§ 2.37 p.m.
§ LORD HENDERSON rose to call attention to the international situation; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is the first opportunity which your Lordships' House has had since we reassembled after Christmas to discuss the international situation. I think it is a timely occasion. It is wholly desirable to take a "new look" at international affairs in the light of the important developments that have taken place since our last debate and also of events that are likely in the coming weeks and months. Most noble Lords will agree with me, I think, in regarding as the most notable event of recent times the recent meeting of the four Foreign Ministers in Berlin. Whatever hopes may have been held that it would lead to positive results were in a large degree disappointed. Only two really important decisions were taken. The first was to call a Conference at Geneva next month for the purpose of trying to reach a peaceful settlement of the Korean question, and to discuss the problem of restoring peace in Indo-China. The second was that the four Governments were to exchange views to promote a successful solution of the problem of disarmament. But on the three most fundamental problems of Europe—Germany, Austria and the security of Europeߞit has to be recognised that the Conference failed completely to achieve any progress. The four Foreign Ministers came to a deadlock in circumstances which confirmed the conclusion that many of us bad reached on earlier evidence: that the Soviet Union does not intend to relax its hold upon either Austria or a divided Germany while they can still be used as pawns, or major pieces, in its diplomatic chess game.
§ My Lords, I share the general feeling of disappointment which the failure at Berlin has caused, but I cannot say that I was surprised at the result. Quite frankly, I was not among those who viewed the summoning of the Berlin Conference even with cautious optimism. This may, perhaps, be partly accounted for by the fact that I accompanied the late Mr. Ernest Bevin to the Four-Power Conference at Paris in 1949. Neither on that occasion was there much concrete 623 result after five weeks discussion. It has since been my view that personal experience of political negotiations with the Russians is a good antidote to wishful thinking. I think also that such conferences are sometimes expected to do the impossible; they are expected to produce agreements where no prior basis of understanding has been prepared. Perhaps some of your Lordships will agree with me in thinking that the proceedings at Berlin soon revealed the absence of those prior conditions which are necessary for success.
§ I must make it clear that I am not criticising the Government on that account. They were right in their decision to agree to the holding of the Conference. Public opinion expected it, and, indeed, pressed for it. Nor am I criticising the actual statement of terms made on behalf of the Western Powers by Mr. Eden. I think, in fact, that the plan of settlement which he outlined was soundly conceived, comprehensive and practical. I believe that it might have been productive of good results if it had been discussed on its merits. Unfortunately, that did not happen. We have to face the fact that deep and fundamental differences between East and West set their respective representatives poles apart in their conceptions of how to deal with and solve the vitally important European problems. It will be a good thing if these, at present, irreconcilable positions are not glossed over but are frankly recognised as warning against irrational hopes that an agreement on European problems may be just round the corner if only we will wait patiently a little longer. These differences are not entirely the product of the conflict of ideologies as between East and West: they are much more the outcome of Russia's refusal to forgo the use of the material advantages she gained when the tide turned in the closing months of the war, and afterwards; the gains of territory beyond her historic frontiers in Europe which she has held on to and consolidated in the period of the cold war, not only as her advanced outposts for Communist ideological aggression but as both the symbol and reality of Russian imperialism.
§ One of the reasons why these deeper motives of Soviet imperialism were to a 624 large extent hidden in the discussion in Berlin was that all four Foreign Ministers used the same political vocabulary. But identical words and phrases on their lips had different meanings and were used to express different political intentions. This can be the cause of dangerous confusion and misunderstanding in the public mind. When we speak of independent, democratic and peace-loving nations, we have in mind, for example, our own nation, or France, or the Scandinavian States; and we want to make it possible for a unified Germany to become a like-minded nation, a support of the edifice of peace that we are striving to erect upon the firm foundations of free citizenship and democratic unity. But when the Russians speak of independent, democratic and peace-loving nations, they mean something very different, for in Communist tradition and practice these words are reserved for Communist States only. Therefore, when Mr. Molotov spoke of reuniting Germany "on a democratic and peace-loving basis," he had in mind the Communist pattern, and not the Western pattern. Can it be denied that the Soviet Union are determined to maintain their grip on East Germany as long as possible? They will not tolerate free elections because they know that these would wipe out the puppet Communist régime in Eastern Germany and that such a development might cause great difficulties and embarrassments for them elsewhere. The Russians are not going to pull back their strategic frontiers. They intend to stay where they are and to hold on to what they have as long as possible. In my view both the refusal of German unity and the cynical denial of a treaty for Austria make this abundantly clear.
§ There is a viewߞwhich I do not find it possible to acceptߞthat failure to agree was due mainly to the West's policy of enabling Federal Germany to make an armed contribution to Western Defence. It was a factor, but I do not think it can be held to have been a decisive factor. I want to pose this question: Can it be seriously urged that Russia is uncompromisingly opposed to the Germans' having arms? I think we must all be clear about this matter, because it is important. Let me take the East Zone. What is the position that is said to exist there? The Russians began 625 creating and equipping armed forces there years ago. It is said that substantial forces have been built up. If the Government have any reliable information about these forces, I hope that they will give it to the House in the course of this debate. I am going to cite the figures given by Mr. Dulles at the Conference, and so far as I know they have not been contradicted.
§ East German military personnel now total 140,000 men under arms. Of this number, 100,000 are in the ground forces, with an additional 25,000 in security formations. There are seven organised divisions, of which three are mechanised. The air forces consist of sixty jet fighters and 5,000 effectives. These forces are commanded by ex-officers of the Nazi Wehrmacht and S.S. And, let me add, this rearmament process began before there was any proposal for a West German contribution to Western defence. By contrast, there is not a single German soldier in the Federal Republic, no military formations of any sort; and at this moment there is not even the power to raise any. There is only a police force: 150,000 police for a population of nearly three times that of East Germany. And in East Germany, in addition to the force to which I have referred, there are 100,000 in the police force.
§ All this seems to me to point to a simple proposition. It is, in the Russian view, reasonable, safe and right for Communist East Germany to possess armed forces, and to have them integrated into the Soviet defence system; but it will be dangerous and intolerable, according to the Russians, for West Germany to have armed forces raised under a democratic Parliamentary Government, which will voluntarily integrate them into E.D.C. as part of the collective defence system of the free West. What the Russians really have in mind is that a West German armed contribution to Western defence should be prohibited; that E.D.C. should be abandoned; and that the N.A.T.O. defence system should be dismantled. That demand is set out in the Russian proposals for a collective security treaty for Europe. On the other hand, according to the same proposals, the Russian defence system, which embraces all the satellites, is to remain intact.626
§ Furthermore, the United States and Canada are excluded from membership of this Russian plan for Europe. The United States Government will be permitted, merely to send observers to sit with observers from Communist China on the organs set up by the treaty! Whatever may be Russia's unexpressed reason for excluding America and Canada, it cannot be defended or justified as being in the interests of European security. In two world wars Canadian forces have fought on the side of freedom. In two world wars United States forces of formidable strength came over to Europe and played a major rôle in defeating aggression. In both cases America was on the same side as Russia and in the Second World War gave Russia 11 billion dollars' worth of military aid. In both cases the American forces landed in Europe a good time after the war had begun, and the aggressor had already overrun vast territories and populations. To-day. American and Canadian as well as British forces are stationed on the Continent as part of the collective defence under N.A.T.O., and this of itself constitutes a powerful contribution towards the prevention of war, as well as a guarantee of immediate and increasing effort to repel aggression, if unhappily it should occur.
§ Therefore, let us be clear in our minds. Are we to understand the Russian view to be that it is a good thing for Europe to have American partnership after aggression has taken place, but a bad thing to have American partnership to prevent aggression? If Mr. Molotov's design is to sever the defence links between the European and American members of the Atlantic Pact, his efforts are doomed to failure. That is the view, I believe, of all of us in this House. We have no intention of sacrificing or abolishing or abandoning N.A.T.O. It would be interesting to know whether the Western Foreign Ministers had any knowledge before the Conference that Mr. Molotov would submit his security plan. Or was it what is called a "surprise packet"? In any case, the plan is quite unacceptable because it will not give genuine security to Europe.
§ But I believe we have got to find a 'way of providing overall security for Europe. The Soviet Union will not give up its defence system; the West will not 627 give up N.A.T.O. I have been wondering whether it may not be possible to aim at an all-in security treaty for Europe, that recognised the continued existence both of the East defence arrangements and the N.A.T.O. arrangements of the West. This is suggested to me by the Anglo-Soviet Treaty, which engages each country to assist the other in case of aggression. Would it not be possible to have an interlocking tie-up between the two existing systems, and based on reciprocal guarantees to ensure collective resistance to any aggression in Europe? I put that suggestion forward for consideration. It is clear that in the light of the Berlin failure, the West must go ahead with the building up and strengthening of its defences, reinforced by an armed contribution from Federal Germany. There is one thing about which we are all agreed, both East and West of the Iron Curtain, and also the vast majority of the German peopleߞnamely, that there must be no revival of German militarism and the old military caste, with its political generals who regarded themselves as a power above the law. The democratic forces of Federal Germany are determined that there shall be no such revival, and the more we do to strengthen German democracy the better their chances of success. There is surely no doubt that integration with the West is likely to contribute to this end.
§ It is only right, however, to recognise that the creation of a Federal German contribution to Western defence raises many doubts and strong opposition. It cuts across the Labour Party, as it does other Parties, both here and on the Continent. Nevertheless, the National Executive of the Labour Party have declared, in the light of the Berlin failure, their support for a West German contribution to European defence, subject to the condition that the arrangements are such that German units are integrated in the defence forces in a way which would preclude the emergence again of a German military menace. Speaking for myself, I hope that that contribution will come through E.D.C. I want to see European integration succeed, not only and not primarily for defence purposes, but also for the other constructive purposes which it is designed to serve. I want to see this country go to the full 628 limits of close association with E.D.C. The next few weeks may be decisive for the European Defence Community. We know that discussions have been proceeding for several months between Her Majesty's Government and the Council of Ministers of E.D.C. According to Press reports, new British proposals which are said to represent (and here I quote) "a definite advance," have been put forward. What this country is prepared to do is of the highest importance. But what is it prepared to do? We have not been told. When I asked for information in the autumn, the noble Marquess the Minister of State said that discussions had not reached a definitive stage. I should like to ask the noble Marquess: Is he in a position to enlighten the House and the country to-day?
§ There is another matter to which I should like to refer. The building up of Western power of defence by all the members of N.A.T.O. has already had a steadying effect on world affairs. Weakness no longer handicaps the West in diplomatic discussions. There is a new power relationship between the two sides, and it is in this sense that I think we can talk about a "new look" in international affairs. It has become possible for the United States to speak with firmer emphasis upon the ability and the will of the American people to retaliate with instant and massive strength against aggression. There are several aspects of this announced policy of deterrence which have led to demands being made, both in this country (the noble Lord, Lord Hore-Belisha, raised it last week in the Defence debate) and others, for elucidation and clarification, not only of the implications but also of the application of this policy. The Prime Minister dealt with the matter yesterday, but I doubt whether his statement will have given complete satisfaction. It seems to me that Mr. Lester Pearson's strong attitude about collective consultation indicates that the question will be raised for discussion at the N.A.T.O. Council of Ministers. This, I think, is a necessary step. But on the broad issue, is there any reason to doubt or challenge the intent and the purpose of the policy as recently stated by President Eisenhower and his Secretary of State?629
§ It is of the highest importance, I suggest, at this particular conjunction of events in the international sphere, to interpret American policy as resting upon a consciousness of military strength. This strength is derived from the growing solidarity of the free world, and from the contributions that the members of the European Community and of the Atlantic Community are prepared to make for the defence of their freedom and for the deterrence of aggression. The massing of the armaments of the West is not for aggression against the East; is not to overawe or threaten the Soviet Union; is not to perpetuate the division of the world into two armed camps is not even aimed at forcing Soviet Russia to retreat. It is solely to convince Soviet Russia that we are now in a position to negotiate from strength and have the will to pursue a more dynamic diplomacy with clearly defined and positive peaceful ends in view. Because the West is nearing the position where it would be utterly criminal and senseless for an aggressor to unleash war, it can with stronger emphasis make an appeal to reason.
The Government's Defence White Paper spoke of broken backs." Mr. Malenkov, in a speech a few days ago, warned that a now war with modern arms would mean the "destruction of the civilised world." The Prime Minister declared only yesterday (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 525 (No. 80), col. 1953) that
… nothing in the whole world of affairs… dominates our thoughts more than the group of stupendous problems and perils comprised in the sphere of atomic and hydrogen developments.
This is a terrifying prospect for the whole world. Surely it should be possible, to find a way out. As I have reminded noble Lords, there was agreement at Berlin for the four Governments to exchange views to promote a successful solution of the problem of disarmament. Has a start been made in the exchange of those views? I believe that it is our duty to go on with diplomatic efforts to find points of agreement with the East. I believe that it is our duty to develop East-West trade as one of the means of breaking down barriers. I hope that the noble Marquess, who recently attended the Conference of E.C.E., may have something to tell us about developments in that direction.
§ I believe that it would be a good thing if all these efforts, and others that might be mentioned, could be linked in a sincere and serious attempt to seek a settlement of outstanding differences in the context of a Conference on Disarmament. I hope that it will not be considered futile or premature to press this suggestion. I would remind noble Lords that the four Foreign Ministers themselves declared at Berlin their conviction that the solution of international controversies necessary for the establishment of lasting peace would be considerably aidedߞI repeat, would be considerably aidedߞby an agreement on disarmament, or at least on a substantial reduction of armaments. This is a vitally urgent matter, not to be postponed until a more favourable international situation has been created, but to be pressed on with as one of the essential mean; of creating a more favourable international situation.
§ As regards the Conference at Geneva next month, we truss that this meeting will have more satisfactory results than that at Berlin. We are very glad to know that the Foreign Secretary himself will attend. Settlements for Korea and for Indo-China would be important steps towards a wider Far Eastern settlement. It would, of course, be a fine thing if it were possible to get agreement on an independent and unified Korea, but that may be too much to expect at this stage; if would be a miracle of achievement, having regard to all that has happened in recent years and to the passions and prejudices that have been engendered on both sides. But if Korea is to remain divided for some years, I hope it may be possible to arrange a neutral zone on both sides of the demarcation line and that an adequate force of United Nations observers can be placed there. Their presence would be a useful deterrent to frontier incidents and they would be in a position to give "on the spot" reports to the United. Nations in the event of such incidents taking, place. The Conference should also be able to ensure agreement on measures for providing considerable rehabilitation aid of various kinds that will be needed to help the war-stricken people on both sides to get back to conditions of a decent, peaceful existence.
§ As regards Indo-China, we hope the Geneva Conference may be able to help forward the restoration or peace there. 631 It would be a blessing if fighting could be brought to an end. That would open the way for progress to be made to a just peace settlement, which would considerably ease the heavy burden that France has been called upon to carry over several years, and would also enable the three independent States to turn their energies and resources to urgent internal tasks of reconstruction. Beyond these problems there lies the question of a wider Far Eastern settlement. One of the issues will be Communist China's claim to the China seat in the United Nations. Once the United Nations resolution on aggression becomes lapsed by a Korean peace settlement, I hope that Her Majesty's Government will give their full support to the only just solution of this outstanding problem. I have no doubt that it will be found then that this is an issue on which a decision will quickly have to be taken.
§ Finally, there is the question of the present position of the Anglo-Egyptian negotiations. A fortnight ago the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, in reply to a Question by me, said that, if it were possible to make a statement, he would do so in this debate. Since then conditions in the Canal Zone have seriously deteriorated, and the Foreign Secretary said in another place yesterday, in a statement which brought the position up to date, that a resumption of negotiations is not possible in present conditions, which he ascribed to the failure of the Egyptian Government to take the necessary steps to maintain order. If there is any additional information to be given, I am sure the House would like to have it. But it is obvious that the conditions as set out by Mr. Eden are not conducive to successful negotiations, and we must all deplore the tragic events that have taken place, involving the loss of British lives. For myself, I do not propose to carry the matter any further to-day except to say this: when conditions have been restored in which discussions can be properly resumed, I hope they will be started without delay. That is Mr. Eden's intention, I gather. It would be most unfortunate if, when such conditions have been restored, negotiations should continue to be deferred for quite other reasons or that British policy 632 should be changed. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ LORD LAYTON
My Lords, I do not often find myself, I am happy to say, in disagreement with my noble friend Lord Henderson, and to-day most certainly I shall not quarrel with him at all, because I think he set out the attitude which we have expressed from these Benches on most of the major questions in different parts of the world. I agree with what he has said about the Far East, about the position of ChinaߞI think we have been at one on that all the whileߞand about Egypt. I agree, too, with his positive suggestion about the possibility of a security pact between East and West in Europe, but I think I differ from him when I say that that is at the end of the chain of circumstances. I believe that the policy that Her Majesty's Government are following, and which I wish strongly to support, is that of developing in Western Europe an international position of strength. When that is firmly established (and I am not quite satisfied that it is as yet firmly established) and it is evident that it is defensive in character, then, but not until then, will there be any real prospect of getting an agreement, whether or not you call it a security pactߞat any rate, some form of disarmament and an understanding of mutual co-existence between East and West.
I do not really think that there is much new to be said about the Berlin Conference, particularly after what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. I think it was a good Conference in the sense that it produced just as much as one could have expected it to produce. My impression, and I think it is the general impression, is that it has eased tension a little. Certainly it has restored better manners, shall we say, between the leading, statesmen of different countries. But, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has said, there is no evidence of a change of policy, and in that sense it is a good thing, because it has answered the question which was posed just a year ago by the death of Stalin: "Is there going to be a new policy?" There may be new manners but, so far, there is no evidence of a new policy. That leads to two conclusions as to what we have to do about it: on the one hand 633 we must go on trying to improve the good relationship and the better feeling between statesmen, but, on the other hand, we must carry on with the policy of international collaboration which the free world has been building up.
That brings me to the pointߞand it is the chief point I want to make this afternoon; I do not propose to detain your Lordships long with itߞof the relaxation of tension in the world following the Berlin Conference. In itself, it is an inestimable advantage and a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, it brings in its train a risk, and the risk is that, by diminishing concern and easing minds, people may be less concerned to build up the new structure of international collaboration which the world demands as a result of two tremendous world wars. There is a temptation to sit back and relax. We have made great headway since the war in international relationships. Some of them are consultative in character. There is O.E.E.C., under which we commit ourselves to discuss with others any alteration in our tariffs or other arrangements, because we form-ally recognise that it concerns them; and if we do not discuss it first, we must explain it when we have carried it through. There is also N.A.T.O., the development of an international general staff, E.P.U. and other international relationships. But, as I said just now, much of this is not very certain; it is not permanently rooted in the world's political and economic structure. There are all sorts of danger signs that if we relax we may slip backwards, and some of these new arrangements that have been brought into being may subside into an era of academic discussion.
Having arrived at this stage, I believe that the issue now posed is whether we are going to develop further the international institutions which have come into being since the war, or whether we are at the peak and people are going to lose interest. They came as more primitive institutions came after the First World War, under the impulse of experience and the psychological effect on men's minds. But is the momentum slackening? Unquestionably, there is a danger that if we do not go forward we shall certainly tend to go back. I think, this is, in a sense, a kind of watershed. This new situation, in which we have 634 a somewhat improved relationship with Russia and a fair confidence that another world war is not round the corner, is a situation in which there is a real danger of our slackening.
I wish to make this pointߞit is the main point I want to makeߞthat the acid test as to which of these two things is going to happen, a further development or a turn-back, will be in what happens about E.D.C. I do not want to lay undue emphasis on the regional solution of the world's problems, but if there were chaos in Europe I cannot imagine any set-up in other continents which would ensure the maintenance of world peace. On the other hand, if we can get order in Europe, its example is likely to permeate through the rest of the world. Therefore, I believe that Europe is the key. The central feature of the European situation, or rather of the situation in the free part of Europe, is the relationship between Germany and France, politically, economically and militarily. The crucial one of those three is the military relationship, because, unless that is solved, nothing can be done. Therefore I put the point that the ratification of E.D.C. is the key issue as to whether we are going in one direction or the other.
I have said that it is not certain whether some of the institutions that have been set up are properly rooted or not, and that we must go further. I gave some reasons last Thursday, in the Defence debate, why N.A.T.O. has defects from the point of view of a permanent buildup. The Coal and Steel Pool is claimed as something which is a real contributionߞas indeed it is. But those of us who are in touch with Luxembourg know the secret fear in the minds of those who are concerned with the Coal and Steel Pool to-dayߞnamely, that if the Defence Community is not established, whatever is written on the paper, whatever is in the. treaty, there is a real danger, not necessarily of the absolute break-up but of the failure of the Coal and Steel Pool to carry out the tremendous task which is embodied in that treaty.
