HL Deb 29 July 1953 vol 183 cc1023-144

LORD HENDERSON had given Notice of his intention to call attention to the international situation; and to move for Papers.


My Lords, in order to facilitate Business and to permit the noble Marquess to speak first, I beg, on behalf of my noble friend, Lord Henderson, formally to move the Motion for Papers standing in his name.

3.6 p.m.


My Lords, in opening this debate on foreign affairs, I should like, first of all, to give my warm thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, in whose name the Motion stands, for his readiness to move formally so as to enable me to make the initial statement. For, as it is largely concerned with what happened at Washington, I have felt that perhaps the House would like to have the information I can give as soon as possible.

As your Lordships know, it has for some years, almost ever since I have been in this House. been the custom in this House to have a debate on foreign affairs towards the end of July, before we separate for the Summer Recess, to review the situation as it has developed and to provide an opportunity for that expert opinion, which is so well represented in this House, to give to the Government of the day the benefit of their advice on all the issues which are facing us. That, I think it will be generally agreed, is an admirable practice, and I hope it will always continue. But on this occasion. I submit, there are special reasons for such a debate; for it so happens that the date almost coincides with the announcement of the Armistice in Korea, of which I gave the glad news to your Lordships on Monday, and it also follows closely on those recent Three-Power talks in Washington at which some far-reaching decisions were taken. Your Lordships will no doubt wish me, whose fortune it was to be the Government's representative at those talks, to give the background of our conclusions in the light of the situation which we found there. If my speech is somewhat longer than usual, I hope your Lordships will forgive me. There is a good deal of ground which has to be covered.

In what I have to say to-day I hope to be as uncontroversial as possible. In this House, at any rate, we have always tried to keep foreign policy as much as possible outside Party politics. Moreover, I do not want to do anything that I can help which is contrary to those high traditions of Parliament to which the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, referred earlier this afternoon. For that reason, it is not my intention to attempt to reply at any length or, I can assure your Lordships, with any heat to a number of slightly personal reflections which were made upon me in the debate in another place last week, except just to say this. I noted with some interest that I was described as a kind of Jekyll and Hyde, a kind of schizophrenic, at the same time feeble, weak, limp—"limp" I think was the word—and deep, dark and dangerous. Personally, I do not want to go into that. I am quite content to leave my character in the hands of your Lordships.

But there is one matter on which I must say a word, and that is a specific charge which was made that I have always been against Four-Power talks with Russia and that I did my best to prevent them. I am sure that there was no intention to mislead, but your Lordships will know that that simply is not true. On more than one occasion in the last years I have made very strong pleas for talks with Russia. I should like to quote just one, which I think particularly apposite, from a speech which I made in March, 1950, after that General Election, when the present Prime Minister made much the same proposal as that which the Labour Party are to-day greeting with such enthusiasm. On March 7, 1950, I said (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 166, Col. 39): It is not a position where one can afford just to sit still and hope for the best. As I see it, it is the duty of any Government and every Government, of whatever political colour it may be, to take any steps that are possible to avoid a further deterioration. No stone must be left unturned. It is for that reason that many of us, irrespective of Party, have deeply regretted the completely negative attitude taken by the Government"— that is, the late Government— to the proposal of Mr. Churchill for a further approach to Generalissimo Stalin to try to resolve the present deadlock between Russia and the Western Powers. My Lords, those were my words in March, 1950, and I am very happy to think that the Party to which noble Lords opposite belong, have in another place at last found out that the Prime Minister is not so black as they painted him at that time. Nor have I personally changed my mind since then. Indeed, as I think my right honourable friend the Minister of State said in answer to a Question in another place on Monday, if there was at any time any divergency of view between myself and the other Foreign Ministers at Washington, it was, I can assure your Lordships, because of my continued advocacy of the Prime Minister's proposal of May 11.

And now I would turn to more serious matters. Let me first say frankly that on the whole I was not dissatisfied with what was accomplished at Washington. The original Bermuda meeting which had so unhappily to be postponed was a meeting at a very high level indeed—the President of the United States, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and a French representative of equal stature. If anyone was ever in a position to take big decisions it was they. The meeting at Washington, on the other hand, was a meeting only of Foreign Secretaries, and even of acting Foreign Secretaries, and in the nature of things it could not be so authoritative. What we could do was, first, to review all recent developments in the international situation as they affected the common policy of the three Powers; secondly, to see how far it was possible to iron out differences that existed between us, if indeed there were any differences; and thirdly and lastly, to reaffirm the broad identity of policy between the three countries with regard to the main issues of the day. That would be by no means a negligible result in any case, if it were possible to achieve it, and it would, of course, keep open the door for a further "Bermuda" meeting later on when circumstances allowed of it. It was, in fact, likely to be an "intermediate" meeting, and it was described as such, I think, by the representatives of all three countries at the time when we began our work. I did, indeed, press for four-Power talks with Russia, for that was the settled policy of Her Majesty's Government; but it was by no means certain that it would be possible to bring this about at the present stage.

That was the atmosphere in which we started our labours. Our first task was to examine the situation in Russia and the satellite countries, with the object of assessing recent developments and trying to interpret the meaning of the new slant in Russian policy, internal and external, which seemed to be showing itself since the death of Generalissimo Stalin. My Lords, I say frankly that this was not made much easier by die news of the fall of Monsieur Beria, which was received in Washington on the very morning of our first meeting. With regard to this event I can tell your Lordships that though we in the Foreign Office have received many reports from those in a position to speak with knowledge about Russia, those reports very often conflict, and, in my view, they are none of them quite conclusive. I should therefore even now be very reluctant to dogmatise on the subject. In my view, only with the passage of time will it be possible to decide finally whether the reasons for the fall of Monsieur Beria were political or personal, or perhaps a mixture of the two.

But, at any rate, the three Ministers were definitely agreed that there was nothing which had happened which involved any stiffening of our policy towards Russia, though of course it was obviously far too soon to consider a slackening of the tempo of Western rearmament, Above all, there was no intention (and this was made quite clear) on the part of the Western Powers merely to embark on a pin-pricking policy against Russia and the satellites. That, in our view, would only invite reprisals, which would do no good to the subject peoples themselves. Nor, in our view, was such a policy necessary; for there is, I think, increasing and moving evidence that that spirit of freedom which the Russian Government in the past have been at such efforts to suppress and which some believed was quite dead, is in fact alive and, I firmly believe, indestructible.

This brought us to a discussion of our joint future policy towards Germany, where also there had been new developments, with special reference to the prospects of German reunification. It was generally thought that the recent events in Eastern Germany, and in particular the riots and troubles in East Berlin and elsewhere, had brought the possibility of reunification nearer. It also seemed to us clear that until the reunification was achieved the ferment in the Eastern Zone would continue, and with it a friction between the Eastern and Western Zones and between the Eastern Zone and Western Europe, which could only be to the detriment of the relations between Russia and the Western Powers. We therefore felt that we ought to do anything we could to help reunification, to which in any case we were all of us pledged.

It seemed to us that the best help that we could give at present towards the reunification of Germany was, first, to continue to build up our material strength, and secondly, to continue to press for free German Elections and a free all-German government. But, of course, desirable though those aims may be, one thing is certain: it would be impossible to achieve them peacefully without Russian co-operation. It was in this connection that the all-important subject of Four-Power talks with Russia came up for further consideration, with particular reference to one of the most important of recent developments in the international situation, the proposal of the Prime Minister in his speech of May 11 this year. The House will remember the genesis of that proposal. It was made in a speech in another place on the date which I have mentioned. It had not yet been discussed with the other Allies, and their views were not yet known. Indeed, one of the main purposes of the Bermuda Conference was to obtain those views.

When, owing to the Prime Minister's unhappy illness, Bermuda had to be abandoned, I went to Washington, among other things for the same purpose. I went to recommend his proposal to the attention of the other Foreign Ministers. We had a full discussion in the light not only of the proposal itself but also of other developments which had occurred since, and, notably, recent events in Eastern Germany and the dismissal of M. Beria, to which I have already referred, and which, of course, introduced a new element of uncertainty into the situation. In the circumstances, I personally should not have been very surprised—though I should have been extremely disappointed—if the other Ministers had shown themselves shy of Four-Power talks at the present juncture, and had thought that they ought to be postponed until the situation was clearer.

But, as the discussions proceeded, I was glad to find that both the other Ministers were ready to consider Four-Power talks, and the plan which eventually emerged, and which finds a place in the communiquéwhich your Lordships have seen, is the result of our joint consultations. It was not, I imagine, what any of us would ideally have wished for. But it represented the greatest common measure of agreement on a fair balance of views. It really is no use people in Parliament, or outside, behaving as if we had no Allies—or, at any rate, had no need to pay the slightest attention to them. That is not the way in which Alliances are maintained: there must be give and take. Indeed, anyone, I am sure, in Washington will bear me out when I say that there was not the faintest chance of a Three-Power invitation being sent to Russia at the present stage, except on the basis which is found in the communiqué. The Prime Minister's proposal was, of course, not ruled out for the future. It was by no means ruled out. But the immediate choice was not between that and the proposal of the communiqué;it was between the proposal of the communiqué and no invitation at all.

There may well be those who will say, quite sincerely, that it would be better, in those circumstances, to have no talks. I do not agree. If I had come back to England having refused to take part in Four-Power talks with Russia—talks in which the United States and France were ready to join, and of which the Federal Government of Germany were also in favour—I believe that I should have been very seriously to blame, and should have been very rightly criticised. Whether or not this is what any of us would ideally have wished, it is, as my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer rightly emphasised in another place last week, not a step backwards. It is a very considerable step forward that the three Western Powers should have agreed to enter into talks with Russia. I should have thought that the Labour Party—I am not talking of noble Lords in this House, who have always behaved with great wisdom and understanding—would have done their best to help this initiative along, instead of doing their best to kill it. Moreover, in attacking it so furiously they have been, if I may say so, plus royaliste que le Roi. For the Prime Minister himself told me when I came back—and he has authorised me to say the same thing to-day—that he thought that in the circumstances we had got the best results possible. He added that he regarded the proposed meeting as affording valuable opportunities for contacts with Russia, and not in any way as closing the door on his proposals of May 11. I think it is right that that should be said to the House.

After all, what do the criticisms of this scheme amount to? I should like, if I may, to examine them in some little detail. First of all, there is the criticism which has been made in some quarters, that the scope of the talks should have been widened to include disarmament. I do not want to say a word against disarmament. I spent a good many months of my life at Geneva before the war working for just that object. But what was the hard lesson which, I think, all of us who were there learnt at that time? It was this. It is no good asking nations to disarm until one has made at any rate some progress towards solving the problems which make armaments necessary. The main reason why the Disarmament Conference failed in the years before the war was that all her neighbours were apprehensive of Germany. That, too, is one of the main contributory factors in the minds of the Russian Government and the Russian people, and, to some extent, of the Government of France and the French people now. To try to put disarmament before the solution of the German problem is, therefore, in my view, to fly in the face of all experience.

Then there is the, criticism that the communiqué throws too much emphasis on positions already taken up, and what has been described as a tendency to "stand pat." I am not quite clear what that means. Does it mean, in plain words, that we ought to go into conversations with Russia prepared to repudiate prior obligations which we have solemnly undertaken? If so, I can assure the House that that certainly was not in the mind of the Prime Minister when he made his speech on May 11; and to my mind it would be quite inconsistent with our honour as a nation. Or does it mean, by the words "too much emphasis" that, even if we are not prepared to repudiate our obligations, we ought to have given the impression to Russia that we are? If that is the meaning, it seems to me it would have been deliberately misleading—I will not use the word dishonest. We solemnly pledged ourselves, as your Lordships know—and that I understand was also the position of the late Government—to the principle of free German elections and a free all-German government. That view was also blessed by the German Bundestag by the resolution which they passed on June 10 of this year. Is it suggested that we should now prepare to abandon that position? I hope that is not a policy which would be advocated in any quarter in this House.

I had always understood that all of us—the Opposition as much as the Government—are behind the policy of N.A.T.O. If so, what is there wrong in saying so? Or look at the European Defence Committee, which is, as your Lordships know, one of the main pillars of Western policy. Is it proposed now to go back on this policy, which is accepted by all the main nations of Western Europe, to which we pledged our own support and which, for instance, was ratified we were very glad to see, by the Dutch Government only last week? I cannot believe that anyone responsible would make a suggestion of that kind.

Of course, I should agree with the critics of the Government that if the only purpose of these talks was to unify Germany as part of a militant Coalition against Russia—if that was the purpose of the talks—one clearly could not expect the Russian Government to be very enthusiastic about accepting an invitation to take part in them. But, as I see it, that is not the purpose of the talks at all. The purpose of this meeting, which I hope will take place, is to discuss the future of Germany in an objective and, I hope, friendly spirit, and to try to find means of achieving the reunification of Germany, to which we are all pledged, without threatening the security or arousing the enmity of her neighbours, including Russia. That, I submit, is a logical and sensible policy, and it is clearly the only policy on which we can hope for successful talks with Russia.

It is in relation to this policy that I have just described that we must, I submit, look at the question of the implementation of the European Defence Community. The suggestion has been made, I understand, that the raison ďêtre of the European Community was to deal with an imminent military threat and to meet the urgent need of a German contribution. Of course, there is a considerable element of truth in that—I do not for a moment dispute it. But that is not nearly the whole story. The E.D.C., as it has come to be known, was, it is true, partially conceived as a method to enable Germany to play her part in Western defence without reviving the fears which past experience of an independent German army must arouse among her neighbours. But as I see it, it is much more than that. It offers new means of ending the age-long feud between France and Germany which has been the cause of so many wars in the past. Its purpose is, in fact, not a temporary one, to deal with immediate threats, but a permanent one, to help in removing, once and for all, a cancer which, if it were allowed to continue, might once more bring untold misery upon Europe and the world.

If I may be allowed to say so, it should in this way provide an additional safeguard not only for France and the countries of Western Europe but, in my view, for Russia as well. It is not, indeed, surprising that this apprehension of Germany should persist in the minds of our old Allies, the French, and of other countries—indeed, it is not at all absent from our own minds. Germany is a mighty, virile nation, immensely industrious, immensely courageous. It is like a rushing, roaring river, which twice in our own lifetime has overflown her banks and spread disaster and ruin far a field. But, happily, by her readiness to join the European Defence Community, the Coal and Steel Community and the European Political Community, she has now shown herself willing to assist in providing a safeguard against such a thing happening again. For I am sure your Lordships will observe that in the framework of the European Defence Community, Germany will no longer be an entirely independent entity. She will be part of an international organisation, closely integrated, and decisions taken by that organisation will depend not only on her but on her fellow members, many of whose national interests will imperatively demand peace.

That, I should have thought, ought to provide a very real safeguard, and I sincerely believe that when the agreement is ratified, as I hope it will be, by all concerned, it will be a considerable step in the right direction and should give reassurance, as I have said, not only to the countries of Western Europe but to Russia as well. I believe this to be true—and I would say this with special reference to the intervention by the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, the other day: that whether Germany is divided or reunited, in both cases the decision will be a joint one of all members and not dictated by the ambition of a single people.

In this connection, I feel that we ought to think specially of France, who has suffered so grievously in two great wars. We should not forget that her lands have been occupied and ravaged. We, who fought by her side as a faithful ally, should not underestimate the difficulties facing the French people in coming to decisions on problems such as this, involving their whole security. Of all the Foreign Ministers at Washington, I think M. Bidault had probably the hardest task in steering the right course. If I may say so with great deference, he showed throughout great-skill and tenacity in the interests of his country. Moreover, we must not forget that the European Defence Community solution involves for France, as for other members of the community, sacrifices of national sovereignty which are quite new in European history. It is natural that they should wish to think this over carefully and weigh well what they are doing. But, after till, the European Defence Community itself is a product of French genius. It is one which I firmly believe offers the only possible solution to what is perhaps one of our greatest problems and may well bring new and badly needed hope to Europe.

Now I have come to what I believe to be another safeguard for Russia, as for France, to which perhaps too little attention was given in the debate in another place last week. I refer to the United Nations. As we know, the United Nations have been a good deal blown upon in recent years, because the member States, and, in particular, some of the greatest member States, have not always acted in the true spirit of the Charter. Russia herself has certainly not been guiltless in this respect. But the main purpose of the United Nations remains—to maintain peace, and, if peace is broken, to protect its members against aggression. It is for that the organisation, above all, exists, and it is for that principle that for two years our troops have been fighting so gallantly in Korea. And do not let us forget that Russia, as a member of the United Nations, if she is a victim of aggression, is as fully entitled to the support of her fellow members as any of the other members of the organisation, nor in such an event, were she the innocent victim of aggression, would, I am sure, she be denied that support.

Finally, there is that further thought which was in the mind of the Prime Minister on May 11, when he said: I have a feeling that the master thought which animated Locarno might well play its part between Germany and Russia. This general conception, as your Lordships will have seen, has been in other minds as well. The German Federal Chancellor, in a letter to the three Foreign Ministers in Washington, which has now been published, has launched the idea that the European Defence Community might be the basis of a security system which would meet the security requirements to of all European peoples, including the Russian people. He added that this system could be fitted into the system of general disarmament and security within the framework of the United Nations which was proposed by President Eisenhower on April 16. This, I hope your Lordships will agree, is a valuable and helpful contribution to the study, and one may hope to the eventual solution, of this thorny problem. It is certainly in complete accord with the Prime Minister's master thought.

Your Lordships will not expect me to elaborate in detail how these hopeful ideas might be worked out. That is clearly a matter for most careful thought and eventual consultation between the interested Powers. I would only say to-day that Her Majesty's Government are giving much careful thought to this problem in the hope of finding a practical solution acceptable to all the countries concerned. All these and other matters which touch the security, both of Russia and of Western Europe, can well be discussed at a meeting on the basis agreed at Washington. Indeed, in my view, sonic reassurance to the neighbours of Germany might prove an essential pre-condition for any agreement for German rearmament. Therefore, I should have thought they are not ruled out at such a meeting, which indeed, I should imagine, would provide an admirable opportunity, both for the exchange of views and for the appreciation by all concerned of each other's difficulties; nor, as I have said earlier, does it in any way rule out at a later date, the type of meeting which the Prime Minister had in mind. In any case, talks on Germany should give a pretty clear indication of whether we are likely to achieve any success in a wider field.

I am afraid I have kept the House rather a long time on this subject, because I believe that it is important to define the purpose of the Four-Power talks as envisaged in Washington. I believe they might well be of a first value to the future of Europe. Whether they will take place or not, I do not know—I hope they will—but there are certainly some people in this country who have done their very utmost already to kill them. It is notable that an article in Pravda of July 23 produced almost verbatim some of the arguments which were used in another place. I am certainly not going to suggest that Pravda put these arguments into the minds of Members of another place—indeed, it certainly could not have done so, because the article came out after the debate. But I do suggest that the arguments used by honour- able Members may well have fortified Pravda in its arguments. If so, and if there are those in this country who give the Russians an excuse to destroy what I believe to be the most hopeful initiative for talks of this kind since the war, they will have a very heavy burden of responsibility to bear, and I believe that their fellow citizens will not easily forgive them.

The House will, I am sure, expect me also to mention the question of Austria, which is referred to in the communiqué, but I will do so only very briefly, because the facts are not new and they are all already at the disposal of your Lordships. I would therefore only say that this is a problem which should not be incapable of an early solution, and if it could be solved, it would undoubtedly be a most valuable contribution to European peace.

Now, my Lords, I come to the subject of the Far East, where the recent developments were also under review at Washington. At the time when I was in Washington, the position was of course, still rather obscure. In this situation, we felt that there was only one course before us, and that was to make it clear that we stood firm behind the United States in her efforts for peace, and that we would give as much latitude as possible to the United States Government and the United Nations High Command to play a hand which no one else could play for them: and I submit that that policy has been fully justified by the event. As your Lordships know, the Armistice has already been signed and came into effect on July 27. The wish of the United Nations to put an end to the fighting in Korea has long been manifest. It has also been made clear recently that the Communists on their side were keen to get an Armistice. Some people, your Lordships will know, have argued from this that because the basic policies and aims of the Communists are opposed to ours, therefore an Armistice must necessarily be to the disadvantage of our cause. But I submit that that is an entirely false line of reasoning. The truth is that the Korean Armistice is a very good example of the sort of limited agreement between the Communist Powers and the free world which is possible, even in the present state of world tension. It may indeed be that the motives and objectives which led the Communists to conclude the Armistice differ from those which prompted us. But what is really important is this: in spite of the difference in our aims and objectives which undoubtedly exists, the Communists and ourselves have nevertheless, within a limited context, found an area of agreement. The Korean Armistice is common ground between us. That, my Lords, I submit, is an encouraging precedent. We may hope—I at any rate do hope—that limited agreements may also prove possible in respect of other outstanding problems; that the area of agreement which we have already reached in the Korean Armistice may through our efforts be widened and extended.

As I said to your Lordships on Monday, we are determined that this Armistice shall form a turning point for the better in the Far East. It was for this reason that we felt it necessary, in the Washington communiqué, to stress the dangers which would flow from any breach of the Armistice by the Communists. It would indeed be a tragedy for the progress made if this Armistice were to be imperilled by any failure on our part to show the strength of our resolution, and I hope that in the communiquéwe have made this abundantly clear. But it may be said—I think it was quite fairly said by the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, the other day, and he asked me, I think, for an answer—"What happens if the Armistice is broken by the action of the South Korean Government, by the action of the Government of President Rhee?" In that case, I should like to make it perfectly clear that, in the view of Her Majesty's Government, we are uncommitted. There is no doubt that it would constitute a very grave situation, and I have no doubt at all also that we all hope that that situation will never occur. But, if it did, I imagine that the first step would be consultation between Her Majesty's Government and the fellow members of the United Nations. I hope that I have made that point clear, because I share the view of the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, that it is important.

And now I should like to turn to the question of the immediate steps which will become necessary following the Armistice. As your Lordships will already know, the General Assembly has been specially convened for August 17 to resume consideration of the Korean question. That is, of course, in accordance with the Assembly's Resolution of April 18 last. It has always been our intention that the Assembly should meet again as soon as possible after the conclusion of an Armistice in Korea. For resistance to aggression to Korea was, as we all know, based on the United Nations. It flowed directly front the Security Council Resolution of June 27, 1950. It is therefore right that the Assembly should meet to take note of the termination of hostilities.

The special meeting of the Assembly will also have the task of putting into effect the recommendations of Article 60 of the Armistice Agreement, that within three months of the conclusion of the Agreement, a Political Conference should be held to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the Korean question. We expect the Assembly to pass a Resolution setting up this Political Conference. The precise form in which this will be done has still to be decided. The important point is that the United Nations' connection with the Korean question should be continued, and that the Political Conference, when it meets, should be in some suitable way associated with the United Nations. The composition, terms of reference, and the agenda of this Conference are already under examination. We have been exchanging views for many weeks past with the Commonwealth, with the United States, and with other members of the United Nations. On the whole of this question, our concern is and will remain, first, that the principles on which we stand in international relations should be observed; secondly, that the arrangements should be workable; and thirdly, that they should have the best possible chance of reaching a useful result.

As regards the composition of the Conference, it seems clear that those who take part must necessarily include the North and South Koreans, the United States, who were entrusted by the United Nations with the unified command, and the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union, both of which have a common frontier on the Korean peninsula. We ourselves, of course, expect to play a part, and we think that Australia, too, and also India, as a great Asiatic Power with special responsibilities in the Korean Armistice, should be there. As regards the Agenda, there has been a great deal of discussion whether the best course would be for the Conference to be confined entirely to the Korean political settlement or broadened to make possible the consideration of other problems in the Far East. There is a great deal less difference between these two alternatives than might at first appear. Whatever the terms of reference of the Conference, it must obviously give first priority to the political settlement of the Korean problem. That settlement must be reached with reference to the realities of the situation in the Far East. It must not have the effect of upsetting the balance of security in that area. On the contrary, it must aim at strengthening peace and security in the Far East generally. In our view, therefore, if the Political Conference makes real progress towards a settlement of the Korean problem, there is no reason why it should not move on to consider other outstanding problems in the Far East.

