HL Deb 28 July 1954 vol 189 cc232-316

Her Majesty's Government shall have the right to maintain certain agreed installations and to operate them for current requirements. Should Her Majesty's Government decide at any time no longer to maintain all these installations they will discuss with the Egyptian Government the disposal of any installation which they no longer require. The approval of the Egyptian Government must be obtained for any new construction.

2. Following the withdrawal of Her Majesty's forces the Egyptian Government will assume responsibility far the security of the base and of all equipment contained therein, or in transit on Egyptian territory to and from the base.

3. Her Majesty's Government will conclude contracts with one or more British or Egyptian commercial firms for the up-keep and operation of the installations referred to in paragraph 1 and the maintenance of the stores contained in these installations. These commercial firms will have the right to engage British and Egyptian civilian technicians and personnel; the number of the British technicians employed by these commercial firms shall not exceed a figure which shall be agreed upon in the detailed negotiations. These commercial firms will have also the right to engage such local labour as they may require.

4. The Egyptian Government will give full support to the commercial firms referred to in paragraph 3 to enable them to carry out these tasks and will designate an authority with whom the contractors can co-operate for the discharge of their duties.

5. The Egyptian Government will maintain in good order such installations, public utilities, communications, bridges, pipe-lines and wharves etc. as will be handed over to it according to agreement between the two Governments, The commercial firms referred to in paragraph 3 will be afforded such facilities as may be required in their operations.

6. Her Majesty's Government will be afforded facilities for the inspection of the installations referred to in paragraph 1 and the work being carried out therein. To facilitate this personnel shall be attached to Her Majesty's Embassy in Cairo. The maximum number of such personnel will be agreed between the two Governments.


My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Strang, rises, I ought to consult your Lordships' House about arrangements for to-night. We have had some very interesting and important speeches but they have taken, perhaps, rather more time than was anticipated; and there are still about twelve speakers on the list. It is now a quarter to five. I would suggest that it might be convenient to your Lordships' House if we adjourned at half past seven for an hour and a quarter and resumed after that. I know that noble Lords like an hour and a quarter to give them the opportunity of getting dinner. I do not see any other means by which we can get through our debate in two days.


I feel that that will be a convenient course. We do not want too many speeches to-morrow, or speeches at any great length. We want to get our day's work done if we can, and the course proposed by the Leader of the House is, I think, the most convenient arrangement.

4.48 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to take part in this debate with all the diffidence proper to a Member of this House who is addressing your Lordships for the first time. I do so also in the confident hope that you will not withhold that indulgence which it is your generous custom to extend on these occasions. We must all be grateful to the noble Marquess the Minister of State for the comprehensive survey he has given us of the international situation as seen by Her Majesty's Government. In particular, we should be grateful to him for his lucid commentary on the proceedings at Geneva and his luminous summing-up of the meaning for us all of the agreements reached there. It was indeed a fateful Conference. Nor do we forget the part which the noble Marquess himself played in those proceedings. Our congratulations must also go to the Foreign Secretary for bringing back with him from Geneva one of the most notable achievements of his career. What was saved at Geneva—and much was saved —was in large measure saved thanks to his patience, perspicacity, imagination and superb professional skill. It is also a source of pride to British hearts that he stood so faithfully beside France and her courageous Prime Minister in unswerving comradeship in their bitter hour of trial.

In his speech the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, dealt in concrete fashion with some of the more pressing and disquieting aspects of the international situation. He has done so with that moderation and constructive spirit of which, from past official association with him, I have the happiest memories. I do not propose to follow him over all the ground he has covered. I propose rather to submit to your Lordships, as briefly as I may, some remarks upon one or two of the fundamental facts of the international situation, though I cannot hope to do so with the masterly skill shown by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, in the speech to which we have just listened. These facts are, so it seems to me, obvious facts: but it is sometimes useful to state obvious facts because, if they are disagreeable, we tend to dismiss them from our minds, and if they are welcome or agreeable we are inclined to take them for granted.

We are now living in the presence of the confrontation of two vast concentrations of power directed respectively from Washington and Moscow. This confrontation was foreseen long ago. The gifted French student of politics, Alexis de Tocqueville, writing about the middle of last century, said of the United States and Russia: These two stride forward easily towards a boundless destiny. … The principal instrument of America is freedom, of Russia slavery. … Their points of departure are different, they follow different paths. Nevertheless, each of them seems intended through some secret design of providence to hold in its hands the destinies of half the world. That remarkable prophecy has come to fulfilment in our own day. Russia, as the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, pointed out, has become a world Power of the very first order. This is, indeed, one of the dominating facts of our time. But the Soviet Union is something more than a world Power of traditional pattern. What was not foreseen was that this great force, directed by a consistent body of doctrine, and operating through a carefully designed system of political strategy and tactics, implacable in purpose but flexible in method, would take as its objective the establishment of its own particular organisation of society throughout the world. The framers of Communist doctrine and the directors of Soviet policy make no secret of their objectives. It is written for all to read in the authorised expositions of Communist faith. The inevitable collapse of the capitalist world, so they say, is to be promoted and hastened by all feasible and expedient means, not excluding armed force. The tactics will vary from time to time, between ruthlessness on the one hand to seeming magnanimity on the other—and we ought not to allow ourselves to be either intimidated or disarmed by them—but the fixed purpose will remain. Already, in a few short years, the Communists have brought much of Eastern Europe within their system. They have a foot in Central Europe and strong outposts in France and Italy. And if this were not enough, now the myriads of China have been brought within their power and inroads have been made into Korea and Indo-China.

This is indeed for us a perilous prospect, and we may ask ourselves: "When is it going to stop? What is there on the other side?" The answer is that here also there is a corresponding dominating fact. The revolutionary change in the distribution of world power has been accompanied by a revolution in United States policy the significance of which we ought not to underrate and which we certainly ought not to take for granted. The traditional American policy of isolationism meant various things at various times, but in essence it meant that if the United States intervened in the foreign field she would intervene in her own interests as conceived by herself, and that if she became involved in quarrels, they would be her own quarrels and not those of other peoples. The United States would not be her brother's keeper: there came a time when she would hardly be her own. We are so snug here, said President Coolidge, that maker of memorable phrases, nothing they can do can touch us. Now, in contrast to all this, not only has the United States undertaken the obligations of the United Nations Charter, but she has apprehended the peril which threatened us all and has recognised her prime responsibility for meeting that peril. She has rebuilt her own armed forces in a measure unprecedented except in time of war. She has sustained the economy and nourished the military strength of her Allies. She has joined and, indeed, helped to promote the creation of a grand defensive coalition carrying with it wide military commitments as well as engagements for intimate international consultation. And when the defences were dangerously probed, first in Berlin and then in Korea, there was an unhesitating response from Washington. The credit for these historic acts and policies must in large measure be given—and it is too seldom given—to the Administration of President Truman. In retrospect, it is difficult sufficiently to admire the vision, courage and resource with which this great reorientation of policy was accomplished, once its necessity was recognised. And here I think it fitting, if I may, to recall that in the framing and execution of these policies the Truman Administration had the strong support of that great-hearted, far-sighted, courageous and most lovable man Ernest Bevin, to whom I would, in piety, pay this tribute.

And if, of late, the old isolationism might appear to have become increasingly vocal, if we hear assertions that America should "go it alone" or that the Allies have to be told what they should do, the corrective can be found in statements made by members of the present United States Administration which are in full harmony with the new line of American policy. Speaking about two months ago, Senator Wiley, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said: The United States must disenthrall itself of the concept that we either need no allies, or that we can or should dictate to our allies, or that we can ignore the feelings of the neutral nations of the earth. … We must have the moral opinion of the free world and a material pool of co-operation as well. Collective security means just that. The Secretary of State, Mr. Dulles, was even more emphatic when he said a little earlier that it was the clear and firm purpose of the present Administration to treat other free nations as sovereign equals, whether they be large or small, strong or weak, and that never in all her history was there a time when good friends and allies meant so much to the United States. Remarks like those do not so easily hit our headlines as the more violent comments of irresponsible men, but they do, I venture to think, represent the true voice of America, which is too little noted and too seldom remembered among us.

In the presence of these two great and dominating facts, what ought to be our own outlook? So far as the Americans are concerned, I have one or two maxims to suggest. For example, we must not expect that they will behave as we ourselves should behave; and we ought not to be surprised or irritated when we find that they do not. Their public men, particularly when they are struggling towards a decision, speak their minds and express their feelings with a singular lack of inhibition which would be out of place here. That is, I think, one of the manifestations of the vitality which characterises their turbulent and boisterous domestic history.

Then again, we should do our best to understand how agonising is the international responsibility which the Americans have so clear-sightedly assumed. They may well be forgiven if sometimes, when their Allies hesitate or demur, they feel that they are sustaining that responsibility almost alone. Above all, we should avoid impugning American good faith. It is traditional in American thought to hold strongly that the policy of the United States should be based on moral principles, and rooted in law and morality. Whatever they may say or do, and however imperfectly they may sometimes follow it, this ideal pervades their minds; and in the solemn issues of peace and war we can be confident that it would be decisive. Even in the general run of affairs their deeds are usually found, on examination, to be more prudent than their words. Like ourselves, they are often perplexed to know hew best to act; they sometimes make mistakes—and, indeed, grave mistakes. Like other Governments, they were baffled by developments in Indo-China where, by a long and unhappy sequence of events, a dangerous breach, military, political and psychological, was opened in the defences in South-East Asia.

It is inevitable that there should be differences between us. Statesmen have to look to the foundations of their power, and in a democratic system a Government cannot depart very widely from the trend of opinion of the people whom they represent. It is manifest that there are some matters on which the British and American peoples do not think alike, and this fact is reflected in the acts and decisions of their Governments. What is essential is that these differences, when they occur, should be brought out into the open between us, with frankness and without rancour, and in good time. But whatever our differences, we must never allow our attention to be drawn away from the essential fact, which is that if we have so far come safely through some dangerous years, and if we are now in a better posture of defence, this is because there has been in Washington what is, substantially speaking, a correct diagnosis of the world situation, followed by a resolute and far-reaching attempt to find a remedy.

Now, my Lords, what is the remedy? It is, if I may try to put it in a sentence, in calmness and confidence to meet strength with strength, will with will, and faith with faith. In these circumstances, is what is called "peaceful co-existence" possible? I think that it is. But the term must be rightly understood, other-wise it may raise delusive hopes. If peace means simply the absence of major war, then "peaceful co-existence" in our time is, I think, not only possible but even probable, provided—and only provided—that the non-Communist Powers maintain their collective strength. The hazards of war, if the contestants are evenly matched, are now more than ever terrible and incalculable. Like any other State, the Soviet Union must be preoccupied, first of aid, with her own survival. She would be unlikely to commit her forces prematurely, or to risk a world war for Communist purposes, unless she could expect an easy victory. We must see to it that no such easy victory would be achieved. If, however, peace is something more than the mere absence of total war; if it is understood to mean a positive spirit of harmony and concord, then I think that "peaceful co-existence" is not to be hoped for. Lenin said, and his words are still, I think, decisive: So long as capitalism and socialism exist, we cannot live in peace. We are left, therefore, with the prospect of a "peaceful co-existence" which means the absence of both peace and war, in the full sense of both words, and which may last for years—perhaps even for generations to come. A better name for this state of affairs would be "coexistence with conflict." This is, in fact, how Stalin himself looked upon it. Speaking of the possibility of temporary agreements with capitalist Governments on matters of industry, trade and diplomatic relations, he said that the existence of two opposite systems, the capitalist system and the socialist system, did not exclude the possibility of such temporary agreements. But he added that the limits to such agreements were set by the opposite characters of the two systems, between which there was rivalry and conflict. Within the limits allowed by these two systems, but only within these limits, agreement, he said, was quite possible. We must therefore expect that the Communist Powers will continue to use every means, short of world war, to penetrate, to disrupt and to dominate the other half of the world, probing the weak spots, internal and external, and calling off the offensive in any particular place only if strong and effective resistance is offered. That is a grievous prospect, but not so grievous as total war, and not so grievous as surrender. It is one which calls for vigilance, steadfastness and the unremitting maintenance of collective military strength.

The possession of vast armaments by a Power which is actively pursuing a self-appointed mission to change the order of society in the world must be met by the creation of an adequate "situation of strength," material and moral, among those whose are threatened. Communist aggression in its more acute forms will cease to be used only if it is made sufficiently unrewarding. Given an adequate "situation of strength" there may be scope for diplomacy to bring about limited agreements or local settlements. The danger here is that the cumulative results of such negotiations may be a gradual retreat, built up of repeated concessions made, so it is thought, for the sake of peace or in order to find an issue from a dangerous crisis. Diplomacy is still an indispensable instrument of State, but a conference in itself is not a substitute for a policy. The fundamental cleavage between the two halves of the world is not to be resolved at a stroke at a brief meeting of statesmen, however highly placed; and no responsible person thinks that it would. Such a meeting might well serve to bring home the realities of the situation to both sides, and to the world at large; and this would be a gain, not a loss. But we should have a care lest, in our search for "peaceful co-existence," we set foot on the path of improvident accommodation with a watchful and persevering adversary, and risk sapping the unity among the free peoples which alone is their strength.

Here, some questions suggest themselves—and with them I come towards my conclusion. Will that unity hold? Will the weaker links stand the strain? And even if unity in strength is preserved, will that strength always, over the years to come, be sufficient, not only to serve as a deterrent to a world war but also to hold the frontiers of the free world, or even its inner fastnesses, against probing attack? It was sufficient at Berlin where, if nothing was gained, nothing was lost. It was sufficient in Korea where, if nothing was gained, the position was preserved, though at extremely heavy cost. But it was not sufficient in Indo-China, where something was lost, and where what was gained was the difference between a lesser and a much greater evil. Or, to open another line of questions: will the Soviet revolution, in course of time, like other revolutions, lose its inner dynamic force and give way before a rebirth of freedom within its frontiers? Will the Soviet Power sooner or later meet increasing difficulties among its satellites and associates, and come to make the search for "peaceful co-existence" a defensive rather than, as it is now, a predominantly offensive weapon in its armoury? Or will the Soviet Union put all to the hazard of total war? On the answer to these questions the future of freedom in the world will depend. The crucial fact of our time is that the struggle for the Communist mastery of the world is now joined.

5.14 p.m.


My Lords, I know I am speaking for all your Lordships—and I am authorised by the noble and learned Leader of this side of the House to speak particularly for my colleagues here—if I extend the most cordial, heartfelt congratulations to the noble Lord who has just resumed his seat. Congratulations to maiden speakers are somewhat conventional in this House—a very pleasant convention, too—but when a great public servant distills the fruit of the wisdom accumulated during so many years of helping to save us and the world, then I think we are entitled to try to find some extra words. I can only say that the noble Lord, as I am sure we all feel, has placed us deeply in his debt. If I may drop into a slightly lighter vein, when I was working as an assistant Minister to Mr. Bevin in the Foreign Office, and Sir William Strang, as he then was, was Mr. Bevin's right-hand man, I recall raising some point with Mr. Bevin and asking for a decision. At that time Lord Strang, then Sir William Strang, was in America. Mr. Bevin said: "You must wait until Strang comes back. I cannot work this out without Strang." That was not the only time something of the kind was said to me, and I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, who worked so long with Lord Strang in the Foreign Office, will have much the same recollections.

I have heard it said, I do not know whether accurately or not, that Sir Winston Churchill has described the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, whom we are pleased to see here this afternoon, as the other half of his brain. I may have the quotation wrong: it may be the better half of his brain—of that I am not certain. But I think those who have worked in the Foreign Office would certainly agree that Mr. Bevin regarded Lord Strang, then Sir William, as the other half of his brain. In that capacity, and in so many other capacities, particularly in view of his speech, I can only repeat on behalf of your Lordships this most strongly felt of welcomes.

I do not wish to detain the House too long, though I am going to touch upon a number of themes, which means dealing with them all rather inadequately and rather dogmatically. If the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, had been able to remain, I should have said how interested I was by his survey. But I am sure that that will be conveyed to him by the noble Marquess who leads the House, because I join my noble friend Lord Henderson in expressing our appreciation, not only of his speech this afternoon, but of all that he has achieved at the Foreign Office and recently at Geneva. I would reiterate the pleasure that Lord Henderson expressed, and that I personally feel, at the Agreement reached over Suez. I am sorry myself that there is not going to be this trial of strength. I should not have found it difficult, on this occasion at least, to support the Government, and, like other noble Lords, I would testify my warm support for what has been achieved in that respect.

I feel that if we look round the world, or look back over the last few years for a few moments, we find there has been a wide measure of agreement between the leaders of the Parties in respect of our foreign policy since the war, and that I believe to be a source of strength to a great country such as ours. Of course, there is always the primary duty of preserving our existence as a nation and of helping to hold our great Commonwealth together. But, besides that, we have all—or the leaders have certainly—given practical evidence of a genuine support for the principles of the United Nations, which are, of course, a continuation of the principles of the League of Nations which was so sadly betrayed before the war. I do not want to be too controversial, but I may have to make a few criticisms of my own political friends; therefore, I would say what a welcome change we have found in Conservative policy since the war in regard to these noble ideals. I know that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, resigned because of his principles, as did the present Foreign Secretary; and, of course, the Prime Minister was a critic of the Government in those days. But it is—and I say it in not too violently partisan a spirit—a source of great satisfaction to us that principles for which some members of the present Government stood so strongly before the war, which were otherwise sharply opposed by the then Conservative Government, have found so much following and support in all Parties in recent years.

