HL Deb 07 May 1953 vol 182 cc348-85

4.29 p.m.

LORD MERTHYR rose to move to resolve, That in the opinion of this House it should be a fundamental objective of the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government to support and strengthen the United Nations, and to seek its development into a World Federation open to all nations, with defined and limited powers adequate to preserve peace and prevent aggression through the enactment, interpretation and enforcement of world law. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. With your Lordships' permission, I will begin with a quotation from The Times of January 21 last. This is a despatch from Hong Kong, which says: Mr. O'Brien has been living for more than four months in a ship ferrying between Hong Kong and Macao. He has been refused permission to land until he can prove his nationality. This he is apparently unable to do. He claims to be an American. I may say that, so far as I know, that unfortunate man is still on the ferry plying his daily way between the two places; I have not heard that either side has yet given way in this matter. I quote that little anecdote, because it seems to prove that there is something wrong in this world to-day—and that, I feel, would generally be agreed to be an understatement. The next point I should like to emphasise is that this stupidity—because, surely, it is nothing else—does not concern any country on the other side of the Iron Curtain; it concerns solely countries which have professed for centuries to be friends and allies—namely, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. One of those, it seems to me, will inevitably have to give way. This man's only crime is that he cannot prove his nationality. The time will come when none of us will have to prove our nationality.

If I am right about this, there is something very wrong with the world situation to-day, and it may possibly justify some such Motion as this. This Motion, which I claim to be carefully worded, is really in two parts, and I apprehend that the first part will not create any serious opposition. Let me say, to avoid any possible misunderstanding, that I am a wholehearted supporter of the United Nations. I do not say it is the best organisation that we could have; I do not even say it is good. I do not deny that it has glaring faults and defects, but I do seriously say that it very much better than nothing, and I sincerely hope that not only Her Majesty's Government but all other Governments will do everything they can to support it arid strengthen it. Its defects are obviously many. One of them, in my humble opinion, is that it is not a Federation, and the question is going to arise very soon: Can the United Nations be improved? I say that, because in two years' time the Charter has to be renewed and maybe revised. I hope very much indeed that it will be revised as well as renewed. Surely it is not too early to ask what are the intentions of Her Majesty's Government and of this country in relation to the revision of the Charter in 1955. What are we going to put forward as our proposition for the improvement of the Charter? Shall we try to make it into a Federation? Whether we do or not, I hope that the resulting machinery will make it possible for there to be, if not one World Federation, then any number of minor Federations within the United Nations.

I turn to the second part of this Resolution. There may be a little more controversy about this. The words to which I draw attention first are these: …to seek its development into a World Federation. I think that the words "development into" are the most important words in the whole of the Resolution, because I want to emphasise that I certainly do not think that it is going to be made perfect in a day, or even a year, or even a decade. It certainly is not. But if we are on a long journey, the best thing to do is to start the journey, and nothing will be gained by putting it off. I believe that this will be a very gradual process taking a long time, but the important and the immediate thing is that in 1955 the necessary machinery shall be set up—I do not even say "set in motion," but I say "created."

There must also be created a favourable climate of opinion for a World Federation, if we are to have one, and again I say that if it is no: for the whole world, then let it be in part or parts of the world within the framework of the United Nations. I do not think it matters very much where we start, so long as we do start. There are many possibilities. Obvious ones are, first, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries. Would it not be better if they were federated? Argument would seem to be superfluous this afternoon, but I have no doubt in my mind that it would be much better for them and for the world if they were. What about the British Commonwealth? The British Commonwealth now contains at least three Federations and, I hope, will contain shortly two further Federations. That will make five, and there may be more. But the Commonwealth is not itself a Federation. What about setting up a Commonwealth Federation as an example to the rest of the world? Then again, Europe, Europe is the most natural of all Federations for us to join because we happen to be nearer to it than to any other, and I should like to see us joining a European Federation. It seems to be natural because it is within sight.

Next are the words, "open to all nations." Whatever international body is set up, it should surely be open to every civilised nation who desires to join it. What is the present position? There are a large number who are not allowed to join the United Nations. I know that is not our fault; I know it is not the fault of the Government. But it is somebody's fault, and it must surely be remedied, because it is absurd. It must be open to everybody to enter though not, of course, to leave voluntarily and without permission. I would remind your Lordships that in our own Commonwealth we have that condition already, because Western Australia—am I not right?—desired to leave the Australian Commonwealth and did not succeed in doing so. Next, it must have defined and limited powers—in other words, there must be a written Constitution. It is too much, unfortunately, to hope that any such Federation could have, as we enjoy, an unwritten Constitution. The question arises, should the Constitution be written before the membership is secured, or should the members be gathered together first and then asked what Constitution they require? I do not think it matters very much which of those two courses is adopted, so long as one of them is adopted first and the second afterwards. I see little, if any, difficulty in framing a Constitution for a World Federation to which countries could, from time to time, themselves adhere. After all, we are practised in these things, I hope, and we shall be drafting a Constitution shortly for a Central African Federation.

My Motion goes on to say that there are three essential functions, all of which must be present if this is to succeed. The first word embodied in the Motion is "enactment." There must, of course, be a Federal Parliament given limited powers to legislate. It must surely be able to legislate, and yet its powers to do so must be restricted, otherwise nobody will join it. Its legislation must be binding on all its members, and it must be strictly within the framework of the United Nations Constitution. Expressing a personal view, I would say that in the long run election to the World Assembly, or whatever it may be called, will be directly by the peoples of the world; its membership will not be comprised of delegates appointed by other Parliaments or the Foreign Offices of the world. I believe that that will be a great improvement on the present system.

"Interpretation" is the next word. That of course, refers to a court of law—another of the essentials. We have now an International Court at The Hague, an institution for which I have nothing but admiration. But are not its powers limited and its usefulness restricted by the fact that if one party to a dispute so chooses they need not he bound by its decision? In other words, recourse to The Hague Court is voluntary and not compulsory, and that simply will not do. It is no use having an international court unless its decisions are binding on all the members of the federated body of which it is a part.

Then comes "enforcement," and this is the most important of the three essentials. Nothing can be done without enforcement, and this is where I come, I am afraid, into direct collision with the noble Earl, Lord Darnley, who addressed your Lordships yesterday. I have a great respect for the noble Earl but I cannot for a moment agree with his method of achieving the same result as I am out to achieve. I do not believe it will work. I believe that we shall never get world peace until we have a federated world, with enforcement of peace by a world police force. Hence the words …adequate to preserve peace and prevent aggression. This force, if it is to be any good whatsoever, must be overwhelming, and there must be no possible doubt about it. Does not history show that wherever a single country has attempted to set up an overwhelming force—even if it has been with the object of keeping the peace of the world—it has not ultimately succeeded? On the other hand, if an international body were to try that very thing it would succeed just because it was an international body.

Eventually—here again I give a personal opinion—I feel sure that the membership of the world force will be strictly individual and will not be based on a series of national contingents as it is now—for we have world forces now in Korea and we have had them in other places. If there is any doubt in our minds about the necessity for an overwhelming world force, let us consider what happened about the Treaty of Locarno or the Kellogg Pact. Your Lordships will remember how everybody rejoiced when these were signed, and how honours were given to those who had played a part in bringing them about; and we all looked hopefully towards living happily ever after. But what happened? We all know why the Treaties were ineffective: it was because there was no body with sufficient force to enforce the Treaties. The same thing will happen to Treaties made to-day unless there is some overriding authority which can put them into force and compel both parties—not only one—to keep them. Only the other day the United States and Japan entered into a Treaty of Friendship for ten years. In passing, may one ask, why only ten years? Why are they not always going to be friends? But that is incidental. The point I want to make is this: who is to enforce this Treaty between the United States and Japan? What body is there having the requisite force to make sure that the Treaty is not broken by either party?