Now I want to return for a few moments to Korea itself. There is, as I see it, only one basis for a permanent settlement of the Korean problem, and that is, by some means or other, the unification of the whole country by peaceful means. I am not saying anything new in saying that. It has, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, will know well, been the aim of the United Nations since they first became concerned with the Korean question in 1947; and it has, I think, been reaffirmed in every resolution passed by the General Assembly since then. In the Washington communiqué we reiterated our aim, to pursue every effort to assist the stouthearted and sorely-tried Koreans to re-unite peacefully under institutions of her own choosing. I do not say that this can be accomplished all at once. In this, as in other matters, we must be realists. But it is the goal towards which we must all of us work.

There are, in this area of the Far East, two other problems about which I might perhaps say a word. They relate to the questions of relaxations of trade with China, and the position of Communist China vis-à-vis the United Nations in the event of an Armistice. These were the subject of preliminary, but not very detailed discussion. In both these cases, the Three Powers agreed that it would be premature, and indeed quite impracticable, that there should be any immediate or automatic change of policy. But they equally agreed that the questions could come up for further examination in the light of experience in the period following the armistice. I hope the House will agree that that was as far as it was practicable to go at this stage. But the position has been kept absolutely open, and we can raise these matters again whenever we think proper. That, I am sure, is right. For none onus knows whether this more moderate slant in Russian policy, of which some signs are now apparent in Europe, may not be adopted, too, in Russia and China in the Far East. Were that to be so, it would no doubt open new doors to better relations between the Communist and the non-Communist world. But at present it is impossible to tell. One can judge of that only in the light of future events, and in the meantime I would say once more that we must keep an open mind.

There is one more word that I would say with regard to trade with China, about which I believe one noble Lord spoke on Monday. With regard to our trade with China, noble Lords will be aware that our policy is based on the embargo on the supply of strategic goods—which we are carrying out rigorously—and the development of trade within the non-strategic field. Any change in the strategic control—which I may say we have rigidly observed—could, of course, be carried out only in co-operation with the other Governments which follow the same policy. With regard to non-strategic materials, which are not subject to embargo, there is, so far as I know, no reason why we should not trade. I could not admit that by doing so we have in any way gone beyond what is right and proper. I am glad to make this clear, in view of certain suggestions which have I understand been made.


Before the noble Marquess leaves this matter, I should like to ask this. The resolution which we are observing in regard to China was in accordance with a resolution of the United Nations, was it not, in support of which both Houses and the United States Government voted?


I do not think there is any difference of opinion about that resolution. As I say, we have been at great pains to observe it; indeed, we have gone further in that direction than some other nations.


As the noble Marquess will remember, I raised the question at great length on April 23. What I pointed out was that, although the United Nations had said that there was to be an embargo, they had not said upon what articles the embargo was to be placed. Although they said there was to be an embargo, they had not made a list of the articles upon which the embargo was to be placed. It is upon that that there has been objection.


I think I am right in saying that the noble Viscount is unintentionally wrong about that. There is a list. However, I would rather leave that to be dealt with more fully by my noble friend Lord Reading when he replies, because I have kept your Lordships a long time. There is a list, and it has been agreed.


Would the noble Marquess allow me to point out that we have gone far beyond that list? We have quite voluntarily added a great number of items which were not on that list at all, and our doing so has involved us in the loss of many millions of pounds of trade.


Everything that has been said bears out my statement that we have been scrupulously fair over this matter. I am glad that that should be made clear.

Now a word about Indo-China. This is inevitably linked with what happens in Korea. For the French Government are naturally anxious lest, in the event of an Armistice in Korea, the whole heat of the Communist attack might be turned on the Associated States. It is for that reason that there was included in the communiqué a phrase which, as your Lordships know, says: The Foreign Ministers were of opinion that an armistice in Korea must not result in jeopardising the restoration and the safeguarding of peace in any other part of Asia. The French Government at Washington were able to give us an account of far-reaching steps which they are taking to grant self-government to the three Associated States. They made it clear that they are well aware of the vital importance of such steps in rallying the public opinion of the States to their side. The military situation was also discussed in the Conference, and I believe, also, in other talks between the French Government and the United States. There was full agreement between all concerned as to the necessity for restoring the military situation. It would be folly, of course, to ignore the difficulties with which the French forces are faced in this strange campaign, which conforms to no ordinary pattern that has ever been known before, so far as I know. But we shall, I know, wish them all success in their task, for victory in it may well affect not only the future of Indo-China, but also the whole of South-East Asia.

Finally, if your Lordships can bear with me a few minutes more, I should like to say a word about Egypt—and it will be a very brief word. This was not mentioned in the tripartite talks, but it was the subject of bilateral conversations between the United States and us. Throughout there was strong evidence of a desire of the United States to see a peaceful outcome of differences between Egypt and this country. We explained once more the nature of our interest in me problem: we explained that it was not national, and it certainly was not imperialistic. There is, I think, general agreement—and an agreement which no doubt would be shared on the other side of the Atlantic as well as here—as to the necessity of maintaining a base in this strategically vital area, so that it may be readily available in the event of war. For this, certain practical arrangements are required, as your Lordships know. As a result of our talks in Washington, I hope and believe that broad agreement was reached on an approach to this problem. I ask the House not to press me to go further than that to-day. Open diplomacy is a very good thing, but too much publicity is not always very helpful to further negotiations. I would, therefore, only add this. Her Majesty's Government are ready, as has already been made clear on several occasions, to resume negotiations—whether they be formal or informal—if the Egyptian Government wish. General Sir Brian Robertson came with me to Washington, where his wisdom and experience were invalu- able, and he has now returned to Cairo. Personally—I hope that I am not too optimistic—I still believe it is possible to thresh out a solution which safeguards the principles which I have enumerated, if the good will be there; and I hope most sincerely that such a solution will be reached, consistent with the honour of both countries.

I have tried at some length, but I am afraid very inadequately, to give an account of the proceedings of the three Ministers at Washington, and the reasons which brought us to the conclusions to which we came. No doubt, other views might have prevailed. For instance, we might have come to the conclusion that it was premature to make an approach to the Russians and that we should wait longer until the position was clearer. But the more we examined the situation, the more I think we all became convinced that, with recent developments in Russia and with the situation in Germany developing as it is, it would be useful, if possible, to hold such a meeting at an early date, if only to see what is the new climate of international relations on these vitally important topics. Personally, I believe that is right. The climate is as likely to be favourable now as at a later date, and perhaps more so. And there is always a danger that by waiting too long we may miss an opportunity which may not recur.

It will, I think, be generally agreed that this is one of those moments in the affairs of nations which are specially pregnant for good or ill. For nearly twenty-five years Russia has been within the iron grip of Generalissimo Stalin, one of the most powerful and probably, in his way, one of the most ruthless men who ever lived. Now suddenly, by the act of death, that grip has been removed. What may come after we do not yet know. What may be the policy of his successors (as I said at the beginning of my speech) is not yet clear. There are signs of a new hand at the helm, both in Russia and in the satellite countries. But whether it represents any real difference of outlook, or whether it is merely that the new rulers of Russia want a quiet time in which to find their feet, it is impossible to tell at present. It is clearly far too soon to assume that there has been any real change of heart. On that, all the authorities seem to be agreed. We can- not, therefore, in any case, as I see it, slow up our plans for the defence of the West. But are we to ignore altogether these few faint fluttering gestures towards a greater liberalism? I cannot help feeling that that would be foolish. It seems to me that we must feel our way forward, not relaxing our vigilance but alive to any new turns in the situation of which we can take advantage, to lessen the tension between East and West. That, as I see it, was the purpose of the Washington talks, and as such I commend their conclusions to the favourable consideration of this House.

4.4 p.m.


My Lords, as the noble Marquess said at the beginning of his speech, this debate is taking place one day before the House goes into the long Summer Recess, and for several weeks the vigilant attention which Parliament is able to give almost day by day to international affairs will be suspended. I think we all agree that it is important that we should have this debate to-day, and that it should have been opened by the noble Marquess. In the enforced absence of the Prime Minister and Mr. Eden—the news of whose progress towards recovery of health we all welcome—the noble Marquess has undertaken the heavy duties of the Foreign Office in addition to his normal duties. We all sympathise with the noble Marquess in this period of what I may call "hard labour," however long or short the sentence may be. We, on the other hand, are fortunate. For the first time since, I think, 1940, when the noble Earl, Lord Halifax, was in charge of the Foreign Office, we have been able to hear at first hand from the Foreign Secretary a personal account of his own part in recent important international discussions, and he has been able to deal also with other important matters.

The noble Marquess has taken full advantage of the opportunity. He has delivered an important statement with his usual clarity and persuasion, and we have all listened to him with the deepest interest. He has explained the decision which emerged from the recent Washington conference, and expounded the policies set out in the communiqué, and in the Note which he sent to the Soviet Government. There was much in his speech which is welcomed by noble Lords in all parts of the House. But there are also important matters on which we on these Benches retain our original reaction of disappointment to the result of the Washington conference. It surely cannot be doubted that, between the debate in another place on May 11 and the issue of the Washington communiquéon July 14, the hopes of the people of this country and of many other countries for a new initiative to break the cold war deadlock had been raised only to be dashed again. The Prime Minister's speech reverberated all over the world. It appeared that he had again risen to the occasion. It recalled to my mind his famous announcement on another historic occasion, June 22, 1941, when Hitler launched his armies against the Soviet Union. The Prime Minister's initiative at that time had a profound effect on the course of world events. It seemed that his speech on May 11 might also lead to momentous results. Instead, it would seem that the Prime Minister's initiative has been put in cold storage.

The noble Marquess made some reference to the late conversion of members of my Party to the idea of high-level discussions. But no doubt he will recall that in a debate in your Lordships' House as long ago as November 21, 1951, I myself said that I had come to be in favour of a top-level conference if it was impossible to get things moving by normal conferences or political methods. The noble Marquess will therefore realise that I have some personal feeling of support for what the Prime Minister has tried to do, because I think he was right in choosing the moment. The Prime Minister said in his speech: The supreme event which has occurred since we last had a debate on foreign affairs is, of course, the change of attitude and, as we all hope, of mood which has taken place in the Soviet domains and particularly in the Kremlin since the death of Stalin. The Prime Minister was anxious that nothing in the presentation of foreign policy by the N.A.T.O. Powers should, as it were, supersede or take the emphasis out of what may be a profound movement of Russian feeling. He did not believe that the immense problem of reconciling the security of Russia with the freedom and safety of the Western World was insoluble.

And then he made his now famous proposal, which was set out in a brief, much-quoted passage. I will quote only three sentences of it. He said: I believe that a conference on the highest level should take place between the leading Powers without long delay. This conference should not be overhung by a ponderous or rigid agenda….It should meet with a measure of informality and a still greater measure of privacy and seclusion. That was the Prime Minister's great conception. Therein lay the new initiative. Where are they now? The top-level talks are in effect discarded. We are to have a Foreign Minister's conference with a restricted agenda. I cannot agree that the proposed Foreign Minister's conference is not a reversal of the Prime Minister's intentions. It is most unfortunate that the Prime Minister's illness made it impossible for him to carry forward his proposal personally. The first blow to his hopes was that his illness prevented the Bermuda Conference from being held. I recall the many expressions of sincere concern which his illness evoked in the United States. But I also recall the expressions of relief that the Bermuda Conference would have to be postponed indefinitely.

The Prime Minister's speech was delivered with the full knowledge and agreement of his Cabinet colleagues. We have been told so—not, I think, that we needed to be told. For myself, I have not: doubted that the noble Marquess went to the Washington Conference with a view to securing the agreement of his. United States and French colleagues to the holding of a top-level conference on the lines proposed by the Prime Minister. I was sure that he pressed strongly for their agreement but that he had been unable to carry his two colleagues with him; and in consequence agreement could be reached only on a proposal that the four Foreign Ministers should meet for the purposes set out in the Note which the noble Marquess later addressed to the Soviet Union. The fact is that his American and French colleagues would not play on the Churchill wicket.

It has often been said that while Russia can decide her policies by herself the three Western Allies have to concert their policies, and that, of course, is not always easy. If there are strong differences of view on policy or on the timing of action, there must obviously be give and take— to use the noble Marquess's own expression—otherwise the differences may grow more acute and endanger Western unity. It may be that even if the Prime Minister had been able to go to Bermuda and bring all his great influence to bear he might not have succeeded in winning over President Eisenhower and the French Prime Minister to support the proposal. I do not know: it is possible; but it is idle to speculate. I agree, therefore, that if the best could not be obtained by agreement, it was better to adopt the second best than to do nothing at all. If what was agreed was all that was possible, it may be the second best; it is certainly not the best in a different form. It represents something entirely different from the Prime Minister's idea of a new initiative. I see nothing of a new initiative about it. Indeed, there is nothing in the communiqué and nothing in the Note giving any sign of recognising the possibility of important changes in the world situation—to what, in fact, the Prime Minister called "the supreme event."

Even if the Prime Minister's plan was not favoured, it is difficult to understand why the original plan should have been altered so drastically. Was it necessary to revert to the old gambit of proposing the agenda submitted and so leave an opening for a resumption of the old haggling about the terms of an agenda, which has gone on for so long? It is four years since the last Foreign Ministers' Conference took place. In the interval much time and effort has been spent, both in Conference and by Notes—there are already four White Papers of them—in fruitless endeavours to agree on the basis for a meeting. I would seriously ask the Government whether they have any real expectation of the Russians entering a conference in September on the proposed agenda.

We must be realistic. Point 1 of the Note sets out terms for free all-German elections, which the West has consistently and rightly held to be indispensable. Point 2 refers to the establishment of a free all-German Government with freedom of action in internal and external affairs. We agree that that is the right policy; but for the Russians to agree would involve, as we all know, important concessions from the position which they have long maintained. And the reunification of Germany cannot be secured except by arrangement with the Russians. The truth of that cannot be ignored by either the Western Allies or by the Germans themselves. As The Times said yesterday: Germans in general know that the friendship of the western occupying Powers is vital to their country, and while they hope that the Soviet Government might be persuaded to set the eastern zone free if sufficient inducement could be offered by the west, they understand that it cannot be forced to do so. My Lords, mark the words "if sufficient inducement could be offered by the West." I believe that that is a correct appreciation of the position. We know from the Note what concessions are needed from Russia to get agreement. But we do not know what inducements the West are ready to hold out to Russia. There can be no doubt that deep disappointment—I will put it no higher than that—has been caused by failure to follow up with the Prime Minister's initiative. There will be impatience as well as disappointment if the alternative proposal leads nowhere.

The Prime Minister sensed that a propitious moment had arrived to attempt to break the deadlock. German reunification, of the highest importance itself, is really part of the problem of divided Europe. There are large issues which will always hover in the background of a restricted Foreign Ministers' meeting limited to German unity and the Austrian Treaty. The Prime Minister's informal talks would have provided an opportunity to gain some understanding of the Russian mind on some of these back ground issues. For example, are the Russians genuinely concerned about their security? Are they genuinely concerned about a united and rearmed Germany, associated with the West? Would they be ready to work in co-operation with the West if we could convince them that the Western Defence Pact is entirely non-aggressive; that the North Atlantic Treaty and the European Community Treaty are open to Russia and the other Eastern nations to join on equal terms, and so make a grand alliance of mutual security against aggression? Would they be ready to co-operate to lift the heavy burden of world armaments? Could peaceful co-existence be made a political, economic and non-aggressive reality? The Prime Minister has projected the idea of something on the lines of the Locarno Pact. The German Chancellor, as the noble Marquess reminded us, has said that the E.D.C. should be the point of departure of a security system which met the requirements of all European peoples, including the Russians.

It is great background problems of this kind that could have been discussed informally and privately in top-level talks. I am extremely doubtful whether they can be effectively discussed in a Foreign Ministers' Conference on the proposed agenda, despite what the noble Marquess has said about the possible wide range of its discussions. I agree that E.D.C. and other matters are inherent in any discussion to arrange all German "freedom of action in internal and external affairs." It is well that the noble Marquess has made this perfectly clear, because there were some who considered that E.D.C. was ruled out by a somewhat ambiguous reference in the communiqué. I agree that the European Community is to be looked upon as necessary in itself, as a long-term constructive arrangement in the permanent interests of Europe. I also agree that E.D.C. is designed with a view to removing the historic conflict between France and Germany, by bringing a Federal German armed contribution as an integral part of the integrated forces of the European Community. This purpose would also be served if an all-German Government were to join it, but its accession would not be automatic. A new decision would have to be taken. It could not be bound by any of the international engagements entered into by the Federal Government. Moreover, it must not be forgotten that the French have not yet ratified the Treaty, and we cannot say when they will do so. I agree, therefore, that discussion of an enlarged E.D.C. would not be impossible in the Foreign Ministers' Conference, but I remain doubtful whether that is the right place for such discussions in the first instance.

What response may we get from the Soviet Union? They may accept the invitation—I hope and trust that they will and the possible width of discussion indicated by the noble Marquess may encourage them to do so. They may return the same answer as the Note of last September—that is, none—but I think that events in East Germany and Eastern Europe make that unlikely. They may propose a different agenda. If they do, is there to be a return to the fruitless exchange of Notes which was suspended last September? There is another possibility. They may propose a conference on the highest level…which shall not he overhung by a ponderous or rigid agenda. What would be Her Majesty's Government's answer? The noble Marquess has told us that the Foreign Ministers' Conference does not preclude a meeting at the highest level. If that is the case, I hope that, if such a Note should be received, the decision of the Government will be "Back to Churchill."

With the signing of the Armistice in Korea, the fighting has ceased—we hope not to be resumed. We share with noble Lords in all parts of the House the feelings of thankfulness and pride which have been evoked by the vindication of the United Nations' policy of collective armed resistance to aggression. As the noble Marquess has told the House, this is the first time since its formation that the United Nations has taken up collective action in resisting aggression. And it has taken it successfully. It was never a purpose of the United Nations to carry on the war in Korea until the aggressors submitted. It was never its purpose to unify Korea by force—indeed, it was the Communist resort to force to achieve that goal which caused United Nations' collective resistance. The aggressor is back where he started his aggression. He has suffered fearful casualties in the process. Aggression has not been allowed to succeed. It has no profits to show. Here is an historic achievement which stands as a warning and a deterrent to any would-be aggressor in the future.

We all recognise, of course, that the war is not ended by the Armistice; that will have to wait upon a peace settlement. The soldiers have done their part; it is now up to the political conference to get a peaceful agreement. For this triumph of United Nations' policy and action, credit and thanks belong overwhelmingly to the United States, which has borne by far the greater part of the sacrifice of life and limb, and of the burden of effort and military responsibility. The free world, which seeks peace and security for all and threatens none, and which values its own freedom and wishes freedom for all, owes an immense debt to the people, of the United States which ought never to be forgotten. If one name more than any other should be linked with this historic endeavour, it is that of ex-President Truman, now living in retirement, whose courageous and far-sighted initiative brought United Nations' collective resistance into action.

My Lords, we welcome the fact, as stated by the noble Marquess, that the United Nations Assembly is to meet in New York on August 17. It is vital that it should take overall charge, now that political discussions are to be undertaken. Its first duty is to see to it that the Armistice is fully respected by all the forces which have operated under the United Nations High Command. It will have to appoint the United Nations' representatives to the Political Conference, and. I was glad to hear the noble Marquess say that representatives of Australia and India should be amongst those selected.

The noble Marquess referred to the fact that the peaceful reunification of Korea was our common goal. I think that we are all in full agreement with that and wish to see it achieved. But the Prime Minister may have been right about the difficulty of this problem, when he said: I doubt very much whether there could be any agreement at the present time on a united Korea. It may be, as he suggested, that it would require the healing touch of time. The noble Marquess also expressed some apprehension of the difficulties of the problem. On the other hand, I would remind your Lordships that the revised resolution by the Soviet Union on November 23 at the United Nations Assembly, which proposed a Commission of eleven States, the names of which were stated, included the following: To instruct the said Commission to take immediate steps for the settlement of the Korean question on the basis of the unification of Korea—to be effected by the Koreans themselves under the supervision of the above-mentioned Commission. This would seem to indicate that the reunification of Korea is not, in principle, opposed by the Communists. But of course it may prove difficult, or even impossible at this stage, to get agreement for reunification at an early date after the peace settlement. But this achievement should be assured in due course by agreement at the Conference.

We welcome the Government's declared determination to see that the Conference is a success. I think it is a pity that Mr. Dulles does not adopt a similarly constructive approach in public. Noble Lords will have seen that he is reported to have said yesterday that the United States had assured Mr. Rhee that if, after ninety days, the political Conference had proved a sham and was showing no signs of being productive, the American delegates would walk out. They would do so on their own initiative, and the decision would not be decided by the South Korean attitude. Why should such an assurance have been given to Mr. Rhee? By what test is the Conference to be proved a sham? By whom is it to be so judged? Surely this is a matter for the United Nations Assembly, and not for a particular delegate. Will the United Nations representatives be United Nations delegates, or will they be delegates of their respective countries? That is a matter of the very highest importance, because it seems to me highly unsatisfactory if any United Nations representatives can walk out on their own initiative, on grounds and on a date of their own choosing. This curious statement of Mr. Dulles lends point to a question asked in another place yesterday. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was asked whether the British delegation to the forthcoming meeting of the Assembly would do their best to ensure that the United Nations delegation which will go to the political Conference in Korea will work to a United Nations common policy and not on national policies. Mr. Butler said that he realised the importance of the point. Can we have an assurance to-day that the British representatives will be instructed to take the line suggested at the Assembly? It ought not to be left in doubt.

Then, my Lords, Mr. Dulles also referred to the possible use of the veto by the United States in the event of there being any proposed concession over Chinese admission into the United Nations. I gathered from the report which I read in The Times, that his statement was made in reference to the Korean Peace Conference. This is an issue that will surely have to be settled by the United Nations after there is a Korean peace settlement formally putting an end to aggression. That is, I take it, the position of Her Majesty's Government, as I believe it was the position of their predecessors. That is in accord- ance with the United Nations resolution, and it is not easy to understand why Mr. Dulles should have made such a public statement at this moment. I only hope that, when it arises, at the appropriate moment, there will be no doubt about the attitude of the British Government in supporting the proposal.

My Lords, I hope that Her Majesty's Government will keep to their intention of doing their utmost to make the Conference a success. We are at a vital stage in international affairs. Much may turn on the success or failure of the political Conference in Korea. Peace there may prove to be the beginning of a wider settlement covering the whole of the Far East and South East Asia. We want to see an end to the fighting in both Indo-China and Malaya, as has happened in Korea. I do not think it can be doubted that the key to overall peace in that large area of the world is to be found in a peaceful settlement of the Korean problem; and in the coming weeks and months Her Majesty's Government will, I am sure, bend all their energies to see that the key is provided.

4.37 p.m.


My Lords, may I begin by referring to that part of the subject which was referred to last by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson? I would observe that clearly the dominating factor of this debate, the thought that is in all our minds, is, as he said, that this very week a shooting war has stopped—and not a small war, but one which, by any standards, even in this half-century of world wars, was a great war, a war which absorbed a very high proportion of the military resources of the United States, and one which produced casualties on an enormous scale, both military and civilian.

But even that is not so important as the outstanding fact that this Armistice brings to an end a war which, for the first time in history, is the outcome of an experiment, the first experiment in collective security. Lord Henderson has observed that for the fact that that experiment was made the world has to thank the people of the United States who, for the first time in history, have taken the initiative in international affairs and have shouldered the great international responsibility which the evolution of the world has thrust upon them. There may be things said in criticism of the United States during the course of this debate—there have been during the course of the debate in another place—but we should do well to remember all the time that the situation that we are in, the fact that there is an organisation which can act to check aggression, has been proved to be effective by the decision of the people of that country. As the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said, that particular event will always be associated with the name of President Truman. We must hope and pray that never again will civilised countries take part in any war except a war of that type, which is a collective war against aggression.