We in the Labour Party—and this is surely quite a friendly competition in well-doing—feel that these principles are the traditional principles on which the Labour Party has built up its strength over a long period of years. But since the war, as the noble Lord, Lord Strang, has made so clear, it has not been enough to be patriotic. It has not been enough to stand for these principles of collective security and of allowing the general opinion of the world rather than national force to settle disputes. There has also been this task, reluctantly but firmly embarked upon, of organising the defence of the peace-loving Powers against the Communist menace. The noble Lord, Lord Strang, has spoken about that with far greater authority than I could command. I would only say that while there has been this general agreement on foreign policy since the war, it seems to me that there have been two heresies. I am not pinning them particularly on to individuals but I am referring to doctrines. Just as we had in the old days—quite old days by now—the Eutychian heresy on one side and the Nestorian heresy on the other, so on each side of the broad path of wisdom in foreign policy we have had, it seems to me, one major heresy. On the one side there is the heresy (it has arisen not from any lack of patriotism; certainly not from any love of peace; nor even, it would seem, from lack of intellectuality or good will, but from an undue concentration on one factor in the situation) which I would call the nationalist—some would call it imperialist, but I would give the broader word "nationalist" —heresy: and on the other side we have had what I would call the neutralist heresy. And, in passing, I would say only one or two words on each of those.

We in the Labour Party take special pride in such great acts as the liberation of India. It is not for me to say what noble Lords opposite or the Conservative Party would have done if they had been in power. At any rate we take great pride in that emancipation, but we are aware that that act was strongly criticised in certain quarters on the other side in politics. When it came to Persia, the action that we took—and I am not here to defend every detail of every tactical step—which culminated in referring the matter to the United Nations, was held in some Conservative quarters (and I am not now referring to the leaders) as a policy of scuttle and cowardice. I would say that that attitude of criticism sprang from what I would call the nationalist heresy; the policy that in the last resort you have to rely on your own strong right arm or your natural cunning to stand up for your rights, a scepticism about what I would call these new principles which leaders of both sides have supported and are certainly supporting at the present time.

On the other side we have the neutralist heresy. I am not referring to any individuals; it is not a personal matter at all. I think that heresy has been expressed with much literary skill and a good deal of courage and consistency over a period of years in the pages of the New Statesman, which I can certainly recommend if noble Lords do not come across it very often. I can certainly recommend it on literary grounds to noble Lords opposite, and also to any noble Lords who are somewhat short of adrenalin. This neutralist policy has been voiced most effectively in its columns both during the period of the Labour Government, when Mr. Ernest Bevin was Foreign Secretary, and more recently during the period of the Conservative Administration.

Now when I talk of neutralists, let me make it plain that I am not either openly or covertly making some suggestion of disloyalty or Communism or even fellow-travelling, or anything of that kind. I am referring to an attitude which can be held by honourable and intellectual men which is quite different (and there is no reason why it should not be) from the policy that was pursued by the late Government, quite different from the policy now being pursued by the present Government, and quite different from the policy outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Strang, who was for so long the official head of the Foreign Office. I would say it is a policy based on the idea that our proper place to-day is midway, or just about midway, between the United States and Russia. I am not saying that a neutralist leans towards Russia; I am just saying that he does not want to lean towards the United States. That policy is one which can be argued for; but I think it is quite contrary to the policy of the men I most admire in public life on all sides and that which is calculated to defend peace and save the world.

That is how I see the general situation, and I think it has been like that for some years. German rearmament has perhaps created a special issue, and I would say that, apart from a few people who, for whatever reason, have special feelings about the Germans, the strongest arguments against German rearmament are put by those who have all along pursued this neutralist course. I believe the real case against German rearmament, intellectually speaking, can be traced back to the neutralist position. I will not linger on that now, because I want to pass on to the immediate situation as I see it; but I felt it right to give the background of my own thoughts and leave other noble Lords to criticise me or put me right as seems to be best.

Coming to the situation in which we find ourselves at the moment, I suppose we have seen developments in the attitudes of all the main countries since we last debated these matters in March. The noble Lord, Lord Strang, whose words will carry much further than mine, mentioned, amid various observations, the need for understanding America. He pointed the way to understanding America and I am sure that his words will be of great value in that country. But, carrying less weight than the noble Lord, I am bound to offer a personal opinion that American policy at the present time is passing through a regret-table phase. I offer that observation; I do not really see how one can avoid that conclusion. I do not see how anybody, making any allowance for our own British prejudices, can do other than regret what seems to us here a deterioration in American policy during the last year or two. I am not stopping to underline the point, but I think that if these debates are studied in America my few remarks, coming from somebody who is as devoted a friend of Anglo-American relationships as anyone in this House, will, I hope, be noticed as indicating a very deep concern.

If we ask, "Is there anything we can do about it?", I would just add this thought to what the noble Lord, Lord Strang, said. Most of us, when we criticise America, whether publicly or privately, do so in rather a petulant way. We do so without any very constructive purpose. I feel that before one criticises America one must be ready to try to assist in some small degree, although it is difficult in the case of another country to assist them to what seems to us a wiser or more restrained outlook. I must not refer too often to the Daily Express, because I must declare, I suppose, a family interest when that paper is mentioned, but I do feel at the present time that the Daily Express is playing a Jekyll and Hyde game in regard to America and Germany respectively. I do not want to say anything more about the attitude of the Daily Express in regard to Germany except this: its whole attitude in that regard seems utterly lamentable. I think the suggestion we have seen—indeed it is more than a suggestion, it is a project which the Daily Express is carrying out—of Anglo-American study groups is to be commended in every way; and though I am not invited to take part in these discussions, I certainly should do so if an invitation came my way. I cannot imagine anything which would be more calculated in practice to assist the kind of understanding which the noble Lord, Lord Strang, has mentioned.

Leaving America and coming to Russia, I suppose that if we take the Communist countries, Russia and China, most of us are beginning to hope that their purposes are not quite so sinister as we imagined. We shall weigh what the noble Lord, Lord Strang, has said—and possibly be a little depressed by it—and ask ourselves whether perhaps he is entirely right. I must not be controversial in arguing against a maiden speaker. I am sure there is a great fundamental element of truth in what he said, but I noted that, in his list of helpful slogans, he included the phrase "We must meet faith with faith." I feel sure that, if any good faith is shown on their side, we should certainly reciprocate it amply on ours. But I must record—speaking, as often, in these debates in a somewhat personal way—my very deep conviction that there could never in any circumstances be an honourable settlement reached with Russia, even, to put it crudely, to "save our skins," which involved a going back on promises made to the Germans.

The German record of keeping promises in the past is not in all ways a record which is honoured outside Germany—and I am putting that very mildly indeed; but when we do get a German Chancellor, as Sir Winston Churchill has said, who gives his word, stands by it and fights for it in. very difficult circumstances, then I should regard it as a criminal action if we let him down. Frankly, I cannot understand how the responsibility could subsequently be avoided if some extreme form of nationalism grew up in Germany. We all remember that the First World War was fought because we refused to treat a "scrap of paper" in the way in which it was treated by the German Chancellor of the day. We have read the account of how the British Ambassador went to see the German Chancellor, and the German Chancellor, I believe, though I never set eyes on him, was, to use a phrase of Sir Harold Nicolson, "morally unassailable"—those were, I think, the words Sir Harold used in one of his books. The German Chancellor, when he was told by the British Ambassador that this march through Belgium by the Germans meant war, said: "But you cannot do that, just for a word, 'neutrality'; just for a 'scrap of paper'. You will tear aside all the ties which unite Britain and Germany and plunge the world into war." In this country, we have never thought it wrong to stand by our word in that particular case, and I agree with everything said about the absolute necessity of keeping our word to the Germans, who are keeping their word with us.

When we come to this question of Germany, we find very deep anxieties. I will not go again over the case for German rearmament—we have so often stated it. There is a great majority in this House, I think, for the principle of German rearmament. We know the strategic case and we know the moral case, in various forms. I was talking to a noble Lord yesterday, with whom I think all who know him would wish to stand well, and he continued to express great anxieties. He detested the idea of discriminating against the Germans, treating them as an inferior people, or anything of that sort, but, all the same, it seemed to him possible that the world would be safer if we went on as we are going at present in Europe, and that, in the last resort, allowing Germans to be put into uniform was taking a step which made for war rather than for peace. I will not try to dispel all those anxieties this afternoon. I would respect them and hope that eventually facts will prove them wrong.

But there are statements of the case against E.D.C., in particular, which seem to me to fall far below a desirable level. Mr. Attlee, in another place, has put quite briefly, as he so often does, the whole gist of the matter. He says [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 530, No. 148, col. 491]: I hope that the French will ratify. … We have to build up the strength of the West on good feeling. I myself think that the position is dangerous and, although it may not have been tactful, I am afraid there is truth in what Adenauer said—that the alternative to some form of Germany taking part in collective defence will sooner or later be a German, unrestrained, national army. So, without trying this afternoon to dispel the anxieties about the German character, or the German character in a national form, which some noble Lords still entertain, I feel that that observation by Mr. Attlee cannot be lightly set aside.

Let me turn for one moment to something like internal controversy. I could not help noticing that in the current number of the New Statesman, the gifted editor is found committing himself as follows: I should have more respect for the German re-armers if they would not pretend that their policy was defensive and that E.D.C. was a way of controlling Western Germany and integrating Western Europe. That is what a lot of people believe it to be. Demonstrably, it is none of these things. Dr. Adenauer spoke for all those forces of reaction that we and the Americans are now supporting, when he said at the end of 1951: 'Our chief reason for entering the European Army is to be able to recover our Eastern territories.' Many people in politics, in the course of years, say all sorts of things, and a sentence wrenched from its context gives a very poor idea of the policy. I have, however, tried to verify those particular statements because, according to the editor of the New Statesman—and he has put his words on record—the E.D.C. cannot be regarded as a defensive policy. It must in some way be regarded as aggressive. Whoever is right, the point is important.

If one seeks the origin of this particular quotation, one finds it in a pamphlet entitled It Need Not Happen, which has been recently published by the Tribune. In that pamphlet, we find the same quotation. We are told that Dr. Adenauer himself, speaking in Hanover in December, 1951, said: Our chief reason for wanting to enter the European Army is to be able to recover our Eastern territories. I have tried in the last few days to check that statement. In the first place, it is perhaps right to acquit the editor of the New Statesman, because, as I understand from him, he was simply quoting this from the Tribune pamphlet and showing a very proper reliance on the accuracy of a rival newspaper. But if we try to find when this statement was made, it is not easy, because we are told that Dr. Adenauer was speaking in Hanover in December, 1951. So far as I have been able to discover—and I have been given a positive answer—Dr. Adenauer made no speech in Hanover in December, 1951, which makes the search a little difficult, at the start. He did, however, make a speech in Hanover to the newly formed Union of German Expellees on November 17, 1951; and that, I think, must be the speech referred to. I feel it is certainly well to put on record (although I cannot quote the whole speech) the extracts which were sent to me. I hope they are representative—although maybe there is some sentence which has been overlooked—because I think they make its meaning plain.

Dr. Adenauer then said: I should like to emphasise very strongly that according to its whole structure the European and Atlantic Defence Community can never be an alliance fit for aggression. Because of its structure it can only be an alliance for defence. Then he said that which comes nearest to what was reported by the Tribune and later the New Statesman: I do believe that the only way for Germany to regain your home"— he was speaking to expellees— and the reunification which is so vital to you and to you and to us, can only be the integration of Germany with Europe. This is certainly not the same statement as the one quoted in the pamphlet, and if this is the nearest approach to it, then I hope apologies will in due course follow. If some other extract is discovered in this connection it may be that apologies will have to flow the other way. But to the best of my knowledge, and as a result of any inquiries I have been able to make, this statement by Dr. Adenauer has not only been wrenched out of its context but has been seriously distorted.

Even if he had said to these expellees that the chief reason for wanting to enter E.D.C. was to be able to recover the Eastern territories, it is entirely unsupported by any subsequent policy, and it is rather odd that more has not been heard in the meantime. If he had said, "One reason for wanting to enter the European army is to be able to recover our German territories," I do not know why one should have blamed him, though of course it is not the cardinal aspect of his policy. He has said again and again—the Germans have always said—that they cannot recognise the Eastern frontiers as morally binding, but never in any circumstances will they use force to alter them. That, I think, is a vital aspect of Dr. Adenaur's policy, as Lord Strang and Lord Henderson would be the first to recognise. In short, the whole idea that Dr. Adenauer is involved in some aggressive policy, in an attempt to promote war, and that that has been his reason for entering the E.D.C., is, I think, refuted by even the flimsiest knowledge of the man or the policy, or of recent history in this field.

My Lords, I had to say as much as that. I do not want to say more, because I know that there are these anxieties and we must throw our minds into the common pool. Risks exist in the case of every policy, but I myself feel that the course of morality and the course of expediency here run close together. Was it not Sir Edward Grey, or perhaps he was Lord Grey of Fallodon at that time, who said that, "To do the right thing is the right thing to do"? Though that may sound a little platitudinous, I would interpret that in this case as meaning that here we have embarked on a great, lofty enterprise. I believe it contains enormous prospects for understanding and reconciliation between warring peoples. But I would also argue, as has often been argued in this House, that this seems to be the only way of building up the defences which are so essential if the Communist menace is to be held back.

Finally, in a last word or two I would refer to France. I know that I have spoken very often about Germany and not so often about France; but I was in France a week or two ago and had the pleasure of spending some hours with those who are rather close to the present French Prime Minister. I think that anybody who is in touch with France at the present time must feel a spirit of hope where hope had almost died. I am not any prophet—I cannot forecast the future very far; but I should think it possible that the present French Prime Minister has a better chance of carrying through E.D.C. than any Prime Minister that France could find. I cherish the hope, though I have no grounds for say- ing so, that he will in fact wish to carry through E.D.C., and I believe that if he wishes he will be able to do so.

As regards Anglo-French relations, I would suggest that those of us who are concerned with Britain and Germany, Anglo-German relations and associations, and all activities of that kind, carry a special responsibility for seeing that we never fall into the trap of treating Anglo-German relations as a bilateral effort, or of believing that if France is going back at some moment, then is the moment for shifting the alliance across into the German camp. I do not believe that that would be the wish of the most enlightened Germans; it certainly is not the wish of any enlightened people with whom I am in touch in this country. I believe that we have to regard ourselves, the Germans and the French—not forgetting our other friends in Europe: for example, the Italians, the Belgians, the Dutch and the people of Luxembourg as a kind of mystic triangle. With the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, opposite I am rather hesitant to speak very much about triangles, but perhaps he would agree that in politics or in the higher sphere of international friendship, if not in the real field of pure mathematics, we might have a triangle in which all the angles are right-angles. Would that be possible? Some of my noble friends might like to be left-angles. Perhaps the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, would look after that too. In a right-angled triangle, as I recall it, the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the square of the other two sides—is that correct?


The sum of the squares.


I was not in any way attempting to rival the noble Marquess in this atmosphere, but at any rate the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. Perhaps it is rather nationalistic and I am falling into the trap I warned people against at the beginning, but I suppose we all regard our own country as the hypotenuse in any triangle. In that case I take this proposition as meaning that the home country cannot be squared unless at the same time the other two countries are squared. Putting it into idealistic terms, it means that basically all three countries are intimately related in such a way that no steps can be taken in any far-reaching international scheme affecting one country without the other countries being consulted and being carried along in partnership. I do feel profoundly that in any talk of Anglo-French, Anglo-German, or Franco-Anglo-German alliances—however you may express them, it is the relationship with the triangle as a whole which ultimately matters.

My last word to-day would be this. When we look round the world we study Russia, China, America and Germany, and we come back finally to the question: what is the place that France must occupy if the West is to be a healthy organism? I personally agree that if the French refrain indefinitely from ratifying E.D.C., the kind of steps foreshadowed by the Government must be taken, though it is right for me to remind the House that Mr. Attlee issued a warning on July 14 and asked that before any step of this kind was definitely approved, the House should be called together. But I still hope fervently—and perhaps a shade more fervently after my recent visit to Paris—that this kind of step will not be necessary because E.D.C. will be ratified. That must be the more welcome result. I regard that as the higher course, the best and by far the most desirable courses; and I feel myself that if that does not happen, it is not a question of bullying France or sending ultimata to France, or anything like that, but that France would drop, steadily but surely, out of her proper place in the Western world. I sit down with the thought that I cannot imagine any more supreme tragedy, not only for the West but for the whole of the civilised world, than that France should cease to play the part which we know she alone can play, and which certainly we in Britain are desirous with all our hearts that she should play, now and for ever in the time to come.

5.50 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to extend a very warm welcome to the admirable maiden speech made by my noble friend and former colleague, Lord Strang. A great number of his brilliant predecessors have come from the position of Permanent Head of the Foreign Office to this House, and your Lordships will feel assured, after what you have heard to-day, that he will make the same contribution as they. I was asked by the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, who has had the misfortune to contract a minor infectious complaint, to apologise for his absence from this House to-day, as he meant to speak strongly on the cause on which I myself wish to speak.

I am afraid that I cannot penetrate into the line of previous speakers. The statement of the noble Marquess was so complete, concise and persuasive that on these general questions arising out of Geneva I have nothing but compliments to offer. But, in turning to the question of Egypt, I should like, as a preliminary observation, to record my own admiration for the forty or more Members of Parliament in another place who have had the courage to put their country before their Party and have displayed qualities of conviction, persistence and leadership which are in contrast to what we have seen in the general handling of the Egyptian question. No one ought to make up his mind on this question, whatever are his views, without reading Mr. Julian Amery's brilliant article in Time and Tide on July 24, which is extraordinarily pertinent to the latest developments.