That really is the Motion which I move to-day. But I must ask, what is the attitude of Her Majesty's Government towards this matter? I do not mind disclosing that I have been reacting what was said in another place on this very subject—there was a short debate on it there recently. I hope I am in order in quoting this statement made during that debate: …there is not at the present time a sufficient degree of international co-operation in the world to make this possible. That is true; but, with great respect, I suggest that it was irrelevant to say that. What I should like to ask to-day is where that co-operation exists in the world. Does it exist in Britain? Is there in this country the requisite understanding to make this project possible? Will this country lead the world towards the goal which most people want? Or, on the other hand, am I right—are quite a number of us right—in suspecting that in this matter we are, to a small extent at least, dragging our feet? Is it not noticeable that our political Parties are more enthusiastic about this project when they are in Opposition than when they are in power? One may say that exactly the reverse seems to be the case in the matter of African Federation as opposed to all other Federations.

The mere passing of this Motion, I suggest, is capable of bringing some, though a small, degree of international feeling and co-operation. If this Motion were passed, there would be, even if it were only infinitesimal, some improvement in the international temperature. I ask Her Majesty's Government to say to the world, "We will do this if you will do that." To come to one detail of federation, why should we not have a Federation of Europe, with the United Kingdom joining with her neighbours? Will your Lordships consider for a moment two comparable areas of the world? First, consider Europe, without Russia—I say "without Russia" only because I want that particular area; secondly, consider the United States. These areas are, I believe, comparable in size, in population, in resources, and in variety of races—or at any rate roughly so. Which of those two areas is the more successful—the more wealthy, the more powerful, or the more peaceful? The answer, of course, is clear—it is the United States. But why is the answer so clear? It is because the United States is federated and Europe is not. I humbly and sincerely believe that if Europe were federated it could be as successful and as powerful as the United States. So I ask again: will Britain join if others do?

Here, my Lords, is the crux of the matter. Joining a federation undeniably means the surrender of national sovereignty. That is a fact which is formidable, and inescapable. Will Her Majesty's Government, on behalf of this country, consent, under proper terms and proper safeguards, to surrender a sufficient degree of national sovereignty to make this federation a success and thus ensure peace? It is interesting to speculate looking back over history, which Governments of the past have been the greatest. I will not venture to mention any; but I prophesy that the British Government which surrenders the necessary instalment of national British sovereignty will be the one that will be regarded as immortal. May I, in conclusion, quote from some words of the noble Marquess who now leads this House, spoken on December 13, 1933? The noble Marquess, when he was a Member of another place, said this: No one who has considered the subject can deny that the world is becoming internationalised and that it is being welded closer and closer together. If we go a long way back in history, we find that this country of England was originally seven little kingdoms. In time they were combined into one kingdom, with one force to maintain law and order. Later there were added the countries of Scotland and Wales, and if we pass further on we find that these three became one unit in a vast confederation of the British Empire. Nor is there any reason to suppose that that process, which has been going on throughout history, is going to stop now. On the contrary, the increasing communications of various kinds are going to accelerate the process and, perhaps sooner than we imagine, all nations may become parts of one vast world confederation. I respectfully invoke the words of the noble Marquess in support of this Motion. I beg to move.

Moved to Resolve, That in the opinion of this House it should be a fundamental objective of the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government to support and strengthen the United Nations, and to seek its development into a World Federation open to all nations with defined and limited powers adequate to preserve peace and prevent aggression through the enactment, interpretation, and enforcement of world law.—(Lord Merthyr.)

4.50 p.m.


My Lords, some noble Lords will doubtless remember a former Member of this House, the late Lord Davies, a man for whom I and many others had very high affection and respect. He was the founder of an organisation known as the New Commonwealth Society. It was formed soon after the First World War, and became an international organisation. The present Prime Minister was its President and I was among its humble members, a member of the British Executive. The Society had for its purpose two main objects: first, the creation of an international tribunal where disputes between nations might be settled; and, second, the setting up of an international police force. I believe that if those objectives could have been carried into effect it might well have been possible to avoid the Second World War. Unfortunately, they were not carried into effect, although a great many people supported the idea.

A few days ago we in this House were considering the Prevention of Crime Bill, a Bill which made it unlawful for individuals to carry offensive weapons. Noble Lords who took part in the discussion may remember that an attempt was made to make it permissible for individuals to carry offensive weapons in self-defence; but no one was more horrified at the suggestion that the individual should look after his own defence than the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack, and his predecessor who leads the Opposition. It was regarded as utterly unthinkable that individuals should walk about, armed to the teeth, defending themselves, when there was in existence a police force whose object it was to do that very thing. It was further held that the very fact of people walking about armed, even if only in self-defence, would itself create a considerable amount of violence. That view was upheld by the whole House, and I think that every citizen of this country would accept the fact that it is quite wrong for individuals to walk about armed, to be judges in their cause and to settle their own disputes by means of force.

When it comes to the international field, however, that is the very way in which we do settle our disputes. Every country, almost from time immemorial, has created its own armed forces for the purpose, so-called, of defence. No country has ever admitted that its armed forces existed for the purpose of offence. Every nation in the world is armed for the purpose of defence; and again, as in the case of the individual, the very existence of these armed forces, each nation competing in strength with the other, each desirous of getting sufficiently strong so that it may be immune from attack, creates a greater danger of the very thing that the nations are trying to avoid. In the lifetime of many of us, we have had two examples of arms races, contests between different countries, each one trying to become stronger than the other; and they eventually led to two of the greatest wars in the history of the world. To-day, we are engaged in a third arms race, and although at the present moment the atmosphere seems less tense, because, it is alleged, we are becoming stronger as compared with our opponents, the position may well become graver again if it should turn out that our opponents are stronger than we are. Once again, there is no one in this House who would suggest that the danger of an even more terrible third world war is in any way non-existent.

What is the answer? Are we to go inevitably along the same lines as we have gone in the past, merely becoming stronger and stronger, in order that we may come on a par with our opponents, with the ultimate end, possibly, of having another war? I am not arguing against the policy of armament at all. In present conditions and in the present state of organisation of the world, I think it is inevitable. That is not my point. But I want to put before the House that there is an alternative, that the world ought not to go on in the present way to what may well be an inevitable third world war and one which, by general consent, would be far more terrible and far more devastating of civilisation than anything we have ever had before.

Is a third world war really inevitable? Must we really go on as we are? In present conditions of armament, it is not merely, as it has been in the past, a question of diverting a certain amount of our efforts towards creating arms; it is a question of diverting a very large proportion of our efforts to this useless and pernicious purpose. Our standard of living is in danger of declining drastically because so much of our effort is diverted to rearmament. There are enormous sections of the world which are living in conditions of famine or semi-famine, semi-starvation, which could be helped and could be assisting in the provision of more consumable goods if they were given some assistance in capital goods, but which cannot be given that assistance because we are consuming so much of our efforts in creating arms. I imagine that up to this point I shall have general agreement. The question is: what is the course that can be taken to prevent this? Some of us feel that we could do a great deal by determining now that we will use the opportunity which will be afforded to us in two years' time of so revising the Charter of the United Nations that "teeth" will be put into that organisation, and that it will be provided with powers to secure a world police force, an international police force.