My Lords, I will make only a few brief comments on the question of Korea. The first is that the signing of this Armistice does not, of itself, prove anything about the attitude of the Communist world, but we can, at least, draw from it the negative conclusion that the change that took place after the death of Stalin has not changed in an opposite direction. The other comment I have to make is that we Liberals associate ourselves in general with the remarks just made by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, in regard to some statements that have been made in relation to political discussions on the Far East. In particular, we agree with him regarding the suggestion that the United States should veto the admission of China to the United Nations, a statement, I regret to observe, which has been subscribes to by that great American, Mr. Adlai Stevenson, yesterday.

We on these Benches take the view that all nations should be admitted to the United Nations. It would be quite possible to organise on a guaranteed democratic basis; and, indeed, we have done so in Europe, to a certain extent, because membership of the Council of Europe is subject to a test of democratic belief. In the case of the United Nations, however, whatever the original intention, that in practice has not been done, and the result is that it remains a platform on which it is still possible for East and West to meet. And if that is right for Russia, it is also right for Communist China. It is obvious, of course, that it was impossible to accept China during the War, or even immediately afterwards but we hope that the admission of China will be the goal of any agreement on the problem of Korea and in the Far East.

I turn to what is the main purpose of this debate—an expression of views on the Washington Conference. I should like first of all to express our appreciation of the admirable exposition given by the Acting Foreign Secretary this afternoon. Two main criticisms have been made of the proceedings of the Conference, one of which was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. The first is that the Conference retreated from the attitude taken up by the Prime Minister on May 11. For my part, I have the feeling that the excessively sharp terms in which this view has been expressed in the Press and in the debate in another place was due to a large extent to the high hopes—what I consider to be the exaggerated hopes—built upon the Prime Minister's speech.

I, too, like the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, am sorry that Sir Winston Churchill and President Eisenhower are not going to meet the Russian leaders in the near future, for I believe very greatly in the value of personal contacts and contacts at the highest level in international affairs. The history of the war proves how immensely valuable to us and to the Allied cause was the relationship established between Mr. Churchill and such differing personalities as President Roosevelt, on the one hand, and Marshal Stalin, on the other. If Sir Winston Churchill and President Eisenhower could establish a basis of confidence between themselves and the Russian leaders, the state of the world would be greatly improved. But The Prime Minister's proposal was an extremely personal and characteristic one. One cannot imagine anyone other than Mr. Churchill actually filling that rôle between President Roosevelt and Marshal Stalin during the world war, and the same is true to a certain event now. This is not something which you can appoint someone to undertake, and it really was quite right that the scheme should be postponed when Sir Winston Churchill fell ill. Not only that but, as the noble Marquess said, it became inopportune when Mr. Beria disappeared and doubt was thrown on who were the effective heads and people in authority in Russia. We regret the postponement, but it really was due to events and not to Her Majesty's Ministers. In the circumstances I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, that the proposal outlined in the communiqué was the only alternative.

It is true that there are some who hold that it would have been better to do nothing and wait until an opportunity for top-level talks recurred. My own view is that to do nothing at all would have been the worst of all possible courses. It would have produced a maximum of disappointment. But most of the critics, and I think this is true to a certain extent of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, have put forward a second criticism. Hardly anybody has suggested that the Foreign Ministers should be given a roving commission over the whole of the world—that is not a task for Foreign Ministers—but many have suggested that in selecting Germany as the high point of the Conference the Ministers made a grave error in laying down conditions both in the communiqué and in the invitation itself. On that point I find myself much more closely in agreement with the noble Marquess than with the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. It is quite true that it is useless to go into negotiations with the Russians, or indeed anybody else, if you have no intention of trying to meet their preoccupations, allay their suspicions and deal with reasonable claims, and are in no sense prepared to modify your own policy. It is no good going into negotiation on that basis. But that does not mean we must start with a clean slate or give the impression that everything is open to debate.

The point I wish to make in this context is this. If there are matters on which there is no room for compromise, it is the wisest course to say so at the outset. The communiqué might have been couched in warmer terms. But it was right to indicate, and to insist on, certain principles. The noble Marquess said that if we had given any other impression it would have been misleading—he hesitated to use the word "dishonest," but, in fact, that is the word which I think exactly fits the case. I entirely agree with the noble Marquess on this.

I want to emphasise that at this moment we need to lay down the principles on which any settlement must be based. Reading the Report of the debate in another place, I gathered the impression that some speakers regarded the unification of Germany as the sole issue. Unification is, indeed, one of the essential conditions of the final pacification of Europe. The noble Marquess underlined it very appropriately, and he called attention to the fear of degeneration in the relationship between East and West and the situation in East Germany if it were not achieved. But unification is not the only condition, or even, necessarily, the governing condition. I would remind your Lordships that a German treaty is not merely a device for relieving tension between Russian and the Western democracies. It is also the last chapter in the world war that we are proposing to write: it is the document that will settle the peace-time relations between Germany and her former enemies. It must not be a dictated peace, but it is equally not possible to have a peace in which Germany decides everything for herself. If it is to be a lasting peace and not a perpetual irritant, it must, after negotiation, be fully accepted on both sides.

What, if any, are the principles on which we are entitled to insist when Germany is about to be restored, by treaty, after a war, to a status of equality in Europe? I put the question in this form, rather than in the language of the communiqué, in order that we may see where there may be room for manœuvre and for bargaining. I believe that there will be general agreement on two principles—certainly on the first, and I hope on the second. The first principle is that we must insist on the democratic régime. The second principle is that the integration of Germany's military force in some form of international framework must be a condition of our acceptance of the rearmament of Germany. As to the first of these, insistence on a democratic régime, we are right to insist on free elections. We cannot bargain or make terms with the Government of Eastern Germany as it exists to-day. Moreover, we cannot, and must not, take any sort of responsibility under treaty for the types of Government that have been set up in Eastern Germany and in many of the satellite States. On that, there can be no sort of compromise.

In this matter of the political régime, the German Federal Republic has gone very far. It has a free Parliamentary régime, and it has ratified the Convention on Human Rights, which gives every party to the Convention the right to intervene if there is a breach of these rights—that is to say, the German Federal Republic has voluntarily accepted the right of its partners in the Convention to intervene if there is any breach of that short, but vital, list of human rights. That Convention is not yet a binding document but it will become so when the last two ratifications have been deposited—probably in October of this year. Western Germany has agreed from that date to accept and to undertake those responsibilities and to make them collective and joint responsibilities. The Russians should have no difficulty in agreeing to that. After all, they accepted at Yalta the principle of parliamentary government. It is quite true that something very different has happened to what was agreed on at Yalta, but they accepted it; and in the last few months they have taken out of the pigeon-holes the Soviet Charter of 1936, in which is enshrined and put on paper most of that list of human rights. There is no room for compromise there.

The Defence system of Germany presents a more complicated problem. There are here five variations. First, there is a possibility of neutralisation. I do not think there is much support for this. There was little in another place, and I am assured by my friends in Europe that the policy has far less support than is often supposed. Secondly, at the other extreme, there is complete freedom for Germany in regard to armaments. Again, no one is prepared to accept that. Thirdly, there is the possibility of unilateral limitation and control of Germany's armaments, as proposed by Russia in the correspondence last year. That discrimination might last for a short time, but it is inconceivable that it would last for any lengthy period. Fourthly, there is the possibility that, if and when you get to controlling armaments, Germany would be free to have her own armaments and her own forces, but subject to a limitation that applied all round. That is far ahead. Fifthly, there is the possibility, to which I have already referred, of integration in some international framework of defence. The choice, I believe, is clearly between 2 and 5. Number 2, as I have said, is complete freedom in regard to arms for Germany, and number 5 is an integration within an international framework.

I do not propose to discuss E.D.C. It was expounded and defended by the noble Marquess with far greater ability than I possess. And I was delighted to find so strong a defence of it from the Government Front Bench. Technically, the issue as between E.D.C. and N.A.T.O. is important. Possibly one day we may discuss it, but it is not relevant at this moment. I am concerned to consider the criticism that to require Germany to enter into any international system in the West will automatically end any prospect of agreement with Russia. It may be so. But the noble Marquess gave sonic very interesting arguments why it may not be so. We should hesitate to be dogmatic about any such questions at this time in regard to what Russia will do.

I would add two or three reflections on that point. First, if the Prime Minister should succeed in establishing personal contact and confidence between himself and the President of the United States and the Russian leaders, when that point is reached it might well be possible to persuade the Russians that N.A.T.O.-cum-E.D.C. is a defensive and not an aggressive organisation. Secondly, it is a fact, even though Russia may not be ready to admit it at this moment, that, in the long run, Germany in an E.D.C.-cum-N.A.T.O. setting will be a far less danger to Russia than Germany with sovereign powers over her own armaments. A composite group of nations with varying races will never be as militaristic as a single sovereign country fired by aggressive intension. Thirdly, under the E.D.C., the size of Germany's armaments, as well as those of other members, will be fixed by mutual agreement and will be subject to a common budget. The whole system will be ort the table and under control. It would be possible for Russia to have something to say about those figures if a limitation of armaments came about either with or without a security pact, such as that suggested by the Prime Minister.

It is in the relations between the Western nations, as a whole, and the Soviet Union, with its associated countries, that there is room for manœuvre and bargaining. That, as I see it, is where there is force in the point put by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, in urging that, just as it will be necessary, in any political conference on the Far East to emerge from Korea into the wider area of the Far East, so in the conversations between the Foreign Ministers on Germany, dicussion will broaden out. Exploratory discussions will quickly show that the German problem cannot be settled except in this wider field. I feel that the conference was right to lay down certain essential terms on which there can be no compromise. It might have been made clearer that outside of this sphere there is a large area in which there is room for concessions to the other side's point of view. It is in this field that it is our desire to meet them half-way for our mutual advantage; and if there has been a change of heart in Russia, then they will come to meet us.

5.4 p.m.


My Lords, in a foreign affairs debate it is no easy task to follow my noble friend Lord Henderson, because he always takes such infinite trouble about preparing his speeches, and deals with the matter so completely and so rightly from the point of view of Her Majesty's Opposition, and I think I may add, so fairly from everybody's point of view. I shall merely try to follow and emphasise what he has already said. I should like to express my gratitude to the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, for the full, but not too full, account that he gave us. I am not sure that he quite realises the extent to which the country was profoundly disappointed at the result of his labours. I am not making a personal attack—I never have and never shall; that is always far from my mind. I, myself, when I read the pronouncement, felt a profound feeling of disappointment, and I believe that feeling was shared by a great number of people up and down the country not of my Party at all.

It may be, as the noble Lord, Lord Layton, rather suggested, that the Prime Minister, in his great speech of May 11, drew a picture which was really an impossible one and altogether too optimistic. I do not know. The Prime Minister is a genius, though I think sometimes a rather erratic genius, and it is sometimes given to him to see a solution which is not apparent to the ordinary person. In that speech, if I may remind your Lordships of it once again, the Prime Minister referred to the internal manifestations of an apparent change of mood, in Russia, which he said he thought was significant. He was anxious that nothing in the presentation of foreign policy by the N.A.T.O. Powers should…supersede or take the emphasis out of what may be a profound movement of Russian feeling. Then he referred to the immense problem of reconciling the security of Russia with the freedom and safety of Western Europe, which he thought not to be insoluble. How I could wish that in this Foreign Office statement there had been some statement of our anxiety to try to reconcile the security of Russia with the freedom and safety of Western Europe! The Prime Minister referred to Locarno and said the master thought which animated Locarno might well play its part between Germany and Russia…. And he said Russia has a right to feel assured that…the Hitler invasion will never be repeated, and that Poland will remain a friendly power…though not…a puppet State. That was the statement of the Prime Minister, and your Lordships will see that time and again there was emphasis on Russia, on Russian security, on the necessity of Russia feeling assured, and on Locarno. That was the conception, and it was new ground. It was hopeful. It coincided with the change of heart of which there were some signs in Russia. So what did he recommend? He recommended that the Conference should meet with a measure of informality and a still greater measure of privacy and seclusion. And with that, I respectfully agree entirely. He said that even though we did not arrive at any hard-faced agreements we might get a general feeling among the peoples who might slowly begin to realise that they might be doing something better than tearing themselves to pieces or ruining themselves by an armaments race. At the worst, we should make more intimate contacts and at the best we might win a generation of peace.

That was the conception which I, for one, in my ignorance, believed possible. Compare these two pictures: the picture of what the Prime Minister said, with what happened, whether we take it from the statement of July 14 or July 15 or the statement which the noble Marquess made to the House as a short summary of his efforts on July 21. How different, how profoundly different, the two are! Russian security, Locarno, all these things have gone; the agenda is restricted; conditions sine qua non are postulated in advance. There is no recognition of a Russian change of heart, if it exists; no word of Russian security. It has been said that the noble Lord had limp hands, cold feet, a frozen heart, and all the rest of it. We know him better here. I knew—I was perfectly certain—that it was a case of a good man struggling with adversity. With refreshing candour he has told us quite frankly that that was the position, and that though he tried to get something on the lines of what the Prime Minister suggested, as I felt sure he would—for, the statement was made with the full authority of the Cabinet of which he is a distinguished Member—he could not do it. Of course one cannot criticise him; it was not his fault that the Prime Minister was taken ill. It was not his fault that the French had a Government crisis and that they were without a Government for some weeks. There could not be the highest level meeting at that time. Whether and when that will be possible depends, of course, on the recovery of the Prime Minister from his illness, which we all hope will be speedy and complete. It would be idle to blame the noble Marquess or the Government for that.

But although he was a good man struggling with adversity, yet I could wish that this Note or explanation which was sent by the Foreign Ministers had been illumined by some shaft of apparent sympathy with the new situation in Russia, instead of being, as it is, rather the sort of nagging rebuke of an elderly spinster aunt. What is going to happen? I devoutly hope that Russia is going to come in. I am not deterred from saying what I think because this may appear in Pravda (I do not suppose it will) but I am sure the noble Marquess would agree that although we must hope that foreign affairs will not become a bone of contention between the two Parties, if we can possibly avoid it, yet, on the other hand, our criticism about the conduct of foreign affairs must not be half-hearted or mealy-mouthed. With that I am sure he would agree.


May I say that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said, I thought very fairly, that it was not the best, it was the second best, but that the second best was better than nothing. That was not the impression that was gained from the debate in another place last week.


I want to say quite clearly that I could not rut this as high even as the second best. It is third, fourth or fifth. I cannot think that there may not have been some room to make this communiqué rather less restricted, rather less reproving, rather less grudging, less hesitant, than in fact it was. The harm has been done. I ask myself whether in the circumstances it would have been better to say nothing at all. I wish they could have taken the text of the Prime Minister's speech; I wish they could simply have said, "Let us proceed to work out the immense problem of securing the safety of Russia, and at the same time securing the freedom and safety of Western Europe." They might have come. As it is I only hope that they will still come.

It was said yesterday in another place by Mr. Crook shank that this statement was a mere prelude to the bigger meeting. It would have been better if it had been said to be a prelude to the Four-Power Meeting. There is not a word in this statement to suggest that there is going to be a Four-Power Meeting except the negative statement that nothing precludes there being a Four-Power Meeting thereafter. If this was intended as a prelude, why not state that it is a mere prelude to the Four-Power Meeting? That was the intention—we were told so yesterday. Why did not the statement make that intention plain? Much harm would have been avoided had that been done. For the rest, I deny entirely that in asking people to a conference and trying to make the conference palatable to them you are necessarily being disloyal or disavowing agreements to which you have come. I take it that our position is quite plain.

Several speakers on both sides of the House in another place referred to E.D.C. as though E.D.C. were dead. I do not know that E.D.C. is dead at all. It is for the Germans to say what they think, and the elections there will tell us what the German view about it is. I wish we could have rather more definite information on what France thinks about it. That passage in the noble Marquess's speech appealed to me entirely. It is relatively easy for us to dogmatise on these things, but very difficult for France. When we think what France endured in 1870, in 1914, and in 1939, I think we must all have the greatest sympathy with the French people in their frightful difficulty. We must do everything we can to stand by them, and we must remember that our disasters in recent years have taken place because we became separated from France. Let us draw a lesson from that.

I feel, however, that we ought to say now that we are not going to contemplate giving up E.D.C. unless, of course, E.D.C. breaks in our hands, and then it will not be our fault. But no one shall ever say that we have walked out on the plan for E.D.C. Indeed I agree that E.D.C. should be strengthened. Why should the cornmuniquéhave taken the opportunity of the invitation to a Conference to emphasise that fact without emphasising the other fact as well? A Conference is one thing, a summons to a Conference is another thing, and a statement of policy is another and wholly different thing. Why on earth you should, in a summons to a Conference, select from your policy all those particular items which are going to make the Conference more difficult to achieve I cannot understand. I deeply regret that I have to make these criticisms. I do not doubt for a moment that the noble Marquess went out to try to achieve the object of the Prime Minister's speech. I do not doubt that he found he could not do so, and that he came to the conclusion that it was either this or nothing. Well, I wish he could have got something a little better. I cannot criticise the other Ministers who were there, so I am afraid the only course I have is to apply my criticisms to the noble Marquess.

One word more on Korea. Here I should like to express my complete agreement with what was said by Lord Layton. If we are sometimes inclined to criticise the United States of America for mistakes that they have made, well heaven knows! we have made enough, too. Let us remember this. I doubt whether in world history any nation has made a greater contribution to world peace and security than the United States did by taking the lead in the endeavour of the United Nations to end aggression. That was a profound service which the United States rendered to the United Nations. I hope, having said that, that in any criticism I make hereafter I shall not be thought to be unaware of that fact. I profoundly hope that the noble Marquess will use all his influence now to make it plain that this affair is a United Nations affair. The settlement should be in the hands of the United Nations and the people who are going to make peace should be the United Nations. I believe that there is a danger of our not being taken fully into consultation, and I would urge the noble Marquess to press at the first moment, and keep pressing, our claim, that although our contribution has been quite small as compared with the American contribution, yet it has been a contribution, and a real contribution, as serious for us as was theirs for them, and that we have a right to be taken into consultation and we expect to be taken into consultation at every stage.

For the rest I agree again with Lord Layton. This complicated question of the recognition of China is a burning question in the United States. Mr. Bevin—I think there is no harm in saying this now—used to think that the United States would never agree to it, but that the time would come when they would be thankful if it was imposed by the United Nations and that they would agree to it in that way. After all, as the late Lord Perth used to point out in the old days, China is a member of the United Nations. The only question is: Who is China? I cannot bring myself to think that, looking at it in that way, there can be any doubt at all but that the Communists are the Government of China. I personally regret it; I do not like Communists. But if I pretend that the Communists are not the Government of China, and that Chiang Kai-shek is, it seems to me that I am doing what the ostrich does, when I understand it buries its head in the sand. It is not the fact.

I read recently in the New York Times, which is one of the most representative and responsible papers, these words: The time may come when a new China, under a régime which has a firmer hold on the country than mere control through force and terror, may qualify for membership. Until that time arrives, the real interests of China are in better hands by being represented by the Nationalist Government than by the Soviet puppets who now rule the Chinese mainland. That is an absolutely hopeless point of view. Once you have determined (whether you like it or not) that these people, the Communist Government, are the Government of China, and are in control of China, it seems to me that you have no option but to recognise them—whether de facto or de jure I am not in the least concerned. There is in our Library in this House a most interesting book by a learned American jurist, who makes out that there is an obligation in International Law, plainly laid down by the United States themselves, that once the factual question of who is in control is answered, there arises an obligation in International Law to grant recognition to the person so in control. I confess that on this point the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and I have had many a little bout in the past. He will remember that I once referred to this topic as his King Charles's head. He was quite frank in saying that the attitude he took at the time was not quite consistent with the attitude of some of the other members of his Party. For it was the fact that one of the reasons why we decided to recognise China in the last Government was that Mr. Churchill made a speech in which he pressed us to do so, pointing out that the mere fact that people were difficult was all the more reason why those people should be at hand, so that they should work openly, and not secretly.


I must say this for Mr. Churchill, as he is not here. I think I am right in reminding the noble and learned Earl that the Prime Minister was never in favour of the de jure recognition of China. He may have diverged from my personal view at that time, but he was not in favour of de jure recognition. That was the cause of the breach between the United States and us on this question.


I do not mind about de jure recognition. In fact, the consequences are the same even if the recognition is merely de facto. They would be at the United Nations, and so on. I thought the view that the noble Marquess had was even wider than that. However, it does not matter. I hope we shall now use our influence, for what it is worth, to try to get China admitted to the United Nations. The Prime Minister was asked about this on May 11 of this year, and he answered in this way (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Col. 906): It would make a great difference if the firing stopped. Well, the firing has stopped. I do not see what you gain by not having them there. It may not be possible to achieve much even if they are there, but there is at least a chance if somebody is there upon whom influence can be brought to hear; it is a chance of understanding them and getting to know them better, and they have the chance of getting to know the other side better. I hope that, in season and out of season, we shall press this matter. The United Nations Association of this country sent me a resolution which they passed unanimously last week, in which they resolve, That, as soon as the armistice was concluded Her Majesty's Government should be requested to propose that China be accorded the right to be represented in the United Nations. I very much hope that the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, will be able to deal with this point. I know how difficult and delicate it is. At the same time, there is a great body of opinion in this country which believes that only if that is done shall we be able to get a satisfactory solution of the Chinese problem. It is no good waiting to see whether we can get a satisfactory solution first, and then asking China to join the United Nations.

There are one or two other questions. Very little has been said about Egypt. The noble Marquess himself was not anxious to enlarge upon the topic, for reasons which I can understand; and I do not propose to say anything about it, except to echo his wishes that there may be a happy solution out of this difficulty which does not in any way derogate from the status of Egypt, Dr from the fact that we have a useful base there. I hope that it will be solved by some agreement. There is another question on which I periodically ask questions, and the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, frequently says that somebody is going to America and he will tell me about it in due course. Somebody has now teen to America, and no doubt he can tell me. I refer to A.N.Z.U.S. An agreement was made between Australia, New Zealand and the United States—hence the name A.N.Z.U.S.— for a specific Pact, and this country was not a party to it. We always wanted to be a party to that Pact, and from what Mr. Menzies said on his return to Australia recently I think he would like us to be a party. But his position is—and I can well understand it—that he does not want to give up the great benefits that he gets from the United States of America for his security. It would not be reasonable to ask him to do so.

It therefore becomes a question of whether the United States would allow us to join, either directly or indirectly, formally, or perhaps informally; because, taking the rather old-fashioned view of our Commonwealth of Nations, and looking upon them as a family, I do not very much like the feeling that we are out, and that the United States are in, a Pact dealing with the security of Australia and New Zealand. If it were possible to deal with that situation by representations, I think it would be satisfactory to us, to Australia and to New Zealand. But, of course, it is quite wrong to ask Australia and New Zealand to make the running on this thing, or to put them into the position where they have either to give up their security or to give up their contention. I hope the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, will be able to deal with this matter. I asked him about it on the last occasion when we had a foreign affairs debate, which was some time ago, and he assured me that somebody was going to America. No doubt I shall get an answer now.


I do not think I said anything about America on the last occasion. What I did say was that there was going to be a conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers here.


I will not be certain about it. My recollection is—it could easily be verified—that he said somebody was going to America. Be that as it may: if he can say something about it to-day, I shall be grateful.

5.39 p.m.


My Lords, when international issues are judged by the criteria of domestic affairs the results are apt to be acrimonious. Thus, the noble Marquess, the Leader of the House, when he went to Washington, seemed to me to have a fair wind and a favourable Press. But, since he has come back, he has been under heavy fire from a number of different quarters, and some of the comment has been quite unnecessarily rude, seeing that we all know perfectly well in our hearts that we are pursuing the same ends. A very bad and rather typical example of what is going on in the country at the present moment was in the Daily Mirror yesterday. They said: The Foreign Office is staggering along under Lord Salisbury, who meekly climbed down in Washington. I greatly deprecate the practice of making the Foreign Office a sort of Aunt Sally for any internal politics. The Foreign Office has never staggered along, and it is not staggering along now. On the contrary, it is staffed by men of the highest ability and integrity, who have given of their best to the State and to whatever Party is in power.

