§ 2.59 p.m.
THE MINISTER OF STATE, FOREIGN OFFICE (THE MARQUESS OF READING)
My Lords, with your Lordships' permission and with the permission of the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, which I have already sought, may I say one word as to the suggested course of the debate which is about to follow? I had hoped to spare your Lordships two speeches from myself in the course of the debate, but it occurs to me that, although in another place several hours were given recently to the exclusive discussion of the Manila Treaty and matters arising in South-East Asia, this House has had no opportunity of any exposition of that Treaty on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. Therefore, with the permission of the House, I propose to intervene shortly after the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, and to confine myself at that stage to dealing with, perhaps briefly, the Indo-China situation and the Manila Treaty. And then, with the permission of the House, in winding up at the end of the debate, I will endeavour to deal with the questions, concerning, I have no doubt, a substantial number of portions of the world, which will arise in the course of the subsequent speeches.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH rose to call attention to Foreign Affairs, other than the recent London and Paris Agreements and matters connected therewith; and to move for Papers. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I feel satisfied that your Lordships will welcome the suggestion made by the noble Marquess, Lord Reading. I had intended asking him to give, in the course of his final reply, a greater exposition of certain parts of the Manila Treaty than that which has already been afforded even in another place. After all, no one is better qualified to give an exposition of this Treaty than the noble Marquess, who by his patience, persistence and careful work at Manila did so much to produce for Her Majesty's Government the result that was produced in that Treaty. I shall look forward to the exposition that he is to make.
§ In introducing this Motion on the foreign situation, I should like to say, first of all, that I regret that it falls upon me to do so on behalf of my colleagues, because it indicates the absence of two important Members of my Party on foreign affairs. The first is my noble and learned Leader, Lord Jowitt, whose absence in Palestine makes it impossible for him to speak to-day; and the second is my noble friend Lord Henderson, who has been under medical treatment for some weeks past and is unable to be here, although I am assured that he will not be much longer delayed from returning to your Lordships' House. When I look back on the effective survey of foreign affairs which my noble friend Lord Henderson made at the end of July last, I regret more than anybody that he is not standing at this Box to-day to introduce the Motion which my Party have put down. I would add one other word of apology. My noble friend, Lord Shepherd, who unfortunately has a chill and a temperature and is staying in bed to-day, had looked forward to being here to say something to your Lordships about his experiences in South-East Asia and Malaya in the course of the present year. I hope to see him back soon, and we can look forward to hearing him on that subject on the next occasion.
§ Since the debate in your Lordships' House at the end of July, events in international relations and in diplomatic spheres have moved rapidly—I agree with the comment upon that made last night 1245 by the Prime Minister at the Guildhall. It means that, in order to keep in touch with things, we have to be alert and to take as full a note as possible of what is going on, what the effects may be, and what may be the prospects of success in the ideal that we all pursue—that of obtaining peace through strength and collective security, and hoping to lead thereby to a saving of expenditure by the nations with a view to their earnings and surpluses being devoted to something much better than preparation for the destruction of human life.
§ The disarmament position has led to a good many newspaper comments, private comments and the rest, since the signing of the Geneva Agreements with regard to Indo-China; and there has been a good deal of comment upon the attitude of the representatives of the Russian nation at this time. From my point of view, I welcome any indication which may come from Russia that she is prepared to go further than she has done in the past in discussing a meeting, or in general to discuss the matters which our people and our Allies have been pursuing for so long. A few weeks ago it looked as if there was a substantial move on behalf of Russia in the direction, not of something entirely new but of something much more akin to the suggestions put forward by otter countries as long as fifteen or eighteen months ago, and it was hoped that some progress might be made there. In my view, it is important not to say anything to-day of a character which would tend to discourage the pursuit of good efforts on the part of anybody, but I am bound to say that the answers given to the proper and searching questions put to Mr. Vishinsky within the United Nations Organisations have rather damped down some of the expectations I had so far held.