Some people have thought that if only we could get the Political Authority established the other things would follow. For eighteen months, including all of last winter, the representatives of the six Powers have been drafting the Statute 635 for a Political Authority. It is a remarkable document. It deals not only with the six Powers, but with the tie-up and association of the other countries which are not prepared to pool their resources. It is a most important document. It has been discussed from time to time since by the Foreign Ministers, and it is still under discussion. But I should have thought that the history of the last year shows pretty clearly that it was a mistake to suppose that you could get the answer by first setting up a Political Authority and then moving on to E.D.C. The final stages of negotiation in regard to that Political Authority all show that it presumes the passing of E.D.C., and that this Defence Community, with the integration of an international army, is a condition for creating the Political Authority itself.
What are the prospects of E.D.C. in present circumstances? There are many fences to take, and certainly I am not going to prophesy exactly what is going to happenߞwhether or when it is going to be passed. My concern is that there are so many difficult fences to take before it materialises. One of them has already been referred toߞnamely, what is Britain going to do in the way of backing up the French or, as the Prime Minister put it on May 11 last year, giving the necessary counterpoise to satisfy the perhaps perfectly legitimate reservation of France? As a matter of fact, I spoke to your Lordships a year ago on what our commitments might be, and I do not propose to repeat them. But I would make this observation: that if members of the French public had been in this Chamber last week and had heard the Defence debate, had read the White Paper and had realised how we in this country now know that our defence is beyond the radar screen in Europe and appreciate how completely the defence of these islands depends upon our linking up with France, Germany and the other countries of the West, they would not be so afraid that we are going to withdraw our troops from the Continent. I say that with particular knowledge, because in the last month or two I have tried to persuade many of my French colleagues on this point, and it is clear that they have not seen the situation through our eyes.
636 I do not know what may be in the minds of the Government on the crucial issue which would persuade the French that we are in fact in it with them, as inevitably we must be, but I think the remark just made by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson might have a bearing on this. Our reservation as to withdrawing troops for our needs elsewhere is perfectly understandable and is necessary. But the fact remains that the Commonwealth has twice been involved in the defence of Britain in Europe, and it should not be impossible, in making an arrangement with the Frenchߞwhatever form it may take; consultation or anything elseߞto ensure that members of the Commonwealth are concerned at some stage in the consultation. And I believe that if the Commonwealth were taken into consultation the right formula might be found for giving the French and their Continental associates the assurances they require.
Then there is the commitment from the United States. I make no comment on that. The third condition is the settlement of the Saar problem. That is not an easy one; but I think it may safely be said that some headway has been made lately. Two years ago, when the Eden Plan was launched in Paris, talks took place between the French and the German Foreign Ministers on the subject of the Saar. Since then, the conversations appear to have stopped and started again, stopped and started, stopped and started. They do not seem to be getting very far. Meanwhileߞif your Lordships will forgive me for making what, in a sense, is a digression into this issueߞthe Strasbourg Assembly took a hand, and in September, 1952, the question of the Saar was raised by the German delegation in Strasbourg. It was referred to the General Affairs Committee. A year later, in September, 1953, the General Affairs Committee presented a Report to the Strasbourg Assembly. It is a very important document. It contains a background statement on the history of the last 100 years of the Saar, a draft Constitution for the Europeanisation of the Saar, a recommendation for a Conference to be held to take that draft, make it into a Constitution, and put it into final shape; and, finally, provides for a plebiscite.
The scheme involves another of those organs that have been coming into being through the Council of Europe. As your 637 Lordships are aware, one of the great sources of trouble in the Saar arises over the question of national Parties and so on. In that context, the scheme proposed makes use of the European Commission on Human Rights which is about to be set up. The names were sent forward by the bureau of the Assembly at a meeting held in the precincts of this Chamber last Thursday, and will go to the Ministers to complete the Commission, presumably, by the end of April. In other words, this Commission will be in being in April and will, it is suggested, have some responsibility in the Saar in relation to these questions about the right of forming Parties and so on. The Coal and Steel pool also provides a chance of finding an answer to the problem of tie economic issues of the Saar, because if a common Coal and Steel pool, with its common market, which includes both France and Germany, is created, tie question about economic relations will largely have disappeared.
As the House is aware, the French and German Governments adopted the Report of the Assembly as a basic document for the talks that took place some days ago, were then broken off and will, presumably, be renewed in the last week of this month. It is an interesting story because it shows how parliamentary representatives who have been made into a parliamentary institution, whose purpose is to watch the European aspect of politics, rather than their own particular national views, can carry forward these developments when direct negotiations are not possible. The members of the sub-committees of the General Affairs Committee were, unquestionably, all in touch with their Governments, but they could discuss issues between them which it would not have been possible for the Governments to discuss.
It is interesting to note, too, that though all the Governments concerned are Governments of Christian Parties, this exercise in what I can only call conciliation has been mainly in the hands of Socialists. The chairman of the General Affairs Committee is a French Socialist. The draftsman and rapporteur of the scheme whch the Governments are considering is a Dutch Socialist; the sub-committee which was considering the question of the Saar Parties here in London last week had a British chair- 638 man, Mr. de Freitas, who is a Socialist Member of the House of Commons, That body has not succeeded fully, by any manner of means, in solving the problem of the Saar, but it has produced, a background for an agreement, and all the time a general atmosphere has beer, created for a solution. It will take some little time before a new Constitution in the Saar can be brought into operation. Clearly, it could not be done before the question of E.D.C. came to an issue, but it mightߞI put it no higherߞenable the parties to come to a declaration on principle which would remove the Saar problem as an obstacle to the E.D.C. That is obstacle Number three. So we have these three factors: the British declaration, the American declaration and the Saar problem.
There remains the problem, which has cropped up unexpectedly, of the ratification of E.D.C. Ratification requires a certain number of Socialist votes. Unless plans have been altered, there is likely to be in April a conference of French Socialists at which they are likely to ask for something which may delay E.D.C.—and it is this. They sayߞand not unnaturally, in view of the: history of Europe ߞthat E.D.C. must be subject to democratic control, and not left merely to the soldiers. The Political Community which has been designed provides (and it is almost the only point on which the six countries are in agreement) that the popular Chamber shall be popularly elected I understand that it has been made an issue in France with the French Socialists, many of whom are taking the view that, as the Political Community will not come into effect for a year or two, therefore the. E.D.C. Treaty should be amended to provide that the Assembly of the E.D.C., as contained in the Treaty, should also be popularly elected, and that this must be included as a protocol of the Treaty.
Your Lordships will appreciate that if it is necessary to go round six States and get them to agree that the Assembly, which will have very important rights in relation to the E.D.C., shall be an elected Chamber, instead of one appointed by the Parliaments, it raises a very considerable matter of principle. When you consider these different commitments, the Saar problem, and the suggestion of broadening this out to give popularly elected control of the E.D.C., you will see that the difficulties 639 are very considerable. May is certainly the earliest that you could get this through the Chamber of Deputies, and, in all probability, the debate in the Senate would continue into July. I do not want to take a gloomy view, but my impressions from Paris are that that is about the best that can be hoped for. I myself think that is far too long, and that such a long delay, with the possibility of its being further postponed as a result of political difficulties in France, means that we are face to face with a very important issue.
I think it is agreed that the French Parliament is most unlikely to reject the E.D.C. It would obviously leave France faced with making the worst of both worlds. The danger is not that. I do not think that any Government in France would introduce the E.D.C. for final vote unless certain that it was going to be passed; but a decision might be delayed indefinitely. The only thing that can be done on this side of the Channel to speed it up is to give the confidence of which I spoke. As I say, I believe that delay is very serious and very dangerous. I take that view, largely, because we cannot assume that the situation in Germany will remain static. Already there is a problem arising owing to the constitutional amendment permitting the raising of forces in Germany. If there are many months of delay about the E.D.C. this problem will create difficulties and will be disturbing to German public opinion. And in any case the vote of last December in Germany, one of the most remarkable events of our time, represents a state of opinion in Germany which we cannot take it for granted will endure indefinitely. We must, therefore, consider this question of urgency, remembering that the disasters through which we have gone are largely due to the fact that we refused to Bruening and Bismarck what we granted to Hitler. We did not act in time: God grant that we do not make that mistake again. The next few months are critical. My plea is that Her Majesty's Government should do its utmost to make it easy and safe for France to take a step that means so much to Europe and to our own security.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY)
My Lords, exactly a month, I 640 think to a day, has passed since my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary made his report in another place on the results of the Berlin Congress. It may be felt by some noble Lords that we too should have had a debate before now on the issues which were raised by that Conference. Personally, I do not hold that view. In any case, we in this House always like to think before we speak, and particularly is that the case in the present instance. For the results of that Conference to which I referred were not such as have created a new situation which required immediate discussion, but were rather of a character which invited a thoughtful reassessment of the position: and that was bound to take time. Moreover, this delay has, happily, enabled us not to concentrate entirely on Berlin, as would have been the case if our debate had followed immediately on the Conference, but to cover a rather wider field.
Broadly speaking I think that has been the course that has been followed by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, who introduced the Motion this afternoon. Following his usual practice—a practice which, if I may say so, we in this House honourߞthe noble Lord has not attempted to approach this problem in any way from a purely Party point of view. He has rather sought, drawing on his wide experience, to make his own personal appraisement of the international picture as it presents itself to him. I must say that I found myself in broad agreement, as I hope to show, with almost everything he saidߞand, indeed, with almost everything that was said by the noble Lord, Lord Layton, who followed him. Both those noble Lords, as was natural, threw their main emphasis on the situation in Europe; but there were also mentioned in Lord Henderson's speech two developments in the Far East and in Egypt. I think those were the two main areas of which the noble Lord spoke. I shall try to follow him in spirit, though I hope he will forgive me if I do not cover the whole gamut of the subjects to which he devoted his attention. If I leave out any question to which he would have wished to have an answer, I am certain that my shortcomings will be rectified by my noble friend Lord Reading, who is to wind up the debate.
641 In regard to Berlin, I feel that there remains very little for me to say after the penetrating analysis both of Russian policy and of Western policy which was given by my right honourable friend the Foreign. Secretary in the debate, a month ago, to which I have referred. He painted a picture, if I may use two such contradictory words, both sombre and vivid, both of the Russian mind and of the Russian intentions with regard to Europe, as these were disclosed in the Conference. He explained that Her Majesty's Government had taken to Berlin a plan for the future of Germany which in our view was genuinely calculated to enable her freely to unite, freely to choose her own Government, and freely to decide her own future. I do not pretend for one moment that we did not hopeߞand hope profoundlyߞthat she would choose a form of Government in harmony with Western ideas; of course we hoped that. But our plan did give her a chance to come to her own decision, whatever that decision might be; that was a risk which we, together with France and the United States, took, and we were quite prepared to take it.
But, my Lords, as the noble Lord, Cord Henderson, pointed out, that was not the purpose for which the Russians came to Berlin. They came to Berlin to ensure that if Germany was united it should be united as part of a Russian sphere of influence, as a Russian satellite, just like all the other satellites. As I understand it, that was the true meaning of the Molotov plan which was advanced in Berlin. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, asked whether it was regarded by Her Majesty's Government as a surprise packet. I think I might say that we had hoped for something better but we were not surprised. Indeed, be it said in the Russians' favour, it is probable that they do not quite understand what we mean by free elections and a free Government and so on: it does not mean anything to them. In Russia, as we all know, there is only one Party; there can be oily one Party: that is the very essence of the political system they have there.
As I see it, and as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has pointed out this afternoon, the greatest difficulty which the Western Governments to-day have to face in dealing with the Soviet is that 642 words such as "freedom" and "democracy," and words of that kind, do not means the same thing to them as they do to us. In the widest sense of that much-used term, they "do not speak the same language"; and that, and not any point of mere detail, was the real reason why it proved impossible to reach agreement in The Russians could not agree to the kind of solution which the Western Powers favoured because it involved a degree of individual freedom for united Germany which they were convinced would be contrary to the interests of Russia and which they probably regarded as definitely detrimental in itself. And secondly, it involved creating an army in Germany which might or might not be in their camp when it was armed. Rather than that, they preferred that the present situation should continue; and of course that is what has happened. To that extent, no doubt, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has said, the Conference failed, with the exception, of course, of the decision to hold the Geneva Conference, about which I hope to say a word or two in a moment. But I am certain that the House will agree that it is well worth while that the Conference should have been held. Facing a situation as difficult and as potentially dangerous as that which faces us now, it is far better that we should know where we all stand. To that extent I think the noble Lord, Lord Layton, was perfectly right in saying that, though technically it was a failure, it was "a good Conference."
Last summer, at the time when I came back from Washington and addressed your Lordships at the end of July, there were still a large number of people all over Europe who lived in a world of illusions on this subject, who thought that one had only to smile on the Soviet in an ingratiating manner and they would come to meet Is with open arms. There can be very few who harbour that illusion now. On the other hand, I do not for a moment want to suggest to your Lordships that, as a result of the Berlin Conference, we ought to take a hopeless or even unduly gloomy view of the future. No doubt it is extremely discouraging that the Soviet Government do not appear to want a settlement, this settlement we so ardently desire, except on their own termsߞand that means 643 Russian domination of Europe. That is very disappointing and discouraging. But, so far as I know, there is equally no reason to suppose that they are hankering after a new war. On the contrary, I should have thought they have every reason to dislike the idea at least as much as we do in this country. For there can be no doubt that, for the present at any rate, Communism is on the defensive.
Just after the war, the danger—and it was a very real danger—was that Communism would infiltrate and permeate the whole of Western Europe. But now, at any rate so far as I understand the indications, the tendency is the other way. Western ideas, the ideas of freedom, are beginning, slowly, cautiously, but quite definitely, to infiltrate and permeate Central and Eastern Europe behind the Iron Curtain. I do not suggest that we should rate the importance of this too highly. As the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, will know, nothing is so dangerous in foreign affairs as wishful thinking. But the large mail which was received by the Foreign Secretary in Berlin from Russian-occupied Germany—that mail to which my right honourable friend referred in his speech—is only one of many signs that freedom is not dead but very much alive in Eastern Europe. In such a situation as that, I suggest that the Russians surely must realise that anything in the nature of a hot war will tend still further to strain their resources and weaken the grip of the occupying Power. Indeed, I think one of the most remarkable features of Russian policy since the war—a policy which they have operated with very considerable success—is the sedulous care they have taken not to be involved in hostilities themselves. They have stoked up others, the Koreans, the Chinese or whoever it may be; but they themselves have always kept well away from active hostilities. I think therefore, we may fairly draw the broad conclusion, if it is not too optimistic to do so, that the Russians—with the Western Allies as strong as they have now become—will not wish another large-scale war if they can possibly avoid it.
If that be the case, what must be the policy of the free nations of the West? I have often advocated here before that 644 it should be based on two main interlocking principles, each essential to the other; and I have not changed my view since. First, we must aim at making and keeping the Western Alliance not only politically firm but materially powerful. I believe that to be quite essential, since it is the strength and vitality of that Alliance which alone preserves the balance of power on which European peace at present depends. No doubt, it is a truism to say that; but it cannot be too often emphasised. But the possibility of maintaining and strengthening the Western Alliance involves, to my mind, two preconditions. The first is that, at any rate pending a solution of the German problem, Western Germany must play its full part in the defence of Western Europe. At the present time, the failure to bring in Western Germany is hitting that Alliance in two ways. It is putting an unfairly heavy burden on the N.A.T.O. Powers, a burden, indeed, which they are increasingly unwilling to carry alone. And, secondly, it is relieving Germany herself of a share of the burden which she properly should be carrying, and is in this way giving her a privileged position in the realm of trade and industry in comparison with the other nations of Western Europe.
Herein lies the importance of the European Defence Community, to which the noble Lords, Lord Henderson and Lord Layton, most rightly devoted a large portion of their speeches. A month ago, the Foreign Secretary once again examined the various alternatives to the E.D.C., which at present holds the field as the best method of enabling Germany to make her contribution to the stability of Europe.
If your Lordships will forgive me, I do not propose to-day to say anything about the German membership of N.A.T.O., much less about the doctrine of neutralism. My right honourable friend discarded those for reasons which seemed to me, and I hope to others, entirely convincing. This afternoon the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, advanced yet another alternative proposal in the form of some kind of mutual security guarantee, if I understand him rightly, based, on one side, on the Anglo-Soviet and Franco-Soviet Treaties and, on the other, on N.A.T.O.
§ LORD HENDERSON
What I had in mind was that the Communist East has its own security defence system, an interlocking system, which is comparable to N.A.T.O. I want that to be taken into account.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I understand. If the noble Lord will permit me, I will only say this afternoon that the Government will be very ready to study this proposal, like all other important proposals which are put forward on this subject. But, as I expect he knows, all alternative proposals which were in harmony with the Prime Minister's reference in an earlier speech to the Locarno spirit were in fact examined before Berlin. But it is clear, I think, that nothing will satisfy the Russians but a complete scrapping of the earlier stages for free elections and a free German Government based on those elections. So long as they maintain that attitude, I am rather afraid that the type of proposal which is, quite properly, suggested by the noble Lord, is bound to be still-born.
§ LORD HENDERSON
Of course I recognise that it would take time to work this out. I thought: I had made it perfectly clear that N.A.T.O. is to go on with its own defence, including reinforcement from Western Germany.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My purpose is not to be unduly discouraging about the noble Lord's proposal, which indeed I think is extremely interesting. I only wish to show that there are a number of very large hurdles to be jumped before we get to that point. In view of that fact, and of the difficulties of getting the sort of permanent solution of the German problem which many of us would desire, I should like to come this afternoon straight to the position with regard to the European Defence Community, about which the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, made inquiries, and which the noble Lord, Lord Layton, rightly said was "the key question."
The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, asked me, first, what the position is now, and secondly, what Her Majesty's Government are prepared to do to ease the difficulties of the French Government in ratifying the Agreement. I am afraid that I am not in a position, even now, to give any details of proposals, which are still under discussion; but I think, in 646 broad terms, I can say this. The Berlin Conference has shown quite definitely to Her Majesty's Government, and I imagine and hope to the French Government, too, that the Soviet position on Germany has not changed, and that: we cannot expect any early agreement on German reunification. Her Majesty's Government therefore agree that we must press on resolutely with our plans for Western Defence. The key to further progress now lies in the early establishment of the E.D.C., which would provide a German armed contribution. Her Majesty's Government regard this as a matter of the utmost importance and urgency. As we have frequently stated, we are anxious to establish the closest partnership with the E.D.C., and to give it all possible support.
Negotiations about the form of our association have, as your Lordship know, been in progress with France and the other E.D.C. countries over the past year. A very large measure of agreement has already been reached, and we are in touch with the French and the other E.D.C. countries about points which are still outstanding. We are confident that full agreement will shortly be reached; but meanwhile we are not in a position to give any detailed information. Once agreement has been reached, full information will be given to Parliament. We are sure that any doubts about our sincerity—if there are any doubts, and I hope that there are not—will have been removed, and it will be seen that we are going as far as we possibly can to associate the United Kingdom with the E.D.C. For the obvious reason that we ourselves are already a member of one confederation, the British Commonwealth, we cannot become a member also of a federated Europe—we cannot be in both. But, equally, for geographic and many other reasons, we cannot dissociate ourselves from the Continent of Europe. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that our destiny is inextricably linked with it. The recognition of that fact, as I see it, must always be a cardinal principle of British foreign policy, and I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Layton, that the present Government certainly do not intend to ignore the defence implications of that. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, mentioned certain intelligent speculations which there have been about these proposals; but, in view of what I have said. 647 I know he will not expect me to go any further than I have. For he will know better than anyone else that nothing is more destructive of international agreements than premature disclosures before delicate negotiations are completed.
So much for the first precondition, of the vitality of the Western Alliance. I now come to the second. As I see it, the other and equally essential precondition to the maintenance of peace in Europe at the present time is that the United States should be associated with the European defence system. That, I believe, is absolutely vital. For some people—it is, indeed, I believe, the Russian thesis—there may be charms in the theory that Europe ought to be left to its own devices, and should strike a balance of power within its own boundaries, without assistance from outside. But, in fact, that theory is entirely fallacious, and based on completely false premises. For it assumes that Russia itself is an entirely European Power, comparable with other European States, whereas, in fact, as we all know, it also sprawls over a large part of Asia. For this reason, the presence of Russia must inevitably entirely upset the European balance; and it follows, therefore, that the counterbalance between Russia and her satellites, on the one side, and Western Europe, on the other, is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. On that I agree with every word that was said by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. Indeed, as I see it, Western Europe today is as much an essential bastion of American freedom as in past times the Low Countries used to be a bastion of the freedom of our own country.