After the speech of May 11, Mr. Herbert Morrison urged that no one should say anything which would "check or chill"—those were his exact words—its possible consequences. I thought that a very reasonable and statesmanlike utterance, and, therefore, when an almost immediate opportunity occurred for speaking in your Lordships' House, I forbore. But now that the whole controversy has burst wide open—particularly in the debate last week which, I think, was an unhappy one—I do not feel obliged to refrain any further from saying that on the whole I prefer the Prime Minister's second thoughts to his first. The first seemed to provide for a Conference without an agenda. I do not suppose that anyone in this House has done—if that is the correct verb—as many Conferences as I have, beginning at the outset of the century with one on cod, and proceeding rapidly to another on the preservation of elephants and rhinoceroses. For the next thirty years I really never stopped. I thought most of us had arrived at the conclusion that the conferences most likely to succeed were those that were the best prepared. I do not want to be dogmatic about it, but on the whole, instead of roving discussions—which the French have vainly sought to dignify and embellish by calling tours ď horizon—it is better to concentrate on crucial and practical problems.

That, as I understood it, was exactly what Mr. Eden proposed when he first returned to office. He used language which led me at least to assume that, while not expecting spectacular results, he hoped that, bit by bit, and with great patience, he might build up an area of agreement. Why, therefore, should Mr. Eden be praised for that, as he most rightly was (there was nothing particularly novel or original about it, but everybody said it was practical statesmanship), and the noble Marquess vilified for exactly the same thing? I am a little surprised myself at all this outcry, because since May 11 some important arid serious developments have taken place. In the first place, there was the heroic uprising of June 17 against tyranny, and after that the terror set in. Boys and girls were shot in cold blood. At the present moment there is a purge of Socialists going on in Eastern Germany, and I should have thought that it would possibly move—I am sure that it does—noble Lords of the Left. Norms of labour have not been diminished. The right to strike has been again denied and the unfortunate ex-Minister of Justice, Herr Fechner, who did suggest that there might be something to be said in justification of the strike, has been declared an enemy of the people, arrested and is likely to lose his life.

Moreover, there are thousands of trade unionists lying in gaol and exposed to the judicial brutalities of the most evil judge that any totalitarian country has yet produced. I think those are factors which should be weighed in the balance and which might conceivably lead towards the conclusion to which I incline now—that there is every justification for going as far as we have gone, and not so much for going further at the present juncture. Perhaps to the noble Lords of the Left, who still think that we do not go far enough, I might offer this thought in consolation. If there were any prospect of an all-round discussion with the Soviet Union, I should feel in honour bound to come to this House and put down a Motion asking for assurances, not only from the Government but from the Opposition as well, that they would conclude no general agreement with Russia which did not provide for the human rights and liberties of the enslaved countries. That is something that I think no honourable, human or decent man could refuse.

Just look at what has happened. Before the war, there were only 1,000 Communists in the whole of Roumania; fewer than that in Albania, and8,000 in Bulgaria. In Poland, with a population of 27 million, there were only 20,000 Communists. We have witnessed in our time one of the most horrible injustices of history. These people have, in fact, been betrayed, and I say again that I do not believe that any honourable man would again be a party to a renewal of that betrayal without at least making an effort on their behalf But your Lordships all know perfectly well that at the present juncture, if that point were raised, general negotiations would come to a stop, because a Pharaoh more arbitrary than any that built a Pyramid would not let the people go. Again, there is something more than that. After the death of Stalin I made a speech, not to this House—for the reasons already given—but to a very representative body of men, in which I said that the Russians would need a pause while they were deciding who was to rule whom. I said specifically that that might mean who was to kill whom; and that is what has happened. We seem to be getting near to the morality of the purges in which Stalin liquidated his possible rivals, and I cannot see why at present we should be in such a hurry to meet the winner before we know who the winner is. I ardently desire that this meeting should take place. I am not quite sure that it will, because an inevitable result of all this acrimony at home must necessarily be to suggest to the Russian mind that they should refuse, and therewith provide a stick for the beating of Her Majesty's Government. I hope that will not be the effect, but it is certainly a considerable danger, and our prospects are thin indeed.

The noble Marquess mentioned the subject of Austria. I, too, of course, desire to see a settlement there, but we have pursued that object for seven years now, and got no nearer. Our last Note on the subject was treated with contumely by the Soviets. The more we disagree among each other, the less likely they are to be tempted to come to an agreement with us. As to Germany, it is a problem which bristles with difficulty. I think we should have the utmost reluctance—and I should press the point if I thought it was in any way in danger—in agreeing to a neutralised and defenceless Germany which would put Germany immediately at the mercy of Communist Russia. I should still more object to a unified but evacuated Germany, which would be even more at the mercy of Communist action, because in that case you might have a collapse both in France and Italy, where the political situation is most precarious. If that collapse took place, you might find that this country was indefensible, even with American help. It is just as well to face these things squarely.

I would also hope that we should adopt no policy in regard to Germany which would add to the embarrassments of Dr. Adenauer. For almost the first time in our history we have has to deal with a convinced Westerner; we owe him a great debt of gratitude—all Westerners do—because, but for him, we should have had a much worse Germany to deal with, and it is still a pretty uncertain one. I do not think my hopes are likely to be realised, because I foresee that he will probably lose the next election. The tendencies are, on the one hand, towards the Socialist and, on the other, to the Right; and I, since long before the First World War, have had ample reasons for mistrusting both. I had hoped that Dr. Adenauer would succeed in guiding Germany towards the way of wisdom and the West. I am not sure that he will succeed in doing that, and there are the gravest doubts whether anybody else will be able to do it, either.

Another reason why I frankly wish him to endure is this. Like the man in the fairy tale I should like to have three wishes, and one of them would be that this man was twenty years younger. One reason for that is that he has a healthy scepticism of Totalitaria. If any noble Lord thinks he is over-sceptical, I beg him to step down to the Terrace after this debate, look across the River, and imagine that between the South Bank and the South Coast there are two million armed men who have already twice invaded his country and raped every woman up to eighty. That is enough to make most people a little sceptical. No one has ever answered my question as to how a change of heart is possible in any totalitarian Power without a change of doctrine. What we have at present is evidence of a change of tactics; I do not think that we have very much more than that. I should wish to see more.

Let any noble Lord who disagrees cast up his own balance sheets. If he does, he will find in the debit column the abomination in Eastern Germany of which I have spoken. What have we in the assets column? We have the release of some prisoners, which was overdue—well and good. We have a little more liberty of movement for diplomatists—well and good. We have the restoration of relations with Israel—which ought never to have been severed. We have the withdrawal of claims against Turkey which ought never to have been formulated. But these are relative trivialities, not fundamentals. As I watch that asset and that debit column, I maintain my independent conviction that so far there has been no change of heart. By believing in these facile changes of heart we have already nearly lost the world twice: once in the case of Hitler and again at Yalta. Let us not repeat that experiment.

We should be cautious in this matter. I feel strongly that we are doing the right thing by pressing forward now—but not pressing forward too far. I realise that all political Parties in this country are much more inclined than I am to believe that there has been some change of heart. Well and good. Let them make their approaches on practical and direct grounds, and good luck to them! But let us not go too far yet on ground that only wildly wishful thinking would depict as solid. Above all, do not let us blame the Leader of the House for following a perfectly sound and wise policy.

5.44 p.m.


My Lords, we always listen with admiration and envy to the noble Lord who has just sat down. He speaks as a passionate champion of enslaved peoples. I share his passion to help enslaved people under Communist control. I, I hope, have an equal desire with him for the advance of human rights, but I fear that my view as to the best way of helping enslaved peoples under Communist control to get into a happier position will not meet with any greater sympathy from the noble Lord than did my efforts to help the enslaved peoples under the Hitler régime before and during the war. I note with some satisfaction that his views about the Hitler régime, or rather the sufferers from the Hitler régime, have undergone some considerable change since those days.

I venture to speak not only as an English Bishop but as one to whom contacts with Churches of many nations, East and West, have brought exceptional powers of gauging general Christian opinion on the international scene before, during, and since the war. It was the unanimous judgment of the World Council of Churches at Amsterdam in 1948 that the greatest threat to peace to-day comes from the division of the world into mutually suspicious and antagonistic blocs. This threat is all the greater because national tensions are confused by the clash of economic and political systems. Five years later the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, at Lucknow, in January, said: The Central Committee, therefore, welcomes the expressed willingness of the highest authorities of certain great Powers to hold personal discussions, and trusts that the essential preliminary conditions of successful consultation may be satisfied. When, therefore, the most powerful secular voice in the world proposes a conference on the highest level between the heads of four great States, and, while declaring that free nations must not relax their comradeship and their preparations, says that they must nevertheless try to do something to end the deadlock, it is no wonder that the Churches and ordinary people in all countries should applaud. Weeks after, we have witnessed a considerable slowing down of the pace. There were doubts at Washington long before the noble Marquess went there. There was the failure in Paris to find a Prime Minister; there were divisions in Moscow, and there was the Prime Minister's illness. In these circumstances, it is very satisfactory, I think, that the Foreign Secretaries of the three countries should have met, and very satisfactory that they should have got somewhere towards an agreement, in view of the greatness of the difficulties. The reason why the noble Marquess could not get further, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, is that he was pledged to act with others.

And yet disappointment is inevitable—disappointment for the great body of peoples in many countries. We have to contrast the speech of May 11, when the new proposal was put in the forefront, while not concealing the need to maintain unity, fidelity and vigilance. In the communiqué of July 14, the old suspicions and the need for the defence of the West and for safeguards for the West were in the forefront, and the hope of a "gentler breeze blowing upon this weary earth" was almost completely obscured—in fact, the very thing that the Prime Minister deprecated when he referred to the "change of attitude and perhaps of mood in Russia since Stalin's death" has occurred. I assure the noble Marquess that there is no desire upon the part of those who differ from him in certain respects to go back on N.A.T.O.; but we remember the words of the Prime Minister's speech: I am anxious that nothing in the presentation of foreign policy by the N.A.T.O. Powers should, as it were, supersede or take the emphasis out of what may be a profound movement of Russian feeling. The real questions of the present pregnant hour are these. Are we Western Powers willing to enter into a fruitful conference with Russia or not? During the last 300 years at least, there have been two conflicting trends in Russian policy. One springs from the conviction that Russia will most surely survive if sealed off from all foreign influences. Peter the Great said: Europe is necessary to us for a few decades and then we can turn our backs upon her. It is the policy of isolation, of a bloc against Europe. The other springs from a firm belief that the path of advance for Russia is by way of friendly relations with Europe and a free interchange in cultural and economic spheres: in other words, the policy of co-operation with Europe. There are signs of the second trend to-day. There are these amicable gestures of the new Government; there are these actions both internally and externally. There is an improvement in the position of the Church in Russia, and a remarkable improvement in the position of the Church in the Eastern Zone of Germany. The Prime Minister said: It is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to avoid by every means in their power doing anything or saying anything which could check any favourable reaction that may be taking place and to welcome every sign of an improvement in our relation with Russia. I do not at all dispute what the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, has just said, that there are purges going on. God forbid them! There have been many purges before, and purges continue. But side by side with the purges, which are lessening, there is this new movement which may be—that is all that is said—a profound movement and change in Russian feeling.

I believe that the policy which the Prime Minister expressed deserves the most vigorous support of the Western peoples. I believe that the Western Powers should be ready to meet Russia in fruitful conference while still maintaining their vigilance. To send Russia back behind her cordon sanitaire, to do anything on our side to clamp down the Iron Curtain, is disaster. I say this because I—and many others also, of course—detect two conflicting trends in Western leadership to-day. There are, on the one hand, those who are fundamentally opposed to any real negotiation, who think, consciously or unconsciously, in terms of total surrender. And there are those, on the other hand, who believe in the duty of realistic negotiation. There should be no doubt where the Churches and ordinary people stand, and where the interests of humanity point. Again, the real question is—I emphasise this: Do we want to confer with Russia in a fruitful way or not? The noble Marquess has said in a very modest way, and in a speech which we all admired, that "It was this or nothing. Would you prefer that I should have come back with nothing?" He also said that what he brought back was not what any of us would ideally have wished. I do not want "nothing," but I want a little more than this. When I say that "I want a little more than this," I do not think I shall incur the noble Marquess's censure by suggesting that it is not necessary to discuss disarmament yet. I certainly would not wish those with whom we are in contact to repudiate any of the obligations that are behind N.A.T.O.; nor do I believe that it is the purpose of the Washington document to unify Germany against Russia. But to offer a meeting of limited duration on the subject of Germany is to set about this matter of fruitful conference in the wrong way.

I do not know whether your Lordships will pardon me if I venture, in Good wood Week, to borrow a famous phrase coined by the noble Marquess's illustrious grandfather, in quite a different context, of an event of just one hundred years ago, that to deal with Russia in this way is to "put your money on the wrong horse." If you look at Part III of the communiqué, you will see the word "reunification" mentioned twice, the word "unification" once, and the words "unity re-established in freedom" once. But those phrases immediately raise fundamental questions. By "reunification," the Western Powers mean one thing. They mean, it is suggested, the spread of their sphere of economic, military and sociological influence over the Eastern Zone. Whatever others may suggest—I am not suggesting it—the Western Powers, by "reunification," certainly mean the extension of free democratic rule over the Eastern Zone. The Russians, by "reunification," mean quite a different thing: they mean the spread of their sphere of economic, military and sociological influence over the Western Zone and the extension of Communist control over the Western part of Germany. This is really the crux of the matter. The Germans mean quite a different thing from both. The Germans would extend the Eastern Zone to control some or all of that part of pre-war Germany which is now under the control of Poland or in the possession of Russia.

Now look again at the subjects of discussion in the Acting Foreign Secretary's letter to the Soviet Ambassador. He puts first the matter of free elections—we all agree with that, though there are many difficulties about the basis—the relations of Federal to Central, the powers of the Upper House and the like. But it is in item (2) that the real problem lies. The words are conditions for the establishment of a free all-German government with freedom of action in internal and external affairs. To the Germans, "free all-German government" means old pre-war Germany. The Eastern Zone, under its present Government, may give up the claim to a revision of frontiers on the East, but does the noble Marquess really suppose that Western Germany, with its 9 million refugees expelled from the East, with all the difficulties of local politics inside the Federal Republic, is likely to give up the claims to revision of the frontier? Will it be content with any other definition of "all-German" (however wrong it may be) than "pre-war Germany"? And remember what that consists of. It is a quarter of Germany's former territory. The north part of Eastern Prussia belongs to the U.S.S.R., and the south part of Eastern Prussia, Upper Silesia, Lower Silesia and Pomerania, are all under Polish control.

My Lords, I have been a fervent anti-Nazi. In spite of being a fervent anti-Nazi, I have, like my noble friend, Lord Hankey, spoken often in favour of the release of war criminals. But I am very much on my guard against a Nationalist revival in Germany, and it is impossible to deal with a "free all-German Government with freedom of action in internal and external affairs," without taking up the whole question of Poland. I wish that the Federal Republic would make, an offer about its moderated attitude to Poland and about its moderated attitude to the eastern side of what was Germany. I wish that the Federal Republic would give up its dream of irredentism; it is bound to lead to trouble. But it is impossible to deal with a "free all-German Government, with freedom of action in internal and external affairs," without dealing with the fears of France.

As the noble Marquess said, Germany is a mighty and virile Power. It is right to be afraid of such a virile and mighty Power, France having suffered what she did—and we too having suffered. But it is also impossible to deal with a "free all-German Government with freedom of action in internal and external affairs," without also recognising the greatness of the fears of Russia, which has put this virile and mighty Power in the very forefront of the matter in conversations and discussions for many years since the war ended. Russia's insistence on safeguards is a very proper insistence, and I am sure that speakers, listeners, readers and statesmen in Russia would all recognise, with some deep sympathy, the Prime Minister's reference to the justice of Russia's claim to security. He said: I do not believe that the immense problem of reconciling the security of Russia with the freedom and safety of Western Europe is insoluble. However, my Lords, my main point is that it is unpractical, unreal and, therefore, in the true sense impossible, fruitfully to deal with conditions for the establishment of a "free all-German Government with freedom of action in internal and external affairs" at a conference table of Foreign Secretaries of the United Kingdom, the United States, Soviet Russia and France, with Chancellor Adenauer, not so far away, from which not only all these questions but also questions relating to other neighbours of Western and Eastern Germany are excluded at the start.

I was not quite clear what the noble Marquess meant when be spoke of the possibility of other matters coming up beyond those set out in the letter to the Soviet Ambassador. I was not quite clear whether such points as those which I have raised could be fitly brought into a discussion opened under those auspices. If that is possible, and it could be so stated, it would remove some considerable portion of the difficulties; and my plea is that if, as I hope and believe it will, the Soviet Government, in reply to the Western Foreign Secretaries, will ask for an extension of the agenda and for greater flexibility to include its own proper insistence on the need for safeguards for its own security and the like, the Western Powers will accede to such a request.

I am not suggesting (and here I especially address the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart) that there are no grave issues, moral and spiritual, as well as political and social, which divide the Communist régime from the free democratic Governments. Nor am I suggesting that these grave issues can be determined at a stroke; or that the settlement of one or two of our difficulties is something which we should disdain. But I repeat, the real question is: Are we willing to confer with Russia in a fruitful way? If we are, we must go much further than the Washington communiqué has gone. It is within the orbit of a new outlook that individual problems are most fruitfully approached. What should that new outlook be?—not one of nation against nation, not one of a world of arms, but one of a world regarded as a family of people intended to live together as good neighbours, with something better to do than to tear one another to pieces. If we approach this new problem, this new situation—for that, as the noble Earl pointed out so clearly, is the real heart and beginning of the situation in which we find ourselves—with a wish to settle, and a determination and persistence in that wish, then I see great hope. But without a wish to settle, endless and inexhaustible variants can be proposed, and there can be only perpetuation of the state of frustration. But, given time and a wish to settle, the difficulties, formidable as they are, can be overcome. Do we want to confer fruitfully with Russia? A new opening has been given by the events in Moscow and beyond Moscow itself. We have all given a wholehearted welcome to the initiative of the Prime Minister, and therefore I would plead that any new Conference between either Foreign Secretaries or heads of State should be informal, private and secluded, wide in range, and flexible in development.

6.9 p.m.


My Lords, if it is not presumptuous, I should like to take this opportunity of saying how glad I am to see the noble Marquess back in good health. It was a very public-spirited job that he undertook. Those of us who, like myself, have seen him ever since he entered Parliament were not surprised that he did not fail in his public duty. Having said that, I am afraid I have almost exhausted everything upon which the noble Marquess and I shall be in agreement. Whilst Sir Winston Churchill has had a good day, certainly the Government and the noble Marquess have had a very bad day. I do not think anyone dealt a truer blow than the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart. With his sincerity and his deep knowledge, he has really demolished the situation. He said that he hated the Russians. He added that the Russian régime is bad, cruel and tyrannical. With all that, we agree. He also said the one thing you must do is to keep Dr. Adenauer in power.


I do not think I used the expression "I hate the Russians." I said I mistrust all totalitarians, and history has borne me out very thoroughly that those who trusted them have "gone down the drain."


I accept immediately, of course, what the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, says. What he said was that he did not believe in negotiating with the Russians at all. He also said he was glad we had kept close to Dr. Adenauer.


I did not say at all that I did not believe in negotiating. I said "By all means go on," but the ground for going further was not solid. I want a meeting to take place; but with all the acrimony about it, I think it will not. I want it at the level proposed, but no more.


I am extremely anxious not to misrepresent the noble Lord in any way, but I gather that he was not a warm enthusiast for the Four-Power Meeting which Sir Winston Churchill suggested. The second point was that he referred with particular approval to the fact that we were keeping close to Dr. Adenauer. That is a matter which comes late in my notes, and I shall be very brief. I had prepared a marked copy of Sir Winston Churchill's speech, thinking that what he said would warm people's hearts, but of course every word has been repeated time and time again in the debate to-day. The plain fact was that after six years of international tension, when everybody on both sides appeared to be putting the worst possible interpretation on everything that was done by everybody else, Sir Winston Churchill made a speech which suddenly put into the hearts of the people of this country that feeling of proud confidence in his leadership that we had at the time of the Battle of Britain. He gave us the warning that it would be a most fatal moment for the free nations to relax their comradeship and preparation. He spoke about the pledges we had given to Germany. He said: Dr. Adenauer is to visit us here in a few days and we shall assure him that Western Germany will in no way be sacrificed or—I pick these words with especial care—cease to be master of its own fortunes within the agreement we and other N.A.T.O countries have made with them. The whole point, when we come to them, will be how far the proposals of the White Paper are really obligations to which we are presently in honour bound.

Before I refer to them I want to mention one possible defence the Government might make, and that is that the big partner in this is the United States of America. They have been our Allies; they have borne the brunt in the Far East. Yes, but for a whole year from September, 1939, and until the infamy of Pearl Harbour, this country gave "martial aid" in a real sense to the great States of America. I do not believe they object to our striving to make our influence felt. I believe this country is an essential part of the American Alliance. I believe they consider we can interpret Europe to them. They have the touching idea that our Foreign Office is very clever, much cleverer than they are—(I hope this will foster international goodwill). But also they need us, and one of our complaints against the noble Marquess is that no word in the published records I have been able to see, either in newspapers or in documents, has yet stressed the British point of view as against the flood of emotion especially on the Far Eastern question which is overwhelming the United States at the present time.

The second point I should like to make is this. It is commonly supposed that the Government of Russia is what is called monolithic; that it cannot do anything but one thing. I do not like the word "monolithic," much less "monolithicity"; but is it true there is any such solid object? There is a strong, centralised, autocratic tyranny, but is it true that they are not susceptible to impressions, one way or the other? And is not the real task of foreign diplomats to appraise the tendencies of the time, and support those that are good and discourage those that are bad or give them no opportunity to take control?

The Prime Minister referred in terms to this. He said: It is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to avoid by every means in their power saying anything which could check any favourable reaction that may take place. I am concerned to prove that we are not doing that. Though there have been favourable signs, we ourselves, to a certain extent, have been silent. But on the other side the most powerful member of the Ministers meeting, Mr. Dulles, and his associates, have been doing everything in their power to influence opinion. First of all they said: "We want deeds, not words." The noble Lord, Lard Vansittart, referred to one particular case; I will refer to several. I thought everyone would know that since the death of Stalin there has been a cascade of concessions on the part of the Soviet Government. The first and most striking was their part in the Korean Armistice: they conceded the point, on which we insisted, of no forceful repatriation, and they stuck to the Armistice despite the flagrant bad faith of Dr. Syngman Rhee. They showed a hotter interest in the United Nations, which made it possible to elect a Secretary General. They have intimated recently that they might participate in the functional organisations of the United Nations, which is important, because they depend on universality. They have begun to make up their quarrel with the Yugoslavs. The Yugoslav Foreign Minister has said he would like to see more, but it is the first time for a long time that there has been an Ambassador in Belgrade. The tone of their broadcasts has also altered.

Further, in the Middle East—and this is where I wanted especially to refer to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart—I would say they have taken steps which are indeed deeds, and which have done something to stabilise the Middle East and to remove the fear of war from that quarter. Take Israel: after the fantastic "doctors' plot" had been repudiated, the Russians resumed relations with Israel. That was a very important thing indeed. The breaking off of relations with Israel was a very serious thing indeed for Israel, and the Prime Minister and all of us agree that the resumption of relations is a stabilising factor in the Middle East. The most important thing for Israel is that they should not be "de-recognised" by Moscow. Then there is Turkey. Let me run over the history of this Turkish question, because really somebody should speak plainly about it.

There is an area on the South side of the Black Sea called Kars and Ardahan. The history of that area is this. After the Czar of the day, who was an aggressor and pursued an aggressive Russian policy, had beaten the Turks, he made the Treaty of St. Stefano by which certain provinces were taken over. The noble Marquess's grandfather at the signing of the Treaty of Berlin allowed the Russians to retain those provinces in 1878. They did retain them. In 1920 the Conservative Party were engaged in trying to destroy the Soviet Government. They supplied material and gave substantial support to General Denikin, Admiral Kolchak, General Yudenich and others. They invaded the South of Russia, and so weak was Lenin's position that he had to look round for friends, and the first friend whom he sought was Mustafa Kemal. Lenin agreed to hand back territory which had been ceded under the Berlin Treaty. Then came the last war. Although Turkey was an ally of ours she did not give any assistance at all to the Russians when Stalingrad was in danger, and the whole question of Russian survival was posed to the world. What could be more natural (I stand subject to correction; the noble Marquess will no doubt tell me if this is wrong) than that when Russia began to build up her strength again, she should look to the territories which she lost in those circumstances?