Let us examine for a moment the position that arose when South Korea was attacked by North Korea. There was no organisation in existence for dealing with aggression. Something had to be done, if it was to be done at all, in a hurried manner, without any kind of preparation; and, in effect, in actual practice, to the extent of perhaps 90 to 95 per cent., action has been taken by one nation. In Korea it is virtually a question of one nation, although there are a large number of nations represented and taking part. To that extent, it is, of course, a United Nations force, but if one left out the one nation that is putting the major part of its resources into Korea, the remainder would be quite ineffective for the purpose of dealing with what occurred there. If, however, there had been an international police force available for the purpose of dealing with just such a contingency as this, it is quite likely that aggression would never have occurred; and it would have been a sufficient deterrent to prevent such aggression.

The purpose of an international organisation of the kind that I have in mind, and that I think is visualised by the noble Lord who moved this Motion, is not merely one where there will be a police force, but one which will regulate and control the amount of force which will be available for each individual nation. Obviously, it would be useless to have an international police force under the control of the United Nations unless at the same time there were control of the armed forces of the different member countries; to that extent the member countries would be required to surrender a certain amount of their sovereignty, and to refrain from being prepared to act as judges in their own cause.

There again, if they are not to act as judges in their own cause, and are not to settle differences with other countries by force, there must be an adequate machinery for dealing with international disputes. I submit that to-day there is no adequate and satisfactory machinery for dealing with these disputes. We at home have only to note the difficulties that exist with Persia and with Egypt to realise that there is no such effective machinery. We have had serious disputes with both these countries, and there is no effective machinery to deal with them. In the case of Persia there was a decision that the tribunal to which we referred had no powers; the United Nations was not prepared to deal with it; and, in effect, there has never been any decision as to whether we are right or wrong in our dispute with Persia. Persia has just taken the law into her own hands. Perhaps a century ago we might have done the same thing. We might have invaded Persia, and that would have been the way to settle it. To-day, there is not even that course. So there must be an effective international court to which disputes between nations can be referred. That is the second part of the Motion which the noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, has moved.

Then, if there is to be an international court, there is, of course, the need to have international enactments, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, called them—that is, there must be a tribunal which is capable of making laws as between nations. There will be a certain amount of administration. If, in fact, there is to be an international tribunal which can control the amount of armament which will be available for the different countries—of course, it will always be necessary to have a certain amount of arms, in order to maintain internal peace—there must be some kind of enactment as to the measure of the arms that each country is to have. There must be a certain amount of supervision to ensure that no nation departs from what has been laid down, and the organisation must have funds. Therefore, this international organisation must have legislative powers. To that extent, therefore, there must be a sacrifice of sovereignty. But it is never contemplated that, beyond that, nations should not be able to lead their own lives in their own way, according to their own lights, or that there should be any interference with the normal internal functions of the different countries.

Some of us who are members of the World Government Movement (as I have been, ever since its inception) believe that all this can be achieved through the machinery of the United Nations Organisation. As the noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, has said, the Organisation comes up for review in two years' time. Article 109 of the Constitution actually provides for a review. It is essential that one of the member nations, at any rate, should be prepared to sponsor something of this kind. Unless it is sponsored by one of the nations, then it is very unlikely that it will even receive consideration. As I understand it, it is not the purpose of this Motion to commit this country finally and irrevocably to world federation. The noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, said that the first thing to do was to start on the journey. With great respect, I should have thought that the first thing to do was to find out where you are going. Before you start you want to know what is your destination.

All this is somewhat vague and indeterminate, but it would be sufficient for our purpose if we were prepared favourably to discuss—and I do not ask more—the idea of setting up an international police force, an organisation which would control the amount of arms available for each nation, which would supervise and inspect the armed forces of the different countries, which could legislate on international law, and which would be in a position to raise funds. If only one nation would be prepared to take the lead in putting forward and sponsoring this idea at the United Nations Assembly when the time comes for review of the Organisation, I think that we should have made great progress towards securing a real peace. I believe that we shall never have peace in the world unless we have a supra-national control over the arms of the individual nations, and I believe that that is not very different from the views which have been expressed from time to time by this country and by the United States of America at the Disarmament Conference. There the participating nations are asking for disarmament they are asking for effective supervision and control, but they are not asking for an international police force which will be available to deal with cases of aggression of this kind.

I hope that Her Majesty's Government will to-day be able to give some encouragement to this idea. It is not good enough to say that it is visionary, idealistic and impossible of achievement. I do not think it is. But the alternative is even worse. I think it is better to fail in an attempt of this kind than to do nothing and to go to an almost inevitable doom. I believe that the setting up of an international force, on the lines that I have suggested, constitutes one of the last chances for the preservation of our civilisation. It is for that reason that I hope we shall receive this afternoon some encouragement for this idea.

5.10 p.m.


My Lords. I think that possibly the most effective way in which I can support the noble Lord's Resolution is in a somewhat personal approach, attempting to say a few words about the kind of thoughts which passed through my mind when, two years ago, I first came to be interested in an obscure movement called World Government—in a spirit. I may say, of curiosity, rather than of idealism. I suppose that if we were to go out and tap the shoulder of the man in the street and ask him what his reactions were to a supra-national effective world authority, we should get neither a very encouraging nor even, perhaps, a very polite reply. If he could summon his thoughts they might be expressed in some such way as, "What about Russia?" For that indeed was my own first personal reaction. It was not until I had the opportunity to study the matter and its implications considerably more than I had done that I came to the conclusion that here was no quack remedy for the world's ills, but rather an indispensable element in human and international affairs.

I suggest that for Englishmen there are two questions which have to be answered within this context. The first may be expressed, in a world that is rigidly divided between two rival ideologies—two ideologies which, in fact, the experts state are completely irreconcilable—in the following terms: Is it any use to think, let alone to plan, in terms of effective central world authority? We have undoubtedly to face the fact—as the noble Lord, Lord Merthyr has pointed out—that a real abandonment of national sovereignty is involved. And we ask ourselves, with the example before us of the Russian approach to such a matter as the international inspection of atomic energy plant, whether Russia will ever be prepared to make that initial surrender. We have to face, too, the fear that perhaps an effective world authority might be the means by which the Communists could further encroach upon the free world. Those, I suggest, are the kinds of paint which are in the minds of the man in the street when he asks quite bluntly, but not unnaturally, "What about Russia?"

The second question which perplexed me, and which clearly must be of concern to many Englishmen, is: To what extent does a world authority seek to undermine the purpose and the structure of our British Empire and Commonwealth? Some of us, in the international hazards and uncertainties of to-day, feel that the British Commonwealth is the one great instrument for progress and for stability; and that if, indeed, a new order is to represent in any way a challenge to that concept, perhaps it were best in international interests, leaving aside our own sentiments in the matter, that world government be left just where it is; which is as not much more than a kind of academic mental exercise for a few experts and idealists.

