HL Deb 07 April 1952 vol 176 cc15-32

3.42 p.m.

THE EARL OF LISTOWEL asked Her Majesty's Government what restrictions have been imposed upon the inhabitants of Tanjong Malim, how long they will last, and whether they are satisfied that a punitive policy will secure the cooperation of the Chinese community in Malaya. The noble Earl said: My Lords, as I have no right of reply, perhaps I may start rather unconventionally by thanking the noble Marquess for his willingness to answer my Question. It is an act of courtesy to the Opposition when the Leader of the House deals with a Question which falls outside the field of his own Department, and we appreciate it. It is an additional advantage on this occasion, because the noble Marquess has special knowledge of the Colonies and their problems on account of his own experience as former Secretary of State. This is not a rhetorical Question, like some Questions which appear on the Order Paper to enable the questioner to air his own views. I put it down because I am anxious to know exactly what the restrictions are at Tanjong Malim and for what purpose they have been imposed, because knowledge of the precise facts and official authority for the facts are the only possible basis for a final judgment about them.

My attention was first directed to this matter by the comments of the local correspondents of certain sober, serious and responsible newspapers—The Times, the Observer and the Manchester Guardian. Apart from these Press reports we have only a very short statement made in another place last week by the Secretary of State in reply to a question there. There is considerable public interest in this matter, and I am sure that a fuller statement would be generally welcome. The opinion I have formed, after a study of the available information, is, therefore, only provisional. But before I say, quite briefly, what my views are, I should like to make it clear that I share, I think with almost everyone, a profound admiration for the energy and intelligence with which the new High Commissioner has tackled his job. The many important changes he has already made, such as the swift enrolment of Chinese in the Police Force, the recruitment of Chinese for the Army—a very interesting innovation—and the compulsory teaching of English in primary schools, are equally useful in relation to the emergency and because they further co-operation between the races in Malaya, if I may say so without sounding patronising, I believe that General Sir Gerald Templer has made an extremely good start.

I am sure that the Government are right to encourage new ideas and new methods in dealing with this very grave situation, but, at the same time, they can hardly expect all these new ideas and methods to be equally sound or successful. I think the Government should watch these new developments very carefully indeed and that any development which looks as though it may lead in the wrong direction should be stopped immediately. My personal view about the restrictions at Tanjong Malim, for what it is worth, is that they are more severe than the achievement of the security purpose described by the Secretary of State in another place—the denial of food to the rebels—could reasonably require. Can it really be necessary, for example, to close all the schools and to put the children under house arrest for all save two hours in the day? If I may pose this question to the noble Marquess, I wonder how long this particular restriction is likely to last. I am sure everyone will agree that loss of even a term can do irreparable damage to a child's education, and that lack of facilities for play and outdoor exercise are bound to be harmful after a time. I was relieved to hear from the noble Marquess (who was good enough to discuss this matter with me the other day) that the teachers' training college at Tanjong Malim—which I visited when I was in Malaya in 1948, when I saw some of the fine work it was doing—has been exempted from these restrictions and is able to carry on with its work.

Another restriction, the length of the curfew, twenty-two hours out of twenty-four, means that the men cannot leave their homes to go to work, and deprives many households of their sole means of livelihood. Whole families will soon be destitute and hungry. Halving the rice ration will, of course, still provide enough in theory for those who are not doing heavy manual work, but the loss of earnings and the soaring price of other foodstuffs will result in practice in most of the population being unable, after a time, to buy food. This view is substantiated by the Singapore correspondent of The Times, in an article which appeared in this morning's edition of the newspaper. If I may quote just one sentence, he says this: …it is reported that most of the people have been forced to pawn their belongings. Whether the reduced rice ration is adequate will soon be an academic question, as few will have money to buy it.