§ I hope that we shall not find that these proposals have been made purely to influence the progress of other contingent negotiations going on in other inter national spheres; that would be a great pity. Therefore, I hope that in the further conversations and debates which I under-stand are to take place there will be a real move towards getting a sound under-standing. However, we shall have to be careful, and we shall have to adopt something (if I may say this in the presence of the most reverend Primate) of the attitude of the authority in the Acts of the 1246 Apostles: we had better wait and see whether the movement is of God or of man. We are finding it incumbent upon ourselves to make sure that in our actions and in our comments about these various things we do not raise new hindrances.
§ That leads me to raise a point dealt with in another place the other day by Question and Answer, the Answers being given by the Prime Minister, as to who is the authority responsible for making pronouncements of policy in the international and defence spheres. Is it to be the person of this or that Chief of Staff of an international organisation, with headquarters such as S.H.A.P.E.? There will be more of these as the various regional pacts become developed, as they seem to be intended to develop. What becomes of the doctrine upon which I have always been brought up politically, that only Ministers are responsible for the declaration of policy on these matters? The Questions that were put to the Prime Minister in another place on October 28 dealt with certain statements by Field-Marshal Lord Montgomery of Alamein, and dealt with some questions concerning the preparation and training for the use of atomic and similar weapons. It was thought by some critics that the statements were most specific; and that, as announced, they amounted really to a statement of policy. In the last few years we seem to have moved into a situation where, on any question of this kind, that comes under the heading of an international organisation like N.A.T.O., and in which a headquarters like S.H.A.P.E. is involved, we have no right to comment, and no real basis upon which we can criticise that fact that policy is enunciated by a military authority and not by the political authority.
§ I should like to put my view to your Lordships, because I have had to deal with some of these matters before, as Minister of Defence. I hold strongly to the view that, whether it is part of an international organisation or not, and whichever country is concerned, statements of policy and major decisions of military and strategic importance in connection with policy should be made by a Minister and not by a Service officer. Surely, that is not impossible to arrange, in the light of the fact that the responsible body for S.H.A.P.E. is the Council of N.A.T.O., upon which we ourselves are represented. I should like to ask the 1247 representative of the Foreign Office, the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, whether something cannot be done to secure that in future important statements of the kind which have been frequently made in the past by General Gruenther, and on other occasions by other officers like Field-Marshal Lord Montgomery, should be made by Ministers of one country or another who are connected with the Council of N.A.T.O.
§ Now I turn to a matter which has taken upon itself a new aspect and a concrete agreement, if I may so describe it, and that is the position with regard to Persia. We all share in the real joy that once again it is possible to see oil beginning to flow from Persia into the world's industry and the world's markets. We must all regret the serious injury done to the Persian people by the fatuous actions of Doctor Mossadeq in the past, which have led to their serious internal economic troubles. Your Lordships must forgive me if, as a member of the previous Government, I have a word or two to say upon it. In our satisfaction we take note of the fact that Her Majesty's Government have had to pursue exactly the same kind of steady, patient negotiations in order to arrive at the settlement—not in all respects satisfactory, but a great improvement on the situation that existed—that we adopted when we were being pressed by the members of the then Opposition to say specifically whether or not we were prepared to take military action. We were faced at that time with a difficult situation. We did not have the full support of the United States of America for any such military action. We were quite prepared to take military action if necessary to defend British lives, but we were not prepared, in view of the situation in the United Nations Organisation, to say that we would use military action in order to save British property—a very different thing.