The particular aspect which would be of interest to us, perhaps, would be the relationship of our Colonial territories to a world authority. Would there be any tendency for a repetition of the replacement of the authority of one with some experience by the authority of some sixty, many of whom have no experience whatever? If so, I think that, quite rightly, we should not have much interest in that particular aspect of world government. Let us be certain of one condition, therefore: that the relationship of Colonial territories with a central world authority must come after, rather than before, Great Britain has had the opportunity to lead these territories forward to their day of choice, that day of choice which was before India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma, in 1947 and 1948. I emphasise that point because already, before the revision of the Charter of the United Nations has come up for serious consideration, we have seen determined attempts to eject us from our responsibilities. So far from there being a challenge to our British Commonwealth, some of us within the Parliamentary Group for World Government have seen in the situation the idea that international constitution-makers might come in and attempt to frame a future world structure around our Commonwealth, taking its more exportable elements for adaptation in the wider international field. I say "more exportable elements" because so much of the pattern of that strange family relationship—the silken cords to which Burke referred as binding more closely than iron chains"— is associated with 500 years of a very individual type of history, and as such could not be regarded as exportable. But that all would he welcome to come in and study the British Commonwealth, and to adopt our principles and methods in the wider international sphere, I could regard only as a happy development in international affairs.

I have spoken of a "constitution" and "constitution-makers." Here, we come to a vital aspect in this matter and one upon which we in the Parliamentary Group for World Government have had keen discussion. There are those who, turning to the British Commonwealth again, would define only the bare minimum of statu- tory obligations. Then there are those who would have all the "i's" dotted and the "t's" crossed, and who would establish an effective Legislature of two Houses on an elective basis, a court of justice, a court of equity, an international budget and, above all, an international police force. I think that the former view would base its approach on the assumption that once this issue between the Soviet and the Western world is solved, there will be no need for armies, and hence no need for constitutions. Solve this problem which has haunted us all for the last seven years, and armies and their purposes would fade away. Why? Because no two nations are ever going to war again through what one might term the conventional issues of history. We have had our lesson and we have learnt.

Now, my Lords, it is true that in a perfect world in which all men behave as angels there would be no need for the policeman. I have often tried to think out what happens in Utopia to such a thing as institutional religion. But we have only to put this matter against the background of human affairs, and in its correct perspective of realism, to know that men are not going to react as angels. Consequently, through the faults and the failures of the men who lead them, nations are always going to go astray. Of one thing I am therefore certain; that is, that there will always be the problem child in the world. If we solve this problem of the clash of two ideologies, we shall still need the international rule of law. There will be the problem child in the family of nations, just as there is the problem child within the family of individuals. The family of nations will need the policeman just as much as do the citizens of London. Since the policeman needs to be paid, we need to have an international budget. One thing leads to another, and it seems to me to be quite illogical to suppose that you can have an international budget and an effective international police force unless they are equally supported by a Legislature, supported, in turn, by a full constitution. Furthermore, while we in this country may regard ourselves as capable of rising above the petty restrictions of the written word, it does not in the least follow that that is how it is going to be approached in other countries. Indeed, our somewhat lofty attitude in this matter may be regarded in some quarters abroad with suspicion, as savouring of some kind of slick international diplomacy.

In facing up to this problem of framing a constitution, we are faced with two broad courses which are open to us: either we can go ahead with setting up a constitution-making body under the ægis of the United Nations, let that body work out its own constitution and then face us all with a fait accompli; or we can call in the experts, a few experts only, and let them, over the next two years, work out the blueprint of a constitution and then place it before the citizens of the world for their study, their criticisms, or acceptance or rejection. Either of these two approaches obviously involves certain risks. In the first case, we run the risk of forcing a system of government on millions before they are psychologically prepared for its acceptance, of leading whole communities down the garden path, with consequent stresses and strains and eventual breakdown. In the second case we run the risk most certainly of world opinion understanding well enough the issues but, through that understanding, being hesitant to take the plunge, being fearful of the abandonment of their national sovereignty. Already we are a long way from the day when an Englishman will accept a law framed in Europe on British soil. And yet it is in that second, more deliberate, approach that I see the seeds of eventual success, in facing the citizen of the world with the blueprint of a plan, in letting him understand its implications, and having its acceptance by common consent, with no risk whatever of all of us waking up one day to discover that we are subject to an international dispensation which we had neither sanctioned nor understood.

What are the difficulties of framing a constitution? There is the obvious difficulty of working out a fair system of representation. Obviously we must resist a system based on a mere counting of heads, a system which would give to 400 million Chinese ten times the representation of 40 million people within these islands, a system that would reduce twelve Rhodes Scholars to the level of twelve men from the jungle, armed with bows and arrows. These difficulties are not insurmountable. They can be overcome. Already, Professor Hanbury, of All Souls, has produced a perfectly simple workable constitution which has been set out in that excellent brief statement of Mr. Lionel Curtis, The Open Road to Freedom. By manipulating the relations of the two Houses of the Legislature, by relating representation to economic capacity—more particularly to (he economic contribution that a nation makes to the international budget—a fair and equitable system of representation in a World Parliament can be worked out.

We speak of federation. It is not for me to define its scope or general character, but I should like to reassure your Lordships on this point: that, as we understand it within the Parliamentary Group for World Government, this is no movement to reduce all nations to a common denominator. In all reverence, I say, God forbid that we should all of us think, talk and act alike! The differences and divergencies between men and nations are surely the fount and inspiration of all the creative instinct in man. That applies in the spheres of art and technical knowledge, and it must certainly apply in the sphere of international political relationships. In contemplating the powers of federation, my own reaction is that we should be wise to make small surrenders in the initial stages, moving forward to greater surrenders as world opinion becomes educated to the real meaning of international co-operation. Of the necessity for one surrender, I am perfectly convinced, and both noble Lords who spoke before me also share my conviction—that is, the need to surrender enough sovereignty to create a really effective international police force. I can think of many cases since the end of the war when a small force would have rescued the situation. It need not: be a big force: one needs a small force only to crush the seed; we need a far greater force to prevent the plant from growing once the seed has taken root. On one occasion a small force would have saved the life of a gallant, sincere and fearless servant of the United Nations; on another occasion it could have enforced an international decision taken in the case of Jerusalem, a decision which the United Nations has been powerless to implement: in fact could have done the work of a policeman in enforcing the law.

I started by posing two questions. One of them, I know, is certainly not answered—the question relating to the clash of two ideologies in the world. I suggest that if we can avoid the third world war, the time will come when leaders behind the Iron Curtain will be prepared to negotiate on terms of democracy as we understand it, not necessarily to agree with us, but at least to negotiate on terms which we and they can understand. When that day comes, they, and indeed leaders all over the world, may turn to the people who have been working on this kind of movement, for the clear outline of the blueprint of a plan. Will they not then turn to us and say," What have you got to replace our Communist ideology?" That is our hope. That is the goal we seek, a goal surely based on that most neglected of St. Paul's three virtues—hope.