May I refer to another restriction? A usually reliable newspaper reports that people have been fined for leaving their homes to use an outside latrine. As many of the shacks—which many of your Lordships who have been to Malaya will have seen, and will know of their sanitary inadequacy—in which the townsfolk live have no indoor sanitation, there will be some danger to public health if they are not allowed to use outdoor conveniences. Such a restriction, if it really exists—and I should like the noble Marquess to be good enough to inquire into this matter although I do not, of course, expect an answer now because I was not able to give him notice; I heard of the alleged restriction only on Sunday—is rather ridiculous. I personally would not object to any restrictions, such as a limited period of curfew, which may be essential to prevent Food supplies from reaching the Communists, and I do not think any person on either side of the House would do so; but I cannot help thinking that the number of these restrictions at Tanjong Malim and their exceptional severity—because although we have had restrictions before they have never gone quite so far as this—go beyond what is required for the purpose of cutting off food supplies to the Communists. May I make one observation in passing? I do not ask for an account of what happened before the decision to impose these restrictions was taken, but I do hope that the Secretary of State and the leaders of the Chinese and Malay communities will be consulted whenever similar security measures are considered necessary. There is a keen sense of responsibility for such measures at home—there have been Questions in both Houses and articles have appeared in the Press. The public generally is very much alive to this matter, and measures such as this influence the minds of many people in both communities in Malaya who are not directly affected.

In the second part of my Question I am asking what the purpose of these restrictions really is. There is some doubt about the policy they are intended to carry out, and that doubt I think is legitimate in view of the somewhat conflicting statements made by the Secretary of State and the High Commissioner himself. Are these measures punitive or are they a security step to deny food to the rebels? The Secretary of State made a statement in reply to a Question last Wednesday in another place, and perhaps I may be allowed to quote a few of his words because they describe an important issue of policy. Referring to these restrictions in the Tanjong Malim district, he said: The object of this measure is not punitive, but is to enforce greater control of food distribution, and to ensure that spare rice is not available to the terrorists. Only last week the High Commissioner is reported as having said in Malaya, in the course of some speeches he made to the local inhabitants, that he was punishing them for their failure to co-operate with the administration He read them out a list of the crimes which had been committed in their neighbourhood. I should like to give one short verbatim extract from his remarks. He said: It does not amuse me to punish innocent people, but many of you are not innocent.

I am inclined to think (if I may attempt a humble interpretation of the High Commissioner's words) that the ordinary person, who has not the same respect as we in this House have for Secretaries of State, would say that these restrictions are both punitive and a security measure in the campaign against the Communists I do not think the objects are in the least mutually exclusive. It would certainly appear that the motives of the High Commissioner, judging by what he has said and done, are these: partly to show the local population that it does not pay to help the Communists; partly to "make them talk"—if I may use a current Americanism—and partly to stop the leakage of rice. I hope the noble Marquess will correct me if my interpretation is not accurate.

I should like to comment briefly on the punitive aspect of this policy of collective punishment. Collective punishment is a new departure in British Colonial policy, and before it is applied generally in the bad areas such as Tanjong Malim in Malaya—and, as the noble Marquess knows, there are many of these bad areas—I think it deserves the most careful consideration. There are three powerful arguments to be answered by those who advocate the use of collective punishment. The first is this. The local inhabitants, the Chinese particularly, will continue to help the Communists and to withhold their help against the Communists so long as they are more afraid of them than they are of us. They will prefer imprisonment and hunger to death by slow degrees. And we cannot inspire more fear than the Communists, because we are unable to compete with them in brutality. I hope the High Commissioner will get the information he wants from the inhabitants of Tanjong Malim, but I doubt it: I expect that the inhabitants will be too afraid of Communist retaliation to give the information for which they have been asked. The second argument which has to be answered is this. A practice which causes suffering and resentment will produce bitter hostility towards the British, which can easily be exploited by the Communists. I have known men go into detention camps—and any of your Lordships who have been to Malaya will have found the same—as innocent subjects and come out as confirmed Communists. I fear that collective punishment will turn many people, including the Chinese hitherto unconcerned about politics, into Communist sympathizers or even supporters.

