will, I am sure, have read the views expressed by the noble Viscount, Lord Cunningham of Hyndhope, and by the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery. I have the statements of both noble Lords here, and I could quote from them, but I will not do so now. We also had the advantage of listening yesterday to Lord Tovey. Every one of those distinguished Flag Officers has declared that he does not consider that such an arrangement as is; proposed is necessary. No question of the need for it was ever raised during the last war. Why should it be raised now? May we have an answer to that question from the representative of the Government? What is the real necessity for this appointment? That is one of the things which I want to find out. Here is another. A great 766 deal is said about areas. I have not heard any of these areas defined. There is the Western Area, and the Eastern Area, but they are quite nebulous. The areas as defined in the last war are set out in the book that I have here, the unofficial history of the War. In it are set out these areas as they were marked out for the last war.
What about Coastal Command? Another war, if we are unfortunate enough to be involved in one, is bound to be largely, so far as we are concerned, an anti-submarine war. It is imposible to wage a successful anti-submarine war, except with a Navy and an Air Force working together in the closest possible co-operation. So far as we know, there is a Western Area and an Eastern Area, and also another area which is to be controlled by the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth. It seems to me to be of the utmost importance that we should be given a little more information than we have been given—if that is at all possible—with reference to the whole of this set-up. For instance, we might be told whether the Supreme Naval Commander will be able to divert ships from the Western approaches. Will he have the power to divert units of aircraft from the Western approaches? It is possible that all these questions may have been answered in the First Lord's statement, but, unfortunately, I was not here to hear it.
Another point that I wish to raise is this: Will the Supreme Naval Commander be able to indicate to the Government of this country how many and what ships and aircraft he may require from this country, as its contribution, in order to carry out his duties? If he does make demands of that sort, shall we be told what his views are? He may come to the conclusion that we have not the necessary number of patrol craft, that we are very short in that respect. Will he then be able to tell His Majesty's Government that they must build more patrol craft—or what will be his position?
Then there is the question of the Standing Group, to which the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, has already referred. I want to know how this Standing Group is going to be composed, and what are to be its responsibilities. I hope that if the Government do publish a White Paper on the subject they will make that matter quite clear. I do not understand from the 767 Prime Minister's statement, which I have in my hand, whether the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee set-up, which we had in the last war between America and ourselves, is to continue, or whether it is to be superseded. It seems to me that before these appointments are made, the Government ought to explain matters to the people in very much more detail than they have done. As we all know—it has already been referred to in the debate— the news first leaked out in a Danish newspaper. Why could not the Prime Minister have gone to another place, and the noble Viscount the Leader of this House have come here, and made a statement explaining exactly what the Government had agreed to, and what they proposed to do? That would have obviated this rather unhappy kind of questioning, amounting almost to bickering, which now goes on. I personally would much have preferred that it should be done that way, and I am sure that that is the general view of your Lordships also.
Finally—as I say, I was not here to hear the statement made by the noble Viscount, the First Lord of the Admiralty, so I have cut out most of the notes which I had prepared for my speech— may I say that it seems to me that The Times, in a leading article, put the matter better than any other paper which I have read? It said:What is wanted is a working partnership, not a mass of blueprints, to make an Atlantic defence real.The only other question I should like to ask is whether we may have some information about the officer who has been selected for this most important post. I understand that he is a most distinguished officer, and an expert in amphibious warfare in the Pacific. Is he an expert in anti-submarine warfare? Many of us would like to know that. I do not want to take up the time of the House further on this matter, but I beg His Majesty's Government to take the country into their confidence. I am certain that our people are always at their best when the Government of the day, whatever their complexion, are ready to take the course of telling us the real facts in Parliament. When that is done, we do not get stories spread about in the way they have been spread, unfortunately, in this particular case, and in many others of which we can think. I hope 768 that His Majesty's Government will consent to issue a White Paper by which we shall all be very much better informed.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ LORD AMMON
My Lords, I mean no discourtesy to any of your Lordships when I say that I do not intend to follow up the questions raised concerning the Supreme Command, or some of the other items that have occupied our attention during this debate. I propose to speak only of one matter which seems to me to be of some importance—that is, China. I say what I have to say, not in the spirit of criticism but rather to suggest that probably the line of approach adopted has been a mistaken one, and that it is possible, even now. that it is not too late to do what the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, suggested yesterday—that is, to arrange a meeting fairly soon to discuss matters. I am impelled to say this because it seems to me that our policy is driving China into the arms of Russia. I am not suggesting that because I spent a couple of months in China between two and three years ago that has made me an expert on the question; but at least it brought me into touch with leading people. I visited a number of large towns and went to universities, and so on, and I have kept open some lines of communication ever since.
On visiting China as I did, I was impressed, first of all, by the fact that there is very much in common, both as regards the philosophy of life and otherwise, between the Chinese and ourselves. I was also much impressed by the tremendous amount of good will shown towards us by the Chinese. Our prestige at the time of which I am speaking stood very high. I thought it rather hard luck on the United States that they should be pouring out very lavishly both services and money, and yet be met with a certain amount of veiled hostility. I told people I met that while we should not be giving them material help, we would, in other ways, do all that we could to assist them. That declaration was very popular and it was received with applause in most places. One cannot say anything about Mao Tse-tung, but the second in command, Chou En-lai, showed very strong pro-English leanings. There must be some other means by which we can get into touch with the Chinese. There are two 769 main causes for the progress of Communism in China. First of all, there is the fear of Japan, and, secondly, there are the dreadful economic conditions, the mass of poverty and misery, which is so great that it cannot be described. Their fear of the revival of a strong Japan is great, and it is a pity that the Communist Leader lost the opportunity of reaching an agreement to cease fire when militarily successful—but that opportunity is gone, and it is not likely to occur again.
I have received a letter from a man who for many years occupied a prominent position in China, and who was interned in a concern ration camp and went through much hardship. He knows the Chinese thoroughly. He writes to me:We must try to put ourselves in their position. China throughout the century has been menaced by Japan, and from 1937 to 1945 was ravaged and devastated. Japan attacked because China was becoming united and was determined to prevent a strong China emerging…. I was in the interior when the Japanese soldiers ravaged the capital, Nanking. Murder, pillage, rape and material destruction were the order of the day. A shudder ran through the whole country….Then the writer comments:If I were a Chinese at the moment I would look for support in that quarter where it would be sure to be available when needed. France, who has suffered so much at the hands of Germany has 150 (about) Communists in her Assembly. If there were no Atlantic Pact, she would have twice or thrice that number, for again Russia would be, as in the past, her natural ally.In short, he means that Russia has exploited the situation in China, as she has exploited the situation in Germany.
I venture to suggest that our line of approach has been altogether wrong. China has never acted in the same way as other nations. She has no great cause to love the Western Powers, for she has suffered much at their hands. But she has a greater feeling towards us than towards the other Powers. What impressed me and my colleagues when in China was the utter indifference of people to the Communist advance. Their only hope was that the Communists would relieve their misery and defend them from the Japanese. I addressed meetings at no fewer than fourteen universities, and in every case my remarks were well received. But I always had the same question: Is there going to be a strong Japan again? To a large extent America has missed that. A United Nations 770 guarantee against Japanese aggression would do more to end the Korean war than anything. General MacArthur has had a hard job, but I have the feeling that he is not the person suited for it. It would be better if somebody with a broader mind, like General Marshall or General Eisenhower, were carrying out that task.
I should like to quote from another letter which I have received from someone who recently returned from China. He said:I have a feeling that an unorthodox approach to Mao and Chou might still swing them to us-wards. What they do not like is the orthodox diplomatic methods, for the Russians avoid those methods, and the Chinese believe, rightly or wrongly, that the unofficial, personal approach leads to the quicker and more satisfactory settlement of outstanding problems.I believe that China must be approached from another angle, and that the whole problem would be solved if we could give her a guarantee against aggression in a third letter, which I received in January, there is news of a large hospital which used to be under British management. My informant writes:The hospital is very busy and is continuing without Government interference. It is now run entirely by Chinese mission staff, and is self-supporting, and they seem to be in good spirits.That is an encouraging indication of what is happening in the interior of China. I believe that if our American friends would accept the suggestion made yesterday toy my noble friend Lord Henderson -and, after all. we have had some experience in these matters—it might be that we could find some other means by which to circumvent the Russian purpose, and so bring about the understanding and co-operation with us which I am sure the Chinese desire. The outcome of any move depends to a large extent on our ability to guarantee China against the Japanese menace which she fears.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ LORD AILWYN
My Lords, it is not easy for the twenty-second speaker in a debate to say anything startingly original or avoid echoing what has already been said, probably far more ably, by previous speakers. Particularly is this the case where, running like a thread through nearly all the speeches has been the 771 central theme of Anglo-American relations which I had hoped and still intend to make the pivot of my short contribution. Among all the difficulties with which we are faced, among all the responsibilities which pile up upon His Majesty's Government, there is one supreme factor —our relations with the United States of America. If ever there was a time when it was imperative that our two countries should walk faithfully in step, neither one outstripping the other nor one lagging or faltering behind the other, it is surely at this moment. Nothing else, in my view, is comparable to that vital necessity at the present time.
