HL Deb 16 July 1953 vol 183 cc635-46

2.40 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, it is a somewhat novel experience for a representative of the Foreign Office to find himself in charge of a Bill, but I will undertake not to let it go to my head, nor to seize the rare opportunity to indulge in a lengthy and elaborate speech. For nothing of the kind is needed on this occasion, since the subject matter of the Bill has the cordial approval of all Parties, whilst the form of it is designed on the simplest lines for the express purpose of giving all possible flexibility to the application and, if necessary, adaptation from time to time of this new and, I am sure, most welcome scheme.

When he was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Morrison, to whom I would venture to offer, on behalf of your Lordships on all sides of this House, our sincere condolences at his recent grievous loss, conceived the idea of marking in a permanent and fruitful manner the debt of gratitude which this country owed to General Marshall, in particular, though also to his colleagues in the United States Administration, and to the American people in general, for the inauguration and subsequent execution of the European Recovery Programme. The origin, the extent and the significance of that wide and generous gesture of benevolence, in the most literal meaning of that word, are too fresh and too firm in all our memories to require from me any dissertation upon their value to us, both moral and material, at a most critical period in our post-war history.

Mr. Morrison's admirable plan was to establish at British universities a small number of scholarships tenable by citizens of the United States and to be known as Marshall Scholarships. This project happily found favour with General Marshall himself, whose consent to allow his name to be associated with it was most readily given. Admittedly such a recognition of General Marshall's contribution to this country's recovery is not, and could not be, on a scale commensurate with the full range of our gratitude. It can be only in the nature of a token return, but it is a token that will at least survive into the far future and will help to promote that good will and good understanding between Britain and America which are not only so dear to General Marshall's heart, as they are to ours, but so profoundly essential to the preservation of liberty and peace. I hope and believe that General Marshall himself, during his recent visit as leader of the United States Delegation to the Coronation of Her Majesty, came to realise the affectionate and admiring respect in which he is held by the British people for his services to his own country and to ours, and, indeed to the whole free world, both in peace and war.

When Mr. Morrison launched his proposal it was at once warmly received by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on behalf of the then Opposition, and when in due course that Opposition became Her Majesty's Government my right honourable friend proceeded on the 31st July last to announce the decision to give effect to it. In May of this year a Command Paper, No. 8846, was issued, which sets out the administrative structure of the scheme; and the Bill which is now before the House, having already obtained the full assent of another place, is intended to give such statutory force as is necessary for its effective operation. It is perhaps not easy to view the Bill itself properly except against the background of the White Paper, which not all your Lordships may have had the time or, indeed, the impulse to read.

May I therefore give, as concisely as possible, the main points of the scheme? It is intended to provide twelve scholarships tenable at any British university which a selected candidate may choose, provided always, of course, that the necessary vacancies exist. Candidates must be American students, either male or female, of not more than twenty-eight years of age on the 1st October of the year in which they take up their residence here, and must be graduates of an accredited degree-granting university or college in the United States. The value of a scholarship will be from £550 to £600 a year, except in the case of married scholars, when the amount will be increased by £200 a year, in each case free of United Kingdom income tax. The scholarships are tenable for two years, but an extension to a third year may be given in appropriate cases.

We hope that the first scholars will take up residence in 1954 at the opening in October of the academic year. It is not possible to give an exact figure of the cost, but the best calculation is that it will be in the neighbourhood of £41,000 a year, £37,000 of which will be spent in this country and the remainder in the United States on journeys to and from the ports of embarkation and administrative expenses. The necessary funds will be carried on the Foreign Office Vote and thus subject to annual renewal.

The method of selection will involve the establishment of five bodies in the United States. There will be an Advisory Council in Washington, over which Her Majesty's Ambassador will preside. The first task of that Council will be to assist the Ambassador in selecting members of regional committees. One of these regional committees will be formed in each of four regions, centring on New York. New Orleans, Chicago and San Francisco, into which the United States has been geographically divided for this purpose. Each committee will consist of Her Majesty's Consul-General as an ex-officio member and four United States citizens.

These Committees will receive applications from candidates from their respective regions, and each will in due course recommend a short list of six candidates to the Advisory Council, who will in their turn make the definitive selection of twelve names, three from each region. At the same time, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will nominate not less than seven or more than ten members, two at least being persons of standing in the academic world, to constitute in this country the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission. The original Bill contained a fixed figure of seven members but was amended in another place to its present form to include a maximum of ten and a minimum of seven. That body, the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission, will in its turn concern itself with the placing of selected candidates in British universities, supervise their general welfare and administer the money voted each year for this purpose by Parliament. The machinery which I have described is, I suggest, simple, comprehensive and likely to prove entirely efficient for its task. The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of the Universities of the United Kingdom has promised its full co-operation in ensuring the success of the scheme.