That then, as I see it, is the first principle which must govern the foreign policy of the free world—we must be strong. But strength by itself, I am sure, will not achieve our object. It may, indeed, ensure, for some little time at any rate, that there will be no war in the sense that there will be no "hot" war: but it will not necessarily, or, indeed, probably, by itself bring any nearer an enduring peace. For that, I am quite certain, something more positive is needed, something which may break through the impassable barrier of thought which at present seems to divide the West from the East, and which is fraught with such danger to the world. It was of 648 this that the Prime Minister spoke so wisely and so eloquently in the debate a month ago; and similar views have been sent to me by my noble relative, Lord Cecil, who had hoped to be able to come and speak this afternoon, but unfortunately has been prevented. Speaking with all the authority of his long experience, the noble Viscount, in the note which he sent to me, used these words, which I should like to quote to your Lordships:I do not mean to express any doubt that the rearmament policy of the Government is right. But I should not wish that it should stand alone. I know that there are many who think that in international controversies force, and force alone, is the only thing that counts. That does not seem to me to be borne out by history. I should be inclined to say that force, or the threat of force, by itself, has rarely—if ever—produced a lasting international settlement. It may, indeed, be necessary for protection, but for an assured peace, something more is needful. For that we must rely on truth and justice obtained by discussion and persuasion.With that, I am sure all noble Lords, in all parts of the House, will agree.
We must, by some means or other, find some way to break through the barrier which at present divides the world into two. That is a main purpose both of the projected Conference at Geneva, which is to take place within a few weeks from now, and the extension of East-West trade, to which the Prime Minister referred in his speech. To what the Geneva Conference may lead—whether it will be fruitful, or sterile, like Berlin—we do not, of course, yet know. No one in any part of the House can pretend that the situation in the Far East is at present in any way satisfactory. Progress over Korea continues to hang fire. The Political Conference which was envisaged at the time of the Armistice has never met, and shows no signs of meeting. The prisoner-of-war problem, it is true, has been virtually solved. The Indian troops have returned home, and there remain only, I am told, eighty-eight Koreans and Chinese who want to go to neutral countries; and these are being looked after while attempts are being made to find a home for them. In addition, there has been an Agreement on economic cooperation signed between the United States and Southern Korea, and a considerable flow of aid-goods, so I am told, is going into the country to repair the ravages of war. All that is to the good. But politically, so far as I know, there has 649 been no really substantial advance. In the meantime the military provisions of the Armistice Agreement, which deals with restriction of imports, equipment, reinforcements and so on, is being implemented by the machinery of the Military Armistice Commission and the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission.
Such is the position over Korea. It is not one, as I said just now, which anyone can view with much complacency. And to the South West, in Indo-China, the situation is even more deplorable. For there hostilities are continuing with steadily increasing vehemence and intensity. All of us are no doubt watching with the closest interest the progress of the battle at present raging in Indo-China round the French stronghold of Dien Bien Phu. The gallant effort being made by the French Forces and their Vietnamese allies is worthy of our highest admiration. We should welcome a settlement in Indo-China, but only on terms which respect the just interests of our friends and do not expose the country to Communist domination, which would entail grave consequences to the interests of all freedom-loving peoples with interests in South East Asia.
That, briefly, is the position which the Geneva Conference will have to face. The vital importance that it should succeed needs, I am sure, no emphasis from me. I understand that the South Koreans have not yet accepted an invitation to attend the Conference, and that they have asked for assurances that their position will be safeguarded. Her Majesty's Government hope very much—and I am quite certain everybody hopes very much—that they will come. So far as I can see, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. But, of course, the success of this Geneva Conference will not depend and cannot depend only on the Koreans, whether they be North Koreans or South Koreans. It will depend, above all, on the attitude which is adopted by Russia and China. If these two great Powers seriously mean to use it as an instrument for restoring peace in the Far East on a basis consistent with the principles for which the United Nations stand, they will certainly not find us unco-operative. Peace in the Far East—and the confidence that peace would bring—would, I am certain, take us a considerable way towards better times in the world. It 650 would lead immediately to a relaxation of tension, which I should have thought would have been for the benefit of all nations alike. One can only hope that that is the spirit in which Russia and China will approach the Conference at Geneva.
In any case, I personally believe that the very fact that the Western Powers and the Russians will again be meeting together and discussing common problems will be all to the good. It means that the Iron Curtain will be lifted, at any rate to that degree. And the same, I believe, is true of East-West trade, which has also been mentioned in earlier speeches. It is not merely the goods that are exchanged and which demonstrate themselves, with every transaction, the interdependence of the world; it is the contacts between business men and the friendly relations that they establish between them. All these things—small human things—will help to narrow the gulf that divides us.
Of course, it is necessary—and I must make this clear—to draw a sharp differentiation, in this matter of trade, between Russia and China. As we all know, China is still in a state of war with the United Nations, though we hope very much that that will not long continue. What. I am about to say is concerned throughout with Russia. With regard to her, I would say that the Government welcome warmly the results that have been achieved by the recent visits of businessmen to Moscow, and they hope that those firms will develop further trade as a consequence of contacts that they have made. What the full scope of East-West trade in the future will be is, of course, a matter not only for us but also for our Allies. But I think I can assure the House that Her Majesty's Government certainly will not discourage trade within the proper limits of strategic necessity: indeed, quite the contrary. Further, they are always ready to discuss with their Allies any amendment or modification of the present regulations that appears to be desirable or practicable. That is all I wish to say on this topic this afternoon, though my noble friend Lord Reading, who is fresh from discussions on this subject, will, I am sure, be willing to add more, if that is desired by the House.
I would now return to my main aim, which is to define, so far as is possible 651 within the compass of one brief speech, the broad principles which, I suggest with diffidence, should govern the policy of Her Majesty's Government and her Allies in the anxious times that lie ahead; and I repeat that it must be a main purpose of us and our Allies, without in any way compromising our fundamental principles, to try and find means of recreating a world which, if not homogeneous—and I am afraid that is too much to hope at the present time—at any rate can live, to use the fine old phrase of the Bible, "at unity with itself." That was always important, and it has, as we all know, become a thousand times more important now that we know that the hydrogen bomb has been exploded both by the Americans and the Russians. We must, I am afraid, now accept that fearful weapon not as a nightmare of the future but as a hideous reality of to-day. That does not, of course, mean that world war is necessarily nearer. On the contrary, I think it ought to mean, if the nations of the world have any common sense, that world war will be henceforth impossible; for no one, whether they be victors or vanquished—so far as in such circumstances there would be any distinction between the two, which is doubtful—could hope to gain anything from a war fought with weapons of that calibre. All together would go down in common disaster. It is not to be supposed that any statesman in any country desires that.
The danger, I feel, so far as there is danger, is that someone, somewhere, will so conduct the affairs of his country that, unintentionally and almost imperceptibly, it drifts into a position from which there can be no withdrawal without national humiliation. My grandfather, who had long experience as a Foreign Secretary, used to say that war represented a failure of foreign policy. To-day, my Lords, no country can afford that failure. There never was so great a need as there is at the present time of patient, experienced diplomacy. I am sure, therefore, that we were all happy to know, from what was said by the Prime Minister yesterday, how elaborate is the system of consultation which is already in existence between us and the United States on this question. That is a fact of fundamental importance. Let us, then, all go forward together, 652 watching every step, never allowing the temperature to rise, always seeking, even in face of repeated disappointments, a better understanding of each other's difficulties. That is the policy which Her Majesty's Government, and, I believe, every Party in this country, is determined unswervingly to follow; and that, I believe, in the new and terribly dangerous world to which we now look forward, is the only policy which can save humanity from complete and utter disaster.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I am sure the whole House will agree that nothing has been lost by the time that has elapsed since the Berlin Conference ended and our holding a debate in this House. I agree with the noble Marquess that it has given us all an opportunity of consideration of the effects of the Berlin Conference and of thinking before we speak. I agree also very much with and, if I may say so with all respect, applaud the tone of the speech to which we have just listened. Many months ago, possibly years ago now, I ventured to say in a foreign affairs debate that we have to realise that in this issue there is no side that is wholly white or wholly black, and that the real problem before us is to arrive at a mutual understanding of each other's difficulties. I understand the speech of the noble Marquess to be in that same spirit. He very rightly said, too, that the real danger to-day is of some breakdown of diplomacy in some part of the world, and not so much of a deliberate desire of anybody to provoke a war. There are to-day many places where this danger is a live one. In Trieste, Indo-China, Egypt, Israel and many other parts of the world there is just this danger, that a mistake in diplomacy or a rash action may bring the whole world into a third world war.
It would have been of value to discuss in a foreign affairs debate the difficulties that may arise in any one of these places but time does not permit, and, quite naturally, the debate so far has been concentrated on the Berlin Conference and its after-effects. The noble Marquess took the view, which I share, that, although the results have been rather barren, the Conference has nevertheless been well worth while. There has indeed been a marked change of atmosphere as compared with that at previous 653 conferences. It has been possible if not to arrive at an understanding at any rate for all parties to express their point of view without heat and without bitterness, and to be listened to with patience. The very fact that the parties have agreed to meet again and to discuss again is of value. Even the fact that they have arrived at an agreement that disarmament is desirable—a very platitudinous statement, but it has been difficult to arrive at even any view in the past—has been of value. I do not for a moment think that the marked advance which has been made in the desirability of East-West trade is entirely a coincidence. I think it flows from the better feeling that has arisen since the Berlin Conference. All these things are to the good. Nobody really imagined that the outcome of the Conference would be agreement on all the great issues Which divide East and West; that was too much to hope for, and I do not think that the Foreign Secretary in his most optimistic moments ever thought that that could come about.
However, we have always felt that the way to reach an eventual understanding is to try to meet, to discuss patiently, to arrive at agreements on minor matters, in the first place to agree about some; and from that point of view I am sure that the Conference has been somewhat encouraging. The noble Marquess very rightly paid a compliment to my noble friend on the speech that he made f should like to endorse that compliment, particularly on the fact that the speech was not a Party political speech but was one which the noble Lord felt sincerely, regardless of Party views or Party political advantages. I do not know whether the noble Marquess is going to compliment me on making a similar kind of speech, but I propose to say something which certainly is not going to be popular in this House, is not calculated to secure any Party political advantage and, indeed, may even be repudiated by my own Party, if only by a very narrow majority.
The House will know that on the question of Germany there is not complete unanimity, either in my Party or, I believe, in any other. It is an extremely difficult problem. Opinions are held with great sincerity by all Parties and by all individuals in the Parties. Nobody is oblivious to the fact that the rearming of Germany contains a very great risk. 654 The noble Marquess has made the case for it, but in the speech to which he referred the Foreign Secretary himself said:With those who say there is danger in German rearmament. I agree entirely. Of course, there is danger in German rearmament. Nobody will deny it, least of all the Germans themselves.That is the theme of what I want to say. There is a risk in German rearmament. I recognise that to-day it is perhaps somewhat late to be voicing this view, when we have ratified our adherence to the E.D.C. and are merely awaiting the adherence of, I think, France and Italy, and possibly the formal adherence of Belgium, before the plan becomes an accomplished fact. Nevertheless, I think it right, even at this late hour, to express the opinion of those of us who take a different view, and I hope that both noble Marquesses will accept it as as sincere a view as they themselves feel to the contrary.
I take as my text the fact that it is a risk, and I ask myself, which is the greater risk, arming Germany or not arming Germany? I am conscious of what the alternatives may be. I am conscious of the fact that it may leave Germany free to develop her industry, it may leave her free to arm in her own way. Nevertheless, I feel that our inspiring a system, our instigation of German rearmament is a mistake and a greater risk than we should be running by not doing so. My fears have been enhanced rather than otherwise in the last few weeks since the Berlin Conference. For instance, we have been discussing the provision of twelve German divisions as a contribution, but already there is talk in Germany, as I understand, about twelve German divisions being inadequate. In the Observer of February 28 there was a statement from one of their reporters in Germany that influential circles are talking of twenty-four German divisions, twelve active, and twelve reserve, and less responsible circles in Germany are actually talking (I quote the same article) of about sixty German divisions. Whether that be so or not, can we really be satisfied that, once we accept the principle of German rearmament, and agree to their having twelve divisions, it will rest at that?
655 I know that there are safeguards and, on paper, as effective safeguards as we can make them. But can paper safeguards be wholly satisfactory against a Germany determined to build up its own forces, in its own way, on its own strength? We know also—and this has been more and more evident in the last few weeks—that those who will be responsible for establishing the German forces will be the former members of the Nazi Party, former Nazi officers and generals; and we know that they are taking a leading part in the re-establishment of the German forces. And, of course, it is obvious that those who will officer the German forces will be the very men who were prominent in Germany during the Nazi régime and who were adherents to that régime. I put the case mainly on the fact that there is a greater danger of German aggression to-day, or in the future, than there is of Russian aggression. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said, quite rightly, that no sane Government to-day, realising the implications of aggressive war, would deliberately set about making such a war. I think that applies to both sides, East and West. But does it apply to the same extent with Germany? Germany has a great deal to gain by aggression and nothing to gain by being passive. Germany, quite naturally, is very sore at the loss of territories, which she has never abandoned hope of recovering, and it is being stated in Western Germany that they have every hope of recovering these territories before long. They will not recover them by being passive; they can recover them only by direct action. Most people who fear German rearmament do so because they recognise that it is through the German desire to recover their lost territories that there arises the danger of aggression on their part and of our being further fully involved in such aggression I should like to ask the noble Marquess whether he is satisfied that, having assisted Germany to rearm, the Germans will necessarily, in an emergency, be on our side. Is there not a danger, or at least a possibility that if it suited Germany she would be prepared to change sides, as has happened in the past, and to fight against us, rather than for us? In fact, is not the bribe that Russia is in a position to offer to Germany a greater one than we can offer?
656 Most people have no feeling that Germany would have any scruples in joining whichever side she thought most in her interest. I should be interested to have the views of the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, on that point when he comes to reply.
There is also the emotional side, and in some quarters those of us who take this view have been described as taking an emotional view. I make no apology for doing so, and for the fact that at any rate part of my case—I have already given the rest of it—is an emotional case. I feel it is wrong that, so soon after the events of the war and the undoubted cruelty and oppression which we suffered, and others suffered, from the Germans, we should join hands with them to-day for the purpose of combining our forces. I was in France last week, and was talking to a man who told me that he had seen his father taken away by the Germans and had not seen him since; and the presumption was that his father had been killed by the Germans. This man pointed out to me that now he might be commanded by a German officer—possibly the same officer as was responsible for his father's murder. In those circumstances, he asked, would we permit such a thing to happen. I know the short answer is that the French forces will be commanded directly by their own French officers, and that such a state of affairs could not happen. But, of course, it might be that, since they would be integrated only at the divisional level, a commander of a corps, who will be an international officer, would be a German. And, therefore, indirectly, it could happen that French officers might have over them German officers. That possibility may be a little far-fetched but it illustrates the reason for the emotional feeling that a good many people have against German rearmament.
I rather felt that Lord Salisbury, himself, gave the impression that French doubts were to some extent justified, because he agreed that it is necessary to satisfy French doubts by associating ourselves much more closely with E.D.C. than we had originally intended.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I do not want to give the impression that I did not think it was a question of the balance of considerations. Of course, 657 rearming Germany involves us, as the Foreign Secretary has said, in a certain risk. It is a question of which course one considers the more dangerous; and, on the whole, I think it is less dangerous to arm them than to have them disarmed.
§ LORD SILKIN
That is a very fair statement, and I accept that view. But, without seeking to anticipate the result of the discussions which are at present going on, I think the noble Marquess hinted—or at any rate, I inferred—that they will result in a closer association with E.D.C. than we had previously intended. That closer association is intended to satisfy the French, and is proposed, presumably, because it was felt that they have legitimate apprehensions. Therefore we come to the extraordinary position that we are bringing in Germany to assist but we ourselves are coming in to hold a balance as between Germany and France. I realise that the Government have to arrive at a decision one way or another, and I do not complain that Her Majesty's Government have arrived at the decision they have, as the noble Marquess says, on a balance of advantages and after careful consideration. I merely want to put: on record that, in my view, the balance is the other way. I am not blind to the fact that one can put up a strong case for German rearmament, particularly if one ignores the other side; but I should have preferred that they did not come into a European organisation at the present time.
I do not want to take up a purely negative attitude. While, on the one hand, I have drawn attention to signs in Germany which are discouraging and disconcerting, I think, on the other hand, that there are other factors which tend in the opposite direction. I would mention one—namely, the reparations that are at present being paid to Israel, with the admission of wrong on the part of Nazi Germany. It is always difficult for any nation to admit that it has been wrong, and in this case the West German Government not only have made an admission but are seeking to make some amends. If, as time went on, one could feel that the German Government and the German people were really sincere in their desire to work with us, and to work for the benefit and the sake of freedom and democracy, in the interests of people as a whole, one might take a different view. But the view I have outlined is the one 658 that I take at the present time. It is a view that is held by a great many people in this country, of all Parties—indeed, I feel that, if it were possible to have a referendum on this subject, the noble Marquess and others would be surprised by the strength of this feeling of apprehension. In going up and clown the country myself and discussing this with so many people, I have been surprised at the quarters from which apprehensions have been expressed.
My Lords, there is nothing more I want to add, except to associate myself wholly with the statement of the noble Marquess, that force alone is no solution. I have felt for some time that there has been a danger of relying too much on the increased strength that we possess, and on being able to dictate, or imagining that we were able to dictate, terms to the other side. That is, of course, the last way to secure peace. It is right that vie should negotiate on equal terms. Perhaps the expression "negotiating from strength" has been somewhat misleading, but in the spirit in which the noble Lord expressed it—of negotiating not from superior strength, but from strength and relying on justice and freedom, then I think there is some hope of one day arriving at the happy state of affairs which we all want to achieve.
§ 4.45 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
My Lords, early last month, during the Berlin Conference, I paid a visit behind the Iron Curtain, to the Protestant Churches in Hungary. While there I had an opportunity of explaining in private conference why it is that we in the West, and in particular, thoughtful and peace-loving churchmen in the West, are unable to follow the line of the World Peace Committee which is under the chairmanship of M. Joliot-Curie. I also took the opportunity of saying how public opinion in this country, quite independent of political Parties, was behind Her Majesty's Government in the line which they took with regard to peace. I made the further point that we in the West (I was speaking also for churchmen in countries other than my own) were very distrustful of general and widely-advertised peace appeals, and insisted on the importance of concrete steps dealing with concrete issues.
659 But I should be unjust to my Hungarian hosts if I failed to emphasise what I found of the hope and the hunger for peace everywhere, among people who were opponents of the régime no less than among people who were supporters of the régime. And when I spoke of the peace efforts which are from time to time made by the World Council of Churches, with which I am closely concerned, or by the Churches' Commission on International Affairs—action representing a totally different kind of initiative in the peace field from that of the World Peace Committee—I found that, in spite of the difference of method and manner, these peace efforts received very warm approval. I think it would be a grave blunder if we in this country and in the West were to forget or to ignore this wide passion for peace among millions of people in Hungary and in the countries of Eastern Europe, no less than in the West.
There has been a lessening of international tension in the last twelve months. There was first the Armistice—the cessation of war in Korea; there was next the Conference in Berlin which, in my opinion, was a further remarkable step, not so much for what we have heard took place in public as for what we understand took place in private. The Berlin Conference represented an end of the five years' break in the Four-Power discussions. The tone of the speeches and the moderation of the argument was a great improvement on what has happened before, and agreements of no small significance were reached—first, that a Conference should be held at Geneva, which may be very important indeed, and secondly, that the four Governments should seek to promote a solution of the problem of disarmament, or at any rate a substantial reduction of armaments. But it seems to me that there is a danger of a lack of a follow-up of this lessening of international tension in the countries of the Four Powers. Both sides, East and West, say, as a rule in very similar words, "Everybody knows that we shall not be the aggressors." And both sides also say,We must keep our armed forces in such a condition that they can cut short any possible ventures of the aggressors.660 Those are Malenkov's words, but they might equally well have come from Mr. Eden.
I am afraid—and many other people are afraid—that steps which both sides take in good faith for their defence may, quite unintentionally, turn out to be preparations for war. We and the United States and other Western Powers have good cause for the defensive action we have taken; and I am far from disagreeing in principle with the defensive measures that have been adopted hitherto. And when the contractual Agreements relating to Bonn were before your Lordships in July, 1952, I spoke up in their favour. But it seems to me that there is a real danger of excess in defence and of not stopping when we can do so safely. I was glad to hear what the noble Marquess said about the importance of a break-through, and to note his real consciousness of the danger of a permanent deadlock, and how warmly he supported his noble relative's plea for some method which was not purely military.
