§ 2.36 p.m.
§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved on Tuesday last by Lord Mancroft—namely, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as followeth—
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."
§ EARL JOWITT
My Lords, I have been indulging myself this morning, in looking up the files of The Times newspaper and I happened to turn to the issue of November 7, 1902, which recorded an event which had taken place on the previous day—that is, on November 6, exactly fifty years ago. On that date there had taken place a by-election in the Cleveland division (it seems to be a habit in Cleveland) and the Liberal candidate was a comparatively unknown gentleman called Mr. Samuel, who won the seat by a majority of 2,036 votes. The Times of September 7 states that that was a surprise to both Parties. The Unionists, it said, hoped to win by a small majority; the Liberals expected to win by only 500 votes. They attributed the success to the unity of their Party—a principle that is worth hearing in mind—and to the excellence of their candidate. The unsuccessful candidate referred to the extreme courtesy with which his opponent had conducted the contest. My Lords, the comparatively unknown gentleman of those days became, in due course a right honourable gentleman, and is now the noble Viscount whom we know as Leader of the Liberal Party in this House. For the last fifty years he has shown in his political life that 86 he has a stout heart and a clear head, and I sincerely hope that for a very long time—perhaps another fifty years would be an exaggeration—he will be with us to guide and grace our Assembly. When I add that I believe to-day is also his birthday, I am sure that I shall be speaking on be-half of all your Lordships if I wish him many happy returns of the day.
I now turn to the humble Address. By common consent between us, to-day's discussion is largely concerned with matters of foreign affairs. Her Majesty's Ministers have now been in power for over a year. No doubt in some respects they are sadder and, I sincerely hope, wiser men than they were. A year ago in the gracious Speech there was a sentence which said:My Ministers will try to repair the injuries our rights and interests have suffered in Persia.Perhaps they did not know then quite what manner of man Dr. Mossadeq was. The long and the short of the matter is that, with Dr. Mossadeq, it was quite impossible to come to any settlement based on reason. It was obvious that the choice before us was none other than this: either we could try to get a settlement by discussion, which proved impossible, or we could take the law into our own hands. There was no other possible alternative. The last Government, in general, and I, in particular, were abused for having shown great weakness in our attitude towards Persia. The noble Lords who abused us should have had the candour to state that they accepted the corollary—which was that we should have taken the law into our own hands and occupied the oil-fields or that part of Persia. To do that, particularly in the light of the American advice which we received at the time—which was perfectly well known to the leaders of the Opposition when these criticisms were made—would have been an impracticable policy.
I do not blame Her Majesty's Ministers for the failure they have had in regard to Persia. Frankly, I should have expected nothing else. Unfortunately, it is the fact that at the present time there is a gap in international law. There is no means of seeing that the orders of the International Court are fulfilled. In this case it was decided, on a somewhat narrow construction, that the Court did not possess jurisdiction. The moral we can all draw front this is, I think, that in future, if we make 87 agreements of this sort, it would be far better to make them in the form of a treaty to which this country is a party, rather than in the form of a mere contract to which an ordinary trading company is a party, and, secondly, that the agreement should contain a clause calling for arbitration. In this case there was such a clause, but it was not in a treaty.
A further new event, of the greatest importance to the world, has taken place—that is, of course, the American Presidential Election. The tumult and the shouting has died, but the problems remain. The American people have made their choice. As it seems to me, they had to choose between two very eminent persons, and they have selected as their new President Mr. Eisenhower. Seven or eight years ago we all turned to him with confidence and hope, and he most certainly did not let us down. There can be no doubt that he has a record which should inspire us with great hope and confidence. I sincerely trust that during his term of office he may see the prosperity of his country advance, because I believe that the prosperity of his country involves with it the prosperity of the rest of the free world.
What is his task? His task, as I see it, apart from the domestic task, is to build up that community of free nations on which world peace and security depend. For the division of the world to-day into these two opposing camps, and the existence of the cold war, is a mockery of those high hopes which we entertained at the end of the war when we were building up our United Nations. It is most certainly not the fault of this country, nor is it the fault of any other of the free countries. It is, as I see it, solely due to the Russian desire for expansion, and the obstruction which they have placed in our way. I believe that the tension could be wiped out if only Russia would co-operate in establishing the kind of society which we envisaged in the United Nations Charter. But, unhappily, there is no sign of their advancing towards that end. Indeed, the objectives of Russian policy have been made quite clear from the pronouncement of the Soviet hierarchy to the Congress of the Soviet Communist Party only last month.
The analysis of the world situation merits our close attention. In Communist 88 circles an analysis bears no necessary relevance to facts at all—like the perfervid orator who said, "We are not concerned with the facts; we are here to get at the truth." The Communists, when they analyse, deal with the facts as they would like them to be. From an analysis of the existing facts it is sometimes possible to analyse a declaration of policy which is quite regardless of particular slogans. From that analysis, if I follow it aright, at least two points emerge. The first is this. Their attacks at the present time seem to be concentrated on the United States of America. For instance, Korea, in which all the United Nations are engaged, is described as "United States aggression." The United States alone are accused of adopting germ warfare, although, so far as the evidence goes, they might just as well accuse us or anybody else. In short, anti-Americanism as preached now by the Communists is very much the same sort of thing as anti-Semitism used to be as preached by the Nazis.
The next point that emerges from all this—and it is a corollary—is that the Russian aim is to try to put a wedge between ourselves and the American people; to play on every antagonism, real or imaginary; to excite suspicion and distrust of the one country in the other—and, incidentally, the fact that they speak so disparagingly of the Western Defence Organisation gives me good ground for hoping that the Western Defence Organisation is succeeding in its object. In vain is the net spread in sight of the bird, and I cannot imagine that there is anybody who will be so foolish as to walk into that trap. Indeed, I think the whole thing reflects the success of the policy which is being pursued by the West. Undoubtedly, N.A.T.O. is a major obstacle to Stalinist expansion, and the lesson to be learned is to strengthen the Atlantic alliance—certainly not to weaken it—and to strengthen it in this respect particularly. The Atlantic alliance should be developed towards an Atlantic community, in particular by taking further steps along the lines envisaged in Article II of the North Atlantic Treaty, in which the signatories have undertaken to promote economic collaboration between themselves, while at the same time continuing to build up their defensive strength. I very much hope that Her Majesty's Government will give their full 89 attention to the development of the functions of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, in conjunction with our Allies, and that this House will have the opportunity of learning what steps the Government are taking in that direction.
That the policy of rearmament and of building up the defensive strength of the West is producing desired results is, I believe, evident from the declarations of the Soviet leaders. This policy is the subject of continuous condemnation as being designed for eventual aggression, which we all know perfectly well is the opposite of the truth. Then they allege that this policy is ruining our economy, and that if we continue it disaster awaits us. It is obvious that we must strike a balance. To carry on our defence programme to such an extent that our eonomy is disastrously undermined and impaired would indeed be foolish: we should weaken, rather than strengthen ourselves. On this aspect, either to-day or on some future occasion, we desire further information. After all, rearmament is not an end in itself it is merely a means to secure an effective system of defence. If it be the fact, as the Prime Minister has said, and as I believe, that the danger of war has receded since 1950, I think that is because we took definite, strong action in Korea. So we get this paradoxical result. As the disparity in our rearmament diminishes, so it seems to me possible that we may start genuine negotiations for relative disarmament. At the present moment, the proposals for disarmament, while we have been virtually disarmed and Russia is strongly armed, are, of course, a hollow sham; but there may come a time when our armaments become sufficiently strong to create the possibility of real disarmament talks.
In that connection, even if there is no sign of a change in the Soviet attitude at present. I very much hope that the representatives of the other countries in the United Nations Disarmament. Commission who desire to bring about general disarmament will not allow their work to be held up by Soviet intransigence. I hope they will proceed steadily with the elaboration of a realistic draft agreement for an effective system of disarmament. Even if it does not prove possible to put such a draft into effect, it would at least provide a clear demonstration that the responsibility for failure rests entirely with 90 the Soviet Union, and the more often that can be said and demonstrated, the better I believe it will be. Of course, if the Soviet Government were willing to co-operate they could begin with the Austrian Treaty. Both this Government and the previous Government have done everything they can to bring about such a Treaty; but it is all held up as a diplomatic counter.
So also the unification of Germany. With the encouragement of the Foreign Office I have recently been to Germany. I believe that it was valuable—certainly for me and my education—that I should go. I began to see things more clearly from their point of view. I began to understand more clearly how vital it is to a German at the present time to try to get unity between the two Germanies. Compared to the importance of that, everything else fades into insignificance. Of course, they have to consider how best they can bring about that reunion. I was bound to say to them: "Do you think it is more likely you will get what you want if you are weak and unarmed, as you are to-day, or is it more likely that you will be listened to, and that will get what you want, if once again you are strong?" I am bound to say that I think they all realised that, as things are in this imperfect world, it was reasonable that they should be strong.
I spoke very frankly to them, and I said: "Now just consider the position of France. France has had this trouble in 1870, in 1914 and in 1939. Cannot you understand that they are anxious?" I was in the district of Baden-Wurtemberg, where there is a Liberal-Socialist coalition and where nearly all the leaders were on the run when Hitler was in power. They entirely understood, and were quite willing to play on those lines. On the other hand, they were disturbed at the prospect of the defence of the West taking place, not on the Elbe but behind the Rhine, in which case, of course, their country would be devastated. I said: "I understand nothing about military plans, but anyhow this is plain, is it not? If you have to retreat, it is better to win the war on the Rhine than lose it on the Elbe." That seems to me obvious. We had a great heckling by the Communists, and they said to me: "Would it not be a good idea, whilst all these things are being awaited, for representatives of West Germany and 91 East Germany to get together to see what they can do?" For once I think I was able to turn the tables on my questioner. I reminded him, "You said 'representatives'." He replied, "Yes." I said, "That is exactly what we want; but before you can get representatives you must have elections to find out who the representatives are." I am bound to say that for once he was rather at a loss to answer that rather obvious retort.
It is a terribly difficult situation and every single course that can be taken is beset with risks. The problem for Her Majesty's Government is to try to make out which course offers the least risk. It is no good trying to say that any course does not offer considerable risks. Broadly speaking, I think the present Government are carrying on the policy of the previous Government, and in so doing they certainly have my support. It was interesting and instructive to me to see the trends with the various supranational bodies which are being set up. I quite agree with the action of Her Majesty's Government in sending a permanent delegation to the headquarters of the European Coal and Steel Community. I believe that it is a practical step towards close association with those limited communities. It was our policy and I am glad to think that it is that of the present Government. There is a trend, which was unmistakable when I was there, which is running counter to the proposals for the maintenance of the Council of Europe as the framework for European institutions, with, so to speak, Strasbourg as its solar plexus. A decision, for example, to establish the High Authority of the Coal and Steel Community at Luxembourg establishes another centre and is evidence of that trend.
The Government's proposals have received a general endorsement in the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe and also by the Committee of Ministers. But in the light of recent developments it is open to doubt whether the endorsement by the Governments of the six countries primarily concerned is quite whole-hearted. The question is likely to be raised again in connection with the European Defence Community, and with the European Political Authority, if and when those bodies come into existence. Her Majesty's Government must be prepared for eventualities. 92 If these two authorities come into being, have the Government any clear idea of the way in which they, together with the Coal and Steel Community, can be fitted into a European framework provided by the Council of Europe? At the present time—though I am not criticising the proposals—they seem to me to point to a desire that this should happen, rather than to be a practical scheme for bringing it about. Then we must envisage the possibility that the European Defence Community Treaty may not be ratified. It may be that Her Majesty's Government were premature in proposing the ratification of the Bonn Agreements, inasmuch as they were dependent on the European Defence Community Treaty, which still hangs in the balance. As I have said, I do not think it is certain that that Treaty will be ratified. Are we prepared with an alternative policy? It may not be the moment upon which to proclaim it, but I am perfectly certain that something should be done to work out such a policy if that event happens.
I pass to the Far East. I think it was Marshal Tito who said that the real settlement of the Far East lies in Moscow. As I understand it, the difficulties about the truce narrow down to one single point, and that is: Shall prisoners held by the United Nations be compelled by force to return? Speaking for myself, I am bound to say that if we were to compel those unhappy people to return it would be a betrayal of those principles for which we have always stood. We have suggested all sorts of alternative ways of dealing with this matter, and I have recently seen in the paper that Peru has propounded some new scheme. I would ask the noble Marquess if he has any information about that. Of course, I realise that this whole matter really depends on the will to settle— "Where there's a will there's a way." All these difficulties can be easily surmounted, given good will; but, of course, without good will it may not be possible.
I see that the President-Elect of the United States is to visit Korea. Is it intended that we should send out any representative to Korea to find out anything which is not known to us at the present time? For myself I would express this opinion. All of us, of course, in the United States and here, long for an armistice. But I am not quite certain that the best way to get an armistice is 93 to proclaim loudly and too long that we want it. Was it not the Duke of Wellington who said:Hard pounding, gentlemen. We'll see who I can stand it longest.If the enemy think we are no longer prepared to go on, I believe that that is all the more reason why they would go on; and I think the best chance of getting the armistice which we all; so earnestly desire is to make it quite plain that in no circumstances are we going to run out. In the meantime, let us try every means we can, including the method of political approach, to see whether we cannot secure an armistice. We rejoice to see in the gracious Speech that there is to be a Conference of the Dominions, that the Dominion statesmen are coming here. Presumably they will have an opportunity of discussing all these things. I believe that the people of the Dominions, drawn as they are from all sections of the globe, and from different races, have an immense chance of making a striking contribution. I believe that the contribution which India may make towards a settlement of some of these problems car hardly be exaggerated.
There have been some negotiations or discussions, I gather, about our position in the Pacific. Particularly, your Lordships will remember the Treaty between the United States of America and Australia and New Zealand, to which we are not a party. The noble Marquess, Lord Reading, will know in what circumstances the late Government, with great hesitation, consented to the making of such a Treaty. I myself, when I was in Australia more than a year ago, expressed the regret which our Government felt that we were not a party to this Treaty. Nobody seemed to mind that I had voiced my own point of view, which was the point of View of the late Government, but I very much hope that something may be done on the lines I have indicated.