Finally, may I say a word on the frame of mind in which we approach this problem. If I remember aright, the Foreign Secretary, when defining policy before the United Nations, in Paris about two years ago, took the view that we should be thankful for small mercies. We should consolidate a situation here and a situation there, make advances here and advances there, and be thankful for them, in a practical way. In my view, that is entirely the right and practical approach. The other approach is that of the idealist, who says: "We can lift up our eyes to the hills and keep our vision on the peaks, in the belief that we shall at least be able to cross the intervening valley." It is in a synthesis of both these approaches that I see the future evolution of the family of all nations. I recall the words of a great servant of the Empire and Commonwealth, when pondering rather wistfully over what he might have considered our lost position in the world. He said: No longer are we creators, only acceptors. I suggest that perhaps the greatest day of our creation is ahead. It would be on that day when we could claim that British initiative had won the world over to the acceptance of a scheme for human affairs which, while being entirely practical, is yet worthy of the highest idealism.

5.30 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord who has just addressed your Lordships' House has done so for the first time, and I am sure your Lordships would wish me to congratulate him on your behalf on a most admirable speech. The noble Lord's interest in matters of international affairs is well known and I am sure that we are all sorry we have had to wait so long before hearing him. Having heard his speech this afternoon, that sorrow is accentuated, because he has brought a most refreshing and personal approach to this important problem, in the use of his own experience, of a kind which always commends itself to your Lordships' House. Therefore, when I express the hope that we may have many further opportunities of hearing him, I am sure that I am voicing the feeling of all noble Lords.

We are grateful, also, to the noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, for giving us the opportunity this afternoon of discussing this important matter. The history of our time has largely consisted of a number of attempts—unfortunately, vain attempts—to secure peace. The problem, of course, is to change a system which has been called one of international anarchy into one of international order, a problem easy to pose but much more difficult to solve. I think that an analysis of this history, and of the world situation to-day, indicates that the main reason why we have failed to solve this problem is one which the noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, emphasised in his speech, and which has been alluded to by each of the subsequent speakers—namely, the claim which every State makes to complete sovereignty. Undoubtedly—at any rate, this, I submit, is the correct view—the unwillingness of nations to give up one jot or tittle of their sovereign powers was the main element in the failure of the old League of Nations, and is proving the main factor in the comparative want of success of the United Nations Organisation. When the delegates from all the Powers met at San Francisco at the end of the last war, there was great hope in the world that the new Organisation would be much more effective than the old one, for the reason that it appeared that the nations were preparing to abandon at any rate some part of their claim to complete sovereignty. But that has not, in fact, proved to be so.

One of the most superficially curious elements in the situation has been that the Soviet Power has been the worst offender in that respect and has insisted on what has appeared from time to time to be almost a medieval conception of sovereignty. The reason for that is not difficult to discover, because early in the history of the United Nations Organisation it became fairly clear that the different member States were going to line up into two teams, and as the team of which the Russians found themselves at the head was the weaker of the two, a rather rigid and artificial insistence on sovereignty appeared to be a good line of defending their point of view. Indeed, it has enabled them on many occasions to bog down the proceedings of the Organisation.

It is, undoubtedly, an extraordinarily difficult thing to persuade sovereign nation States to abandon part of their sovereignty. In the past it has been secured only by strong nations conquering and absorbing weaker nations. Indeed, as we know, many of the large viable modern States have been built up on conquest or on an alternative which was quite successful in the past and really much more successful than conquest—namely, dynastic marriage. Your Lordships will remember the old tag about the Austrian Empire, which had a long existence and which came into being as a result of a number of successful marriages—bella gerunt alii tu felix Austria nube.

The dynastic marriage is completely out of date, and the method of conquest is really out of date, too. It was not a satisfactory method in the past. It led, even in our own small Island territories, to some of the worst political problems with which we have ever had to deal—I refer, of course, to the Irish problem. The conquest and the division of Poland was for a long time one of the running sores of Europe. Even Wales, which this country thought it had successfully conquered, has been showing, quite naturally, a wishfulness for independence. The tremendous growth in the feeling of nationality, which was not there in the past and therefore enabled these conquests to be successful, up to a point, has now completely barred the road to that method of getting rid of sovereignty; in the modern world it simply does not work. The attempts of the French, for example, in Cambodia, Laos and elsewhere in the Far East are proving that that is so. All sorts of peoples who did not feel themselves nations until the present century are now doing so, and it is no good trying to override those national feelings. That phase of world history has to be lived through. One of the great difficulties we are undoubtedly up against is the persuading of quite small nationalities of that kind to be content to take a certain instalment of sovereignty, and not to demand a whole 100 per cent.

This problem was worked out in a most interesting way by the late Josef Stalin when he was quite a young man, in a famous paper he wrote in relation to the position of small units, like the Ukraine, in the larger unit which the Communists were hoping to build up. It is an interesting thing that the Russians themselves, so far as we can see, have not succeeded in solving that problem completely, because as soon as there was a situation of some fluidity in the Soviet area during the last war, the nationalistic aspirations of the Ukrainians at once began to make themselves evident. My impression is that that is a problem which has not been altogether successfully dealt with in that part of the world.

The spate of nationality is so strong that it is really impervious to reason. We are seeing a good example of it at present in connection with Egypt and the Suez Canal. For a time Egypt was under the suzerainty of this country, but it is now many years since Egypt was given complete independence and treated as one of the world's free nations. However, because of the fact that British troops are still in the Suez Canal Zone the Egyptians cannot bring themselves to believe that they are a free and equal nation in that sense. That is undoubtedly one of the great sore points in the world at the present time. I mention these historical examples, some of them of great present-day relevance, because I am persuaded of the enormous importance of this problem of sovereignty. We have to induce the nation States of the world by methods of persuasion to give up some of their sovereignty. It is much easier to knock people on the head than to persuade them: to take away their sovereignty by armed force than to persuade them to give up some of the elements of it. Even at the last moment when the enemy is before the gate or when the terrible possibility of the Third World War is loom- ing into the middle distance, people will still not be prepared to give up enough sovereignty to provide, for example, an international police force.

The important element in this matter is lack of trust in international justice, and the realisation that there is no sanction to enforce the awards of the international court or of decisions that may be given by some supra-national judicial tribunal of that kind. I believe this is the main reason why all nations cling to their sovereignty in this way. Fortunately, sovereignty is not a monistic conception, so to speak, but can be broken up. It is a bundle which can be broken up into its separate elements, and it is quite possible for a surrender of certain elements of sovereignty to take place and for a nation to be left, as has been pointed out this afternoon, with a substantial amount of sovereignty which enables it to live its own full national life. That does open up the possibility of progress.

When the nations are satisfied that there is a supra-national authority in existence which is independent of the power groupings among the nation States, then I think there will be confidence. But it is an. essential condition that the supra-national authority shall be independent of the power groupings among the national States, and this, of course, is emphatically not the case at the present time. The delegates who represent the different nation States on the Security Council and in the Assembly are there just to further the power interests of their respective countries. That is so in 99 cases out of 100. So long as that situation exists there will not be the confidence which will persuade nations to give up their sovereign rights. They cling to them as a kind of refuge—it is a completely illusory refuge, but they cling to them for that psychological reason. A world authority must therefore, I submit, be established, which does not just carry out the orders of Washington or Moscow, or whatever State is in a position to secure the most votes on the Security Council or in the Assembly at the particular moment.

It may be that the present time seems inauspicious for such a development, when there is so much suspicion on each side of the Iron Curtain. I freely admit that this is so. But a more peaceful atmosphere may prevail. There are signs that it is coming, and I hope they may be borne out. In any event, I think we must get ready to make use of a better atmosphere. The situation cannot go on. It must either deteriorate to a state when we actually have a war, or it must begin to improve. When it begins to improve, as I hope and trust will be the case, then we must be prepared to take advantage of that situation. To many of us—indeed, I think to most people in this country—this idea of the World Parliament and the World Government is the only really practical way to get out of the impasse. I know that to many people the whole idea will appear to be completely visionary, but to many more unless there is such a vision to strive for the world appears to be a completely bleak place and our civilisation almost past praying for.