I do not disguise that our fear leads to our armaments. We all know it. I told my Hungarian friends that our defensive preparations were due, and due solely, to our fear of Russia, and to the steady extension in the early post-war years of Soviet advance in the East. But I think it is only fair to ask your Lordships to take a mental exercise in the Russian point of view of the total situation, particularly in regard to the rearming of Germany. First of all, will your Lordships remember the experiences of Russia in the Second World War, the treacherous attack made by the German armies on Russian territory in June, 1941, how the German Armies struck right through Russia from Leningrad to Rostov, and how, in November, 1941, they got to within thirty miles of the suburbs of Moscow. The attack on the approaches of Stalingrad, in August, 1942, has been described by one of our own military historians asone of the dourest, bloodiest and most prolonged battles of the war.Your Lordships will remember, if you cast your minds back, the conflict in the streets and the houses of Stalingrad during the autumn of 1942, and you will remember—Russia certainly remembers—the enormous number of lives lost, the 661 enormous number of prisoners taken, the vast amount of land and industries that were destroyed, by the German Armies, and the ruin that the German Armies wrought. It is hardly surprising that the Russians should fear another German rearmament.
Next, will your Lordships remember the history of the progress of rearmament in Germany from the very morrow of the Armistice in 1918 to the beginning of the Second World War. You will find it vividly described in that brilliant but highly disturbing book by Dr. Wheeler Bennett called The Nemesis of Power. Dr. Wheeler Bennett agrees with the decision to admit the Federal Republic into the Western Alliance on the basis of equality, but he does point out that this is a reversal of policy of a very remarkable kind, arid that it would be extremely unwise to forget that in order to secure the future we may be ignoring the lessons of the past. And there is a sentence in The Nemesis of Power, which even we may read with some alarm, End which the Russian reader would count as particularly ominous. It comes just alter reference to the beginning of Weimar. It reads:Already at Weimar there appeared that same line of propaganda which, twenty years later, was to be used by Hitler—and, thirty years later, by Dr. Adenauer and Herr Schumacher—namely, that Germany constituted Europe's first bastion of defence again Bolshevism.Side by side with this, I am asking your Lordships to take the exercise of looking at the world through Russian eyes. Russia sees another bastion in the shape of a network of American military bases in various parts of Europe. In the American Press, it is called the "United States World Service." It is said that all over the world there are some two hundred bases, and that there are G Is. in forty-nine out of ninety-seven countries outside the United States. And the New York Times, in its issue of September 20, 1953, printed a map indicating the steps taken by the Atlantic bloc, the chain formed by member countries from Norway and Iceland in the North to Greece and Turkey in the South. Shaped like a horseshoe, it girdles the frontiers of Soviet Russia, with Western Germany in the centre of the horseshoe. It is hardly surprising that Russian readers seeing such a map should think that here 662 is a splitting of Europe and the creation of an aggressive coalition.
Then, fourthly—and here I stop—there are what has already been referred to as the tremendous problems and perils in the sphere of atomic and hydrogen development. I think that I have not overstated the matter and I believe that an impartial observer—say, a reader of history—would think that there is a strong case for Russia's fear in these facts. We, because of our fear of Russia, increased our defences. Our policy of negotiation from strength has been justified. The establishment of N.A.T.O., which was due to the fear of Russia, is, in my view, a very sound policy, and I am entirely in favour of what the noble Marquess said of the importance of keeping the Western Alliance intact and, above all, of keeping the United States and the United Kingdom in a close partnership.
Russia is an inscrutable country, but something has happened since the death of Stalin, nobody quite knows what. At any rate, domestic policy is now taking priority over foreign policy. Is that not what we wish? And there are queer signs of curious ways in which public opinion in Russia finds a manner of expression which was not feasible before. All this is to the good. All this, to my mind, seems hopeful. If your Lordships will continue the exercise, by reading with care some of the speeches made by Russian statesmen, you will find that Mr. Malenkov or Mr. Molotov argue with moderation in comparison with their arguments in the old days; and you will see that the great cloud in international relations which overshadows their whole attitude is the fear not so much of N.A.T.O., not so much of what we have clone, but of this extra step of German rearmament, identified with one camp instead of a world camp. Mr. Molotov said in February, during the Berlin Conference:Any guarantees of security in Europe presuppose in the first place guarantees against a resurgence of German militarism which twice in the course of twenty-five years plunged the peoples of Europe into war. Yet the plans of the Western Powers for creating the 'European Defence Community,' i.e., a military bloc with the participation of Western Germany, inevitably lead to the resurgence of German militarism.663 Again, he said:The Soviet Union which bore the brunt of the struggle against Hitler aggression cannot underrate the danger of new aggression if the rebirth of German militarism be permitted.And again:We must squarely face the truth. If the Plan for the 'European Defence Community' is carried out, Western Germany will thereby adopt a policy of re-militarisation, of reviving an Army headed by Hitler generals. Under such conditions, no European countries, and Germany's neighbours in particular, will feel safe, will be confident of the future.After the Berlin Conference, in his long statement about the Conference, Mr. Molotov said:If the Governments of France, Britain and the United States could, like the Government of the Soviet Union, agree that the restoration of German militarism is impermissible, the solution of all other controversial issues would be greatly facilitated.I realise the difficulties, formal, political and military; I know that the assent of the United States would have to be gained; but, as I read these statements, and particularly the last statement, I am much cheered by the quotation from the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, and the endorsement of his remarks by the noble Marquess, his nephew, when he urged a persistent, constructive, political effort, and a reliance on the course of justice, truth and the imponderable moral factors in international life.
We have re-started these Four-Power discussions after five years. It would be tragic if we were to fail because we did not take sufficient account of a vital point. We should surely link up Geneva with Berlin and, I hope, Geneva with many following Conferences between representatives of the Four Powers. We should, take seriously the agreement reached at Berlin to seek a substantial reduction of our armaments. We can hardly be said to do that if Germany is allowed now to rearm as a member of one camp out of two, instead of as part of collective security without other issues being heeded. I spoke for German rearmament in 1953. But this book, The Nemesis of Power, is a very important book, which every statesman should read with great care and conscientiousness. I know that Chancellor Adenauer in July, 1952, said of German rearmament:First and foremost, it is directed to making war between the peoples of Europe impossible for fifty years.664 But will it? I know that the Leader of the Opposition in another place said on May 14, 1952:The E.D.C. is in my view a way"—not the way—of integrating the German contribution of forces without raising the danger of a German Army.But can it do so?
I have long been a friend of Germany. I hope I am a great friend of Germany now. But it is still the question: Will the Resistance Party in Germany, the men of July 20, 1944, really get the upper hand or will the militarists? We need a break-through. If German rearmament once begins and (mark this qualification) in a fashion and under conditions which seem to be directed against Russia, there can be no peaceful unification of Germany or of Europe; there can be no Peace Treaty for Germany as a whole: there can be no Peace Treaty for Austria, because it is integral to Russian agreement to a Treaty for Austria that there should be no means of an Anschluss between a rearmed Germany and Austia. The occupation troops would still remain. The two camps would be perpetuated. There would be the perpetuation of the cold war and the danger of worse.
In something that the noble Marquess said I detected the suggestion that in that connection our long-term policy should surely be the ending of this situation of the two camps. In view of this new start at Berlin and Geneva I would plead that our Government and the Western Governments, who must and should keep together in this matter, should examine all other possibilities and should take no irretrievable step at this moment. We need to press to the utmost the method of patience and considered diplomacy. I know what the noble Marquess said there, and I hope he will not disclaim me as a disagreeable auxiliary. I have asked your Lordships to listen to me, much daring, because I felt I was bound to take this opportunity to make an exercise in looking at the world situation from an unfamiliar angle, through Russian eyes, so far as one can do so. I know there are many other aspects to be considered. I am far from claiming, great wisdom; but in my opinion, on the full and unhasty consideration of this aspect, among the others, the appreciation of the whole situation depends.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ LORD BEVERIDGE
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, who introduced this valuable debate, spoke of the much brighter "new look" which Las been brought into international relations by the developing strength of the Western Powers associated in N.A.T.O. May I express my complete agreement with him on that, as indeed I think would most of your Lordships. At the same time, may I express my agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Layton, who followed, in what he said about the European Defence Community. I hope that before long the Government will find a definite way of making it clear that we in this country stand by the E.D.C. for all practical purposes. That is really the answer to the doubts about German rearmament which have been expressed by the last two speakers. I disagree profoundly with both of them on this matter. I know that the Government will give the answer, but the practical answer is for us to go into the E.D.C. as completely as we can. In reply to the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester, I world say that the rearmament of Germany, not with national control over her arms but as part of what is really a Federation, is the right use of all arms for the future for everybody. Germany can become the example of what all of us should do.
Going back to Lord Henderson's phrase of a "new look," may I suggest that a much more important "new look" has been brought to all international relations by the scientists who have invented and brought into practice the atom and hydrogen bombs. That was the subject of a most interesting discussion in another place yesterday, and everyone will welcome the declaration of the Prime Minister on the deep attention that is being paid to the stupendous peril of the new weapons. Can anybody who pays any attention at all to this matter come to any conclusion other than that war with such weapons has to be prevented completely, because war with such weapons threatens civilisation? But stopping the use of new weapons in practice means the stopping of the use of all weapons for national purposes. After all, that was one of the practical conclusions of the Berlin Conference. There we found bat speakers for the Soviets were anxious to bar all atom and hydrogen weapons. Clearly, if these were effectively barred 666 and the massed power of existing weapons were retained by Soviet Russia, then Europe would be completely at her mercy. We must abolish the new weapons because they are too terrible, but we cannot Abolish them without ultimately substituting settled peace for war; and that means disarmament, disarmament with inspection.
The noble Marquess the Leader of the House used another interesting phrase when he doubted whether the Soviet "speaks the same language" as we do. Of course, in terms of politics they speak an entirely different language. For them democracy means despotism of the most shameful and ridiculous character. But I suspect that they use the terms "war" and "peace" in the same way as we do. With the noble Marquess, I suspect that the Soviet rulers have come to the view that they want a settled peace as much as we do. It may be wishful thinking, but on the whole that is the conclusion which I draw from a careful study of the White Paper on the Berlin Conference. There we find this repeated emphasis of the Soviet spokesmen on peace. I think that means that they know that their own people desperately want peace in order to get a tolerable standard of living.
On disarmament, although I may be all wrong in this, I suggest that we of the West should be right to begin acting on the assumption that the Soviet rulers are sufficiently frightened of the new kind of war to want desperately a settled peace, and perhaps to be prepared to pay the price of getting a settled peace. If we act on that assumption, what are we to do (to use the noble Marquess's words) to "break through the barrier." Obviously, we should make it perfectly plain that once the Soviet rulers are ready to do anything real to come into the comity of nations and substitute justice for force between nations, to substitute arbitration for war—which means, in the last resort, disarmament with inspection —we shall welcome them with open arms. A number of difficult practical questions arise at once if we try to go forward, as we are driven by science to go forward to abolish war, for a settled peace. There is the technical question of the practical possibility of inspection sufficient to see that disarmament is really being carried out everywhere. I 667 suspect that it will be harder to get effectice inspection in a despotism than in a democracy, but I do not think that it will necessarily be impossible.
There is the question of what kind of procedure we should suggest to the Soviet rulers for bringing about settled peace. There is the obvious step of doing so by a revision of the United Nations Charter. I hope that our Government will shortly follow the United States Government in saying that they would support a revision of the United Nations Charter, which comes up more or less automatically for consideration next year. But I think we should be wrong to pin the whole of our faith to revision of the United Nations Charter. Those of your Lordships who read, as no doubt many of you did, the interesting speech made by Sir Gladwyn Jebb, our new Ambassador to France, the other night will realise that he was not particularly hopeful of the revision of the United Nations Charter as a means of getting settled peace. It is likely that there is a great deal of fatherly pride in having created the United Nations which might cause the Soviet rulers to stick to the present form of the Security Council, the veto and all the rest. Yet they might be prepared to take some other route if, as I believe, they really want peace. In other words, the way out might be an arbitration agreement, and a disarmament agreement between them and us, rather than revision of the United Nations. I am not saying that we should not try for that revision. Obviously the United Nations ought to be given the chance of being revised, but we cannot abandon our object if we fail to get revision there.
There remains another important question for all of us: What should be the attitude of democracies to countries which are despotisms, whether they are Communist despotisms or other kinds of despotism? I suggest that the answer to that question is that settled peace in the world is more important than freedom throughout the world, and must come before it. Settled peace in the world, I suggest to those who sit on the Benches just to my left, is more important than Socialism; settled peace in the world, I suggest to those who sit on the 668 Government Benches, is more important than private enterprise in industry.
§ LORD BEVERIDGE
Certainly it is more important than Liberalism. Although I speak from these Benches, I am not speaking as a Party Liberal today. But, of course, all Liberals talk better common sense on this, as on other subjects, than any member of any other Party, when they remember to do so. But in my view settled peace throughout the world is more important than establishing individual human rights in every country. You will probably get human rights throughout all the world through our humanity, if you have abolished the inhumanity of war.
There is another difficult problem which at the moment is considerably agitating our friends on the other side of the Atlantic—namely, what should be our attitude towards Communist propaganda from abroad. I hope that in this country we shall be able to prove that the answer to Communist propaganda is to let it go on and not worry about it. But, of course, it is a difficult question, and one which affects the Americans much more than it does us. There is a much greater problem, and that is: Is settled peace more important than correcting accomplished aggression? There is in Europe to-day a great deal of accomplished aggression, the forcible change of Governments —Czechoslovakia is one case, and Poland is another. We cannot now remedy that without going to war. I believe that we have got to make up our minds not to go to war for that. We have to get settled peace by the abolition of all weapons, both great and small, in national use, and then trust to humanity to bring about these secondary, but none the less, from the human point of view, vital changes.
§ 5.27 p.m.
My Lords, I must apologise to your Lordships for addressing you again so soon, since I spoke only a week ago in the Defence debate. The reason I do so is because in winding up that debate the noble and gallant Lord, the Secretary of State for Air, made no reference to particular 669 points I had put forward for his consideration. He has told me since privately that, as the debate entered on a third day, he could not mention everything, and that he was sorry he had been unable to include those points in his answer. Therefore, I warned him that I should raise to-day in general terms what I had already mentioned in more specific military terms only a week ago—namely, the German participation in E.D.C., or, in other words, German rearmament, on which we are embarking at the moment.
Generally speaking, I find myself in agreement with the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin. Listening to him, I was reminded that several of the phrases he used were almost word for word the sentiments of the noble Viscount, Lord Norwich, whose sudden death was such a grievous loss to your Lordships' House. When he addressed your Lordships in his maiden speech in November, 1952, the late Lord Norwich threw grave doubts on whether we could expect to rely on the Western Germans as reliable Allies in the future. On that occasion, the debate was wound up by the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, and I have little doubt that, in winding up again on this occasion, the answer of the noble Marquess will not vary much, if at all, from what it was then. Nevertheless, when doubts are expressed as to the reliability—I do not wish to use a stronger word than that, and perhaps, in any case, it is not necessary to do so —of the West Germans as Allies, or potential Allies, one is rather reminded of an old conundrum of the schoolroom which ran something like this "When is a door not a door?" I do not remember the answer, and I do not think it was particularly amusing. I think that that might now be changed to, "When is a German not a German?"; and the answer is, "When he is a West German." I rather doubt whether that is very sound, and if I may take up a few moments of your Lordships' time, I should like to make sure, before we go on, what kind of people we are dealing with. Memories are short, and it has always been my experience—and I was in Germany for two and a half years on end after the war—that those who have spent the least time in Germany are usually the greatest protagonists of the Germans, and that those who have spent the longest time there are not so anxious to push ahead 670 with projects such as this participation in E.D.C.
May I take a few miscellaneous points which I hope will all add up to one thing? At the moment, our Forces in Egypt are being subjected to considerable pressure, and just lately it has increased. I am told that the guerrilla activities of the Egyptians have suddenly become much more efficient than they used to be. Those of your Lordships who know anything about the Egyptian Army—some of you may have been on the Mission to the Egyptian Army, and I have some personal knowledge of it—will know that it is not a very formidable fighting force. Promotion seems to be by girth—the fatter the officer, the more senior he becomes, and so on. Their fighting performance against the Jews in recent years was quite puerile, so this sudden efficiency which has crept in lately, even if the operations are only of a guerrilla nature, is rather odd. It may well be something to do with the German Military Mission under General Fahmbacher, who have now been in Cairo for some time. Two captains in this Mission—I know their names—have been particularly concerned in the training of these guerrillas. I leave that thought with your Lordships.
The second point is that in France at the moment there is a saying going round. Everybody is saying it to each other, and it arises from a trial going on of a certain S.S. general, who was formerly head of the Paris Gestapo during the war. He was recently brought. to trial for innumerable crimes during the Occupation. The reading of the indictment against him lasted, I believe, some hours. At the end of it he was asked if he had anything to say, in view of the horror of this list of crimes against defenceless civilians who were in his charge and, in most cases, tortured to death in a house in the Champs Elysées which corresponds, more or less, to Apsley House in London, if your Lordships can imagine such a state of affairs. He replied, "I acted like a soldier. You do not make war like a choirboy." That saying is being passed round France., and it speaks for itself as to the type of individual who can see nothing wrong in what he has done.
Mention has been made in your Lordships' House before—I think at the time of the maiden speech of the late Lord Norwich—of the activities of General Ramcke. The question was answered 671 by the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, who said that such a man could be found anywhere that he was an agitator, and not of any particular importance. I think the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, also had something to say on that matter at the time. That may well be so, but since then we have had a certain amount of the same sort of thing from General Ernst Remer. Not long ago, he was sentenced by the High Commissioner to three months' imprisonment for making, almost word for word, the type of speech that Hitler was making in the early 'thirties. Ernst Remer was, in fact, a major commanding the Guard Company at Potsdam during the time of the Pütsch in 1944. He took it upon himself to execute a number of senior officers connected with the Pütsch, and was promoted on the spot by Hitler to the rank of major-general. He is now at large in the Western Zone of Germany, and under no form of duress, so far as I am able to determine.
In Eastern Germany, Marshal Von Paulus, who was extremely well treated by the Russians after the fall of Stalingrad, is back in Eastern Germany, and the probability is that he is the commandeir-designate of the East German Army. He has certainly been training it for some years. I mention those individuals, but perhaps those of your Lordships who do not agree with me at all in this matter may say that a few swallows do not make a summer; that it is easy to pick on this or that case of an ex-Nazi general who is kicking over the traces and bringing notoriety to himself. Are those just a few? That is the nub of the matter. If there are more than a few, what chance has Chancellor Adenauer, particularly at the age of eighty, of controlling these individuals—because they are not only individuals, they must have a backing? This resurgence of Nazi staff officers has only recently been at what we may call the regimental association stage—regimental reunions, and so on. They seem harmless enough, and the Control Commission in Germany has been told over the years —I was part of it once—not to be too hard on the Germans and to give them every chance. I agree with that advice, provided that it is cautiously exercised. They are now emerging from this stage of the sports meetings and regimental 672 associations.Something much more concrete is beginning to emerge.
Then there is the Press. Utterances are now appearing in the German Press that would never have appeared a year or two ago, regarding, for instance, the question of the Saar, a burning question at the moment. Lately the Frankfurter Allgemeine has described as grotesque the High Commission's decision that amendments to the Constitution required Allied approval. They described that as "grotesque." That is a strong word for the Press of a nation to use when they have only so recently emerged with a Press at all. The view is increasingly held in certain circles in Germany that once rearmament is well under way they will be able to deal with the French on the subject of the Saar in any way they like. It is one matter to argue with twelve divisions behind you, and another to argue without.
I have not much more to add, so I hope your Lordships will bear with me a little longer. I should like to say again at this point that I do not speak in a vindictive and vengeful spirit. There is nothing to be gained by such an attitude—I am sure I shall obtain agreement on that. We must be careful. We must go slowly and see what we are doing in this matter, because if only one could believe that the leopard changes his spots as quickly as that, it would be a comforting thought. Personally, I am a little inclined to doubt it. Reports have lately come from Germany—indeed, I spoke on the telephone to Germany this morning to a source in which I have confidence—about the activities of General Reinhardt Gehlen. General Gehlen, until Germany's capitulation, was head of Hitler's Anti-Soviet espionage services. He is occupying the same position to-day, unofficially on contract to the American Occupation Forces in Germany. He is an acknowledged expert at espionage behind the Iron Curtain and the satellite countries. At the moment, he is fully used and trusted by the American Occupation Forces. That strikes me as an extraordinarily dangerous state of affairs if true, and I have no reason to believe that it is not.