Finally, a mass punishment is inevitably vicarious in its incidence. Thousands of innocent persons, including women and children, suffer just as much as the guilty ones. There is no redress by appeal to the courts. The fact that we refuse to behave like the Communists, or like the Japanese when they occupied Malaya, shows that we have a standard of humane and civilised conduct which cannot be relaxed even to protect our own people. The line must be drawn somewhere; and where the line should be drawn is a matter of practical concern to us and a question that touches the conscience of every Englishman. When I was last in Malaya, in 1950, the worst trouble spot in the Federation was the State of Pahang. I am told that things have changed in Pahang since then, and that the local Chinese have volunteered for the Home Guard and have provided the authorities with much valuable information. It was not collective punishment, but ample police protection, which secured the confidence and good will of the local inhabitants. This policy of providing police protection is a humane policy, and I believe it is the only effective answer to Communist intimidation in the towns and villages. I beg to ask the Question standing in my name.

3.57 p.m.


My Lords, in the absence on duty abroad of my noble friend Lord Munster, who, as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, normally replies in this House for the Colonial Office, I have been asked to reply to the Question that has been asked by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel. In doing so I feel that it may be useful if I remind the House of the details of the outrage which led up to these measures, as they have been reported to Her Majesty's Government. Indeed, I think the noble Earl himself asked that I should do that and, also, give the details of the measures that have been taken.

On March 25 a party of men consisting of Mr. Codner and Mr. Fourniss, the executive engineer of Tapah, three Public Works Department subordinates, accompanied by an escort of one noncommissioned officer and fifteen regular police constables and special constables, set off along the footpath to repair the pipelines supplying water to Tanjong Malim which had been sabotaged the previous evening. On their way up, the party was ambushed about one and a half miles from Tanjong Malim by a gang of some forty terrorists using, among other things, mines believed to be electrically detonated. All but one of the civilians were killed, and eight of the police. The remaining police were wounded, and one has since died in hospital. Assistance arrived from Taniong Malim within twenty minutes or half an hour, and the relieving party came under fire from a terrorist rearguard squad left behind for the purpose. Two bandits were killed in the engagement and several wounded. This shocking outrage—for it was a shocking outrage—


Hear, Hear!


—led to the death of twelve men who were not engaged in warlike operations but were going about their ordinary peaceful duties—of, indeed, repairing the water supply to the village, which had been sabotaged by terrorists. Nor is that an isolated incident in this particular district. It was the culmination of a series of incidents in the neighbourhood since the beginning of the year. They include ten ambushes, ten attacks on police and military posts, five lorries burnt, 6,000 rubber trees slashed, three buses destroyed, the pipeline damaged twice, and other incidents. Sixteen bandit camps were found. The indication was that the terrorists moved in the neighbourhood with impunity, and undoubtedly with the knowledge or connivance of a number of local inhabitants. Only on three occasions in the last six months has any effective information been forthcoming. It was clear (I am sure your Lordships will not disagree with this) that firm action was necessary to clean up this area, and on March 27 the High Commissioner himself went to the area and addressed a gathering of about 350 headmen, community leaders and heads of families of the district, and informed them of what he proposed to do, at the same time upbraiding them for their lack of courage in failing to assist the authorities to stamp out the terrorism in their midst. He was accompanied by trade union leaders who also addressed the meeting.

Now a word about the steps themselves. The steps which have been taken are as follows. Tanjong Malim, which was formerly a sub-district of Tapah, has been made a separate administrative district with headquarters at Slim River, and a new district officer took over on March 27. Tanjong Malim police district, which was formerly under Selangor, has been transferred to Perak to conform to the administrative organisation with headquarters at Slim River. An additional company of soldiers has been moved into the district, six extra police jungle squads have been posted to the district, and the present police strength of 680 will be raised by about 20 per cent. A twenty-four hour town curfew has been imposed on Tanjong Malim town and for two miles up the river to Simpang Ampat (where the ambush took place), including two rubber estates in the area. In the same area a twenty-two hour house curfew (which is something different from the curfew that I have mentioned) has been imposed, shops being open only from twelve mid-day to two o'clock in the afternoon. Exemption from this curfew is granted only to Government officials, security forces and inhabitants of the Sultan Idris Training College, to which the noble, Earl referred in his speech.