Peace has always been one of the great, if not the greatest, visions of human kind. The project of world government as a method of securing world peace, however, is not anything like so old. Of course, I am not claiming that it is a new one. Most of your Lordships will remember that Tennyson, as long ago as when he wrote Locksley Hall, …dipt into the future, far as human eye could see. Most of us who have spoken on League of Nations platforms in the past have used his famous couplet: Till the war-drum throbb'd no longer, and the battle flags were furl'd In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world. That is just what the noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, is asking for this afternoon. But I think we should remember also that Tennyson, in that same poem, foresaw the war in the air. A rather less frequently quoted couplet from the same poem reads: Heard the Heavens fill with shouting, and there rain'd a ghastly dew From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue; Even in the 1830s when that poem was written the prophecy was rather a remarkable one. Of course, what he did not foresee was atom bombs and hydrogen bombs. They have made the situation even more desperate, and it means that the amount of time which is left to our familiar world to put its house in order can be measured in a handful of years. Now are these few years going to be used to good purpose? That is really the question the noble Lord is asking and which is involved in his Resolution, and that is indeed the question mark which is written across the face of the universe at the present time.

5.48 p.m.


My Lords, I believe that the world is being compelled by the forces of the organisation of commerce, of shipping and of air travel—by means of which one part of the world very rapidly learns to know about another part—into unity; and we must legislate for that. I do not mean in this Parliament—I mean, of course, in the United Nations. Take for instance, commerce and shipping. Shipping is now very much more rapid than it was, but one may pass from that to air travel. Air travel by various forms of 'plane is, practically speaking, universal over the whole habitable world; men and women move about in a way they never did before. You can start to-day and be in Washington in a very short time, or in India. Those of us who have travelled in that way—and I have no doubt that many noble Lords in this House have done so—realise what difference it makes to one's views when one arrives in this country from India in a matter of a few days instead of weeks. And shortly, probably, it will be reckoned in terms of hours, rather than of days. Then I believe that radio and television, which have not been mentioned in this debate, have had a tremendous influence on men's minds. I do not mean the minds only of men in what I call civilised countries, but in other countries as well. All the continents and all the world are waking up.

I remember with very great interest the fact that I went with a number of colleagues (I was then a Member of another place) to visit Nigeria, the Gold Coast and other African Colonies on the West Coast in the months immediately preceding the war. We conducted a very definite and carefully-contrived investigation into the methods of life and administration in Nigeria and in the Gold Coast—I will mention only those two at the moment. We found different tribes of the Negro peoples very active, leading their own lives. We made copious notes, which we presented afterwards in a printed Report. The interesting point is that at that time, although those of us who went were experienced, in the sense that we had been a great many years in Parliament, there was no suggestion in any of those Colonies of West Africa of the ideas of independence which are now such a marked feature in Nigeria and the Gold Coast, though independence in a certain sense there has been. Incidentally, it is interesting to notice that many of the people who are now the leaders in these countries were people whom we actually interviewed, visited, and talked with.

Take the question of Egypt and of Persia. How rapidly the situation in those countries has changed! I will not detail these developments. But what vast developments there have been in the last few years in the United States, and even more in Canada! The developments have been simply immense. There have been, and there are going to be, also, tremendous developments in South America. There have also been vast developments in Russia since the Revolution in 1917. I remember well that when I went there in 1920—I was the secretary of the first Labour delegation that had ever been there—we took elaborate notes. We were able to travel freely up and down the Volga. We were not by any means confined by restrictions, except those which we imposed upon ourselves. At that time there was no considerable organised industrial life east of the frontier between Russia and the Eastern countries. There is now an immense development in all those Eastern countries, and a growth of industrial civilisation. There have been tremendous changes in the world, and all these are exerting pressure on the world to make it change its formation and to make its people alter their habits.

How are we to get an organisation appropriate to this rapidly changing situation? I confess that I have been surprised this afternoon not to hear any reference to the elaborate organisations which already exist in connection with the United Nations. The United Nations have, among other things, an International Labour Organisation, a Food and Agriculture Organisation, an Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, an International Civil Aviation Organisation, an International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, an International Monetary Fund—and, I may say, these financial institutions have been functioning to some considerable effect—a Universal Postal Union, a World Health Organisation, an International Refugee Organisation, an International Telecommunications Union, a World Meteorological Organisation, an Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation and an International Trade Organisation.

There are other organisations, but it seems that we have there what amounts to a series of world ministries which are functioning at the present time; and they are very useful and effective bodies. If we are going to develop from present conditions into a World Government, these are the organisations on which to base it. Many of them have long experience. Some of them are quite old: the Universal Postal Union, the oldest of them all, was originally founded in 1875. If we are to have a really good development of a world organisation, we shall have to build on that kind of basis, not on merely theoretical ideas or statements of rights and duties. Those would be very good, but I think that we in this country believe more in the practical effect of an organisation which is already in existence, whose workings you can study. The International Bank has an authorised capital of 10,000 million dollars and has given grants to Australia, Belgium, Brazil and other countries.

I could tell your Lordships a great deal about the work of the World Health Organisation in many countries, by which the highest possible level of health is being brought about. I have been talking this afternoon to a doctor who comes from Bangkok—he has been listening to the debate—and he has been telling me about the work which he is doing at the present time. It covers the whole field of health protection and service that we have in this country and that exists in other Western European and American countries. He is applying these ideas to the protection of health in Bangkok.

Many of these things date directly from the Conference in San Francisco in 1945, and these specialized organisations are de facto departments of a begin Fling of world government. More important work could be done. It is in the power of mankind at the present time to lay the foundations of a world community. The meeting of the United Nations which is to take place in two years' time can certainly be made the occasion of a considerable approach to a world constitution. But does any member of your Lordships' House seriously believe that we can devise a world constitution in a period of two years, when it has taken this country centuries to build up a Constitution? I think it is asking too much. I do not myself suspect the Russians of wanting to dominate us more than we have in the past wanted to dominate others. I think that they will be amenable to reason if they can see that what we are building up—and what they will be helping to build up if they come in, as I think they will—is a new world of a new kind, in which all mankind will be able to live on terms of equality. But the form which should be imposed, and the obligations, duties, sanctions, and constitution of what I have called the ministries set up already under the new world organisation, are things which I think one must leave to the future—and not to the immediate future. That should not, however, in the least degree prevent our present organisation from going on and improving greatly.

What are the alternatives to this? A long period of hesitation and indecision?—we do not want that. The outbreak of a world war?—no one, certainly, can want that. No sensible human being, no one who knows about modern weapons, whether he is on the Russian or the non-Russian side of the world frontier, can possibly wish for these weapons to be used. Thirdly, there is the determination of the nations of the world, expressed at the United Nations, to keep the world at peace and to find the means for the growth, development and use of the enormous powers that the sciences are now pouring out into men's hands. I do not know whether it is generally realised that it is only within the last ten or fifteen years that major contributions to man's power over nature have been made by the sciences pouring out this knowledge, a great deal of which is quite new. In fifty years since the early days of the century, the world has been revolutionised; and since then the speed of that revolution has been increasing. Special agencies have already been created to deal with some of the very important functions of a world government. The time has now come to decide that we will make the United Nations Organisation and its special agencies the basis of a permanent form of peaceful world government for the whole of mankind.