It is because of a certain divergence of views in our approach to the situation in the Far East that I venture to intervene for a few moments. I listened with great interest to the noble Lord who has just sat down, although my approach to the subject will perhaps be a little different. One of the most melancholy things that has happened in my lifetime—and perhaps one feels it more poignantly than some, through association over a great many years with China—was the overrunning of that vast country by the Communists. I had greatly hoped that, with the final defeat of Japan, Chiang Kai-shek would have been able to check and perhaps finally eradicate the Red menace. Opinions differ as to why he failed. But let those who talk of the corruption and mis-government of the Kuomintang not forget that China, as the noble Lord who has just sat down reminded us, had been at war for eight long years when Japan at last surrendered in 1945. The nation was war weary and exhausted. Let them not forget that Chiang Kia-shek was the first to stand up to naked aggression in 1937. The world at large has cause for deep gratitude towards the man who guided the destinies of 450,000,000 people over twenty years, who was a gallant and loyal ally throughout the Second World War, and who has now fallen upon adversity. I feel that these things should be said. Chiang Kai-shek was an outstanding figure in the world, and I, for one, acclaim him as a great patriot.
For well over a year now the situation in China has been abundantly clear. On the strength of overwhelming evidence that Mao Tse-tung and the People's Government were in effective control of certainly 80 per cent., and perhaps more, 772 of the mainland of China, His Majesty's Government decided to recognise the Communist régime. Knowing something of the considerable financial and commercial interests that we have in China, and having a fairly shrewd suspicion of the pressure that was probably being exercised by those interests in favour of recognition, I was inclined to support His Majesty's Government in their action, in spite of the strong condemnation from the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and others, although I am bound to say that I felt that the Government were a little too precipitate in their action. Moreover, it did appear to me at the time that de facto recognition would have been sufficient. Much water has flowed under the bridges since that time. Recognition of Mao Tse-tung has brought little more than insult and humiliation to Britain and her interests. Whatever they have accomplished in their own country (and those noble Lords who were fortunate enough to have listened to the brilliant broadcast a few weeks ago by Mr. Leonard Constantine will know that they have accomplished a great deal) their attitude to this country has been no whit less intolerable than it has been to the United States, who have steadfastly refused recognition.
With the impact of the Korean War and of Chinese aggression there—and no amount of passionate pleading (my mind goes back to some very passionate pleading by the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, who I am sorry is not in his place) can avoid the fact of that aggression—is it possible that the time may have come for reconsideration of our attitude towards Communist China? I am not forgetting our interests out there, to which I have already referred; I am not forgetting Hong Kong and its isolated position; I am not ignoring the difficulties that are always inherent in retracing steps. But the world situation comes first, and the safety of the Western World and its Allies depends upon the closeness of our relations with America. We have fallen out of step with them in that direction and my fear is that the march may become still more ragged unless remedial measures are applied. We have retraced our steps before. At the insistence of the United Nations, and as a loyal member of that body, we withdrew our Ambassador from Madrid—an utterly 773 futile and fruitless gesture, as it turned out to be. Happily, that mess has been cleared up. However much some of us disliked that action, we at least had the satisfaction of knowing that we had acted multilaterally. But with regard to China that is not so: we acted unilaterally, and, I am inclined to think now, impulsively; and in so doing we diverged from the course we had set in company with the United States. If the Chinese persist in their aggression, and if they refuse to co-operate with the Good Offices Committee, I would ask His Majesty's Government whether the time has not come to consider seriously the withdrawal of that recognition. I naturally expect no answer from the Government to-day; I merely ask them to examine that situation in the light of present events.
I wish to say a few words about Formosa—and I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, is not here. Unfortunately and alas it has been the lot of island peoples in the past to have very little to say in their own disposal. Ceylon is one of the few bright exceptions of which I can think. The noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, in saying that the wishes of the inhabitants should first be ascertained before any disposal of Formosa is settled, seems to forget that no protest about their wishes was ever made until it was a question of that island being turned over to Mao Tse-tung's China. It was not made after the Cairo Declaration or after the Potsdam Declaration. Therefore I do not think it is a logical point to make.
There is only one thing more I wish to say, if your Lordships will bear with me, and it is a repetition of what I have already said to your Lordships on more than one occasion in the last year or two. More and more is it borne upon me that the impact of world events is too great for any Party Government to handle with any hope of success, let alone a Government with a Foreign Secretary who is a sick man—and the sympathy of the whole House is warmly extended to Mr. Bevin. America docs not understand (I am not making a Party point; I am not interested in Party) nor have they very much use for Britain under Socialism. I am bound to say that they have my sympathy. They did understand, and had great sympathy with, the atmosphere of "blood, sweat and tears" of some years 774 ago. Get that back in the form of a National Government, and any differences we have with the United States will vanish overnight. Here let me say how welcome was the voice from the Liberal Benches last week. I am only sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Layton, is not in his place, and that he was so demure at the time we debated National Government last year. I hope he was using the word "Coalition" in rather a loose way, because what we require is Government by the best men of all Parties, and of no Party—and perhaps I shall be forgiven for stressing the no Party element. I end where I began. To my mind, no issue counts beside that of Anglo-American co-operation. I beg His Majesty's Government to lose no opportunity of resolving any difficulties and differences in points of view which may arise, and to take every possible step to cement a friendship which threatens no one and can only be of lasting benefit to the peace-loving world.
§ 5.30 p.m.
My Lords, I had not intended to intervene in this debate, but, like all your Lordships. I was keenly interested in the speech of the First Lord this afternoon on the question of the Supreme Commander in the Atlantic. I am sure that we must all feel, whether we be American or English, that the only thing which matters is that the defence arrangements of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation should be successful. If they are to be successful, it seems to me that on both sides of the Atlantic we must have confidence in those arrangements. And I suggest that we must know what those arrangements are, and what is involved. For that reason, I am sure that the House is indebted to the First Lord for such light as he has thrown upon the situation this afternoon—and he has thrown some light.
There is still, however, a good deal which remains obscure, and, in particular, there is this question of the right of appeal by the British Naval Commander in the event of any disagreement between himself and the Supreme Commander. This question was raised by my noble-friend Lord Templewood and by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, to whom the noble Viscount did not give any adequate reply. His reasons for not giving a reply were that although the Commander had been appointed, nobody quite knew what 775 the job was going to be. I feel that if we on this side of the Atlantic are to have complete confidence in this organisation, this question of appeal is a matter of vital importance. I hope that when the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor replies he may be able to give us a little more information on these points. First, we should like to know whether there is definitely to be a right of appeal; secondly, to whom will that right of appeal lie—will it lie direct to the Standing Group—and, thirdly, does this new organisation mean that our Supreme Naval Commander will no longer have the traditional and historic right of appeal to the Board of Admiralty, a right which he has exercised for countless generations? I feel that those are important points, and are material to our confidence in this organisation. I therefore hope the noble and learned Viscount will be able to reassure us on them.
§ 5.34 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, if the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, found some difficulty in addressing your Lordships as the twenty-third speaker, my task is even more difficult as the twenty-fifth. I take some comfort in the fact—as I am sure will your Lordships—that this is the last speech from this side of the Chamber. As one who has listened to practically every speech in the last two days, I have been able to take stock of the general atmosphere of this debate. First, I should like to say that, although these debates are not largely attended by noble Lords, what is said here is read and listened to with the greatest interest throughout the country and throughout the world. I feel that we have conducted ourselves with a high sense of responsibility, having regard to the very wide repercussions of the fact that every word said in this Chamber will be examined in other countries.
Two things have impressed me. Leaving aside the subject matter of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, and others who have intervened intermittently throughout the debate, like a second running theme, the first point which impressed me was the extent of our agreement. I think that the noble Marquess who opened this debate said that he agreed with every word of the speech of the Prime Minister in another place. I know that he went on to criticise, as did the 776 noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, the way in which the policy enunciated by the Prime Minister had been implemented. But I believe he said—and at any rate, I think it is true—that by and large he accepted, as did others, the policy enunciated by the Prime Minister.
§ LORD SILKIN
Yes, the broad principles. What the noble Marquess started off by saying was true generally throughout the debate. The main theme throughout the debate during these two days has been the universal desire for peace. There has been little bitterness or feeling expressed in this Chamber. There has certainly been no evidence of anybody desiring to commit aggression, and there have been no warmongers—not even the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, or the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester, who made some rather "hot" remarks in the course of their speeches. Throughout the debate there has been a willingness to pay a very high price for peace. I wish that those in other countries who are closely concerned with what we are saying would not only read carefully the words which have been uttered here, but would try to understand the spirit in which those words have been uttered.