Then there is a rather happy development in regard to the Middle East. There has been an agreement between the new Egyptian Government and the Umma Party with the Sudan, and the obstacles that used to exist towards the Sudanese power of development may largely have gone. This agreement has taken place in the last few days. I should not be surprised if the noble Marquess tells me that he is not at present prepared to make any 94 pronouncement: it would be quite reasonable for him to take that view. On the other hand, I would tell him that we on this side feel that it is far better to try to get a tripartite agreement rather than merely an agreement between ourselves and the Sudanese, even though it may involve a slight delay. It would be far better if we could fix the matter up with the consent of the Sudanese, with the consent of the Egyptians, and with our own consent. That would be a prize well worth gaining, and it would assist us enormously in the whole difficult problem of the Middle East.
I wish I could think there was any prospect of advancement as between Italy and Jugoslavia over the difficult problem of Trieste. If the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, has anything to say, I hope his words will be words of comfort. But whatever they may be, this is a running sore, and he, I know, is as anxious as anybody to do whatever can be done to solve that difficult problem.
That is almost all I have to say. My approach to this matter has not been critical of Her Majesty's Government, and if it is the duty of an Opposition to oppose on all matters at all times then I have signally failed in my duty. On the other hand, I think that when we are dealing with foreign affairs, it is all to the good that this country should have a common approach, In dealing with foreign countries we are more likely to be listened to if we speak with one voice than if we speak with a divided voice. That, of course, does not mean that we should conceal or cover up differences if they genuinely exist—if they do exist, we should certainly be very ready to expose them. But I do not feel it to be my, duty, at a time when there are no substantial differences, to try to seek out differences; and on this matter, at any rate, we know exactly where our interests lie. That knowledge is shared by both Parties in your Lordships' House. We all share the principle that we and other nations who think as we do shall be allowed to continue our own way of living, to make our own experiments, and to work out our own destiny free from interference by anybody. That is all we ask, and that we will at all times extend to everybody else. In proceeding on these lines Her Majesty's Government will have the support of Her Majesty's Opposition in the difficult times which lie ahead of us.
§ 3.9 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, I have exhaused my right to speak in this debate, but I crave leave to intervene just for a moment to express to the noble Viscount who is to rise immediately after me congratulations on his jubilee and birthday, and to express from this side of the House our best wishes to him. Fifty years on, growing younger and younger, long may he remain with us to charm us with his wit, to chastise us with his apposite quotations and to differ so agreeably from all of us, not excluding many of the members of his own Party!
§ 3.10 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
My Lords, I am indeed deeply touched by the very kind observations that were made by the Leader of the Opposition and the Acting Leader of the House with regard to myself. I am most grateful to them. I would take this opportunity of expressing my thanks to the noble Lords in general for the great kindness that they have always shown me during the fifteen years that I have endeavoured to labour in the service of your Lordships' House. I am afraid that, in view of the great traditions of the House, and of the high importance of the matters that come before us for deliberation, there are many noble Lords who do not seem to be as well aware of the inadequacy of my services as I am myself.
Since this is the day for the consideration of foreign affairs, I shall of course not speak at all on domestic matters; but as no one spoke from this Bench yesterday, I think it right to give notice to Her Majesty's Government that at some suitable time I shall draw attention to what might be said in Ireland to be a matter in the Queen's Speech which is not there —namely, the failure to mention any fulfilment of a promise that was given before the last Election, that the Conservative Government would summon an all-Party conference to consider the composition of your Lordships' House. I observe that nothing has been said on this occasion, and nothing was said in answer to a Question that I put a few months ago. I shall, therefore, before long put down a similar Question to the Government, and I trust that I may receive a sufficient reply. Mr. Asquith said of the reform of the composition of the House of Lords forty years ago that it "brooked no 96 delay. "It has been "brooking delay" all that time, and I should not be surprised, unless this Government take action speedily, if it did not continue "brooking" for another forty years.
Nor shall I engage this afternoon in a general survey of international relations, such as that which the noble and learned Earl has, with such ability, undertaken to-day. I shall not touch upon the integration of Europe, for my noble friend Lord Layton, who is a Vice-President of the European Assembly, will speak to your Lordships on a matter with which he has a fuller cognisance, perhaps, than almost anyone in your Lordships' House. Nor shall I speak about Egypt or Persia, or any of those more distant matters.
But I should like to be allowed to take the opportunity of saying that I think a tribute should be paid in your Lordships' House to the Foreign Secretary, Mr. Eden, for his indefatigable labours in promoting the interests of this country and the peace and wellbeing of the world. We sometimes have Ministers who show a great deal of activity but who possess little tact; and we sometimes have Ministers who are so tactful that action disappears almost into nothingness. But Mr. Eden possesses both those qualities. He has a remarkable power of initiative, and he makes his case so palatable that he wins support for it wherever he goes. He is not like Russia, who, in the cause of peace, goes about the world slashing other nations in the face with an olive branch. I think that the country as a whole, and public opinion in general, is well content that in these dangerous and difficult times, its foreign affairs should be in the hands of Mr. Eden.
To-morrow, he leaves us and takes wing for New York to attend the meetings of the United Nations. No doubt, he will proceed to Washington and will see the President-Elect of the United States. Those matters are the only ones to which I shall address myself this afternoon. As it happens, on this day, November 6, which, as has been mentioned, is a date of some importance to myself, I was once present at a Presidential Election in New York, as long ago as 1888, sixty-four years ago, when Harrison defeated Grover Cleveland. That day was my eighteenth birthday, and a simple arithmetical calculation makes it impossible for me to conceal my present 97 age. At that time, the population of the United States was 60,000,000. It is now close upon 160,000,000. The country was then almost entirely an agricultural one. Its productive capacity is, of course, nowadays enormous. I was there in the spring of this year, paying my fifth visit, and the growth in productive capacity and in material prosperity has been astounding, compared even with recent visits; far more so when compared with the visit of sixty-four years ago.
Now, the people of the United States, in that august procedure of a Presidential Election, in which tens of millions of citizens take part, with due care and deliberation, have appointed as their President-Elect one who was the Supreme Commander of the forces of the whole world ranked against the Axis Powers in the last war and who, by his efficiency and by his charm, won the confidence of all of them. General Eisenhower was in London in July last year, or, the eve of Independence Day, July 4, and addressed a banquet arranged by the English Speaking Union, of which the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, was Chairman, and at which the Prime Minister was present. On that occasion, General Eisenhower addressed himself really to the British people. His speech was, however, inadequately reported, and I think that it would be of interest to your Lordships if I were to quote, from a verbatim report with which I have been furnished, some passages from that speech in which he stated his outlook on matters of Anglo-American relationship, of Korea and of Europe, for I am sure that would be far more interesting than hearing at second-hand from America what he is likely to think. Here, General Eisenhower was addressing the British people a little more than a year ago. He referred first to the fact that the following day was Independence Day, and he said:One hundred and seventy-five years ago the Founding Fathers of the American Republic declared their independence of the British Crown. Little could they have known, in the heat and bitterness of the hour, that that severence, accomplished in passion, would through the years flower into an alliance of such fitness and worth that it was never recorded on legal parchment but only in the hearts of our peoples. The bond that joins us, stronger than blood-lines, than common tongue and common law, is the fundamental conviction that man was created to he free, that he can be trusted with freedom, that governments have as a 98 primary function the protection of his freedom. In the scale of values of the English-speaking people freedom is the first and most precious right.I will read another paragraph which occurred a little later in the speech:We earnestly hope that the call for a truce in Korea marks a change in attitude. If such a welcome development does occur, the brave men of the United Nations forces did much to bring it about. We entered that conflict one year ago resolved that aggression against free and friendly South Korea would not be tolerated.Then he went on to say:The stand in Korea should serve notice in this area,"—referring to Europe—as well as in the Far East, that we will resist aggression with all the force at our command.He went on to speak of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and to say:We must develop promptly the material force that will assure the safety of our friends upon the Continent and the security of the whole free world.He proceeded afterwards to dwell upon the necessity for the integration of Europe, in its own interest and in the interests of America and of the world at large. It was not surprising that that address was received at the time with very warm approval, and I think your Lordships will agree that those passages are a good augury for the policy which General Eisenhower will adopt when he sits in the Presidential chair and bears the very great responsibility of leading and wielding the power of that mighty nation.
The United Nations is now the vital centre of world politics. May I say, by the way, that when visited it last spring the new building, which will be familiar in appearance to your Lordships from photographs, even if you have not yourselves seen it, struck me as being achitecturally repellent? The principal element in it is an enormous upright, unrelieved slab of windows—hard, dominant, featureless. It may, of course, be efficient for its purpose, but great and necessary a factor as efficiency is in life, it is not the only factor in personal relations or in human welfare, and that building did not seem to me to be a symbol of a gracious and friendly world civilisation. At all events, I was glad to learn that it is not to be initiated in the new United Nations building in Paris, and I earnestly hope that no such building will ever be erected 99 in London. Of course, it is not the outside of a building that matters, but the proceedings that go on within. It is depressing to find among ordinary opinion, in public opinion in general, some faltering of faith in the United Nations; the feeling growing up here and there, owing partly to the prolonged war in Korea, and partly to the incessant use of the veto by Russia, that the United Nations is of little use in its greater purposes. That is depressing.
After the First World War we all thought that mankind had learnt its lesson from that bitter experience, from those dreadful casualities. Indeed, all the better elements of mankind, including then, it was hoped, the United States, agreed to band themselves together to erect such a world organisation as would preclude any repetition of such a disaster. But the League of Nations failed, as we know, owing to the fact that Germany, Italy and Japan did not wish, as a principle, for enduring world peace. Then, accordingly, came the Second World War, and again man took thought within his own heart and said: "We must make another effort to prevent these hideous calamities." And the United Nations sprang into being, with the United States, with Russia, and comprising the greater part of the countries of mankind. Would it not be a terrible thing if this too were to fail; if this too were allowed to collapse, and that yet a third time such a catastrophe should befall mankind?
When the Korean war broke out, instantly America sprang into the breach to resist aggression; fifty nations rallied in her support and the aggression was stayed; but, unhappily, the war continues. This much stands to the good of the United Nations; that they did not commit the fatal error which was made by the League of Nations when Italy invaded Abyssinia, and when, to the discredit really of the British and the French Governments together, that act was allowed to go by default. Here a similar case was not allowed to go by default, but was instantly met by effective opposition. I am glad to know that at all events Her Majesty's Government are not losing faith in the United Nations or their determination to support it, for the first paragraph of the political parts of the two speeches of Her Majesty the Queen which we have heard in your Lordships' 100 House (the first on the Prorogation of the last Session and the second three days ago) reaffirms the determination of Her Majesty's Government to give the fullest support to the ideals of the United Nations. I for one most firmly believe that in the United Nations, and there almost alone, lies the real hope for the future of mankind.
It is well that we should consider, if we find the United Nations faltering and in difficulties, whether it is wholly due to Russian obstruction or whether some mistakes may not have been made on our side. I think that two mistakes have been made. In the first place, membership of the United Nations has been allowed to remain very incomplete. Seventeen States—about one-quarter of the whole number of the countries of the world—are excluded, not because they are unwilling to come in but because they are barred from the inside. Indignantly they wait. clamouring to be admitted. They have been excluded either on ideological grounds or as reprisals against other exclusions. It is not the Parliament of Man when certain States are excluded from membership because we disapprove of their manners, their methods or their principles. For several years past, whenever international questions have come before your Lordships' House, I have brought forward this point for your Lordships' consideration: that it is of vital importance to throw open the membership fully to all the countries of the world. At first, mine was the only voice that was raised, but last year the Labour Party approved that policy, and last year again, in November, Mr. Eden, referring to these matters in the House of Commons, said:I approach these problems with a new mind. I should like to see the United Nations much more representative.More important than all, as this question has been brought year by year before the United Nations Assembly itself, feeling there has been growing rapidly in this direction, and in February of this year a vote was taken in the Assembly on a Resolution moved by Russia calling for the admission of all, or almost all, the excluded Powers. The voting was as follows: For, 32; Against, 21; Abstentions, 16. The Resolution was not carried because, by the Constitution of the United Nations, a two-thirds majority was requisite. But in the ranks of those who 101 abstained and did not vote against Russia were France, Great Britain and most of the British Dominions, while, unfortunately, amongst those who voted against the Resolution was the United States.
I submit to your Lordships that it is not a matter of choice for us whether we approve of China, for example, and think she would be a desirable member. The United Nations is not a club such as will allow its present members the right to blackball anyone whom they dislike; and to seek to exclude any on the grounds of their ideologies is really to try to turn the United Nations into a one-Party Assembly. It is the totalitarian principle; not the democratic principle. It was the ruin of the League of Nations that it became a one-Party Assembly, and certain States knew that they would always be voted clown whenever two or three of the Great Powers took a particular line of which they disapproved. We must accept the nations of the world for what they are, and it seems to me a travesty of the purpose of the United Nations that the seat in the Security Council which is allotted by the Charter to China should be occupied now by the representative of a Government which controls no part of China except the island of Formosa.
Those Powers that have been excluded have been Spain (she was excluded at the foundation of the United Nations because she had been so closely connected with the Axis Powers who had just been defeated in the war) and, for owing upon that, Hungary, Bulgaria and Roumania, who were excluded on the motion of Great Britain and other Powers because they had not observed their Treaties with regard to individual rights. This is the crucial point—and I would ask your Lordships' to forgive me if I dwell upon it and remind you of the facts with regard to these three States, because all the Russian vetoes have been in reprisals for their exclusion. Russia has vetoed Italy, Eire, Ceylon and many others until her own clients, so to speak—Hungary, Bulgaria and Roumania—can be admitted. The reasons for which those three countries have been excluded were that the Peace Treaties that have been made with them provide that they bind themselves to take all measures necessary to secure for all persons under their jurisdiction, without distinction, human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, of the Press, 102 of publication, of religion, of political opinion and of public meeting. That is admirable as a principle. As a Liberal, I could do nothing but applaud a clause like this which is in conformity with one of the main principles of Liberalism.