6.3 p.m.


My Lords, this debate, as the debate yesterday, has been characterised by a number of speeches of great sincerity and eloquence and, if I may say so respectfully, at times on a somewhat ethereal plane. The opportunity falls to me in winding up this debate to add to what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, on his maiden speech. I do it with all the more warmth and pleasure because a good many years ago my father and his were closely associated in the conduct of Indian affairs.

The Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, as he said at the beginning, falls into two parts. He assumed at the outset, and rightly assumed, that as to the first part of his Motion, that dealing with support of the United Nations, there is no divergence of view between us. It is, of course, and it will no doubt remain, a fundamental object of our foreign policy to support and strengthen the United Nations. I do not think it will be seriously disputed by anybody that during the period of its existence up till now we have given it all possible support. As regards strengthening it, noble Lords will remember that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has said on more than one occasion that he would welcome an expansion of the existing situation in order to admit more countries. But, whether you are going to do what is rather suggested, merely fling the door open and say, "Here is a welcome for all, whatever their status in the world," is rather a different matter.

The noble Lord said, for instance, that he would invite all civilised States. Immediately, you begin an argument as to what is a civilised State. That is an argument which has been going on for some time. As the noble Lord knows, there are twenty-one nations waiting at the door at the present moment, and the only hopeful thing that can be said about that situation, without going into unnecessary detail, is that a Committee has now been appointed by the United Nations itself, of which Committee the United Kingdom is a member, to consider the deadlock which has arisen about the admission of further countries and, if possible, to resolve it in a way favourable to their admission. Unfortunately, the U.S.S.R., which has not been entirely unresponsible for the failure to admit these other countries, refused to accept membership of that Committee. That is most regrettable, if the Committee is going to arrive at a reasonable and acceptable solution. None the less, we must hope that it will do so.

As regards the second half of the noble Lord's Motion, we enter, as I think he will agree, a somewhat more controversial and, I am afraid, at the same time a more visionary field. The second part of his Motion calls for the development of the present United Nations Organisation into a World Federation fortified by a system of world law. That is, of course, a captivating and inspiring vision in many ways, and this country has always attached the greatest importance to the rule of law in the affairs of the world. But it is no good barking the fact that no such system can be forced upon nations; it can come into being only with their co-operation and consent, and unfortunately there is at the moment only too little evidence of any such universal collaboration coming about. If the noble Lord who moved this Motion were to sit for a day in my chair in the Foreign Office—I think the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, will agree with me—and read the incoming and outgoing telegrams over the space of perhaps twenty-four hours, he would reluctantly be driven to the conclusion that at the present moment there is not in the world that harmony between nations which is likely to produce any immediate response to a project of this kind.

Only yesterday, the noble Earl, Lord Darnley, in his Motion appealing for an epoch of fifty years' peace without bloodshed, said that those nations which were not willing to assent to that proposition must be made to comply. The moment you begin to make a nation comply, where do you get to? As the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, said in a debate on international affairs only the other day, the one thing that you cannot do is to make a nation take a step which it does not want to take, unless you are prepared to enforce your desires upon that nation with all the panoply of force, which is exactly the thing which this Motion is desirous of avoiding as the ultimate exchange between nations. It may be very unfortunate that that is the position, but it is indeed, I am afraid, useless to pretend that it is not so. There is at the present moment no discernible tendency in the world for the lion to go through the unusual operation of lying down with the lamb. In fact, lions are extremely unwilling to lie down with lions, or lambs with lambs, and in too many countries an uncompromising and exclusive nationalism flourishes which must be the arch-enemy of any such project of a global union as is contemplated by this Motion.

In his speech, the noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, dealing with the position of the United Nations as it stands to-day, cited as one of its defects that it was not a Federation. When we begin getting into that area we are getting into very mixed territory. He said that we ought to try to make it into a Federation, and he then went on to contemplate a situation in which there should perhaps be not one United Nations Federation, but a series of groups of local Federations spread about all over the world. N.A.T.O. was one of his subjects for federation, Europe was another, the Commonwealth was a third. Then Her Majesty's Government of the day have to ask themselves, "To which Federation do we belong? Do we belong to the European Federation; do we belong to the N.A.T.O. Federation or do we belong to the British Commonwealth Federation? "You cannot do as people do in Who's Who: put down the names of four or five clubs to which they belong. You have to make up your mind to which of these Federations you belong, and then adhere to that one.

Let us be very careful before we commit ourselves to a plunge into any scheme of federation on this sort of scale or on these lines. The strength of the Commonwealth has been that it is not a Federation, and what has been done has been done by consultation and by co-operation on a voluntary basis. As the noble Lord admitted, the moment you go off into federation you begin the necessity of building up some sort of a written, rigid Constitution. I confess that nothing surprised me more in his speech than when at one moment he said, I think, that there would be little difficulty in framing such a Constitution. Well, there are in the world international lawyers and constitution-makers of great eminence. But you have to produce not merely a paper Constitution; you have to produce a paper Constitution which is going to commend itself to all the nations of the world. It is when you get to that stage that your troubles begin. It may be quite possible in the study or in the common room to work out an admirable blue print, but when each country comes along with its own particular predilections, its own particular ideas and objections, the process of producing a universally acceptable Constitution from all that procedure takes on a very different aspect.

To a certain extent the same is true when the noble Lord talks about the introduction of a system of law which can be enforced, and of legislation and of a tribunal. You have countries with different systems and different traditions of law. Up to a point, it is quite true that many of them submit cases to the present international tribunal. But the next stage in the present scheme is that having passed your law, you proceed then to the enforcement of it, and you enforce it apparently by arms or the threat of force of arms. It is said that if you have a small force, that small force will always be able to quash at the outset any signs of unrest or insurgence in any part of the world, and that big forces will never be needed. My Lords, let us look back for a moment to a stage in the years between 1933 and 1939. Would the small police force have walked into Germany and taken action? It could have done that presumably only with the assent of the full body of the United Nations. Would there have been agreement as to what was the moment for action? There was not agreement amongst the countries—the far fewer countries—which had to deal with the situation when it arose. Now we have to get the agreement of all these countries to send in a police force.

What size is the police force to be? What regulates the establishment of this force which is to be set up? Is it to be the European Federation'? It is said that you limit the number of men in the various national armies. But suppose there is a European Federation and a Federation for, let us say, the Middle East, which combine together against the rest of the world. What strength is your police force to be in order to cope with the combined armies? The United Nations countries are going to have to keep a force which is greater than the aggregate of the separate forces in the different countries. One noble Lord spoke about the necessity for an international Budget. To maintain such a force is going to be a pretty expensive undertaking.

The noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, said that in his view the great advantage that the United States had over this country was that it was federated, and therein lay its strength. My Lords, that is not the beginning and end of the matter. The United States consists of a considerable number of states, but it also happens to have no national frontiers between those various states, it has the same language running throughout the country, and it started to build itself up from nothing. In this Motion you start with an organisation which is already in being, with all the traditions—the prejudices, if you like—which have grown up over the years, and you have to break those down and persuade these countries virtually to amalgamate at least a portion of their sovereignty in their joint interest. It all may be very desirable; it all may come about; we may all hope that it will come about. All I am saying is that there is still a long way to go.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Haden-Guest, in saying that there is a much more hopeful and practical way than sitting down to sketch out blueprints for some future Constitution and some future international court. It is by gradually getting the nations accustomed to the process of co-operation, as they do become accustomed in these various United Nations bodies, some of which I have had the advantage of seeing at work. The same thing applies not only to United Nations bodies, but, within what I may call local limits, to such bodies as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and O.E.E.C. Indeed, we have already reached the stage where, in one or two instances, we have either got to or are very near to getting a partial surrender of sovereignty. There is the Coal and Steel Community, the European Defence Community, and at the same time deliberations are going on in regard to the possibility of creating a European Political Community.

I hope that those who believe profoundly and sincerely in this scheme of ultimate world federation will see that in regard to those organisations which have come into being on a small scale—if you will, on a relatively local scale—with the assent of the various countries concerned, the right way is to let them develop, to materialise, and in the course of time, if history so develops and opportunity so offers, let them proceed forward to the stage at which they can become something in the nature of a world organisation. But do not try to start with a complete whole at the beginning; let the pieces form themselves and than, gradually, by process of time, amalgamate into a whole. It will be done only by the consent of the various pieces concerned.

It may be that these organisations like the European Defence Community, the European Coal and Steel Community and the others, may prove to be the first embryonic stage of the kind of state of affairs that the noble Lord wants to see. I am bound to say that, at the present moment, my view agrees with that which my right honourable friend the Joint Parliamentary Under-Secretary has expressed in another place on more than one occasion—that setting up a World Government can only follow and not precede such a degree of international understanding as, unhappily, does not exist to-day. That, I am afraid, is the view which I must express on the general aspect of this Motion. It is surely premature to concern ourselves at this stage with attempts to devise the requisite institutions in any form other than the broadest possible outlines To do otherwise would be to undertake a process which I may perhaps be allowed to call, "putting the chart before the course." I agree that it is prudent to provide yourself with an accurate chart before you start out on a voyage. But it is even more important to know what your destination is, and how you are going to get there. That, at the present moment, I do not think, from anything that has been said to-day, is really clear at the present stage of development. Even accepting the noble Lord's definition of the ultimate aim, we cannot, surely, lay down with any precision the means which ought to be adopted in order to attain that ultimate aim.

There is the Charter, and it may well be that inside the terms of the Charter as it is to-day—it is possible (I do not make any prophecy) that it may be revised after 1955—the elements of the machinery required already exist, if the countries who are members of the Organisation choose to use what is already under their hands. But I feel that in the end the stimulus must come, and can only come, from a common impulse of those countries who are members of the United Nations. In the world as it is now—and, as I said in the course of yesterday's debate, it is too often a rather tough and truculent world—it is not likely that any such manifestation of desire is going to be a thing of to-morrow or the next day. And this, I think, is important—to launch any such scheme at a moment when the world is not ripe for it, before the mass of the peoples of the world are receptive to it, would be not only to achieve immediate failure but to compromise for a very long time any future prospect of success.

I do not want to seem unduly discouraging to the noble Lord, but I hope he will agree to withdraw the Motion which is before us. And perhaps I may say this. We should welcome a situation, if it developed, in which this project seemed reasonably attainable, and I can assure the noble Lord that we will not neglect suitable opportunities to create an atmosphere favourable to its ultimate realisation. But we cannot anticipate the millennium. All we can do, and should do, is to keep our eyes fixed upon it as, unhappily, perhaps a rather distant goal, and in the meantime do our best to prepare for it by striving in every way to remove the hatreds, the rivalries and the dissensions of the world which now serve to make the millennium more nebulous and more remote.

6.26 p.m.


My Lords, may I say that I think your Lordships will all agree that we were very fortunate to hear the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, this afternoon, and that we shall add his name to the list of those of your Lordships whom we look forward to hearing on further occasions in the future. Another personal note I should like to strike is this. I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, mentioned the name of the late Lord Davies, whom I knew very well at one time before the war. Lord Davies was considered to be a visionary, as no doubt he was; but I never think there is anything to be ashamed of in being called a visionary, and the time will come when the noble Lord will be proved to have been right.

With regard to the speech of the noble Marquess, I should like to be allowed to make one or two observations. First, I want to make it abundantly clear that nothing that fell from my lips, I hope, was to the effect that any nation should be forced into federation. If I said that, I certainly did not intend to say it.


May I be allowed to make clear what I actually did say? I did not say the noble Lord had suggested that any nation should be forced into federation, but I said that inevitably the result of what he was advocating was that the only way federation would be achieved was, in some cases, by force. I did not accuse him of advocating force.


I am obliged to the noble Marquess for that explanation, but I cannot quite accept the resultant theory that this cannot be done without force. After all, as I have said before to-day, we already have a number of Federations. We have at least three in our own Commonwealth, to say nothing of others. That being so, surely it is not impossible to have more than three. I am disappointed at the Government reply; there is no purpose in concealing the fact. I am disappointed because if every nation were to say, "We will make no effort to co-operate because no one else will make an effort," we should not get very far. The noble Marquess asked: "How are you going to do this with a small police force?" One of the things I want to emphasise is that I am convinced that the police force has got to be, in its early stages, not a small one but a big one. It has got to be much bigger than any other force in the world. Later, I am sure, when reason descends upon the world, it can be very substantially reduced. In the meantime, it has got to be far greater than the aggregate of all others.

The noble Marquess, not unnaturally perhaps, took me up on what I said about the United States. He said that federation was much easier for the United States than for Europe, and he gave as one of his reasons the fact that the United States had no national frontiers. Exactly, I entirely agree. That is why the United States is a successful federation. But why must Europe have national frontiers? Can anyone deny that the national frontiers of Europe could be removed tomorrow if the peoples had the will to do it? That is my very point, and I respectfully agree with the noble Marquess that that is the main reason why the United States is successful. Talking about the United States, I am reminded of the famous statement of the Dean of Gloucester in the eighteenth century. I am sorry that I have not the actual words, but it was a remarkable statement. The Dean of Gloucester allowed himself to say that a Federation of the United States was a sheer impossibility. Within twelve months it was accomplished. That shows that things can be done, although people say that they are impossible.

In the course of his argument, the noble Marquess said that certain progress had been made, and I agree. Amongst achievements which he mentioned was the setting up of the Coal and Steel Community in Europe. He gave that as an example of the progress. But as the words fell from his lips this thought struck me: the United Kingdom is not amongst those countries. That is the point I want to make. The United Kingdom could be one of those countries: it is not. The noble Marquess urged, "Let the present institutions develop." I agree; but we must be one of them. It is no good saying, "Let everyone else do this, but not us." I hope that I have not overstated the point, but all I am asking is that this country will say, "We will do this, if you will do this." It cannot be said that we are the first, because clearly we are not. The noble Marquess said that the thing must eventually come by putting together a series of pieces. Again I agree: but shall we be one of the pieces? That is the question I should like to ask.

I have said enough, perhaps too much. I do not want to trouble the House any more this afternoon. I am obliged to the speakers and to the noble Marquess, Lord Reading. I feel that to have a Division with such a small number in the House would serve no purpose to anybody, and for that reason I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.