I feel that our foreign policy to-day can be expressed quite simply in the replies to one of two questions. I believe that the main question we have to solve to-day is whether it is possible to establish a modus vivendi with the Communist countries under Soviet leadership. We must recognise, whether we like it or not, that Communism has come to stay, at any rate for a considerable time. Is it possible for us to make the best of what we might regard as a bad job, and create some kind of method of living together at peace in this world? If so, what should be our policy in securing that objective? The answer to the first question, as to the possible modus vivendi, must depend upon what is our conception of the real motives of the Communist countries. If we sincerely believe that their real objective is world power, world domination, imperialism, and so on; if we really believe, as the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester said, that Russia has a policy of expansion by force and by threats of force and that certain proposals 777 which have been sponsored are tendentious, misleading, treacherous, and so on; and if, as the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, said, Communism is a cruel system— "the most cruel the world has ever seen"— if we really believe these things, is it of any use our carrying on negotiations with people whom we describe in those terms? Are we not deceiving ourselves by pretending that negotiations are possible at all? Are we not deceiving our people and holding out false hopes to them?
On the other hand, even the right reverend Prelate and the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, felt that discussions would be worth while. And I could not help feeling that, despite these hard words —hard words which, equally, are being uttered on the other side of the Iron Curtain about ourselves and the United States—they both believe, as practically every noble Lord who has spoken during these two days has believed, that negotiations are possible, and stand some chance of being successful. That must mean that they do not necessarily assume that the motives of the Communist countries are evil, or even incompatible with our own motives. I believe—and I hope that events will not prove me wrong —that the whole of our difficulties arise from mutual fear and suspicion. I believe that many of the actions of the Communist countries—which can, of course, be interpreted in sinister terms if we wish—can also be explained by their feeling suspicion and fear. We ourselves, and even the United States, have what I may call more violently-minded persons—especially those in the United States who are out for a preventive war —who are entirely actuated by these two feelings of fear and suspicion.
It should, therefore, be our purpose, when we enter into the discussions, not to take it for granted that all of the justice is on one side and that none is on the other. If we are embarking on a vast rearmament programme because we fear the Soviet Union, it is important to believe that they also fear us. After all, we must remember that the first Soviet Note sent to the Three Powers last October was sent immediately after the announcement that it was proposed to re-arm Western Germany—an indication that Russia was really actuated by fear and desired, if possible, to come to terms. 778 In my view, in approaching these Conferences we are asking for failure if we start off on the assumption that we are right in every respect and that the Communist countries are wrong in every respect. I am fortified, curiously enough, by a leading article in a periodical to which I do not normally look for support of my views—namely, the Sunday Express. In the issue of February 18, 1951, I found a passage which I should like to read. I wish that His Majesty's Government could see a copy of that leading article before the Four Power talks. It might serve as their text. I do not propose to read the whole passage to your Lordships, but I should like to read two or three sentences. They run:Russia fears the West. The West in turn distrusts Russia. We hold Stalin responsible, and rightly, for the cold war that has led us close to the hot one. But all right does not lie on one side or all wrong on the other.I believe that if we approach these talks in that spirit, and in the accommodating frame of mind that is implied in that spirit, then these talks will be successful. I should like to suggest one condition about these talks, and that is that the Press might be kept away while the talks are going on. If only the gentlemen conducting the talks could be left alone. without any publicity or any leakage, until the talks are over, then possibly, with a sufficient supply of vodka and caviare, there would be a chance of a brilliant success.
In the meantime, on our assumption that these talks may fail—and the whole of our foreign policy has, unfortunately, to be carried out on that assumption— what should we be doing? No one, of course, would dispute that we must proceed with rearmament on at least the basis laid down in the Statements made by His Majesty's Government in the last few weeks. We must also, of course, remain effective and loyal members of the United Nations Organisation, and we must do our best to maintain friendly relationships with the United States of America. I think these are cardinal points in our foreign policy, though there has been a good deal of talk as to what exactly should be our relationship with the United States. Friendliness does not mean universal agreement; nevertheless, whenever this country does presume to disagree with the United States, the Government 779 are attacked on the grounds of "breaking up Anglo-American friendship."
The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, made a statement which I feel that I should like to have clarified, certainly for my own sake and possibly also for his. He wants this country to take a strong lead—and I agree that our traditions, ideals, wisdom and resources ought to enable us to take a lead—in the councils of the United Nations Organisation. But does not the noble Marquess agree that the taking of this strong lead, and a firm and resolute line, may of necessity involve differences with the United States? What happens when we take a lead in a sense which is contrary to the views of the United States?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Perhaps I may be allowed to reply to the noble Lord now. Obviously, we cannot expect the United States and our-selves to agree about everything. That would not be a true cooperation at all. It is purely a matter of opinion, and noble Lords opposite may not agree, but what I feel that His Majesty's Government have too often done is to show themselves reluctant to agree with the United States on matters upon which they finally do agree. That is what I call "tagging along at the end." The noble Lord may not share that view but I think it is what has happened. It does not apply only in the case of the United States. Take, for example, the question whether we should recognise Spain—there is a good case in point. That matter came up before the United Nations, and although, I suppose, we are one of the greatest nations in the world, we did not vote one way or the other; we waited for the other nations to decide the question. Now there is to be an Ambassador there. That is what I mean by lack of leadership.
§ LORD SILKIN
One of the difficulties is that, whenever they do presume to exercise leadership in a sense which is not in accordance with the views of the United States, this Government are attacked, and attacked bitterly, for disrupting and breaking up Anglo-American relationships. We are bound to disagree with America from time to time, and there may even be times when we have not made up our minds. There may even he times—I do not wish to apologise 780 for His Majesty's Government—when they may want to hear all the evidence before deciding. There may be times when they hold one view, the pressing of which, they realise, would mean merely their being outvoted. So they do the next best thing, and negotiate with a view to compromising. The noble Marquess calls that "tagging behind" every time these leadership difficulties arise, but quite often there must be a compromise. And quite often each country will modify the view that it originally took. Then we are chastised for having modified our views. That is inevitable. I believe that this country has taken a lead in a great many respects with considerable success, and has modified and influenced deeply the views, not only of the United States of America but also of the United Nations Organisation as a whole. I think it is grossly unfair to criticise the Government because they have been resilient in their views, because they have not gone to a Conference with firm, decided, final views, and been unwilling to listen, unwilling to modify their views in the light of the discussion that has taken place.
I do not believe that this country has been subservient to America. There have been occasions when they have taken a line with which, perhaps, I myself have not been wholly in agreement. On balance, I think that it would have been better not to have called China—the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, did not like the term "branded"—an aggressor. I do not think it has served any useful purpose. Whether or not China is an aggressor is beside the point. What we want is peace with China, and I am doubtful of the value of calling China an aggressor and thereby calling off negotiations. But I fully appreciate His Majesty's Government's point of view. Their representatives were on the spot, and had to make a decision. They did in fact modify in a very important respect the Resolution which came before the United Nations Assembly and they did put off, I hope until the Greek Kalends, the question of imposing sanctions on the Chinese. That was a valuable concession.
There is one question on which I should like to touch which I think has aroused general anxiety. I believe that every speaker who has taken part in this debate, and touched on the question of German rearmament, expressed grave 781 anxiety about the position. Likewise, I think that every speaker eventually came down on the side of German rearmament. I hope this House will forgive me, but I feel it my duty to put the other side of the case. I realise that there is a strong case for German rearmament—indeed, I have put before the House one significant point: that is, that I presume it was only the threat of German rearmament which brought forward the Soviet Note in October asking for Four Power talks. I recognise the difficulty, as I think the noble Viscount. Lord Templewood, put it, of creating a vacuum in Germany, and of the importance of allowing the Germans to defend their own country and not for any of them to rely upon other members of the United Nations. Nevertheless, the anxiety which most noble Lords feel about this matter is a very real one. There are a number of serious points which I should like to put to the House.
First of all, there is the fact that at present, at any rate, most of the population of Western Germany are unwilling to take part in an army at all. As General Eisenhower said, he does not want an unwilling force. We have the difficult task of converting this unwilling nation into a willing band of fighters— a rather startling reversal of German history, for Germany has always been a remarkably militaristic nation. Then, so far as the Bonn Government are concerned, they are willing to discuss this question only provided that they can have their people rearmed on certain terms—their own terms. One of them is equality. We do not know yet what the other terms are; so far as I know, they have not been put forward. I should like to put to the House, also, the question whether, even if we have such an army, and even if it is part of a European Army, it will be reliable. After all, we have to ensure that those who fight on the side of the United Nations, if aggression should come, have the same aims as ourselves. We know what we are fighting for: we shall be fighting against aggression and for the democratic way of life. But can we be fully satisfied that, if eventually we persuade the Western Germans to come into such a force, they will be fighting with the same aims?