But the Charter of the United Nations itself says, in Article 2:Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorise the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State or shall require the members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter….Here, admittedly, there is a conflict between the provisions of the Treaties and the provisions of the Charter, and the matter could not come into the international sphere at all if those three countries had not signed Treaties. Because they have signed Treaties and broken them, that is the casus which is brought before the United Nations. But if you look at the spirit and intention of the Charter itself, you find that it certainly would not contemplate that any country should be arraigned or, still more, excluded from membership on grounds such as failure to fulfil these obligations. What have any of those countries done that Russia has not done, and has not done for twenty or thirty years? Yet Russia was admitted to the United Nations, and no one would now wish to expel her.
Only a day or two ago—I take this from yesterday's edition of The Times—Her Majesty's Government sent a note to the Secretary-General of the United Nations submitting evidence of the violation of human rights by Bulgaria, Hungary and Roumania. That was in answer to a request from the United Nations that they should give reasons for these exclusions. Amongst the instances given—many of which are gross and obvious—I read these:In Hungary, for instance, there are being published only about one-tenth of the books published before the war…. All the works of such writers as Sir Stafford Cripps are banned; also all of Conan Doyle, Rider Haggard, A. A. Milne, and Miss Daphne du Maurier …Among the works of American writers, Louisa Alcott's Little Women and several other books of similar character are included. Is it really the intention of the United Nations to exercise, so to speak, a super-censorship over other people's 103 censorships? The world cannot be governed on those lines. It seems to me unreasonable that those countries should be excluded, even though they have committed such offences as exercising a censorship like this, and that cannot be compared with such things as mock trials, executions and purges. We cannot govern the world from New York any more than we could continuously govern the great British Colonies from Whitehall. We must accept these countries as they are, and we cannot enforce this rule because the people of Hungary, for example, are denied access to the volumes of Conan Doyle and Rider Haggard.
These are the two faults, as I see them, in the United Nations: its membership is too small and its attributions of power are too large. It ought to observe more strictly and with more respect the provision of Article II that there should be no inteference with matters which properly come within the domestic jurisdiction of any State, however evil or wicked we may think those actions are. It is useless merely to deplore the weakness and possible collapse of the United Nations. We ought to try to do something constructive, and on those two points I venture to suggest that something useful and something constructive may be accomplished.
I have only one other point to add, and that on an entirely different matter, though it is one which will also come before the present Session of the United Nations. Here I speak only for myself and not for my noble friends around me. For five years I had the great honour, as representative of the British Crown and under the supervision of the League of Nations, to preside over the Administration which laid the foundations of the modern State in Palestine. That task was accomplished and all went well for some years afterwards, but of late there have been conflict and war. Although the war is over, there is still no peace, and grave suffering has been caused, particularly to the Arab refugees. I most earnestly hope that the United Nations now will take active steps to bring about a settlement. I have no doubt that in any such process Her Majesty's Government will render their utmost support. I end by quoting famous words, in their literal sense as well as in the symbolic, mystical 104 sense in which they are familiar in the Churches throughout the world:Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT NORWICH
My Lords, I hope that it will not be thought presumptuous in a newcomer if I join my felicitations to a veteran with those which have already fallen from the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, who opened the debate, and from my noble friend Lord Swinton on the Government Benches. It is an additional honour to join an Assembly which contains so distinguished a statesman as the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel. In the speech that he has given us to-day he has shown not only those high qualities of intellect and integrity which have distinguished a long career, but all the vivacity and vigour that many of his juniors must envy.
Although this is the first time that I have had the honour to address your Lordships, I cannot pretend that I am totally unacquainted with Parliamentary usage, and on previous occasions in another place I have had occasion to intervene in debates. But it is so long ago, more than a decade, since I addressed a deliberative assembly, that I feel my technique may have grown rusty, in which case I can only crave your Lordships' indulgence. We are discussing this afternoon the gracious Speech from the Throne. In that Speech, which I thought wholly admirable, there was only one phrase which struck a certain note of misgiving in my mind. Her Majesty was speaking of the continued support which Her Majesty's Government intended to give to the rearmament of our Forces, and added that this would donewith due regard to the need for maintaining economic strength and security.Probably these words hardly attracted the attention of your Lordships. Those few and simple words may seem trite, and even platitudinous. Of course, all efforts of man must be limited by his power to carry them out. But if these words are purely platitudinous, why include them? If, on the other hand, they have some meaning, some significance, what is that meaning and that significance? There have been rumours in the Press that there is at the present time an intention to economise on the re-equipment of our Forces, to cut down expenditure in this 105 direction. Such rumours which have been reported have met with little notice and with no criticism. Proposals to economise are always popular, for the public fondly believe that if less money is being spent they may be taxed less than they have been previously. Therefore, the task of one who criticises economies is always an invidious one.
But what can be the reason, if there is a reason, for reducing expenditure of that nature at the present time? Is there any improvement in the international situation? If so, I should like to be informed about it. We are at war, a fact which is too often forgotten, because the war is so far away. Her Majesty's Forces are engaged at this moment in active warfare. Is this a moment, therefore, to reduce the expenditure in armaments? Has there been any other change that we can notice? Has the voice of Mr. Vyshinsky in the councils of the United Nations become more melodious than that of Mr. Stravinsky? Are there any rumours that the countenance of Stalin is assuming a more benign expression, or that the Cominform are considering sending out a message of peace and good will towards all men? I have not heard of it. I cannot see that there is any improvement in that direction; nor can I see that the war in which we have been engaged for two years or more is proving too easy to win, or that there is any sign of slackening in the resistance of our opponents.
We may be told that it is not an improvement in the international situation but a deterioration in the internal situation which compels economy. I should be sorry to have such a rumour confirmed. This is a matter of finance and, as we know in our private lives, and as the nations know in their public activities, the dictates of finance exercise from time to time dictatorial influence. I do not pretend to have any economic qualifications—and I assure your Lordships that I shall never weary the House with any economic theories or financial views—but I have had some experience of politics. It is more than a quarter of a century since I first held office in the Government; and here am I to speak what I do know. Throughout that period I have never known a moment when the financial advisers of the Government did not say that the situation was grave —except when they said it was nearly 106 desperate. It may always have been so. I remember that in the spring of 1938 we were informed that the cupboard was bare, and that there was nothing to be done but to make drastic economies. As usual, it was the defence services from whom those drastic economies were demanded. In 1938, we in the Admiralty gave up our destroyer programme. Not one destroyer was laid down that year. It was only eighteen months before we found ourselves in the greatest, the deadliest, war that we had ever fought.
If it is not the general improvement in the East or the difficulties in which we find ourselves at home that compels such a policy, perhaps it may be said that the rearmament of Europe is proceeding so satisfactorily, with the assistance of the United States, that we can in future rely upon others to a greater extent, at any rate for the defence of the Western world. I should be sorry to think that we should ever rely upon others for the defence of this island, which is now part of the Western world. When we look at Europe and notice the revival that is taking place there, in which country do we see it most markedly? Undoubtedly we see it most markedly in Germany. The people in that country are working harder, I am assured, than the people in any other country. Perhaps they have a motive for working so hard which other countries do not possess I must confess that I am not quite clear, or quite happy, about the policy of Her Majesty's Government with regard to Germany. At one time we were told that it was our policy to re-educate the German people. I never believed in that policy. I do not believe that one country will take education from another. An old people like the Germans are very hard to teach new ways, and to lead into fresh paths. Apparently, however, we have now abandoned the policy of re-education, and instead of re-educating Germany we are to rearm her; and we are also going to reunite her—a matter to which the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, referred in his speech.
Why should it be our policy to reunite Germany? For 2,000 years of medieval and modern history the German people have behaved no worse and no better than any other people. They gave no more trouble to their neighbours, particularly, than their neighbours gave to one another. They also produced a great series of writers, poets, philosophers, and 107 musicians, with whom the name of Germany will always be honourably associated. That was when they were disunited. For eighty years Germany has been united. During that eighty years they have produced nothing but wars of aggression: the two most costly wars in which the world has even been plunged were caused by Germany. "Therefore," says the civilised world, "we must reunite Germany as soon as possible." Is there any evidence that the proposed policy of re-education which we abandoned has been adopted by the Germans themselves? Is there any sign of a change of mind, or of a change of heart, amongst the German people? I could have produced a roll of newspaper clippings which would have wearied your Lordships. You have only to read the daily Press to see day after day, fresh evidence that the opposite is the case, and that the Germans are more aggressive than ever.
Then there are incidents which do not receive great publicity, and are forgotten. But they show which way the wind is blowing. There was a particularly outrageous one only ten days ago, when an ex-war criminal made a speech to a large assembly which was vociferously cheered by all who heard it. We are told that it did not represent the views of the people who were there, because a great many people who were sitting on the platform were continually handing him notes—which, of course, showed that they disagreed with him. But if you disagree with a speech you do not hand a note to the speaker: either you interrupt him or, in properly conducted assemblies, you await your turn when you can rise to your feet and make a speech emphasising your opposition. You hand notes to your friend, the man who is on your side; the man whom you want to guide and to whom you wish to offer advice. I should be prepared to wager that, had we been able to look over the shoulders of those who wrote those notes, we should have found written in them; "Of course, we all agree with you, but for heaven's sake don't say it now." The whole Press has condemned ex-war criminal Ramcke for his speech. Of course they have condemned him; he has committed a very grave offence—an offence known in England as "letting the cat out of the bag"; and the cat proves to be a man-eating tiger.
108 It is, however, the idea of many people that the Germans will help to defend us. But what in truth will a rearmed and reunited Germany do? Or what shall we do with them when we have reunited and rearmed them? Fortunately, when we have done that it will not be for us to answer that question, because Germany will be the most powerful Power on the Continent; and they will decide what they are going to do with themselves. People fondly believe that we can use this people as you would use a knife with two edges, to fight the Russians. Why on earth should Germany fight Russia? They have done it once, and they have learned, as Napoleon learned, that it is not a paying proposition. What have they to gain from Russia, except a few bare acres in North-eastern Europe? If they turn their eyes West, what have they to gain from the small free nations with vast colonial possessions that surround them? They have to gain the conquest of the West and the possession of Africa. Old people will tell you that the Germans hate the Russians; that the Russians treated them with fearful barbarity, and that it is the Russians they will want to fight. But my studies of history have led me to the conclusion that the ordinary human emotions play little part in great political affairs. Neither love nor hatred enters into the counsels of Ministers: they are swayed by the interests of the people they govern. If there was anything sincere in the late Adolph Hitler it was his hatred of Communism. But did that prevent him from making a treaty with Stalin, and sitting down with Molotov when it suited his designs? Therefore, I should be reluctant to believe that we can rely upon this reunited, rearmed, all-powerful Germany to be our ally in the next war, any more than she was in the last.
A great event has recently taken place in the United States of America: a party that have not been in office for twenty years have been returned to power. Let us be deeply thankful that at the head of that party there is a man who knows this country and who is a true friend of Great Britain; a man who also knows Europe, who has a wise, broad outlook about European affairs, and who knows, also, how vital Europe is to the future welfare of America. We are fortunate to have such a man in such a position. But it would be idle to pretend that the 109 Republican Party stand for exactly the same principles in the United States as do the Democratic Party. Where they differ is in this. The Republican Party are more inclined to the old-fashioned nationalist, and to my mind extremely natural, outlook of the American people, warned as they were against entangling alliances: the idea that Europe is a mass of quarrelling, bitter little nations, and that it would only lead them into trouble to get involved in our affairs. It is a wrong point of view, but not an unnatural one. We are told that isolationism is dead. But the germs of isolationism (if it is dead, it has died very recently) must still exist, just as the germs of disease exist in the healthiest human body. Any kind of encouragement may bring those forces to life again. Readers of the Chicago Tribune, and those who agree with the principles it sets forth, can have no enthusiasm, either for Europe as a whole or for this country in particular.
In the three or four years that lie before us—vital dangerous years; years in which we can see no promise of improvement in international relations this country is going to be closely watched by those people to whom I have been referring in the United States—watched with suspicion. If they see any slackening here in our determination to defend ourselves, what strength will be lent to their voices when they say: "Why should we go on pouring our dollars into Europe; why should we go on pouring our dollars into Great Britain, when they are not prepared even to spend their own money to defend themselves, and not prepared to make the sacrifices that are demanded of them, when our people are making sacrifices for them on the other s de of the Atlantic?" We stand in an all-important position to-day, because we stand between the two worlds. We are the interpreter, the go-between, between the new world in the West and the old world in the East. Therefore, upon us devolves a vast responsibility. We are a link in that chain which stretches from the Iron Curtain to the shores of the Pacific, and beyond. If that link weakens, the chain may break; the confederation of nations may fall into confusion, and we shall he left alone to face our enemies.
§ 4.2 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, I had the privilege of finding my name on the list of speakers, and I decided that 110 I could make no contribution that would be of importance unless, indeed, the speech was unduly prolonged. But there are two reasons why I avail myself of the opportunity which is given me. One is to congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, on his remarkable youth, and to thank him for his speech—a positive contribution towards a lightening of the gloomy prospects of the day, and a positive contribution of great value. He has given the lead in this matter not only here but to the world, and I should like to say this public word of thanks to him for what he has said.
The second reason why I take advantage of this opportunity is to exercise the privilege that the ensuing speaker always has of congratulating a maiden speaker. I hope the noble Viscount, Lord Norwich, will not consider it presumptuous on my part, but he certainly made a maiden speech of note. According to Parliamentary tradition, a maiden speech is something which is vacuous, neutral, tepid, and gives no particular encouragement or offence to anybody. I do not think his maiden speech is qualified in any of those directions. It was virile, and I should like to say that with a great deal of it I heartily concur. I believe that people are viewing with increasing concern the approaching military domination of Europe by the Germans. I believe that, and I am grateful to him for saying it. I should like to ask him one question, and that is, what he sees to he the end of this competition in armaments. Sir Edward Grey, whom he remembers as I do, said quite clearly in his book that competing armaments without negotiations have only one end, and it is that truth which overshadows the minds and hearts of all of us to-day.
With regard to the noble Viscount's place in this House, again I approach it with deference. I hope he will not consider me presumptuous but, of course, everybody here except the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, is much younger in Parliamentary experience than I am. I had been active for twenty years in Parliament when the noble Viscount entered the House of Commons. He is a brilliant diplomat, a brilliant writer and a brilliant speaker. I remember particularly his by-election in Westminster, because I was Secretary of State at that time, and we had an Indian policy which, although it turned out right in the end, 111 did not commend itself to the whole of the Conservative Party. At that time the walls in Westminster were placarded with a picture of the Mahatma and underneath were the words: "Gandhi is watching St. George's." In his victory on that occasion the noble Viscount rendered a very signal service. If I may say so on behalf of the House—I am sure I am echoing the views of everybody—I hope we shall hear from him often, that he will not allow his Francophile feelings to get the better of him, and that he will spend as much time as he can in his native land.