I need not say much upon my own position, as I explained it when I last spoke on this subject. I do not pretend to speak on behalf of the Suez Canal Company, which does not concern itself with politics. I speak as an independent Cross-Bench Peer, who accepts no Party Whip and is animated solely by the public interest. I speak also as a friend of Egypt, and I hope that whatever comes out of all this may result in strengthening the good relations between that country and Britain. When I entered this House to-day there were peals of thunder, and I wondered what they portended. I realised, when I heard the statement of the noble Marquess on the Suez Canal Zone. My main impression, on this hasty hearing, was that none of the major objections which have been raised against the Agreement has been met. The whole of the British forces are to be withdrawn, and in consequence the Suez Canal and the Base will shortly be deprived of the most important protection which they have hitherto received. Until yesterday we used to say: From East to West the tested chain holds fast; the well-forged link rings true. I fear that after to-day we cannot say that with the same conviction as in the past. I am not unreasonable. I do not say that there are no good points about the Agreement. For example, I naturally greatly welcome the declaration which apparently has been made about the Suez Canal—even as a director of the Suez Canal Company I can welcome that. But noble Lords must remember that both parties to the new declaration are already committed to the 1888 Treaty. I need not go into precise historical reasons, but we are both parties to that Treaty, so two of the parties are, in fact, only confirming something to which a great many other parties are already committed.

I find it difficult to make this speech, for I entered your Lordships' House with a speech prepared for a rather different situation, and have to do my best to adjust my mind. First, I want to look at this Agreement in the light of the main debate which we have had on the international situation, and more particularly in regard to the Far East. Without going right over the ground, I feel that, in spite of the splendid and courageous efforts of the Prime Minister in Washington, and the Foreign Secretary and the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, at Geneva, and their really brilliant success in securing a cease-fire and putting certain nations on the road to peace, there is still room for anxiety in the future. There is no advance towards peace in Korea, and the Communists have gained an appreciable success in South-East Asia. It is not a particularly good moment for subjecting the Western Powers to further criticism such as will certainly come in South-West Asia and in France, and in many other countries, over this new Agreement. Notwithstanding the setbacks which have occurred to mutual security, we hear now of new projects of mutual security and intensive work in Washington on military studies in connection with mutual security in the Far East. Into that "complicated and dangerous" subject, as the Prime Minister called it, I will not venture, beyond remarking that for any plan involving support for any country in South-East Asia the free and safe passage of the Suez Canal is well-nigh indispensable.

During the Korean war, 355 warships and military transports of over 2 million net tons passed through the Canal in 1951, and 350 in 1952—over 700 ships in two years. I ought to mention that they were not all connected with the Korean war, but no doubt a good proportion of them would be going to and from Korea or Indo-China. Imagine the embarrassment that would have arisen if that traffic had been brought to a stop. During the Korean war it nearly was brought to a stop by the troubles that arose in Egypt for some months when the Egyption forces, for understandable and explainable reasons, stood aloof and, under the Treaty, British forces had to take their place. I do not know whether this new Agreement, whatever its nature may be, will be such a good deterrent if the position on the Canal and its security is—I will not say imperilled but, at any rate, becomes not so good as it was. Every Member of your Lordships' House can form an opinion about whether security is reduced or not: I shall not go into that question.

We sometimes hear whispers that military opinion now holds that the Suez Canal has lost its strategic significance. That is rather odd to me, because eighteen months ago, when I was in Egypt, the whole of the British forces were abusing what they called the Foreign Office service in London and Cairo for defeatism. When I said goodbye to the leaders, telling them that I was going home to try to warn the Government, every one of them shook me by the hand and wished me the best of good fortune in my mission. But, of course, new factors arise and opinions change. Military opinion seems to have changed a good deal during the years since World War II. First, they allowed the Base, which is a legacy of the First World War, to get too large. Then they dumped into it masses of materials from Palestine, India and Burma; and the garrison was increased to match. No one seemed to notice that the whole outfit was getting out of all proportion to the limits of the 1936 Treaty and becoming a justifiable cause of complaint to the Egyptians, because that enormous mass of troops drew into the Suez Canal Zone a great many base fellahs of the lower classes of the Egyptian population who were liable to cause trouble.

In the words of a military authority, the situation was allowed to drift. It was not a good advertisement for military opinion or the Foreign Office. I am not one to criticise military opinion. I was connected with the setting up of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, and was its Secretary from about 1925 until 1938, and I have a great admiration for our military leaders. Nevertheless, they are human beings and, like everyone, make mistakes. Here, I do not think the mistake was a mistake of the Chiefs of Staff Committee; I think that administrative considerations were involved and caused this drift. Incidentally, neither the military authorities nor the Government seem ever to remember the object for which the Canal was constructed, and the reason why it has been protected during nearly the whole of its life—namely, the peaceful passage of ships. The tonnage passing through the Canal last year reached the enormous figure of 93 million tons, one-third of it British. This can be accomplished only in conditions of security. That fact has been lost sight of.

Coming back to strategy, the atomic bomb is said to be a new strategical factor. I am not quite sure what effect the dropping of a bomb would have on the Canal. Perhaps it would blow out a new Lake Timsah and improve the waterway. When I heard that story, I laughed aloud. I recalled how, in 1901 or 1902, before the Entente, someone had the same sort of bright idea about Gibraltar and bombardment. It was argued that if Spain and France combined against us, the Rock could not be held, so we had better clear out and exchange the Rock for Ceuta—if we could get it. I was very young and very junior, but my opinion was asked, and I said that we might have a dozen wars before we should be confronted with that particular combination or any parallel combination, and that it would be perfectly absurd to scuttle out of Gibraltar. My position was adopted and Gibraltar was retained. It might well be the same with the Suez Canal. None of us can tell what is going to be the pattern of a future war.

I suppose that a major war would unquestionably bring in these terrible bombs, but it is quite possible that the pattern of smaller wars, especially in the Far East, may be more like the pattern of the recent wars in Korea and Indo-China. Nations will not enter into a major war, if they can avoid it, with such a "chancy" weapon as the atomic bomb about. If they can get their way by a "cold war," or by supporting some nation engaged in war, as the Communist movement in Spain was supported in the civil war there, prior to the Second World War, they will not indulge in the atomic bomb. And neither, very likely, shall we, because populations become so mixed up in that kind of war that you cannot kill great numbers of your enemies without killing enormous numbers of your friends. I submit that if the military authorities were suddenly confronted with a terrible problem, not on the maximum scale but on the lover scale, arising out of collective security, and had to send a lot of material out in great baste—naval reinforcements, aircraft carriers and so on—say, from the Mediterranean, they would take rather a different view about the strategic value of the Suez Canal.

I understand that my noble friend Lord Killearn will deal with the important point of a return in an emergency. But there is another problem closely allied to that on which we have never had an answer. I ask that we should be given an answer to it; and if should also like to know whether the front Opposition Bench can give an answer. I should like to know whether the Government and the front Opposition Bench share the late and greatly admired Mr. Bevin's abhorrence of a vacuum in Egypt—in his own words, meaning that we have gone and there is nothing there for security instead, which he declared in the same debate in 1946 at which Mr. Churchill made an important statement on return in emergency.


I can certainly answer that question right away. The late Mr. Bevin initialled a Treaty for the evacuation of the Canal Zone—as I think a mistaken issue. He initialled exactly the same proposal as that now before the Government.


I thank the noble Viscount for that statement. It may answer for the Opposition Front Bench, but I do not think it is a "let out" for the Government Bench. Do they, or do they not, believe in this vacuum?

It might interest your Lordships to know that not many days ago a detached and distinguished American publicist, Mr. Hanson W. Baldwin, published an article in the New York Times, under the headline, "Projected British exodus from Base leaves defence problem in region." Mr. Baldwin sums up a critical and valuable, but not unfriendly, argument as follows: All this"— that is, the danger of a vacuum— is clearly recognised by a projected provision in the British-Egyptian Agreement which would permit the return of British troops to the Canal Zone area in case of war—clearly a dangerous military extemporisation and a poor substitute for a permanent base. It is clear, therefore, that the impending withdrawal is an undesirable military expedient, undertaken partly because of the decline of British power, partly because of our own equivocal policies in the area, partly in the hope of political and psychological gains in the Arab world. The last-named is likely to be an evanescent hope; retreat, particularly under pressure, does not breed respect but more pressure. That is a remarkable statement.


May I interrupt the noble Lord for a moment? I am afraid that I missed the name of the military authority he was quoting on the military considerations in the Canal Zone.


It is Mr. Hanson W. Baldwin, a very distinguished writer. I followed him for years in the war. He is one of the most sensible military writers of the day. I have the cutting here, which I will hand to the noble Marquess.

Mr. Baldwin's remark leads straight to the question of redeployment—that is another of these rather vague and pompous phrases which seem to me to be a smoke cloud to cover up a not very creditable retreat. Why should we assume that our farces, having been shouted out of the Suez Canal Zone, would be either welcomed or respected in Jordan, Iraq, Libya, or even Cyprus? I am, of course, aware that there are Treaties with the two former, though of a rather limited duration and, to me, rather vague. Moreover, both of those countries are members of the Arab League, and the difficulty is that much of the prestige which Britain loses as the guardian of the double gateway between the two oceans and the two continents will pass to Egypt—exactly as that American writer said. What would happen to our deployed troops in Iraq or Jordan if Egypt should carry out her barely concealed threat to invade Israel? I do not think that that will happen immediately, but possibly a few years hence it will.

I should like to ask whether Her Majesty's Government have weighed up the potentialities of the broadcasts to Kenya, Tunisia, Morocco and Aden; the reported influx of Egyptian civil servants to Libya and the Sudan, and the actual troubles in Aden, where the new oil installations are due to begin production almost at once. Have they considered, also, the possibilities that arise from the unfortunate statements that have been made in Egypt and in Beirut, to the effect that the British Army helped in averting a war between Egypt and Palestine? To put those things together collectively, they seem to me to suggest that there is someone there who has rather big ideas. I do not know exactly how those will be dealt with if we have not got the Base and a garrison in the Zone. I am very puzzled to know why deployment of the whole of the troops should not have been tried before this question came to a head. Perhaps it has been to some extent—I do not know. We certainly could have sent part of the troops to these countries for deployment and kept a large part in Egypt until the Agreement was reached and we had got to know whether it was a practicable proposition or not, and whether they would be useful in all these different sorts of emergencies. Moreover, we should have avoided this unfortunate moment when our prestige is bound to fall until we can build it up again.

Those are a number of questions which I think ought to be answered. Like everyone else, I hope against hope, in spite of these rather gloomy doubts, that the arrangement will be successful, if it has got to take place, because I do not believe that the British people will tolerate another humiliating "scuttle," especially when they realise that to all appearances—I hardly like to say this after what the noble Lord, Lord Strang, and the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, have said—it followed so soon after the visit to America. If the thing goes wrong, I do not believe that any Government, any Party or any politician could survive the results of a complete withdrawal, under duress, of 80,000 or more British soldiers.


What does the noble Lord mean by saying "so soon after the visit to America"? It was rather an obscure phrase. Perhaps he would elaborate it.


It was no more than this: that the conversations gained a new lease of life, which has led to this result shortly after the visit to America. I think that will be found to be true. My memory is not good enough to say what happened in the case of the Sudan, but I think something of the same kind happened then. At any rate, we have that very tactful way of putting it by Mr. Baldwin. I will not go beyond that. I also do not believe that, in the long run, this plan will lead to any financial saving, or that it will serve the cause of peace. The truth is, as I said last December, that it is a gamble with good faith. I am not casting any reflection on the present Government, the President or the Prime Minister; but it is a long-term arrangement, and it depends upon the good faith of a succession of Egyptian Governments whatever be their complexion—and that in a country where Governments change rapidly. We had an earlier example of trusting to a revolutionary leader in the events which led up to Munich. I hope that Her Majesty's Government are quite sure that there is not the same risk here.

6.26 p.m.


My Lords, I think we must all be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, for having raised this debate in the aftermath of Geneva and on the morrow of the signing of the Heads of Agreement with Egypt. These two instruments profoundly alter the strategic picture of the world. It is therefore timely that we should have this debate; that we should adjust our outlook to these new perspectives and that we should consider whether our policies should be revised. I cannot share the optimism of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, about the Geneva Agreement and what it portends. He made claims for it far in excess of anything that has been claimed by Mr. Eden or Mr. Mendes-France, and, indeed, he exceeded by a long way the sober statement in regard to that Agreement made by the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, this afternoon. If, as he thinks and trusts, we are now on the way to building a new world, a new edifice of peace, it is as well that we should begin by clearing away the rubble of illusion.

There is no advantage whatever in setting out to describe Geneva in far-reaching terms. What in fact arises from Geneva? In the first place, it sets the seal upon China as a first-class Power. We are engaged in a day-to-day struggle with Communism. If the noble Lord's view is correct, we must ask ourselves: What is the purpose of N.A.T.O.? What is the sense of building up these vast armaments and making these strategic dispositions throughout the world? As I said, we are engaged in a struggle with Communism, and Geneva has set the seal upon China as a first-class Power. That has modified the balance of power in Asia. Chou En-lai, the spokesman of China at the Geneva Conference, was the pivot around whom all the negotiations revolved. We cannot blind ourselves to the fact drat he gained important concessions for the Communist camp. As the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said—and I thought he dismissed the matter a little lightly—he has scooped into the Communist orbit another 12 millions of population; he has acquired a rich territory, the Red River Delta, with its rice, and he has gained iron, tin and zinc mines. He has set up his satellite in a very advantageous strategic position. The first effects of this we have seen in the shooting down of the Skymaster and in other threats to the air routes, for this part of Indo-China lies athwart all the principal civil air routes in the East. Therefore China has gained important acquisitions and has improved the situation of Communism.

Next we have to record that the Empire which France built on the ruins of Sedan has crumbled. It may be that France has made political errors—which country has not? At any rate, in the later stages of the struggle, all the Allies proclaimed that France was holding an important bastion for the free, world. In this cause she lost 100,000 soldiers killed, 140,000 wounded and 38,000 prisoners. She evoked the admiration of the world in the defence of Dien Bien Phu. For generations she has sent her young men to Indo-China where they have found an outlet for their constructive abilities and the country was an outpost of Western culture. It is a melancholy ending; France has ceased to be an Asiatic Power. That is very important. She follows the Dutch out. We are left alone as the only Western Power on the mainland of Asia with direct responsibilities for government. Therefore we have a primary interest in these developments.

Now it is said by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, or it is implied, that we ought to trust the Communists. But it is not only a question of what they gained at Geneva. We have to pay attention to what Chou En-lai said was to be the policy of China in the future, and his claims were not confined to Asia. He demanded the demilitarisation, as he called it, of Germany; he demanded the abandonment of E.D.C. He demanded the unification of Germany—all on the Russian plan. This is very formidable support for Russia. All this happened at the first international Conference to which China has been admitted. Chou En-lai proclaimed for the first time an entirely new policy for Asia.


Yes, he proclaimed that he was no longer interested in 7 million ex-patriated Chinese. That was a tremendous concession to the West.


I accept entirely the intervention of the noble Lord. Chou En-lai has said that. He has also said that he demands the demilitarisation of Japan; and he has said that he demands the expulsion of all foreign soldiers from the Continent of Asia. He has said that he demands the abandonment of all foreign bases in Asia. In a word, he has declared a new Monroe Doctrine for Asia. That is his policy. He has stated that the proper system of peace in Asia is the Pan-American model and that the Asian peoples must look after their own affairs. He offers them mutual guarantees. I do not say that this is good or bad at the moment. I say that that is what his claim is: a mutual security pact for the whole of Asia with the expulsion of all foreign elements. Not only did he announce that policy at Geneva but he took time off and paid a flying visit to countries that have hitherto been in our orbit, or at any rate, harken sympathetically towards us in the matter of stemming the advance of Communism. He went to India and he went to Burma to advocate this policy. He had some success. India is also pursuing the policy of expelling foreign settlements. This is what is happening to both the Portuguese and the French, whose settlements in India have been recognised and not interfered with for 300 years. Burma has stated that she wants a mutual security pact for Asia on similar lines to those proposed by Chou En-lai.

All this is a challenge to us. We have to decide in the face of it what our policy should be. Mr. Eden had a policy at Geneva of uniting the Colombo Powers with the West. It was a most enlightened policy. I believe it would have resulted in a greater security for the world, and nobody has worked harder than Mr. Eden to establish a satisfactory peace system. His policy has been undermined by Chou En-lai. Mr. Dulles still thinks that a South-East Asian security pact on the lines which he originally advocated is a practical proposition. He has said that, so far as he can see, there is no reason why Cambodia, and possibly Laos, should not be included within the defence line. But the Agreements at Geneva forbid it. For two years these States are restricted in their liberties to make foreign alliances and in their right to import foreign war material or to have foreign troops on their soil. Therefore, for two years it seems clear that Cambodia, Laos and Viet-nam cannot be included in the pact.