As to the Bill itself, Clause 1 deals with the finance, whilst Clause 2 sets up the Commission to which I have referred and defines and regulates its functions. It may perhaps have been unnecessary to give this Commission a legal status, but as it is placed under a duty by subsection (6) of Clause 2 to make an annual report to the Secretary of State, and by subsection (7) to prepare and submit to him annual accounts, which will subsequently be audited and laid before Parliament, it was thought to be at least a wise precaution to incorporate Clause 2 in its extended form in the Bill.

Those of us who, in our own university careers, had first-hand experience of American Rhodes Scholars—and if I refer only to Americans it is because I am concentrating upon them in this context—will recall how widespread, how valuaable and how lasting was the influence of their alert and mature outlook upon our own more casual and callow minds. But I am confident that, even without those direct and vivid personal contacts of that kind, every member of your Lordships' House will eagerly welcome this scheme for the most laudable purpose which it is designed to achieve, and for the auspicious association with it of the name of one of the greatest soldier-statesmen of our time. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2ª.—(The Marquess of Reading.)

2.53 p.m.


My Lords, should first like to thank the noble Marquess for offering, on behalf of noble Lords in all parts of the House, sincere condolences to Mr. Morrison on his sad loss. The words of the noble Marquess will, of course, be recorded in the OFFICIAL REPORT, but it may meet the desires of noble Lords if the noble and learned Earl, the Leader of the Opposition, conveys to Mr. Morrison the expression of sympathy which has been made.

My Lords, we on these Benches join in giving a warm welcome to this Marshall Aid Commemoration Bill. It is a small Bill with an admirable purpose. Its subject matter, as the noble Marquess claimed, has the cordial approval and support of all Parties. Its purpose is to enable effect to be given to the Marshall Scholarships Scheme, the details of which are set out in the White Paper to which the noble Marquess referred. It seems to me singularly appropriate that the idea of the project should have originated with Mr. Morrison when he was Foreign Secretary, and that the Bill to give practical effect to the idea should be presented to your Lordships' House by the Foreign Under-Secretary on behalf of Her Majesty's present Government. The result of this collective effort is a truly national expression of our sincere gratitude to the Government and the people of the United States for what can only properly be described as an unsurpassed example of constructive generosity, the central purpose of which was to assist nations to surmount their grievous economic difficulties following the war, and to speed up recovery of their economic health and strength. It was a noble enterprise, and we recognise it as such.

This country has to its own credit a fine record of financial and economic assistance on a large scale to other countries, and we can therefore the more readily appreciate the massive generosity of the United States through Marshall Aid, of which we were one of the principal beneficiaries. Mr. Marshall's name will always be associated in history with the magnificent European Recovery Programme, but I believe that that programme will always be popularly known as "Marshall Aid." I am confident, therefore, that not only noble Lords in all parts of the House, but also the British people as a whole, will agree that it is both right and fitting that our deep sense of gratitude should find practical expression in an appropriate permanent form, and that Mr. Marshall's name should be intimately associated with any British commemoration of an enlightened act of statesmanship for which he was so largely responsible.

I agree with the noble Marquess that our gratitude can be given only a token form; but it seems to me that an act of commemoration is to be judged not by any material standards, but rather in the spirit of thankfulness which inspires it. I have no doubt that the Marshall Scholarships Scheme will be so regarded in the United States by the Government and the people, and by Mr. Marshall himself. The American people have a high sense of spiritual and moral values, and I think we may be certain that the scholarship scheme will be welcomed by them as a new symbol of close friendship and firm understanding between great democratic allies.

The noble Marquess has explained concisely but adequately the main points of the scheme which is set out in detail in the White Paper and which, as I have said, has our support. There are only two observations which I should like to make. The scheme provides that, for the purposes of the Marshall Scholarships Scheme, the United States will be divided into four regions. None of the regions can be awarded more than three scholarships in any year. This arrangement will ensure that the twelve scholarships will be awarded on a fair basis of distribution, and it will avoid any appearance of geographical preference. That seems to me a very sensible arrangement, and one that should commend itself to both students and academic centres throughout the United States. I welcome also the organisations proposed to be set up both in this country and in the United States to do the practical administration involved in operating the scheme. The composition of the Advisory Council under Her Majesty's Ambassador in Washington, and of the regional committees, each of which will include as an ex officio member Her Majesty's Consul-General in the centre concerned, and the related functions which they will perform, should enable the work of selection in the United States to be done in a way that will give general satisfaction and confidence.