§ 4.5 p.m.
My Lords, in rising to address your Lordships' House for the first time, I am afraid that I am going to give the noble Viscount the maiden speech he rather expects. I have only three weeks' Parliamentary experience compared to the twenty years' experience of the noble Viscount and of some other members of your Lordships' House, and I feel confident of your sympathy on this occasion. My excuse for venturing to address your Lordships is that only a short time ago I returned after three years in the Middle East and, with my former service in Egypt under the Colonial Office and in the Army, I have had fifteen years' experience in the Middle East. Therefore, I cannot help feeling an intense interest and no little anxiety in regard to events in that part of the world. In any other company I might feel a justifiable confidence that this experience would give me some claim to be heard, but that is hardly the case in your Lordships' House, where there are a number of noble Lords with world-famous experience of the Middle East.
In this connection, may I, with deference and humility, add my congratulations to the others which have been offered to the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel? I have spent seven years in Palestine, and although it was a long time after the noble Viscount's rule there, wherever I went in Palestine and in Transjordan, among the leaders and among the peasants, in the big houses and in the small, among the Jews and the Arabs and the complicated religious communities, I found the happiest remembrances and 112 recollections of the noble Viscount's time there. He is remembered with the greatest affection, I am sure, in the new States which have lately risen there.
I can well understand the absence from the gracious Speech of any reference to the Middle East, but there will be many problems and matters of high policy and great delicacy which will face Her Majesty's Government during the coming Session. From all the preoccupations that anyone with my experience of the Middle East may have may I select one or two for your Lordships' attention? Last year we saw great changes in the Middle East, and further changes and developments may well be impending. Dramatic events have occurred in the last few weeks which severally have attracted public concern and anxiety. The combined effect of these changes has not been widely appreciated, and they prompt certain observations which will not, I hope, be regarded as too parochial. Whether we like it or not, and whether we deserve it or not, anti-Western feeling in these countries has much increased, and it tends to concentrate on the United States and ourselves. Gratitude for our victories in the war, where it formerly existed, has sunk beneath a growing suspicion of our intentions. Our efforts to weld the Arab countries together in a Middle East defence pact have failed. Willing partnership in the Atlantic Pact by our friends in Turkey—who alone appear to trust our intentions and share our misgivings—is one of the few encouraging portents in that part of the world.
I feel that if ever we are to win back the confidence of the other Eastern peoples, our approach must be different and our policy must be reorganised. In Egypt we have seen—I think with universal relief—what we hope is the end of a long period of corrupt Governments. The military junta that so abruptly interrupted this appalling régime has started well. It is too early to expect concrete results, and we should abstain from premature criticism. But only yesterday—a propitious occasion—I received a letter from an English lady who lives in Egypt, in which she said:The cost of living has gone down considerably and General Neguib seems to be doing all he can to alleviate the sufferings of the poor people.113 This is obviously no time to embarrass the new leader by hashing up our former proposals, which, as the result of the propaganda and exaggeration which we suspect has been used to cloak the inefficient administration of the Wafd Government, are anathema to the public of Egypt. General Neguib has set himself a task which deserves full encouragement. May we not hope that history will prove him to be, as he appears to us to-day to be, an outstanding leader and a farsighted reformer? We shall trust that the firm establishment of a new and hopeful régime will remove the threat to British lives and property which demanded such a big increase in the garrison of the Suez Canal zone last year, and that considerable reductions may be possible with the reappearance of a wise and stable Government. Will your Lordships forgive me if I am tempted to be diverted to a subject very near to my heart? For the good of the Army such a reduction would be highly desirable. The effect of prolonging the existing conditions, which are very bad indeed—although the military authorities have done a great deal to ameliorate them—and separation from their families are seriously discouraging trained N.C.O.s and men from extending their service and taking a regular engagement, though they are badly needed in our Forces.
If I may turn for a moment to the Sudan, I would say that we have seen the occurring of a momentous constitutional development. That country is about to be launched into self-government. I hope that there will be further opportunites here of discussing the means by which this will be implemented. We have been fortunate in our great proconsuls, who have brought the Sudan out of barbarism and confusion into its present state of prosperity and stability. It has been my privilege to enjoy the intimate friendship for many years of two of them—General Sir Reginald Wingate, and Sir Harold MacMichael. It would be a tragedy if the new Sudanese Government failed to carry on the magnificent work of the Sudan Administration, which, I believe, has been a byword throughout the world for selfless devotion and wise administration in the past fifty years.
One of the problems which have already been referred to by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, is the position of the Arab refugee. If only we could con- 114 tribute quickly to a solution of this problem we should, I feel, demonstrate to the peoples of the Middle East that our powers of initiative are not dead and that our determination to see fair play still survives. There are still 800,000 dispossessed Arabs who have had to leave their homes. The majority are under the charge of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency; and they live on a level which is only just above starvation, in conditions of appalling misery and squalor. Little progress has been made to rehabilitate them, and their resentment increases as time goes on and little is done. Their attitude is that Israel turned them out and confiscated their property and that Great Britain, the former mandatory Power, has abandoned them; and the United Nations are blamed for their present plight and condition. What a potential breeding ground, my Lords, for hatred and Communism!
Until recently there have been few signs of peace between Israel and her neighbours. That new and vibrant State has weathered a number of economic storms, brought about by war and the boycott by the neighbouring Arab countries, and also by the questionable but understandable policy of unrestricted immigration. The collapse of the Nazi régime has not brought about a return to the former tolerance and appreciation of Jewish peoples throughout the world, so that the stream of immigrants continues into that country. But recently, I think, there has been a gleam of hope there too; and here it is interesting that General Neguib has taken a lead. Three things have happened. First, when General Neguib was asked at a meeting of the Arab States to discriminate against the Jewish minority in Egypt he refused, on the basis of their rights of citizenship under the Egyptian constitution; and the motion was defeated. Secondly, General Neguib visited the Jewish community at Ismailia at their synagogue. Thirdly, there has been an encouraging sign from Israel, who have released £l million from the blocked accounts of the Arabs in Israel and have promised to release the remaining£.3½ million if the Arabs follow this conciliatory lead. Can we not do something to foster and encourage this sign of better relations?
I have touched on some of the problems in that part of the world. Great 115 decisions on policy will have to be made regarding other Middle Eastern countries, which call for all our tact and understanding. I should not wish to dwell on the commonplace of our loss of prestige, but rather I should like to stress the fact that our long association with Egypt and the Sudan and our shorter association with Palestine and Transjordan, and indeed Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, have established the framework of good administration—I am not talking about politics—which the Middle Eastern countries are maintaining with appreciation. That is a factor of which we can well be proud. Now is the time for a new kind of help; and it is my hope that in this our new Elizabethan era, those responsible for guiding and directing the policies of Her Majesty's Government in that part of the world will have the imagination and the pertinacity to find new ways of promoting in these sovereign States the freedom, stability and security which is the declared object of our policy.
§ 4.19 p.m.
§ LORD LAYTON
My Lords, by comparison with the great masters of Parliamentary debate whom we have heard this afternoon I am a comparative novice. But speaking as one novice to another, I should like to congratulate the noble Lord who has just sat down after making a maiden speech which certainly suffered from none of the defects suggested as possible by the noble Viscount. Lord Stansgate. I can assure the noble Lord—again as from one novice to another—that anyone who brings first-hand knowledge to this House, and can express it clearly and simply, is certain of a sympathetic and attentive hearing. I should also like to refer to a third" maiden speech and, with Lord Stansgate, to say a word of congratulation to my noble friend Lord Samuel, who gave us what I may call the maiden speech of his second half-century—and a brilliant maiden speech it was!
The gracious Speech touches, in that part of it which deals with external affairs, on a number of special events. I do not propose to speak on any of them but shall confine my remarks to the broader aspects of our foreign policy, based, as it is, on the familiar triangle—the United States, the Commonwealth and Europe. I will start with the United States because, in a sense, it is by far 116 the most topical. The office of President of the United States is one of the two most powerful in the world—I need not mention the other. The election of General Eisenhower to this great responsibility will certainly be most warmly received, as the noble Viscount, Lord Norwich, suggested, in Western Europe, where he has won the highest prestige, both as head of the liberating armies and as Supreme Commander in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. There has never before been a President of the United States who has been so deeply involved in the current affairs of Europe, or one who knows personally its leading personalities.
In picking up the threads of European affairs, General Eisenhower will be returning to a familiar task. No time need be lost in making contacts with a comparative stranger. We know the problems that he will face will be faced not only with sympathetic understanding but with a habit of collaboration which has been developed over the last ten years. Those are very great assets; indeed, they are unique assets and will play a great part in the relations between our own country and the United States. Great hopes, too, will be placed on his visit to Korea. The noble and learned Earl the Leader of the Opposition here this afternoon has questioned whether that is likely to lead to definite results. Clearly, it is difficult to say. It is an imaginative undertaking, but General Eisenhower has acquired in Europe, both during and since the war, the reputation of being able to reconcile the apparently irreconcilable. If he succeeds in Korea, he will take his place among the greatest of the American Presidents.
Again, the noble Viscount, Lord Norwich, reminded us that it is not only a new President who has been elected but a new Congress. Twenty years of Democratic rule has come to an end with the return of a Republican Congress. This will affect mainly the internal affairs of the United States, but we cannot assume that it will not also affect the attitude of Congress in its external policy. For years the United States has dealt with external affairs on a bipartisan basis, and General Eisenhower will certainly desire to continue to do so. But there will be differences in outlook, as well as differences in personnel. In particular, it may well be that those differences will be 117 noticeable in the economic field. In present circumstances, the American tariff is of exceptional importance. We cannot forget that traditionally, the Republicans have been the high tariff party, and the Democrats the low tariff party, in the United States. With the changes of Government one after the other, in the history of the United States, we have seen that when the Republicans have come in the tariff has tended to rise; and time after time when the Democrats have come in there has been a reduction in the tariff. These swings need not necessarily happen again, for the case for high protection has been greatly weakened by the phenomenal and fantastic industrial development of the United States in recent decades. From an economic standpoint, by far the greatest contribution that the United States in present circumstances could make to the recovery, development and strength of the Western world would be to make further substantial reductions in the American tariff. That is a possibility, but we shall have to wait and see what the Republican Congress does in this respect. If General Eisenhower succeeds in checking or reversing the traditional tendency of the Republican Party to raise the tariff, he will have made a most notable contribution to solving the persistent and difficult problem of the dollar gap.
But the possibility that the difficulty of paying our way by our exports may be greater under the new régime, that it may he more and not less difficult, makes it all the more important for us to devise a common policy at the forthcoming Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers. I do riot propose to go over that problem again. I intervened in a debate in your Lordships' House earlier this year, and spoke at considerable length on that subject. I merely want to recall that the theme which I ventured to put before your Lordships then was that in our relations with the United States (and, when I speak of "our relations," I am thinking of the Commonwealth as well as Britain) we should aim at the maximum of collaboration on policy, with the minimum of permanent dependence on the United States, either as a source of supply or as a market. I also ventured to suggest that in our relations with the Commonwealth we should try to do something to associate the Commonwealth countries more closely with 118 the control of the sterling area; and, finally, that it was essential to think in terms of bringing Europe into relation, not only with Britain but with the Commonwealth, because that combination of the Commonwealth and Europe is an area which is subject to many similar conditions.
The commercial relations of the Commonwealth with Europe as a whole are more vital to-day than they were before the war because, on the one hand, the Iron Curtain has blocked out many of the sources of Europe's supplies and, on the other, the United States is not a country on which we should be dependent for vital imports, since it is a country to which it will always be difficult to send large quantities of exports in payment. Therefore, it is the group Europe-Commonwealth which must tend to become more self-contained. There has to be a change in the pattern of trade in that direction. That proposition was put forward as a definite proposal at Strasbourg in September, and Her Majesty's Government were invited to see whether discussions could take place between the Commonwealth, arising out of the Prime Ministers' Conference, on the one hand, and Europe on the other.
It would be very much easier to strengthen links of that kind if Europe were better organised, and therefore, I welcome the declaration in the gracious Speech thatIt will be My Government's aim to strengthen the unity of Europe. They will work in close association with our neighbours in Western Europe and give all possible support to their efforts to forge closer links with one another.These are familiar words; indeed, they follow those of the Washington Declaration of fourteen months ago. We offer Europe encouragement and our association in their attempts at unification. But how is it to happen? Events have been moving fast in the past twelve months, and very briefly I should like to call your Lordships' attention to the way in which they have developed.
Speaking in this House exactly a year ago, I warned your Lordships that at the forthcoming Assembly an appeal would be made to the British Government to define their attitude towards European unity. It would be urged that without British participation there could be only a truncated Europe, unworthy of 119 the name, and that Britain should indicate the terms on which she was prepared to participate in schemes for common defence and economic development. If that were done Europe would endeavour to adapt her proposals to that suggestion. In other words, using the phrase I then used, Britain was being asked to "write her own ticket." It was an easy prophecy to make, especially when one knew what was going to happen. In due course the request was made. It was put with confidence and hope, because it followed immediately after the General Election at which Mr. Churchill—in whom Europe had placed its confidence and whose lead it had followed in the matter of unification—was returned to power. The answer proved disappointing. It appeared that the Conservative Party were no more ready to join either the European Defence Community or the Coal and Steel Pool than were their predecessors—indeed, the Government spoke with two voices.
The reaction was immediate, and during the period of last winter and the beginning of this year the impression was created that Britain was drawing away from Europe. During that period there grew in Europe the opinion that the other countries must act alone, that unless they formed a little federation of six Powers on their own account Europe would break up into the components which existed before the war. It was in this atmosphere, with this background, that the six-Power schemes for defence, and for the Coal and Steel Pool, went steadily forward. The E.D.C. Treaties were signed; the Schuman Pool Treaty was ratified, and the scheme came into effect in the early part of the year. The atmosphere tended towards consolidation of the six Powers and the breakdown of the Strasbourg experiment.