All surplus rice has been collected from the area and a strict rationing scheme has been introduced to prevent supplies reaching the terrorists. The scheme allows for 4 lb. per adult and 3½ lb. per child per week. A District War Executive Committee is being formed for the new district immediately. In addition, according to Press reports which I have just had from Malaya, General Templer has, during the week-end had a questionnaire circulated to every household in Tanjong Malim. It takes the form of a personal letter from the High Commissioner asking for as full and detailed information as possible about local Communists, the shops supplying their needs, the persons responsible for buying and carrying supplies, and the names of subscription collectors, recruiting agents and couriers. The villagers do not have to sign their replies if they do not wish to, so that their anonymity can be preserved. The answers to this questionnaire were collected yesterday (Sunday), but the contents have not yet been disclosed.

Those are the raw, simple, bleak facts. I do not complain in the least that the noble Earl should have asked for information on this question. As we all recognise, it is of course the duty of Parliament to keep a vigilant eye on what happens in all areas under the control of Her Majesty's Government, but I feel sure that the House will agree that, in the light of the facts which I have exposed, strong, steps were absolutely necessary if further incidents and outrages were to be avoided. It has been suggested—I thought it was a little implied in the noble Earl's speech—that inadequate protection has been afforded in the past and, therefore, that it was not to be expected that the local inhabitants would help the authorities. All I can say is that that is not Her Majesty's Government's information.

The security forces in the area of which this forms part, as I have already told your Lordships, were 680 men, and that is regarded as quite a normal number. It should have been quite enough to enable the people to be co-operative, if they wished to be co-operative, but unhappily all the evidence was the other way. Everyone in the district was aware of these outrages, of the number which I have told your Lordships, all of which have occurred since the beginning of this year, and yet, as I have explained, on only three occasions was any information given. The noble Earl also asked whether the action which has been taken by the High Commissioner is penal in character. The rationing of rice is certainly not intended as a punitive measure. The purpose of rationing rice is, quite simply, to deny it to the terrorists. I see that the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, raises his eyebrows but, up to now, there is evidence that an appreciable amount of the supplies which are received by the bandits out in the jungle has been derived from the surpluses in the villages. That had to be stopped. The High Commissioner has assured the Secretary of State that the new ration is adequate. I should like to assure noble Lords in all parts of the House that the position is being most carefully watched and, if it proves not to be adequate, the ration will be increased. Therefore, I would add this necessary proviso—that steps must clearly be taken to ensure that any increase does really go to the inhabitants, and not to the terrorists. The noble Earl asked a question about conveniences. He gave me no notice of that question. I will make inquiries about it.


I am sure the noble Marquess appreciates the reason for my inability to give him notice. I myself heard about it only yesterday.


The noble Earl will understand why I cannot answer that particular point now. The other steps, the curfew and the closing of schools, of course, contain an element of punishment. I should be extremely hypocritical if I attempted to dispute that. They are designed to make clear to the villagers that they cannot with impunity condone or assist cold-blooded murder. But the measures are mild in the extreme compared with the sufferings which have been inflicted by the terrorists on the security forces and the planters. At most, they should result only in severe inconvenience to the people of the village. And what about the wives and the families of the men who have been brutally murdered? They have lost their husbands and their fathers. Is there to be no sympathy for them, or protection for their fellows? If there is unduly severe hardship as a result of the measures that have been taken, no doubt the High Commissioner will take that into account. I have every reason to suppose, as the rest of your Lordships, that he is a humane man, but he must be allowed to take the measures which he thinks proper.

The noble Earl protested against the closing of the schools. He said that that was punishing the innocent. But what about the children of the planters? There appeared an account of this—which some of your Lordships may have read—by the Singapore correspondent in the Sunday Express only yesterday. They do not go to school. They are permanently inside barbed wire fences. They do not see any other children—the noble Earl made this point—because they cannot get outside the wire. We really must retain some sense of proportion in these matters.