§ Some of the remarks that were made by the Opposition at the time about our attitude were very irritating to us. I want to say, therefore, that I am glad that, in the circumstances, the Government of the day have pursued the patient, persuasive negotiating, policy which was forced upon the Foreign Office in 1951. I would just add this. The Agreement itself provides for some compensation. I do not think that the compensation 1248 obtained is anything like as much we were asking for at the time of the negotiations in 1951. Nevertheless, the fact that some compensation has been paid is an acknowledgment by Persia of the fact that they did break, by unilateral action, a contract which was supposed to run until at least 1993. On the other hand, this Agreement provides for a revenue of about £79 million a year to Persia, under which they will greatly benefit and which, I suppose, will be regarded as rent paid in respect of the use of refineries.
§ There is one other thing I wish to say. This is my own personal view, and I do not commit anybody else. At the time I was very much in the confidence of the late Mr. Ernest Bevin. From time to time every Government must negotiate and act for great commercial concerns in this country, and it is vastly important that when a great deal of money is being made in other countries from such concessions, due regard is paid to the needs of the native population. I think it is a credit to the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company that so much was done at certain stages of their stay in Persia. There is no doubt that much of the equipment of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and some of their housing arrangements were a vast improvement on anything that had ever been attempted up till then for the common people in Persia. Whoever takes over the rearrangement of capital in the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company to-day, and finds the vast sums revealed as having been built up as hidden reserves in that country, will begin to wonder whether something more could not have been done at the time, and whether this is not another case of "Not enough and a little late." I do not want to say more about it, except to wish the greatest possible success to the Treaty which has been entered into by the Government and the commercial results evolving from it. I hope that the manner in which the Government have dealt with it at this stage will be the way in which they will conduct such negotiations in the future.
§ Now I come to the Treaty about which the noble Marquess has kindly promised to intervene at an early stage and give an exposition—the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty. As has been indicated in another place, the Party to which I have the honour to belong certainly do not intend to oppose this Treaty. But there are a few things I 1249 wish to say about it. First, I think the common comment in the country about the Treaty is that, desirable as it is to have made a start in getting a pact of some kind in this dangerous area, it is much to be regretted, from Asia's point of view, that the representation of Asia within the signatories of the Treaty is so limited. After all, there is a majority, if I may so describe them, of white Powers adhering to the Treaty, and a minority of Asian nations. It excludes from its ambit, for example, such important nations as India, Ceylon, Burma and Indonesia. I should have thought that the view which was expressed about this matter a considerable time ago by the Foreign Secretary, when he was quite rightly justifying some delay in action, was correct: that if there was not adequate representation of the Asian countries themselves in such an Agreement it could not be of very great value. That is a point to which the noble Marquess will, no doubt, pay some attention. We are looking forward to hearing what he has to say about it.
§ The question immediately arises as to whether or not sufficient endeavour was made to enlarge the scope of Asian adherence to the Treaty in time for it to be effective. I looked rather carefully at the speech by the Foreign Secretary in another place on Monday last, and in answer to interpolations what he really said was, "Well, the other Asian nations have been fully informed and consulted at all stages"—I am paraphrasing his words, but I think I am giving the right effect. That is quite proper; but what is felt in many circles in the country is that it would have been advisable, especially in view of the situation in the Far East and of the undoubted services which Mr. Nehru and his Government gave at Geneva and before Geneva, to have had much more active and formal consultations within the Commonwealth, in order to get, as far as possible, unity of action in this very important departure.
§ I welcome very much the statement by the Foreign Secretary that provision has been specially made for the adhesion to the Treaty of any countries who wish to join in the future. I hope that something will be done in that connection and that there will not be any stonewall opposition to prevent such adhesions because the existing signatories are not willing—I do not say they are unwilling, but if 1250 they should be unwilling—to have any emendation of the provisions of the Treaty as it stands to-day. I am much in favour of having an effective pact in the area. I welcome the fact that on this occasion the British Government have been (I was almost going to say) permitted to join in it. When I think of the attitude in the past of Mr. John Dulles, either on the Peace Treaty with Japan or on the setting up of the pact in the Pacific called A.N.Z.U.S., I must say that I feel that the Government have taken one adequate step forward. They are actually being considered again as, an effective voice and power in settlements in the Pacific. I am not at all sure that there are not many people in America who agree with me on that point and who may have been voting the right way in the recent elections.