Personally, I have grave doubts. I have read some of the speeches of their military people, of some of their generals. 782 I have read particularly speeches which have been made by Von Schwerin, by Guderian and by Manteuffel, and each of them has taken the view that if there is to be a German army it should be used not for the purpose of resisting aggression but for the purpose of getting back for Germany their lost territories. I venture to submit to your Lordships that that is not the purpose of creating a European force. And if we are to have the German portion of that European army fighting for one purpose, while we are fighting for another, we shall get into grave difficulties. I fear even that we may be led into an aggressive war.
Then again, we have at the moment committed ourselves to the view that there should be no large-scale German war production. But shall we really be able to maintain that view? We start off with a German force integrated into a European army at brigade strength. It is natural that the German force should wish to be commanded by its own generals or brigadiers—just as this debate to-day has shown the natural feeling that we wish to be under the command of our own admirals. It is a logical step to agree to this; and once that has been done, it seems to me quite logical not to stop at brigade strength but to go on to divisional and army strength. After all, we have to consider what is the most efficient way of organising our forces, and if it should turn out that it is more efficient to organise the German force in corps strength, then we shall be driven to agree to it, whatever we may say at the present time.
The next question will be: Are we to waste all the resources that exist in Germany, that vast potential for the manufacture of war materials? We shall be desperately short of them for a long time to come. Indeed, we are told that it may not be possible to arm Germany at all for some time, because we want to use for our own forces first the war material that we have. Once we have accepted the principle of German rearmament, is it not reasonable to say: "Very well, there they have the potential. Let them get on with it, and produce arms only for their own forces"? So, step by step, I fear that we shall be driven gradually, irrevocably and quite logically, into accepting German rearmament. Then I fear that in a very few years we shall 783 be rearming, not against the Soviet Union but against a revived, strengthened Germany. These are my apprehensions. I feel that they are real apprehensions, and I believe that they are at the back of the minds of a number of noble Lords who have spoken in this debate and who have expressed their anxiety—and this anxiety does not come from one side of the House alone. There is also the moral question. After all, we know that on two occasions Germany has been guilty of aggressive war. We remember the brutalities, the horrors, the great massacres of millions of people that were established at the Nuremberg trials only a relatively short time ago. Are these people with whom we want to conduct even a defensive war as Allies? Does not the whole of the moral sense of the world revolt against our taking them into our hearts once more at the present time?
Now I should like to say a few words about the criticisms of His Majesty's Government. The noble Marquess, for instance, referred to our weakness in the statements that we have made about the 38th Parallel, and our attitude on the China Resolution. Those criticisms have been effectively dealt with by the noble Lords, Lord Henderson and Lord Wilmot. The noble Marquess made an interesting statement about sanctions. I cannot help feeling that he is right: that it would be most difficult, and I think wholly undesirable, to endeavour to impose sanctions upon China. I hope that His Majesty's Government will take note that there is a very strong feeling throughout the country which is sympathetic to China. The noble Lord, Lord Ammon, expressed that view.
I think many of us feel deep regret that circumstances have put us in the position of being antagonistic towards China. I certainly feel that, with our experience of sanctions against Italy, we should hesitate long before endeavouring to repeat the experiment against China. The noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, intervened yesterday to say that in the case of Italy it was not possible to make sanctions fully effective because the United States of America remained outside. But there would be a similar state of affairs this time. The Soviet Union and all its friendly countries, and all the countries associated with them, would come to the assistance of China, thereby to a large 784 extent defeating the purpose of sanctions. I was most interested in the suggestion that we ought to establish contacts at the highest level. I believe that is all to the good, but the timing must be carefully thought out and, of course, such a meeting must be carefully planned. I do not believe, for example, that one could suggest going to the Kremlin next week and meeting Stalin without the most careful preparation and discussion with those who are associated with us. But, in principle, I agree that it would be a good thing to have these discussions at the highest level, and I believe that they may even have dramatic results.
A number of noble Lords have made statements about the Foreign Secretary and his illness. I regret that it should be felt desirable to call for the resignation of the Foreign Secretary on account of his illness, especially at a moment when he appears to be fully recovered.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am sure the noble Lord does not wish to misrepresent what I said. I never called for the resignation of the Foreign Secretary. I drew attention to a practice which had been universal in times past, and about which there is nothing new, that when a Minister, and especially the Foreign Secretary, was a sick man for any long period, another Minister was temporarily drafted in to occupy his chair, to act as Foreign Secretary until he came back. I should not like the noble Lord to give the impression that I have called for the resignation of the Foreign Secretary.
§ LORD SILKIN
I agree that the noble Marquess did not call for his resignation. I was not at this moment referring to his statement. But there were quite a number of other noble Lords who did, and I feel that that is rather unfortunate. One may agree, or disagree, with Mr. Ernest Bevin's conduct of affairs as Foreign Secretary. If his conduct or his policy does not meet with the approval of the nation, then of course he ought to go. But I think it would be unfortunate that his illness should be regarded as a reason for his resignation. I would ask the noble Marquess whether he did not rather overstate the case when he used these words of the Foreign Secretary:It is since the Foreign Secretary fell ill that this deplorable change has become so evident.785 Of course, it may be only a remarkable coincidence, or it may not even be a fact, but if the noble Marquess will search his mind and search dates, I do not believe he will find it is true that the position has deteriorated—that this deplorable change has taken place—since the Foreign Secretary fell ill. I assume that, by implication, the noble Marquess would say that it is because the Foreign Secretary fell ill. In my view that is not true. Even if it were true chronologically, however, I do not believe that it is because of his illness that this deterioration has come about. Indeed, the noble Marquess has himself given other explanations for this deplorable change in the international situation, so I hope that he will look at the Foreign Secretary's position broadly now that he has—as we ill hope—recovered. At any rate, Mr. Bevin is back to-day, and I understand that he will be in his own constituency this evening. We all hope that he will be able to carry out the work which he has been doing so remarkably for the last live or six years.
I should like to conclude by expressing my hope and belief that the situation, black as it looks, is by no means irretrievable. We have all approached the situation in the last few days with feelings of gloom, doubt, hesitation and, perhaps, fear. I believe, however, that there are rays of hope. Some emanate from the fact that the Four Powers are about to meet, and I believe that the very fact of British, American and Continental rearmament has introduced a dramatic change into the atmosphere. I think the Communist countries will be much more ready to talk realistically, and to make concessions, than they have hitherto been prepared to do. I hope that we, equally, shall be prepared to make concessions. It may well be that the next few months will see a perceptible lifting of the clouds, and disclose a brighter future for this country than has appeared likely during the past few weeks.
§ 6.10 p.m.
My Lords, no one reads the Daily Herald with more interest than I do, and I was therefore surprised, on turning over its pages this morning, to find that, in dealing with the debate in your Lordships House yesterday, it referred with some disapproval to my noble leader, Lord Salisbury. It said that: "All pretence of unity was 786 dropped." In view of that statement, I was all the more pleased to hear the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, comment on the extent of our agreement on things that matter during the two days that this debate has occupied. None has denied the gravity of the position; none has seriously disagreed with the view that we can build up our strength and further our cause with all our Allies at one and the same time, while not closing the door to discussion with Russia, however hopeless it may seem at the moment.
We on this side of the House are in broad agreement with the principles that the Prime Minister laid down in the interesting speech that he made in another place last week. We do not quarrel with the aims which he set out, but we are driven to criticise the apparent reluctance, and the apparent indecision, with which steps are taken to give those aims force. Our reading of the situation leads us to believe that the trend towards the half-world of the haphazard, and what we regard as indecision on important matters, have coincided too closely with the illness of the Foreign Secretary for it to be a mere coincidence. If anyone will read the Report of this debate carefully I think he will agree that it would hardly be possible to devise a greater tribute to Mr. Ernest Bevin than that contained in what has been said, and in the fact that we see coincidence in his departure from the active sphere with the reluctance and hesitation which we deplore.
I am not going to take up your Lordships' time for long this evening. What are we up against at the moment? I think we are all agreed that in 1945 we had the warmest relationship with Soviet Russia. It is tragic how that relationship has declined. I will never be convinced that that decline is the fault of this country. I believe that it is highly arguable whether our warm sentiments were ever really reciprocated. Those who spread Communist propaganda in this country generally use, as a principal plank, the phrase: "Russia does not want war." That is true to a point. Russia wants the world, and she will not go to war if she can get it in any other way. There was a time, before the last war broke out, when Marshal Stalin committed himself to one or two sentiments on the peaceful co-existence of the Communist and non-Communist worlds. 787 But that tolerance, I think, was rightly appraised by Miss Barbara Ward, in her admirable book Policy for the West, as the tolerance which the cat extends to the mouse, at the time when the mouse is down its hole.