Now there is no particular advantage in reciting these terms, which I think on the whole are adverse to our prospects, unless we ask ourselves how they came about. Why is it that the two great Western democracies, this most powerful combination of Powers, have suffered this reverse? It is not a British reverse, it is a reverse for the Western Powers. It is because we were disunited. Here I agree wholeheartedly with the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and I think he went to the heart of the whole matter in saying it. There was dissension in our own ranks, not only private dissension but public dissension, and I think that must be eradicated if we are to make a successful job of creating an orderly system in the world. I think this began with the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact. America made this Pact with Australia and New Zealand, two members of our Commonwealth, and Great Britain was excluded from it. It was a very great error. To-day you find powerful voices in Australia complaining of her defencelessness, of the exposed character of the Northern Coast of Australia, and pleading for the base for South-East Asia to be put at Darwin instead of at Singapore. The omission of Britain from the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact should be repaired.

We then had Mr. Dulles's "massive retaliation" policy, announced without any consultation with other members of N.A.T.O. That was the policy of blowing up small wars into big ones. In the result it has terrified the people it was supposed to protect. The announcement of that policy infringed the principle of consultation upon which N.A.T.O. was founded. Then there was the announcement of the plan for a South East Asian Defence Pact. There were threats and conflicting proposals. None of this detracts in any way from our appreciation of the services of the United States. What the United States means to the free world has been stated with great eloquence, power and knowledge by the noble Lord, Lord Strang, in his outstanding maiden speech. There have also been suggestions that there was no solidarity in the defence of the French position in Indo-China. I do not know what the facts in that matter may be, but we did not go to Geneva united. If there are chinks in our armour, we must expect the Communists to find them.

Another Conference is now proposed. I plead with the Government—though I do not think it will be necessary to plead—not to accept entry into conferences until the Western Powers, the free world, are united in their policy. It is all very well to speak about co-existence with the Communists, but what we want is coincidence in our own aims. Conferences are the strongest propaganda weapon that the Communists use, and I think that it behoves us to agree among ourselves on a common tactic and strategy so that there will not be a recurrence of the circumstances which led to the Geneva Treaty. After all, the United States and ourselves are highly reasonable people and if it is made the object of our joint diplomacy to get an agreement in advance of a Conference, whatever the difficulties may be, I think that would be of primary importance to the West. I do not speak of Europe, because I entirely endorse what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and by the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, and the Government will have my complete support in that policy. I also support their policy in Egypt. The noble Lord, Lord Hankey, has spoken of "scuttling." There has been no "scuttle." It is a matter of deliberate policy. The strategic conditions of the world have altered. In my maiden speech in a defence debate, I ventured to make exactly this point: that the danger has moved from the North-West of Africa and from South of Egypt to the North-East of Asia Minor. It moves upwards towards Russia. Therefore it would be a policy of stupidity to have a large body of our limited Army tied down in static positions in an age when flexibility and mobility are required. I think the policy is a realistic one. We have believed for seventy-five years that our position in Egypt was vital, but conditions have altered and we must accept that fact.

Secondly, whatever the value of Egypt may be, there can be no advantage in a base among a hostile population. The utility of the base is entirely negatived by that. So I think that the Government have taken the right decision, in the circumstances. But I hope that we are not going to move out of one "frying pan" into another. I personally think that the age in which individual countries can have bases in other countries, by a bilateral arrangement is passing. The positions in the Middle East are the right flank of N.A.T.O. Any base which we occupy should be occupied on behalf of N.A.T.O. That would soften any acerbity or suspicions which might be aroused among the local populations, wherever the base may be, whether in Cyrenaica, Jordan or even Cyprus, it does not matter. If we are acting on behalf of a community of free nations, we remove doubts, suspicions and unfriendliness. I hope that means will be taken to secure this. The advantage of acting on behalf of a community of nations is that the expense is shared and much more can be done for the local populations. What is required in the Middle East is an infrastructure of pipelines before we can be in a state to meet danger. That policy has been pursued in France, and in Western Europe £100 million or more has been spent on infrastructure largely consisting of pipelines. I think it would be advantageous if all of us, in co-operation, were to spend money for this purpose, because it would give economic advantages to the local populations, raise their standard of life and improve their countries.

Therefore, I hope that this Treaty with Egypt, the heads of which have now been signed, will be merged, in the end, into N.A.T.O. I think the moral of both these events which we are considering is that the free world can defend itself provided it be united. It must be a policy of "Each for all and all for each." The day of the single nation has passed; we are moving towards larger structures. If we follow that policy, but not otherwise, it seems to me that we shall maintain some semblance of peace and order in a harassed world.

6.48 p.m.


My Lords, the first thing I should like to do, as an old colleague of the noble Lord, Lord Strang, is to associate myself warmly with all the compliments that have been paid him for his remarkable maiden speech. It makes one feel proud of the Service of which I was once a member.

Egypt is the only subject upon which I propose to touch to-day. In that regard since last night all sorts of things have happened—at least, when I say "all sorts of things," I mean that one thing has happened. We are faced with what is practically a fait accompli. As a result of the exchange of views which we had at one moment earlier in the debate, I hope it will be confirmed that, when the full text is available and we can consider it, there is eventually to be in the Treaty, which is, I suppose, at the state of signature, a ratification clause. I believe there is on record a promise to this House, or to Parliament, that there will be a debate before actual ratification.

I should like to open with the question, whether the Agreement, when it is concluded, will contain a ratification clause entailing discussion by Parliament. That, I repeat, is a definite question that I now put. Whatever there may or may not be in this Agreement, of which we have had only the headings so far, there is no doubt whatever that it is a remarkable achievement. When I say it is a "remarkable achievement," I mean a remarkable achievement by Egypt. That which, over a period of years, "all the King's horses and all the King's men" have completely failed to achieve, has been obtained by a handful of military officers after a very few months in office. I repeat, that is most remarkable; it is a great achievement—for Egypt. I certainly should not describe it as a British achievement; it is an Egyptian achievement. Moreover, it is an achievement by a Government which, so far as I know, has no form of constitutional background—I am not sure, but I think they still call themselves "revolutionary"—and whose good faith, so far as we have been able to put it to the test over the Sudan Agreement, has proved to be non-existent. For Her Majesty's Government on more than one occasion, both in this House and in another place, have denounced the bad faith of this particular Egyptian Government with whom we are now so easily, so keenly, and so willingly signing this Agreement.

Well, we must face the facts as they come. No doubt, Her Majesty's Government are doing this with their eyes fully open, and of course it is for them to do so if they so decide—it is their responsibility. We can, therefore, hope that their trust will prove to be justified. Those of us who have some local experience are perhaps a little doubtful. We wonder. I remember that the last time we discussed Egypt here in this House I told your Lordships of my personal experience on the eve of the last war. I will not burden the House with repetition, but I hold that nobody would say that, when the Treaty of 1936 was signed, there was any other intention in the minds of the signatories on both sides than that if there was a war we should fight it side by side as co-belligerents. I am quite sure of that. What happened in the event was that the Egyptians ran out. They made a case; they made a lawyer's case, and they ran out. It is true that later on, it suited us very much better that they should have run out. But the point I am making (and I made it before) is that in 1936 a Treaty was negotiated with acclamation on the part of the Egyptians. The other political Parties which were not in the Egyptian Government, were so keen on being in on the Agreement that they insisted on signing too. It was thus signed by the heads of thirteen political Parties. Yet in its implementation see what happened. That is not a very promising example.

Apparently, among the Heads of Agreement there is one concerning reactivation. It so happens that in 1946 in another place there was a debate in which the present Prime Minister, then the Leader of the Opposition, made a great speech. I recommend that your Lordships should look at that speech because, although it was made some time ago, it contains so many points that apply with immense force, as I think, to the present situation. I have here the OFFICIAL REPORT of another place for 1945–46—Volume 423. The debate took place on May 24, 1946. The present Prime Minister began by describing what he called the timetable of the recent Egyptian story. I need not say that it was beautifully narrated, with the clarity and tellingness of which he is such a master. Then he went on to explain why Egypt should be grateful to us for having saved her. Yet she apparently was not. Then, in column 770 of the OFFICIAL REPORT, he comes to this point about reactivation. First of all, however, there is a point about the value of the advice of Chiefs of Staff, which is so apposite that I feel I should quote it to you. It is as follows: If I am to be told that the Chiefs of Staff say that the Canal can be left open without any permanent garrison and air forces in the Canal zone, treat their opinions with the utmost respect, but put on record that I am utterly unconvinced. I mention that because we have heard a good deal of discussion about the necessity of our maintaining the 80,000 troops and the advice of the General Staff to that effect. It is interesting that in 1946 the view of Mr. Churchill was as recorded textually above.


What is important is the view of Sir Winston Churchill now.


Yes, I quite agree. That is what we are in fact in process of discovering practically, and it is very different now from what it was then.


He has stated it quite conclusively in another place to-day.


He did? I am interested in that.

In that debate the Prime Minister also talked about the importance of the overland route. He said: Let me make it perfectly clear that our position is that His Majesty's Government have no right to claim the approval of the Chiefs or the Staff for any policy without informing the House of the precise questions upon which their advice was obtained."— I do not know how that has been done on this present occasion. He went on: I am astonished that people should talk continuously about the Isthmus of Suez. Until my right honourable friend mentioned the matter this morning, and reminded us that this extraordinary region is the junction between three continents, I have not heard the Isthmus mentioned, or read of it in any of the newspapers. Even if the Canal were blocked by aerial bombardment, as it might be if our fighter air force were overcome, or if a lucky shot or several lucky shots fell home, there always the means of transhipment across the Isthmus of Suez. So far as I am aware this is the first time that the Isthmus has been mentioned, and of course what the Prime Minister said is quite true. Now let me get on to the point of reactivation. This is what the Prime Minister said in 1946; it has often been quoted before—I quote now from Column 774: Let us try to foresee what will happen if tension grows at any time in future and an emergency arises. … We shall then be in dispute with some other Great Power. That makes the emergency, and the moment will come when the military advisers will say: 'We ought to reoccupy the military installations, camps and airfields in the Canal Zone. We ought immediately to move in from our bases to the east or to the west of Egypt.' What might be the behaviour of the Egyptian Government at such a juncture? We all know of the great sympathy there is when a small country is in so terrible a situation as that. No doubt we shall be told that there would be a treaty of alliance, but I cannot feel that, under such dire pressures, it would be of any avail. The Great Power with whom we shall be in dispute would, of course, say to the Egyptian Government: 'We should regard any movement into the Canal Zone of British Forces as an unfriendly act.' Can anyone suppose that the Egyptian Government, confronted with this situation and not desiring anyhow to have British troops or Air Forces in the Canal Zone, will not refuse permission to us to reenter? And what then? They will say: 'We do not agree that a state of emergency has arisen. We do not agree that a state of international emergency'—to quote the words of the Treaty of Alliance—'has arisen, and we deny your right to decide upon the fact contrary to us.' Meanwhile, the days will be slipping very quickly by. If such an attitude were adopted and there were no British personnel in the Canal Zone, the Egyptians, or any ill-disposed persons, would be able to put out of action all the installations, radar equipment, airfields and so on, long before we could get there; and the mere threat that they would do so, and had perhaps prepared the necessary measures to do so, would render our attempt to enter futile even before it was made. Can one imagine the British Government in such a situation, when the dread issue of peace or war in a renewed world-wide struggle may be hanging in the balance, forcing the issue, whether Egypt agreed or not? My Lords, surely those words of the Prime Minister, uttered in 1946, still carry some weight. It is true that that was in 1946 and this is 1954, but the situation is very much the same. And if, on top of it, you have the threat of the hydrogen bomb which the Great Power in question, whoever it may be, may usefully invoke, is it not almost a certainty that we should not get sanction to return? Seriously, I do not think we should attach too much importance to the right of re-entry.

There was another point in the same debate which was referred to by Mr. Bevin—it has been referred to also tonight: the question of a vacuum. In the same debate on May 24 Mr. Bevin, who had been answering Mr. Churchill, said (OFFICIAL REPORT (Commons), Vol. 423, col. 788): There is one thing on which I will give the Committee an assurance. I will be no party to having a vacuum. There must not be a vacuum. If the Egyptian Government try to force a situation in which there is a vacuum—meaning that we have gone and that there is nothing there for security instead, regional defence or other organisation—to that I can never agree. That also was said some years ago, but it was an assurance; and there is, or now will be, a vacuum, I imagine. All that leads logically to the point I raised on July 15 in a Question which was not, I think, quite fully understood by the noble Marquess. He thought it was a tiresome question. It was a leading question, and he gave me the answer—which he was perfectly entitled to do, and of which the House approved—that the Question could not be answered at that time.


It was not a question of not understanding, it was just because I did understand it that I thought it was not a Question which should properly be answered at that moment.


The noble Marquess is quite right, it could not be answered at that time, but it led up to a supplementary question which was, and still is, my present point. Some noble Lords may remember it: it was a very thin House that day. I said (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 188, col. 1088): in thanking the noble Marquess for his reply, which the House will fully understand, may I put to him the following supplementary question: Whether the possibility has been studied of adapting our direct and inherited obligations under the Suez Canal Convention of Constantinople of 1888 into some form of effective—and I emphasise the word 'effective'—international guarantee of the free navigation of the Canal in time of peace and war? That—some international system—was in my mind at the time of my question, and I rather fancy that it was in the noble Marquess's mind, too. If it is proper I should like to put this question again to-day, and perhaps something might be said as to whether some such form of effective international system to ensure the continued free navigation of the Canal, as prescribed in 1888, is in contemplation. I submit that it is very important. I have always felt it would have the advantage, apart from anything else, of saving the face of Egypt and, equally important, of saving our face if that could be done. I still think so.

It is not worth troubling noble Lords at length as to how we inherited these obligations. We have direct obligations as signatories of the Convention of Constantinople of 1888, which prescribed the complete freedom of navigation of the Canal in time of peace and war. In addition we inherited, as second guardian, the obligations entailed by that Convention upon Turkey—then called the Sovereign, though I think it was rather the Suzerain of Egypt. After our war with Turkey in 1919, her obligations were transferred to us by the International Treaties of Versailles, Trianon and others, and finally, the Treaty with Turkey of Lausanne. It can be fairly contended that these are obligations of an international character which we should not ignore. There has been talk to-day of a "scrap of paper." There was the celebrated one of 1914. These are all scraps of paper, and all have our names upon them, or we have inherited them. We should not treat lightly obligations, either direct or inherited, that have come to us under the Convention of Constantinople, obligations which might easily contain the key to a very fine solution, rather on the lines of those to which the noble Lord, Lord Hore-Belisha, referred. I do not know what form it would take. Obviously, users of the Canal, presumably the signatories of the original Constantinople Agreement (which did not include America, although they would have to come in) would be directly involved. Perhaps the noble Marquess may feel that the time is now opportune for a reply to-day to my Question of June 15.


When the noble Lord spoke of the signatories to the Agreement, was he aware that the chief signatory was the Russian Government?


I am well aware of that, and consider it an advantage. We all look at these things from our particular angle and there is a good old expression that we no longer quote: "Quot homines, tot sententiae"—"There are as many opinions as there are people." I sit here with grim faces looking at me across the Table, all thoroughly disapproving, or even with contempt directed at me from one quarter; but we are all entitled to our opinions and to me this is a sorry story. One moment of speculative personal retrospect before I sit down. During the war I was Ambassador in Cairo. We had won the war and in a perfectly normal way one naturally began thinking about Treaty revision. Here I am speaking of something which I did myself, so I know what I am talking about. Initial soundings were made and were not too badly received. The usual course was taken, the usual things were done. One sounded the Prime Minister and so on, and that process was going through encouragingly. But suddenly there was a damper. Presently, a rumour began passing round that it was no good the Embassy talking of such things for the matter was going to be dealt with at a far higher level (I need not say that Egypt had it long before we at the Embassy did); that a Cabinet Commission was coming, which would settle the whole question. So everything in the garden was lovely; it was roses, roses all the way, and there were no thorns anywhere. But so far as the initial moves to attempt revision of the Treaty were concerned, they were a failure.


The noble Lord will forgive me for interrupting, but I happened to be the head of this Cabinet Commission on behalf of Mr. Bevin. It is not quite right to call it a failure.


But I am talking about things from my end—the Embassy end. It was a failure so far as the Embassy were concerned. I, and many others, believe that had things been allowed to proceed along a perfectly normal course, they might have worked out very differently. Great Britain wanted revision as much as Egypt; it was bilateral. Egypt had cone through the war and was fairly receptive and grateful at that time, and there was certainly at least a chance of revision going through amicably and normally. But other counsels prevailed; other less normal methods were adopted, and things got on the wrong rails. From that day onwards the situation has gone worse and worse, sliding with increasing speed: Abadan, the Sudan and now Suez—and that at a time when, if we read the signs aright (the noble Lord, Lord Hore-Belisha, referred to them); whatever we think of Geneva, and however admirably our Foreign Secretary may have emerged (though he must have had a terrible ordeal), however adroit he has been, no one can say that we got a triumph out of Geneva. We prevented the worst happening, and that is certainly a great deal. But as the noble Lord, Lord Hore-Belisha, indicated, we have stabilised a certain Parallel and we have the Communists there. In Korea it is the same, So the situation in Asia—it is no good pretending—is grim. I am one of those possibly misguided people who think that what we are now doing in Egypt will make the situation in Africa deteriorate. It will deteriorate not only in Egypt but in the while of Africa. Do not be under any misapprehension on that, What we are doing in Africa may be a wonderful gesture, but we are going to have a cascade of claims from all over the world, and how are we going to stand up to that? I do not know. Where will it end?