The question has been asked, I think by the noble Earl: How long are these measures to remain in force? I am quite certain they will not remain in force longer than is necessary. But he will not expect me to give him a definite answer to-day, because, of course, it depends on how the situation develops. I was also asked, I think, whether this was an isolated occasion or whether it is a prelude to a more general policy. My Lords, I would answer the noble Earl that there is certainly no intention of applying it generally. It is not the sort of policy anybody wants to have to apply. Each case will be judged on its merits. But the vital thing is to stamp out outrages of this kind. The primary purpose of any action which may be taken must be to restore security. We have sent out Sir Gerald Templer, as the best man we could find to do a job of a particularly difficult and delicate kind. It is not we who have to do that job—we are not the drivers of the vehicle. It is he. Surely, my Lords, we must give him a proper chance to do it. Already, if I may again quote the article in the Sunday Express which I read yesterday: Wherever there are British men and women who have lived in danger for years, there is now a feeling of hope. The dynamic new General is alone responsible for that. Of course Parliament has every right to discuss this or any other question, But if every action which is taken by the High Commissioner were to be criticised and condemned in Parliament, where few of us are in touch with local conditions, what chance would that give him to show the people of Malaya that he has the people of this country behind him?

In conclusion, I would say this. Sir Gerald Templer, who has taken on this hideously difficult task, has the complete confidence of Her Majesty's Government. He has been given full discretion to deal with Communist terrorism in Malaya, and the Government have no intention of intervening in the reasonable use of this discretion. No one would say that in no circumstances would the Government intervene, because the Government might have a duty to intervene. But if General Templer uses his powers—and I have no reason to suppose that he will not—in a moderate and proper fashion, I am quite certain we should be unwise to deny him the chance to carry out the task which he has undertaken.

4.13 p.m.


My Lords, on one point I think everyone will be agreed—namely, in the feeling of sympathy for the soldiers who have been murdered, for their families and for their children; arid I should think that that feeling of deep sympathy would be shared by many Malays themselves. But that is not the point at issue. There has been a great deal of talk about firmness. That, also, is not the point at issue. There are only two points at issue to-day. The first is, is this just? And the second is, is it effective? Manifestly it is unjust. The noble Marquess could not possibly say that to keep children from school, to keep them confined in a house except for two hours in the day, to keep women and children without sufficient food—and if you reduce the ration it may not reduce the demand of the terrorists for the rice—is just, when these people have done nothing wrong. That is punishing innocent people, and it is a thing which not only revolts public opinion in this country, but will shake confidence in our good name throughout the whole of Asia.

Now I come to the question, is it effective? My Lords, I have seen this kind of thing before. I remember the same arguments being used when we burned the farms of the Boers in South Africa. I remember the same arguments being used when the Black and Tans were in Ireland. It was always: "We must be firm." We did not sympathise with these people. What we said was that it is not a bad idea to introduce an element of morality when you are trying to govern a country. No good came of action of this kind in the cases I have mentioned, and I am sure that in this case, too, no good in the interests of the security of our own people will come from the measures that are being taken. I should like to ask the noble Marquess whether this scheme was put before the Cabinet, or is it General Templer's own scheme. Did they approve the details? They say, as of course any Government would say, "We stand behind our own General." But did the Government know that he had evolved this scheme for depriving these people of the open air and of food? Did they approve it? I think we should know the answer to that question, because it has a great deal to do with their future conduct when the results of the scheme are better known.