But it seems, after all, that that is not to be the answer. After a bad start the Government acted, and they steadily gained ground, through the early months of this year, until now, once more, the wheel has turned full circle. Arising out of the Lisbon Conference in February, Britain took up commitments of a most vital character in regard to defence when she underwrote the E.D.C., and in March the Secretary of State made the proposal which bears his name for associating this country closely with the developments 120 which are happening on the Continent. It is not surprising that for some time our friends on the Continent wondered whether there was any substance in the Eden Plan. But there has been a growing conviction in Europe, confirmed by Mr. Eden's address to the Strasbourg Assembly in September, that the present Government sincerely wish to take an active part in promoting the solidarity of Europe, and to associate themselves with Europe as far as their other ties permit.
My Lords, the other side of that picture of growing confidence that Britain really does want to come along has been a growing feeling of doubt in France and the Benelux countries as to whether it would be wise to make a general pooling of sovereignty with Germany and without Britain. Just casting over the atmosphere which has been created over the year, I would say that in the first half of this year opinion swung in the direction of belief in the Six-Power Pact as the only possible thing; but in the second half it has moved back to the position of a year ago. But if the psychology of Western Europe is once more the same as it was twelve months ago, the facts have moved forward. We are no longer concerned with academic theories, hut with the application of policies, and the problems to be solved in that atmosphere are specific and urgent.
Let me give three illustrations of that. First of all, in regard to the Coal and Steel Pool, to which the Leader of the Opposition referred in his speech this afternoon, the staff of the High Authority is being assembled at Luxembourg, and there the most powerful organisation yet set up in the international field is coming into being. The Parliamentary body to whom, in the last resort, the new organisation is subject, has met at Strasbourg. This institution of the Coal and Steel Pool is supported and financed by a coal and steel levy on output in those countries which are full members of it. These countries are also pledged—this is a very important commitment—to remove all tariffs between them in respect of those products, and they are to create a single market. My Lords, is it right that countries which do not accept those obligations should have a voice in settling those affairs? The Eden Plan says, "Yes"—and with some reason. We do not know how the Pool will operate, nor how its wide powers will 121 be used. They might prove to be restrictive; they might create a cartel. On the other hand, they might be used as a cartel-controlling device, an international controlling authority restraining monopolistic practices. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Pool will certainly be the mouthpiece of public opinion.
But it is not only in the coal and steel countries that the public are concerned, for these are products which are the basis of the industrial life of the whole of Western Europe, and it is suggested that the representatives of those countries should have the right of comment and criticism. Britain has an even closer association, for she is obviously one of the great producers of both coal and steel. If there is to be a common commercial policy affecting tariffs, prices aid production among the six, if some conscious control of the location of the greatest of the munition industries is to be introduced, if some attempt is to be made to prevent duplication of investment, clearly Great Britain is a vitally interested party: and indeed, if we stay aloof, we might find ourselves facing extremely powerful competition. Therefore, the Eden Plan says "Yes" to the question whether others should be concerned in any way with the organs of that body. Yet if we have a voice in the formation of policy, we cannot expect to do this unless we accept some obligation to adjust our own policy to that of the whole group.
There arises, therefore, the problem of what obligations we are prepared to incur. That is, indeed, the question which Sir Cecil Weir, with his delegation, will have to settle in the coming months. It is the crucial question, because the way in which it is answered will largely determine the shape of the association of this country with the communities which are coming into being, Already it is emerging that there are three types of membership in this particular field: first, the countries who will be full members, pooling their resources under a higher body; secondly, the countries which are prepared to put their industries in association and to co-ordinate their policies; and thirdly, the countries who are concerned directly as consumers of these important basic products. It is being suggested that an attempt should be made in Europe to fit the obligations, as well as the rights, on the basis of a 122 realistic study of the relationship of the different countries concerned. It all sounds extremely illogical, but that is not an argument which should weigh with a country which has been so closely concerned with the Commonwealth. For example, we know that a few years ago the problem of India's place in the Commonwealth arose. The Imperial Crown was the stumbling block to some, while to other members of the Commonwealth it was the main tie, the symbol of the whole association. What happened? It was not a question of black and white, but we have found a way of bringing a republic into the Commonwealth. It was, perhaps, illogical but adapted to the conditions. We should be the last country to refuse to enter into associations which fit the differing conditions and status of the countries involved.
While the Coal and Steel Pool is at this moment being set up in Luxembourg, the further question of a political authority is at an earlier stage of development. But nevertheless it has been posed, and it is to-day in the hands of a Constitutional Committee, which was set up in September and is sitting in Paris, not only with representatives of the six Powers but with observers from the other countries which are members of the Council of Europe. That Committee is going into permanent session from the twelfth of this month until Christmas, in order to produce a draft constitution for presentation—in the first week of January to the Special Assembly of the Six Powers, and in the following week to the Assembly of the whole membership of the Council of Europe. Nothing has yet been disclosed of fie working of that Constitutional Committee, but anyone who follows the European Press will have been able to draw certain conclusions—in particular, that, as I said just now, the feeling that the organisation of Europe must provide for close contact with Great Britain is tending to be a dominant influence.
There have been two schools of thought in relation to the future structure of Europe—those who are looking for a federation with the widest powers and those who are speaking in terms of a minimum solution setting up just sufficient political authority to cover those institutions, such as the Schuman Pool and the Defence Community, which are 123 already coming into being. I think it is clear that the trend of opinion in that respect is to put forward a minimal solution precisely because that solution will make it more possible that Britain and the Scandinavian countries can either be members or become closely associated with it. If I am right in that, it justifies what I said, to the effect that the scale has turned full circle, and that to-day and in the next few months we are going to make the first real attempt to draft a realistic constitution which will meet the needs of the six Powers as well as of the fifteen.
But, of course, we all know that Europe does not stand alone; that we cannot consider the problem of Europe in isolation. It is therefore significant that this same Constitutional Committee has brought into being a liaison committee as a sub-committee, whose function it is to relate this draft constitution for Europe to existing international institutions. That relationship covers several points. First of all, a draft organisation of the six must determine the relationship to the other free members of the Council of Europe. Next comes the question of how it is to be brought into relation, to the existing institutions of Europe, such as O.E.E.C. Finally, and most important of all, it will have to consider how such a constitution fits into N.A.T.O., and how its functions can be related to those other bodies without overlapping, but with Europe regarded as one of the major components of N.A.T.O. Clearly, the work of that liaison committee is of the most vital importance to us. We must play our part in this late-in-the-day attempt to see that these various institutions are properly articulated one to another.
These are ambitious tasks, but, contrasted with the situation a year ago, Europe has now passed from the discussion of academic theory to the application of principles to existing circumstances. This goal of Western solidarity is vital to Britain and is officially approved by all Parties. This Party unity was very marked—dare I say for the first time?—at Strasbourg last September. The unity of the Assembly itself in accepting the Eden Plan—that is to say, the close association of the six, and its relation to the fifteen—was undoubtedly influenced by this unusual agreement among the 124 different Parties represented in the British delegation. I would commend that fact to your Lordships' attention, because it illustrates that, if this country is united in an organisation such as the Council of Europe, its influence is immeasurable. It is only when the Parties fall apart, and we talk with two or three voices, that British influence is undermined. If we are to get definite results, I urge that we should stop getting into heated arguments about the use of words such as "confederation" or "federation," "supra-national authorities" and "intergovernmental organisations." Let us stop talking about the problem in terms of words, for experience shows that if we concentrate on the substance and carefully define the scope and powers of international organisations, and explain in what way we are prepared to participate—what obligations we are prepared to undertake—it will be possible to get a working constitution for the European Region which, if we succeed, would be one of the main buttresses of the whole free world.
§ 4.51 p.m.
My Lords, the main burden of the debate falls on the devoted shoulders of the noble Marquess, Lord Reading. I am sure we all sympathise with him, especially because of the unfortunate absence of the noble Marquess the Leader of the House. I am sure I speak for all your Lordships in hoping that Lord Salisbury will make a quick recovery. I noticed his obvious weakness when he carried out his great functions as one of the high officers of State at the ceremonies attending the gracious Speech, and I was not surprised to hear that he had to lie up. I understand that the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, is to make an extended official tour of Central and South America.
I, for one, am very glad indeed that he is going there. It is high time that someone of his eminence and importance visited those vital areas. I understand he will visit Argentina. I am glad he will be visiting. Buenos Aires. I speak as an old friend of Argentina, as one who knows that country and has many friends there. I am disappointed at the outbreaks of 125 Anglophobia which have taken place recently, particularly in Buenos Aires, but I am sure they have only a shallow foundation. We all know the cause of it and I hope that the matter can be adjusted. But this adds weight to what I have said. We should all be grateful to the noble Marquess for undertaking this mission, and we wish him the greatest possible success.
We have heard two remarkable maiden speeches. I shall refer to a subject raised by the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, in his interesting speech, but I particularly want to congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Norwich, in attacking what I think is the most vulnerable part of the policy of the present Government—their policy towards Germany—and reminding us of the delinquencies of a former Conservative Government just before the war, when the noble Viscount was First Lord of the Admiralty and when that Government had the stupidity and shortsightedness to cut down on the building programme for destroyers. As the noble Viscount will remember, I protested against it at the time. We are grateful to both noble Lords for intervening in the debate and are very glad they have joined our assembly.
The noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, as did the noble Viscount the Leader of the Liberal Party, referred to the State of Israel and her problems. I agree with the noble Lords that the coming into power in Cairo of the strong Government of General Neguib may give a new point of departure in trying to solve the unfortunate differences between Israel and her neighbours. Of course, a great responsibility rests on this country and also on all members of the United Nations. Our responsibility is only too obvious. We liberated the country from Turkish misrule in the First World War and were responsible for it until we abandoned the Mandate, and we cannot give up all our interests in that part of the world, even if we wish to do so. I think it was a great mistake that Israel was not allowed to remain within the sterling area. I think we should make good that mistake by inviting Israel to re-enter the sterling area; and we should redouble our efforts through the United Nations and all diplomatic channels for a solution of the unfortunate differences between Israel and her neighbours. That 126 is of vital importance to all our interests in the Middle East.
With regard to the refugee question, upon which the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, touched, I cannot understand why Israel's Arab neighbours, some of whom have waxed extremely wealthy upon oil royalties, beyond any dreams of their predecessors, cannot do more to settle and employ these unfortunate victims of circumstances. After all, Saudi Arabia has vast areas needing more inhabitants, and that country does not know what to do with the money accruing to it in dollars from oil royalties. That applies also to Kuwait and other States.
I should like to refer to a matter mentioned only in passing by my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition: that is, the result of the Presidential election in the United States and its by-product, the decision of General Eisenhower to fly out to Korea in the near future. That is an event of great importance. There are Presidential elections in America every four years, always very important and exciting, and we always say that we welcome the successful candidate and so on; but this time we have seen elected a great captain of war who proposes to go out to the greatest trouble spot in the world to-day, where, as the noble Viscount, Lord Norwich, has said, we have an actual shooting war in progress, to attempt to settle it.
In this connection I should like to ask where Britain comes in. We are equally interested in seeing an end to the fighting in Korea. This is riot an American war; although, as we know, the Americans are providing the bulk of the forces and at the beginning of the emergency in Korea it was the great gallantry of a few American troops, the only ones available, which saved the situation. I have previously had the honour of drawing your Lordships' attention to her great military deeds at the beginning of the aggression. But this is not only an American war; it is a United Nations war, and we have the second biggest land force engaged and, I understand, a naval force equal to that of our American colleagues. I should have thought that Mr. Eisenhower might have been glad of the company of, for example, Mr. Eden. If I were General Eisenhower I should invite him, and I should invite also the 127 assistance of the leader of the second greatest conglomeration of people in the world—the Prime Minister of India. Throughout the Korean war Mr. Nehru has attempted to make constructive and statesmanlike efforts to brine this unfortunate and bloody business to an end. I believe his prestige is so great, his standing is so high, that a combination of Eisenhower, Nehru and Eden might do some good.
But I should have thought that the real key to the problem was not in Korea at all, but in Peking and Moscow. It is not much further to fly from Korea to Peking, and, although there are no diplomatic relations at the moment between the United States and the People's Government of China, and we have not full diplomatic relations with them, the Indian Government have the fullest diplomatic relations with Peking. I should have thought that it was not impossible to extend the area Óf General Eisenhower's inquiries to Peking. With great respect, I should have thought that General Eisenhower, in spite of his immense abilities and vast experience, would have a better chance of success if he had with him and beside him the leaders of the two great Powers I have mentioned—namely, our own and India. I make that suggestion from the comparative freedom which I enjoy on this Bench, and perhaps with more precision than would have been wise or right from my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition.
I saw in The Times to-day a report of a statement made yesterday by President Truman, which I venture to read to your Lordships. It is part of the general commentary on the new situation in the United States brought about by the election of a Republican President for the first time for twenty years. This is what President Truman is reported to have said:The new Administration and the new Congress would be facing extremely difficult problems, particularly in the field of foreign affairs. The proper solution of these problems might determine whether they would have a third world war—and, indeed. whether they "—that is, the United States of America—would survive as a free and democratic nation.Those are the words of the present incumbent of the office of President of the 128 United States. I submit to your Lordships that those words, being undoubtedly founded on a wide knowledge of the facts, should be taken very seriously indeed, and that anything that can be done at the present time to resolve this horrible situation in which we find ourselves should be attempted.
§ 5.3 p.m.