This is not the first time that we and other free nations have been threatened by an aggressor who would make himself master of the world. But the threat now comes at a time—and the first time in 5,000 years of history—when it is technically possible for one nation to make itself master of the world. We may talk about potentially cordial relationships between ourselves and the Russian people, or between ourselves and the Chinese people. But we are not dealing with peoples; we are dealing with regimes. They may go to war by mistake; they may go to war as the result of a mistaken appreciation of our strength or our resolution. But I am convinced that they will not go to war by accident. The whole trend of our foreign policy surely must be to avoid what might be called the psychological defensive. What we must do is to show Russian Communist imperialism that aggression does not pay, that if we are attacked we shall fight, and that if we fight we shall win. That alone, I believe, can prevent war. In the last conflict, we were faced, for the first time in our history, with the fact that if we were overcome it was not merely defeat that would be our fate but racial extinction. We should face no less this time.
I think that one word is very seriously misused in talking over our preparations for defence. That word is" vital."" Vital," your Lordships will recollect, means essential to life; if you are deprived of something vital you will die instantly. Many things are important but only three things are vital. The first is the will to fight; the second is something to fight with; and the third is the will to combine for the fight. Taking the first one—the will to fight—it is no accident, to my mind, that there is in the democratic countries a tremendous confusion of thought over world affairs. This has been brought about as part of a deliberate policy by Russia in much of her propaganda. It exists not least of all in Britain. Therefore, I agree entirely with the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of York, that we must bring home to the 788 people of Britain the gravity of our position, and to a much greater extent than we have so far done.
There was a time—even during my lifetime—when the study of foreign affairs was left to serious, scholarly men outside the Houses of Parliament. It is now the uneasy preoccupation of everyone in these Houses, in this city, and in this country. We must make it easier for them. If I may be permitted to do so I should like to quote from a work of my own father.The task of government is not to instil greatness into the people; it is to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.When we have a foreign affairs debate, and our eyes rove to distant shores and the confines of far Continents, we are sometimes apt to overlook what treasure we have at home. In the last war, as in every one that preceded it, the people of Britain rose to heights of sacrifice that were almost sublime. Since the last war ended, they have had some justification for expecting peace and plenty, but they are now facing a situation when peace must be secured by costly and vigorous preparations, and the vision of plenty must recede. There is no kind of sacrifice of which the British people are not capable, once they know the need for it really exists.
Of course, in this country, as in all free countries, our people suffer from the great difficulty of really convincing themselves that any one country would want to involve the world in war. I think, too, they are apt to rely on one or two illusions. We often find ourselves thinking that democracy is catching—there is little sign of it—and that a nice policy in the middle of the road may perhaps make things easier. This is much too dangerous a road, with too much heavy traffic coming both ways. I do not agree with what I understood the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, to say a little earlier, expressing a view which is widely held in certain sections, that Russia might take some drastic step through suspicion or fear. I do not see how you can make a nation apprehensive that possesses more than 175 divisions.
My second point was: something to fight with. I will not go into that, because we have had Defence debates in both Houses, but I should like to say something about the will to combine for the fight. Let us remember that we have 789 never been a great land Power. We have always been the leader, or the moving spirit, in some great alliance. In the last few weeks events have raised a slight doubt as to whether we are the moving spirit on this occasion. We are in a difficult position. We have three spheres of unity—the one with which we have grown up, he British Empire; the one which is next door to us, Europe; and our friends, the United States of America. More than once the Communists have tried to drive us into the position of appearing to have to sacrifice one of these unities to maintain the others. To my mind that is the most dangerous diplomatic attack we have to contend with, and we must ever be vigilant to watch for it. I was in the U.S.A. about two months ago as were other noble Lords who have spoken. I agree with nearly all they had to say. Their reading of the situation was very much mine. But it was a time when understanding with Britain was strained to a dangerous extent. The papers that I read contained long casualty lists from Korea, and instructions on civil defence, and were wondering, not with any rancour but with some perplexity, whether in Britain we meant business. I submit that in the foreign sphere it is not merely enough to mean business; one must clearly be seen to mean it. In his interesting speech yesterday, the noble Lord, Lord Wilmot of Selmeston, pointed out that thirty years ago the United States were blamed for pulling out of Europe, and what a long way they have come since. They have realised now that the free nations of the world are playing a game which cannot be drawn. You can only win or lose; and you cannot win by defending your own goal. Marshall Aid was a wonderful manifest of the responsibility they are prepared to take in the rest of the world, and the only well-known champion of American isolationism to-day is Marshal Stalin.
I much regret the circumstances of the appointment of an American admiral. I am not going into it at great length, for many keen Royal Navy broadsides have been fired already. I do not think that anything that has appeared, in the way of comment and controversy, can have done any damage whatever with our friends in the United States. They appreciate plain speaking and they see we have cast no aspersions on the distinguished admiral 790 appointed, or on the United States Navy. I am much obliged to the noble Viscount, Lord Hall, for his explanation this afternoon, but it is still not very clear to me, and perhaps other noble Lords may be in the same position. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Layton, that Parliament must be informed in advance of every step which involves the pooling of our sovereignty. And I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, that if we are to have confidence in these arrangements, we must know just what these arrangements are. I regret all this has happened, because the appointment of this admiral, and all that has gone with it, is an example of how we have not yet reached a true balance of alliance with the United States: and it is mighty important that we should have an equitable division of leadership if that alliance is to be firm and lasting.
I shall turn briefly to the East. I regard with a certain amount of dismay the announcement that discussions still go on about the 38th Parallel and no conclusion has been reached. If the tide of war flowed strongly our way, as it might easily, we should find ourselves faced with the necessity to make that decision, not in our own time, but in a short time and probably with shortening tempers. I regard the Japanese Treaty and rearmament (and the German one similarly) as a balance between restoring security to Japan and security to her neighbour countries against a recrudescence of Japan. I received a good deal of comfort from the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, when he told us that not only Australia, New Zealand and Canada would be partners to discussing any treaty, but that we ourselves, who are heavily concerned, would be there as well. I am not going to labour the point about China and the Security Council. To my mind a purely legalistic case can be made out for the inclusion of China. I do not think I misrepresent the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, when I say that he suggested that if China were included in the United Nations, she might be tempted to follow the path that Tito trod. That, surely, is the wrong way round. To our way of thinking, the greatest possible wrong a nation can commit is to start an aggressive war. Only when they withdraw, bag and baggage, and are prepared to make amends for what they have done, can we award them a seat. This is much too 791 much like paying Danegeld. As Kipling says:And if you pay them the Danegeld, you will never get rid of the Dane.They have to show some manifest of good faith. I would say that withdrawal from Korea is the very least—and some would say," Withdraw from Malaya, too." The noble Lord, Lord Ammon, made an interesting short speech, but I could not agree with him that we could make any treaty or alliance out of the good will between the peoples of China and our own people. China has made a vast contribution to civilisation, but we arc dealing not with the people of China; we are dealing with the present régime.
I would go a little farther south in Asia. I think the Colombo Plan and President Truman's Point Four Plan were great and inspiring measures. I have heard it said that the way to defeat Communism—and this applies to the convinced Communist—is to oppose to it a higher standard of living. That cannot be. With a purely material appeal you cannot overthrow a material creed with a strong missionary appeal. We should have to oppose performance to promise. If we provide three acres and a cow, the Communists will promise six acres and two cows. But one thing I will agree; where Communism has not yet reached, a great deal can be done, and that is the weapon by which to do it. Hunger, poverty and disease are good growing weather for Communism. Communism is an army which marches on other people's stomachs. I should greatly appreciate it if the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor could give us some information on how the Colombo Plan and the Point Four Plan are proceeding: whether they found a modus vivendi, and whether they have some kind of parallel priority with defence—which, indeed, they are.
Now I just want to slip to the necklace of countries of great importance, which have been only cursorily mentioned in this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, spoke in moving terms about Turkey. The Turks have a splendid army; they have greatly prejudiced their prosperity by spending one-third of their national budget on maintaining that army—and I think the noble Lord hit the nail on the head when 792 he said it was because" they understand the Russians." The Turks have the third largest force in Korea; they are strong supporters of the United Nations; we know them for a warlike and resolute people; and in a world where we have all lived to see so many nations turn from democracy, they are a nation which has turned back, and which has gone from one-Party Government to encouraging an Opposition, a Government which eventually accepted, with dignity, defeat at the hands of that Opposition.