I should now like to turn for a moment to another matter which has been mentioned in your Lordships' House before, but not for some time. I understand that in October investigating teams (as I think 673 they were called) were set up to look into and review war criminal —sentences—war criminals imprisoned in the prisons of the three Zones; in the case of the British Zone, Werl—and that as a result of these activities a certain number have been released or had their sentences reduced. There is no need for me to remind your Lordships that it is not a question of distinguished generals being tried because they lost. In the muddleheaded minds of some people in this country, they really think that it was that, and they say to each other, "It is just as well that we did not lose." Of course, it was not that at all. Those people who were in the dock in those war criminal trials had committed acts criminal by any code of law. They were tried on the evidence. They were defended by their own people, counsel of their own choosing, paid for by the Control Commission; and they were heard at great length. I well remember a great deal of criticism at the time that they were being let off too lightly. At the time the criticism was that the punishments were not severe enough. Now the criticism is that the punishment has been too severe, and the men are being liberated ahead of their times. But both of those opinions cannot he right. At the time, the trials were conducted, as I say, according to British law and justice. Those men who were criminals then are criminals now, and on what code of ethics it is necessary to release them, I cannot understand.
Six of these war criminal trials were selected by the Government at the time, and full reports of those trials were edited by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe and appeared in six books. One of them was the Struthof Natzweiler trial, one of the trials of which I was President at Wuppertal. In the foreword to this book, Sir Hartley Shawcross wrote the following words, which perhaps I may read:This series of reports, six in number, is 'being published, not to encourage, mcrbid interest, not to keep alive feelings of ill-will against our late enemies, but because the horror through which the world passed during those dark days was not just a nightmare which cannot recur, but is something against which the collective conscience and the alert vigilance of mankind must protect us, asserting the rule of law in international affairs as in municipal ones.I have no doubt that, you will hear, as inevitably you will, sympathy expressed for these criminals; the question, "Why 674 have they not been let out? Their only crime was that they were on the losing side." But of course that was not so.
Before resuming my seat I would say this. If Her Majesty's Government are irretrievably committed—and I take it that they are—to a policy of rearming Western Germany, then may I beg them to exercise the greatest possible vigilance and firmness in the months and years that lie ahead. When Hitler marched into the Rhineland, nothing was done about it. There was a lot of talk to the effect that we could not act on our own when the French, for all kinds of reasons not entirely unconnected with Abyssinia, would not back us up. Hitler went in. Not a shot was fired. The Second World War was on from that date. The Germans are not impressed by people Who give in to them. They are impressed by people who stand up to them. That is the only thing they understand.
Therefore, I ask your Lordships to ignore the various categories of persons who will tell you, for instance, that the Americans feel that a German contribution in manpower to the E.D.C. will relieve them of a manpower problem of a sort: that they will need fewer soldiers for Europe. That is a point. Then there are industrialists who see the German industrialist making hay in the world markets. The Germans have no conscription problem, no National Service problem, and therefore. they are able to undersell not only ourselves but other countries in the world markets. There are those who are affected by that consideration. 'Then there are the sympathetic people who want bygones to be bygones, who say, "It is all over now." They are the people who perhaps did not lose anybody very close to them in the war. They do not want to hear any more about it: it was just an unpleasant episode. Those people are numerous. Then there are the wishful thinkers, those who say, "We are sure it is all right. Last year and the year before we were told that the situation was dangerous; but nothing has happened, and so perhaps the situation is a little bit better because nothing actually catastrophic has occurred."
Then there are those, to list perhaps a biggish category (and here I will strike a slightly lighter note) who have a "blind 675 spot" about the Germans. It is a curious psychological phenomenon in this country. I myself believe—I discussed this with a noble Lord last week and he agreed with me—that it stems from the tremendous distrust and dislike of the Latins and Latin races generally. Therefore, if you do not like "A" and "A" does not like "B," you must like "B." The reasoning is something like that. The Latin races, taken all round, are, I should say, allergic to the British. It is often said that most Englishmen, at some stage of their lives, have had a terrible row with a porter at Calais and that they never recover from it. It is on record that a distinguished officer of the Brigade of Guards years ago gave it as his considered view that "Niggers begin at Calais." Those are only the views of a few categories of person who would like this thing to go forward without thinking very much about it. If there are other categories—and possibly there are—I should not like to take up your Lordships' time in enumerating them; but I doubt whether posterity will deal very kindly with any Government of this country which, with such recent data available, exposes the country once again to the furor Teutonicus. Nobody could accuse the present Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, of being anything but a realist, and he is on record as having said not long ago, in 1952, I think.Soon perhaps the strains of the Sambre et Meuse and the Wacht am Rhein will be heard in the West. Let us hope that it does not all turn into Deutschland Uber Alles.
§ 5.47 p.m.
My Lords, it is some time since I inflicted myself on the House —indeed, I have not broken silence, except for a few words, since last July—but I happen to have paid a visit last week to Germany and Austria and seen representatives in those countries of the main sections of opinion. Perhaps, therefore, a few observations from me will be allowed this afternoon. First, a word or two if I may—I expect we all wish that we could spend more time on this great subject—on Austria. I have not visited Austria for about six years, but it seems to me that the emergence and uplifting of Austria since the war in face of so many perils and of considerable Soviet occupation are among the 676 great features of post-war history. I had talks with my old friends, the Vice-Chancellor Dr. Schaerf and the Foreign Secretary Dr. Figl. They were as merry as ever; indeed, I think they were rather merrier than ever, and when one thinks of what they have been through one must agree that a strong message of good will and support should go out to them this afternoon from this House. I have no doubt that the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, when he comes to reply, will wish to send some such message.
The coalition in itself is rather a marvel, all things considered. There have been moments when it was supposed to be subject to strains, but there seems no doubt about its basic solidarity. Long may it continue in its present form! I had the pleasure of meeting a very distinguished journalist called Mr. Gedye, whose book Fallen Bastions dealt with Austria some years ago. To-day Austria is no longer a fallen bastion; the bastion is, in fact, in place again, and a very fine bastion of civilisation she presents. I hope that when the noble Marquess replies, following the words of the Prime Minister in another place which were so much welcomed in Austria, he will give an assurance that we shall never accept "No" for an answer from the Soviet Union in our effort to secure the reunification of this gallant people.
I now turn to Germany and I will not be drawn into an account of conditions in Germany as I see them to-day, because many noble Lords have visited Germany repeatedly in recent times and I do not think my report would bring anything sensational to light. But no fair-minded person can fail to admire the material recovery that has been accomplished in Germany in recent years; and few will deny that if you take things as they would seem to somebody who was not unduly suspicious, up to the present the Germans have made democracy work remarkably well. When I refer to their success in making democracy work well since the war, I know I should be expressing the sentiments of the Germans themselves if I suggested that they had received much help, not only materially but in valuable advice too, from the Western Allies; and, as I like to think, the advice from our own country has been the most valuable of all.
The picture of Germany in the grip of. reviving militarism is, in my view, entirely 677 false. I cannot believe that any fair-minded person could go to Germany now and meet people of all sorts, in prominent and in humble positions, and come away and say that the generals were back or the Nazis were getting into the Daily Express has been printing this week a series of articles somewhat to that effect, by that gifted journalist Mr. Delmer. I have every regard for theDaily Express,Whose teaching on the family is sounder than that of any other newspaper—as I have every reason, selfish and unselfish, to understand Far be it from me to take the bread out of anybody's mouth, but I deplore the articles by Mr. Delmer, which really, put in a nutshell, would be poisonous of they were not puerile. I hope, now the noble Lord. Lord Beaver-brook, whom we should wish to see more often here, is back, he will find some other field for Mr. Delmer's talents, where his gifts could be employed more happily and to greater journalistic advantage.
We have heard speeches this afternoon from various points of view and I am not in the position of being under an obligation to reply to them. That task falls to the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, and I have no doubt he will bring the cane down firmly indeed where it is needed I am not referring to anything which has been said on this side, but possibly the cane will descend with the well-known precision of the noble Marquess. When I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin—and I may say how, much I was personally moved by his reference to what then Germans were doing by way of restitution to the Jews—although I disagreed with his general theme I did not find it difficult to follow the advice once extended to me by a very famous man: "If ever you listen to someone who seems to be talking very dangerous stuff and with whom you disagree very violently, try to say to your self, 'This man is quite as sincere as I am and probably a great deal more intelligent.'" I found no difficulty in saying that while he was speaking.
So far as sincerity went I found no difficulty I following the same advice when listening to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, about whom it is perhaps not improper to say that he has already lowered his trousers. He indicated he 678 Was expecting chastisement—and I expect it will be administered from the Government Front Bench When I hear this extreme anti-German doctrine, I am tempted to remind the House of one fact only, which must be in the recollection of some of the older Members. At the beginning of this century this country, which had not been at war with Germany for many years, was probably closer in sentiment to Germany than to any other Continental country. If there is something fundamentally evil about the German character, then our policy must have been a mistaken one for many centuries. I leave it to the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, offering on his behalf a plea of extenuating circumstances in view of the extreme emotion under which he was clearly labouring.
I myself recognize that while there is no military control, no immediate revival of militarism in Germany—and one must remember that the extremists received a very severe smack in the elections last autumn; a point to which the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham might address his attention—the best-intentioned and wisest Germans, and, I venture to think, the best friends of Germany abroad, never put out of their minds the possibility that such a revival might occur I certainly do not come to this Box to beg the House to give a free hand to German rearmament without any anxiety or cares for the future. If I have ever seemed to talk in that way, I should certainly regret it. I think everybody in Germany to-day—those most concerned with this business of making the plan for German rearment—recognises the dangers. I have talked to German socialists and German trade unionists, and I had a particularly interesting talk of over one hour with Herr Blank, who is the gentleman responsible for the shadow plan for German rearmament, if and when it comes into force. If noble Lords have not seen it—though I have no doubt many have—I would call attention to an article in the star by Herr Blank last week, in which he made it abundantly clear that he and the German people for whom he speaks did not want a resurrection of the Hitlerian Wehrmacht or revival of Prussian militarism. And he went on to explain what is familiar to the expersts among us, that there is no question of a Germany army, in the old sense, arising under E.D.C.
679 If I am asked, therefore, now that I have come back from Germany after this most recent visit (and I had not been to Germany for some time, though. I went often some years ago) whether I am a more or less convinced supporter of German rearmament, I do not feel that I can give an answer either way. As I was convinced before, German rearmement, even through E.D.C., is a policy which involves risks, as the noble Lord, Lord Silkin has said, and as has been said by the noble Marquess himself. Before I went, and as I return, I was, and am, convinced that German rearmament in this form is absolutely essential for the defence of Germany, of Britain and of the whole free world; and I would still justify German rearmament, not only on strategic but on moral grounds.
When I talk of moral grounds I have two points in mind. In the first place, it is impossible to treat the Germans indefinitely as second-class human beings and to say to them, "You are partners. but we cannot trust you with adult instruments, with weapons." That, I think, is an impossible basis for partnership in the long run. Secondly, as the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said earlier, it is in my opinion unfair to the people of this country to ask them to bear such a heavy share of the common defence unless the Germans also are asked to make their contribution and that, of course, is recognised by the leaders of the German people to-day. But I am much clearer (I know the House likes people who have come back from foreign countries to say how they feel on their return) in my own mind, now that we are all, or nearly all, agreed that German rearmament is coming, that E.D.C. is by far the best method of organising the German contribution. The National Executive of my own Party have recently passed legislation which has already been referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, whose survey seemed to me, as to others, so authoritative and impressive. On February 24 the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party passed a Resolution declaring Labour's support for a West German contribution to European Defence, subject to the condition that the arrangements must be such that German units are integrated in the 680 defence force in a way which would preclude the emergence again of a German military menace. If that is to be done, I have no doubt whatever that E.D.C. is the best way to minimise any possible risk.
In discussions with many of my own political friends, in this House and elsewhere, and indeed with others, I find that most of us in this country are still not clear in our minds as to what E.D.C. will look like, or what kind of German contribution will be made under the E.D.C. plan. I have heard very sincere people in my own Party say that a German military contribution under E.D.C. should allow nothing in the nature of the creation of a German General Staff. I have no idea whether, in our lifetime, a German General Staff will ever come into existence. Certainly, if the Russian Plan, of some German independent force, limited at first but no doubt growing, ever became a reality, there would be a General Staff which would start small and grow very large indeed. And I am bound to say that if Germany became integrated directly into the Atlantic Pact through the failure of E.D.C., although the German General Staff might be democratically controlled and there might be various safeguards, so far as I can see, there would have to be some German General Staff. But under E.D.C. there cannot be a German General Staff. As Herr Blank points out so well in his article, and as he said when talking to me, not even a German General can be appointed without the unanimous consent of the European Council of Ministers.
I realise that there is a difficulty. If I have spoken too harshly to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, I am sure he will forgive me, because, like the noble Lord, I feel very keenly about these things. I realise that there is a difficulty about finding German Generals whose past would satisfy Members of this House. Herr Blank told me that at the end of the war there were about 1,500 German generals of divisional rank or upwards, and that he would require fifty to start with. Well, through this machinery, through the supervision of Herr Blank and his office, and through the European Council, I have no doubt that the best men will be found; and I have little doubt that fifty reliable men will be found out of the 1.500. I have put it as candidly 681 as I can before the House, and I feel that in this way the risks can be reduced to the minimum.
Therefore, so far as E.D.C. goes, I would say that even if we confine ourselves to the purely military aspects. it is far and above the safest arrangement. But if we look beyond those military aspects, I am sure that we can come to an international arrangement which should appeal to many in my own Party and many of those outside who, in earlier days, looked to an International Police Force, not as a militaristic force but as a force for progress and internationalism in the world. Therefore, as I see E.D.C., all in all it is a better way, not only of defence but of reconciliation between peoples who have fought one another far too often in the past and must never fight one another again. We are told that the issue is, German rearmament or no German rearmament? Certainly, when the matter has been discussed in various quarters in this country, that is how the issue is presented. But in my view that issue is now out of date. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, felt that he must put on record his protest—and we all respect him for it—but the time has passed when one can really regard this as an open question. It must now be becoming clear to everyone that German rearmament is inevitable I know that some people may say that this time, in Berlin, the Russians seemed to be more friendly, that there was an improvement in the atmosphere. But one cannot alter one's whole plan for the future of Europe every time there is a smile, or a suspicion of a smile, or the ghost of a suspicion of a smile, passing across Mr. Molotov's face. That would be an impossible basis for international planning.
I am not saying that, taking the last years, everything has gone as we should have wished to plan it. The change from teaching the Germans that they must be demilitarised to calling on them to help was, from an historical point of view, very abrupt. It was forced by circumstances. I think few of us would have planned or wished that the matter should come about in quite that way. But now, to turn round to the Germans and say to them, "We do not want you: the Russians seem to us the chief danger, but things are a little better, so you can get back to your nursery," would be an impossible approach to a great people.
682 There is no question of our adopting that attitude. There is no question of this or any future Government doing so. It would discredit this people for ever.
Therefore, the issue is not, German rearmament or no German rearmament, but whether there is to be German rearmament on a national basis, or whether it is to be German rearmament under international control. I hope that those who may differ from me will not take offence—because I realise the depth of their sincerity; but if ever a German General Staff does come into existence, its emergence will be due to the tragically misguided efforts of those who are still seeking to sabotage E.D.C. I do not question their sincerity or the intensity of their feelings, but I hope to heaven that they do not succeed. But if they do succeed, I believe they will be destroying a tremendous opportunity of peace and security and understanding in Western Europe which will not recur in our lifetime.
At the moment, of course, all eyes are on France. When I was in Germany I spoke to people at the highest levels, and I had the feeling that they were marking time, waiting for this tremendous French decision. After all, the Germans have done everything in recent years, and particularly in this connection, that could be expected of them; and now the French are faced with a colossal choice. I happen to be, although I am not speaking in that capacity, chairman of the AngloGerman Association for understanding between our peoples. Some Members of this House have honoured us by becoming members or by patronising us in various ways. I hope that those who claim to stand for Anglo-German friendship here recognise that any bilateral or exclusive Anglo-German relationship must do more harm than good. Always, if one stands for friendship with Germany, one must remember our friends in France. It may well be that it should be a much wider association, but at the very least the association must be triangular, and not of a bilateral or exclusive character. So I hope that what I say about France to-day will be said with tenderness in regard to their feelings.
One remembers not only the past sufferings of the French but the fact chat under E.D.C. they are being asked to make an actual sacrifice. The Germans 683 are being asked, if you like, to sacrifice the possibility of a General Staff, or of some sovereignty that might otherwise come their way; but the French are being asked to sacrifice something that they have at the moment. I believe that in the long run it will be greatly to their interest if they make that sacrifice. In that respect I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Layton, said so eloquently this afternoon. But we have got to realise how the matter presents itself to them, and of course we must say no word which can add to their distress or bewilderment. But I venture to ask any Frenchman who may read these words—a Frenchman who may perhaps be in a position of influence and who may be wondering how to vote, or to influence others as to their votes—to try to cast his mind towards the years ahead, and to ask himself whether, a few years hence, the destruction of E.D.C. at this time will have added to the security of France or will have fatally undermined it. I believe that any Frenchman who is able to divorce himself from all these eddies of opinion which may be sweeping through his country, who can look a few years ahead, must agree that a favourable decision in the immediate future on E.D.C. is to the benefit of France and of the whole world.
What about our own country? It is not always a grateful task—though it is the fault of no one that I can see—to go to Europe and preach to European countries that they should come together, sacrifice national sovereignty and undertake this or that duty, if, at the same time, we have to inform them that we ourselves cannot become full members of the team, that we cannot sacrifice national sovereignty in quite the same way that we are asking them to sacrifice it. Intelligent Europeans, I think, understand perfectly well our special position, which has already been alluded to in today's debate by various speakers, including the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. But I feel that we have to search our consciences—and this applies particularly, if I may say so with respect, to the Government, not because they have erred in this respect but because they are our Government—to see whether we have gone far enough in entering an arrangement or associating ourselves with an arrangement of this sort. On 684 February 24, in another place, Mr. Eden stated clearly that discussions with the French and other E.D.C. countries would shortly be renewed in Paris. He also said—and I quote his words (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 524 (No. 61), col. 418):We shall do our best to ensure that their outcome will result in a still closer partnership, and thus create the necessary confidence among the Western Powers.A month ago, therefore, our Foreign Secretary was working for a still closer partnership. God strengthen his arm in that way!
For my part, I set no limit to the hope that he may be able to offer the French. I do not altogether understand the argument of my noble friend Lord Silkin that the very fact of our being called upon to reassure the French must indicate that there is something wrong with the Germans. When all is said and done, France and Germany have fought one another repeatedly in past centuries, and the conflicts have not perhaps been initiated more by one country than by the other. France is now the weaker party, and it seems to me natural and legitimate that she should ask for the closest possible association with us. It has been said on a number of occasions, and, indeed, the Prime Minister himself made it plain in that great speech which he delivered on May 11 last year, that already we have given assurances of different kinds. I venture to doubt whether any of those assurances go further than what, in any case, would have expressed our natural interest in our own defence on the Continent. I would submit most earnestly to the noble Marquess. Lord Reading, that if we are calling for sacrifices from other countries, if we are asking for risks to be run, we ourselves must be prepared to make sacrifices and to run risks for the sake of that E.D.C. in which nearly all of us appear to believe so strongly. While I cannot expect very much of a definite character from the noble Marquess on that matter to-day, I hope that he will carry away from this House the feeling that there are quite a large number of us in various parts of the House who hope and pray that our country will, at this crisis of European history, play the biggest card in her power, and subscribe to the largest possible hope.
I end with the reflection that this effort to rearm the Germans, ourselves or with 685 other Allies in our rearmament, is only a beginning; it is only the minimum condition of a foreign policy. That, I take it, was the main theme of the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. In the last few days I have been trying to look at things through the minds of many different kinds of men and women in Germany and Austria — Christians. Democrats, Socialists, trade unionists, business men, and other people of all kinds in those countries. And when I come home and find these questions being discussed in this House and in the country I end with the conclusion that throughout the West there is this tremendous determination to defend our essential freedoms, but, as was implied by the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, to make peace the supreme object. And in seeking peace we surely intend in this House to vie with one another in making the utmost endeavours to see which of us can make the most constructive suggestions, not only because if war breaks out unspeakable horrors would fall, but because the desire for peace is surely dominant within the hearts of each of us. We all long for reconciliation between East and West, between parts of the world which misunderstand each ether so bitterly and so unnecessarily at the present time. Therefore, while I have concentrated upon one almost technical aspect of foreign affairs, my thought has been the same as that of all other speakers who have taken part in the debate, whether they agree or not with German rearmament—namely, that our policy is a policy of reconciliation and our policy is a policy of peace.
§ 6.16 p.m.
My Lords, I wonder if the noble Viscount who is going to speak next will allow me to say a word, as the noble Lord who has just finished speaking referred to something I said. I wish to make clear exactly what I said, or meant to say. Peace is not more important than freedom in our own territory, but peace is more important than waging war to free other people. Settled peace is not more important than defending our own freedom. It is more important than anything else. I wanted to make that plain. I think that what I said was, perhaps, not sufficiently clear on that point.
§ 6.17 p.m.