I have spoken perhaps crudely and not well: I have not the gift of public speak- ing, and I do not pretend to have it. But I feel that we are at a very serious turn of events. And I would end by repeating to the noble Marquess my double inquiry; Are we going to have a ratification clause when this Agreement is signed? Secondly, is it any good now putting afresh to the noble Marquess the supplementary question that I put to him on July 15 about some form of effective international system of protection for safeguarding the freedom of the navigation of the Canal in peace time as in war, as it conies to us as a direct and inherited obligation under the Constantinople Convention of 1888?

7.11 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Killearn, said that we all look at this matter from different angles, and I think the House is well aware of the angle from which the noble Lord considers this problem. My first contact with Egypt was with the old Arab Bureau, a great many years ago. I think we should consider what is best for the future, as regards policy for our country, and not to look at the past. I have always felt that we should cultivate friendship with the Arab countries who served us so well in times of stress. The Arab countries lately have been looking to us and wondering what our rôle is going to be. I am confident that the time is now ripe to make a move forward and re-establish the friendship and leadership we used to have with the Arabs, which was cultivated so well by men like General Clayton and others, under whom it was an honour to serve.

It seems to me that a settlement in Egypt will not be found by quoting speeches which I happened to hear in another place in 1946, when the situation was totally different from what it is to-day. The fact that N.A.T.O. is in existence has completely changed the situation. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hore-Belisha, that it would strengthen the whole position if action for re-establishing the position of the free nations in the Mediterranean and the Middle East were put more emphatically on the shoulders of N.A.T.O. On the other hand—though perhaps this is boasting on behalf of our own country—I think we understand the Arab people far better than some other members of N.A.T.O., and it is to us that the Arabs are looking. It is not without significance that to-day the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, was able to announce the end of a long contention with Saudi Arabia, from which I trust that good results will follow. If we start in that way, carry out our obligations and help the Arab people, we can completely change the whole situation in the Middle East. At the present moment some of the Arab countries are rich from their oilfields, yet with territories so small that they do not know how to use the money that is coming to them. What an opportunity there is for the British to help all the Arab countries by some financial arrangement, so that they could spread that wealth more evenly and solve, once and for all, the dreadful problem of the Arab refugees, which is a standing disgrace to the nations who pledged themselves to look after the people driven from their homes!

There is no question of "scuttling" out of Egypt: it is a question of doing what is best at this time. I am convinced that British prestige has not been improved by the conditions that have prevailed in Egypt for the last eighteen months. It is a scandal that we have been unable to rebuild the quarters for our troops. We have had troops living there under conditions so appalling that they have had more than anything else to do with preventing men from re-engaging in the Army. We have lost a great many officers, warrant officers and non-commissioned officers because of the experiences they have had in the Canal Zone. I cannot believe that noble Lords who have been out there and seen those conditions could believe that it would be any blemish on British prestige if we re-established ourselves under realistic conditions in Cyprus, where we can be in closest contact with the alliance between Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey, which is of the utmost importance to N.A.T.O., and have our strategic reserve here. I should have thought it obvious to anybody that it is no use trying to maintain a base where there is a hostile population. But what is most important is to show the people in Egypt that under the new arrangement Egyptians will be employed, as they are not at present, and that we can give them steady employment, under contractors, to see that the Base is properly maintained.

I do not know whether noble Lords are aware of the time it will take to evacuate the Base physically of even the stores worth keeping. It will occupy many months. Indeed, it is going to be difficult physically to move these stores within the period of time laid down. However, I believe that we should look forward and not back. I believe that today we can show by our action that we are willing to go forward with the Arab countries, and maintain the Suez Canal as a great channel of communication. But I have yet to learn that by sitting on the Canal under modern conditions we shall defend it from hostile missiles. According to all the information I can get from those who know far more about it than I, and perhaps other noble Lords do, it is impossible to defend that line of communication by concentrating troops right on the banks. I remember that in World War I, after Gallipoli, some of us were sent to the Canal Zone, and the Royal Engineers put water pipes along the banks of the canal. The water pipes brought up the bottom of the canal so that no traffic could pass through. That was rectified by the removal of the pipes. I think there is something to be said for the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Hore-Belisha, that much might be done to help the economic prosperity of the Middle East and of the oil-bearing territories by working out a system of pipelines which could be defended.

We must also recognise that the Suez Canal is not so important for communication as it used to be, if we take the direct route from the United Kingdom to the Pacific by the Cape. The losses we suffered in trying to pass convoys through the Mediterranean and the Canal during the war hardly justified the expenditure involved in maintaining the so-called army of occupation in the Canal Zone. It is far better to recognise that the time has gone for regular movement through the Canal, and to take advantage of our position in Cyprus, which is ideally suited to co-operate with Turkey, Greece and Yugoslavia. I have yet to hear that the Greeks have lost their affectionate regard for this country, and I am sure that with them and ourselves working together, free from this incubus of trouble and difficulty in Egypt, looking forward and not back, showing our faith in what I am convinced is still our rôle, we can prove ourselves true friends to the Arab people and have them as our true aids and assistants in any emergency that may arise.

7.20 p.m.


My Lords, I should like, first of all, to say a word or two about the important and impressive speech of the noble Lord, Lord Strang. He is protected, because it was a maiden speech. It impressed us deeply; but if it had not been a maiden speech, for all its power and knowledge, it would have been the most dreadful expression of opinion that I have ever heard. He simply cut the world into two halves; there was no end to it at all. There was a perpetual conflict of strength, in which we are outclassed already, and when the hydrogen bomb comes we shall be entirely outclassed. But I cannot make those remarks, because the proper thing to do is to offer a bouquet, as I do indeed from my heart, to a distinguished civil servant whose contributions to these debates must be of great importance, and certainly of immense interest.

I was afraid that what I was going to say would be said by somebody else, but it has not been up to now. I was going to say that I think it was wrong to occupy another people's country without their permission. I think it was a breach of the Treaty to send 80,000 men, when we promised not to send more than 10,000; and I think the moral case is the strongest basis for the breach. If I had said this a few years ago, everybody would have laughed at me and called me an extremist. They would have said that a man who bases himself on moral principles must be an extremist. But now all is right. The very thing that we have been urging for years has now been accepted as the policy by this distinguished Government, some of whose representatives we see here, with their great Leader in another place. Everyone ought to be happy to-day. The Egyptians ought to be happy, and the Liberals ought to be happy. What Gladstone said in 1882 has turned out to be true.

I do not think this is the time to discuss the Agreement, because we must first know exactly what it is. However, there are some points which I should like the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, to answer when he comes to speak to-morrow. One of them is this. The scheme of bringing in Turkey is interesting, historically. It is a rash thing to speak historically of international relations in the presence of the noble Lord, Lord Killearn, the noble Lord, Lord Strang, and other experts, but it is a fact that the great achievement of Ismail Pasha was to liberate Egypt from the Turkish yoke, and now Mr. Dulles is going to recreate the Turkish Empire in order to protect us, as of old, against the Russian menace. If the Egyptians undertake to fight if Turkey is attacked, what about the obligations of the Balkan Alliance? I should like that to be answered. Turkey, Greece and Yugoslavia have entered into a new alliance. Does that mean that if there is another incident in Yugoslavia, Cairo is likely to be bombed? I do not know the answer to that, and perhaps the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, will be able to provide it to-morrow.

Then there is our sudden passion for self-government in Cyprus. Is that at all connected with the possibility of bringing these unwanted troops into that unhappy Island? It is really rather pathetic. Here we have a fine army of 80,000 men, and nobody wants them. Such an authority as the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, says that they are no good at all because they are surrounded by a hostile population. We might reduce our period of National Service, and we might even save some money. What shall we do with these unwanted men? I must not lower the tone of the debate, but I dare say your Lordships will remember the pathetic ballad of Gracie Fields, who sang: I took my harp to the party, but nobody asked me to play. That is the position of our troops in the Canal Zone. The third point is this. There is something in The Times this morning about the ending of the Treaty, and I should like the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, to give us some information as to that. It is there said: During the last twelve months of that period the two Governments will consult on arrangements necessary when the Agreement expires. There may be a difficult question here. There has been an interpretation of Article 16 of the Treaty of 1936, which was held to mean that the Treaty was a perpetual thing which could never be escaped from. Then we have had the resurrection of the document of 1888 by the noble Lord, Lord Killearn.


It is not a resurrection by me, but by the British Government's Official Representative in U.N.O., as I can show the noble Viscount.


I am greatly honoured that I should be waited on personally by a most distinguished diplomat bearing so important a public document. I was not going into it if I had not had the document offered to me. But as to the time limit, I should like to hear what is the position. Are we going to assume that the twelve months that is mentioned means that the Treaty is a seven-year Treaty, or is not a seven-year Treaty? If it is a seven-year Treaty, clean cut, that is one thing, and it is very satisfactory to Egypt. But if the text means that we have got in reserve some form of words that we make an agreement to agree—which I understand is legally impossible—then I think it presents a difficulty. However, this is not a time for that; we shall see the Treaty, and we shall have our discussion in due course. I was rather alarmed at the constitutional innovation suggested by the noble Marquess, the Leader of the House, when he proposed to submit to the House whether or not it approved of the Treaty. I understood that the making of a Treaty was a Royal prerogative. I do not know that I can recollect any plain Motion being put before either House to approve a Treaty.


I should not like the House to be led astray. What I said was that I understood there was to be a discussion in this House before the Treaty was finally signed. That is not a matter of submitting the Treaty to Parliament, but it allows for a discussion. I agree that the signature to the Treaty is an Executive act, and Parliament's remedy, if it does not like it, is to turn out the Government.


The noble Marquess was much more conceding than that to those whom I hesitate to call the rebels, because I understand from the noble Lord, Lord Beaverbrook, that the noble Marquess himself is not in complete accord with his own Cabinet—but that, possibly, is only in the newspapers He offered them a Government Motion saying, "We approve the Treaty." Their duty was to put down a Motion saying that they do not approve the Treaty.


I never said that we should put down a Motion asking for the approval of the House to the Treaty. I merely said that there might be a discussion on the subject before it was finally signed.


I am reassured, because I was not wrong. I misunderstood what was said, but, in substance, I think we are agreed. I am glad of that, because it is a point of constitutional importance. That is not really what I was intending to deal with. What I was going to say were a few homely words. First, I think that the Egyptian Government is heartily to be congratulated on its achievement. I should like to congratulate President Neguib, Prime Minister Nasser, and the whole range of Egyptian patriots from the time of Arabi Pasha the first through Zaghlul, Nokrashi, Sidki, Nahas and many others whom I have known. If we are to win—as I hope we shall win—the friendship of Egypt, it will be by recognising the patriotic services that these men have rendered to their country. So far as the Egyptian Government are concerned it will clear the way, I hope, for the programme of social reform. They ought not to have had to spend their time arguing about the occupation by foreign forces when the time was all required for increasing the cultivable area of their country and increasing the food supply of their growing population. I want to add this—and I can claim to have been the friend of the Egyptian claims. This victory has been won because of the belief of the world in freedom. The world has not approved the British occupation by force of Egypt. If Colonel Nasser has won his way it is because the cause of freedom has won.

I would venture to say this. There are several States in the Middle East, including Israel. My noble friend Lord Henderson has already referred to this. I do appeal to the Egyptian Government who have won, I hope, their independence and freedom, also to remember that the freedom of Israel is essential in that part of the world. Israel is not at all an alien member of the community. I know the Israel State and Israeli statesman very well, and ever since the time of Dr. Weitzmann and Prince Feisal they have tried to work together in one community. I hope that Egypt, now assuming, I suppose, the leadership of the Arab world, will extend the right hand of fellowship to this little State which is struggling far existence and which is so important and so potentially useful in the Middle Eastern community.

The noble Lord, Lord Glyn, spoke about the refugees. It is very hard on the Arabs. The Arabs have never persecuted the Jews; it is the Christians who have persecuted the Jews. It was the Germans who created the Jewish refugee problem. I agree that they have done their best to make amends, but the open door in Israel has been the answer to the German persecution of the Jews. The refugee problem is a European and world problem, and not a problem which should be put at the door of the Egyptians. At the same time, I devoutly trust that the President, General Neguib, who has shown so much toleration, will take the lead in this important and, indeed, vital reconciliation.

As regards our own country, I can say only this. I regard this Treaty as a great triumph for our Government and our country. I look back a little wistfully on the events to which the noble Lord, Lord Killearn, referred in 1946. We got a Treaty then—a better Treaty, if you like to look at it in the form of the chandlers shop advantages. It was a twenty-year Treaty with an advisory military board. It was a first-rate Treaty, and it was initialled in Claridge's Hotel. It would have saved us about £100 million at least, between now and then. It was rejected because of a terrible mistake of judgment by the Labour Party of the day, when they totally misconceived the position of the Sudan. The result is that we have had to wait seven years for this Treaty, in which we now rejoice. I rejoice in this Treaty because it puts us back in the same position that we occupied when we liberated India. We have a position in the non-European world which is a very powerful position, because we have put "Righting wrong" first in our policy; and the advantages of the liberation of India to this Commonwealth cannot be over-estimated. But the black spot has been the 80,000 troops on the Canal holding down the Arab world. Think of the improvement this will mean in our relations with Pakistan and with the Moslems of India and the world over. It means that we are now, without any reservations, in a position to say that we stand for freedom in the world.

Finally, it is a remarkable thing to think that all this has been done by Mr. Eden and the Prime Minister. It is a good many years ago now when the Prime Minister went as a subaltern to fight at the Battle of Omdurman. Your Lordships probably remember that Colonel Kitchener insisted that if he went there he would have to go at his own expense, which he did. He wrote an appreciation of the situation in the book The River War, which first of all contained a wonderful tribute to the grit of the Sudanese fighters—that was the first time we heard of the Fuzzy-wuzzies—and, secondly, it had the conception of a united Nile Valley which was the true conception. That that subaltern should have beet the liberator of Egypt and restored our good name in the Arab world should be a subject of pride to every one of us.


I think it will probably be for the convenience of the House if your Lordships now adjourn during pleasure, and meet again at a quarter to nine.

[The Sitting was suspended at twenty-five minutes before eight o'clock, and resumed at a quarter before nine.]


My Lords, whilst Lord Strang is not here, I would wish to associate myself with those who congratulated him on his maiden speech. It is such a short distance in time since I made my own that I feel it is rather apposite to do so. I must say, however, that I do not share the view of the noble Viscount who spoke just before the adjournment, when I understood Lord Stansgate to say that he did not agree with the way in which Lord Strang had divided the world into two conflicting blocs. I do not think Lord Strang did that. I am afraid we are divided into two conflicting blocs, and that unless we recognise these brutal facts it is unlikely that we shall achieve the peace and those wider harmonies that we all so much desire.

The task of Governments and statesmen charged with responsibility for developing and applying a policy in foreign affairs for this country is both heavy and unenviable. They know that the peace of the world, the happiness and prosperity of their people, the future of our Commonwealth and Empire, will be definitely affected, if not determined, by their wisdom, resolution and leadership. They know that any foreign policy to be effective must command a broad measure of assent and support from members of all Parties and of none. Those responsibilities lie heavily upon those who are to-day charged with great affairs, and they enjoin on us all a measure of restraint, of understanding and support, which I think it has ever been a characteristic of your Lordships' House to afford to the Government of the day in matters of national importance and at critical moments in our history.

I do not propose to traverse the Geneva settlement or to examine whether it is good or bad. We must wait on events. I do not know what effect it will have on Government policies, say, in India, in Burma and in Siam. We shall see. Its effect upon the emergency in Malaya must at this stage be a matter of speculation, but if Communist professions mean anything there should be a complete cessation of terrorist activity there. I do not know whether the last-minute concessions of the Communist negotiators at Geneva were prompted by a genuine desire for peace or by a wholesome respect for the realities of American power and the resolution of American leadership. The event will show. I share the views of those who see in the Agreement just concluded with Egypt fresh hope—fresh hope of removing the bedevilment of our relations in that vital area to which Lord Stansgate and others have referred, and of restoring a broader-based measure of peace in a vital strategic area of the world.

At this time of anxiety and doubt, I should like, if I may, to turn aside for a brief moment to seek the historical justification for the present policies, and to try and determine whether or not, in the unfolding pattern of the past, these policies seem to be wisely conceived in the interest of world peace and our own national welfare; for it is my profound conviction that history teaches nothing only if we fail to heed her teachings. Those of you who may know Washington will recall the Archives Building. The entrances to that stately building are guarded by four classic figures. Under each of these figures there is an inscription. On the one side you read: The past is Prologue. On the other side: Study the past. On another side: Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. And, finally, The heritage of the past is the seed that brings forth the harvest of the future. I feel that in those four inscriptions, carved in stone, you find at once the distilled wisdom of the ages, a plea for perspective, and a principle of action to which, if we give due heed, I believe we may gradually bring a wider measure of peace and order to a sorely troubled world. Let us then apply these precepts to our history, to see what are the main facts which emerge and what conclusions we can, or should, draw to help us in meeting the problems of to-day and of to-morrow.

The greatest historical event of the eighteenth century was the long-drawn-out struggle with France. But let us recall that for three-quarters of that century the English-speaking peoples of North America were full partners with us. They shared with us the glories of Marlborough's campaigns and later the Elder Pitt's epic leadership in the Seven Years' War which settled the question whether North America should be English-speaking. The long-drawn-out struggle with Napoleon ended in his overthrow. The Euorpean system which he had contrived and which was to have been used by France to dictate the development of the modern world was laid in ruins. From 1815 to 1914, there were local wars but no world war. Since 1914, the American and British peoples have fought side by side in the two greatest world wars which have engulfed the human race: a hundred years of peace and then two world wars in twenty-five years.