Then there is Greece, which nation is also fighting resolutely in Korea. It is always a matter of great pride to me, when I think it over, that in the worst of our extremity in the Western desert, short of men and materials, we sent troops to help the Greeks, who were out-armed, outmanned and outgunned, but were making Hitler pay for every yard of Greek soil. One first-class British brigade prevented Greece from going behind the Iron Curtain. The Greeks have had substantial help from us and from the United States. Greece is a country which deserves well. Yugoslavia needs no introduction. The noble Earl, Lord Birkenhead, spoke of it yesterday, as one who fought there in the war and knew the country from the inside. I feel that we all object to Yugoslavia's form of Government—I certainly do—but anyone who is prepared to resist being swallowed up by the Russian colossus must inevitably be ranged on our side. Add to those Persia—a glittering prize for the Russians —who declares herself ready to fight if she is invaded. Calling those countries, in a newly coined phrase," the Eastern approaches," they are countries to which I am convinced we must pay considerable attention. Mr. Bevan said the other day in another place that an attack on Yugoslavia would be a matter of" concern" (that is his word) to His Majesty's Government and our Allies. I would suggest that an attack on those other countries, whose fortunes stand or fall by the fortunes of the West, would also be a matter of" concern."
Coming now to the West, I will not go over and thresh and re-thresh all the arguments for and against a European Army and German rearmament generally. But it is a question of finding a modus operandi; of asking the Germans whether they wish to be armed, and whether they 793 are prepared to take their place in the defence of Western Europe. It is a question of the pattern. The question is asked: Can we risk another German army? On the other hand, can we possibly leave them out? Our view on this side of the House—and I think it is one gaining general currency—is that Germany must be represented in a European army because this would allow her to come in on a basis of equality, and would also prevent the danger of an independent Gorman army of the type from which we have suffered. In these discussions I am convinced, as indeed the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said, that we should be represented by a delegate. I thought the noble Marquess made out a very strong case, and that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, when he came to reply, made that case even stronger. On the matter of the Four Power talks, I was greatly dismayed, as was the noble Marquess, by the way the Prime Minister talked in another place as if he would rearm Germany only if the talks failed. We are all agreed that we must not expect too much from this discussion. But if we do start and get ahead with this business of rearming Germany, in what a different atmosphere will those discussions take place! I feel that we should do that, and that the agenda should be of the widest. I believe that this is a chance for getting back some of the initiative that we seem temporarily to have lost.
In bringing my remarks to a close, I would say this. No one can pretend that His Majesty's Government have anything but the most difficult task, and have had for the last few years, in the darkening scene of world affairs. But I do say to them that, to my mind, there is nothing more important than that we should keep off what I might call the psychological defensive. I think the greatest military principle ever enunciated by the noble and gallant Viscount, Field-Marshal Montgomery, was:" Never react to your enemy." Only too often we give the appearance of doing just that. We must retain the initiative; and we must never allow the impression to get abroad that we have lost the power of decision or the leadership of ideas. It is true that the burglar always possesses a strong initiative over the householder; he comes on a night that he thinks fit, and one most suitable for his deed. But you can often 794 make the burglar think twice if you make quite clear just what constitutes burglary and what the penalties are.
I suggest, too, in summing up, that we should extend our area of" concern"— or, at any rate, give consideration to it— to those other nations of the Eastern approaches; and that every one of us must always be on our guard to scotch any attempt to divide us; from our Allies. Attempts have been made, and they will continue to be made. Month after month the free nations make progress; in adding to their strength. We run a race with time, and we still have a good long way to go. I should like to conclude by using the same words that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, used at the end of his speech last night. Speaking of the Government, he said:If they will only take the lead, as this country has done in the past, they need not fear that they will not be supported.
§ 6.38 p.m.
§ TEH LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT JOWITT)
My Lords, we are all indebted to the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, for raising this debate. In my view, it has been well up to the very high standard that we have come to expect from your Lordships' House when we discuss Foreign Affairs. It is not only that we have received (as we have grown to expect) brilliant speeches from the noble Marquess who leads the Opposition, and from the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, but that throughout the speeches notable contributions have been made. Sitting here over the last few weeks I can recall two speeches in particular—if it is not invidious to single out speeches— which have deeply impressed me. One was the speech which the noble Lord. Lord Ismay, made in our Defence debate last week; and the other was the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Wilmot, in winding up our discussion last night. Unfortunately, there was a very thin House, it being the last speech, and it has not been adequately reported in the Press.
The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, was here and heard the speech. I have seldom heard expressed better and more simply the immense debt which we owe to America; the generous-hearted contribution which she has made to us (in spite of all the difficulties, and the natural predilections which might have prevented her); and how fundamental it is for the 795 future of our civilisation that we and that great country should be able to go on hand in hand together. That does not mean that everybody, on either side of this House, agrees that we are in any sense satellites, as the satellite States of the Soviet are unable to express their own opinions and unable to air their differences. That is quite inconceivable. Of course we must have our differences, and of course we must thresh out our difficulties. But of course, too, there must be good will, give-and-take, tolerance and an underlying knowledge of the fact that the happy solution of those difficulties is fundamental to the peace of the world and the well-being of Europe.
A certain amount of anxiety has been expressed in the debate. It is inevitable that, with conditions as they are to-day, there should be anxiety. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, always uses considerable discretion in his speeches. He, too, walks, if I may say so, a little delicately. Perhaps he remembers, since the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, generally speaks after him, that Agag was himself hewed in pieces by Samuel. He was dealt with there on the highest level. The burden of Lord Salisbury's complaint against us was, I think, this, if I may adapt and mis-translate the old Latin proverb. It was that, whereas we were fortiter in verbo we were cunctanter in re —hesitant in what we did—and he gave three instances. The noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, did not condescend to particulars. He assumed them, and sought to find out the reason for them. I will deal with the three instances—and I think I may say, the only three instances which have been given, except the little incident of Spain, which was thrown in at the last moment as a red herring. If I remember it, I will deal with that, too.
The first one, as the noble Marquess said, was: Why did we hesitate to declare China an aggressor? I am going to deal with this matter, and I hope to deal with it thoroughly. The first answer is that we never hesitated to declare China an aggressor. It is perfectly obvious to anybody that, when China started helping the North Koreans in resisting the United Nations, China herself became guilty of aggression. On what then, is the complaint of hesitancy based? It is based on the fact that there was a Resolution 796 tabled on January 20, 1951, at U.N.O. and the fact that the Resolution was not accepted until February 1, 1951, when it was accepted in a modified form. Now the Resolution of January 26, 1951, contained these points. It first of all contained this statement:Noting that the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China has rejected all United Nations proposals. …We did not believe that that was an accurate statement of the facts. Certain explanatory statements were made by Sir Benegal Rau, as a result of which it seemed to us clear that it was not accurate to say that the Chinese had" rejected all United Nations proposals." Accordingly, we put that to our colleagues and friends, and everybody agreed that we were right. The phrase was altered to read:China has not accepted United Nations proposals.The second point is, I think, more important. The Resolution, as originally tabled, contained this phrase in paragraph 8:… requests a Committee composed of the Members of the Collective Measures Committee as a matter of urgency to consider additional measures to be employed to meet this aggression.After that, in paragraph 9, the Resolution went on to state that the United Nations desired to finish this matter by peaceful means.
That seemed to us putting the matter the wrong way round. If seemed to us that before you consider further sanctions you ought to exhaust the possibilities of friendly negotiations. We had that Resolution remodelled. The end of paragraph 8 now reads:It being understood that the Committee is authorised to defer its report if the Good Offices Committee referred to in the following paragraph reports satisfactory progress in its efforts.This, then, is the position—I am bound to put this to the noble Marquess, because I do not think he was quite fair on this point. He asserted that we had hesitated to declare China an aggressor. That is not true. We had hesitated to accept a Resolution which, in addition to declaring China an aggressor, contained two other statements, one of which was inaccurate and the other of which was unwise. When we came to put this matter before the United Nations. 797 everybody agreed with us, and the Resolution as passed on February I—that is, ten days after it was first introduced— contained these two amendments, and was accepted by everybody there, apart from the Soviet bloc. I assert to the noble Marquess—and he will forgive me for asserting quite positively—that he had no foundation whatever for saying that we had ever hesitated in declaring China an aggressor.