§ A further point with regard to this Treaty is that, whilst it is one for collective defence against aggression from any quarter, there is incorporated in it an understanding with the United States of America, witnessed by other signatories, to the effect that the United States applies Article IV (1) only to Communist aggression. I feel that the criticism made in another place in the recent debate is completely justified. It is a new departure, certainly since we have had the great majority of the nations of the world adhering to the Covenant of the United Nations Organisation, to define aggression in two or three different grades or standards. I should have thought that we were all committed to apply ourselves to resistance to aggression, without reference to ideological bases. Therefore, I should like to hear a little more on that matter from the noble Marquess, when he comes to make his exposition of the Treaty. I have read carefully the brief statement made by the Foreign Secretary in another place on Monday. He said that this is a much more difficult part of the Treaty—that is to say, that provision is made only for consultation and that no other specifically binding action is laid down with regard to subversive action. I should like a little further exposition of those two points: the differentiation, and the curious note, as it seems to me, in the Treaty, about subversive action.
§ I turn next to the question of the economic provisions of the Treaty. I had intended to say a good deal about this 1251 matter, but in view of the answer of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to a Question in another place the other day, I do not think I need do so. There had been grave fears about the fine work which has evolved from the Colombo organisation. Apparently, membership is being sought at the present time by many other countries, from Japan onwards. A quotation from the noble Marquess's remarks on this very subject was made in another place the other day. I should have thought that in the allocation of the different nations' resources, such as they can afford for these economic measures, as between the two organisations, there was some danger of a clash. I feel rather reassured by the answer of the Secretary of State in another place the other day. Therefore, I only note it, and perhaps on that particular point the noble Marquess will be able to give us some further details.
§ Then may I say a word on the effectiveness of this Treaty. Apart from the guarantees brought into it, I do not think there is much indication at first sight—I will wait and hear—that the Treaty contributes to the effectiveness in practice of resistance to aggression in the area; that is to say, I do not think that it brings great accession of strength to the signatory Powers, though possibly new military dispositions will have to be made for that purpose. These are points of criticism which I have been mentioning. There may be others that may occur to my colleagues when they have heard the exposition of the noble Marquess, but I will leave that to them. I will conclude this part of what I have to say by saying that I feel greatly indebted to the noble Marquess for the evidence he has given to this House of long, hard and patient work for the public service.
§ I turn, finally, to another important development which has taken place since our last Foreign Affairs debate—that is, the Agreement with Egypt with regard to the Suez Canal. I must say that this is a strange and somewhat mixed story. In some ways it is a very sad story. I am afraid again that what I have to say on this subject has some reference to the connection between the present situation and what was the situation when my Labour colleagues were in office. As far back as 1946 we were negotiating for 1252 some arrangement which would reduce, or perhaps lead to a total withdrawal of, British forces in Egypt, not with the idea that a base for Middle East security should be given up, but to make it a base which might be usable internationally in any joint measures of security for the Middle East. In all the circumstances, in principle I think the withdrawal of British troops is unavoidable, and we make no complaint about that now. We only regret that when we were trying to do the same thing, we were roundly accused of "scuttle." References were made even by the present Prime Minister to the fact that things that had taken many years to build up at great cost were being shamefully dispersed and given away. All I have to say is that exactly the same thing is being done to-day, and perhaps it is as well for the peace of the world that Her Majesty's Government have been negotiating more along the lines which we were trying to pursue in 1946.