It is only with regard to the Commission to be set up in this country that I feel some slight reservation. The Bill provides that the Commission shall consist of not less than seven and not more than ten members appointed by the Secretary of State. While the Bill does not specify that all members must be British subjects, the White Paper says so in terms. I realise, of course, that the Commission will be responsible for administering the funds provided by Parliament and it may, therefore, be necessary that all should be British subjects. On the other hand, the Commission will also be responsible, as the noble Marquess has said, for the placing of the selected American students in British universities and will supervise their general welfare. In view of these responsibilities, is there not something to be said in favour of having a suitable United States citizen as one of the Commissioners? Otherwise, this will be the only body connected with the Marshall Scholarships Scheme without an American member. I have no wish to elaborate on the point and I do not intend to press it unduly, but I hope the noble Marquess will consider it sympathetically, and see whether it is not possible to provide for the inclusion of a suitable American member of the Commission in this country. Having made that one suggestion, I will only repeat that we wholeheartedly welcome the Bill, and we shall be very happy to see it on the Statute Book as speedily as Parliamentary circumstances will allow.

3.2 p.m.


My Lords, I cannot let this Occasion pass without adding some words of support for the admirable scheme embodied in the White Paper and in the Bill now before the House. The last speaker observed that Marshall Aid is the most far-sighted act of national generosity in history, and it is fitting that we should record, in appropriate and permanent form, our appreciation of this fact. But Marshall Aid was much more than that. It was an act of great generosity; but it was also a great political fact. It was the most important action of the American people—an act of the highest significance, and an unprecedented act—on taking up the heavy international responsibilities which recent events have laid upon the shoulders of the most powerful nation in the world. It is for that reason that Marshall Aid has been the most encouraging thing that has happened since the war; and it has, in fact, dominated the history of the past six years.

Let me explain why I say that. Consider for a moment three things of the first importance that immediately flowed from the Harvard speech of June 5, 1947. First, and most directly in line with the theme of the speech, a single economic recovery programme came into operation, instead of the chaotic series of appeals to Washington. Combined planning which had played such art important part in the war had fallen into disuse, but with the Harvard speech it was re-created and taken up again—not this time for war, but for reconstruction. Secondly, the American people found that they had taken position on the very vital political problem of the unity of Europe. Four days after the Marshall speech, Mr. Marshall himself wrote to Senator Vandenberg approving the Fulbright Resolution in favour of a United States of Europe by making it quite clear that America does not desire to impose on Europe or any other country any particular form of political or economic organisation. Nevertheless, American policy was given an impulse in the direction of pressure towards unity; and this has found expression year after year in the Preamble to the Recovery Acts passed by Congress. Thirdly, this act of Mr. Marshall was the signal for the East to withdraw more definitely behind the Iron Curtain. Within thirty days of the Harvard speech, Mr. Molotov announced that Russia would not participate in the recovery programme; and from that time on, withdrawal became more complete.

These three things, the policy of a common recovery programme, pressure for the permanent political and economic unification of Europe, and the closedown between East and West, have been the outstanding features and characteristics of the years that have followed since then. No one can say what the next five years will bring. The pattern has changed. Certainly we shall not go on depending on charity, and sooner or later it may be that a change may come in the relations of East and West. But Marshall Aid will leave many permanent marks upon international relationships, for it is founded on the recognition to a far greater extent than at any previous time of the interdependence, politically and economically, of all parts of the world. In these five years, the philosophy of mutual aid has taken shape and been put into practical effect. It is against that background that I want to make a brief comment on the scheme itself.

The scheme, as has been observed, is a very modest one. The total cost is £40,000. Marshall Aid amounts, for all countries, to 13 billion dollars, and the whole gifts and loans of all kinds since the war in one form or another amount to 30 billion dollars. Or take the number of students. Twelve scholarships is not very many. It was said in another place that very nearly 300 students come to this country each year from America. An hour ago I looked at the figures of graduations and I found that nearly 500,000 American students come out with a degree from American universities every year; so twelve is not a very great proportion. Nevertheless, the influence of twelve studentships in this country may be very considerable, if applied in the right way and at the right point. This scheme differs from most other schemes in regard to studentships in the fact that it is a scheme of scholarships for post-graduates. This is a vital characteristic of the scheme. It is a scheme for scholarships for American men and women who are approaching the stage when they can influence university opinion if they return, as many will do, to university life. Or, if they go into other walks of life, because these are research students, their research work will have an immediate effect on American opinion. From this point of view, I wonder whether the scheme is not too restricted in regard to the age limit and, further, whether it does not leave the field of research too wide and undefined.