Incidentally, since I am dealing with this matter, may I go back to the question of the original recognition of China? I do not want at this time of night to go into the old controversy again, but it is rather interesting to see that sometimes the accusation is that we drag our feet. and sometimes that we act too precipitately. I must point out to the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, who was the last speaker and who used the phrase" whether China should be included in the United Nations," that that method of dealing with it begs the whole question. Do let the noble Lord, and the House, remember that China is a member of the United Nations. China is a member of the Security Council. There is no argument about that at all. The only question is: that being so, whom do you recognise as China? Do you recognise as China the People's Government of China who, whether we like it or not— and I frankly say that I do not—arc in de facto control of China; or do you recognise Chiang Kai-shek who, for all I know, may be a very estimable gentleman, but who lives at Formosa? That is a pure question of fact: who is in fact in control in China, China being a member of the United Nations and entitled to a seat on the Security Council? To state that the question is whether China should be included seems to me to miss the whole point of the controversy. Incidentally, I thought that the noble Earl, Lord Perth, made a very powerful point yesterday, through Lord Samuel, when he said that when we condemned the People's Government of China for acting as aggressors, that involved the proposition that the People's Government of China was in control of China, and it really seems to me that that is the fact. So much for that. That is the first point upon which we are supposed to have been dragging our feet, and I humbly say that there is nothing in that.
798 Now I come to the second point. If is said: Why boggle about crossing the 38th Parallel? We have not boggled at all. Where are you going to advance to? There are both military and political questions. You can go to the 38th Parallel; you can go to the neck at Pyongyang or, of course, you can go right up to the frontier. I can hardly think that anybody in his senses would want to go up to the frontier, unless he proposes to use his air force in advance of the frontier. Anybody who tried that without using his air forces in advance of the frontier would sterilise his air forces. He has gone as far as he could, and he would not be allowed to go any further. We do not want to have a large-scale war in China—larger than it need be. There is only one set of people, so far as I know, who want that: I strongly suspect that it is the Russians. The less we get bogged down the better, because that may prejudice us if we have to face a war in Europe. Therefore what can we say about the 38th Parallel? We asked that before it was decided to cross the 38th Parallel we might be consulted—we and the other nations who are contributing forces—and the Americans have conceded the point. They say it is right that we should be consulted and that they will consult us. Was it not right that we should be consulted? Had we not a right to be consulted? Does anybody object to our asking to be consulted? Certainly the United States do not object, for they have conceded the point.
The third point put forward as illustrating this alleged hesitating and dragging of our feet deals with the German Army. The Prime Minister in his statement in another place said this:It is in this context(that is the context of the Four Power Pact)that the question of the rearmament of Western Germany has to be considered. If we can get real and genuine settlement with Soviet Russia the matter of German rearmament would become less important and would fall into its natural place.So will all our rearmament, if by any chance we can get a real settlement with Russia. In that event we should be able to reconsider the whole of our armament programme, German rearmament and every other form of rearmament. If we cannot get a real settlement with Russia, then, of course, that and every other form of our rearmament must go on. So far 799 as time is concerned I would commend, particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, the wise words of General Eisenhower with regard to this matter. They were quoted in yesterday's debate by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and they will show the noble Lord exactly what General Eisenhower thinks. And it is of course the fact that, whether we like it or not, we shall want all the arms we can get for our own troops—Dutch, Belgian, French, Luxenbourg, Danish and the rest—for a pretty long time ahead. I have never heard anybody doubt that whilst there is a shortage of arms we ought to come first.
It is quite untrue to say that we are putting anything off. I think it is true to say that it is impossible for a German contribution to Western defence to materialise in a matter of weeks or months. But we are continuing technical discussions with the Federal Government on the matter of the form of the German contribution and on the other problems involved in Germany's new relationship with the West. If anything were liable to delay the achievement of a German contribution it would be theoretical discussions about integrating them into exclusively European units under a federalistic political structure with the complicated problems which that involves.
On this question of the European army the noble Marquess complained about a lack of positive resolute action, but I think he overlooked the positive aspects of our policy in Europe and of our defence policy. Our policy is firmly based on the North Atlantic Treaty and on the combination of the European and North American Powers which makes this grouping, in our view, the only effective association for the present and the future. We have taken a foremost place in the matter of common defence under that treaty. We have welcomed and assisted the establishment of an integrated Allied defence system under the supreme command of General Eisenhower. We have greatly increased our defence production and our overall defence expenditure; and we are increasing the forces we maintain on the Continent. We are in it up to the hilt. There is nothing negative about that.
The noble Marquess spoke as if the only two alternatives were, on the one hand, that Germany should have an absolutely independent army and, on the 800 other hand, that they should be members of a European army—by which I gather he means members of a European international force on the lines put forward at the Conference in Paris. I think it is time that your Lordships' House understood quite clearly that these are not the two alternatives. The decision of the North Atlantic Council, with which we are in full accord, was that Germany should be invited to make a contribution to the integrated Atlantic Force under General Eisenhower. The noble Marquess is putting a gloss on that decision when he says —I quote his words:I should have thought that that could mean only that His Majesty's Government were party to a decision to create an international force, mainly composed of European nations, including Germany, in a unified command.I suppose that the words" mainly composed of European nations" are used to suggest that we are committed to the support of a European system within the North Atlantic integrated force. We have no such commitment. We do not believe it is necessary to the concept of the integrated force which General Eisenhower is trying to create that there should be within it another piece of international machinery composed exclusively of Europeans. But, since certain Governments were willing to consult with the French on the possibilities of such a scheme as one of the methods by which Germany might be brought into the common defence, we shall wish them well and send observers to the Conference. I think that that is a practical and sensible course to adopt.
I do not propose to add anything to the statement which was made by the First Lord to-day on the matter of the Atlantic Command, or to speculate on what other appointments will be made to other Commands. I think the First Lord gave us some very wise advice when he said that we had better reserve our criticisms until we see the whole picture and until the details have been worked out. I was asked about the Japanese Peace Treaty and reference was made to Mr. Dulles's tour in this connection. His talks with Sir Alvary Gascoigne in Tokyo, and Sir Esler Dening who was in Canberra on an official tour at the time of Mr. Dulles's visit there, were of considerable value to both sides. I should like to take this opportunity of paying my warm tribute to Mr. Dulles's 801 helpfulness and to his courtesy in visiting Sir Esler Dening in hospital when he fell ill at Canberra. So far as we know at present, Mr. Dulles has no intention of paying an early visit to this country. He would, of course, be most welcome here, but we realise that at this stage of the preparatory work for the Japanese Peace Treaty he must be fully occupied in Washington. Mr. Dulles' tour has given us an opportunity of conveying the views of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, unofficially but very fully, to the United States Government at a time when the preparations for the Japanese Peace Treaty are still in the formative stage. We are now following this up and pressing ahead in order to secure agreement with the other countries concerned as early as possible on the form which the Treaty should take. The House may be assured that in this process we are in constant touch with the Commonwealth Governments and also that there is no risk of our view going by default.
I must not keep your Lordships much longer, but so many questions have been asked of me that I could go on replying almost indefinitely. May I pick out and answer just a few of them? The noble Lord, Lord Winster. asked about Greek children. I am glad to tell him that the relations between the Greeks and the Yugoslavs have improved so much recently that it is unnecessary for us, in our judgment, to intervene at this time. There are undoubtedly technical difficulties of identification, but good will is being shown by both sides and we expect the repatriation of the children to proceed steadily. In November the first batch of twenty-one was repatriated. On January 27 the Swedish Red Cross, who are. assisting the Yugoslav Red Cross in this matter, announced that a further 400 children would be leaving Yugoslavia to join their parents in Greece. I think that the changed situation in the relationship between the two countries has done a great deal to make these things possible, and I look forward to a continuance of this good work.
The noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, asked me to tell him something about the Colombo Plan. A meeting of the Consultative Committee on Economic Development in South-East Asia was held earlier this month in Colombo, as the noble Lord knows. Your Lordships 802 also know that the United States Government, who expressed their extreme interest in the whole matter, were good enough to send a delegation to that meeting. I should like to say once more how grateful we an; to them for the interest they are taking in the Plan. It was. announced that the Australian Government will contribute £25,000,000 over the six-year period, of which £7,000,000 will" be available in the first year; and that the Canadian Government have decided to give 25,000,000 Canadian dollars for the first year alone. Those are very generous offers and will certainly be warmly appreciated by the countries to whose welfare they are to be devoted. The main purpose of the Conference was to discuss and make recommendations about the future work and organisation which will be needed if the Colombo Plan is to be brought to fruition. Those recommendations have been received and arc now under consideration by Governments. I may add that arrangements are now being worked out to co-ordinate the Colombo Plan and President Truman's Point Four Plan. I am sure your Lordships will agree that this plan is a very valuable attempt to meet one of the greatest social problems confronting the world. It is satisfactory to know with what extreme generosity other members of our Commonwealth are approaching the matter.