§ I think the attempts on the part of the Prime Minister, repeated again last night at Guildhall, to justify the withdrawal from Suez by instancing the development of atomic and hydrogen weapons, are quite obviously beside the point, especially as the Conservatives are, at the same time, referring to Cyprus as a position of considerable military strength and at least as a partial alternative to Egypt. I cannot see any single one of the arguments which are being used today to justify the Conservative action of withdrawing from Egypt which cannot be applied equally to Cyprus or to any one of the nearby Middle East bases referred to by the Foreign Secretary in a rather cryptic manner. I agree that he could not be too outspoken about it, because he knew that other people would be reading our debates in Parliament, as well as the British people. But of the other bases which are obviously needed for Middle East security and which in the new circumstances will require to be developed, not one will be any more effective than would the full occupation of the Egyptian base; so I think that question had better be left aside. Probably the most telling factor which was so often offered to me in advice by Chiefs of Staff in my day at the Ministry of Defence was that in time of actual conflict there was a considerable amount of labour available to the people in 1253 charge of that particular base. That was indeed a notable factor.
§ I think there are some aspects of the Agreement which are still unsatisfactory, for the following reasons. Article 8, under which the British and Egyptian Governments agree to uphold the Convention guaranteeing the freedom of navigation of the Canal (the Treaty was signed at Constantinople in 1888) is being completely ignored at the present time by the Egyptian Government, which is prohibiting the passage of Israeli-bound strategic traffic through the Suez Canal. In my view—and I state it specifically—it is outrageous that British oil tankers, for example, bound for the refinery at Haifa, should be stopped by the Egyptians in the Canal, and equally outrageous that the overland oil pipe-line should be blocked. I think we must hear from the Foreign Office to-day what has been done about that matter. We are making an enormous sacrifice at the moment in coming out from Egypt. Of course, I make no complaint about the withdrawal. But what conditions have the Government been able to secure in making this Agreement? I regard the position from the Israeli point of view as entirely unsatisfactory.
For example, I should like to know from the representative of the Foreign Office, there being no mention of any defence of Israel in this particular Treaty concerning the Canal, and no assessment of her request for the re-establishment of the international rights she has in the matter, what becomes of the Joint Declaration of May 25, 1950, in which the three Governments—France, Great Britain and the United States—declared
their deep interest in and their desire to promote the establishment and maintenance of peace and stability in the (Middle East) area, and their unalterable opposition to the use of force or threat of force between any of the States in that area" —
and then stated that:
should they find that any of these States was preparing to violate frontiers or armistice lines, would, consistently with their obligations as members of the United Nations, immediately take action, both within and outside the United Nations, to prevent such violation.
What has become of that Joint Declaration? Is it still fully effective?
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
But can it really be in the minds of the members of the Israeli nation, when you consider what is being said by prominent representatives of the Government with whom this Treaty has been made? I take just two quotations from recent speeches by Major Salem, the Minister of National Guidance in Egypt. This is the first:The artificial State of Israel must be erased from the map of the world before there can be peace.Do you think, having made this Treaty about the Suez Canal, and with these continual obstacles to free passage of goods to Israel being still maintained by Egypt, that in the light of that statement the words of the statement of 1950 still hold in the mind of Israel? I take another one—namely:As for the problem of Palestine, that is a problem which can be solved only by force. That force"—this is significant—will not be achieved until the Suez Canal is freed.That is a most important statement, and I invite the Foreign Office, through the noble Marquess, at any rate to tell us whether, in the new circumstances, it is not now incumbent upon us, having entered into this Treaty without these wrongs in regard to the Canal being really remedied, to ask both France and the United States to repeat severally the Declaration of 1950. If that could be done we shall know exactly where we are. On this point I should be very interested to hear from the experienced and sagacious noble Viscount who leads the Liberal Party.