That was the situation up to a few months ago. Then the Russians gave way and said, "We will renounce these claims." Surely that is something that should be recognised and should receive some word of praise. What other country has renounced territorial claims? But what do we do in these circumstances? I put this to the noble Marquess as a head of the Foreign Office. We arrange to make a naval demonstration at Constantinople—first the American fleet, and then the British fleet. It is within the Montreux Convention that an invitation for naval vessels to pay visits of courtesy may be extended in this manner. But many ships paying a visit of courtesy is quite a formidable affair. Was the British Foreign Office a party to this? I should like the noble Marquess to give me a reply.


My Lords, if I may say so, I see no disadvantage in a courtesy visit being paid to Turkey, an Ally of ours, with whom we are in the closest relations. If any unfavourable complexion is put on this as being hostile to Russia—which it certainly is not—it is being put by the noble Viscount, and by no one else.


I will come to that. The noble Marquess has made general remarks about people favouring other countries, not their own; and he has made them not for the first time. To try to understand the interests of other countries is a vital matter if we are to protect the interests of our own country.


I have said that about the noble Viscount; I did not say it to-day.


No—let that be. I am not saying that this was a hostile demonstration against Russia. But it was an assembly of warships at the gates of Russia. It is a matter of great importance, when we are seeking to enlist public support in the world, if the Russians are put in a position of being able to say, "See what they have done. At the moment when we have renounced our claims to this land they assemble their fleets at Constantinople." It is not, of course, that these forces are going to invade Russia, or that Russia is in any way menaced in a military sense. But think of the effect on the opinion of tens of millions of people the world over as to what is the position. This is a vital matter as I hope to show later. I am well aware that if I make a case which is not just a case of servile support for the Front Bench opposite, I shall be charged with being a friend of other countries. But one has to put up with that. I do not think it is a very high-class type of controversy, but I must leave it at that. Certainly I should never indulge in it myself. I know that the noble Marquess's motives are perfectly sincere, and that his integrity is unimpaired.

To resume what I was saying—what happens? Again, I take Sir Winston Churchill's speech, in which he says: It certainly would do no harm if for a while each side looked about for things to do which would be agreeable instead of being disagreeable to each other. That seems to me to be common sense. It seems to me to clear the way for understanding. But now let us see what sort of things have been said on the other side. I take a statement by Mr. Dulles. Possibly, Mr. Dulles is a great trouble to the noble Marquess, and if the noble Marquess were to say, "I wish I could keep him quiet" I could quite understand it; and I think many other people would also. On July 1 Mr. Dulles, as reported in The Times, spoke of the stresses and strains behind what he called the "Iron Curtain" and said that how to exploit them properly it would be one of the major tasks of the Foreign Ministers to decide. It certainly would do no harm if for a while each side looked about for agreeable things to do. The charge which we are making against the noble Marquess is a charge against his opinions and convictions, not a personal charge. He thinks that this is the way to act. He really believes that it is the way to do it.


The noble Viscount, it seems to me, mixes me up with Mr. Dulles. I am not answerable for Mr. Dulles. The noble Viscount quotes something said by Mr. Dulles and then says that that is what is so bad about me.


I have much too high a regard for the noble Marquess to say anything of that kind about him. I hope this will not impair Anglo-American relations in any way. But what I say is that the world situation is being very much damaged by these utterances. There was a remark made by the President of the Foreign Relations Committee of the same kind—I will give the gist. The general tone has been that "the whole show is breaking up, and we must keep it on the run." But that is not the Churchill policy. All we are asking the noble Marquess to do is to say something to assure us that we are standing to the Churchill policy and not indulging in this major task of exploiting the difficulties of other countries.


I must say something here, although I do not want to interrupt the noble Viscount again, for he was very kind to me and did not interrupt me. In fact, he has not dealt with the constructive part of my speech at all; nor has any other speaker on that side of the Chamber. The main point I made was that it was not the slightest use asking Russia to come to a conference of this kind unless you were able to offer her a balanced policy with security for her. I gave three or four examples of the sort of thing I had in mind, to do with E.D.C. and to do with the United Nations—which, as in the other place, has never been mentioned by the Opposition in this House—and finally, the proposal of Dr. Adenauer for a mutual security treaty. I stated that they were all very proper things to be discussed. I believe with the noble Viscount that it is only if you can put a fair proposition to the Russians that you can expect them to come to the conference. I tried to put a fair proposition. It appears to me that every speech made up to now from that side of the House was made up before I spoke, and has been delivered exactly as it was made up.


I am delighted that the noble Marquess should make a second speech. I thought he was not going to speak again, and that we should have to refer to the House of Commons to get further answers. I am flattered that he has honoured me by making another speech. I do not think it has impaired any of the arguments which I am trying to present, but I did feel that in his speech he was trying to help. I was saying that the sort of thing I have mentioned is doing infinite harm. Let me take once again the text on which we are working: I believe that a conference on the highest level should take place between the leading Powers without long delay, and should not be overhung by ponderous or rigid agendas. There are two conferences under way: one on Korea and the other this Conference on the highest level and without a ponderous agenda, for which the Prime Minister asked. Mr. Dulles—I hope that I may mention him in this debate without offence to the noble Marquess—says, speaking of the Korea Conference, as reported in The Times this morning, that There had been very little exchange of views between Governments on the form of the political Conference. I thought that was what the Conference met at Washington to do. Mr. Dulles is going to see Dr. Rhee and is going to Seoul for a week to talk things over.

On the United Nations side"— he said— there were at least two indispensable parties"— my heart rose— the Republic of Korea and the United States. That seems a little queer. I do not want to appear a bouncing Imperialist, but I should have thought that we might have been included among those whose presence was indispensable. As to the conference without a rigid agenda, Mr. Dulles says that the Administration had no intention of buying Korean unification at the price of admitting Communist China into the United Nations. In the communiqué there was a reference to our honest desire to unite Korea, and I ventured to ask the noble Marquess about this. He replied that it was not a pledge; it was something we hoped for and were working towards. But Mr. Dulles is not working towards it. We cannot get peace in the Far East, and what we want really is a recognition of Communist China by accepting the unity of Korea. Mr. Dulles says that he is not going to buy the unity of Korea at the expense of the recognition of Communist China.

On this point about Korea, I should like to ask the noble Marquess whether his views are what they were two or three years ago. If he says that they are not, I have nothing more to say; but we all remember that he took a very strong view about the recognition of China. I do not know whether that view was his own personal view, or that of the Conservative Party. But six months before the beginning of any trouble in Korea, the noble Marquess described the recognition of China as "a particularly futile example of appeasement." I am saying this, I hope, without offence. It is because this is the way in which he looks at international problems that we consider the mission to Washington was a failure, and we consider that a renewal of operations of that sort can lead to nothing but a dead end. It is just as well to say that plainly. It is not a question of a little here and a little there. We do not believe that we are marching on the right road, and we do not believe that the noble Marquess is the proper person to lead the march.

I want to say a word or two about the Conference on Germany. In his speech the Prime Minister laid it down very clearly that we were going to stick to our arrangement with Dr. Adenauer. What we want to clear up is how far the promises that have been put in the White Paper are promises which had already been made, and how far they are something different. When the Bonn contracts were negotiated, the noble Marquess induced the House to ratify them because he said we must take the lead. It was only half Germany that was to join the Western Union, but that was the best we could do for the moment for the defence of Western Germany. Now the proposition is that there should be a united Germany. I believe that the desire for a united Germany is one of the real passions that shake Europe to-day. I do not believe we can ever have a solution that does not mean a united Germany. But the Germans, and Dr. Adenauer himself, exhibited no great desire for a united Germany until the election. Then it became necessary that he should claim that there should be a united Germany. It is a great disadvantage to Dr. Adenauer, because it brings into the new total Germany a large number of Protestant Germans now excluded and a large Social Democratic element. I am going to ask the noble Marquess what conversations went on in Washington about Germany with Herr Blankenhorn.


I can say that I did not see Herr Blankenhorn. He was not there officially. I suppose he came to Washington, as anybody had a right to come to Washington. I did not see him. The talks were confined to the three Powers.


Was the letter which Dr. Adenauer wrote sent to the noble Marquess or to President Eisenhower? The noble Marquess said that it had been published. I have seen statements in the Press about it. It would be very interesting if the paper could be laid. Herr Blankenhorn, I understand, was just visiting Washington to see Lincoln's Tomb and things of that kind. But it is a fact that what came out was an agreement which happened to be of advantage to Dr. Adenauer in the coming elections.


Is the noble Viscount suggesting that the agreement was reached because it was an advantage to Dr. Adenauer? The agreement was reached because it was the greatest measure of agreement that could be come to. It is perfectly true that the Federal Government of Germany have said that they agree with this approach to Russia in this form. But I hope that the noble Viscount is not going to suggest that the agreement was reached for that reason.


I know the Social Democrats are opposed to this business. They want a United Germany and talks with Russia, but they do not agree with this plan. Of course, I do not suggest that there was an evil motive. It happened to suit Dr. Adenauer, just as it happened that Herr Blankenhorn was in Washington at that same time. And that is where we must leave it. I would make this practical point. If we force a united Germany that is armed into the E.D.C., does the noble Marquess really say there is more hope of solving the other problem, which is the major problem—namely, the withdrawal of thirty Russian divisions from Eastern Germany? Of course that is not suggested. That is what fills us with despair and many people with anger. Is this a plan which is in accord with Winston Churchill's great advance or has it sunk back into the Foreign Office rut?


The noble Viscount has made a provocative statement. Am I to understand that the noble Viscount is against the E.D.C.? Because his Party are not?


I am very satisfied with my Party to-day. I think the speeches of my noble friends have been absolutely splendid. What I am saying is that the E.D.C. with Western Germany is one thing, and the E.D.C. forced to include a united, armed Germany is another thing. That is all I am saying. I would ask the noble Marquess two questions about this E.D.C. business. Would he put his hand on his heart and tell us that this side of Christmas we shall see the necessary ratifications? What about Italy? Has the noble Marquess heard what happened to Signor de Gasperi? We got him into power in 1948 by the Pope threatening hell-fire, and Mr. Kevin promising Trieste. But this time it has all come to naught because the Italian workers feel there is more chance of peace on the other side than on this. What about France? It is no good weeping crocodile tears over France. France has suffered the necessity of spending one-third of her military budget and enduring endless casualties in Indo-China—in order to do what? To set up Bao Dai, who will then be detached from France and turn into another Syngman Rhee in South-East Asia. That is a very poor prospect for France. I have never met any responsible person nor read any responsible statement which suggested that France is likely to ratify the E.D.C. at all.

If that is so what is the next step? That is a fair question to ask. If it is a fact that France cannot ratify the E.D.C. because of her obligations in Indo-China, and if it is a fact that Italy has not got a Government, then what is left?—Germany. So that then you will renew the prospect of a united Germany, an armed Germany, facing Europe—and backed by America. That is the big difference from other days. Germany backed by America becomes the dominant factor in European politics. I simply say that that seems to many people to be the prospect before the world.

Is it a prospect of peace? Is it in any sense the road which was marked out by the Prime Minister? I say, No. The noble Marquess says, "We have experienced men. Give us a little time." There is one thing that is against us: time is against us. The world is looking on and everywhere there are signs of decay. People will not pay for N.A.T.O. There is a common complaint that the enthusiasm for N.A.T.O.is dying. Take Denmark. You will find the Danes saying "If you do not defend Schleswig-Holstein you cannot have your bases in our country." In Iceland the people who oppose the American occupation won two seats in the election. Greece explains that her Budget will rot stand it. Israel declares for neutrality. India will have nothing to do with either bloc. If you do not show that you have some scheme which promises world peace, then the world will leave you and you will be left with your military machine inoperative, weak and useless. Therefore I put it to your Lordships that what we want is a return to the inspiration of the Prime Minister, and in that respect I applaud entirely the phrase used by my noble friend Lord Henderson, "Back to Churchill." Otherwise I can see nothing but a dreary road ending in a stalemate.

6.43 p.m.


My Lords, it seems that on these occasions we cover a vast field of inquiry, and I am wondering if there is any place for a contribution which represents a study of a particular problem. Nevertheless, at some risk I am concentrating my remarks entirely on one part of the world; and that is a corner around which history has been written in the past and is mast certainly being re-written to-day—Egypt, and the Suez Canal. In doing this, I certainly do not want to say anything that would embarrass Her Majesty's Government at a time of very delicate negotiation, but it seemed to me that perhaps in being fair to Egypt we should also be fair to ourselves. This was certainly brought home to me very forcibly in America where there is a complete misconception as to our motive; and it is with a view to redressing the balance, saying something about our motive, and making some comment on the immediate situation that I am concentrating on Egypt.

In this House it would be an impertinence, where many of your Lordships have forgotten more about this than I shall ever know, to stress overmuch the nature of the problem. The land bridge between Africa and Asia, the great artery of Empire and Commonwealth, the defence of the future oil reserves of the world—all those things are involved; and, within these last years, not so much the interests of a Europe watching jealously over her new toy, the Suez Canal, or even of a Commonwealth, fearful for her lifeline, but a free world with doubts as to the intentions of a potential enemy of overwhelming strength, and more particularly the North Atlantic Treaty Powers in their suspicions as to the safety of their very vulnerable Eastern flank, in their deployment in Europe. Set in the midst of this concentration of international interests is modern Egypt—Egypt, a country which it could be argued owes its present form to a team of Englishmen, to one Englishman in particular, working in the country since 1882. I think that that argument could be sustained but I have to admit that there is little profit in dwelling on it. Only rather wistfully, when in the past we have watched Egyptian students expressing devotion to their country by overturning trams, have we wondered whether they had ever heard of Lord Cromer and his associates.

We seem lately to have slipped into a habit of framing our arguments around the 1936 Treaty. The Treaty was, of course, abrogated by the late Egyptian Government, and the attitude of the present Egyptian Government appears to be (so far as it is apparent) to quote the Treaty when it suits them and to repudiate it when it does not. I am not one who would believe that the written word is sacrosanct and I certainly think we have to avoid what might be termed "a pound of flesh mentality"; but the Treaty has been quoted so freely, both in Egypt, and in this country, and as our position is, I understand, that we have not yet recognised Egyptian abrogation officially, it is as well when we quote it to insist on accuracy. Article 8 of the Treaty authorised troops to be kept in the vicinity of the canal until such time as the high contracting powers shall agree that the Egyptian Army can by its own resources ensure the security and liberty of navigation of the Suez Canal. In passing I make only this comment. In 1936, the potential enemy was Italy, or Germany, or both. In fact both it proved to be. In 1946, the potential enemy was the might of Soviet Russia with such additional forces of Communism as she might care to command. Was it real in 1936, and was it real in 1946, or has it been real ever since to suppose that the Egyptian Army could ever by its own unaided resources defend the area against such potential enemies? The implication surely was that we were on the Suez Canal until a new era of international confidence should dawn. That being so, perhaps it might have been as well if we had written some tangible understanding of that position into the terms of the Treaty.

To continue this Treaty dissection, the same Article continues by saying that the presence of these Forces shall in no manner constitute an occupation and shall not prejudice the sovereign rights of Egypt. Those were the words, and at the time they were not merely passively accepted; they were welcomed by the overwhelming majorities in both the Egyptian Houses of Parliament. One can only comment that perhaps some memories are short. Then we come to a very controversial aspect of Article 8 which says that if the two contracting powers should not agree at the end of the period of twenty years, Egypt can undertake the security of the area, the matter can be submitted to the Council of the League of Nations, or to such person or body of persons as the two Powers may agree. Our strict interpretation of that would be that if in 1956 by common consent it was felt that we could not afford to relax our vigilance, we could, if we thought it helpful (and if in the meanwhile no settlement had emerged) take this matter to international arbitration. I am not suggesting that it would be necessary or desirable. I wish only to make the point that the principle of international arbitration, in certain circumstances, was recognised. I do not think that we should discard entirely, in certain circumstances, some limited application of that principle.

To conclude this particular matter, may I refer to one more controversial corner, the numbers authorised. The Annex to Article 8 laid clown the limit of a land force of 10,000 and an air force of 400 pilots. Having laid down those limitations, in the same sentence, after the word "pilot" there is a comma, and the sentence then concludes with these words: together with the necessary ancillary personnel for administrative and technical duties. The sentence is open to doubt, if one is looking for doubt. I suggest that one doubt—and that even on a perfectly normal interpretation of the sentence—is that the ancillary forces were regarded as being separate from, and in addition to, the combatant element. That being so, the numbers required to support a land force of 10,000 and an air force of 400 pilots would certainly be in the nature of 80,000, which is the number usually quoted as being on the Canal to-day. Having said that I would say that there is, in fact, no need to invoke a legal interpretation of the Treaty, because the size of the present force was changed in 1951, when additional numbers had to be sent into the area owing to Egyptian action. There was an additional situation, an additional emergency, demanding additional troops; and if our rights under the Treaty were to be maintained—and I think it was made clear by the Foreign Secretary in October, 1951, that we should maintain our rights—then the additional force was necessary.

I have been talking of the Treaty and its legal interpretation. But, of course, we all realise that the situation needs to be watched carefully, continuously and sympathetically, with a thorough appreciation of Egyptian reaction to the presence of foreign troops on her soil; reaction which we may regard as deriving from a highly concentrated national pride, emotional, misguided, but nevertheless not to be neglected or ignored for those reasons. So we ask ourselves: What should be our attitude towards all this rhetoric, this soap-box oratory, rot from street corner orators, but from the leaders of the land—this talk of "blood which must flow"? I think it is fair to clam that a visitor going through Egypt to-day, wandering through the Delta and the two great cities, would not be conscious of the presence of a single British soldier in the land. The training area, where the troops are more or less confined these days, consists mostly of desert and constitutes one-five hundredth of the total area. In such circumstances, I suggest that it is almost (I hate to use the word) dishonest to speak of Imperialism and slavery. I stress this, because it seems to me that we have too often handed the privilege of indignation to the other side.

But let us discard for a moment the words of the extremists, and turn to the view of the liberal-minded Egyptians—and there are many of them. I think such a person would say: "Are not the days gone when you necessarily defend the Canal by sitting on it? What matters is that, if your soldiers do not sit on it, nobody else's shall. That being so, would it not be better to go outside our country, and have written into the terms of a new Treaty an understanding, such as is written into the terms of the present Treaty, by which you can come back in times of a great emergency? Would it not be better to do that, and to rescue a little Egyptian good will while there is time?" I think the answer of the Englishman would be just this: "We have, in fact, agreed to withdraw all our troops. There is no fundamental difference left between us. Differences, such as they are, are matters not of quality but of degree. But if a great base which has cost the British taxpayer some £500 million is to be maintained for the purposes for which it is intended to use it in war, we would ask that its final technical control should remain in the hands of only a few of those who established it in peace, and who would have to use it in war."

There are the two views. It is perhaps some compensation to know that, with soldiers in control in Egypt, there is at last an appreciation of the need for a base. The question immediately arises as to what force General Neguib associates with that base in its use in war. Here, it seems to me, we come to a field of some confusion. Only a short time ago Colonel Nasir was saying that on no account would the return of British troops be permitted to the area—that was the attitude until a short time ago. Then suddenly there appears to have been a change of attitude. Perhaps I may put it in the form of a question: Can we assume that behind this smokescreen of oratory the three main actors on the Egyptian stage to-day, General Neguib, Colonel Nasir and Major Sale Salem, have, in fact, accepted the substance of a permanent and practical plan such as would satisfy us? Is it that, with an Army dispensation, there is now an appreciation of the fact that Egypt, in war, would be a priority target, and that, consequently, there is the need to establish a secure, efficient and foolproof base? Not only that, but is it true that the leaders in Egypt are now prepared to realise that you cannot separate the question of the protection of the base from the protection of the surrounding Egyptian soil—in other words, that it is all Egypt which would be involved in war? I am suggesting that in fact the substance of those conditions has been accepted in Egypt, with one proviso, of course—namely, that in some form Egyptian control should be conceded. Satisfy Egyptian pride, and all else will follow. That appears to be the attitude. I leave it vague, because I do not wish to embarrass the Government in what are obviously delicate negotiations.

The question then becomes this: Are we prepared to accept the risks of an apparent form of hand-over of final responsibility, in the confidence that the substance of all that we require of the Base will follow after that risk has been taken? It may be argued that any agreement we make with the Egyptian Government to-day may be negatived by another Government in Egypt to-morrow. I say that that sort of argument will get us nowhere. If we accept that situation we shall have to maintain 80,000 troops in Egypt to the end of time. I am suggesting that the time has come when we can afford to take some measure of risk in Egypt and accept a plan which the Egyptian leaders can "sell" successfully in Egypt. In such a plan obviously talk of a twenty-five year period for British control would play no part. If we take that step, I suggest that we, in turn, can make one condition, and that is, that all this hateful, soap-box, oratory, this attack so venomous against us, must cease. Egypt must stop talking to us with two voices—the one pleasant and good-mannered in private conversation and the other spiteful in public utterance. In place of that, I think we are entitled to insist that the Egyptian Government must face their sober responsibility which has too long been neglected—and that is, to start to re-educate the Egyptian people to forget this long tradition of neutrality in war in which they have been reared for so many years, and to accept thoroughly the fact of a base and all that that implies, with the obvious indication that British troops will return to Egypt in time of war.

I believe it is too soon to know whether we can put behind us this fear which has haunted us for the last six years. I suggest that in so far as this fear has dictated policy in the Middle East, perhaps we have been in danger of becoming "Maginot-minded" in connection with this ribbon of water in the desert with which we have been associated for so long. May I quote an analogy from another part of the world. For fifty years on the Indian Frontier we were unable to decide whether to go forward to the Durand Line or come out of the country. A political officer would venture in and receive a bullet. A force would go in; a road would be made to maintain the force, and the force would then be kept there to protect the road. We became the servants rather than the masters of policy. It is that kind of drift which we want to avoid in considering this Suez Canal problem.

When we have achieved agreement with Egypt, when we have fitted Egypt into a Middle-Eastern defence scheme in a very important rôle, there will still be the need to maintain troops somewhere in the area in connection with that other far more enduring problem, the problem of Arab-Israeli relations. America, France and ourselves have guaranteed to preserve that very controversial frontier between Jordan and Israel. Now Egypt has been able to command some considerable measure of success in rallying the Arab League be- hind her in the present case of the Canal. If we and America are ever going to be able to influence the Arab world in connection with that other more enduring problem of Israeli-Arab relations, we have first to satisfy the Arab world concerning this situation in Egypt. Indeed, we cannot tackle that second problem until the first problem is behind us.

If all else fails, I would suggest that we should be justified in spreading the net of consultation wider, certainly in invoking the assistance of the North Atlantic Treaty Powers. It is sometimes forgotten that that great oil reserve of the Iraq Petroleum Company which lies only 300 or 400 miles from the Iron Curtain is jointly owned by four nationals, all of them of nations who are signatories to the North Atlantic Treaty. The spreading of the net of consultation wider would at least have the effect of creating some more effective absorbent for all this hate which is engendered. As for tie personal relations between ourselves and Egypt, I am told by Arab friends that there is still individual friendship for the individual Englishman; and while we still have that, I do not think we need abandon hope. Perhaps we could all profit from an old wisdom which came out of the East and which says, in effect, that he who asks for the perfect friend usually remains friendless.

7.6 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that the last speaker will forgive me if I do not follow him along his interesting line, about which he knows much more than I do. I have not ventured to inflict myself on the House in a foreign affairs debate for about a year, and on that occasion I suffered from the painful obligation of distinguishing my attitude from that of my noble colleagues. To-day, I find it much easier to follow the line laid down so authoritatively and effectively by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt. My noble friend Lord Stansgate will forgive me if I say that I do not regard myself as finally and irretrievably committed by every single word that fell from his lips. Indeed, in one respect, perhaps, he committed the rather surprising sin of being almost too slavish in his admiration of Sir Winston Churchill. He treated every word that fell from him as Holy Writ and talked about his speech—which was very fine—as the text from which we are working. Well, it was a great speech, an historic speech; but there was another speech, fiat of Mr. Attlee, and we on this side of the House regard that perhaps as equally authoritative, if not more so; we regard Sir Winston's speech as the Old Testament and Mr. Attlee's as the New, At any rate, I am sure that the noble Viscount will forgive me for drawing attention to that.