I think my noble friend asked this next question—namely, for how long is it going on? Is it going on for another ten days or for a month? We must know the answer to that question. Cumulative punishment of this sort is either successful or it is not. I do not believe it can be successful. If it is not successful then it is a failure, and it is a cumulative failure. I think we must have an answer to that question this afternoon. How long does General Templer intend to go on imprisoning these children in their own homes? The noble Marquess did not answer that question. Is there any suggestion of an extension of this treatment to other areas in order to crush terrorism? Surely if it is just and effective General Templer should extend it to the whole area in order that we may have peace. General Templer himself said that he thought that in twelve months something might be done. My Lords, these questions should be answered. I think it is as well not only that doubts should be expressed but, so far as I am concerned, that protests should be made in this House against conduct which I believe can do no good, which will bring shame to our name and which should be protested against on behalf of humanity.


My Lords, it is only by leave of the House that I can speak again. I regret a little that the noble Viscount did not see fit to speak before I did. He could have made it clear that he wished to speak. What he did was to wait until I had spoken, when, by the procedure of the House, I had no right of reply.


The noble Marquess will forgive me. He and I are old Parliamentarians, and he will know that when a Member of Parliament puts a Question, no one can intervene until the Government spokesman has replied. Of course I had no intention of placing the noble Marquess in a difficult position. That is a most ridiculous suggestion.


The noble Viscount knows the House of Commons very well, but he appears to have very little knowledge of the procedure of this House.


Well, I have been here for ten years, and I am not going to be talked to like that.


The noble Viscount will allow me to say that, in regard to unstarred Questions, that is the normal practice. The only difference between an unstarred Question and a Motion is that in an unstarred Question the noble Lord who asks the Question has no right of reply, as the noble Earl quite rightly said. But I am not going to say any more about that. I am quite prepared to speak again, with the leave of the House.


I find that I am in the wrong, and I apologise.


It is a matter of difference in procedure between the two Houses.

My Lords, I was very interested in the speech which the noble Viscount has just made. In it he spoke a great deal about justice and morality. He said that there was no justice in the action of either Sir Gerald Templer or Her Majesty's Government. He hardly mentioned our own fellow-countrymen who are being murdered—not a word about them. I think he just passed them over in a phrase at the beginning. If I may say so, that is the noble Viscount's ordinary attitude. I do not want to lose my temper with the noble Viscount, which I find only too easy; but it is the fact that he has an immensely exaggerated sense of justice, of which in itself I do not complain, except that it seems always to be directed on the side of those who are in conflict with his own country, and not of those who are protecting the interests of his own country.

The noble Viscount asked one or two definite questions, which I feel I ought to answer. The first was: Did the Cabinet authorise this action by Sir Gerald Templer? The answer is No, because it was not necessary. As I have already said to the noble Earl, Sir Gerald has been given—and this is the whole essence of his appointment—full discretion to deal with Communist terrorism in Malaya, and the Government have no intention of intervening in the reasonable use of that discretion. If it turned out that actions which were being taken were clearly against the interests of the country, then, no doubt, that would be a matter which would have to be considered. If you give a man a job to do, in my experience you must give him a fair chance of doing it. The other question which the noble Viscount asked was whether there was likely to be an expansion of this policy—was it to become general. I thought that I had answered that; I did say something on exactly that point. I said that I had also been asked whether this was an isolated action or a prelude to general policy. I would answer, I said, that there is certainly no intention to apply this policy generally. I added that I thought it was not the type of policy which one would normally apply, but a policy to be used only in exceptional cases. Each case, I said, must be dealt with on its merits, and the important thing was to stamp out outrages of this kind. The primary purpose must be to restore security. It is clear, as I thought, that I had already answered the noble Viscount's question, but I am happy to have had the opportunity of repeating what I previously said.

There is nothing, I think, that I can add, except merely that I can assure noble Lords opposite, and the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, in particular, that Her Majesty's Government are not taking this matter, or any other matter, lightheartedly. It is not the case that we are embarking on some sort of banditry ourselves. We are concerned with doing our utmost to protect British interests and British citizens, men, women and children, who every hour of the day are being exposed to the immediate danger of murder. If we did not do that we should be unworthy of the responsibility with which our country has entrusted us.

4.22 p.m.