Here, I should like to ask two questions. The first is: Why did we enjoy from 1815 to 1914 such freedom from world war, unequalled since the decline of the Roman Empire? The second is: What is the basic reason for the recurrence since 1914 of two world wars within the short space of one generation? I suggest that the answer to the first question is simple and clear. This freedom from world war did not happen just by chance. It rested upon policies and actions decided by the United States and by ourselves. In the case of the United States, it was the Monroe Doctrine, proclaimed by President Monroe in 1823 and designed to prevent European intervention in North or South America. For the overseas territories in which we were Laying the foundation of self-government and free nationhood—Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, and others—we had a similar policy. We bade aggressors "Keep out," so that, within the shelter of the rule of law, backed by our Navy, free peoples could take root. The basis of both these similar and interlocking policies was the same. The sanction in both cases, the power behind the moral and political principles on which they both rested, was the British and American Navies.

The answer to my second question, "Why two world wars in one generation?" lies in the failure of the American and British peoples to concert in peace the measures necessary for the concentration and use of their power. This failure encouraged imperial Germany, and later imperial Japan, to challenge the world position of the English-speaking peoples as an essential step to the hegemony of the modern world. Thus, for some two hundred years the United States of America and the British Commonwealth grew and prospered, spreading their influence wide over the whole habitable globe. They established firmly the democratic basis of their rule at home and abroad, upheld the liberties of the free peoples and inspired and directed the great industrial and commercial expansion of the nineteenth century which raised the standard of living of the world. In the space of one generation, we have seen this great and beneficent process twice brought to the verge of destruction and ruin because we failed to remember that history is prologue and that eternal vigilance is ever the price of liberty. We failed to act together and in time, to foresee and plan, in terms of the modern world, the measures necessary to restrain aggressive action by Japan, Germany and their satellites. We failed, after a hundred years of relative peace, to apply our inter- locking, mutual security policies continuously, directly and in time to the changing conditions of the twentieth century.

At the end of a hundred years our thinking became faulty. We confounded means with ends. We both thought that if we remained isolated and aloof from the witch's cauldron of Europe, we should continue to be wealthy, peaceful and strong. Two world wars have shown us that if we are to remain at peace and enjoy the fruits of our labours, we must first have a clear vision of our rôle in the van of the United Nations in building a rule of law in die world; and second, that we must be strong, that our policy must rest upon an adequate basis of power, both physical and moral. We have both learnt that isolation is a great illusion and that those who try to live in isolation are unwittingly planning their own destruction. If in the years preceding World War I and World War II, the American and British peoples had spent on prudent preparations a little of the vast sums which turned their two nations into the great arsenals of time; if we had known ourselves, and made sure that the world knew clearly, just where our policies converged and where we should jointly take our stand, the history of the first half of the twentieth century would not have been written in blood. We failed to nourish the seedbed of our common heritage, and so we could not reap for ourselves and mankind the harvest of the Four Freedoms.

It was, I suggest, the unique concentration and use of American and British strength which led to the shattering defeat of Germany and finally to V.E. day. Since V.E. day we have had convincing proof again that the Past is very often Prologue. Russia, seeing the rapid dispersal of the armed strength of the United States and the British Commonwealth, rightly assessing our war weariness and a growing lack of moral and political unity, proceeded to turn her back on her solemn promises. She attempted, by force, to bring the whole of Berlin within the Soviet sector. She overthrew Czechoslovakia, she bent to her will the ancient States of Eastern and South Eastern Europe, and created the Iron Curtain behind which she proceeded to build up the greatest military machine in the history of the modern world. Only gradually did we realise the power vacuum created by our flagrant neglect of the lesson of history. All too slowly we commenced again to rebuild and concentrate the use of our armed strength in support of our diplomacy.

Once again, however, we have given proof of our determination to set a limit to the pretensions of a Power seeking the hegemony of Europe and the modern world. Our combined and progressive rearmament, and especially the restoration of massive United States air power, the European recovery programme, the organisation of N.A.T.O., our firm support of the United Nations in upholding the liberties of Korea, the concentration of powerful United States air elements on British soil and of United States fleets in European and Mediterranean waters, gave unmistakable warning to Russia of our resolution and intent. The result, despite all anxieties of recent years, is that she has stayed behind the Iron Curtain. For this achievement we owe a lasting debt of gratitude to American and British Governments. History will say that in America, Democratic and Republican, in Britain, Socialist and Conservative Governments, supported by those Governments of the Commonwealth and of Western Europe, have all made definite contributions to rebuilding the strength of the free world.

To-day, hard in the wake of their military and diplomatic successes in the field and at Geneva, we see the Communists making fresh efforts to kill E.D.C. before it is born, to destroy N.A.T.O., to confuse counsel, and to throw the fundamental unity of the British Commonwealth and the United States into complete disarray. Let us then ponder well the teachings of history down the centuries and in the immediate post-war phase. Let us recall that policy and national safety rest upon power, physical and moral. Let us remember it was the Anglo-American working partnership which was the foundation of victory in two world wars and has been the basis upon which Europe's safety has been built since the war; that it must be the vital cornerstone of any enduring peace system. If we do this, if we remember the lessons of the past, history may well record that the resolution and unity of this generation prevented the outbreak of a third world war.

By all means let us seek, by peaceful negotiation with the Communist world, to widen the area of agreement and buttress the prospect of world peace. But do not let us delude ourselves that the lesson of Geneva is that by negotiation alone we can resolve any and all of the issues with the Communist world. In Indo-China there was a clear-cut Communist victory in the field. The final settlement was perhaps rather better than we had dared to hope, but it was so because behind and sustaining the diplomacy was the armed might of the United States. And this, I believe, continues to provide the best assurance that the cease-fire in Indo-China will be carried out and peace will not be wantonly broken elsewhere. We do not detract from the devoted efforts of Mr. Eden, nor do we minimise the courage of the French Premier, if we acknowledge that it is American power which provides the real check to Communist ambitions.

There are two further considerations to which I would direct your Lordships' attention. One of the most challenging tasks of British diplomacy to-day is to build a bridge of understanding based upon the facts of life between free Asia and the West. This is what Mr. Eden has been doing at Geneva. Britain, by reason of her long-standing association with, and her intimate knowledge of, Eastern peoples, bears a special responsibility in the task of reconciling their nascent nationalism with the traditional friendship of the Commonwealth with the United States. Close co-operation with Asian Members of the Commonwealth and with the United States cannot, and should not, be mutually exclusive. Any serious divergence of purpose between this country and the United States would certainly prejudice the prospects of world peace and could create grave stresses and strains for the British Commonwealth. We must bear this in mind as we realise the impact on public opinion in Canada, Australia and New Zealand of the rising tempo of events in Asia. Their local policies and politics will inevitably be affected by international policies, for the shaping of which this country and the United States will bear a prime responsibility.

We must anticipate that the march of events and the inevitable pressure of these policies is likely to strengthen the purely political ties of these States of the Commonwealth with the United States. These need not—and should not—weaken those traditional ties which link them with Britain, which have been made manifest in the two wars of this century and in the deep and affectionate loyalty which the people of all these States of the Commonwealth bear to the person of our Sovereign Queen arid Lady, Upon the statesmen in Whitehall, in Ottawa, in Canberra and in Auckland, falls a direct responsibility to cherish unimpaired their historical association at the same time as they provide for the welfare and security of their peoples. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, referred to the importance of bringing China into the United Nations. That hope I think we all share, but that is not a matter for this country alone. We know the opposition there is in the United States and I must remind your Lordships that there are also many Commonwealth countries who have grave doubts that have to be considered. It seems to me that until we have restored an effective measure of peace in Korea it is rather premature to talk of bringing the Communists into the United Nations.

Finally I should like to remind your Lordships of the words spoken by Sir Winston Churchill in the spring of 1941. He said: It is no exaggeration to say that the future of the whole world and the hopes of a broadening civilisation founded upon Christian ethics depend on the relations between the British Empire and the U.S.A. The identity of purpose and persistence of resolve prevailing throughout the English-speaking world will, more than any other single fact, determine the way of life which will be open to the generations, and perhaps to the centuries which follow our own. With his rare historical sense the Prime Minister here foresaw the future. He knew that the well-being of our peoples, the hopes of a stable and peaceful world, the mighty structure of the United Nations, could be built only upon the corner stone of close collaboration of the English-speaking peoples. But this collaboration will not come of itself, nor can it be secured by Government action alone. It will not flourish unless millions of men and women in all our lands make it their own urgent personal responsibility. It must rest upon an informed—perhaps I should say, a transformed—public opinion in all our countries, grasping firmly and together the fundamentals of national well-being arid security.

If time permitted, I should have liked to tell your Lordships what the English Speaking Union in their sphere are doing to carry this message far and wide, with what I believe to be constructive and gratifying results. The times provide the leadership of our two countries and those who believe in the Anglo-American working partnership as a foundation of world peace and security with a challenge and an immense opportunity—a challenge to undertake throughout both our lands the constant dissemination of truth and an opportunity to lay better the foundations of the modern world. Only if we succeed in this mission will we satisfy the age-long craving of mankind for freedom and security. Only thus can we hope to give form and substance to the great conception of the United Nations.

9.8 p.m.


I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Baillieu, will forgive me if I do not attempt to follow him into the fields of history and policies which he trod with so much assurance. At the same time, in common with other noble Lords, I would endorse every word he said about the cardinal importance of the relations between this country and the United States of America. My contribution, I fear, is far more limited in scope. The reason why I am speaking in this debate this evening is to report to your Lordships' House (it may seem late, but this is the first opportunity that has offered since the Jubilee celebrations of the Entente Cordiale), on a short visit that I paid to Paris as one of the, representatives of the House, and to return thanks to those responsible for our welcome and for the treatment we received. I am sure that I speak for all four noble Lords—Lord Teynham, Lord Rea, Lord Hardinge of Penshurst and myself—when I say that nothing French hospitality and kindness could do was left undone during our stay. Perhaps I ought to mention that among the many interesting arrangements made for us, one was that of laying wreaths at the Arc de Triomphe. The good will we found expressed everywhere, where-ever we went, towards this country showed the very warm feeling that exists generally in France.

A more recent illustration of this good feeling, which some of your Lordships may have observed, was the spontaneous applause in the French National Assembly when M. Mendès-France, in reporting on the Geneva Conference, referred to the important part played by Mr. Eden and the United Kingdom in the negotiations which led to this highly successful agreement. I believe that we owe this exceptionally happy relationship with France at the present time largely to the work of our late Ambassador in Paris, Lord Harvey, and to his predecessor, the late Lord Norwich, to both of whom, in the course of conversation, I heard many appreciative references. I should like to express my own thanks, and those of my colleagues, and I feel sure that I may express the thanks of the House, too, to the French Government for their hospitality, and to members of both Houses of the French National Assembly, as well as to the President of the French Republic, who was kind enough to receive us at the Elysée Palace, for their great kindness and courtesy during our visit.

Perhaps I may be allowed—although here I feel that I must tread with extreme delicacy— to make one or two brief comments about Anglo-French relations. I hope that I am not presumptuous in saying this, but I rather think that we in this country have an even better understanding of the French point of view than our American friends; and I hope that we shall use our friendship with both France and the United States to prevent divergencies in policy which would ultimately weaken the Western Allies. We are, I believe, uniquely qualified to interpret both countries to each other, and in this way to prevent serious misunderstandings which might otherwise arise. But I think that one condition for this important responsibility is that we should make quite certain that the French Government are informed and consulted whenever discussions are taking place about matters of common concern to our country, the United States of America and France. I feel that it is also no less essential that we should make a real effort to obtain agreement with France before final decisions are taken. The noble Marquess, Lord Reading, said in the course of his remarks that the French Government were informed before agreement was reached at Washington.


I think that, in fact, that is the opposite of what I said. I said that the French Government were informed as soon as agreement had been reached.


I am sorry if I misunderstood the noble Marquess. I wanted to know whether the French Government had been informed before or after the agreement. I cannot help feeling that this was an occasion, when the future of German sovereignty was being discussed, when it might not have been disadvantageous to inform the French Government, which was not represented at Washington, of the course of the negotiations. I should feel a slight regret if this was not, in fact, done. I was even going to proceed, with great temerity, to suggest that the French Government might have been consulted before the final decision was reached. However that may be, my plea is a General one—I do not want to elaborate any particular point—for keeping France, as it were, in step with us in all these diplomatic developments.

There is one other matter that I should like to mention. I was at special pains, when I was in Paris, to ascertain French opinion about the European Defence Community. The impression I got—which, of course, was based on limited contacts, but which has been corroborated by others who know France much better than I do—was that opinion in the French National Assembly is profoundly divided. If I were asked to make a forecast of the result of a vote, I would say that it is exceedingly uncertain which way the vote would go, whether it was taken to-morrow or after a lapse of some months. The only certain thing, it seems to me, is that the margin would be small either way. Much, of course, will depend on whether or not M. MendèsFrance decides to support the ratification of this Agreement. Quite obviously, he himself will carry immense weight, as he will be speaking under the shadow of the Agreement at Geneva about Indo-China. I personally am one of those who believe that the European Army to be set up under the European Defence Community, if there is no prolonged delay in setting it up, still offers the most effective safeguard against the resurgence of German militarism. There, I think I command general agreement. But I would go one step further—and I do not know whether other noble Lords will agree with me about this. I may be optimistic, but my feeling is that this Agreement with our Allies and Germany offers the only alternative, either in the short or the long run (I am looking at the thing from a long-term point of view), to a German National Army. That is why I think reflective people attach tremendous importance to the European Defence Community.

We must not assume that the French National Assembly will ratify this Agreement. We do not know whether M.Mendès-France himself will back it. We do not know whether, if he does so, he will succeed in getting it accepted by a majority vote. But I hope that even if, for one reason or another, France does not accept this Agreement, we shall not be too impatient. I think we must look at this matter from the French point of view and understand the French point of view as far as we can. In the first place, it is difficult for us to find fault with others for not doing something that we are rot prepared to do ourselves. We are asking the French to make a considerable sacrifice of their sovereignty—to sacrifice a large measure of control over their Army. We are not prepared to do that ourselves, and I think we should at any rate understand the French point of view if they are not prepared to do it either.

The second thing, of course, is that these big differences between the political Parties and political leaders in France reflect a cleavage in the country; and the political leaders and Parties are obviously bound to follow public: opinion. What the noble Marquess says is perfectly true: that there must be an alternative policy, if E.D.C. fails, for control of German rearmament. I hope very much that whatever policy is adopted it will be a policy that is acceptable to France. E.D.C., of course, is not the only way of linking Germany with the West. Many people in France would prefer to do this by bringing Germany into N.A.T.O., because this would leave France with complete control over her own Armed Forces. That is a view that I heard widely expressed. Whatever the value—and I am not in a position to assess it—of this alternative policy, it is one of the alternatives which will fall to be considered. I am quite sure that it is essential, if we are to keep some measure of control over German defence, that we go forward with restoring sovereignty to Germany. Only so shall we prevent the wrong sort of German nationalists from coming into responsible positions in the German Government.

However hard we may try to avoid disagreement, with the French Government over these important issues—important from the point of view of Europe and European security—we may fail to agree. But in that case, surely we must take a broader view. However important these issues may be in themselves, they are only means towards the ends of policy. About the main objectives of national policy we shall, whatever our differences about particular issues may be, remain in complete harmony with France. In the attainment of those objectives we shall continue to need France, and France will continue to need us. What each of our countries can give and receive will depend on its own strength and resources, and on the strength and resources of its Allies. Now that the war in Indo-China is over, France has the greatest opportunity for national recovery since the end of the world war, and I believe that the French Government are fully aware of the opportunity that is now presenting itself. M. Mendès-France is submitting, or intends to submit, a programme of fiscal reform and economic development at home and in French North Africa. He stands for a new policy of conciliating the Arab population by measures of self-government. Here, after all, is the promise of a New Deal for France. I am sure that whatever happens, whether these programmes are carried out or not, we all hope that our fifty-year-old Ally who has been our comrade in arms in two world wars will use this fresh opportunity to increase her strength and greatness.

9.22 p.m.


My Lords, this is the first lime that I have intervened in a debate in your Lordships' House on foreign affairs, although I have, of course, during the years I have been privileged to be a member, listened to or read the debates with the closest attention. Naturally I speak with some diffidence in the presence of so many experts, but foreign policy determines the issue of peace or war, and peace or war is a matter concerning every citizen, not just the experts. It is for that reason that I have felt emboldened to intervene. I decided to speak only after long and serious con- sideration, and I hope that noble Lords will accept that I have no wish to be provocative and certainly no wish to be offensive, although I recognise that what I have to say this evening will not be generally acceptable to the noble Lords who are present. I can make some amend for that only by saying that I shall be very brief. I was fortunate, at least, in one respect: that, coming so late on the list of speakers in to-day's debate, I knew I was running little risk of having my speech made for me in advance. My main purpose is to make a plea which has not yet been made in your Lordships' House, either in this or in earlier debates, for the postponement of German rearmament and of any decision or any action leading up to it until a further effort has been made to reach agreement with the U.S.S.R.

I make no claim as to the number of people in this country who share my views on German rearmament, but I believe it to be very considerable. There is widespread disquiet, unease, even fear, among the people of this country about rearming Germany. With our memories of 1914 and 1939, that is hardly surprising. My own Party is known to be divided on this issue, but no one knows, nor, I think, is there any means of knowing, how far there is opposition to the rearming of Germany among the people of the country generally, whether they be Tory, Liberal or Labour supporters. It would be unwise, I suggest, to assume that the position is negligible. It might even be a majority of our own people, and I suggest seriously that it is the essence of democracy that the views of the people should be considered.