Since the noble Viscount is such a devoted admirer of Sir Winston Churchill—for whom we all wish, of course, a complete recovery—Iwould just recall a few of the inspired words that fell from Sir Winston on the subject of Dr. Adenauer, and which, I am sure, the noble Viscount will echo just as devotedly. Sir Winston said (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 515 (No. 106), Col. 893): Dr. Adenauer may well be deemed the wisest German statesman since the days Bismarck. I have greatly admired the perseverance, courage, composure and skill with which he has faced the complex, changing, uncertain and unpredictable situations with which he has been ceaselessly confronted. He made similar references of that kind. I feel that if the noble Viscount is going to accept part of the speech, the least he can do is to accept those words as well.


Would my noble friend explain whether he would defend the morality of Bismarck's policies?


I have often lectured on Bismark, and I will not do so now. I would say that his policies were about as moral as the policies of most of the leading European statesmen of that time. I did not hear the last interjection of my noble friend Lord Stansgate properly, but I would say that Sir Winston was intending to pay Dr. Adenauer a great compliment. He obviously refers to him as a fine man, and while I do not want to join in German internal politics at all, it seems to me that the noble Viscount should not have picked out merely those passages of Sir Winston's speech which appealed to him but should follow the whole of it.

I wish to refer to the noble Marquess. Lord Salisbury, but he is not with us at the moment and perhaps the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, would take note of anything I say in his absence. We all have the highest respect for the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. I think that goes without saying. In the words of the noble and learned Earl who leads us here, "he is a good man struggling with adversity." The defence of the noble Marquess seemed to me to fall under three heads. On the one hand, he argued that for one reason or another it was impossible to organise a meeting on the highest level and, therefore, rather than have no meeting at all it was desirable to have a meeting of Foreign Secretaries in the meanwhile. Well, that seems to me a sound point and I never thought that there was much quarrel between the two sides of the House as to whether a meeting of Foreign Secretaries was desirable pending a higher-level affair. So that, I should have thought, would be readily conceded.

But then he might have argued—and I am not quite sure how hard he did argue on this point—that a limited agenda, an agenda limited in the first place to Germany and Austria, was preferable to a wider agenda. I am not quite sure how far he personally considers that a limited agenda was preferable. Perhaps the noble Marquess would elucidate that in his reply. I gained the impression from the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, that he would have preferred a wider agenda on the lines suggested by Sir Winston Churchill but that he was out-voted by his foreign colleagues. Perhaps the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, would confirm that. All that we on this side of the House can say is that a wider agenda would have been vastly preferable to a limited agenda. I think the view of all of us here—and I believe Mr. Attlee in another place indicated it—is that what is surely obvious, particularly after the very searching speech of the right reverend Prelate, is that an agreement on this question of German unity is going to be extremely difficult. It may be that an agreement on other subjects would be easier, and for that reason it seems to me a pity to concentrate on a most awkward topic if we want to get agreement with the Russians. I certainly gained the impression that the noble Marquess did struggle for a wider agenda but that he was defeated.

We cannot, of course, criticise Mr. Dulles; we cannot haul him up here and tell him what we think. We cannot criticise other Foreign Ministers. We must direct our criticisms to the noble Marquess, and we can say that we regard it as unsatisfactory that there should have been this limited agenda instead of the readiness to talk about all matters which Sir Winston Churchill clearly envisaged. Supposing the Russians say, "We are not going to confine ourselves to a limited agenda; we want to talk about everything, or at any rate about some other things," may we take it that we shall reply, "Of course that is not an obstacle; we will talk about anything you want"? I hope the noble Marquess will be able to say something on that subject, because it would reassure us if we felt that there has been nothing in the way of a closed door and that a wider agenda would be possible if the Russians suggested it.

Finally, we come to the language of the communiqué. I regard the criticisms made from this side as much more than linguistic criticisms, because in these matters we are bound to gauge the intention by the language. We are bound to estimate the degree of importance and interest which the Western Allies attach to the higher level talks by the amount of attention paid to them in the communiqué. Here I follow the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, most faithfully, when he pointed out to us the lamentable fact that in this famous, or infamous, communiqué there was no indication of the fact that these Foreign Secretaries' talks were to be the prelude to the Churchillian talks envisaged later on. I do not know whether the noble Marquess will be able to add anything further, or make any further defence. But looking at it with some objectivity—for I have not always taken a highly partisan view on foreign affairs in this House—I remain astonished that in this communiqué all reference to the Churchill talks was omitted. I would ask Lord Reading whether he can think of any better defence than has so far been put up. The defence offered so far seems to us remarkably unconvincing.

So much for the question of the psychological approach, which, of course, is vital but these are not the only matters for our discussion. There are also concrete issues, material and human, which will have to be discussed, however good or bad the atmosphere may be when these talks take place. As I am to some extent a specialist on German matters—though heaven forbid that I should lay down the law on them to your Lordships!—perhaps the House would allow me to offer a few wider reflections about the question of British policy towards Germany, more particularly our German policy at the present time. As I see it, there have already been two British policies towards Germany since the war. There was the Potsdam policy—I am not saying that that was purely a British policy, but it was a policy to which we contributed. There was the policy of combining with America and Russia, and later with France; of controlling Germany, demilitarising her, keeping her production down, and generally running her affairs for an indefinite period. That policy is clearly dead; its death warrant was sealed some years ago.

Looking back we can probably date the emergence of a new policy from the end of 1947 and the failure of the Council of Foreign Ministers at that time. At some date such as the end of 1947 we can see the emergence of a new policy in a Western system, including a defence system, against the Communist menace; and within that system Germany is gradually admitted to an ever more equal place. At first Germany's rôle is to be purely political and economic; but from the autumn of 1950 it is accepted that Germany must be called upon to make a military contribution. So from the autumn of 1950 we can see the building up of the whole Western system, whether the Atlantic system or the European system, which contains as a very important element the idea of ultimate German equality, including equality of arms.

In addition to that idea of a German contribution, military and economic, there is also the idea of Germany's integration within the Western world so as to give her equality with the other countries, but at the same time rendering it impossible for Germany, if she ever took the wrong road again, to do a mischief to her neighbours. That has been the gradually emerging policy on the Western side. I agree with what has often been said from both sides of the House: that, quite apart from the Communist menace, there is much constructive virtue in the Western system. There is one aspect of it to which the noble Marquess alluded which interests particularly my noble friend Lord Henderson and myself. There is the promise which it holds out for the complete reconciliation between Germany and her neighbours; and I know that the right reverend Prelate, who began to befriend Germany before any of us in this House, is particularly interested in that idea. Therefore, whatever happens between East and West, we must insist on having this reconciliation. On no account must we throw away the promise of better things to come that lie within this Western effort.

In this year 1953 it is becoming fashionable to say that a new situation has arisen, and I do not dispute that language. The gestures of the Russians, coupled, of course, with the fact that they are now under new leadership, places on us a new duty and gives us every excuse for rising hopes. Those hopes may be cheated in the event, but there is undoubtedly an obligation on all of us to test to the uttermost the precise intentions of the Russians in this year 1953. I think, indeed, that many people, in this House and elsewhere, are inclined to feel that the moment has now come for a third British policy towards Germany. Perhaps that third policy would be most easily summarised in the sort of words that were used by Mr. Attlee in another place, when he said that Germany has to be given freedom. I suggest that the only possible way of discussing this matter is in the larger context of the future of a peaceful Europe. I feel that we are all determined to find out whether this Western reconciliation within which Germany is to play so important a part, can itself be transcended in some wider reconciliation. That, I think, was in the mind of the right reverend Prelate. What we all feel, surely, about this, is that it is most desirable in every way, if it could be brought about—a united Germany, U.N.O. working as we all hoped to see U.N.O. work, a united Europe, not just East or West Europe but the two parts of Europe coming together. That must be the dream and the ambition, the daily resolve of all of us who have any kind of concern, whether high or low. But the real difficulty, as it seems to me, is that none of us knows whether in fact that is possible of achievement in the immediate future. We must hope and pray for it, but we cannot be sure about it. And there is this very difficult transitional period. Because, when all is said and done, the reason why Europe is divided, why there is an Iron curtain, why the unity of Germany laid down at Potsdam has never come about, is the action of Russia. That is an historic fact which nobody can deny. I know, as does my noble friend Lord Henderson from the time when we sat at the Council of Foreign Ministers for weeks, that Mr. Ernest Bevin really killed himself in the effort to try to bring about a united Germany.

The real question is whether Russian policy has changed sufficiently to make that third policy attainable in the immediate future. We all hope and pray that it has changed to that extent, but no one can be certain. I do not mean to dwell on the various difficult problems of balance and bargaining that will arise when these talks, as we all hope, take place. Put in its simplest form, I would say the problem can be reduced to terms of this kind. In its simplest form, the difficulty is to give a united Germany freedom without the Russians calculating that such freedom is bound to lead to a united Germany associating herself with the West. The right reverend Prelate touched on a further difficulty about frontiers, but I do not wish to detain your Lordships, so I will not go into that to-day. He would be asking rather a lot of any German Government to expect an agreement on that point within the next few months. Would it really be wise to try to clear up perhaps the most difficult political question in the world in the weeks and months that lie immediately ahead of us? I put that point to the right reverend Prelate. But, quite apart from frontiers, I am clear in my own mind that there is real difficulty.

I have little doubt—I do not think any of us who try to follow these things doubt—that if Germany were given freedom to-morrow, or in the very near future, and she were then allowed to conduct her foreign policy, there would be an overwhelming vote for association with the West. I have little doubt about that. I have no doubt that the Russians make the same calculation. Then what can one expect of Malenkov? Let us assume he is a man of much greater good will than some of us have assumed in the past. Even assuming great good will on the part of Malenkov, assuming he has tired of all this hostility between East and West, it is a most difficult problem for him to accept this free, united Germany without neglecting, as he might think, the vital interests of his country. I have no doubt that great difficulty lies there and—the noble Marquess was out of the Chamber, and therefore I venture to repeat it now—I am all the more sorry (there may be excellent reasons at which I can guess but which are not known to me) that it has been decided, in the first instance, to concentrate on the unity of Germany, which is a tremendously difficult problem. I should have hoped to make a start with problems which were easier.

But, at any rate, however we start, I feel that a start must be made. I should feel, if I may put it with some impertinence—and we should all feel, if we were members of the Government—a sense of double responsibility. And, surely, in the Opposition, our attitude in criticising noble Lords opposite should be based on the responsibilities that we ourselves should feel if we occupied their places. We should be bound to feel, if we sat opposite, that any talks, however promising the atmosphere, might fail. We should be bound, therefore, to continue preparations for defensive purposes in the interests of this country and the West, on a supposition that the talks might very well fail. I therefore recognise that these essential steps must be taken. I appreciate the words of the noble Marquess that "A great vigilance must continue to be practised."

We should also feel—and from the final words of the noble Marquess, it appears that he feels it too—that this may be a year of destiny. It may even be the last year in which, for many years to come, an agreement is possible. It may be that that is so. I think the noble Marquess said we must try to grope towards the Russians, and it may be that they are trying to grope towards us. I should feel a terrible responsibility, if I sat opposite and if in years to come I felt that we had not stretched ourselves to the limit, and a little beyond, to reach any agreement that might be possible. I suppose that, compared with some of my noble colleagues here, I am a pessimist about Russia—not a fatal pessimist, not a continuing, firm pessimist, because the Russians are human beings, possessed of immortal souls. But I am pessimistic about Russia. Yet I have the feeling that the more pessimistic one is, the more difficult these issues seem, the greater then appears the responsibility for meeting these people, for trying to understand them, and for striving to persuade them that there is not the danger that they so foolishly imagine exists.

Therefore I would say to the noble Marquess there is this double duty, this double policy. I think the noble Marquess mentioned in his final words the double duty of continuing to make preparations in case these talks go wrong but, at the same time, looking here, there and everywhere for any ray of light in the situation. The double policy is always harder than the single policy; the double duty is more difficult to conceive to apply and to stick to; but noble Lords opposite are as anxious as we are to perform their duty. I know they will forgive us if, while criticising them for what we do not regard as a satisfactory achievement recently, we point out their duty as we see it, and we leave it to them to discharge it, as we know is their sole wish.

7.29 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord who has just sat down said, in the course of his interesting speech—and I think that all speeches in this debate this afternoon have been of an interesting nature—that he thought that this might be a year of destiny. No doubt he was referring particularly to the situation in the West, but there is no doubt in my mind that this will be a year of destiny in relation to the Far East, about which I propose to say a few words to-day. Perhaps it is because my associations with Far Eastern affairs have been of a somewhat lengthy nature, since I pursued bandits with a mounted infantry company on the Manchurian border over forty years ago, that my remarks on the subject will be as brief as possible.

I carry my mind back to 1919, to the debate in another place on the Treaty of Versailles Peace Bill, in which I had the privilege of making a speech, the bulk of which was devoted to pleading the case of China. If I may briefly refer to the speech I then made, it will be remembered that at the Paris Peace Conference China had been denied what she asserted to be her right—namely, the restoration to her of the territory of Kiao Chow and the Port of Tsing tao, which had been seized by the Japanese during the course of the 1914–18 war. During the course of my speech, I suggested to the House that unless this territory was restored to China it would serve as a footing on the mainland for Japan, round which she would pivot into Korea and into the Northern Provinces of China, and that it would serve to strengthen her efforts to dominate the Pacific. My Lords, exactly that took place. The Peace Conference at Paris refused to listen to the Chinese demands; China refused to sign the Peace Treaty; and the inevitable took place—Japan started on her quest for domination in the Pacific.

At that time, China was helpless, but the China of to-day is not helpless. We are dealing with a very different China to-day. That leads me straight to the question of the Political Conference which is to be set up following the truce which, happily, has recently been arranged. The Armistice agreement recommends to the Governments of both sides that to ensure the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, within three months of the signing of the Armistice a Political Conference of a higher level of both sides be held to settle through negotiation the question of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea and the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, et cetera. It seems to me that: the political future of the Far East may well rest in the innocent words "et cetera" with which the Korean Armistice agreement concludes. That renders it all the more important that the Political Conference which is to be set up should comprise all those countries bordering on the Pacific around which the future of the Pacific area is to turn. The noble Marquess, in his speech, gave us a little formation on this point. I may say that since he was in Washington the situation has galloped ahead, so he was not able to give us any information which resulted front any talks which he has had since Washington. But he said that China ought to be represented, that Australia ought to be represented, that India ought to be represented, and that Russia ought to be represented. I think those were the countries he named.

I ask the noble Marquess this question: May we assume that the United Kingdom will be represented at this Political Conference at the highest level? So far as China is concerned, she not being a member of the United Nations, and the United States having made quite clear that, so far as the United States can hinder it, she is not to be allowed to be a member of the United Nations, there may be some difficulty, to which I will refer in a moment. But I should like to ask the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, this: Are the countries which the noble Marquess mentioned the only countries that he and Her Majesty's Government have it in mind to be represented at the Conference? Looking at the vast interests in the Pacific, I do not see how you can leave out any of the countries. Russia is entitled to come in—I think the noble Marquess mentioned Russia. Japan is entitled to come in. How are you going to settle the question of the Northern Pacific waters without Japan? For the last hundred years at least, Korea and the Northern Pacific waters have been bones of contention between Russia, Japan and China.

Korea is not just a little peninsula jutting out into the sea. It may be that Korea is a little country, but it is a point ďappui of immense strategic importance. As was proved in the hands of Japan, it provided an entry for Japan to the Northern Provinces of China. From the point of view of Russia, it has been a stepping-stone, or an attempted stepping-stone, to the warm water port for which she is perennially longing; and from the point of view of Japan, occupied by a Western Power, it is a dagger at her heart. Under these little words "et cetera," all these problems are bound to arise for settlement at the Political Conference, and I think it would be impossible to arrive at any settlement of a lasting nature unless, in addition to China, and Russia, Japan were at the Conference, and also New Zealand. I think the noble Marquess, the Leader of the House, did not mention New Zealand. He mentioned Australia—Australia having already, as we know, said that she had a right to be represented. I take it that New Zealand will also express that right.

I do not want to take up too much time, but this question is now arising at the United Nations, which is to meet on August 17 in order to decide which countries are to be represented at the Far Eastern Political Conference, and to draw up the proposals to be offered by the United Nations at that Conference. China is to be represented at the Conference, and yet is not a member of the United Nations. May I say at this point, having regard to what has been said by speakers from the Opposition Front Bench to-day, that I hope Her Majesty's Government will maintain the position which I feel sure is in accordance with the wishes of this country: that China is entitled to a seat on the United Nations: and I hope that there will be no "let down" on that particular matter from the point of view of Her Majesty's Government.

What is the set-up? I make this suggestion: if this Conference is to be called, and if it is to be composed, as I hope it will be, of all countries bordering on the Pacific and China, she not being a member of the United Nations, then I suggest some sort of strings should be attached between the Conference and the United Nations in order that when the moment arrives for the admission of China to the United Nations—which must come some time; and the sooner the better—no difficulties will arise vis-à-vis the United Nations and the policy of admitting China to a seat on the Security Council. There is a good deal more to say on that matter, but I do not want to detain the House. All I would say is that these vast problems which lie for solution can be settled only by good will on both sides. I hope that we shall have an end to slanging matches. Let us put it in plain language. I do not want to make specific references to speeches by statesmen, particularly on the other side of the water; but let this Conference be conducted in a spirit of peace and good will, and then there may be some hope that these troubles will come to an end, and that peace in the Pacific may ensue.

There is only one other thin, to which I would refer, and that is the question of trade with China. I should not have raised it if the noble Marquess had not brought it up himself, but he raised it and I interpolated a question with reference to a speech I made on this subject in this House on April 28. I was then not quite correct, but the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, will remember I said that when the United Nations had placed their embargo they had not issued a list of articles. I do not want to enlarge upon that. What I said was not quite Correct, but actually the position was this. On April 28 I quoted from an answer given by the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, to this effect: that unfortunately many other countries do not carry out their part of the bargain with the same scrupulous accuracy as we do. That has been the source of much of the trouble. I then asked this question: Who is to determine the standard of accuracy? In my submission, that is where the United Nations failed in regard to their resolution. It was for the United Nations to determine the standard of accuracy which other countries, imposing an embargo, could have lived up to. With great respect to Her Majesty's Government, I cannot subscribe to the view that that was the right method of imposing an embargo. Under that method, in my view, British trade has suffered at the expense of foreign countries, and has suffered very seriously. Unless there is some change in policy it is going to suffer more seriously still.

There are increasing signs that other countries, like France, are not acting up to the embargo in the same strict manner in which we in this country are doing. I suggest also that some American firms are already in negotiation to break into the China market. In this House, only a few days ago, I quoted an instance where Senator McCarthy was strongly criticising British traders and British shipping firms: yet last year America bought from China goods to the value of nearly 28 million dollars. That is not going on at the present moment, but it will increase, to the detriment of British trade and British industry. So far as Japan is concerned, Japan does not hesitate to say, as was said by her Prime Minister Yoshida, a few months ago, that the political ideology of Communist China had nothing to do with Japan-China trade. "Business is business," he declared. Business between China and Japan is increasing every month, and Japanese trade with China is similarly increasing. It has increased very significantly this year, and everything points to a further rise.

On the occasion of the debate on April 28, the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, asked Lord Mancroft whether or not, when a truce took place in Korea, that would end the embargo, and the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft said he thought it ought to. He was at once contradicted in another place. What is the position now? Can the noble Marquess tell us to-day? There are numerous traders and businessmen throughout the country wanting to know where they stand on this matter. Are the British Government going to continue this embargo indefinitely? This Political Conference will not end for another year or more. What is the policy of Her Majesty's Government? Are they going to allow other countries like France, Germany and Italy, to step in and take the trade which ought to be ours? I hope the noble Marquess will be able to give us a satisfactory answer on that. I see no reason at all, and no businessman can see any reason, why trade should be conducted with China by other countries at our expense. I hope the noble Marquess will be able to give us some satisfactory answer on that matter.

7.49 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Viscount who has just sat down is so seasoned a speaker in Parliament that he will condone my not attempting to connect his speech with my own. I wish to make a number of remarks on economic matters. Before I do that, I cannot refrain from expressing indignation at the presentation, or mispresentation, in some sections of the Press of the visit of the noble Marquess the Leader of this House to Washington. To that I would tack on my feeling of impatience at the speeches which have been made by the Opposition, without referring to any individual, in order not to risk provoking further delay at this moment. They seemed so devoid of realism and so impractical that it is difficult for many Members of the House, and certainly for the public generally, to understand exactly what it is they would have wished to be done.


The noble Lord will forgive me for interrupting, but may I ask whether he is referring to the Opposition in this House or in another place?


I tried to make clear that my indignation, in the first place, concerned the Press, or parts of it. I suggested that with my indignation went a feeling of perplexity as to what the wish of some speakers would have been. I am perplexed what it is they think ought to have been done that would be different from what has been done.


In this House?


If the noble Lord will permit me, I say that I have that perplexity. The point to which I wish to refer is this. Much of what I have referred to seems to be in the nature of criticism of the United States. Since the United States is a dominant partner in recent activities in Korea, apart from policy in Europe, my own feeling is that such expressions are imprudent, dangerous, and misguided. How Russia can be compelled to come to any Conference, and, once there, to accept what is desired by the Opposition, is beyond my understanding. I am among those who do not believe that there is any change of heart in Russia, and, in this connection, I associate myself entirely with the remarks which we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, to-day. The matter of the Austrian Treaty affords an example of what I mean. If the Russians are really anxious for progress towards peace they could start on that. Much has been said about Korean unification by peaceful means. I am one of those who have been all through Korea and through Manchuria, and I should say that there can be little doubt that unification is wanted. But I am not among those who believe that it is likely to take place without permanent occupation of Korea, and I do not think that is a proposal which even the Opposition would support as a likely solution of the problem.

To come to the point which I particularly wish to make, I believe that economic sickness causes political unrest and Communism. It is for that reason that I want to refer to the in-balance of the dollar trade with the rest of the world. After all, the Foreign Office is the dominant authority in all arrangements with regard to international trade. The sug- gestion that we want a fall in prices is being heard all over the world. But in the case of Malaya we have had an illustration as to what happens as soon as that occurs. In Malaya there has been a fall in the prices of rubber and tin, and the consequence is a very difficult situation, with regard to which it is not necessary to go into details.

I should like also to mention barter as an illustration of the trend of current trade. It is very disadvantageous to this country. Reference has been made in the House recently to certain barter arrangements for which Her Majesty's Government have declined to have any responsibility, notably barter arrangements with Brazil. But there are other arrangements suggested in many directions, and Russia is very active in this matter. For Russia, trade is certainly, not business it is a political weapon. That is why it is right that such a matter should be raised in a political debate. The overriding in-balance of the dollar with the rest of the world is represented as a problem requiring for its solution that the United States shall lower her tariffs. That is urged by speakers of authority in the United States, as well as by speakers on behalf of Her Majesty's Government—or at least by speakers of importance in economic affairs in this country. I am one of those who believe that this is purely wishful thinking. There is no more ground for thinking, that the United States, with the Republican Party in power, will reduce their tariffs voluntarily, to the extent that there will be a danger of unemployment, owing to the relatively low wages paid in this country, than there is that we shall not have protests in due course if Japanese competition comes very sharply against British trade while Japanese wages are so very much lower than British wages. The political machine in Washington is so strongly entrenched behind traditional procedure that it seems to me most unlikely that these concessions will be made. If it is replied that the United States must make such concessions, in order to ensure her own security economically, I say that you might as well say that France must vote for two years' military service or balance her Budget, or immediately subscribe to the E.D.C.