My Lords, the time has passed so rapidly, and we started our debate rather later than was anticipated, that although there are many more topics upon which I wanted to talk, I do not propose to detain your Lordships any longer. But, in conclusion, I will say this. I have been critical but, speaking for myself, I regard some of the things that have been done by the Foreign Secretary, in his recent work, both in regard to the Nine-Power Treaty and to the Geneva Conference before the holidays, as showing him to be a devoted servant of the objective of peace. I do not think it does any good not to acknowledge these things when they are the fact; and whatever task the Foreign Department of the 1255 Government may undertake during the course of their term of office which keeps to this sort of line, they may be well assured that, subject to any constructive criticism we may make, they will get our support in the common and general work for peace. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.39 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
My Lords, this is one of the occasions upon which your Lordships' House engages in a general survey of the international scene, and of the part that is being played in it by our own country. The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, has made a comprehensive survey; he has arranged it on a geographical basis. I, too, propose to consider the foreign situation as a whole, but would regard it rather from the standpoint of the present international climate and the part that our own country may properly play in it as it stands to-day. Happily, in this country there is a large measure of general agreement on foreign policy, and such differences as there are between the Parties or among the public at large are differences rather of emphasis than of aim; and those differences arise from the fact, not always fully realised, that we are pursuing, rightly, and are obliged to pursue, two policies at the same time. One is a policy of national defence, which is military; the other is a policy of international diplomatic negotiation. The first is a matter of alliances and armaments, and culminates in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The other is a question of conferences and agreements, and of diplomacy in general, and, above all, at the United Nations.
The difference of emphasis is to be found in the fact that the Right wing of the Conservative Party, for example, emphasise the first of those policies. They are somewhat sceptical of the possibility of getting any permanent agreement with countries of the Communist bloc. They say that such agreement can be achieved only by a change of heart, and that there is little sign that such a change has been effected, or is likely to be in the near future. Our primary duty therefore, they say, is to look to our alliances and our defences. On the other hand, the Left wing of the Labour Party emphasise that all armaments fail to provide a solution, that only one thing is 1256 really essential—the settlement of differences and the establishment of international good will. The central body of British public opinion (including the whole of the Liberal Party) hold that both these policies of defence and diplomacy are equally essential at present. Both must be pursued as parallel and simultaneous policies. To some extent the second may interfere with the first. If it appears that things are going well in the political and diplomatic sphere, there is then a likelihood that effort will slacken in the defensive and military sphere.
We have to appeal to the electorate to support a policy which is very costly in money and very arduous in the sacrifices demanded of the people by way of universal military service. All the Governments of the Western Alliance, N.A.T.O., have to try to persuade their peoples to submit to this heavy taxation and to their young men having to sacrifice some of the best years of their lives to military service. Russia, on the other hand, has no electorate because she has no elections. One could observe the simulacrum of an election, the movements being gone through, recently in East Germany; but as in the case of the plebiscites that used to be held in Germany, if one contrasts these German elections with the recent elections in the United States the differences between a sham and a real democracy can be seen. Of the former plebiscites in Germany Doctor Goebbels is reported to have said on one occasion to the people, "You may vote 'yes,' or yes'."
But public opinion, even in Russia, has to be carried along to permit of the heavy burdens that are laid upon the people there and in other countries of the Soviet bloc. Consequently, there is a temptation on the part of Governments to emphasise the greatness and the imminence of the danger with which they are faced, and even to continue to do so when, in fact, the imminence is less and the danger may have diminished. Just a few years ago, we in this country, and people throughout the Western world, were in a state of extreme alarm. We thought that war might come the next week or the next month, and that, if it came, we had nothing to stop a Russian army, with its enormous reserves of manpower, its powerful support in armoured divisions, in the air and in its submarines in great 1257 number on the sea. We thought that we could not stop the Russians from marching to Paris and then to the Channel, and presenting a danger of the utmost magnitude. In view of the circumstances at that time, we were willing to make any sacrifice to secure our defences, totally regardless of cost. Now the question is whether the situation has been, or is likely to be, in any way altered.