I suggest that the impact of twelve research students a year might be very great, and much greater than it otherwise would be, if it were concentrated on the social sciences, on political philosophy and on economic problems. The world is seething with problems of that type—many of them new problems, which have arisen just because the situation has changed under Marshall Aid conditions. If we are to operate as one world it is of vital importance that we should understand the characteristics and methods of operation of one another's Constitutions. If comparative studies of constitutional practice were better known in each country, it would facilitate greatly the better understanding which is so badly needed. I myself was in Washington two years ago, and I discovered how very different the operation of the American Constitution is from the Constitution as described in the textbooks. Much to my surprise, I discovered the tremendous importance of the unwritten characteristics of the American Constitution. That is not what the textbooks tell you, but the research student would discover that sort of thing. I suggest that the impact of research work would be much greater if it were channelled into a limited field, instead of over the whole field of learning.

I do not propose to suggest that the House should at this stage make amendments to this scheme, though some were proposed in another place. But I should like to suggest that the Commission, which, as has already been stated by the noble Marquess, can to some extent modify the terms of the White Paper, should seek, as it begins to feel its way, to move in the direction of guiding the research work by students from the other side of the Atlantic on problems which are closely associated with Marshall's own work. If the efforts of this small group of students were thus concentrated, the results might be very far-reaching indeed and would help to bring to full fruition the ideas that George Marshall himself threw out on the campus of Harvard University six years ago.

3.12 p.m.


My Lords, Mr. Marshall has given the world yet another example of a great accomplishment of peace by a great man of war. In Europe, the effect of Marshall Aid was even more decisive than it was in this country, because here the Empire as well came to our rescue. But we owe much—how much can never really be ascertained. The cold figures cannot tell the story, because they cannot tell what would have happened if there had been no Marshall Aid. I, for one, am extremely glad that Her Majesty's Government have chosen this very fitting method of commemoration of this great act. I go even further and hope that one day there will be found some additional method of keeping alive the memory of that great man, so that future generations may realise the great benefits which his thought conferred upon our present generation.

3.13 p.m.


My Lords, I am greatly obliged to those noble Lords who have taken part in this discussion for the support which they have given to the purpose of the Bill, and to the machinery devised for its execution. The suggestion that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, made as to the inclusion of an American member in the Commission in this country is, superficially, I agree, an attractive one. It has been very carefully considered, but the difficulty about it is that, although we might desire to do it for the purpose of including an American among those who are to supervise many of the students, the Commission supervises other things as well. It supervises the expenditure of money voted by the Parliament of this country, accounts of which have to be submitted to Parliament. The view is that those two circumstances make it difficult to have the Commission composed of any but purely British subjects.

As regards what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Layton, I said, in the remarks that I addressed to the House in opening, that I recognised that twelve scholarships was a small number, and that it could be described only as a token return for our indebtedness. I am afraid that the same thing would apply to any number of scholarships which it was within the power and the means of this country to offer for that purpose; but twelve scholarships, offered with the sincerity and the measure of gratitude with which we offer these, is perhaps not altogether an inadequate token of the value that we attach to the aid which we have received.

I suggest, too, that it would be unwise to channel these students coming from the United States, and conning from all over the United States, into the restricted field which the noble Lord, Lord Layton, suggested. They come from all over that wide country, and there will be people of different backgrounds and different ambitions, with different careers opening before them. It seems to me much more appropriate and much more helpful that we should throw the whole field open to them and let them make the choice, with the assistance of the appropriate committee, of what they want to study when they come to this country, than that we should impose any limit from the outside and say, "No, you shall only be research students, and you shall study this subject and that subject." We should much prefer, as I say, to give them the fullest opportunity of selection, and to put at their disposal for their benefit, when they come, the complete resources of our universities and our university colleges.

Those were, I think, the only points raised. I repeat that I am grateful that the House has given such general approval to a scheme which, although I agree that in scale it is not outstanding, at the same time has behind it so great a measure of appreciation of the help that we have received, and of the indebtedness to the great figure who inspired in the first place the provision of that aid.

On Question, Bill read 2ª, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.