My Lords, I had not intended to intervene in this debate, and I do so for a few moments only in order to add my good wishes to those which have already been extended to the noble Viscount, Lord Norwich, and to express my admiration for his eloquence. I remember the occasion shortly before the war when the noble Viscount resigned from Mr. Chamberlain's Government. I was one of many, I believe, who sent him a telegram of congratulation on his courage and farsightedness, and he was good enough to send me a friendly reply. In peace and war he has rendered most distinguished service to the State, and his courage has always been one of his outstanding qualities. He referred in terms of rebuke to those who had sat and listenend to the speech of General Ramcke—with whom I would not compare the noble Viscount for a moment—and had failed to do anything to stem the flood of his eloquence. The noble Viscount pointed out that little notes might have been passed, but I do not feel that they would have been much good. He indicated at the end that the only course open to those gentlemen was to rise at a suitable moment and reply to the argument. I know the noble Viscount will welcome an opportunity of crossing swords with those who differ from him as profoundly and passionately as I do, and as I believe do others in this House. I rise to-day only to assure him that I look forward to many arguments with him, and I hope that he will often address this House in the future.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ LORD TWEEDSMUIR
My Lords, as to-day's debate is devoted to foreign affairs and to the affairs of Empire and Commonwealth, I think it right to say a few words under the latter head. We have had a great fiesta to-day—a delightful speech from the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, and two remarkable maiden speeches—and I do not intend to detain your Lordships for long. I listened with 129 the greatest interest to the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, on the subject of the United Nations. My mind went back to a year ago when I was a delegate there, for a period of three months, during the Assembly in Paris. The burden of the noble Viscount's speech was that many people, in fact, many peoples, were wondering a little about the United Nations, and viewing its record with something akin to disappointment. I believe that that is true. I feel that one of the oldest illusions of all democracies is that they imagine that if the representatives of the nations get round a table they will understand each other—and by the use of the word "understand" they really mean "agree." Well, it took this country a very long time to understand Marshal Stalin, and when we did, we did not agree.
There is a great number of charges which I suppose could be made against the United Nations, as far as it has gone. But I think it important to remember that anything one finds that seems to be worthy of blame is not a fault of the United Nations organization, but rather of the nations as they are, and the world as it is. I do not think that that great Organisation can ever be destroyed from outside, but one can never lose sight of the fact that it might destroy itself from within. In my view, we in this country, under a series of Governments, can take a good deal of credit, not only for bringing that Organisation into being, but also for the part we have played since. Quite apart from Britain's material significance in the world, we have for long been looked to for leadership in ideas—and that, I think, we have faithfully exhibited. But I must say, under the heading of what I have just mentioned, that the danger that the Organisation might destroy itself is brought home rather forcibly when this Organisation, which is dedicated to maintaining the rule of law, starts to, break its own rules. I view with a good deal of disquiet the debate in the United Nations the other day when they decided to bring under their purview the treatment of Indians in South Africa. I say nothing whatever about the justice or injustice of that particular item. The really important thing is that that comes fairly and squarely under the section which the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, quoted, as being within domestic jurisdiction. If the United Nations do not keep their 130 own rules, then I believe they are in serious jeopardy.
Turning to another aspect of the part we play, I would point out that we take our rough and tumble in debate, as you would expect, but we are heavily and unfairly attacked from time to time on the score of our Colonial Empire. As we have the largest Colonial Empire, we are the largest target, and we are generally attacked by people who do not wish us well but who wish to play on ancient hates and fears, and to stir up, as often as not, that potential friction between East and West to which the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, referred in his speech. One is not being aggressive in merely standing up for one's own good name. I therefore welcome the extremely forthright, but cool and sensible, speech which Mr. Henry Hopkinson, the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs, delivered on October 21. He pointed out in that speech that when we are criticised we can be forgiven for examining the credentials of the critic; and that if we are attacked by nations whose own subjects in the matter of health, infant mortality, and education, as well as the far deeper spheres of personal liberty, justice, and equality before the law, are on a far lower standard than those of the peoples of the territories we administer, we have every right to resent that criticism.
He further pointed out that advice we welcome and of criticism we are not afraid, but the one thing that makes our position entirely different from that of any other nation there is that we, and we alone, have the responsibility. To quote his own words:It would indeed be a sad travesty of the intentions of its founders if this organisation were to be used as a mechanism for setting people against people, and to keep in being and influence those fears and prejudices which divide the races of mankind rather than unite them.I believe that every one of us will agree that if the United Nations were to fail, it would rob millions of mankind of a hope that has come into being since the last war ended, and would plunge them back into black despair.
Turning to what one might call a more domestic point, in the affairs of the Commonwealth and Empire, I think a good deal of thought might well be given at this stage—though I do not for a moment expect an answer from the Government 131 —about the gradual overlapping of functions between the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office. Not very long ago they did not overlap at any significant point. I believe we are in sight of a time when, as Miss Margery Pelham—who is something of an expert—said in a letter to The Times:A marriage between those two offices is desirable.As it is at the moment, the only direct administration done by the Commonwealth Relations Office is in the three High-Commission territories in Southern Africa.
Under the Colonial Office, the Colonial Service—if you count in the technical officers, as indeed you rightly should—is 96 per cent, recruited from the countries that we govern. As a country gains full control of its affairs, so it goes from under the Colonial Office to the Commonwealth Relations Office—there is a great bundling up and removing of files from one to the other. It may be that that difference of status will be a source of friction. It may be that we should be wise to give thought now to find some kind of pooling of the two and establish a single Commonwealth service. As more and more countries eventually have the entire handling of their affairs, so there will be fewer fields in which the Colonial servant serves. What we must give a man, if we are to attract the right type—and hitherto we have been fortunate in doing that—is some complete guarantee of employment for his life. If the country in which he serves receives its own government, he must be given some guarantee that the whole of his active life will be employed in one sphere or another.
Turning lastly to a point which was referred to in the gracious Speech—that of Central African federation—I cannot believe that anyone would seriously argue that the small nation State has either any security or any future to-day as an isolated unit. The whole trend of the world to-day is towards larger and larger grouping. We see it in the United Nations itself. We have seen it at Strasbourg recently, where nations with a long heritage of ancient hatreds and suspicions have discussed this very thing. In the spheres of economics and defence, the advantages of grouping are so obvious that they require no stressing. In the matter of functional grouping, the matters 132 of defence, transport, and postal service, the case for it in the Central African territories is very clear.
But the whole point of this grouping is at once to get the services together and obtain the maximum strength through pooling, while leaving the greatest local autonomy in their affairs. There are some groups of territories which fit into the idea of federation. Central Africa is one, and the West Indies is another. There are territories like the Falkland Islands that most certainly do not. I believe that the whole problem boils down to something as simple as this. In the three African territories which compose Central Africa, we are liable to be faced, not with a vicious circle, but with a vicious stalemate, where you cannot get more education without more prosperity, and where you cannot get more prosperity without more education. You must therefore prime the pump in some way from outside. I believe that if those three territories were federated, their power of attracting capital from outside would be many times greater than it is at this moment. This issue has been talked over for between twenty and thirty years, and in all that time I believe no alternative has ever been put forward. I do not count as an alternative that we should merely stand still; and nothing organic has ever been put forward. This is a solution, and I believe it to be a sound one. I agree with Mr. John Foster, the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, when he said it is:the highest common factor of the interests of all the races in the three territories.What is more, if it was successful, as I am sure it would be, it would provide a pattern, an example, for other parts of the world to follow. Last of all, it provides something which is not merely a middle course between the two nationalisms of Africa—that of Doctor Nkrumah and that of Doctor Malan—not merely a middle course so as to be equally distant between two poles, but an honest, hopeful, British and Christian alternative.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ LORD HANKEY
My Lords, for the first time in twelve years I am an interloper in this debate, for I came here without the slightest intention of speaking. Before I explain why I have done this, I should like to say that, looking round the 133 House, I believe that, with the one exception of my noble friend Lord Stansgate, I am the oldest in official life who has been connected with the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel. In my case it goes back certainly, I should think, to 1908—anyway, between 1908 and 1910—when I was a young assistant-secretary of the Committee of Imperial Defence. I have had the unique distinction or having observed him at very close quarters as an official and as a Minister, and I have never felt greater admiration for him than I feel to-night. I should also like to join other noble Lords who have spoken in congratulating the new members of this House on their maiden speeches. But I shall not be drawn off, even by the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, into the Middle East, with which my own life for many years was, and still is, connected. I have been drawn into speaking by my noble friend Lord Norwich. I congratulate him, and I congratulate the House, on the vigour and the grand delivery of his speech, which I cannot pretend to emulate.
I should like to begin on a cheerful note, as I shall end on a cheerful note, by saying that I cordially agree with my noble friend that at the present time we cannot afford to weaken in any way on rearmament. I do not think that the passage in the gracious Speech really intends to suggest that. If I may reinforce the reasons—the strong reasons—that the noble Viscount gave, I should like, if your Lordships will permit me, to read a brief quotation from a speech by General Ridgway at the Pilgrims' Dinner:Although our forces to-day are far stronger than they were two years ago, and have been greatly augmented by Greece and Turkey, we are still far from the minimum we need to deal with an all-out surprise attack.And then a little later, developing that thesis, he continues:We have yet to reach our minimum military requirements. Until we do, military commanders cannot accept responsibility for lessened effort or reduced goals. They must face the fact that the potential aggressor is capable of moving at any time of his choosing in strength much greater than to-day we can muster. We have no information which would lead us to believe that this strength has in any way diminished since our requirements were jointly estimated and jointly agreed. On the contrary, our information indicates it has definitely grown and continues to grow.I would emphasise the words:… requirements were jointly estimated and jointly agreed….134 The meeting of those requirements did point—after, I am sure, the most careful consideration—to the desirability of Germany, whose interests are so closely bound up with our own in this matter, having an important part to play in the affairs of the North Atlantic Nations. In other words, the Germans form an essential part of the balance of power against that political system which is already in hot war against us in Korea, as the noble Lord has said, and in cold war all over the world.
My noble friend suggests that Germany cannot be counted on. But all that has been gone into very carefully. I am sure—and I do not think anybody has ever denied—that there was a choice of dangers in this. But the decision has taken shape in the treaties which we ourselves have ratified and which we are only waiting for a few other nations to ratify. I think it is too late to go back on all that, and I cannot conceive that we should, for where is to he found the balance of strength that is needed except in Germany? Our own rearmament will not supply that deficiency—it cannot. We have great air forces and can make a terrific contribution with them; and, of course, our navy is always a most reliable force. But we have not the manpower to raise great armies, and we have not the geographical position that Germany has to enable us to redress the balance of power and, therefore, build up peace. If I understood the noble Viscount aright, he implied that the Germans had not sufficient incentive to oppose the Communist threat. Well, my Lords, surely when one reflects that one-third of that country has been overrun and is in the possession of the Communists, one can imagine what it means to them: they are at close quarters with Communism. Supposing Scotland were in Communist hands, surely we should sink old differences in order to redress that. I cannot imagine a stronger incentive.
My memory goes back to the time when I first went to sea. In December, 1898, I joined the Mediterranean Fleet just after the Fashoda crisis. For days or weeks the Fleet had been prepared for war. I had been brought up to believe that France was our hereditary enemy. But under the threat from the East we and France came together, and we now have the strongest affinities, the strongest mutual trust that we have ever had in 135 our history. That trust grew up under a common threat. It was sealed in the First World War and made closer still by the Second World War. I am not, of course, asking that we should have any wars to seal our arrangement with Germany, but surely if we could reverse history, as we did reverse it in the case of France, we ought to have a very good try to reverse it in the case of Germany.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, this has been a memorable debate. I pass over the speech of my noble Leader, and I hope that he will not mind my doing so. We have heard the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel. I hope he will not be bored by one more tribute to him and to his speech to-day. It was a speech to which we all listened with great pleasure; it was one which many a man half his age would have been proud to deliver. With his sentiments most of the House will be in substantial agreement. I hope, in the course of my speech, to comment on one or two of the statements which the noble Viscount made. We have had two remarkable maiden speeches. I have heard the noble Viscount, Lord Norwich, on other occasions in another place. I should like to assure him that, in spite of his long absence from political controversy, his hand has by no means lost its cunning. He put his case in a way which I am sure will add lustre to his name, and we assuredly hope that he will speak often. It was a very courageous speech. It is courageous to disagree with one's own Party; it is even more courageous to disagree with both Parties. And when, in addition to that, the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, also enters the arena and indicates his own disagreement, there is a very formidable combination for Lord Norwich to have to face. The noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, made the kind of speech which we in this House always want to hear, a speech that was well-informed, a speech which the noble Lord was able to deliver with first-hand knowledge—and, even more, I think, a speech which showed his tolerance and broad-mindedness. I hope that he will often come here and talk to us about the affairs of the Middle East.
The noble Viscount, Lord Norwich, rather disagreed with statements that have been made, I think by the Prime Minister, 136 among others, that international tension is less to-day than it was two or three years ago. I would respectfully suggest to the noble Viscount that he is wrong. I think tension is less, and possibly for the very reason that there has been an increase in the strength of the Powers that are in conflict with the Soviet Union and their friends. It seems to me that there can be little doubt that the tension, the fear of imminent war, has somewhat lifted in the past few years. But the cold war still continues, and continues in an intensive form. There have been attempts to break through the cold war, to get to discussions, and a large number of Notes have passed between ourselves and our friends and the Soviet Union. I cannot help feeling that we shall not improve the situation by these exchanges of Notes, which get longer and longer, and more and more involved—and, if I may say so, duller and duller. All these Notes, and all the attempts at discussions with the Soviet Union, have turned, not on the actual things about which we disagree, but on endeavouring to settle an agenda. We are still trying to settle an agenda. The four Powers spent many months in Paris, through their Under-Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs, trying to settle an agenda; and they failed. It seems to me that it would perhaps be wiser not to try to settle an agenda but to get down to talk and to meet, and to meet without publicity and without the danger of each side trying to make propaganda out of the discussions that take place, or out of the Notes that pass. That, at any rate, is worth trying. I feel that we shall not get anything merely by exchanges of Notes.
In passing, may I ask what has happened to the proposal of the Prime Minister personally to visit the Soviet Union and to talk to Stalin? I always thought that that was a good idea. I never thought that we could go wrong with it. I know that it has been put off, because the ground has to be prepared, and that it is useless to have conversations unless the ground is thoroughly prepared. But we can get into a very great morass of controversy even in preparing the ground. I feel that the Prime Minister, or possibly Mr. Eden, would lender a very great service to the cause of civilisation if one of them could visit the Soviet Union to see whether, by means of personal conversations, we could get 137 beyond the stage of merely trying to agree upon agendas for subsequent conversations.