A few days ago the Secretary General of N.A.T.O., General Lord Ismay, speaking in London, said:I believe we are going to get into a very difficult phase now, because there is already a sort of tendency to say that the military danger has receded since Stalin's death. I think there is no evidence of that whatsoever. Every time the Council of N.A.T.O. examine it they have found no evidence that the military danger has receded.I am not sure that all of us would agree with that view. The general situation undoubtedly is better. Four or five years ago the world was in a state of grave unrest, often of acute danger. We had gone through the experience of the blockade of Berlin, supported as it was by Russian military force, which might easily have proved a spark to set alight a great conflagration, In Korea, war, involving many thousands of casualties, was openly proceeding—undoubtedly the result of deliberate aggression on the part of North Korea against South Korea, backed by the force of China and with the moral support of Russia. In Indo-China a great war was continuing, year after year; and when, later on, there came a military crisis at the siege of the fortress of Dien Bien Phu it needed very little to bring America actively in to the field with force of arms, which again might have developed into a conflagration that could have been contained only with difficulty, if at all. In Persia we had the incident at Abadan, to which the noble Viscount has just referred. If the Government of that day had taken the advice which the noble Viscount mentioned, and had sent a naval expedition, that intervention, again, would certainly have been resisted; bloodshed would have been caused; and once more there would have been a little war which might easily have become a great one. In Europe, the post-war settlement of Germany was making no progress; tension between Germany and France over the Saar was becoming even greater. At Trieste, a very perilous situation arose, a 1258 situation which, at its climax, caused both Yugoslavia and Italy to move whole divisions of troops to guard the frontiers of the disputed territory. In Britain we had the Egyptian question in its most violent form—a considerable army had to be sent. In the Sudan, too, there was unrest, and throughout the world the atmosphere was one of chronic apprehension and frequent alarm.
Is not the situation to-day very different? The Berlin blockade had to be abandoned. The London Conference, which we are not discussing to-day and which has been referred to a later debate, has achieved a great change of scene in the European situation. In Korea, fighting has long ago been stopped, and the most difficult question of the disposal of the prisoners is also solved. The Indo-China war has, for good or for ill, come to an end. The Sudan question has been settled, and the question of the British occupation in Egypt has also been settled. The question of Trieste has been settled at last; and there would be a temptation to quote the old phrase:a la fin tout s'arrange,were it not that the dates 1914 and 1939 make it impossible to indulge in such wishful thinking. Therefore, armaments are still necessary; and when Lord Ismay says that the military danger has not receded, I, and also, probably, all your Lordships, will not for a moment venture to speak of it as a strategic or tactical question. But the military situation depends upon the political situation, and since the political situation has changed, the military danger, though it has not disappeared, may be considered to have receded. And the causes are fairly plain. The death of Stalin seems to have released tendencies that were already gathering. It was consummated by the fall and the execution of Beria. The incipient revolution in East Berlin and in other towns of East Germany seems to have proved a warning to the Russian Government to mitigate some of the rigours of their policy. In Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Roumania there is a measure of public opinion, though it is timid and rudimentary, and there can be little doubt that the Russian rulers must have grave searchings of heart as to whether, if a crisis did come and a war arose, those countries would prove to be, after all, assets and not liabilities.
1259 So we find that the Iron Curtain has been lifted a little, though not very much —certainly not altogether. The mutual interchange of visits on the cultural, scientific or sporting level is now encouraged. We welcome here with great pleasure a Russian football team, or Russian crews at the Henley Regatta. More important, perhaps, than any of these is the fact that Russia is now taking part in the work of the United Nations in a very different fashion from that which she has done hitherto, and is actively engaged, and efficiently engaged, in participating in the humanitarian agencies of the United Nations, from which she had previously withdrawn for a number of years. Commercial missions are being exchanged, and active steps are being taken for the better promotion of trade. Even the Kremlin seems to be no longer a scene of palace intrigues and midnight executions, but has become a place for children's parties and international jollifications.