Looking across the Channel, we know that the German Social Democratic Party, which constitutes a massive opposition to Dr. Adenauer's Government and is the only alternative Government in that country, is against German rearmament. If I am challenged on that, I suggest that from its vote on that issue at its recent conference it is perfectly clear that that Party, despite the attempts of its leaders, has put itself on record as against German rearmament. To what extent their view is shared by the West German people generally is something upon which we can know no more than we know of the opinion of the general mass of our own people.

There has been much discussion this afternoon as to the possibility of ratification by France of the E.D.C. I think that out of the various opinions which have been expressed it would be fair to say that the consensus of opinion in this House, as probably outside, is that it is unlikely that France will ratify E.D.C. As has been said, that is probably a reflection of French public opinion on the issue of the rearmament of Germany. If France is unlikely to ratify E.D.C., may I suggest that that may be a very good reason for stopping to re-examine the whole situation, rather than immediately to rush in to find a means of rearming Germany, possibly within N.A.T.O. and without E.D.C.? I must confess that I was somewhat surprised, if not alarmed, by the references of the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, which seemed to me to say, implicitly if not explicitly—and he will, I am sure, correct me if I have misunderstood him—that if France does not ratify before her Parliament goes into recess, steps are to be taken to put into effect the decision of the Anglo-American Working Party, about which the French Government was not informed until a decision had been reached.


The noble Lord has appealed to me to intervene if I think it necessary, and I am afraid I do. The position is not that on August 15 or on any date of that kind these new proposals will come into operation. The position is that if the French Government has not taken action by that time, then discussions will be instituted, to which the French Government will be a party, as to the means of restoring German sovereignty on the lines which I have already described.


I am grateful to the noble Marquess for his correction. Possibly when he reads the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow he may also be glad that I elicited this correction, which I think has clarified what he said earlier.


I said exactly the same then.


Then the noble Marquess said that steps would be taken to bring this decision into effect. I am glad that we have now established that these steps will be taken in consultation and discussion with the French Government; otherwise I should have felt bound to say that I thought my noble friend Lord Pakenham's example of the triangle was already being rather severely shaken. When the noble Marquess replies to-morrow, perhaps he will tell us, should France not ratify E.D.C., what will be the position with regard to the undertaking which I believe was given by our Government to maintain two British divisions on the Continent—that undertaking having been given in order to induce France to ratify E.D.C. Does the position remain the same?


The noble Lord must, if I may respectfully say so, really clear his mind a little on this. What two divisions is the noble Lord talking about? We have three-and-a-half divisions in Germany which we keep there under N.A.T.O. arrangements. It was decided recently to put one of those divisions under command of the E.D.C. That is the arrangement. At the moment I do not recognise the two divisions to which the noble Lord is referring, nor the rôle which he attributes to them.


I will return to the point on another occasion. But I think the noble Marquess will agree teat there has been an undertaking to maintain certain British strength on the Continent in order to reassure the French.


As part of N.A.T.O.


As part of N.A.T.O, and partly to assure the French.




My Lords, I fully accept the noble Marquess's correction, and naturally the question to which it is addressed is withdrawn. I want to come back to my main point—namely, the plea for the postponement of a decision on German rearmament. To my mind, the strongest argument for postponement, and possibly abandonment, of the operation of rearming Western Germany, springs from the success of the Geneva Conference, to which tribute has been paid to-day. The Geneva Conference has shown that although there are great and serious difficulties, negotiations with the Communist Powers can be brought to a successful conclusion. It is not a question of whether one trusts them or does not trust them; it is on record that a successful Conference with the Communist Powers has been held. If that is accepted—I cannot see how it can be denied—then it seems to me to be a powerful, perhaps conclusive, argument for holding a further Conference—in effect, for reconvening the Berlin Conference.

I do not propose to discuss to-night the new Soviet Note, but I must confess that I was a little alarmed by the tone of the noble Marquess's reference to it as a "voluminous Note." I want to say only that, whatever the nature of the reply in detail, I cannot see how the suggestion of a further Conference can be flatly and absolutely refused. To-day we have been told that these Conferences are the best propaganda weapons of the Soviets. I suggest that to refuse to meet them in conference would be to present them with a more effective propaganda weapon. Surely, we are at least at one in believing that co-existence with Communist States is possible. If we do not accept that, then we are, in effect, accepting that the only course before us is the course of world war, which is the course of no existence. I am sorry that it should have been left to the U.S.S.R. to take the initiative in proposing this new Conference. I had hoped we might have done so. But the important thing is not which country takes the initiative but that, when the Conference is held, we should enter it in the right frame of mind and with the right proposals.

I have heard it said—not in your Lordships' House—that the spirit of Geneva alone would have saved the Berlin Conference. I do not believe that is true. The spirit of Geneva would not have been enough. But if we are to negotiate successfully with Russia—or, for that matter, with any other Power—we cannot enter into the Conference with conditions and proposals that we know in advance are bound to be unacceptable. We cannot, in particular, expect Russia to agree to a unified Germany if Western Germany, by far the greater part of the whole, is already committed as a component part of the Western military alliance. How can anyone expect Russia to accept that? To propose it, knowing it to be unacceptable, is a strange form of negotiation. Could we not propose at a new Berlin Conference that the conditions for the unification of Germany should include her remaining unarmed for a minimum period of ten years, a menace then neither to East nor West, and that no country should have either air or military bases on German soil; and further, that during that time neither the Eastern nor the Western powers would make or seek to make treaties with Germany which would bring her into their military orbit? Only some such proposal would make further negotiation worth while.

We have been told to-day that it would be a wicked action if we were to break any promises or to be in breach of any agreement with Dr. Adenauer. It would be a more wicked action if we were to leave undone anything which might lead to a peaceful course for the world. Further, if France does not ratify the E.D.C., then we have a completely new situation in which we are entitled to approach Dr. Adenauer, or the other Governments concerned, and ask for completely fresh negotiations. It has also been said that any attempt to keep Germany disarmed for a long period would be to repeat the policy of the post-1918 years and to re-create the feelings, if not the conditions, which led to the rise of Hitler. I do not believe that. We have this time avoided the worst follies of the Versailles Treaty. There are no reparations; there is no attempt to prevent Germany from finding her feet economically—in fact there has been much outside aid. There is at least a substantial minority, if not a majority, of the German people who do not want rearmament, with the possible recrudescence of German militarism. We are commited in honour by the terms of the Atlantic Charter to work towards "the abandonment of the use of force" and to aid and encourage all practicable … measures which will lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armaments. How can we lighten the burden of armaments for any people by laying this burden also on the German people?

It may well be asked: "If a new Conference is held, and if reasonable proposals are made to Russia and every endeavour made to meet her, but still the Conference fails, owing to the intransigence of Russia, would you then agree to the rearmament of Germany?" Obviously that is not a question permitting of a simple answer. Much would depend on how the breakdown took place and whether it was felt that, with patience and with no precipitate step on German rearmament, a further Conference might yet succeed. But assuming the breakdown to be final and wholly due to Russia, then it is a question to which, in honesty, I must give an answer. If I cannot say, "Yes," then my argument for delay has been false and misleading. If I say, "No," it means that I am opposed to German rearmament in any circumstances, and I suppose that I should, in the definition we have to-day, be a neutralist. It would mean that my plea for postponements and a Conference had only concealed my real views. I frankly admit that I hate the idea of German rearmament, in any circumstances. I doubt whether German rearmament could for very long be limited to a certain number of divisions in a European Army. I believe that it would grow until Germany was again a formidable military Power, and I think he would be a very rash man who would prophesy with certainty at this time on which side and in what way that military power would be used.

This afternoon my noble friend Lord Pakenham spent some time refuting the alleged quotation from a speech by Dr. Adenauer. I was disappointed that, with his great knowledge of Germany, he did not go on to make an assessment of how widely that view, falsely attributed to Dr. Adenauer, is held in powerful German circles. Nevertheless, accepting and facing the risks which I believe to be inherent in any German rearmament, if every endeavour had been made to reach agreement with Russia, if reasonable proposals had been made, if agreement had been sought in the spirit of Geneva and if, at the end, it was clear that failure had been due entirely to the fact that the U.S.S.R. was resolutely unreasonable, then, and only then, I would accept that German rearmament was inevitable. But until that position has been reached—and I do not think it has yet been reached—I believe that German rearmament is a profound mistake; a danger, not a help, to the cause of peace. I have tried only to state briefly the position of those who are opposed to German rearmament, and I believe them to be numerous. In the interests of brevity I have not sought to develop all the arguments in favour of it. I believe these arguments to be weighty, although your Lordships have not heard them, and I believe the position to be worthy of serious consideration.

9.45 p.m.


My Lords, replying to some comments of mine in the debate last week, the noble Earl who spoke for the Government said I had not given enough credit to Her Majesty's Government for what has been achieved during the past three years. I should not like to be thought ungracious by the noble Marquess who is to reply to-morrow for Her Majesty's Government, who are to be congratulated on several important recent achievements of which we have heard to-day. Therefore, in referring to Europe, may I start by saying that I think Her Majesty's Government have gone a long way in offering co-operation with the countries of Europe, particularly in the matter of common defence. Nevertheless, I must say that I feel there is still no effective European outlook and no real European-mindedness. In these days of military threats, we are apt to think almost entirely in terms of defence. But the concept of Europe as it has been handed down to us from the Middle Ages, and preached by great Europeans like the late M. Briand, is a much wider matter than a question of common defence. In matters of defence all the emphasis is upon obligations. A greater unity in Europe would bring both intellectual and economic advantages to all its peoples.

I will content myself by giving just one example of what I mean by a failure to develop a European mind and a European outlook. The Italian Government are faced with particular problems. Italy has always had a population problem, and this problem has been intensified by the loss of territories in Africa in which Italy was interested. The number of unemployed in Italy at the present time is not less than 1½ million, with a further large number of under-employed persons. Even assuming that the present rate of emigration is maintained—that is, something aver 100,000 a year—it will be necessary for the Italian Government over the next ten years to find something like 4 million jobs. This will be quite impossible without an extensive capital invest- ment programme. This means that Italy will be a strong competitor in the capital market. I have mentioned this example because I think it shows what I mean when I say that we have to develop a European mind with a European outlook.

In a European setting, this problem of Italy becomes a European problem, and its alleviation depends upon the removal of restrictions to permit freer movement. I feel that this is a problem in which we have a special responsibility. We have premised closer association with Europe, with the full approval of the other nations of the Commonwealth, and in associating ourselves with the affairs of Europe we are associating not only ourselves but also those British Colonial territories for which we are responsible. I think it would be most helpful if a matter such as I have mentioned could be brought up by Her Majesty's Government at Commonwealth Conferences, and if a better example could be set in territories administered by us to improve the quota open to European nationals. I understand, for instance, that in the Central Rhodesian Federation only 8 per cent. of the white quota is open to non-British entrants. I do not think that other European countries are any more generous, in their dealings with foreign nationals, even in the family of Europe. Perhaps that is all the more reason for us to set a better example. If a little more could be done in a matter such as this, I believe the prospects for the ratification of E.D.C. by Italy would be greatly improved.

When it comes to Germany, I do not think any of us would wish to throw doubt upon the sincere efforts of many Germans to develop a good-neighbourly attitude. The recent speech of the German Chancellor indicating that national armies are out of date, and pleading for a European Defence Force, was welcome: but it cannot be denied that there are other elements in Germany. Although I would not agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Archibald, has emphasised, I think we must recognise those other elements which are waiting for an opportunity, should it arise, to gain power and, as we have seen happen before, to push out at a convenient moment any who stand in the way of what they desire, which is to play a, dominant rôle in Europe. We know from bitter experience how ready the German people have been in the past to follow such leadership. After all, this is not extraordinary—it is a common feature of the cult of nationalism everywhere. In our day, in Germany and in Russia this force of nationalism has appeared in its crudest and most revolutionary form. The reason why we are not disturbed about the vitality of the American people is that, for the most part, it takes a more commerical character, following much more closely the pattern of British expansionism in the last century.

If Germany can be accommodated within the European political community, which her present Government has recognised as an acceptable rôle, well and good. But I do not think we can regard as satisfactory the implications of what appear to be the intentions of Her Majesty's Government, and of the Government of the United States of America, in the event of the failure of France and Italy to ratify the E.D.C. Treaty. I would suggest that the alternative to E.D.C. is not simply independent German sovereignty, unqualified. Nor do I believe that incorporation of an independent Germany in N.A.T.O. would provide a satisfactory safeguard. I think the only possible alternative to the operation of E.D.C. under a European Political Community is an Anglo-German association on the terms of a partnership, with an exchange of military and naval units, which would make separate action in Europe impossible. I should like to see the possibility of such an association explored. Perhaps something like this was in the mind of the noble Marquess when he hinted that it might be necessary to think further if the E.D.C. Treaty were not ratified. In view of what the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham said, perhaps I should make it clear that this suggestion is not in any way directed against France, but as a safeguard.

I hope that Her Majesty's Government, after consultation with our Allies, will find it possible to accept the invitation extended by Mr. Molotov for a Conference upon European affairs, while maintaining the right of the European States who have inherited a common tradition, should they so wish, to enter into a federal union or to act together within the United Nations organisation. These European States cover what is, in these days of rapid transportation, a very small area, and they have much more in common than the States federated in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

When we turn to the problems of the Far East, I think we must start from the United Nations Organisation. There are two different conceptions, as we all know, embodied in the constitution of the United Nations Organisation. In one, the Organisation is a centre for discussion, a forum for all nations to air their differences and their grievances, where international public opinion may be focused, and where a moral judgment may be passed. The other conception is that of an instrument of collective action against a disturber of the peace. There has always been reason to doubt the practical value, or even the wisdom, in a major crisis of the latter conception. But where the will to peace is absent, any organisation including Powers willing to contemplate war will degenerate into groups and alliances, and this is exactly what has happened in the United Nations.

By the accident of the absence of Russia at the time of the appeal of South Korea the resistance against the North Korean attack was undertaken in the name of the United Nations, although the task has fallen almost entirely upon the United States. No doubt the leadership undertaken by the United States in this case has made many Americans feel that they have a permanent mission of this character. Most of those with minds trained in the West no doubt feel grateful that the United States should feel so disposed to make sacrifices for other nations whose independence is threatened, but it has to be recognised that over a considerable area of the world there are nations who would not welcome such assistance, however savagely they may be attacked. I think this attitude springs from a different philosophy and from certain basic religious beliefs. Even if it is not shared in the West, it should at least be understood by Christian communities, who have not forgotten the power of non-resistance or abandoned belief in a life beyond this world.

Let us try, therefore, to get our American friends to concentrate more on the first conception of the United Nations as an international forum for the exchange of ideas and the discussion of differences to secure peaceful adjustment. For this purpose there can be no possible objection to universal membership, which is the difficulty when it is regarded as an instrument for collective action. I think we should seek to achieve this aim, even if it means limiting the field of military collective action. The United Nations Organisation is handicapped when it becomes a direct party to a dispute and loses its value as an independent moral authority.


I shall have to attempt to-morrow to deal with the noble Lord's speech, and perhaps he will help me at this stage by clearing one doubt in my mind. Ifs he arguing that it was wrong of the sixteen countries who fought in Korea under the United Nations to accept the challenge, and to go into Korea at the time when they did and in the circumstances in which they did?


I should prefer to see a matter like that referred to the United Nations for discussion and for action to be left to individual Powers, rather than a war to be fought in the name of the United Nations. That is my personal view on the subject. I think that the United Nations should content themselves by passing a moral judgment, and then its members, or such of them as wished, would be free to take military action, absolved from any moral blame for the action that they took. In fact they would receive the right to take action individually from the decision of the United Nations in a moral consideration.


Does the noble Lord say "moral blame" for the action they took or "moral credit"?


Moral justification then, not blame. There is blame only in taking military action without a decision of the United Nations that such action is justified.

I have already referred to the nations in the East who would not seek, or even welcome, military assistance from the West, even if they were attacked, and who feel that they would rather accept the consequences and work out their own salvation in their own way. This, as I understand it, is the attitude of India. We may agree with it, or we may disagree with it—and the Government of the United States may disagree with it strongly—but it must be reckoned with. I would suggest that we not only reckon with it but welcome any initiative taken by the Government of India in discussions with the United States as well as with the Government of China. In this connection, I should like to ask: Is it impossible to conceive that, having regard to the origins of the régime which the United States Government still recognise, the elements of strife within China may be capable of being resolved in the new China which is emerging as a world Power?

If, however, the Government of India are to play a rôle and take a full part in discussions such as these, it is important that these matters upon which there might be differences between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of India should be brought out in discussions between them. There are two difficulties upon which I feel we are entitled to know the attitude of the Government of India. Mr. Nehru, as has already been said, expressed a view which may be interpreted as implying that the presence of Western troops in Asian territories is of itself an act of aggression on the part of the Western Powers. If this view applies, and is to be applied, by Mr. Nehru to the position in Malaya, without any qualification, there is a serious difference of opinion between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of India. But it should not be impossible, in consultation with the Government of India, in view of the expressed intentions of Her Majesty's Government in regard to Malaya, to reach an agreement on that matter.