A number of speakers have referred to the American Election. The election of a President in the United States is, of course, a matter for the American people themselves, and it would be impertinent for anybody in this country, or anybody outside the United States, to express any opinion upon the results of the Election. But the election of a President in the United States in present-day circumstances is something which concerns more than the United States alone. It concerns the whole world, and while no one would wish to intervene in America's domestic affairs, I think we are all entitled to express some hopes on the result of the Election, in its international context, and I think we are entitled to endeavour to assess what are the possible repercussions of the election of Mr. Eisenhower as President of the United States of America. It seems to me that at the present time we are by no means clear. We have heard quotations from Eisenhower's speech at the Pilgrims' dinner. They are, of course, unexceptionable. But it would be folly to blind ourselves to the fact that in the course of the Election there were a number of conflicting policies enunciated, and a number of conflicting influences at work. There was the policy of relative isolation. I do not think that any responsible person in the United States to-day is advocating complete isolation, but there is certainly a strong element which advocates relative isolation, and relieving themselves to a certain degree of responsibility to Europe.
There is the policy of containment. That is very much the policy which exists to-day, and in one part of the Election we also had the policy of liberation—that is, of liberating the satellite countries of the Soviet Union from their alleged enslavement. We shall watch anxiously to see what emerges. Of course, we very much hope that common sense, and even self-interest in the United States, will prevail, because we believe that the interests of the United States of America are very deeply involved with the interests of ourselves and of the people of Europe. I personally am very glad that Mr. Eisenhower is going to Korea, but I 138 would associate myself with my noble friend Lord Strabolgi in the wish that it will be possible for him to be accompanied by somebody representing this country. After all, the Korean war is not a United States war: it is a United Nations war; and we should at any rate give some appearance to a visit to Korea being for the purpose of endeavouring to put an end to the hostilities; that are being carried out under the auspices of the United Nations.
A good deal of reference has been made to Germany. I do not think it is profitable at this stage to go back on the ratification of the Bonn Agreement. But I feel that there are many people who have had doubts and hesitations as a result of the events of the past few weeks. I do not think it is unfair or wrong to point that out. Many of us are worried at the release, on the grounds of clemency and their ill-health, of war criminals who, once they are released, achieve a miraculous cure: the blind see, and the lame are able to walk and to carry on heavy activities, and, indeed, to concern themselves with rather dangerous organisations of ex-Service men. Many people are particularly worried by the inflammatory speeches which are being made by neo-Nazis, and especially by the speech of General Ramcke. I should like to ask the noble Marquess who is to reply what the Government's view is about this matter. Are they doing anything about it? Is it possible for us to make sure that inflammatory speeches of this kind are not made, and that people who, after being released on the grounds of clemency and of their ill-health, are able to take an active part in these occurrences, are sent back to confinement?
Other doubts which one has felt in the past few weeks concern the question of German rearmament. There is the question of relations between France and Germany. Concerning the Saar there is complete disagreement between the two countries, and until agreement has been reached it certainly looks as if the French will not be prepared to ratify the Bonn Agreement. There is also some doubt as to whether, from the point of view of the German constitution, the Agreement itself is legal. But I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, that this country has now committed itself to ratification, though with very considerable doubts and hesita- 139 tions, and I would not wish to re-argue this case to-day.
Now I want to say one or two words about the United Nations. I agree completely with the statement in the gracious Speech referring to our "whole-hearted attachment to the ideals of the United Nations," but, like other noble Lords who have spoken in this debate, particularly the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, and the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, I am a little concerned about what is happening to the United Nations. I think none of us wishes the United Nations to become discredited or to undertake things which it is unable to see through. It is far better not to start these things at all than to start them and have to abandon them because of lack of powers, or lack of ability to enforce decisions. There is the question of France and North Africa. The United Nations are to discuss the difficulties between France and Morocco and Tunisia. France has stated quite clearly that, whatever the decision of the United Nations may be, she will ignore it and will go her own way.
We have had the same kind of thing in the dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. India has decided that, whatever the views of the United Nations may be, she will pursue her own course. The same applies in South Africa. The South Africans are not going to take any notice of intervention by the United Nations. Then we have the long-standing difficulties between the State of Israel and the Arab countries where, in spite of every endeavour by the United Nations, the countries are still nominally at war. We who are important members of the United Nations Organisation ought to be thinking seriously about what line we are going to take to ensure that the United Nations is made an effective instrument for securing peace between nations, and for seeing that its decisions are not flouted, as appears likely to be the case. I believe that we have a big contribution to make if only we preserve our independence and have the courage of our convictions. I must say that I do not believe that abstaining from a vote shows a great deal of courage.
The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, referred to the vote on the admission of members. The Soviet Union proposed that all those who have been rejected in 140 the past should be admitted en bloc. That proposal was opposed by the United States, and although a majority of nations voted in agreement with it, there were abstentions. But surely this is a clear-cut issue, on which we ought to have a view one way or the other. It does not show much courage to refrain from saying whether or not these nations should be admitted en bloc. It seems to me that not merely ought we, of all countries, to have a definite view on these matters, but we ought to take the lead. If we think it is right—and after the statement of the noble Viscount I should have thought there could be little argument that it is absolutely right—that all nations should be admitted into the United Nations, or at any rate that the grounds for their non-admission, as put forward by those against admission, are invalid, we should take the lead in ensuring that those nations are admitted.
In the course of the debate we have had some discussion about the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The noble Viscount, Lord Norwich, took exception to some words in the gracious Speech which he thought somewhat qualified our determination to rearm to the fullest possible extent. I do not think that the words to which he referred are intended to qualify, although I think they may well be redundant. Certainly they are somewhat platitudinous because they state a self-evident proposition—namely, that no nation can rearm beyond its strength. Indeed, it goes a little beyond that in this case, because it has been found necessary to extend the period of rearmament beyond the original period of three years. I suppose that although the extent of the rearmament is not being reduced, the fact of the period being extended does involve a slowing down and, therefore, a reduction of arms. But I think that that is inevitable, and it may mean merely that the original target was too great, that we were mistaken in thinking that we could achieve that target.
But of course the position is much more grave than is suggested by the mere prolongation by us of the period of rearmament which we have set ourselves, because other countries are in a very much worse position. I see that the Italian Minister of Finance has announced that Italy is quite unable to carry out a rearmament programme. It is not clear I exactly what he means by that, whether 141 he means that they are unable to carry out any sort of rearmament programme; but certainly they are not able to carry out anything like the programme that they set before themselves. The same thing applies to France. The French, indeed, are demanding that they should have a three years' financial agreement with the United States, so that they may know where they are, if they carry out the programme they set before themselves. Of course the position of Germany is still indeterminate. We have ratified the Bonn Agreement, but no other country, so far as I know, has done so. Certainly, no real start has been made with the rearmament of Germany, and I doubt whether any start can be made for some considerable time. May it not be that at the Lisbon Conference we set before ourselves targets which were unrealistic and incapable of being reached, and that there may be a need for further consideration, further meetings, in order to prepare a more realistic target—one which really will be reached?
I want to conclude by asking the noble Marquess who is to reply, and who I am glad to hear is going to visit South America, whether he can tell us something about the purpose of his visit. I realise that he will, assuredly, be visiting the Argentine, and the reference to the strengthening of ties with the South American countries probably has particular relation to the Argentine. I see that the noble Marquess indicates dissent, so with all the more reason, I suggest with respect, I ask him if he will say something about his forthcoming visit, in order to remove any misunderstanding. While welcoming that visit to the South American States by a person of the noble Marquess's eminence and ability, and feeling quite convinced that it will do nothing but good, I think we should like to know a little more about the purpose of that visit and what the noble Marquess is hoping to achieve by it. I hope that the absence abroad of so many members of the Government who are concerned with foreign affairs will not deplete us too severely in this country, for we still need someone here to look after things. I notice that Mr. Selwyn Lloyd is away, Mr. Eden is going away and the noble Marquess is going away. I take it that adequate arrangements are being made to carry on the normal activities of the Foreign Office during their absence.
142 This debate, on the whole, has been rather uncontroversial. We are, I am happy to say, reaching very much of a bipartisan state in regard to foreign affairs in this country—and so it ought to be because, particularly in the realm of foreign affairs, we are all striving to achieve the same purpose. We wish this country to be free and strong, to live at peace and to be able to carry out its normal development. Although there may be disagreement sometimes about methods, I am happy to say that with regard to the present state of foreign affairs, in general there is very little disagreement. Therefore it may well be that the noble Marquess has been left with very little to deal with in his reply. We have no criticism at all to make of the statement in the gracious Speech relating to foreign affairs. We hope sincerely that, as the result of Her Majesty's Government's activities in the forthcoming year, it will be possible to report at a future date that the tension has been still more relieved and that we are much nearer to peace than is the case at the present moment.
§ 5.55 p.m.
THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE MARQUESS OF READING)
My Lards, it falls to me now, in the regretted and regrettable absence—regrettable both by reason of cause and effect—of my noble Leader, to make the final speech in a debate which had its origin in the radiant and memorable ceremony which took place in this House two days ago. In that ceremony and in the manner of its performance there was very much to admire, not only with our heads but with our hearts, and I would respectfully add this: that nothing could have been more impressive to those of your Lordships who have to contend daily with the acoustic vagaries of this Chamber than the fact that every syllable of the gracious Speech, effortlessly spoken, was as effortlessly heard by everyone, alike on the floor and in the galleries of the House. That, as no one knows better than your Lordships, is a remarkable and, indeed, an enviable feat.
This debate has been a happy occasion for us in that we have been able in our various turns to seize upon the particular day to pay a tribute to the noble 143 Viscount who leads the Liberal Party in this House. I am reminded of a figure of mythology called, I think, Tithonus, who, on being offered a gift by the gods, short-sightedly chose eternal life, forgetting that what he really wanted to choose was eternal youth. The noble Viscount has made no such mistake. He has to-day, in many ways, a unique position in the country, and in that microcosm of the country which is this House; and I think, if I may say so, that it may be because in this House his speeches have always been wise, witty and generous, and never trite, trivial or mean. There are not a few of us now in this House who in the past, either here or in another place, have sat either beside or behind him, and I am sure it is to them, as it certainly is to me, a deep satisfaction to realise that, although the actual political bonds may have been severed, Lord Samuel has never withdrawn from us either his unvarying kindness or his unclouded friendship.
The debate has further been memorable for two maiden speeches, one by an old friend with whom, I think, I first crossed tongues some forty years ago in the Oxford Union. Since then the noble Viscount, Lord Norwich, has rendered many and varied services to the State. If his career was at one moment interrupted, it was from no failure of his own but under compulsion of his own conscience. Happily his absence was short-lived, and since then he has rendered further service and gained added honours. We can only hope that he will not too often take "French leave," but will be available to stimulate and embellish our debates. The noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, also made a most acceptable, because it was a most informed, contribution to our debate. This is a House which, unfortunately for those who have to reply to debates, has distributed amongst its members a wide measure of practical knowledge, and it is the noble Lords who possess that knowledge whom this House is always most eager to hear. Therefore, realising as we do from his speech how wide is Lord Thurlow's experience of a vital part of the world, we trust that this will be only the first of many contributions by him to our debates.
The noble and learned Earl who opened this debate conducted a fairly 144 extensive geographical perambulation in the course of it, and that is an example which I am about to emulate, not only figuratively but literally, because, as your Lordships are aware—and I am grateful to noble Lords who have offered congratulations and good wishes on the project—I am about to embark on Sunday upon a tour which will take me to five countries in South America and thence, by somewhat devious routes, to Singapore, in order to attend the Commissioner-General's annual conference for that area. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, asked that I should explain the purpose of my visit to South America. I thought that was reasonably plain. It is, as it has been announced to be, purely in the nature of a good will visit. It so happens—and this is no reflection on the Party opposite—that it is many years since a Minister from this country has done anything in the nature of a tour of a number of countries in Latin America. I think the noble Earl, Lord Jowitt, went to Brazil for a particular mission, but it is some time since anybody went to the other countries in South America. And these countries are linked to us by long historic ties, not merely ties of trade but of good feeling and of close collaboration perhaps in days when their need for independence was greatest.
It has been thought advisable, and I hope the House will agree, that at this stage somebody should visit these countries to express the continued good will of this country towards them and also the interest, not only of Her Majesty's Government but of the people of this country, in their continued prosperity. My stay in each of them will be short and I shall at least have the good sense not to endeavour to intervene in any negotiations which may be in progress or to try and take up any of the many questions which are under discussion. But I can listen, and I am anxious to give everybody the opportunity to lay his problems before me so that I may report back to the authorities at home. I can only hope that that mission may prove to be of some value in the strengthening of relations with these countries. As to the administration of the Foreign Office, of course I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, for his solicitude, but he may rest assured that, between us, the work of the Foreign Office will be carried on, even if some 145 of us are necessarily away for some time. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State will be absent from this country for only something like ten days.
The noble and learned Earl's tour contained very little, if anything, to which I could possibly take exception, and not a great deal that requires a specific reply. In dealing with the question of Korea, he asked roe about an initiative which appears to be coming from Peru in this matter. At the moment we have seen nothing more than a suggested draft, but I think it is right to say that it rather follows upon, and supplements, an initiative which, your Lordships will remember, was taken by Mexico. But these proposals, so far as we have seen them at present, would become applicable and might prove valuable only if the basic principle were acceded to—namely, that repatriation shall not be by force. Both these resolutions are methods of dealing with persons who do not wish to return to their countries and who have to be looked after under supervision during the period following their release from actual confinement.
The noble and learned Earl also asked me about the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty, I will say nothing beyond this. As noble Lords know, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary is proceeding tomorrow evening to New York. No doubt he will be meeting there the Ministers of External Affairs of New Zealand and Australia and may well hope for, and obtain, opportunity to have talks with them. As regards the relations between Italy and Yugoslavia over Trieste, I wish that I had something new and encouraging to say to your Lordships. But our view still remains that this is a matter which, in the long run, must be settled by those two countries, one with the other; and I can only hope that they will arrive at a satisfactory solution. The noble Earl also asked me to say something about Egypt and the Sudan. So far as Egypt is concerned, we have noted with satisfaction that there has been a marked improvement in the relations between the United Kingdom and Egypt since the present Government of General Neguib came into power. The valiant efforts which the General has made with his friends to cut out a good many of the abuses, and to cut through a good many of the obstructions which have existed in home politics in Egypt for some 146 time, and also to make some progress in regard to international disputes, have naturally attracted our close interest.