My Lords, I have been very glad to give way to my noble friend Lord Beveridge, in order that he might make clear what he has just put to your Lordships' House. It would be very tempting to follow the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, in reviewing the anxious aid difficult problems which formed the main basis of his speech. but I propose to turn the debate from the general tenor which it has taken up to this moment, to turn it from the West to the Far East—which may not surprise some of the noble Lords sitting on the Benches opposite. The approach of the Geneva Conference—in which the problems of the Far East will play the principal part—makes it appropriate and necessary, in my judgment, that we should take stock of the situation in the waters of the Pacific and see where we stand in relation to it. I say "we" deliberately and designedly, because we in Great Britain—with our vast interest in the Pacific extending right back into the early days of the nineteenth century; and with the great interests in the Pacific of our sister nations of the Commonwealth, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and India—have a part to play at Geneva of outstanding and supreme importance.The Times, in a leading article on July 2.3, 1953, used these words:The blunt truth is that Korea can be unified only it international relations in the Far East become easier, and it is in the attempt to bring about such lessening of tension that Britain has a special, hard, thankless, and necessary part to play among her Allies.I believe those words to be essentially true.
During the debate that took place in your Lordships' House, in which was raised the question as to what kind of a Conference was to take place with reference to the problems of Korea, the hope was expressed—I certainly expressed the hope, the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, also expressed the hope, and I am not sure that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, did not: hold the same view—that the Conference should not be a conference across the table but round the table. I sincerely hope that this time the Geneva Conference is to be a Conference round the table, not across the table—the noble Marquess will understand what I mean by those terms.
687 Let it not be forgotten, my Lords, that the British delegation will enter the Conference on a different footing from that of some other nations. Whatever be the attitude of some nations towards the Peking Government, that Government has been recognised de facto and de jure by the British Government, and the British delegation therefore enters the Conference on a footing of equality in international diplomatic usage, even though Ambassadors have not been exchanged between the two countries. I think that that point ought to be made quite clear. I feel sure that it will be in the minds of the British delegation when it goes to Geneva. It also ought to be remembered that Britain, having recognised the Peking Government, is of opinion that that Government is entitled to the seat on the Security Council which is now occupied by a refugee Government. It is because of these circumstances that Britain will be able, as we devoutly hope, to play a special part, the thankless but necessary part as suggested by The Times, of attempting to lessen the tension and bringing about easier relations in the Far East.
The fact must be borne in mind that there are differences between ourselves and the United States on the question of China. Speaking in the debate on July 31. 1951, in your Lordships' House. I said (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 173, col. 73):Let us be quite clear on this: that as between ourselves and the United States there is a sharp difference of opinion in regard to the proposed settlement of Far Eastern questions. Do not let us beg that fact.No advantage ever comes, whether in private or in public life, in hiding behind smoke screens of unreal and wishful thinking when we are attempting to arrive at the settlement of anxious and difficult problems. If I call attention to the fact that there are those differences of opinion, it is not with the object of emphasising them; it is that each side should know where it stands when it enters into important discussions such as those which lie before the Conference at Geneva.
Having said that, I think it is important that we should realise exactly where we stand and where the United States stand in relation to the Far Eastern policy of the United States Government. The 688 Manchester Guardian, of February 25 last, states:The most revealing insight into the State Department's thinking on Asia at the present time came on February 23 with the publication of testimonies heard by the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, January 26. The witness was Mr. Walter F. Robertson, Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs. The following answers by Mr. Robertson to questions put by Mr. Coudert, Republican of New York, tell the story:'Mr. COUDERT: Did I correctly understand you to say that the heart of the present policy towards China and Formosa is that there is to be kept alive a constant threat of military action vis-à-vis Red China in the hope that at some point there will be an internal breakdown?Mr. ROBERTSON: Yes, Sir. That is my conception.Mr. COUDERT: Do you believe that that posture can be maintained for an indefinite number of years?Mr. ROBERTSON: I think we must maintain it until there are some indications that the Communists have obtained their objective.Mr. COUDERT: Fundamentally does not that mean that the United States is undertaking to maintain for an indefinite period of years American dominance in the Far East?Mr. ROBERTSON: Yes, exactly '.We know of course that those are not the views held by Her Majesty's Government, but Her Majesty's Government in going into the Geneva Conference are faced by those views which, according to Mr. Robertson, the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, are held by the United States Government. I think it is important that we should know where we stand in this matter. Naturally, I am not asking the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, to make any specific reference to this to-day, but I think it is necessary and essential that Parliament should know what these differences are between the United States and the United Kingdom in order to make it more easy to resolve them when we come to the point.
I pass from what I may call the political side of this question to the question which, as your Lordships know, I have often raised before in your Lordships' House, and that is the question of trade with China. To begin with, I may say that I welcomed the statement made by the Prime Minister in another place on February 25, and it is in relation to that statement that I have something to say, and I have already given notice of it to the noble Marquess, Lord Reading.
689 On February 3, in answer to a Question of mine, the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, informed me that the United Nations resolution of May, 1951, relating to the embargo on the export of strategic materials to China, was adopted in order to provide additional measures to be employed to meet aggression in Korea, and that its scope had not been widened so as to cause it to become operative in relation to hostilities in Indo-China or in any other territories outside Korea and Korean waters. In answer to supplementary questions on my part, the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said this—and may I say, in parenthesis, that I have condensed his answers, but I have been at great pains not to condense them in such a way as to depart in any sense whatsoever from what he conveyed to me. If I have transgressed in that respect, I hope he will so inform me. The noble Marquess said (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol.185, col. 631):If, as we all hope, peace is secured in Korea, a new situation will be created and we shall have to consult our friends on the continuation or the ending of the ban. That would depend on the situation at that time existing.In answer to a further question, the noble Marquess said (col. 632):I should have thought that if the situation which led to the imposition of the ban, the last resolution, came to an end, the matter would have to come again before the United Nations. That would be my view.But words used by the Prime Minister in another place on February 25, might be held to run contrary to the answers given to me by the noble Marquess on February 3, or at least to depart from their scope. The Prime Minister said (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 524, (No. 62), col. 592):We cannot relax restrictions on trade with China until a Korean or, perhaps, a wider Far Eastern peace has been established. But that is the prospect to which we hope the conference at Geneva will open the road.It was exactly with the object of holding the restrictions within the Korean border that I put the supplementary questions to the noble Marquess on February 3.
No one hopes more devoutly than myself, who, in a fighting military capacity, was in at the beginning of the strife that the Pacific has continuously witnessed over such a long period of years, that a Far Eastern peace may be achieved as the result of the talks at Geneva. But what concerns me in the matter of trade 690 with China, and as a means to help for-ward that peace, is that at Geneva there should be no departure from the terms of the 1951 resolution, which related solely to Korea, without the prior sanction of the General Assembly of the United Nations. I hope that the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, will be able to give Parliament an assurance that the words of the Prime Minister do not indicate that any such departure is contemplated or will be embarked upon, and that, without pr. or reference to the United Nations, the scope of the 1951 resolution will not be widened, directly or indirectly, so as to cause it to become operative in relation to hostilities Into-China or in any other territories outside Korea and Korean waters.
I do not desire to enlarge to-night upon the subject of trade with China. All who are interested in that subject welcome the statement of the Prime Minister that proposals are under discussion in order to relax trade with the Soviet, and I hope the situation will soon arise under which discussions can commence in relation to trade with the Far East. I understand it to be the case that general strategic control, not only so far as Russia is concerned but also so far as China is concerned, is under review.
THE MINISTER OF STATE, FOREIGN OFFICE (THE MARQUESS OF READING)
My Lords, the Prime Minister specifically said it did not apply to China.
I understood that C.O.C.O.M. were undertaking a general review. I hope that China will soon be in that review, because British traders are undergoing a very testing time, knowing that other countries are getting inside the strategic controls notwithstanding the action of C.O.C.O.M. The noble Marquess may ask if I can produce instances of such loopholes, but, of course, he knows perfectly well that it is not possible for me or any other person to do so. But if the noble Marquess travels about the country and. talks to business men, he will hear what they have to say. Not very long ago in your Lordships' House a specific instance was given of a cable contract in Peking being denied to British manufacturers and fulfilled by manufacturers from Belgium. However, I do not want to enlarge on that subject.
It seems to me that all signs point to the tide of trade being on the flow in the 691 direction of China, and, despite the actions of C.O.C.O.M., the tide is composed of so-called strategic as well as non-strategic materials. "Business is business," said Mr. Yoshida, the Prime Minister of Japan, not very long ago, and it seems that the same motto hangs before the eyes of certain other countries. I hope that British traders are not to be chained to a stake and submerged in the tide while in their struggles to keep alive they watch their foreign competitors swimming cheerfully along on the surface.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, although the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, is not here, I should like to extend my congratulations to him, in addition to those which he has already received, on the speech in which he introduced this debate. I should like to congratulate him also for having found an opportunity for a debate on foreign affairs which is not regarded as embarrassing by the Foreign Office or even as inopportune by any of our Ambassadors abroad. It is not easy to pick out a date which the Foreign Office does not find embarrassing, and I congratulate the noble Lord on his good luck in having found one such to-day.
I wish to refer to three points in the noble Lord's speech. He spoke of Mr. Dulles and of the apprehensions and misunderstandings which have arisen owing to the recent statement which Mr. Dulles has made. I should say that these misunderstandings are largely due to the fact that there has not been sufficient discussion between Mr. Dulles and members of N.A.T.O. The political organisation of N.A.T.O. is not yet really complete, so discussions are not so full and so satisfactory as they should be. Such misunderstandings will certainly occur less often when the political organisation of N.A.T.O. is thoroughly adequate to the work which it has to perform. Secondly, the noble Lord spoke about the atom bomb. We all share his opinion about the horrors of nuclear fission weapons, and it is attractive to talk about their being outlawed. But, in that respect, two questions occur to me. Suppose Russia says she will come in on terms satisfactory to the rest of the world and we outlaw the atom bomb: in view of her recent record, could we be certain that she will keep her word? Look at the vast hinter- 692 land of Siberia and Outer Mongolia. which has been referred to to-day. It would be a very remarkable system of inspection which could ensure that odd things were not going on in that part of the globe. Furthermore, suppose Russia acts in good faith and does not manufacture the atom bomb, and the bomb is outlawed, it seems to me that that would put the Western world at the mercy of Russian manpower, so vastly superior to anything which the Western nations could muster.
The third point to which I want to refer is what the noble Lord said about East-West trade. There was a debate in another place on Monday on the subject of East-West trade, and I listened practically throughout that debate. Two things were most noticeable. The first was that, though there was great unanimity in the debate about the desirability of East-West trade, broadly speaking, no speaker from any part of the House was prepared to say anything very optimistic about the chances of it. Everybody seemed to feel that the possibilities of opening up East-West trade were not particularly rosy. The second point was that, even going back to pre-war days, when East-West trade was free and unlimited, the volume of our East-West export and import trade was very small; and that even a return to pre-war figures would make little impression upon the economic difficulties which confront this country at the present moment, and would be no real solution to those difficulties. That seemed to me to be clearly agreed.
But to go on to the noble Lord's speech, I feel that we are bound to confess that our foreign affairs at the present moment are not in very good shape. There have been many debates in your Lordships' House, and many debates in another place. I frequently re-read those debates, and the old, old speeches go round and round and round, which indicates that nothing gets settled. In every one of those debates the same old problems and stories come up. We may discuss a particular facet of them which happens to be in evidence at the moment, but the fact that emerges is that nothing gets settled. I would make one qualification in that respect. In one direction there is an improvement, and that is in Persia. Everything is not yet settled 693 there, but nevertheless, there is an improvement: diplomatic relations have been renewed;conversations are going on about oil, and the atmosphere has certainly improved.
Recognising that, I ask myself this question. At the time of Abadan the Labour Government were urged to take strong action—indeed, I think I am not wrong in saying that they were urged to take action in the form of military intervention. I wonder whether or not that was good advice. Had that advice been taken, I wonder what the situation would be in Persia to-day. It was always perfectly clear that, given enough rope, Dr. Mossadeq was bound, in the long run, to hang himself. Well, he has "hanged" himself, and to-day he is in prison. But I think it quite likely that, had we intervened with military forces in Persia, he would have united the country behind him in a fierce wave of nationalism, and I doubt very much whether the situation in Persia would be so hopeful as it is to-day. With that exception, as I say, it is not a particularly flattering picture that we see when we survey the field of our foreign affairs. No one would gainsay that the Foreign Secretary is a highly experienced man. I am not sure, but I think that only once has he been in an office other than the Foreign Office. But sometimes in a Test Match you have an experienced howler who, as the fortunes of the day go, is entirely unable to take a wicket. Nobody gets angry with him; nobody moves to reduce his salary by 100 for the coming year, or anything like that. But the captain is frequently bound to say, "Bad luck, old boy," and take him off and put on another bowler.
The next chance of effecting some improvement in our foreign affairs will occur at the Geneva Conference, which has been referred to so frequently this afternoon. I may be wrong, but I have a feeling that public opinion in this; country is getting rather tired of conferences. Nothing seems to come out of them. I do not know when one could last quote a conference which led to some result which, in the passage of time, has worked out to good advantage. I do not think that I should be wrong in saying that, going as far back as 1918, the great majority of conferences which 694 have been held have really yielded no results at all. We have certainly been busy with conferences lately. We have had the Bermuda Conference. That already forgotten—I never hear a reference by anybody with whom I speak to the Bermuda Conference. The outcome of that is that there is now a garrison of 250 men stationed in the island, and that is the only outward and tangible result of that Conference. We have had the Berlin Conference, which has been referred to so much to-day. I recently saw a critical comment on that Conference which said that it was an exercise in futility, comparable only with Henry Ford's peace ship in the First War. We are told that we now understand the Russian mind, and that it is a great advantage to us to know where we stand with Russia. What exactly did we find out about the Russian outlook in European affairs that we did not already know full well? Once again, with all this paraphernalia of a conference, we proved that they are malevolent, dishonest and insincere people. But we have known that for many years, and it was not worth having another conference to confirm what we already knew.
We are then told that the Conference represented a demonstration of great unity between the three Western Powers. But I have not noticed that that wonderful spirit of unity has resulted in France's ratifying the E.D.C., in spite of great pressure and the hopes expressed by Great Britain and America. We seem to be as far away from that happening as we were before the Berlin Conference. Some recent remarks by Mr. Lester Pearson, and some observations of the noble Lord, Lord Hore-Belisha in that remarkable speech of his the other day, would certainly seem to indicate that there is still considerable misunderstanding, or that there was considerable misunderstanding, on one or two points between Commonwealth countries and the United States of America. But there is this fact: if ever an effort was made to come to an agreement, it was made by the Western Powers at Berlin. Once or twice I was astonished at the length to which we were prepared to go in order to get agreement. For instance, the Austrian Treaty has hung fire because of five objections which Russia has raised to its completion. We gave way 695 on the whole of those five objections. Yet I wonder how many people recollect that one of the Russian conditions was that Austria in the future should give no asylum whatever to any anti-Communist refugees; that it was to be a condition of the Peace Treaty that Austria should give no refuge to people who, for one reason or another, were fleeing from Communism. That is one example of the lengths to which we were prepared to go to try to find agreement; and yet we could not do so.
Now the Geneva Conference is in the offing. I wonder what the prospects are there. For instance, will America bring relief for the French in Indo-China by making concessions on Far Eastern problems? That, I believe, is a great French hope about Geneva. I wonder what is the possibility of that hope being realised—of America making concessions on Far Eastern problems to China, which will possibly result in some aid and relief for the French. Again, at Geneva, Russia, the sponsor of aggression, is going to mediate on Korea and Indo-China. Can we look for a happy, fruitful result from such mediation? Yet how important this question of Indo-China is. If Indo-China goes, then the only intervening buffer between Communism and Malaya is Siam; and with great respect to the Siamese I would not regard them as a very helpful buffer State in that juncture. That is the issue which hangs upon the outcome of this Geneva Conference.
So much for conferences. May I now say a word or two about Germany, which has been the main feature of this debate. For some time my thoughts have been turning to the grave responsibility which is being taken in the decision to rearm Germany. I must confess that what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and by the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, this afternoon, added to the anxieties which I feel about that decision. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said something about the possible result if a referendum were taken on this subject. The Labour Party is the alternative Government in this country, and if a referendum on this subject were taken in the Labour Party both in another place and among the Labour supporters in the country outside, I feel that the result of that referendum would indicate—I do not want to go as far as a 696 majority; I want to put it as low as possible—an enormous volume of reluctance in the Labour Party to take this step of rearming Germany. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, truly said that it is a balance of considerations. That is true, but it is a very fine balance—so fine that it makes me think all over again what a responsibility it is to take upon what is a very fine balance of considerations.
Some harsh things have been said this afternoon by the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, about the German character. I have for long now regarded them as carnivorous sheep. They are people who must be led. They have almost invariably chosen bad leaders, and under the influence of bad leaders they have demonstrated that there is no depth of bestiality to which they cannot fall. That seems to be their character, carnivorous sheep. In this century they have been bad Europeans, and they have inflicted the greatest suffering and loss upon Europe—suffering and loss through which even to-day we cannot see the future. To take the dread responsibility of rearming a country with such a shocking, record—a record which cannot be controverted or denied—is indeed a grave step to take. There is a point arising out of that. The decision is taken, and that brings us to this question of E.D.C. and the part that this country will play in E.D.C.
An argument is brought forward—it was brought forward this afternoon by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury—which I confess I am never really quite able to follow. The argument is that we are so committed to the Commonwealth—that is our real responsibility—that we cannot afford to forge another strong link with E.D.C. in Europe. I find that argument very difficult to follow, for this reason. If this country is to be of any use in the Commonwealth, we must fulfil two conditions. We must be here, we must be in existence; and we must also be strong and powerful. If those conditions are not fulfilled, what use are we to the Commonwealth? I should have said, contrary to the argument of the noble Marquess, that those are considerations which urge us, if we can, to form the closest tie with E.D.C. After all, our being in existence depends upon what defence Europe can put up against Russia. If European defences failed 697 against Russia, what would be the fate of this country? I think it would be such that we should be of little further interest to the Commonwealth. I simply do not understand the argument that to fortify the strength of the European defences would somehow weaken the prime consideration of the Commonwealth link. After all, Australia and New Zealand have entered into a commitment with the United States of America in the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact. That Pact strengthens the position of those two great countries in the Pacific, and therefore we welcome it. I cannot understand why it is right for these two nations to go in with America to fortify their position in the Pacific, while it is apparently undesirable for us to go in with E.D.C. to an extent which greatly strengthens our position in Europe.
§ LORD FREYBERG
The A.N.Z.U.S. Pact was not welcomed by the British. It was entered without their knowledge.
§ LORD WINSTER
I accept that point, of course, but I have not heard of any protest on the part of our Government against the Pact, and I am quite sure that if you took the great mass of public opinion in this country they would be either ignorant of the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact or not greatly concerned by it.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
Will my noble friend excuse me? This is rather an important point, because some of us were connected with this. We have no objection to any of the free nations in the Commonwealth making what arrangements they feel desirable and necessary for their defence. But what we did resent was that American action kept us out either of active participation in the Conference before agreement, or even from sending an observer. I thought I would put the facts as they were knowledgeable to me at the time, and then my noble friend will understand how I feel.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
May I intervene, riot on that subject, but merely to say to the noble Lord that he is having rather a cosy chat with the Front Bench opposite and is almost inaudible on this side?
§ LORD WINSTER
I regret that, but the Benches on the other side are so badly tenanted that I think it is rather natural that I should instinctively, without in- 698 tending to, turn to the Benches on this side.
§ LORD WINSTER
I accept the reproach, and will endeavour to mend my ways. I am obliged to the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, but the objections taken were to matters of method and not to the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact in itself as a means of defence. I never heard of any such objections at all. Regarding this matter of our participation in the E.D.C., I do not know whether the noble Marquess can tell us, when he is concluding this debate, if the matter has ever been discussed with any of the Dominions, and if any of the Dominions has ever registered any protest against our becoming more fully associated with the E.D.C.
In conclusion, I pass on to one or two words about Egypt. I can assure your Lordships that I intend to tread very delicately in this matter because I fully appreciate the existing situation and that moderation in what one says is called for. But I must say straight away, for what it is worth, that am in full agreement with the Government in the action which they have just taken in regard. to the Egyptian negotiations. It is impossible to carry on negotiation under duress. Negotiations, to have any chance of fruitful outcome, must be carried on in a peaceful and constructive atmosphere. Agreement becomes impossible in an atmosphere of murder and threats. It has always been my view—I do not know whether or riot it is, widely shared—that the test of a really successful and good negotiation is that neither side gets what it wants but that both sides get something of what they have been striving for. I think that is the test of whether or not a negotiation is successful. If that is a valid test, then it is one which General Neguib certainly does not realise. His military career and training probably incline him the other way. In war, you either win or lose. Probably it is difficult for him to realise that, in diplomatic negotiation, it is not really a good thing if either side wins completely.