I often wish that we could have in Europe some kind of a pact of non-aggression whereby everybody was entitled to his means of protection. How does aggression come nowadays? What is the new technique? The new technique is very often, I suppose, to promote a kind of civil war and, having promoted it, to say:" This is a matter for the nation itself to determine. We must all stand aside"—rather on the Korean lines. These civil wars may be fomented from outside the countries in which they appear to occur. Whilst we realise that tension within a State may on occasion of itself break out into armed violence, we should none the less be careful not always to ascribe civil wars to domestic causes. It must be clear to all of us that civil wars will only too often serve the cause of world revolution. If so, it is far from impossible that those who preach world revolution will seek to advance the 803 borders of their empire by starting what may appear to be civil wars but which will, in fact, be aggression in disguise. They will hope that the free world will be confused and divided in its opinions as to the action which it should take. The Government are well aware of this danger and will not be easily misled by anything which may happen, be it in Central Europe, in the Middle East or further afield. I think that note is useful to bear in mind. We shall not be taken in by the fact that an aggression takes the form ostensibly of a civil war. It may well be that in spite of that fact it really is aggression, naked and unashamed.
I have endeavoured to deal with the various points which have been raised. I have tried to show that the three illustrations which the noble Marquess gave, on which he based his allegation that we were so brave in our words but dragging our feet in our actions, are wholly unfounded. I hope that, if I have not convinced him, at any rate I have succeeded in showing him that the actions which we have been taking in this difficult time do not lag behind the words we have used.
§ 7.9 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, in the speech which he has just delivered to your Lordships, the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor said that he thought the debate had been well up to the high standard that was customary in this House. I warmly agree with that. In my view it has been a most valuable debate. There have been interesting, and often, I thought, very moving, contributions on all sides of the House. There were, inevitably, differences of view on individual questions. Parliament would not be what it is if such differences did not exist. But, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Wilmot, said last night in the impressive speech which he delivered to your Lordships, and as the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, reechoed this afternoon, there has been throughout the whole of the last two days a broad underlying unity of view which I believe is characteristic of this country, and which I am glad to think still subsists.
With regard to the points of difference I find myself in a certain difficulty, 804 because I raised one or two points where I thought His Majesty's Government had been dilatory—points which related mainly to the Far East—and the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor has given a reply in some detail which he says has completely convinced him, and very likely somebody else too.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
No, it has not; that is my difficulty. I am quite unrepentant, both as to the 38th Parallel and as to the aggressor Resolution. Indeed, though the noble and learned Viscount had an admirable brief, if I may say so, from the Foreign Office with regard to the events of certain days, it is what I should call a selective brief: it left out a certain number of incidents which also occurred within that period. If I once begin on all this detail it will take me a long time to deal with everything, and I am sure the House will not want me to do that. Moreover, I have not the slightest doubt that I shall have plenty of other opportunities to make the points I have raised. Therefore, on the whole, after two days of long debate, I think your Lordships will probably not wish me to tackle those two particular problems. But I would re-emphasise that, though the Lord Chancellor made an admirable statement from the point of view of the Government, there is still more which remains to be said.
Before I go on to the European position, upon which I wish to say only one word, I should like to say something very generally with regard to the general situation in the Far East. I have a sort of feeling—and I think probably the Government will accept the view—that one of the reasons why some of us on this side of the House feel that they have been dilatory—though they themselves will perhaps not accept that—is that, throughout, they much more than we have hugged the hope that China might still be willing to negotiate. I do not want to put it unfairly, but I am afraid that at the present time I do not believe there was any foundation for that view. All this is a matter of opinion, and I am not proposing to dictate my opinions to other noble Lords. The noble Lord, Lord Crook, in an extremely interesting speech this afternoon, put down the 805 failure of success at Lake Success to a lack of response from China, with the support of Soviet Russia. I think that was just the difficulty. There was no response from China, and of course she was backed up by the Soviet.
I do not want, any more than the Government do—indeed, I do not suppose any of us do—to see a continuation of the war with China, whether it be in Korea or more widespread in its area. After all, we all recognise the old feeling of friendship to which Lord Ammon referred this afternoon, and which has happily subsisted between the peoples of Britain and China in the past. But I believe that the Government have gone the wrong way to bring to an end this present tension and these present troubles as between us and China. It is my view (I do not say it is theirs) that in effect the Government have favoured a policy of appeasement—modified appeasement, but appeasement—of which the only result has been that they have stiffened the attitude of the present Chinese Government. In my view what was needed was a different approach. Probably many of your Lordships are familiar with Alice Through the Looking Glass, a book frequently quoted in Parliament, and you may remember the incident in the early part of the book after Alice had left the little room and proceeded into the garden. In the garden there was a hill, and she was anxious to get to the top of that hill. She tried every path which led to that hill, but always she found herself back again exactly where she started. Eventually one of the flowers, the rose, which fortunately was able to talk, said to her," You must go the opposite way," and although at first Alice did not believe it. after several more failures she went the apposite way, and immediately found herself near the top of the hill. I believe that that is a very good little fable for His Majesty's Government to remember at the present time. I am quite certain that a firm attitude would have been much more likely to produce a good result than merely to run after the Chinese.
Dealing with sanctions, I fully agree, as I said yesterday, that sanctions are unlikely to be effective. When I talk about taking a firm attitude, I mean not whittling down the principles of the United Nations for which 806 we stand. I was rather shocked when the Lord Chancellor said that we should take Mao Tse-tung, who is, of course, up in arms against the institution of the United Nations, and bring him in as a member of the Security Council. The Lord Chancellor is in the happy position of approving all the Crown magistrates, but I doubt very much whether he would put a burglar upon the bench just after he had been held to be a burglar. It is the same principle. I believe that in the United Nations every nation stands by the principles to which it has subscribed.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I was inclined to put him on the bench in this matter before he had ever burgled. We tried to do that long before this Korean problem started.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
But he was engaged in what may be described as a civil burglary at that time. However. do not want to pursue this matter any further. I know that it is one upon which opinions differ; but I felt it was a thing which I ought to say to your Lordships because I feel it so strongly.
I have very little more that I want to say about the European situation. The Lord Chancellor dealt at considerable length— and I am very grateful to him— with the portion of my speech which dealt with the European Army. As I understood it, he said that there were not only the two possibilities, to have an independent German Army and a European Army, but that there was a third—the Atlantic Army of which Germany should become a part. The noble and learned Viscount said that I was in favour of the European Army, because I had said that I thought this particular army was likely to be composed mainly of the United Nations. I believe that is a fact. I do not think we are expecting the Canadians or Americans to provide a very large part of those forces. I did not say that I was pledged in any way to a European Army. I thought my description varied very little from that which the Lord Chancellor gave as his alternative. I still think that we ought to explore all possibilities, and for that reason I still think we should have sent a delegate to the Conference in Paris. We should not have been tying ourselves to accept anything by doing that, and I think it would have been a more dignified 807 and probably a more effective procedure than just to be represented by an observer. But if, instead of the French plan for a European Army, a larger scheme under General Eisenhower turns out to be more practical, and if the Germans and we and the French and everybody else came in under that, certainly the Government would not find us on these Benches disagreeing. I think it is just one of those questions that needs the maximum amount of exploration.
My Lords, the question of the American admiral has taken up a large part of our discussions to-day, and I must say just a few words about that matter. The noble Viscount, Lord Hall, said—I took down his words, I think accurately— that our criticisms or comments on the appointment were not helpful to Anglo-American co-operation. The noble Viscount is always so fair that I hope he will not mind my saying that I think on this occasion perhaps he did not quite do us justice. We have had during recent months some speeches which were really anti-American or, if not anti-American, acutely critical of the Americans. A speech was made in our last Foreign Affairs debate by the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, who really did make a very strong attack on the United States. No one from the Labour Front Benches criticised that speech, or made any comment. But when we stress the qualifications of the British Navy to control the defence of our own shores, we are told that we are saying something which is harmful to Anglo-American relations. I can assure the Government—and I am sure they will believe it—that that is not in our minds at all. We were very ready to agree to, and to welcome, the appointment of General Eisenhower to the supreme command of troops in Europe, including British troops. But this question of the British Navy, and of the seas round our shores, is a question of our very lifeblood. We know that the British Navy— 808 as the noble Viscount is well aware—has unrivalled experience in anti-submarine warfare, experience which, I believe, is equalled by that of no other navy in the world. It is not unnatural that we should be anxious for reassurance on this matter. It was clear that the Prime Minister himself was very imperfectly informed when the subject was raised in another place.
We shall consider with the greatest care the satement which the noble Viscount, Lord Hall, made this afternoon. It was a complicated statement, and it will need a good deal of examination. But, in the meantime, I hope that the noble Viscount will bear in mind the possibility of publishing the White Paper for which the noble Viscount, Lord Temple-wood, asked. If, after reading and studying Lord Hall's speech, we still do not understand to what this country is committed, he must not be surprised if we return to the attack about the White Paper. I do not think that there is anything else about which I need trouble your Lordships to-night. It remains only for me to thank noble Lords who have taken part in the debate and made the occasion one which has redounded with such credit to your Lordships' House. I now beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.