Finally, I wish to make a point with regard to trade with China. One of the serious grounds of difficulty between the United States and Britain at the moment arises over trade with China. I believe that this is intensified by the insufficiency of the definition of what are strategic materials and what are non-strategic materials. Protests are widespread, and it is evident that something could be eased there. I commend this to the noble Marquess with the suggestion that further consideration should be given to this question of definition. I think that if some steps were taken to put this right, that would be one way of easing the many causes of dissatisfaction and danger to the United States and the United Kingdom.

8.0 p.m.


My Lords, I am very much obliged to the noble Lord who has just sat down for raising the last subject mentioned in his speech. If I may support him with great diffidence, I would say that there is indeed much dissatisfaction about the uncertainty now prevailing with regard to what is strategic material subject to these embargoes and what is non-strategic material. It is a matter which is affecting our merchants and our manufacturers interested in foreign trade very seriously indeed. As to the first part of the noble Lord's remarks, I have heard all the speeches which have been made from the Opposition Benches in this debate. None of us attacked the United States at all. We do nothing of the kind. We attack Her Majesty's Government for not maintaining the British situation of independence against the United States policy. We do not attack the United States Government, or the Secretary of State, or anybody else. Their policy is their own business.


Representations voiced in advance against what is likely to be the policy of the United States at a Peace Conference are of the character of criticism.


No, we do not attack what is their business. We do not agree with it. Our attack is upon our Government for not maintaining our standpoint. That is a very great difference. I am sorry that the Acting Foreign Secretary is not here, because my heart bleeds for the noble Marquess. He was set an impossible task. He was sent out to Washington to bend the bow of Achilles and could not do it. I doubt if Achilles himself—in this case, Sir Winston Churchill—could have brought off the whole of his proposals or imposed cur views of foreign policy completely in the present state of opinion in the United States. I think he would have got the top-level Conference, but the noble Marquess could not nave got it, because he is not Achilles and could not bend the bow.

An American friend of mine, a very experienced man, who has a great admiration for Senator McCarthy but otherwise is quite sane, and who has just come over to this country, told me, "What we all say in the United States is that Dulles made a monkey of your Marquess of Salisbury." That is not the language I use myself; I only quote it. But that seems to be the general opinion among business men and men of affairs in the United States. I am very sorry for the noble Marquess. It is rather like the case of the son of the Vicar of Wakefield who was sent to the fair to sell a horse, and who, after various barter deals, came back with a bag of spectacles. I think that sums up accurately what happened to the noble Marquess when he went to Washington and fell among American politicians. I am sure I will carry the whole House with me when I say that I hope that the arrow that flies by night has not caught Achilles in the heel, and that lie will soon be able once again to exercise authority in the councils of this nation.

I felt great sympathy with the Government and with the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary, the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, who has great responsibility in this matter, when I read the two columns in The Times to-day from their Washington correspondent, quoted by my noble friend Lord. Stansgate. These give a full and interesting account of the views of the Secretary of State, Mr. Dulles, on the forthcoming Peace Conference on Korea. When I read that, I was sorry indeed for anyone in charge of the British or French Foreign Offices. If that is really the view that has to be put forward to placate the American Congress, I should despair. I will not quote this article at length—my noble friend referred to it, though all too briefly—but it is of great importance. If I may epitomise it, it says that the Secretary of State says there will be no concessions of any kind to China, but if there is no progress in ninety days, then the whole thing is off. He starts by giving no concessions and adds that if there is not a complete surrender, out he goes. That is Mr. Dulles' affair, the State Department's affair; but I am extremely sorry for the British Foreign Office if that is their real attitude in the U.S.A.I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, that we should have a clear understanding on this matter, and I hope we shall have something definite in reply as to where we are going to be in this forthcoming conference. At present, judging by this report by the usually reliable Times Correspondent in Washington, it seems to be confined to the Secretary of State, Mr. Dulles, and the President of the South Korean Republic.

I read with great astonishment in the White Paper which the Government have been good enough to issue following the Conference in Washington, this astonishing statement: The common policies of the three Powers towards Communist China should be maintained. What common policies? There are no common policies between Her Majesty's Government and the French Government and the United States Government with regard to China. We believe in recognising the fait accompli; it is the Government of China and we recognised it—much against the opposition of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, but we did it nevertheless. Apparently, on no account are the United States prepared to give similar recognition either at the present time or in the foreseeable future. We believe in trading in non-strategic materials, in harmless goods. I agree with Lord Barn by that we must have a definition of this. The Americans on the surface prohibit all trade with China, though, as the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, points out, apparently very elaborate preparations are being made by some of the leading manufacturers in the United States to get right into the China market at the earliest opportunity. Still, on the surface, that is American policy—to prohibit all trade with the enemy, "with the wicked people who are killing our sons"—an attitude we can all sympathise with in view of their heavy casualties. To talk about common policies is curious indeed and I do not understand it. Perhaps the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, can explain these curious words.


I am not clear about the place from which the noble Lord is quoting.


It is from page 5 of the White Paper, the third paragraph down. It says: They considered that, in existing circumstances and pending further consultation, the common policies of the three Powers towards Communist China should be maintained. Unless it is a misprint or in these difficult times it was necessary to make a small joke, I can see no other explaantion.

What my noble friend Viscount Stansgate and the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, if I understood him rightly, and I certainly want is that we should use our influence and mobilise our friends in the United Nations and use all our means of public education and propaganda to try to persuade the Americans to change their point of view for the sake of the peace of the world and the welfare of humanity. That is not criticism of America. That is urging on Her Majesty's Government to use greater endeavours and to use their brains and energies to try and get a change in a situation which is most dangerous and which may lead to a world-wide upheaval and irreparable disaster. That is what we are trying to get.


May I interrupt the noble Lord? There is justification for both sides in thinking their policy is right.


I hope the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, as a staunch Conservative is supporting his own Government. His own Government's policy is sound enough with regard to China, but they cannot impress it on our good friends and Allies on the other side of the Atlantic. Our complaint against the Government is that they are bad advocates; they mean well and they have a good brief but they cannot put it across. Lord Barnby knows the United States very well indeed, and he knows how necessary it is to use very high-powered salesmanship to change a policy of the United States once Congress has adopted it.

Now, I referred to this, statement in the White Paper about continuing the cold war—which is what it really comes to—after the Armistice. I think that is most questionable. After all, the cold war, the blockade, is a form of hostilities; it is an act of war. After the shooting and the bloodshed have ceased in Korea I should think that Lord Mancroft's original statement in this House showed the path of statesmanship in saying that there should be some considerable relaxation.

In this connection I ventured on Monday to ask of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, a supplementary question which I understood might possibly be answered to-day by the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, and that is whether, at any rate now that the shooting has ceased in Korea, we could, in agreement, of course, with our fellow members of the United Nations, remove the embargoes on medicinal drugs and medical stores which are so badly needed in North Korea. I understand that the sufferings of the child population in North Korea particularly have been acute for all these years. The mortality among the children has been appalling and there is a great need of a vast salvage operation in North Korea to save the remnants of the child population there. In South Korea the situation has also been serious but there there have been various organisations sent by the United Nations and by the Quakers and others who have done wonderful work and have perhaps saved many thousands of children who otherwise would have died. In North Korea, however, partly owing to the disruption of communications and other causes, I am told the sufferings of the child population particularly have been most serious, and I think that every one of your Lordships would like to see them relieved. Therefore I hope it is possible to allow medicines and the like to go in. In fact, I should like to see a great effort made by either the Red Cross or the Red Crescent—it does not really matter which—or the Quakers, or any body of that sort, to do what we did after the first war and the last one, when we got going the movement of food and medicines and saved the lives of thousands who would otherwise have died of starvation.

I would refer to the remarks of the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, as to the different treatment of this trading embargo by the Governments concerned. I want to quote particularly the case of the order for medicinal drugs that was placed by the Chinese Government in June of last year and held up and eventually prevented altogether by the Board of Trade. It was an order for two million pounds' worth of penicillin, streptomycin, and the three sulpha drugs. Those live curative drugs were apparently in very short supply in China—this was not for Korea it was for China—and two million rounds' worth were ordered from British manufacturers in June, 1952. The order was repeated in October, 1952. The Board of Trade refused to allow those drugs to go. The matter, I think, has been raised in another place, and the President of the Board of Trade wept bitter tears but said he could not help it; he regretted very much but they had to stop it. Now what has happened? The French manufacturers of synthetic drugs have been allowed to supply this order of two million pounds' worth and they have fulfilled the order. I am very glad they have, because I do not want anybody to suffer unnecessarily; but I am sorry for our own manufacturers. More extraordinary still, the Chinese have begun to manufacture penicillin themselves, and small blame to them. So there is a market gone.

The truth of the matter with regard to this cold war is this. The cold war is a luxury which the great economic units like the United States of America, and Russia, and presently China, practically self-contained vast territories with huge populations with their own assured home markets, can indulge in, as a rich man can indulge in gambling. But for the mercantile nations, people who have to live by trade and commerce—ourselves, the Germans, the Japanese, and the French—it is a fatal thing. It is at present injurious and if' it is continued it will be fatal; it will disrupt our whole economy. I am very regretful, therefore, to read in the White Paper that apparently we are continuing the present policy in regard to China in the mercantile field.

Now for a few moms its I should like to refer to the speeches made by my noble friends, Lord Henderson, Lord Jowitt and Lord Pakenham, and say that I really wish only to reinforce what they have said. I do, however, want to bring forward one argument that has not been stressed in this debate, not even by the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate. We have all tried to keep our speeches short and no doubt this was in the minds of all my noble friends. The weakness of the situation disclosed by the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, today, and the speech of Mr. Butler in another place last week, is that we have agreed to go into a conference of the Foreign Ministers with an agenda which, if it is accepted and adhered to, and if we restrict our discussions to that agenda, is bound to lead either to a refusal by the Russians to enter into it or to their humiliation. Now you cannot expect to humiliate a great Power in a strong position such as that in which the Russians are. You can humiliate an enemy whom you have beaten in the field and whom you have reduced to impotence; but you cannot (or at least it is very bad policy to try, and it is certainly bad diplomacy) afford to enter into negotiations with a great Power in a strong position, without leaving a mode of escape so that prestige and reputation can be saved. In this case this is the weakness of the whole situation. In this case you have, by insisting on discussing the German problem from a certain angle, made it impossible for the Russians to accept without facing humiliation.

Therefore you start off in a very difficult situation in which it is hard to see how there can be success. Therefore the diplomacy has been utterly deplorable. In a case of this sort you should, as has been pointed out already by my noble friends, particularly by my noble and learned friend the Leader of the Opposition, try to look on the better side of things, to use very polite language, to avoid wounds that already exist and into which you do not wish to pour more salt. You must try to find the sound places, and try to find the areas of agreement in the first place—that is, if you want to succeed and to lead the way to the top-level conference on which everything depends and in which you hope everything will be resolved. If, on the other hand, you do not really want to succeed, if you think you are in such a position of strength—


Is the noble Lord suggesting that that is the Government's position?


Allow me to develop my argument and I will explain exactly to the noble Marquess what I do mean. It will not do him any discredit, I can assure him. But, on the other hand, there are certain powerful elements in the United States that make no secret of the belief that we are now so strong and that certain weaknesses are exposing themselves in the satellite States and perhaps in Russia itself, with internal dissension, as to make this the time to keep up the pressure of the cold war and the threats of other actions, and therefore not a good time to negotiate. If that is what you believe, you have gone the right way about it. I do not say that the Government believe that. I give full credit to the Acting Foreign Secretary for doing his best with the brief that he had, and I am sure it was a good brief. He was out of the Chamber when I said that I could not blame him for not being able to bend the bow of Achilles. I dare say he bent it a little way, but he could not bend it very far.

The complaint I make is that we were not more successful in pressing our view, as to what should be done now, on our friends in the United States who, as the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, has reminded us, have a different view on important and vital questions. In other words, our bargaining has been poor and our diplomacy has been miserable. And the results may be most serious, because, as has been pointed out by my noble and learned leader, this may be our last chance for a long time to get agreement. As my noble friend Lord Pakenham said, can we really expect the Russians, without some alternative, some concession and some safeguard, to accept the substitution for a Western Germany, allied, in effect, to the N.A.T.O. Powers—with all its weaknesses —of a united Germany and an armed Germany also allied to the N.A.T.O. Powers? Can you expect the Russians to accept that, on their feet, so to speak, without any concessions or safeguards? I should have thought that what we want is wise diplomacy. I think of an ancestor of the noble Marquess who is so often quoted in this House, when he was Foreign Minister, or some of our great Foreign Ministers of later days; and I sometimes sigh for the experience and wisdom of the late Lord Curzon, who, at any rate, knew something about diplomacy and was not altogether unsuccessful.

Surely, the real policy to-clay should have been to avoid at the beginning the difficult questions appearing on the surface. If you have to do it that way—we do not agree—then get your Foreign Ministers together, but go with an open agenda, and avoid the difficult questions you know you will trip over at the beginning: try arid find an area of agreement; and, above all, try to find the formula and the safeguard to Russia for the re-emergence of a united and powerful Germany, which can be a menace to Russia, as it can be a menace to the French, too. You have to find some means which will satisfy the Russians that this united Germany, this Germany with its Government elected by free elections, and so on, is not going to be an automatic ally in an aggressive policy against them. That, I should have thought, was the way in which you could have hoped to get some success. This way, I regret to say—I must agree with my noble friends who have already spoken, and with my Leader in another place—will lead us nowhere.

Suppose, for example—and this matter was also touched upon by my noble friend Lord Pakenharn—in the future a strong and united German Government of an armed Germany raised the question of the Eastern frontiers. Apart from the United Nations, or the Prime Minister's suggestion of an Eastern Locarno, what means have you of preventing a solution there by force, with all the consequences that would flow from that?


Since the noble Lord has been kind enough to refer to me, I have no reason whatever to suppose that a united, armed Germany would be more aggressive than any other country. Personally, if they were integrated within any Western system and, in addition, were members of the United Nations, I feel sure they would not only be well controlled, but also self-controlled.


I am grateful for that interruption. Obviously I did not express myself clearly. I did not suggest aggressive designs on the part of the Germans. But there is no German to-day who willingly accepts the present Eastern frontiers. It is a terrible irridenta, and it is likely to endanger the peace of continents. You have to find a peaceful solution, and I want to find a peaceful solution. That is a problem which I am afraid was too much for the noble Marquess and his advisers. We cannot blame him; I am only sorry for him.


Does the noble Lord refer to me? He suggested two possible lines by which Russia could be reassured first, by some strengthening of the United Nations; and the other, as I understood it, by some form of Locarno Pact. If he had listened to my speech, he would have known that I put forward both of those proposals. He then said that the Government should do that instead of what they are doing. I have just suggested the noble Lord's policy—indeed, it is almost the only time I have found myself in agreement with him.


That part of the speech of the noble Marquess was impeccable. But why did we not pursue that line in the White Paper and the Note to the Russian Ambassador? Why did he not persuade his colleagues in Washington to take that line? If we had had that speech made by Secretary of State Dulles, then we could have seen some brightness on the horizon. As I say, the sentiments of the noble Marquess are admirable, but he could not get them over to his colleagues in the United States. That is our complaint. I do not want to labour this matter further; it has been well hammered in by much more eloquent speakers, both here and in another place. But we are living in serious times. This may well be the year of destiny. I only hope that better counsels prevail.

8.28 p.m.


My Lords, it falls to me to make the concluding speech from this side of the House. I think, first, that the noble Marquess who opened the debate will be satisfied that no personal imputations have been made against him—I believe that every speaker from this side of the House has gone out of his way to make that perfectly clear. Secondly, I hope that we have not attempted to deal with this most difficult problem in any partisan spirit. There are differences which divide us, but they are genuine and sincere differences, and we have felt it our duty to state in clear terms where we disagree with Her Majesty's Government, and, of course, where we agree. I should like to say, also, that I hope it will be appreciated that the differences are not merely procedural, but are much more fundamental. I do not think it matters greatly whether you have a high-level Conference, or whether you have a Conference of Foreign Secretaries. What is important is the spirit in which that Conference takes place. Where we are extremely disappointed is that the spirit in which the Conference of the Foreign Secretaries is proposed is so different from that in which the Prime Minister put forward his proposals.

There is one other thing I should like to say as a preliminary. I believe that if the speech which the noble Marquess made to-day had been printed as the White Paper, instead of the White Paper which was actually published, and if some of the conclusions of policy at which he arrived in his speech—such as, for instance, the emphasis he laid on the United Nations and of security for the Soviet Union, and the likelihood. I think I am justified in saying (that was the impression that I got) of a high-level Conference at some time—then I think we might have taken a somewhat different attitude. We have to look at what is placed before us, and what are the conclusions arrived at by the Washington Conference, as evidenced by the published documents. Those, I am bound to say, are profoundly disappointing, and I should like to associate myself in the strongest possible terms with the speeches which have been made from this side of the House.

As I have said, our differences really lie in our approach to the whole problem. We have to look at what has been happening in the last few years in the relationship between East and West. I am reminded by my noble friend Lord Henderson that it is four years since the Foreign Secretaries of the countries of the East and West actually met in Conference, and when they did meet it was not a very successful occasion. There was a later meeting of deputies, which again was a prolonged and most disappointing affair. They never reached the point of agreeing upon an agenda for a subsequent conference. I will not say on this occasion who was to blame. It may be that both sides were somewhat legalistic and fighting for position. Apparently, the position of an item on an agenda is as important as the items themselves. At any rate, that was the impression we got from this long and difficult discussion at the Palais Rose some years ago.

The fact remains that for years past the relationship between East and West has now been overlaid by a mass of suspicions, fears and misunderstandings. No conference on the old basis at the present time is likely to lead to any better result than those which have taken place in the past. It was because the Prime Minister seemed to approach this matter from an entirely new angle, with an attempt to get through this mass of misunderstanding and fear, and with some concrete proposals for doing so, that we laid such great stress on the high-level Conference. Indeed, it is my view—and in this matter we are all expressing, to a certain extent, a personal view—that no conference can be of any real value until we have got rid of this suspicion, fear and misunderstanding. Therefore, to propose a Conference with specific items on the agenda which are bound to be the subject of dispute by the East, seems to me to ask for failure right from the beginning.

I do not know whether the noble Marquess really expects that the Soviet Union will accept the invitation to the Conference on the terms that have been put forward so far. If he were on the other side of the fence, I wonder whether he would do so. Here we have an alignment of the three Western Powers who have got together at Washington and made up their minds, as a result of a discussion, what they want to talk about. They have no doubt made up their minds as to the line they want to take on that particular subject, and they then offer to the Soviet Union discussions on those matters upon which they themselves have decided. There is no attempt to say to the Soviet Union: "Is there any way in which we can get rid of all this misunderstanding and difficulty?" There has been no attempt to discuss matters which might be of interest to the Soviet Union themselves. We know that one of the things which is troubling the Soviet Union is what they regard as an encirclement; a getting together of a number of countries of the West, by means of N.A.T.O. and E.D.C., with United States bases all over the world. They regard that as a definite threat to them. They may be wrong, but they certainly regard it as a definite threat. In the proposals which we have put forward we have done nothing at all to dispel those fears. On the contrary, we have done whatever it is possible to do to increase them. Therefore, our first criticism of Her Majesty's Government is that this is the wrong kind of Conference. Our second criticism is that if we are to have a Conference, this is the wrong kind of agenda. In my view, we should have been much wiser not to have suggested an agenda at all, but to have suggested merely that we should meet and have discussions.

What are the difficulties which are confronting us? What are the things that we can do to ease the situation which exists at the present time? There is a general belief that there is a possibility, at any rate, that the Soviet Union would be susceptible to an approach of that kind. All the evidence is that they would be. We could have talked about a measure of disarmament. We could have talked about East-West trade; and with the relief of tension, of course, we could have talked about Germany and Austria, and everything else, because we have to settle the question of Germany—there is no doubt about that. But is there really any hope of getting the Russians to sit down with us and agree to discussing a reunited Germany on the basis that Germany is to remain a member of the E.D.C., with the assumption that she will definitely line herself up with the West: that she will be allowed to rearm, and that these armaments are to be available on the side of the West? Is there really any hope that the Russians would agree to that? And not merely that, but—as my noble friend Lord Strabolgi pointed out—instead of a nation of about 40 million being joined to the E,.D.C., with the reunited Germany you would get a nation of 70 million. It seems to me utterly unrealistic to have put forward proposals of this kind, proposals which we might have known would not be acceptable to the Soviet Union.

Even if they do agree to a Conference, it is most unlikely that any practical results will come out of it. I want to say at once that I hope I am wrong. I hope that the Soviet Union will be prepared to agree to a Conference, and I hope that those who enter into the Conference will be prepared to widen the terms of discussion to include such matters as a reassurance to the Soviet Union as to how they, as well as ourselves, can feel secure, for unless we all feel secure there is not much hope of continued peace in the world.

That brings me to the question of Germany. It seems to me obvious that we have got to settle this question of Germany. I think there is agreement on all sides about that; there is even agreement on the part of the Soviet Union that there should be a reunited Germany. They have no particular objection, so far as I know, to free elections and -to Germany deciding her fate for herself. But there is the problem of what would then be the position so far as armament is concerned. Obviously, a free Germany which has had its election and set up its own Government must be free to decide for itself the level of armament and the alliances that it will make with other countries. We are assuming that a free Germany will, of necessity, ally itself to the West.

My noble friend Lord Pakenham, who speaks with great authority about Germany, feels pretty certain that that will be the case. Well, my Lords, I do not myself feel at all certain which way a free Germany would go; and I feel that we are making a wrong assumption if we take it for granted that Germany would necessarily side with us. I do not know what Germany's interests are. She would certainly decide on the basis of her own self-interest; and it may well be that the Soviet Union is in a position to offer a reunited Germany more favourable terms than we could. After all, the Soviet Union has certain bargaining counters at its disposal. One of them, as I think the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, hinted, is the question of the lost territories. I think the noble Mar-guess referred to the German lost territories in his speech.




I am sorry. But they have been referred to in the course of the debate. At any rate those are very important bargaining counters which the Soviet Union has at its disposal. Even from our own point of view it would be a mistake to assume that what we are proposing is necessarily going to be to the permanent advantage of this country.

The important part of the policy that we are adopting is what might be called liberation. In the White Paper we attach considerable importance to the liberation of the satellite countries, and our policy is directed to that end. I should like to ask whether we are quite sure that, as between the Soviet Union and Germany, the satellite countries would really prefer to be liberated, since the result of that would be that they would be at the mercy of Germany. I have had an opportunity of finding out something about the way the Polish people feel, and I know that they dread far more than the influence of Russia the possibility of a further attack upon them by Germany. So it is with Czechoslovakia. If I may express a view on the matter, it is that the link between these satellite countries and the Soviet Union is strengthened by the fact that it is their only hope of defence from Germany. Unless we are prepared to give the satellite countries security against possible attack by Germany, I think we shall find that the satellite countries would prefer to remain under the influence of the Soviet Union rather than be what we call "liberated."

Therefore, the criticism of the agenda which has been prepared and submitted to the Soviet Union is that it is unrealistic; that it holds out little or no prospect of success; and that it seems to me inconsistent with our ideas and with the views that we express: that it is possible for the Communist system and our own to exist side by side. I think it is very largely dominated by anti-Communism, rather than the desire to obtain security for ourselves. I think that a writer in the Observer of July 19 has very well described this agenda as very narrowly circumscribed and somewhat one-sidedly selected. On all these questions of Germany and Austria, Russia would have to make considerable concessions and the Western Powers would have to make none.