My Lords, if it is in order. I should like to add a word to this debate because the country which we have been discussing is a country I know well. I happen to have been one of the District Officers who had the sub-district of Tanjong Malim in his administrative area, so I know the difficulty of the terrain. I also know something of the circumstances with which the authorities to-day have to deal. I had not intended to speak, because the reply of the noble Marquess seemed to me to be so adequate, but I have been goaded by the noble Viscount, with his excursions into high morality, into saying how this matter appears to anyone who, instead of sitting in London and exercising a high moral view on these questions, has had to deal practically and administratively with a problem like this in conditions which amount, in fact, to a state of war. The idea that you can run a war with every decision being referred to London in order to learn whether it conforms to some standard of peace-time morality which a small section of the community only has been able to reach, does not seem to me to be helpful in bringing to an end an emergency of this kind. The noble Viscount asks: "Is it just? Is it effective?" Speaking as one who has spent his lifetime in administration, I say: "Yes, it is just, and I sincerely hope that it will be effective." Probably, the only people who are pleased with these restrictions are the children who do not want to go to school and who are very glad to be allowed to stay at home. I know that the blood of all the Catos runs in the politi- cal veins of the noble Viscount. I suppose his motto in this as in all things is: "Victrix causa Diis placuit sed victa Catoni," which, for the benefit of those educated at Cambridge, I may perhaps translate as: "Heaven knows! I have been backing losers all my life." I have no doubt that the noble Viscount in this case is running true to form and is backing another one.

I suggest that we cannot possibly expect anyone to deal with an emergency if he is to be subjected to constant questioning. It is curious that to-day people make speeches dealing with problems concerning all parts of the world, and from what: they say it is apparent that an idea persists that Africa is peopled by millions of black Englishmen who think as Englishmen do, and that in Malaya the people think as the noble Viscount thinks. May I say that that is not so, and that the people of the East are accustomed to those in authority exercising authority, and not waiting for the people down below to tell them how they should exercise it? That is the age-old attitude of the East. All authority, in the eyes of the East, springs from the top; not from the bottom. That, perhaps, is why some of our democratic ideas have found the soil there rather unfertile. I suggest that, in any case, it is highly desirable that, having selected for a position of high authority a man who is just as humane and just as moral as the rest of us, we should at least assume that he is exercising that authority with due respect for those principles.

4.25 p.m.


My Lords, I had no intention of taking part in this discussion, but I should like to add just one or two words in defence of what has been said on this side of the House. It has been implied in what has been said from the Government Benches, and in the speech of the noble Lord who has just spoken, that we on this side, including the noble Earl who introduced this debate, are not concerned with the terrible risks that are run by our own countrymen; that in some mysterious way we are callous about that and concerned only about the feelings of other people.


I should be very reluctant that that should be said about the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, or the noble Lord now speaking. The reference in my speech was to the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate.


I can bear it.


I think that the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, in addressing the House, put a point of view which we all understand, and he does not in the least mean that he does not feel very deeply concerning the risks and dangers confronting our own countrymen. But his sense of justice and his sense of propriety of action is very strong indeed. The point I want to make is this: because our prime purpose is to protect our own people, and our second major purpose is to punish wrongdoing, it does not necessarily follow that we are bound to support actions which we think are unwise and inexpedient. I do not say that this action was either unwise or inexpedient. There may be grounds for thinking that, in all the circumstances, this very unusual course was right. But I do think that those who raised the Question from this side of the House should not be taunted, as it were, with having a preference for the enemies of this country rather than for their own people. All down history there have been men in this country (there have been such men elsewhere, but particularly in this country) who have stood up and said that even in most provocative circumstances the actions of this country should be just. And those men have not been by any means the least worthy, the least honourable or the least remembered of Englishmen, Scotsmen and Welshmen. I rise simply to vindicate what has been said on this side of the House and to clear it from any imputation whatever. I am glad the noble Marquess does not hold the view he has expressed with regard to all of us on this side, but I wish to clear my noble friends on these Benches from any implication, or suggestion, that we are friends of all countries but our own.

House adjourned at twenty-eight minutes past four o'clock.