At any rate, the negotiations are broken off. We are now in an impasse. You can never get out of an impasse 699 by sitting on the status quo. Nineteen fifty-six is drawing on, the year when the 1936 Treaty comes up for consideration. I think the strictly legal position in 1956 will be that if the two parties do not come to an agreement to modify the 1936 Treaty, then the 1936 Treaty continues in effect: but I do not find much satisfaction in that.
§ LORD WINSTER
I made an inquiry only this morning. If it is not in the Treaty I will accept it, but I took the trouble to make an inquiry this morning from someone whom I regard as well versed in Egyptian affairs. I understand from him that is the position. If it is— I will accept the demurrer of the noble Viscount—I think there will be very little satisfaction to be gained out of that, because Egypt, either rightly or wrongly, has unilaterally denounced the 1936 Treaty. I cannot see that we shall be in a very much better position if we say that the 1936 Treaty continues. A governing factor must, of course, be what was said by Mr. Ernest Bevin when he was Foreign Secretary: that we cannot get out of Egypt leaving a vacuum behind. I think that still holds true. Our responsibilities to the Canal make that a vital condition. The negotiations are broken off, and a certain period of quiet and time for reflection may conceivably be of value. These young officers who are at the present moment governing in Egypt must surely realise that they have not got very far in in the course of the last year; it may begin to dawn upon them that they have been moving in the wrong direction, and that they should try to make a new start. Then, of course, there are the elections coming along. I wonder if the elections will present us with any more helpful authority in Egypt than that with which we are confronted to-day. We may be confronted again with the Wafd.
There is one question I should like to put to the noble Marquess. Would he consider whether there is some advantage to be gained at some suitable date by publishing a White Paper on the course of these negotiations? They have been very confused and difficult to follow. They have been broken off and brought on again. Our representatives have come home ill on leave, have recovered and 700 gone back. There have been meetings at luncheons; we have heard about informal resumptions of negotiations. People have met at luncheon; then people have met at dinner, and through these negotiations the figure of the American Ambassador has flitted in some unexplained way. I cannot help feeling that there might be some advantage, especially from a world viewpoint, in publishing a White Paper setting out the course of the negotiations to date. Let us have the clear story. If such a thing were done, I feel that it should be accompanied by a declaration of the good will and helpfulness that we should like to show to Egypt the moment that Egypt puts us in a position to show good will and to offer her help. After all, we have given evidence of it already, because we have offered her an honourable association in the defence of the Near and Middle East. There is one thing that we can take comfort from at the moment. Whilst certainly the events in Egypt are deplorable and very much to be regretted, I feel that the new set-up that we hear of between Turkey and Pakistan, and possibly Iraq, outweighs in importance for the future whatever may be happening in Egypt at the present moment.
The last thing I want to say, briefly, is this. I have been thinking lately about the importance of our economic affairs as compared with our foreign affairs. I sometimes feel that we perhaps get them in the wrong order, and that at this juncture our economic affairs may possibly be more important than our foreign affairs. The Prime Minister has not thought so. One can see through all his period of office that his mind has been occupied with great international groupings, concepts and so on, and he has not paid the same attention to our economic affairs. Perhaps the Prime Minister is a little chastened at the present moment by his great idea of a top-level meeting having been, I think, finally thrust aside by President Eisenhower. His idea of a Locarno has also not made very great headway. I have not thought very much of that idea because the logical outcome would be that we might find ourselves compelled to drop the atom bomb to help Russia because some country, goaded by interference from Russia, had gone to war, in which case the Locarno of which the Prime Minister spoke would have 701 compelled us to offer our assistance to Russia.
I have been feeling that very strongly, because, after all, the influence that the Foreign Secretary can exercise is in direct proportion to our ability to stand upon our own feet as a prosperous and secure nation. To bring that about is the function, not of the Foreign Secretary but of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Foreign Secretary finds his task enormously facilitated if the economic position of the country is thoroughly good. That is why I am inclined to think that at this juncture, possibly, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a more important factor in our affairs than the Foreign Secretary. On that account, I welcome—and it ties in with the recent declaration of the Prime Minister, despairing of his top-level meeting—the statement that the thing to do now is to get on with trade. That is the way to get into good relations with other countries. At any rate, I leave that very tentative thought with your Lordships.
§ 7 10 p.m.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Winster, for having introduced the subject of Egypt. I was wondering who was going to plough down that particular furrow, so directly in our minds at the moment. The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, asked under what terms the continuation of the Treaty could be regarded as valid after 1956. I would draw his attention to Article 16, which says that it is agreed that any revision of the Treaty shall provide for a continuation of the alliance between the high contracting parties in accordance with the principles contained in Article 427. That is always regarded, I think, as the basis of the argument that there is justification for regarding the Treaty as still continuable after 1956. I do not want to stress the legal aspects of the Treaty, because certainly we do not want to discuss Egypt in terms of our pound of flesh.
The noble Lord, Lord Winster, referred to a "new look" in regard to the issue surrounding the Suez Canal, by reason of new understandings emerging, on one hand between the United States and Pakistan, and on the other hand between Pakistan and Turkey. We have 702 had a statement from the Foreign Secretary, and obviously we all welcome the statement that we will not be prepared to negotiate with Egypt until Egypt has shown herself capable of exerting law and order within her own territory. We welcome that firmness within the terms of the 1936 Treaty, and, in welcoming it, I suggest that perhaps through these new movements afoot we are justified in the prospect of some adjustment—I put it no higher than that—in the whole aspect of the Suez Canal and its use. I am not going to fall into the error of saying that through these new understandings the Suez Canal becomes redundant, because, even in days of atomic warfare, when the bombs have stopped dropping you still must have men on the ground. You cannot occupy an oilfield by a squadron of fighters or a squadron of bombers. But I suggest that, in terms of defence, what we are witnessing is some slight shift of initial responsibility in the opening stages of a third world war, and the placing of that responsibility on to more reliable political shoulders; surrender, if one could put it this way, of strategic depth—although goodness knows what strategic depth means when a bomber can travel at four or five hundred an hour for a distance of three or four thousand miles—arid the gaining of political stability.
The need for a base will remain, and an understanding to reactivate the base is still needed. There is not the humiliating sense of desperation which has hitherto surrounded negotiations, and perhaps we now have elbow room for discussion. If that is true, I suggest that we can consider withdrawing troops from the Suez Canal not so much as a political expediency—some people would put it as being "kicked out"—but because alternative arrangements for defence, practical arrangements, which can take the first strain, have arisen in the last few weeks. If that is so I would go further than the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, when he said, let us at all events seize the first opportunity to negotiate when negotiations are possible. I would go further and. say we should not even wait for the political climate in Egypt to be favourable, if we can reconcile defence requirements with the withdrawal of troops, through these new understandings that have arisen elsewhere.
703 I can see no impediment to starting withdrawal, but I always believe, personally, that the far more fundamental problem, the enduring problem, is the problem of the irreconcilable, eternal hate between Israel and the Arab world. It is certain that we are never going to be able to influence control or direct that situation so long as Britain is regarded as Public Enemy No. 1 in Egypt. What the solution is it is not for me to say, but it will have to be a dictated decision of the United Nations, supported by the full weight of the United States and Great Britain. If we are ever to achieve that kind of decision, the sooner we can remove troops from this horrible area of controversy, away from Egypt, Israel and the cross currents of jealousy which are at work in the Arab world, the sooner shall we be able to tackle the more fundamental and profound situation.
It is always useful to relate one's own personal experience to these discussions, and in so far as the European situation is concerned my own experience is not that of the Army or of the Control Commission but of the British Red Cross. I find myself in profound disagreement with everything the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, has said. My experience cuts right across his conclusions. I came to the conclusion, after that experience, that there was nothing whatsoever inevitable about the German people. I am one of those who believe that history is built up by dangerous corners of chance, and that had the Emperor William's father had the opportunity to reign for 90 weeks instead of 90 days the whole subsequent history of Europe might have been written to a different plan. It is in that kind of context that I should like to say a word about Franco-German relations which the noble Lord, Lord Layton, rightly referred to as the cornerstone of European security.
If we face an enemy at all, I suggest it is a deadly one. If that is so, how the gentlemen in the Kremlin would laugh if they could hear a discussion in your Lordships' House, such as has taken place, expressing anxiety about whether the Germans should receive bomber squadrons and fighter squadrons! And even more so when they hear of an amendment, introduced into the West German Parliament to pave the way for E.D.C., apparently being obstructed by the Allied 704 High Commission! The prospect of wrangling over procedure, and doubts as to who is to sign the Protocol, only result in the complete bewilderment of the German people. That surely all derives from this Franco-German mutual suspicion; and recently, in defence debates both in your Lordships' House and in another place, Ministers have drawn attention to the insuperable difficulties of defending Western Europe without a German contribution. I ask your Lordships, is there anything in this world such as half trust? What does half trust mean, if there is such a thing? If there is, then it certainly blesses neither he who gives nor he who receives.
On December 11 last year, Dr. Adenauer, addressing a Press luncheon in Paris, used these words:Speaking as German Federal Chancellor, I solemnly and formally declare: it is the most ardent desire of all of us to create a lasting partnership between France and Germany, to render for ever impossible a war between these two countries, which are and will continue to be neighbours. I emphasis and repeat: the most ardent desire of us all.Those were his words, and, if words mean anything at all, I suggest that if France to-day, after seven years, still places her own danger in priority before the danger of Europe—well, our defence plan cannot wait. It is very unfortunate to have to contemplate going ahead with the defence of Europe without France and with the Germans, but I stress that if the danger is deadly, then surely the defence plan cannot wait. The security of the family of Europe as a whole is more important than the security of any one member.
As to the overall problem of this constant division of the world by two rival ideologies, the noble Marquess the Leader of the House has told us that he believes that Russia does not want war. I believe that, too. But, in taking pride for some situation which represents an alleviation, let us recognise that the only real motive is fear, and that all we have really done is to remove the controversy from the battlefield to the conference table. If we are to live with this division of the world for years, perhaps for generations, we need to look for a solution with which to break across the barrier. I do not believe that we are going to solve this basic problem unless we can raise it away from what I call the pragmatic approach. When the 705 Foreign Secretary took office two years ago, in a speech in Paris to the United Nations, he made it clear that, so far as he was concerned, we should be thankful for small mercies; that we should consolidate the situation here and the situation there; that we should treat each situation on its merits; to put it in this way, that we should perhaps take care of the pence and leave the pounds to take care of themselves. With that practical approach we all agree, but it seems to me that we shall never really influence the minds of those men who are dealing with this matter unless, alongside our Geneva conferences and our Berlin conferences, we can set up some kind of forum which is discussing this matter not as a matter of situations but as a matter of principles. I put forward the suggestion, in all seriousness and riot as a matter of fantasy, that if one can influence the minds of these men, then in that way one will be able to influence the situation.
§ 7.24 p.m.
§ LORD GRANTCHESTER
My Lords, at this late hour I will confine myself to just a few comments for your Lordships' consideration, and if I do so in a rather abbreviated form I hope that I shall rot be misunderstood. I think I shall riot be unduly unfair or controversial in describing our policy in relation to Europe over the past thirty years as coming within the category of improvisation. We have paid the penalty for improvisation, even when that improvisation has been ultimately successful. The trouble goes back to the 'twenties and 'thirties, when we seem to have been unable to face up to the problems, as I think we are increasingly doing to-day, which revolved then, as they do now, around Germany. The Berlin talks, if they did nothing else, have at least made clear the conditions which we have to face, at any rate in the immediate future, and it is a policy in these conditions that we now need.
Although I do not in any way wish to minimise the value of the North Atlantic defence organisation as an emergency measure, perhaps I shall surprise some noble Lords by saying that I regard the N.A.T.O. set-up as still within the category of improvisation. In the circumstances prevailing, we had speedily to improvise a defence system, but as a long-term organisation (and that is what 706 we now have to envisage) I suggest that it has features which are unsatisfactory, and some of which are undesirable. To wish to establish, or to allow the establishment of, bases in countries under a different political control is surely art admission that full sovereignty, as we have understood the term, no longer exists. The fact is that in a rapidly shrinking world, and in conditions in Europe for the creation of which they bear major responsibility, even the great United States of America needs to extend its defensive area beyond its frontiers. It seems to me that defence organisation has forged ahead of political control, and we have the undesirable feature of troops in countries outside the jurisdiction of the country in which they are stationed. Strong objections have been recently taken to this in Denmark, and I think further objections are inevitable. Attempts to make political decisions under such conditions must always disclose weaknesses, and, if I may say so, I think the most unsatisfactory feature of the recent debate on defence in your Lordships' House was the failure to show how the co-ordination of decision in any real political sense could be assured. I feel that if such conditions are to become a permanent feature of our life there must be an overriding political control. The way may not be easy, but we must seek to move from improvisation to normal institutions at the earliest possible moment. It is not in accordance with British tradition to leave what must be political decisions to a military authority, and I think that any French Government would hold the same view to-day.
I hope that the Press will help to inform and encourage public opinion in the countries concerned towards a sounder basis of association. We have heard a great deal about the practical steps that have been taken in the drafting of the European political Constitution, and about hesitation to adopt that Constitution. I suggest that: this is partly for reasons which are not generally mentioned, one of which is that these countries realise that their position is not materially different it principle from that of other nations who are taking no such step. If the "Little Six" in Europe were to realise that they were making but the first move in a development inevitable in a shrinking world, if believe that their attitude might be very different. I hope 707 to see taken in the very near future the next step necessary—the establishment of a Political Community comprising this country, the United States of America and Canada. May I, in the jargon of to-day, and for convenience, refer to this as the A.B.C. community—A.B.C. standing for America, Britain and Canada? Gradually, by such means and by the expansion of such political associations, we can substitute political control for the defensive umbrella of N.A.T.O. which we have at present. We must, it is true, proceed by stages towards unity in the direction of policy, but we must make quicker headway in the stages necessary.
This is not purely a matter for Governments, and, as I have already implied, sufficient has not been done to explain the advantages of such policy to the peoples concerned. Peoples are not so much interested in the machinery of government as in its results. Unity in form means nothing to the people unless they can use the symbols and enjoy the fruits of unity. The draft European Constitution suggests a common stamp as the first symbol of unity. Surely, we must be bolder. There is no other single act that would be comparable in its influence with the establishment of a common coin, of a common currency, or, at least, of freely interchangeable currencies, which people in the countries concerned would use. And, granted honesty of administration in each of the member countries, this should not be difficult to arrange. But the first function of these political communities must be the co-ordination of defence and of defence expenditure. I suggest that this co-ordination might result in financial economies. We could also hope to see an end to the mixing of defence—which is a proper function of Governments—with free cultural contacts between peoples.
I look upon the attempt to combine military and cultural objects in N.A.T.O. as particularly undesirable. Defensive organisations must put up barriers—barriers against possible attack. Cultures know no such barriers or necessities, and the only influence upon them which in the long run will not be resented is the interchange of thought. Exchanges in the cultural field may make for understanding where even the most innocently conceived defences may appear provocative and menacing. Is it not possible 708 that intellectual resistance to Communism has been weakened by the intrusion of Governments into the affairs of the Church and the universities, and into other cultural activities? I have never been able to understand why the great nations which have shown so much missionary zeal in the spreading of their faith in pagan lands should fear to meet the tenets of Communism by the same peaceful methods. But this must be a religious or intellectual approach, dissociated from the materialist problems of defence.
An historian of the Middle Ages refers to the existence of two societies and two cultures in early medieval Europe—the peace society of the Church, and the war society of the feudal authority. In all the struggles between the various war societies there was still available independent moral guidance and spiritual leadership, until nationalist movements usurped all authority. We complain—and complain rightly—that the Communist régimes recognise no limit to their authority. But where to-day, even in the West, do we find moral guidance and spiritual leadership independent—and I want to stress that word "independent" —of the Governments of the powerful States whose preoccupation is evermore with deadlier and deadlier weapons of destruction? To whom, I ask, can the threatened and frightened human race appeal? I was glad to hear what the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester said about his contacts. It seems to me that this aspect of our problem calls for further consultation between the religious leaders of the world, including our spiritual advisers represented in this House, and, possibly, the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church and His Holiness the Pope.
But to return to the problem of Europe, to which I first referred. Whatever we may think of them, however much they may have improved, I do not consider that the Germans have yet proved themselves to be good Europeans. They have not, perhaps, had a chance to prove their change of heart, but they have always tended to be too domineering—to put it mildly. For this reason, I think we need not be unduly perturbed that there may be some delay in securing the reunification of Germany. It will give the Western 709 Germans first an opportunity to prove that they can adopt a European outlook in practice. Perhaps the safeguard in this limitation of German power has not been sufficiently recognised in France. For quite different reasons, I suggest, the British also have not been good Europeans. They have tended to isolate themselves too much from the European outlook. The establishment of a community, with the United States of America, Britain and Canada in political association, for limited and clearly defined purposes, is a necessary prerequisite, I suggest, to effective, long-term, British and American co-operation with Europe. I think it is now generally realised—and I hope that this will be accepted by the United States Government—that it is desirable that any undertaking given should be joint and not several. Only by some such policy, I suggest, can political action keep pace with the requirements of these days and overtake and replace policies of improvisation.
§ 7.36 p.m.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, at this late hour in the debate in your Lordships' House I do not propose to detain you for long. I should like to say at the outset of my remarks how much I appreciated the speech of the noble Lord. Lord Grantchester, to which we have just listened. The noble Lord has spoken before in your Lordships' House, hut I have never been here to hear him. This is the first time that I have heard him, and I sincerely hope to hear him on many future occasions. He struck a note which some of us—including, I think, the noble Marquess—have been trying to strike in previous debates on this subject, namely, that if we cannot get some change in the spirit of man towards these great problems, we are in for a very difficult time indeed. I find that view strongly reinforced in what the noble Lord said to the effect that, in the ultimate, verbal protestations are not enough; there must be a very different spirit. I welcome that note in the speech of the noble Lord
We have had a very wide-ranging and interesting debate, and I think we owe a great deal to my noble friend, Lord Henderson, for the manner in which he set the stage for it. His review of the circumstances in general which we have 710 to consider, and the measured and cautious terms in which he put forward firm views, were bound to make for a successful debate. I do not think I have ever heard my noble friend to better advantage in all the years during which he has been addressing your Lordships' House on foreign affairs. There is certainly no need to dot the "i's" and cross the "t's" of his main arguments. We have had many speeches since my noble friend spoke. I appreciated very much the pin-pointing finale of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord. Layton, because he rightly indicated that the next two or three months are going to be extremely critical in regard to what is done in the actual implementation of policy and its effect on the future of Europe and the peace of the world. I am sure that tomorrow we shall read again with pleasure the build-up to what became the final note of appeal in that speech.
I listened to my noble friend, Lord Silkin, with sympathy and with respect. I found he was using some of the arguments which I had been using for some years against German rearmament, a matter upon which—let us face it—there has been a strong division of opinion in my own Party. I listened to Lord Silkin with respect, because he put his case so moderately and gave so much weight to the facts on the other side. I am not going to repeat the argument at length, but I ask anybody who is still concerned about whether or not it is the right policy to agree to the rearmament of Germany in connection with E.D.C. simply to take pages 123 and 124 of the White Paper on the Berlin Conference and see in cold print the submissions of the Soviet delegation for what they call a draft peace treaty with Germany.
I think anyone will be convinced that if that is the object of the U.S.S.R., there is no possibility of escaping the rearmament of Germany, but that the rearmament of Germany will either come in accordance with the wishes of the U.S.S.R.—under their control, controlled through Eastern Germany even in a unified Germany—or else it will have to come in such a way that our process of developing the best and the most democratic side of the German people by collaboration with the Western Powers as a whole in the defence of liberty and democracy, can be continuous.
711 That is the view to which I have come after all that has been said. Therefore that would be my answer to both my noble friend Lord Silkin, and the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham. Although I listened to Lord Windlesham's speech with intense interest—he obviously spoke with a good deal of interest and a good deal of anxiety—I must say I am standing upon the point I have just made. My noble friend Lork Pakenham made, as always, an excellent speech, and he brought us very much to the favourable view of the future of Germany to which so many people want to be brought. I would only say to him, having enjoyed his speech, that I hope all his German geese will turn out to be swans. I think he is inclined to stress a little too much in that direction.
The speech of the noble Marquess, who opened the debate from the Government side of the House, interested me greatly. He is always listened to with respect, especially on such matters as those we have been discussing to-day. As he was speaking, I felt a little reminiscent of all the troubled days that led up to the great outbreak of 1929. He, with the present Foreign Secretary and others, had a great deal to do with foreign affairs then, and it is a comforting thought that there is far greater unity in the country as a whole to-day over current foreign affairs than there was then. There were defections from the Conservative Government of the day. There was strong criticism and divided thought on these matters up until 1939, with pretty deplorable results for us when we had to go into conflict. So long as there was such division there was perhaps far less possibility of getting a concerted policy for the prevention of war.