As regards the Sudan, the noble and learned Earl, I think, expected that I should not be able to say anything with any definiteness about the actual terms of the Agreement. We received the full text—and the full text is what matters in an Agreement of this kind—only on Tuesday last, and it has obviously to be carefully considered before any public statement is made about it. But I should like to make it clear that we certainly wish, and have wished all the time, to Hive proper consideration to the Egyptian Government's views upon this subject, and now that we have received and have had the opportunity to study this document, that will be done. The Egyptian draft may raise a number of important points which we shall in all probability desire to discuss will them. But the central fact of all this, as your Lordships will realise, is that this Egyptian Government, unlike their predecessors, are showing a readiness to accept the principle of self-government and self-determination in the Sudan, and also to co-operate with us in putting those principles into effect. That is a considerable advance. On that basis it should be possible for this country, together with the Sudan and Egypt, to reach agreements which will be of real and lasting value.
Meanwhile, as your Lordships know, we have recently advanced to the Egyptian Government from her existing sterling balances a sum of £5 million, which would not otherwise have fallen due to be released until next year. I should like to add this—although it is not a question which actually came up in the course of the previous discussion—that Her Majesty's Ambassador in Cairo has now discussed further with the Egyptian Prime Minister the question of compensation arising out of the Cairo riots at an early date in this year. The Egyptian Prime Minister has now given us a written assurance that the Egyptian Government have decided to give financial aid to those who suffered injury, and to the relations of those who lost their lives, and that steps will be taken to expedite, by all means possible, payment of such aid. Additional funds have been made available to a Commission which the Egyptian Government have established for the purpose of examining such 147 claims, and that Commission has been instructed to settle those claims with all possible speed. Individual claims which have not yet been submitted will shortly be presented to the Commission, and the Commission has been instructed to proceed as soon as the final details are available.
Claims for payment due to dismissed British officials have also now been considered by the Egyptian Prime Minister, and he has confirmed that claims for the payment of the difference between their basic salary and salary plus allowances will be met—indeed, some such claims have already been paid. Further, the Egyptian Government are reconsidering the cases of those officials whose contracts came within the scope of an earlier Egyptian law, and all those whose contracts contained no provision for termination. All those moves indicate, I think, a desire for a better relationship. I should like to say that we hope that these exchanges with Egypt of various kinds will prove a happy augury for the settlement of all outstanding Anglo-Egyptian problems. I think those were all the questions which the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, put to me in the course of his speech.
The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, was concerned with the position at U.N.O. As he knows—and, indeed, he quoted my right honourable friend—it is a matter which has been very much in the mind of the Foreign Secretary ever since he has been attending U.N.O. But we are not alone in these matters—there are a good many other countries concerned—and, as the noble Viscount knows very well, whatever our sympathies may be, it is not a problem too easy of solution. The noble Viscount also referred, in the latter part of his speech, to the position of the Arab refugees. He will probably realise that there has recently been a very useful debate at U.N.O. on the subject, and my right honourable friend, as the noble Viscount knows, has always attached great importance to the solution of this problem. It has been a very stubborn problem over a long period, but I think some progress has really been made in the discussions which took place at U.N.O. this time; and, in any event, a resolution which was passed in the relevant committee will make sure that the work of caring for the refugees, and 148 the whole humanitarian aspect of the refugee work, will continue. I hope that it will lead to a settlement at no distant date. It has been, unfortunately, a slow business, but we hope that now we are beginning to make some progress.
The noble Viscount, Lord Norwich, was the next speaker. I have already expressed the pleasure with which the House in general, and I myself, in particular, listened to his maiden speech. It was a speech, if I may say so, with respect to him, somewhat out of tone with the general opinion prevailing in this country at the present moment. It may be none the worse for that, but it certainly, I think, did not accord with what has now become the general trend of public opinion in this country. Certainly it did not accord with what has now become the settled policy of Her Majesty's Government, as was evidenced in the debate which took place in July when this House gave its assent to the various documents containing the contractual arrangements with Germany, and discussed, although it was not necessary actually to adopt, the contents of the European Defence Community Treaty.
The noble Viscount spoke rather in a tone of some indignation about a rumour, upon which he built a good deal, and a statement in the Queen's gracious Speech which said that rearmament would continue with due regard to the need for maintaining economic strength and security. That does not seem to me, at first sight, a very startling or alarming sentence. It seems to me to convey exactly what I think the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, said should be the right course in this kind of situation: that we must look at both sides of our balance sheet, so to speak, and strike a proper balance between armament and domestic claims. Our task is to ascertain what is the proper balance. But to assume in advance, as the noble Viscount was a little inclined to do, that we were going to sacrifice one in the interests of the other, seemed to me to have no justification at all, from any information that I possess. It did, I confess, seem to me a little startling when he went on to talk about the isolationist, or what I may call the Chicago Tribune type of opinion in America, watching with suspicion for any slackening of our determination to defend ourselves. I can only wonder whether the noble Viscount really considers that a 149 Government of which Mr. Churchill is Prime Minister is likely to slacken in its determination to defend itself. I think the answer to that is really self-evident.
I rather gathered from the general trend of the noble Viscount's speech that he does not particularly like Germany or the Germans. He may not be alone in that. But we have to look at the whole of the European picture. I confess that as I listened to some parts of his speech I should not have been very much surprised if I had been told that the speech had emanated from certain quarters in France which, on recent occasions, have shown themselves not very favourably disposed towards the European Defence Treaty, and have said so in fairly unmeasured terms. We did not, nor did the previous Government, go into this project of a European Defence Community without looking carefully at all the advantages and disadvantages. As I listened to the noble Viscount to-day, and as he was denouncing the iniquity of the course which we had decided to take—and which has now been approved by this House—I could not help wondering what he proposed to put in the place of what we had decided to do. It is, if I may say so, not very difficult to denounce something, particularly when that form of denunciation has a considerable volume, of support in certain circles, but it is not really helpful to the settlement of the European problem unless you have sonic adequate substitute to offer in its place. One would have thought, listening to him, that what the Government had decided to do was to hand arms to the Germans and say: "Here are your arms. Now go on with it and do what you think is right—what you want to do for the future of Germany."
There was no reference at all in the noble Viscount's speech to the two documents which were signed in Paris at the end of May, which committed this country and the United States, not to membership of the European Defence Community, but to a close, active, effective association with that community. That, surely, is some protection against the fears of Germany which the noble Viscount entertains. Moreover, under the European Defence Community Treaty itself, the Germans are not in a position to manufacture arms, except such arms as they are authorised to manufacture by the Board of Commissioners established under the 150 European Defence Community. The noble Viscount asked what Germany was going to get out of attacking Russia. In effect, he asked: Are they going to gain from attacking Russia? He said that the Germans will not attack Russia because there is nothing for Them to gain from doing so. The point of the European Defence Community is not to enable Germany to attack Russia; it is to enable Germany to defend Europe and herself. From that joint of view, unless somebody can suggest something more effective, I submit to your Lordships that the steps which the Government have taken and the basis upon which these various documents have been agreed over a period of time are those which in the end are likely to prove the most effective in upholding the peace of Europe.
It is very easy to say that persons like General Ramcke have made speeches, and that instead of passing him notes one ought to have got up and protested, or hit him on the head and stopped him from making the speech. Certainly orations such as General Ramcke's are much to be deplored. But I do not think it is quite fair to say: "Of course, the German Press condemned it afterwards, but that was only for foreign consumption. Really they enjoyed and supported it and hoped that they would get some more." I do not know, equally, that it is quite fair to say—and this was said, I think, by somebody else—that the notes which were passed to General Ramcke, telling him to sit down and shut up, really only said: "We agree with everything you are saying, but, for goodness sake! do not say it at this moment." That does not accord with our view of what is the weight to-day of public opinion in Germany on that subject. We do not believe that that was a mere artificial repudiation, but we think it did represent the genuine resentment of the German Press, the German public and of the German Chancellor himself, at a speech which was deplorable from the point of view not only of Germany but also of co-operation in Western Europe as a whole.
There are now coming slowly into effect these various arrangements which have been concluded and which contain as many safeguards as can reasonably be included in them. It is possible, of course, to multiply safeguards to such an extent that nothing can happen at all. We have 151 endeavoured to avoid that, and yet to provide a number of effective safeguards which will, in our view, radically diminish any risk of the kind of happening that the noble Viscount has in view. I am afraid that his speech will not be helpful to relations between France and Germany. It was all directed to one particular trend of opinion in France which, with the prestige the noble Viscount has, can hope to fortify itself from the speech which he made. We had hoped that one of the overriding benefits which would emerge from all these European institutions in which we have in one way or another taken direct part or have agreed to support, would be that we need not go back and talk about 1870, 1914 or 1939, but that at last, on some such basis as this, tentative if you like at first, provisional, groping, until a more stable and permanent basis could be established, we should have laid some foundation on which could be built an understanding and not a quarrel between Germany and France. If we can do that by the co-operation of all the countries interested, we shall have done a great deal to fortify the West against any strains to which it may be subjected in the future.
The noble Lord, Lord Layton, gave us an interesting and valuable survey of the progress which has been made in the somewhat intricate field of the supranational organisations which are growing up in Europe. These matters are not always easy to follow from outside, and therefore we are under a constantly recurring debt of gratitude to the noble Lord for giving us the benefit of his inside information—for, after all, he takes a leading and personal part in all these things on our behalf—and for informing us on the progress which is from time to time being made and of the developments which he foresees in the future. I am glad to know that he feels that the wheel has now turned and that the good will of this country is no longer substantially doubted by the other countries concerned. Certainly there is no reason why it should be—provided always that they understand, as I think they do understand now, that we have other ties which prevent us from associating ourselves as completely as they would no doubt wish us to do. I think they have now accepted that situation and have welcomed the fact that, as with the coal and steel body, 152 we have taken the earliest opportunity to associate ourselves in the best way we could by the establishment of a permanent delegation at the seat of that authority. I think it has been a great satisfaction to my right honourable friend that what we have come to call the Eden Plan did, in the end, have so favourable a response by the Council of Europe. The Plan seems likely to lead to a valuable development in the way of connecting up into a closer association the various and, at present, somewhat loosely-linked bodies.
I observe that I have said nothing up to the moment about the American Election, to which various noble Lords have, of course, referred. As long as the Election was undecided, as long as the position was that two men of outstanding quality were engaged in a gigantic single combat for election to, as one noble Lord said, one of the two most powerful offices in the world, it was, of course, for us to remain neutral. But once the American people had made their decision, we should have welcomed whichever of these two contestants ultimately received their choice. The issue now is resolved, and Mr. Eisenhower (I call him that with some mental reservation and difficulty) is now the President-Elect. As has been said, he has an intimate acquaintance with Europe and its problems; and if many of us who, at various subordinate levels, served under him in one or other theatre of war still find it difficult to see "Mr." Eisenhower emerge from the General Eisenhower that we knew, at the same time much of his work, even as Supreme Commander, was largely in the political field, both during and after the war, and his opportunities for knowledge of the affairs of Europe have certainly been very wide. We should desire, I am sure, to welcome the decision of the people of America and to say that we trust that the new President's term of office may mark a still further development of that fabulously expanding country and of still closer relations between that country and ourselves.
Although there are people who from time to time endeavour to suggest to the world that our position in regard to America is merely that we are dragged protestingly in her wake, and who would like to draw a picture of America tying us to herself by golden apronstrings, rather than teaching us to stand on our 153 own feet, that is, I think, a very long way from the truth. True it is that after the war, and as the result of the war, our economy and the economy of many European nations was shattered, and that we had to call in the new world to redress the balance sheet of the old. At the same time it has always been our ambition, and certainly is our determination, sooner or later—and the sooner the better—to stand again independently on our own feet. And nobody desires that more ardently, or has given us greater help towards achieving it, than the Government and people of the United States.
There are, of course, a number of other questions which have come up to-day. There was the question of the Saar, which again, in the end, is a matter which will have to be settled between France and Germany and the settlement of which would, of course, be of great assistance to the general stabilisation of Europe. Various proposals were put forward. One was that my right honourable friend should visit Moscow and should also visit Korea. Another was that the Prime Minister should visit Moscow. Another was that Mr. Eisenhower should visit not only Korea but also Pekin—where, I cannot help thinking, his welcome might be a little strained. But the general view seems to be that this sort of visit might do some good. Well, my Lords, any course which might do good would be welcome; but it is no good setting out on an expedition unless you have some reason to think that it may produce results. And the fact is that we still hope that results may come from Korea; certainly we wish to see an armistice concluded there. We have watched from time to time, eagerly and, indeed, continuously, suggestions of various kinds from various sources, and we are prepared to consider anything that is reasonably likely to bring solution to these problems.
Is the noble Marquess leaving that subject? I ask this because I fear he has missed the point of some of the inquiries put to him. Apparently Mr. Eisenhower's visit to Korea is to take place, and it may have most important results. What is to be our part? Are we to be consulted?
THE MARQUESS OF READING
Mr. Eisenhower was made President-Elect of the United States yesterday. It is really a little soon to start discussing or deciding what his plans will be, how they are to be carried out and who is to accompany him on his visits. I do not think that the noble Lord can expect, at this range of time, that anybody should be in a position to answer that particular question.
I have, I hope, covered the greater part of the ground which noble Lords who preceded me dealt with in the course of their speeches. These foreign affairs debates are always welcome to us because we do, so far as we can at any moment, desire to give to the House and to the country all the information that we can—not always perhaps as full as noble Lords would like, but it is not always possible to discuss under the hard light of publicity every aspect of what may be going on in foreign affairs. For the rest, the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, I think, said yesterday with regard to Her Majesty's Government that they had asked for the responsibility and had got it. Those who gave it to them were the electors of this country. As for asking for it, they asked for it because they thought that the time had come—indeed was overdue—when they should have the opportunity of trying to arrest the decline into which the country was going and to build up our affairs again on a solid foundation. There is no easy way. If there had been an easy way, even the last Government would have discovered it. But it will take time, it will take thought, it will take effort. In the long run, granted those things, granted our determination to build up this country, granted the immense potentialities which still exist here, then I believe that we shall succeed in overcoming those obstacles. If I may finish on the note which my noble friend Lord Buckmaster struck by his quotation the other day, we shall at least, so far as in us lies, try to ensure that this country's greatness shall not fail "through craven fears of being great."
§ On Question, Motion agreed to nemine dissentiente: the said Address to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.
§ House adjourned at sixteen minutes before seven o'clock.