The other matter on which I think some clarity is desirable is the subject of Hong Kong. The Hong Kong of today boars no resemblance whatever to the barren land and the lair of pirates which was ceded to us. But there is the complication of the new territories, and it is desirable, well before the lease of that part expires, to reach an agreement with the Government of China upon its future. The noble Marquess, Lord Reading, has said more than once that in foreign policy there is one overriding aim. In this, I am sure he has the wholehearted agreement of us all. Following the example of the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, if I may borrow a popular current phrase, I am sure that it is the desire of all in this House not to manufacture boots to set any feet a'marching, but rather, by the relief of tension, to make sure that there should be shoes to "set more feet a'dancing."

10.3 p.m.


My Lords, we seem to have covered a lot of country to-day, and I propose, just for a few minutes, to bring your Lordships back again to Africa. I think, from all we have heard to-day, that Africa is a bit safer than Asia. I want to refer to our relations with Ethiopia, especially having regard to the forthcoming visit of His Majesty, the Emperor Haile Selassie. Ethiopia is in the centre of a number of vital British interests—Kenya, Uganda, the Sudan, British Somaliland—and, since the federation of Ethiopia and Eritrea, is along the coast line of the Red Sea. For that, as well as for other reasons, I think we should cultivate the closest and most friendly relations with Ethiopia. I remember that during the life of the last Government a commencement was made with that policy. We raised the status of our respective Legations to Embassies. We assisted the Ethiopian Government in getting a direct port for access to the sea at Assab and also helped Ethiopia in her efforts to achieve federation with Eritrea. Surely the time is ripe for the Government to endeavour to negotiate a Treaty of trade and friendship with this rapidly progressing country. I noticed in my newspapers the other day, that during the recent visit of the Emperor to the United States a pact of a similar nature was negotiated, and I was rather disappointed that the Americans had stolen a march on us in that respect.

There are many reasons why we should be close friends and should collaborate to the maximum with Ethiopia, not only because of her geographical position, but because of the bonds of friendship formed in the last war. Ethiopia was an early victim of Fascist aggression of a particularly brutal character, and she was liberated by British and Commonwealth forces. It is interesting to remember that she was liberated not in the same way as some other countries believe in the use of that word to-day; it was British liberation—we gave her back her sovereignty and her freedom intact. The world cannot be too often reminded of our action in that respect. Therefore, I think it is most fortunate that His Imperial Majesty the Emperor is paying a State visit to our shores in October. I believe he will receive a great welcome from the British people, who remember with pride his heroic defiance of the Fascist invader of his country. I hope this visit will be made the occasion for something more than a formal exchange of courtesies, and I appeal to Her Majesty's Government to take this opportunity to try and negotiate a treaty of trade and friendship between our two nations, so that the visit of the Emperor will mark in practical fashion the beginning of a closer and even more friendly association between us.

10.7 p.m.


My Lords, at this rather late hour in the evening I feel rather in the position of a batsman going in to bat with only a little light left, not very much time, and on rather a sticky wicket—because the wicket, so far as I am concerned in the matters which are being discussed to-day, is a little bit sticky. I should like to confine myself, however, very briefly, to two points, and to try to eliminate as far as possible all the generalisations of which we have heard a great many to-day, extremely well-intentioned and, in some cases, high-flown; but perhaps it is a little late in the evening to reiterate them again, however sincere one may be.

May I, therefore, mention first of all the question of the Cyprus base. On the subject of the Suez Canal area and of the arrangement which has been reached with Egypt I will say nothing except this: that as we are to move out and General Headquarters Middle East moves to Cyprus, with, I imagine, a substantial force of the R.A.F., of ground troops and the Navy, straight away an announcement is made to-day by the noble Earl, Lord Munster (perhaps one of the most interesting things that has happened in a long day) that Cypriots are to be encouraged and told that the time of self-government is drawing near, and that it will be given every encouragement and so on—very rightly and properly. But I am sure your Lordships will agree that it is a popular pastime in the world to-day to "twist the lion's tail" wherever it can be found. There are a lot of people who do it, and, sure enough, it will be twisted again quite soon in Cyprus, as it has been in Egypt.

The people of Cyprus still include a certain Turkish element which must be considered. They are not very numerous. The Archbishop of Cyprus who at the moment is talking a great deal about union with Greece—Enosis—is probably doing so on purely religious grounds. One can see some comparison there with the state of affairs in Ireland, where the Roman Catholic Church is certainly very concerned with the removal of partition in Ireland, on religious grounds though not necessarily on political grounds. It may well be that this state of affairs exists also in Cyprus. This seems an occasion for the Greek Government, who have for some time past expressed their willingness and desire to co-operate with the Western democracies, to show their good will by doing nothing to encourage this Enosis movement. Marshal Papagos has always been extremely pro-British in his outlook, for reasons which are not very far to seek. He was very much taken up by our forces after the war in the Middle East and was very popular and highly regarded. Here is a good chance for the Greek Government to disregard this movement and thereby avoid embarrassing us.

I am a little nervous about islands. I was myself in Malta during the war, though not in the worst days; but even then it was most uncomfortable, and it is no secret that we were within eight days of exhausting our food supplies when the first of the Malta convoys eventually struggled into harbour. Admittedly Cyprus is a much bigger island, not nearly so densely populated as Malta; but islands have left me with a slight feeling of claustrophobia, and I believe that if we could strategically disperse our Middle East resources more it would be wise to do so. I am not filly informed in regard to our relations with Cyrenaica, but perhaps the great airfield of El Adhem could be increased by satellite airfields and the port of Tobruk could get the money now being spent at Limasol; and possibly something could be done at Benghazi. One of the principles of defence is dispersion, particularly in an atomic age. Dispersion cannot easily be effected on an island. We could have lost Malta and with it very nearly lost the war. It is a mistake to put too many eggs in the Cyprus basket. Lord Glyn, in a very well-informed, and short, speech, to-day touched upon dispersion of our forces in the Eastern Mediterranean, and for that reason I make these points from my personal experience in that part of the world.

Turning to Germany, last March I addressed your Lordships and expressed my fears of what might be happening in Germany or what might be going to happen in the foreseeable future. I do not confine myself exclusively to questions of "in-E.D.C."; "out-of-E.D.C."; "failure to ratify"; "N.A.T.O.", et cetera. So many people talk in that way without fully understanding the position. I am sure it is only the Government of the day, with the enormous amount of information at their disposal, who can speak with knowledge and really make sense of it. Bat we can all have our feelings about whether or not we are pursuing perhaps a dangerous path and going a little too quickly. There are straws in the wind. If one keeps one's ears open and one's eyes upon a certain place, one can discern things happening which other people perhaps have not noticed. I have been surprised that nobody to-day has mentioned the strange incident of the disappearance of Dr. John. This may seem not directly connected with the debate, but noble Lords Who have read the leader in the Manchester Guardian to-day—a responsible newspaper, I would say—will be most interested in what appeared. Nobody knows where Dr. John is. The Press immediately said that he had disappeared behind the Iron Curtain. One gets to know that type of statement. For all we know, he may be dead. The fact is that he is not at his post. And why is he not there? It seems to me to be a matter of some importance.

One organ of the Press has suggested that Dr. John could not remain in his post any longer owing to the fact that he was quite certain that the Nazis were beginning to emerge again. Hitler's men were coming out of their holes. During the adjournment at 7.30, it came through on the tape that Dr. John had spoken from some unspecified place and stated that he had been advised to leave his post by ex-Chancellor Brüning, as it was obvious that Hitlerism was raising its head again. That may be sensational journalism. I do not know any more than other noble Lords—but it is possible. Dr. John took part in the Putschof June 20, 1944. His brother took part in it and was executed. There can be very little doubt that this man was a genuine anti-Nazi, whereas General Reinhardt Gaelen, whom I mentioned in my speech in March, was, in Hitler's day, the head of his Security Counter-Communist Bureau, and a very trusted man. He is still employed in Western Germany, if not exactly by the Bonn Government, then by the American High Commission with the agreement of the Bonn Government. There is no doubt that he was a Nazi, and a very highly placed one. I can hardly believe that he is now a peace-loving democratic citizen, serving under Dr. Adenauer's banner and only too pleased to act in the sort of way we should be glad to see. These are only straws in the wind, but nevertheless they seem to me to be important. When we make an agreement with people, when we reinstate them and start to arm them again, we want to know what sort of people they are; and we must watch them closely.

It would ill become me to criticise, or even comment on, a speech made by such a distinguished person as the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, who addressed your Lordships earlier this afternoon. You will remember that he said it was forty years ago to-day that Austria marched into Serbia and the 1914–18 War started. Then the noble Viscount made what I thought to be a curious remark. He said, "Germany either could not or would not restrain Austria." I thought that was rather a nice picture of the poor Germans, doing their best to restrain the powerful, hot-headed Austrians but unable to do so. I do not think the noble Viscount really meant that. He will remember that it was perhaps only a day or two later that Sir Edward Grey said: The lights are going out all over Europe. They could be going out again, my Lords, switched off by the same hand. That is merely my own view, and I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, is not in his place this evening, because I know that he holds views diametrically opposed to my own, although in a friendly manner.

I should like to assure your Lordships that there is nothing vindictive or personal in my attitude. I lost much less than most people in the late war; it is not that. But I believe that, in a matter of this importance, one must stand right back from the whole problem and look at it from every side, and not get involved in talk of divisions and so on—in any case a division means nothing nowadays; it is air power that will decide the next war. I believe it is of supreme importance that everything Her Majesty's Government can do to reassure the people of this country that nothing is being done that could put the danger back where it was before, among that warlike race—who are now, I suppose, or are about to be our Allies—will be done; and I am confident that the Government will do it. The noble Marquess who is to reply to this debate to-morrow was very kind to me on a previous occasion, and I am sure that he has this matter well in mind. I apologise to your Lordships for taking up your time at this late hour but I have tried to introduce one or two facts which might not be generally known to the majority of the members of your Lordships' House.

10.23 p.m.


My Lords, when my noble friend Lord Chorley indicated that if the debate were to run a certain time he would be unable to speak, I told him that I should be only too glad to take his place. I have heard every one of the speakers, although I have not heard every speech right through. Some of the speeches have been most disturbing to me; indeed, if I had not my faith firmly fixed they would almost lead me to despair. What we are dealing with to-day is the policy that surrounds us, and we are discussing it from the point of view of harnessing that policy so that we may overcome the monster of war. I remember when James Maxton, who was Member of Parliament for the Bridgeton Division for a number of years, came out of gaol after the 1914–18 war, I was at a Socialist gathering where he spoke; and he said that in prison he had had the opportunity of thinking about the eternal verities. He used words on that occasion that I have never forgotten. He said: War is not one of the eternal verities; war is one of the ephemeral lies. I believe that.

I want to illustrate the way in which war is regarded by different people. I take for my first illustration what is usually looked upon as a humorous work, the writings of James Russell Lowell, who puts words into the mouth, or rather tells the story, of Hosea Biglow writing a letter to a recruiting sergeant who had tackled him in the street during the day. He spent the night in writing a letter in rhyme to the recruiting sergeant, who had been urging him to enlist in the forces that were being recruited to go to war with Mexico. I think the year was 1846. Hosea Biglow said many things to Him He told him how he would refer the recruiting sergeant to his wife, Nancy, and said that if she were to get hold of him she would pour cut such a torrent of words upon him that he would think the eternal bung was loose.

I remember words used by Biglow in respect of his wife:

She wants me for home consumption. Let alone the hay's to mow. But the kernel of the poem that he wrote on that occasion was a condemnation of war: Ez fer war I call it murder,— There you hev it plain an' fiat; I don't want to go no furder Than my Testyment fer that; God hez sed so plump an' fairly, It's ez long ez it is broad, An' you've gut to get up airly Ef you want to take in God. 'Taint your eppyletts an' feathers Make the thing a grain more right; 'Taint affollerin' your bell-wethers Will excuse ye in His sight; Ef you take a sword and dror it, An' go stick a feller thru, Guv'ment aint to answer for it, God'll send the bill to you. Wut's the use o' meetin-goin' Every Sabbath, wet or dry, Ef it's right to go amowin' Feller-men like oats an' rye? I dunno but wut it's pooty Trainin' round it bobtail coats;— But it's curus Christian dooty This ere cuttin' folks's throats. … I'll return ye good fer evil Much ez we frail mortils can, But I wun't go help the Devil, Makin' man the cus o' man; Call me coward, call me traiter, Jest ez, suits your mean idees,— Here I stand a tyrant-hater, An' the friend, o' God an' Peace! In these days, we should describe Hosea Biglow, writing like that, as a conscientious objector. He would not be very popular; but he voices an opinion against war that is a perfectly understandable view because it is based upon conviction without any experience of war.

Then there is the man who is experienced with war; and after that experience he takes a similar view. And now I give another illustration in rhyme, from my friend James Welsh, a miner poet, who was Member of Parliament for Coat-bridge and Airdrie. This man who had experience of war—a constituent of Welsh's—came back from the 1914 war and told the poet the story of what he had gone through. This moved Welsh to write his poem, in which he put these words into the mouth of this constituent: I slaughtered a man, a brother, In the wild, wild fight at Mons, I see yet his eyes of horror, I hear yet his cries and groans, We met on the edge of the trenches, Where Murder in crimson rode, And swish went my blade to his stomach— I'd slaughtered the image of God. We'd never in anger quarrelled, We never had met before, But someone had dreamed of conquest, And we had to buy it with gore. Perhaps he'd a wife and children, Through whose hopes and dreams he strode, With the pride of a King in his Empire, An heroic image of God. And I asked myself the question, I saw in his glazing eyes 'Am I my brother's Keeper?' Till the sod I tread on cries: You made his wife a widow, Made desolate her abode, Your thrust made his children orphans, You slaughtered the image of God. The cold, cold stars keep blinking, The winds make moaning sighs, Men worship me as hero And laud me to the skies, But I keep on thinking dully Till my heart gets like a clod, Of the thrust I made in the trenches, That slaughtered the image of God. That is the view of war of a man who has experienced it, and to me it is against that background that we are having this debate.

It seems to me that foreign affairs debates and foreign affairs conferences are inclined to emphasise the differences that exist between the nations. The nations parade their strength, the power of the bombs that they have manufactured and the speed of their war 'planes. We say that other countries do not recognise our good will and peaceful intentions; and we do not believe that they are sincere when they make professions of peaceful intent because we see them arming and seeking to build up alliances for strength which we consider are a menace to us. That is a two-way traffic. That applies to all the nations. I ask: How can we overcome that fear and so help to lead to peace? We in this country pride ourselves, and justly so, in our loyalty to the United Nations Organisation, and instead of dealing so much with the differences that divide us, although I know that is necessary, it might be well for us to emphasise what we are doing to support the peaceful activities of the United Nations organisation. For example, they are dealing with refugees and trying to help those poor people in their difficulties. They are supporting O.E.E.C. and supporting U.N.I.C.E.F., the United Nations organisation for dealing with children, surely a very worthy object. They support the World Health Organisation in generally meeting the needs of the underprivileged and underfed in the world. I remind noble Lords that 1,500 million people in this world—that is, two-thirds of the population of the world—are underfed, and half of these, I believe, something like 750 millions, do not know from the cradle to the grave what it is ever to be entirely free from the pangs of hunger. Yet at present the world population is increasing more quickly than the means of producing food to feed the hungry mouths. There is also an immense amount of disease in the poor areas.

For those who want some fighting to do it seems to me that there are big enough things to fight without fighting in a warlike way. The Prophet Isaiah depicted to us a time when men would beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks and study war no more. We look forward to that day. We think of it as something afar off, but this increase in world population and the lack of food to feed the hungry mouths that are coming into existence may compel us to do this job of turning our swords into ploughshares and our spears into pruning hooks in order to keep alive. Shall we be compelled by circumstances of that kind or shall we use our intelligence and win peace? I agree entirely that it is not an easy task to which mankind is called. I agree also that no British Government dare take undue risks by suddenly disarming at the present time. But we can steadily pursue the aims of peace. Let us practise, nationally and internationally, the pursuit of the aim to do what is right rather than what is merely expedient. We may have hope in this endeavour. I am convinced that peace and right will ultimately triumph, and I will use a homely illustration to show how I am helped in my conviction.

I remind this House that the Battle of Flodden was fought in 1513. Think of the relationship between Scotland and England at that time. Think of the hatred that existed and how I am sure at that time it was thought that there would never be a peaceful relationship between the two countries. And yet to-day, what is the position? The very countryside in which this battle was fought is the most peaceful in these islands, with beautiful, rounded, grassy hills folding into each other as do the petals of a flower. As I say, that battle was fought in 1513. Not so very long ago, although a number of years ago, it was decided to put a tablet on Flodden Field where the battle was fought. The tablet was put up, the date was inscribed, and what do you think was the inscription that was put upon that stone? All the enmities of the time had gone, there was no record of what the fighting was about. All that could be put as an inscription on that stone were these words: To the brave of both nations. The noble Marquess, Lord Reading, to-day expressed the thought of prayer to aid us in our efforts for peace. I was glad to hear that and I endorse what he said with all my heart. To give some measure of hope at the end of a day of debate which has not had much of hope in it, I quote the words of Scotland's national bard, words that have been quoted very often: Then let us pray that come it may, As come it will for a' that; That sense and worth, o'er a' the earth, May bear the gree, and a' that. For a' that, and a' that, It's comin' yet for a' that, That man to man, the warld o'er, Shall brothers be for a' that.


My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend the Leader of the House, I beg to move that the debate be now adjourned.

Moved, That the debate be now adjourned.—(The Marquess of Reading.)

On Question, Motion agreed to and debate adjourned accordingly.