I personally make no apology at all, and I hope no member of any Party will, for adopting more and more a non-partisan basis when dealing with foreign affairs. It is essential that whilst we should be quite frank with each other in our statement of differences of opinion, in the main presentation of our case we should be able to come to some basis of actual unity. As the noble Marquess was speaking this afternoon, I felt he was saying nothing to prevent me from adhering to that point of view and saying much that would hold me to that line. Perhaps that is the best compliment I 712 can pay him. The idea that he put before us in that plain and simple phrase, that "in the end force alone is not enough." and which he reinforced with that extraordinary quotation from his noble relative, whose efforts in international affairs we have all admired for so many years, set a tone to the speech which we shall not easily forget and which we shall endeavour to pursue in spirit. One point that struck me in the noble Marquess's speech—and it was not a sin of commission but one of omission—was that there was no mention of Lord Henderson's reference to Egypt. I am sure that the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, who is to reply, will say something upon the matter, but it would have been helpful if we could have had from the Government at the opening of the debate a little leadership on the Egyptian situation. Perhaps my noble friend Lord Winster would not have required to say so much about Egypt if we had had a lead-in at the beginning of the debate.
I recognise that at the present moment the greatest question is that of E.D.C. I hope that when the noble Marquess comes to reply he will give us some idea of how we can meet the urgency of the request of the noble Lord, Lord Layton, in regard to the next two or three months. If so, how far are we going in linking up with the E.D.C.? Can we go far enough to influence the French effectively in that direction? We are getting very little information about it. We hear of other people who are against our point of view, making expressions to France and doing things of that kind, and we want a lead. We want to know what is being done in that direction, and we want to know also—and this is the one point I want to put to the noble Lord, Lord Layton—how far we can afford it. What are the ultimate charges which would be upon us in regard to the rearmament of Germany, and how much can we afford in further contributions to effect a necessary physical injection of effort into E.D.C. itself? A good deal of inquiry needs to be made along those lines.
§ LORD LAYTON
I should have thought that that was a matter which we had to face in any case. The people known as "the Three Wise Men" did tackle that issue of the burden on the three countries. I do not see that it will be different, whatever way we do it.
713 The issue in relation to E.D.C. is a constitutional issue, as I understand it; but so far as the gross burden is concerned we should get an indication in the way I have suggested.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
I have no more than the figure of what it will cost us for the maintenance of our troops in Germany in any new circumstances. It is about £120 million a year. If we can get all we want from that expenditure, we ought to make sure that we get it. I feel we want a little more information as to how far the Government intend to go. I do not think my noble friend Lord Winster need worry too much about the attitude of the Dominions on this matter. On the point as to whether we can, in the words of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, go wholly into the federation of E.D.C. because we are already a member of our wide Commonwealth Federation, I do not think for a moment that the principal free nations within the federation of the Commonwealth would ever object to our taking whatever precautions we thought necessary for our safety in Europe.
§ LORD WINSTER
That was the point I was endeavouring to make: that we have had no protest from any Commonwealth nation on that point and they would welcome our taking any action we choose to take.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
I did not write down what my noble friend said. I am glad to know he is at one with me, and that we ought not to have a representation from the Government that we cannot do all we want to do in E.D.C. because of the Commonwealth Federation.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
On the other hand, it is only fair to the Government to point out that there are other parts of the Commonwealth, what we call the Colonial Empire, which also have to be provided for and dealt with within what resources we have available. I am sure that will receive proper attention at the proper time.
I should like to say a few words to the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, before he gets up to speak about Egypt. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord 714 Winster, when he says that it is not possible to continue negotiations, such as were going on, under duress. I also feel strongly that my noble friend Lord Henderson is right when he makes the request that as soon as possible, and without losing any real opening or opportunity, negotiations should be resumed. The situation is exceedingly difficult: in some respects we are on good ground, but in others we are in some difficulties.
We are glad that the reinforcements sent to the Middle East were not required in Persia, but we now have a large number of troops in Egypt because these reinforcements, which were sent primarily as a safeguard for the Persian Government, are still there. That requires a great deal of explanation. I think that as soon as we can get negotiations started, we should make a beginning in the right direction by coming to a voluntary agreement with a Power in a very important strategic situation for us, instead of ultimately having to face a situation in which there is no agreement and where whatever situation we may have to face thereafter is wholly hostile. That would be a great pity. On the other hand, I would say to the Egyptians that, to whatever Party it may belong, it is an exceedingly difficult matter for the Government to get negotiations going, because, by their own acts, they have created such a lack of stability in their own country. We have seen General Neguib, who had already been elected, deposed and re-elected. Now to-day, just before the electrons, he gives notice that he is not going to stand for re-election.
As to the future, my noble friend Lord Winster seems to think that there is a strong argument in favour of the Wafd Party coming back into power. I do not feel quite so sure about that, but it may well be so. In these difficult circumstances, it would be much more helpful if the people who have been responsible for failing to keep law and order there would direct themselves for a time to organising some stability in their own country, so that we could negotiate with far more confidence than we can negotiate with then to-day. We are very anxious for the establishment of greater friendliness and good will amongst the nations of the Middle 715 East. I am very anxious to see that. I have met a great many Arabs in negotiations with these countries in the past. Many of them have been good friends of ours, and we have brought comfort and assistance to them. We have been of great help to almost every one of the countries in the Middle East. We can still be of great assistance to them, if they are willing to come into harmonious negotiations and help us with all the neighbouring nations to defend the Middle East, as we shall have to defend Europe, if necessary, in the interests of the liberty and progress of the free nations as a whole. I am delighted to be present at this debate and should like to thank all noble Lords, especially the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and the noble Lords who spoke from the Liberal Benches, for the contributions they have made. Many of us will read afresh tomorrow a debate Which has been to me so illuminating and so encouraging.
§ 7.55 p.m.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
My Lords, it is, perhaps, a gratifying characteristic of this House that we have now had a considerable debate on Foreign Affairs which has contained a good deal less calorific value than the discussion which took place yesterday on the inflammatory subject of the Committee stage of the Cotton Bill. In the course of the debate a number of interesting observations have been made. Your Lordships will realise, and realise, I think, with gratitude, that I cannot at this moment reply to everything that has been said in the course of a five-hour debate, but I will try to deal with some of the outstanding points which were made.
The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, who set the tone of the debate on such moderate and helpful lines, devoted the greater part of his speech—and has been followed in that by many other speakers—to the question of our relations with Germany in general, and with the E.D.C. in particular. That has been the main theme of many speeches, particularly those which have been opposed to the foreign policy in general of Her Majesty's Government. Perhaps it is right that I should devote the first part of my speech to the line, not so much of attack as of difference of opinion. The position was put first by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin and re- 716 inforced, from a somewhat different angle, by the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, and to some extent (though frankly I am not quite clear to what extent) by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester. I do not think it is necessary at this stage for me to re-argue the whole case in favour of E.D.C., but I was asked by the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, for an assurance that Her Majesty's Government were deeply and sincerely committed to that policy. That assurance is most readily given, for that certainly remains their policy.
There were criticisms of E.D.C. and the position which Germany would have under it, but, as usual, there was an extreme reluctance to make any suggestion about what should be done in its place. The vacuum was to remain. One noble Lord said, "We must not rearm the Germans; we must not put them in a position of playing with these dangerous toys with which they have done so much mischief in the past; we must be very careful of what we are doing." Nobody who has been responsible in any degree for this policy has disguised from himself, from the House or from the country, the fact that it must inevitably involve some measure of risk. What we have to make up our minds upon is this: on balance, is the risk a justifiable one? Is the risk which we are accepting a lesser risk than the one we might incur by taking a different course? We have come to the conclusion that this is a risk which in the general interest must be taken.
I want to say just this about E.D.C. I do not think it is right to look at it, as it has been looked at this afternoon by several speakers who opposed it, as being merely a method of getting a certain number of German divisions inside the European Army. It has far wider and, indeed, more valuable implications than that. Certainly that aspect of it has its value, and I do not pretend that the twelve German divisions which have been suggested would not be of real importance in the formation of the European Army But that is not the beginning and the end of the European Defence Community. What we have hoped throughout will be the ultimate result of the formation of this Community is not merely the European army but the end of a prolonged and bitter feud between France and Germany, which has maintained itself too long in 717 a disturbed Europe; and moreover, the achievement of the integration into the Western world of a country with all the force of intellect and energy that we know Germany to possess.
It is said that the formation of German divisions will be a menace to the rest of Europe. Are you going to maintain Germany without an army? If so, how are you going to do it? What power are you going to exercise over Germany in the years to come to prevent her from forming an army? If she does form an army, is that going to be an army limited to twelve divisions, and integrated with an army supplied from other countries of Europe as well; or is it going to be an all-German army, under the control of an all-German General Staff, which has been the source of so much mischief and suffering to the countries of Europe in the past? Are we not, surely, in a stronger position from the point of view of our own security—if we look at it from no wider point of view—if we accept the situation that those twelve divisions come into the European Army, and are integrated with that Army under the terms which are now well-known and understood in the European Defence Community Treaty, than if we put Germany in a position in which circumstances and the lapse of time force her to take the steps to reconstitute her own independent Army?
When we are looking at the situation, as the right reverend Prelate suggested we should do, through Russian eyes, and see how legitimately the Russians are frightened of this reconstitution of the German Army, it might be remembered that in the peace terms which the Russians suggested, in the terms of the Russian Treaty with Germany, Germany was to have a freely reconstituted German Army, and all Nazi officers and others who wished were to he free to serve in that Army. Is that not a greater peril to us? Surely, it is a far greater danger to us than any that we are running under the present scheme. If I may say so, with respect, to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, it is easy to make an emotional case on this subject. I fully realise that. I myself have not one of those "soft spots" for the Germans to which the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, referred; but one must be realistic in these matters, and one must be practical. One must look at these matters, not from the point 718 of view of emotion but from the point of view of what is going to make the greatest contribution to the stability and security of Western Europe. That is the test I try to apply in looking at it. and that is the reason why, accepting always an element of risk in it, I feel that the present proposal to bring the German divisions into the European Defence Community is, on balance, the most prudent, both in our own interests and in the interests of Europe. It was suggested that they would soon have twenty or sixty divisions, or whatever it might be. As I said before, without the European Defence Community, that might well be so; but with the existence of the European Defence Community that will he a much more difficult feat for them to achieve.
The right reverend Prelate said that on an earlier occasion—and I remember his speech—he had supported the European Defence Community. He said, quite truly, that he had found—I am sire accurately—when he had been in Hungary, people anxious and hungry for peace. He went on to say that it would be a grave blunder if we were to forget or to ignore the hope and hunger of people for peace. We neither forget nor ignore the hope and hunger of people for peace; but what we do resent is the use of that same hope and hunger in human hearts for purely propaganda purposes. That peace in all circumstances must be the dominant note in our foreign policy, and the ultimate objective of everything we do, whether it is a small or a large step, there can be no doubt in one's mind. The right reverend Prelate said that he was afraid that steps taken for defence might turn out to be preparatory for war; that the real danger was excessive defence, and not stopping when we safely could. Would he be prepared to say that at this moment we could safely stop? That, surely, is the whole point of the armed force that we have been building up over these years: not. so that we can dictate a peace to anybody, as was suggested by somebody, but so that we can talk to people on a level of equality, and so that we have behind us bargaining counters which, in this imperfect world, are provided by having a certain measure of strength on one's side when one is entering into negotiations.
719 The right reverend Prelate besought us to look at the situation through Russian eyes, and see how reasonable, and perhaps justifiable, was the fear that they felt, as he said, not of N.A.T.O., but of E.D.C. He went on to give some instances of why they should fear invasion, and so forth. He began his story perhaps a little late. He began his story with the attack by Germany on Russia; he did not go back to the earlier years, and to 1939, when perhaps the situation was a little different and there was an attack on Poland.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
He might have gone back a little further to 1919, when all Europe joined to try to crush the Russian Government.
THE MARQUESS of READING
He might have gone back. I do not entirely appreciate the relevance of that interruption, but I am sure that, coming from the noble Viscount, it was relevant. The right reverend Prelate has explained to me that he was unable to remain in the House, but I thought that, none the less, it was right that I should try to make some answer to his fears, and especially because he ended on this note: that we must examine all other possibilities and take no irretrievable step at this moment. That was the advice which the right reverend Prelate gave us. I do not quite know what it involves us in. It apparently involves us in doing nothing for a limited or unlimited period of time. I would rather accept the view which has been expressed in other quarters, that this is the moment when we ought to do everything in our power to advance matters towards the conclusion that we all wish to see, of a closer relationship between the countries of the East and of the West.
I regret that I am unable to respond to the request of the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander, in the last speech, to go beyond what my noble friend said as regards the position of our association with the European Defence Community. That we shall go as far as we can compatible with the interests of this country, I think the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, may certainly accept; but I am not in a position at this moment to give any further details about the extent of any further association which may be in contemplation between us and the countries of the European Defence Community. When 720 the moment does come. Parliament will, of course, be advised at the earliest possible time. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, in his interesting speech, asked me, among other things, for an assurance in regard to Austria. I entirely agree with the noble Lord that the recovery of Austria from the depths into which she had been forced by the end of the war has been one of the most remarkable phenomena which have taken place in Europe, and probably throughout the world, in the years which have elapsed. She has now restored herself to a position of stability and, indeed, prosperity in a relatively short period of time. The noble Lord also asked—and again I am ready to agree with him—for an assurance that we shall not give up the undertaking that we gave during the war, that in the end, even if it took time, all our efforts would continue to assure the complete freedom and independence of the Austrian State. That has been our declared policy for years; and to that we adhere.
Two or three noble Lords made reference in the course of their speeches to Egypt, and they included the noble Lord, Lord Winster, who was in a slightly censorious mood this evening, and who seemed to disapprove of everything and everybody, with one possible exception. I think I must say this to him, if he will forgive me. He said that it was nice to have found a moment when the Foreign 'Office did not say that they were embarrassed by having a debate. I think that was a little unfair. So far as Her Majesty's present Government are concerned—and I think it was probably true of the previous Government—we have sought to give this House all the information that could properly be given at the earliest moment at which it was ready for presentation to the House. The noble Lord knows as well as everybody else that in foreign affairs there are moments when it obviously is not just embarrassing to Ministers or officials at the Foreign Office but contrary to the interests of this country that matters should be divulged when they are still tin a secret or a developing condition. I am certainly not conscious that we have shown ourselves reluctant to have debates on foreign affairs or, when we have had those debates, to give your Lordships as full information on all matters 721 as it was consistent with the interests of the country itself to give.
The noble Lord, Lord Winster, asked me if there would be a White Paper on Egypt, "at some suitable date." If he means in the immediate future, I can only say that I do not regard this as an appropriate moment, when the negotiations have gone on for some time and are at the moment broken off. Whether, in the future, some moment may come when the whole history of the negotiations can be told, I cannot at this moment foretell, but certainly I am not in a position, to give him any undertaking about the production of a White Paper on the subject. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has said often enough in these past months that he wanted an agreement with Egypt, but the events of the last few days have produced a situation in which, as your Lordships will have seen, he felt himself obliged to say the other day that Her Majesty's Ambassador had made it clear to the Egyptian Government that in the present conditions, which are due to their failure to take the necessary steps to maintain order, a resumption of discussions on the future of the Canal Zone is not possible. He also added this (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 525 (No. 79), col. 8761:The Egyptian Government have repeatedly asked us to have confidence in them. It is for the Egyptian Government to show by their actions that they are prepared to create the necessary conditions for such confidence.I think the whole House will agree with that attitude. We certainly have not had much evidence on which we could base confidence in the Egyptian Government in the recent past.
I must now take a flying leap to the Far East and come within measurable distance of the questions put to me by the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank. As your Lordships know, the Geneva Conference is primarily concerned with two main subjects—a solution of the problem of Korea, and a similar attempt to arrive at a solution of the situation in Indo-China. Lord Elibank said, quite rightly, that we had recognised the Peking Government and that therefore we should regard that Government as on a footing of equality. We should like a little more reciprocity from the Government of 722 Peking before we entirely take that view. The noble Viscount will not forget that our representative there is still regarded (in the somewhat curious phrase) as a "negotiating representative." Valuable though his position there is to us, it is not a full recognition of the action that we took in recognising the Chinese Government.
On the question of trade with China, I want to be quite clear about this. We have said for some time (and the noble Viscount, quite rightly, has been nothing if not persistent about it) that we were anxious, and are anxious, to do trade with China in respect of any goods which are not within the strategic embargo. I want to make it clear, in case the noble Viscount is in any way in error on that, that in the debate in another place on Monday last on East-West trade, when my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade talked about being in contact with other countries with whom we are associated, he was talking about trade with the Eastern European countries. Indeed, the Prime Minister, as the noble Viscount will remember, in his reference in his speech to the subject of East-West trade, specifically put China in an entirely different category from the other countries. The position about China and the embargo I take to be this: that that embargo was applied as the result of a United Nations Resolution. That we know, although some people are apt at times to forget it. It was applied because of the hostilities which were proceeding in Korea. There then came an armistice. In our view—and I believe the House will think it was the right view—apart altogether from the United Nations Resolution, which was still in force, with the fact of an armistice—which is not necessarily an ending of hostilities. although one hopes profoundly that they will not break out again; it was an armistice and not a peace—the situation had not changed to a degree at which the United Nations were prepared to reconsider the Resolution or we ourselves could contemplate any action, although we should certainly not have contemplated any action outside the scope of the United Nations.
The next stage was to have been the Conference under the armistice. That Conference, in fact, has never been called together and has now been supplanted, I 723 imagine, by the Conference which is to take place at Geneva. If there comes out of that Conference an arrangement which will produce peace in Korea, presumably the United Nations Resolution which was directed to a state of war in Korea will cease to have a practical application, whatever the method by which it may disappear. We should then be in a position in which we had, and were free, to reconsider our attitude towards trade in strategic goods with China. I am not going to say at this stage what that attitude would be, because we must take into account what all the surrounding circumstances would be then: and take into account, moreover, anything that might come to our knowledge as to the use to which articles of strategic value which we might be sending to China were in fact to be put. Therefore, I am not in a position to give the noble Viscount the unqualified assurance that he wants, but he may take it that, if and when the situation arises when peace has been achieved in Korea, then we certainly will look closely at the situation of the strategic control in China. That probably is not all that he wants, but I am afraid it is all that at this stage he can get.
May I interrupt the noble Marquess for one moment? Apart from the general question, the substance of the question of which I gave the noble Marquess notice was whether the Prime Minister's statement was intended to extend the scope of the United Nations Resolution, which specifically applied to Korea, to any waters or territories outside Korea. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, gave me to understand that before the Resolution was applied outside Korea it would have to come to the United Nations again. That was the question.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
No statement by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister could extend the scope of the United Nations Resolution as regards the countries who have bound themselves to it—that must surely be clear. But what I was saying was that, when the embargo which owes its existence to that Resolution comes to an end, then we shall have to look at the whole situation.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
Does that mean that we should propose unilaterally 724 to consider the question of an embargo on strategic goods to China by virtue of some assumed action she is taking in Indo-China?
THE MARQUESS OF READING
It does not mean that we should necessarily do anything unilaterally. It means that we shall look at the circumstances then existing, take counsel with our friends and, if necessary, put forward a Resolution to the United Nations. I am not going to commit myself to what we should do in some hypothetical circumstances which have not yet arisen.
My Lords, I am conscious that I have not covered anything like all the points which have been raised. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, talked of my caning people. I would never desire to cane anybody, and certainly I would not for a moment presume to cane anybody, even verbally, for any opinions that he has expressed on the very controversial subject of the European Defence Community; because I realise that people's feelings on the subject are very genuine, deep and strong, and we are all aware that there is a current of opinion in this country which has its quite genuine doubts on the subject. In conclusion of a number of rather ill-connected remarks, which one is somewhat forced to make at the end of a debate of this kind, I would beg those who are genuinely apprehensive of the effects of the coming into being of the European Defence Community to ask themselves what possible alternative there is which would give the same prospect of a stabilising influence in Europe and the same opportunity, by creating, that stability, to produce a situation in which we can, as my noble friend said earlier in his speech, make a genuine effort to break down the barriers which exist between the two halves of the world.
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, I am of course entitled to exercise my right to make another speech. but when I look at the clock, despite the fact that I have taken a number of notes on points on which I might have made some comments, I feel that I shall be meeting the desires of all noble Lords if I simply say that I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.
§ House adjourned at twenty-eight minutes past eight o'clock.