I do not wish to say more on this aspect, because it has been fully and adequately dealt with by my noble friends who have spoken from this side. I want to turn now to an entirely different subject, and that is the question of the negotiations that are to take place in Korea, following the Armistice which we all so greatly welcome. Several noble Lords have referred to a report in to-day's Times by the Washington correspondent, which sets out in considerable detail the policy which is apparently to be followed by the American Secretary of State. It has been referred to by both the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, and the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi. I think it is right to quote that report at somewhat greater length than these two noble Lords have done. I should like, and I am sure the House would like, to have the views of the noble Marquess who is going to reply on these particular matters. Of course, the policy of the American Secretary of State is his own affair, except in so far as it impinges on our own interest and on questions of world peace. I think your Lordships will agree, when I have read some of these extracts, that it does in effect do so. The Times said:— Mr. Dulles also announced that he would leave for Seoul next Sunday to co-ordinate American policy, in preparation for the forth-coming political conference, with the South Korean President. The purpose of the talks, which would probably last about a week, would be to work out agreed policies on how to achieve the twin goals of unification of the peninsula and the removal of all foreign troops. It is true that America will be entitled, by virtue of her membership of the United Nations, and by virtue of the fact that she has played a leading part in the fight against aggression, to have a considerable say in these matters—but by no means the only say. I thought these talks were to be talks of the United Nations in the discussion on the Security Treaty. Mr. Dulles hopes to be joined by two leading Senators from each Party, and he gives the names of these Senators. I hope that the same procedure will apply here. I hope that two leading Senators, or their equivalent, from each Party will accompany whoever goes from this country to represent us, in order to make quite certain that our own representative goes straight and acts in accordance with the proper national line. The Times report goes on: In the course of subsequent questioning, Mr. Dulles confirmed that the United Sates had assured Mr. Rhee that if after 90 days the political conference had proved a sham and was showing no signs of being productive, the American delegates would walk out. They would do so on their own initiative. These negotiations are not the Americans'; they are the United Nations'. One hopes that that does not mean that the United Nations would walk out. After all, if no agreement is arrived at in ninety days, it may be the fault of the Chinese and the North Koreans, or it may be the fault of the negotiators on our side. Mr. Dulles also said, according to this report, that the United States was not intending to bargain with China at the conference and would approach the talks on the assumption that, as Peking was also committed to Korean unification, the question of the United States making concessions did not arise. You cannot enter into a conference and say that you will make no concessions, whatever proposals may be put up by the other side. If that is the case, there is no need to attend Seoul at all. Mr. Dulles can simply send his proposals by post and say: "There we are, and we make no concessions."

In passing, I should like to ask the noble Marquess whether we have been consulted about all this. After all, we and the Commonwealth are vitally concerned. These are matters which affect us. Then the article says later, referring to Mr. Dulles: He said the United States had assured Mr. Rhee that it would be glad to consider a provision similar to the one in the Japanese security treaty, which gives the United States the right to station troops in and around Japan. When asked how such a treaty could be squared with the avowed purpose of arranging the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the peninsula, he admitted that he was not clear himself on what Mr. Rhee wanted. I would say again that these are United Nations' negotiations, and not Mr. Rhee's. If our policy is the withdrawal of all troops from Korea, and if that is also the policy of the Chinese and the North Koreans, how is that consistent with the United States having troops in Korea in the same way as they have" in and around Japan." Mr. Dulles thought that it might be possible, as was the case with Japan, to have a treaty which gave the Americans the right to maintain troops in Korea, but not the obligation, thus enabling them to comply with any agreement to remove troops from the peninsula which might be reached at the political conference. That seems a little difficult to understand, too. How is it possible to agree to remove troops and yet reserve the right to have your troops there, and riot to regard that as a breach of an agreement to remove your troops? I hope your Lordships will forgive me if I make one more quotation from this illuminating article. If, however, the categorical statement by Mr. Dulles that the United States would not 'buy Korean unification' was more than a political phrase, simply designed to send congressmen home next week with a clear conscience, and was instead a formal indication that the United States will refuse to negotiate on any of the outstanding issues at the forth-coming political conference, it was clearly an utterance of very considerable importance. That is, of course, the comment of the person who writes the article and, indeed, it is "an utterance of very considerable importance."

I have read these extracts at some length because I hope that the noble Marquess will be able to give us some explanation. At any rate, he can no doubt tell us whether Her Majesty's Government have been consulted on all this: whether Mr. Dulles is speaking for himself or for his associates at the Washington Conference, or whether he is speaking on behalf of the United Nations. I should like also to ask the noble Marquess for an assurance that Her Majesty's Government do not accept this policy and will strenuously resist it. I fear that if this is the policy that is going to be insisted upon at the forthcoming negotiations, then we are undoubtedly asking for the breakdown of these negotiations and for a renewal of the conflict. I am sure that is the last thing that we should wish.

We in Parliament here are parting for nearly three months, and a great deal may happen in that period. Therefore, as the noble Marquess said in opening the debate, this debate on Foreign Affairs has been fully justified. I believe that the next three months—my noble friend said the next year, but I believe the next three months—arefraught with the greatest possible difficulties, and I venture to hope that Her Majesty's Government will bear in mind the desirability, in the most difficult discussions and negotiations that confront them in the very near future, not of appeasing our opponents but of trying to understand their point of view and their difficulties. They have a point of view, and I am quite sure that if Her Majesty's Government would really make a sincere attempt to understand the point of view of the Soviet Union and the Chinese and the North Koreans, and would try to meet them so far as they legitimately could, then we might well come back in October with this country and the world in a far happier position than they are to-day.

8.59 p.m.


My Lords, your Lordships have now for a number of hours very usefully debated the present foreign situation, and it remains for me, not I am afraid exhaustively to pick up every question that has been asked in the course of the not inconsiderable discussion that has taken place, but at least, if I may, to reply, in so far as I can, to the more salient ones amongst them. I will endeavour to perform my "answers to correspondents" as briefly and concisely as I can, but the debate has covered a considerable field and I may have to take more time than I should have wished.

The general attitude which appears to have been taken on the other side of the House has been one of disappointment. The word has been freely used by a number of noble Lords who have spoken on that side about the results of this conference. The two things that struck me in listening to their speeches were these. The first was there were indications in several speeches several times over that they thought these proposals had been put forward with the intention that they should be rejected.


May I just make quite clear what I think is the attitude, certainly of myself, and probably of my noble friends. It is, not that the proposals were put forward with the intention of their being rejected, but that that will be the almost inevitable consequence.


What was said was that they were so bad that they must be rejected.


That is it.


I do not think that is very far away from what was said. The other thing I am not at all sure about, having listened to this debate, is whether or not noble Lords on that side of the House want to see the proposals rejected, because they go on making remarks about the offers made being so hopeless, about the diplomacy behind them being so deplorable, and about the mistakes that have been made. Do they consider that an encouragement to those to whom an invitation has been extended to accept that invitation? I am bound to say that many of the speeches that I have listened to this afternoon I should have taken as a definite expression of view on the part of noble Lords opposite that the Russians would be wiser to refuse the invitation.


If I may interrupt the noble Marquess, I cannot recall anybody on this side of the House making any suggestion that the terms have been put forward in the hope that they would be rejected nor can I remember anybody on this side of the House saying that he wanted to see them rejected. I do not think that anything has been said to justify what I regard as a most unfair insinuation on the part of the noble Marquess.


I do not think it is an unfair insinuation. I did not say what the noble Lord has just tried to put into my mouth. What I said was that the condemnation which has been levelled at these proposals has been such as to give encouragement to the Russians not to accept them. In those circumstances, it being the view and the desire of Her Majesty's Government that they should be accepted, I can only regard it as unfortunate that they were so condemned by noble Lords, and that their disadvantages to the Russians were so emphatically pointed out in speech after speech.

My Lords, I think the whole position on this has been perfectly plainly put by my noble friend in opening this debate. It is said that we have now departed from the line which the Prime Minister originally took. I think it was the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, who referred to the great disappointment that was felt throughout the country. I think there was disappointment in the country, but the disappointment was at the inability to carry out the Bermuda plan. That was what brought home to the country the feeling of disappointment. I believe it is true to say that the country had set great hopes on the original plan, as put forward by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, and inability from various causes to carry out that policy, to put that plan into action, undoubtedly caused disappointment to the country. However inevitable, for various reasons, the postponement of a meeting of that kind may have been, I think it was genuinely regretted by the country. But that being for the moment, and only for the moment, necessarily out of the way, we have to see what is the next step that can be taken.

My noble friend Lord Salisbury has said that he went to Washington, that he returned with the decisions which are embodied in the White Paper, and that those decisions were decisions with which he was satisfied and with which the Prime Minister, in the terms in which his view was expressed to your Lordships this afternoon, was also satisfied. It is said. "But this is only a poor substitute for the original, in so far as it is too concentrated upon one subject—too confined to one subject; and not only is it a wrong Conference, but it has a wrong agenda." It is said, "But you ought to have started with something easy." Well, as I say, the country was, I think, anxious to see something carried out on the lines of the Prime Minister's proposal. If my noble friend had come back from Washington with a proposal, as one noble Lord suggested, that there should be a Conference on East-West trade, do noble Lords think that that would have stimulated a great expression of uplift and relief on the part of the public? What he did come back with was this offer to the Russians to discuss the position in Germany and Austria. It is said "You ought to have offered something very easy as the first stage." My Lords, given good will, Austria ought to be easy, and the inclusion of Austria in those proposals was not in any way tied up with the German proposals; it was a separate thing. And if there is a desire to arrive at a conclusion, it ought to provide at least one method of advancing a step.

Germany is certainly a difficult proposition, but not on that account to be shirked; and if you have got to deal with a difficult proposition, it may not be the worst tactics in the world, it may not be the most deplorable diplomacy, to start by trying to settle what is the most difficult problem you have, and then to open out from that and pass to the others. I think the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, asked what would happen supposing the Russians said, "We do not like this—this is too restricted a Conference—but we are prepared to come and talk to you on wider terms, without restriction." My Lords, obviously, we should have to discuss that matter with our Allies and colleagues. But I would not say that, because these terms have been put forward, a wider discussion, if it were suggested, would inevitably be ruled out. It would be a matter for discussion, according to the terms which were offered for the wider discussion.


May we ask for information here? This matter must have been discussed. What we should like to know is: Has there been a discussion as to what the answer will be if the Russians say" We will come into a talk, but not on this narrow agenda"?


My Lords, it may well have been discussed, but I do not think the noble and learned Earl would really expect me to say at this moment what tactics we and our Allies propose to adopt in a hypothetical case which has not yet come to light. I think it would be extremely ill-advised to take up any definite position. I have said that if there were a suggestion we should have to take it back to our friends and consider it; but it would then be considered according to the terms in which it was put forward.

The European Defence Community has come in for a good deal of unfavourable comment in the course of the day. In particular, I am a little puzzled as to what was the situation with regard to the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, in winding up. Whilst he did not seem to like the European Defence Community, and the inclusion in it of a unified Germany, at the same time he pointed out the fears, which he regarded as legitimate, of the satellite countries which he said were more fearful of Germany than they were of Russia. From that point of view with a unified Germany in E.D.C., or sonic comparable organisation, surely we are providing a reassurance, not only to Russia but to the satellite countries as well; for their fear is the fear of Germany. Those fears will certainly be assuaged by the fact that there is this element of control over the German armed forces that would be provided by her membership of a community of this kind.

There is a considerable field, looking back over this debate, with which I had meant to deal, but I cannot possibly hope to cover the whole position. I agree with a great deal of what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Layton. At the beginning he pointed out how great a contribution had been made by the United States, and certainly all of us, however, critical we may be of other aspects of the proceedings in Korea, must, I think, pay a great tribute, not only to the original initiative, which was in itself an imaginative thing, but to the solid determination which has not let that initiative peter out but has kept it going until the time when an Armistice has been reached.

Two main questions in regard to the Far East have come up in the course of this debate. First, the question of trade with China; and second, procedure in regard to the Political Conference following upon the Armistice. The noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, seemed to be under the impression that there was no list of articles which had been at various times declared to be subject to the embargo, but in fact there is a list which was made public.


I thought I made that quite clear. I was previously quoting from the debate when I had made my mistake in saying there was no list.


I only wanted to clear up the matter, because in the original discussion the noble Viscount said, without any qualification, that in fact there was no list. Of course there is a list. It was published as long ago as 1951 by the then President of the Board of Trade, and, so far as this country is concerned, we had to consult with our Allies and friends in this matter as to what articles were to go into this list: whether any particular articles which were the subject of discussion at any particular moment were or were not articles which ought to be within the list.

As regards the question of whether the embargo ought to cease automatically, so to speak, on the signing of the Armistice, and the coming into operation of the cease-fire, I must remind noble Lords of the position. The distinction between strategic and non-strategic goods was the result of a resolution, not of the Government of this country alone but of the United Nations. That being so, we should consider it our duty not unilaterally to abrogate an arrangement of that kind but to have it considered with our other colleagues in the United Nations, at the appropriate time, in order to see whether or not the moment had come when that embargo on strategic goods could be lifted. To say that it operates automatically because it was only for the period of hostilities is to ignore the fact that it was not a decision by one country but a decision by a very large number.


Will the noble Marquess allow me to interrupt him for a moment? This embargo was laid on to prevent strategic materials from being sent to China when our men were fighting in Korea. It has now got to be continued because there is an economic interest in maintaining it. The noble Marquess says that we have to wait for the consent of others, although it is correct that the aggression is finished. We have to await for a large number of people who have a large number of reasons, some economic, and who wish to hamper our trade. That is the situation.


I am afraid I do not accept the noble Viscount's version of the situation. He says that it is purely economic; it is a good deal more than economic; it always has been and still is.


The noble Marquess misheard me or I expressed myself badly. It was to prevent arms from going and being used against our own people that the embargo was imposed; it is being maintained by a number of people who see an economic advantage in its maintenance after the military need has ceased.


That is what I understod the noble Lord to say: that if the embargo is continued after the fighting has come to an end it is being done on economic grounds.


That is correct.


That is where I profoundly disagree. We are talking less than a week after the Armistice has been signed, and the last thing that one would like to see would be the Armistice come to an end for any reason. But we have to watch the situation a little and to be quite sure that the Armistice is safely launched on its way before we start relaxing restrictions which were imposed in the interests of our troops.

The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, talked about the cold war being a luxury. It is a luxury; I do not quite know to whom: it is a luxury which we have endeavoured to afford in the interests of, among other people, the Commonwealth Division and the other troops who have been fighting in Korea. From that point of view it is a luxury which we have readily sustained.


I was referring to the cold war on the question of East-West trade, not in relation to the embargo in Korea. The trouble is this—I do hot know whether the noble Marquess is thoroughly seized of it. There are a great many articles which are borderline. Some are allowed to go to China and some are not. I understood from Lord Mancroft's answer to my question some months ago that, once the Armistice was signed, there would be a considerable relaxation.


I think I said just now that the situation changes. Of course, the whole situation will be looked at. The mere coming into force of the Armistice cannot in itself act as a relaxation of restrictions which have been imposed—as the noble Lord will agree—for very good reasons. Lord Strabolgi asked again to-day, as he asked the other day, about the position of certain pharmaceuticals. The position, I think, is this. All our restrictions on exports to China and North Korea have to be considered as a whole, and considered in consultation with other people, as I have said before. The position as regards medicaments of this kind is no different from that. I would acid this. If it can be shown convincingly that the North Koreans do need such supplies from Western sources—I am not altogether sure that the noble Lord's information about this need is correct—and they can make arrangements to take them, Her Majesty's Government will be prepared to take a lead in endeavouring to produce a situation in which those articles can be placed at the disposal of the North Korean Government. It would first be necessary to satisfy the Government that they were needed. I am not so clear in my mind as the noble Lord was in his that there is at the moment any particular dearth of these things.


I am very much obliged to the noble Marquess for that answer. I think it is very satisfactory.


The noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, asked me, among other things, a question which had a certain ring of familiarity about it; he inquired whether there was anything further to be said about the position under the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty. Refreshing my memory, I am glad to say that my geographical memory was more accurate than his. It was a question more of the Commonwealth than of people going to America. When the noble Earl raised this question before, during the debate on April 23, I referred to the reply of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in another place, in which he said that the matter would be among those that would be considered between him and the Commonwealth Prime Ministers when they were over here for the Coronation. Advantage was taken of the Coronation visits of the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand, in this context, to discuss Pacific problems which affect those two countries and ourselves, and it was decided, on the invitation of Australia and New Zealand, that one of the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff should visit those countries at an early date in order to discuss defence problems of that area. The noble Earl, in putting the question, himself referred to the statement which had been made by Mr. Menzies on his return. What Mr. Menzies said was It has seemed to us all along that what is needed in the Pacific is not a fruitless difference about the constitution of A.N.Z.U.S. but, on the practical level, a co-ordination of defence planning in a realistic way between the relevant Pacific Powers. As your Lordships probably know, our military representatives in the area maintain regular contacts on military planning matters with Australia and New Zealand, as well as with the American and French military authorities; and, in concert with those Commonwealth Governments of Australia and New Zealand, we are working towards a closer association of this country with the other Powers in this area, and for the general compiling and dissemination of our material information on defence and matters of that kind.


What I really wanted to know was whether any representations had been made to the United States to the effect that we obviously ought to be in a Defence Pact which concerns Australia and New Zealand. That is susceptible of a very simple answer—a monosyllabic answer.


Does the noble Earl mean since these original discussions?


I mean ever, at any time.


Not recently, I think, is the answer.


When they were last meeting?


I could not help the noble Earl on that.

The noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, made some very interesting comments upon the situation in Egypt, and gave an interesting view in the light of his own considerable experience of that country. But he will not, I think, expect me to answer the questions which he put, because, indeed, when they were put, he deliberately put them, it seemed to me, in a rhetorical form, which admirably illustrated what was in his mind but perhaps did not actually call for a reply. He will he the first to agree—although I do not suggest that anything he said was other than useful—that perhaps the less I say on the subject of Egypt at this stage the better it will be.

I ought, perhaps, just to say this one thing about a point which has been raised on the general position in regard to one matter concerning Germany—it is a matter to which my noble friend did not refer, and I think that I ought to mention it. There has been a change made in the procedure for dealing with German war criminals, and that change has been made as a result of decisions which were taken at Washington during my noble friend's visit. The position up to this moment has been that no Germans have been associated with the review of these cases, or with any recommendations made in that regard. Eventually, of course, the Bonn Convention contemplated certain arrangements which in all three Zones would be undertaken by one mixed board of three Germans and one representative of each of the three Powers. That was the arrangement set out in the Bonn Convention covering the three Zones. This Board would make recommendations to the convicting Power in regard to its findings. What was decided at Washington was that something was required by way of an interim step, before the Bonn Convention arrangements came into force, to be taken pending the entry into force of the Bonn Convention arrangements.

It was felt that there would be an advantage in having some interim arrangement whereby Germans could be associated already, in advance of the Bonn Agreement, with reviews of war criminal cases, and it was agreed that each of the three Powers should set up in its own Zone (there would, therefore, be three separate Boards) a consultative Board which would be composed of representatives of the particular Power concerned with that particular Zone. The purpose of these boards will be to make recommendations for clemency or parole for war criminals in that Zone, but these recommendations will not be binding. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, will remember that under the Bonn arrangements, if there was unanimous agreement, a recommendation was binding. None of these recommendations is binding. They are merely recommendations arrived at by these new boards, to which for the first time Germans are admitted; but the ultimate responsibility of advising Her Majesty on prisoners held in the British Zone will remain as at present with the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I think noble Lords will agree that that is a useful step forward towards associating Germany more closely with the various war criminal procedures which have been worked out from time to time.

Going back to the question of the Far East and the next stage, we certainly should expect to attend the political conference which would arise. In his open- ing statement my noble friend gave an indication—not an exhaustive indication, but an indication—of those counties whose presence he thought was indispensable at these meetings. The United Nations Assembly is meeting on August 17 to consider the regulating of the procedure at that political conference. There, again, we have been discussing matters. We have our own view about it. We certainly expect to be present. But at the moment I can say no more than that we have a very great interest in the conference which is to take place.

The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, read a large number of extracts from a report of a press conference by Mr. Dulles. Perhaps it is right that I should say that, so far as I understand the position, the only commitment we have entered into as regards the post-Armistice situation is the one set out in the White Paper—that is, that we will assist the Koreans, and if the Communists should renew their aggression in Korea after the Armistice and again threaten peace the three Governments, as members of the United Nations, would again support the restoration of peace and security. Beyond that there are no commitments which the Government have undertaken in regard to the post-Armistice period.


Will the noble Marquess not agree that the statements that have been made are extremely grave and serious?


Mr. Dulles' statements?


They appear to commit the rest of the members of the United Nations. Could the noble Marquess tell us whether the Government were informed of these statements that have been made, and what their view is about them?


It is perfectly plain that not having seen them until this morning, we have not had long to consider them. I agree that they are serious statements, but I take them to be made by Mr. Dulles in his capacity as United States Secretary of State and not in any other capacity. When he talks about the security pact, for instance, he is talking about an arrangement content-plated between the United States and the Southern Korean Government and not between the United Nations and the Government of Southern Korea.


Dealing with the question of representation on the political Conference, the noble Marquess has said he expects this country will be represented. I think this country will expect to be represented at a very high level at that Conference.


I do not think there is very much between the noble Viscount and myself. We certainly shall expect to be represented. By whom we shall be represented is for Her Majesty's Government to decide in the light of the surrounding circumstances when the moment comes. What the noble Viscount said about a very high level is a little difficult to define in advance. But, of course, we expect to be there. We realise that the people of this country expect that we shall be represented and, of course, it is the duty of the Government to see that we are suitably represented when the Conference takes place.


May I take it from the fact that the noble Marquess says he saw these statements for the first time in The Times this morning that the Government were not consulted on the policy set out in the Press statement?




I take it that the Government have views on the matter, and if a question were put on the subject I hope the noble Marquess would be able to make some statement.


Her Majesty's Government have views on the subject and they are perfectly ready to discuss with their associates what matters should properly be handled at this conference. There will be opportunities, before the conference takes place, to discuss these matters. That is the way in which I think these matters could be discussed. Certainly we have views upon them. My Lords, I realise that I have only dealt with a limited number of subjects out of a very large field.


I put one question to which I attached a great deal of importance. That was whether the British delegation to the Assembly in New York will do their best to ensure that the United Nations delegation that goes to the political conference will work on a United Nations basis and not on national policies.


I apologise to the noble Lord for omitting that, in a considerable mass of manuscript. Of course, they will go as members of the British delegation, but one would naturally hope that it would be the policy of the United Nations which would be put forward at the conference.


My point is that, when the British delegation go to the Assembly in August, they will press that the United Nations delegation to Korea shall work on a United Nations common policy and not on national policy—either the British part of the delegation or any other national part of the delegation. This is particularly important in the light of what has been said this afternoon.


I agree that it is important. I shall not commit myself to a definite answer now, but I fully understand the importance of it. All these are matters which we have the duty to work out in the next few weeks and which certainly are very much in the forefront of our minds in connection with what obviously is going to be an extremely important Conference. My Lords, I am quite conscious that I have dealt at this hour with only a limited number of the questions that have been asked.


Perhaps I ought, as a matter of courtesy, to tell the noble Marquess that I intend to put down a Private Notice Question to-morrow on the question of this statement in The Times, in the hope that the noble Marquess may be able to make a fuller reply.


I am obliged to the noble Lord for having given me that fair warning of his intentions. When we see the form of his Question we can see whether we can supply him with the kind of information he desires.

It is not easy at the end of a debate which ranges over the entire world to pick out—and I hope I say this without disrespect—what one may call the bits and pieces of debate which have emerged. I have done my best to answer the more serious questions but not to re-embark upon an argument upon the main thesis which was so fully expounded at the beginning of this debate by my noble friend. We very much hope that the rather gloomy prophecies of some noble Lords that the Russians are not going to accept this, and that it is going to be a stalemate, and that no progress will be made, and so on, may be shown in the light of events to be unduly pessimistic, and that we may find that these decisions which have been taken at Washington, and the proposals which are now embodied in this White Paper, may prove to be one—perhaps the first—of these various moves forward in the progress by stages which we have always contemplated as the most hopeful way of improving relations between the Russians and ourselves. If that comes to pass, if it proves that this is, as we hope, acceptable as a step on the way, then this afternoon's debate, in spite of its somewhat gloomy tone in some quarters, will have marked the beginning of an extremely important event in the history of this country and in relation to all the problems which are at this present moment engrossing and threatening the world.

9.42 p.m.


My Lords, we have had a long and useful debate, and our points of view have been expressed frankly but firmly. There are one or two points in the closing speech of the noble Marquess upon which I am tempted to comment, but it is late in the day, and there are not many Members left, and therefore, on the whole, I feel that it would be better if I did not carry the debate any further. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.