HL Deb 20 April 1953 vol 181 cc927-30

4.19 p.m.


My Lords, I have asked that the House should resume in order that I may make to your Lordships a statement which is being made in another place by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister regarding the declaration on international affairs made by President Eisenhower on Thursday last. The statement is as follows:

"I have already welcomed this bold and inspiring initiative by the President of the United States of America. In his declaration he seeks to find means of establishing world peace on a genuine and enduring basis. Her Majesty's Government, and probably all the countries of the free world, will be glad to associate themselves with his sincere expression of those ideals and aims to which we all subscribe.

"I was glad to see that the right honourable gentleman the acting Leader of the Labour Party and the former Foreign Secretary, according to the report in the Daily Herald of April 17, seems to share these views. I cannot do better than read the words he is reported to have used. I am quoting from the Daily Herald: 'The British people, in common with enlightened people all over the world, will welcome this most important statement.'— these are the words of Mr. Morrison— 'It is exactly the plan that was so enthusiastically endorsed by the Labour Party Conference—the World Plan for Mutual Aid, which I introduced on behalf of the National Executive. What is needed now is a forthcoming response from all Governments so that the road will be opened to a new era of peace, progress and ultimate world prosperity.' "I hope therefore that at this momentous juncture we shall not be hampered by Party controversy. It seems to me that patience is needed rather than haste. In my opinion no one can measure the extent or purpose of the change which has become apparent in the Soviet mood or even perhaps in their policy. I repeat what I said at Glasgow on Friday; no single hope however slender should be cast away. Time may well be needed to enable sure judgment to be made. I did not read President Eisenhower's speech as a challenge nor should I expect the Soviet Government to give an immediate categorical reply to the many grave and true points which his remarkable and inspiring declaration contained. It is of course as yet too soon to consider any relaxation of our efforts for collective defence.

"I trust that nothing will be said here or elsewhere which will check or chill any processes of good will which may be at work, and my hope is that they may presently lead to conversations on the highest level, even if informal and private, between some of the principal Powers concerned.

"There is, however, one sphere which claims priority because it is both practical and urgent. The establishment of a sincere and honourable truce in Korea, with due regard for other Asiatic countries affected, would not only be of the highest value in itself but it also might open the door to further priceless advances towards that general easement of the world situation from which a real and lasting peace might come. We should, therefore, all rejoice at the steps that are being taken to resume the parleys at Panmunjom. I do not wish to say more to-day except to assure the House that the whole subject holds the first place in the thought and attention of Her Majesty's Government."

That is the statement which was made by the Prime Minister. I thought that this House would wish to hear it.

4.22 p.m.


My Lords, we are all grateful to the noble Marquess for letting us hear this statement. It is very satisfactory for us to learn that the leaders of both Parties have expressed themselves so emphatically about what undoubtedly were the most eloquent and wise words which the President used. Though we are to have a debate on Foreign Affairs on Thursday of this week, I feel certain that nothing that will be said then or now will in any way "check or chill" what the President so happily expressed as the "hunger for peace" which the whole world feels.


My Lords, the noble Marquess quoted with apparent approval the statement of my right honourable friend Mr. Herbert Morrison, in which he said that he hoped there would be a "forthcoming response from all Governments." Does the noble Marquess really think that the statement that we have just heard is a forthcoming response? There is nothing at all in it. Furthermore, although we all, of course, agree with my noble and learned friend the Leader of the Opposition about the very important declaration made by President Eisenhower two or three days ago, if the noble Marquess reads the statement carefully he will see that China, which is the key to the whole situation in the East, is mentioned only once, right at the end, and there is no suggestion as to how to get out of the ridiculous position in which we find ourselves with regard to recognition of the Chinese Government.


My Lords, I do not think it would be proper for me to-day to continue the debate on the question of China, but with regard to what the noble Lord alleges is the entirely negative character of the Prime Minister's statement, I think I must read again just one sentence.


I did not say "negative."


The statement says:

"I trust that nothing will be said here or elsewhere which will check or chill any process of good will which may be at work, and my hope is that they may presently lead to conversations on the highest level, even if informal and private, between some of the principal Powers concerned."

If that is not a "forthcoming" statement, I do not know what is, and if anyone has done anything to "check or chill," it is the noble Lord opposite.


The noble Marquess must have misheard me because I am sure he would not misrepresent me purposely. I did not say "negative." The statement is platitudinous—that is perhaps the best word I can use—with nothing forthcoming, as asked for in the approved statement by Mr. Morrison.


The noble Lord had better pay attention to his own Leader.


It means nothing.