In China, too, we notice a difference. China, with her ancient traditions, where the people had enjoyed thousands of years of a relatively high civilisation, with intellectual and moral standards and artistic achievements far in advance of any that existed over the greater part of Europe, is now showing more civilised behaviour in many respects. A few days before our last debate there was that terrible attack upon a British civilian aeroplane, and in your Lordships' House many of us felt it right to voice our feelings of great indignation that such an attack should have been, apparently deliberately, undertaken. However, the Chinese Government immediately, and without any attempt at evasion, recognised that they were at fault; and a few days before this debate, without denying their responsibility or cavilling at the amount of compensation required, they undertook to pay in full the whole of the claims for that attack. More important even than that, they are taking steps to prevent a repetition of the attack. Both these countries, Russia and China, have been passing through a revolutionary phase, and a phase of ready resort to violence, dictated probably, to a large extent, by fear for their own security. Now that they are beginning to feel more assured as to the stability of their régime they are perhaps inclined to take a more 1260 moderate course. They are evidently becoming a little ashamed of the habit, especially in Russia, of vituperative abuse in the Press, on the radio and even at the United Nations, which they must realise degraded their own status in the world and achieved nothing at all. And they have learned to recognise that bad manners are never good diplomacy.
That is the situation as we may envisage it to-day. The course of events since the ending of the Second World War has been very different from that which followed the First World War. Then there was a single exhausting Conference at Paris, a conference which went on for many months and which was followed by a single group of Treaties endeavouring to settle all questions all at once. They were settled for the moment, but not very well. After the Second World War, all Parties, and all countries, I think, were agreed that the right course was to proceed gradually, step by step, and not to try to do everything at a stroke. That has been going on, and of late with considerable success. Much, of course, remains to be done. After ten years, since the conclusion of the war, there are a great many questions still unsolved. Europe is in a fluid condition which may very soon by crystallised—but that we are not discussing to-day. Austria is in a case by itself, and there, everything depends upon Russia. The attitude of Russia with regard to Austria may be said to be, and I am sure is generally considered to be, quite indefensible. She holds on to Austria merely for reasons of her own strategy and as a bargaining counter in any diplomatic negotiation. If Russia really desires a relaxation of tension, Austria is a question which can be dealt with at once, for all points of detail are already agreed and nothing but good will is necessary for a meeting to take place and for an agreement to be signed, for the independence of Austria to be restored and the occupation ended.
The Middle East is still a region causing very grave anxiety. I should like there to endorse and support all that has been said by the noble Viscount who has just spoken. At the present time, the whole difficulty arises from the fact that seven Arab States which attacked Israel, of their own motion, have refused even to discuss the conditions of making peace. Hostilities stopped years ago, but the 1261 situation remains war-like. It is they who, in spite of repeated invitations, have refused even to get down to discuss any terms of peace unless beforehand the whole of their own position is agreed and is so recognised by the Government and people of Israel. The position in Korea is that there is still no settlement, no peace, no unification of the country—only an armistice. But perhaps a step forward may be possible in the not distant future, now that the United States Government appear to be more ready to recognise the intransigence and obduracy of President Syngman Rhee; who seems to be becoming the Mossadeq of the Far East and is likely to do as much harm to his own country as that Persian politician did to his. In Malaya, the position is still unsettled, but apparently the contest is drawing to an end, and it is now for China to make it clear that she no longer supports the Communist terrorists. If that were done, the movement would quickly come to an end.
In looking around so far, I have suggested various things that ought to be done by the other side, but it would be foolish to think that it is not necessary for our own side to make some concessions or adjustments. The situation is unlikely to be such that all the wrongs or all the actions to be taken are on one side. In Britain, I think we can claim that we have done a great deal. We have only to mention Persia, Sudan, Egypt and, above all, European Union, where it is the British Foreign Secretary who has taken that energetic part, with brilliant success, which we so cordially applaud and for which we are so grateful. If more is to be done by the British Government and people, Her Majesty's Government, with the support of all Parties, will be ready to do it; but the main responsibility (and this is the last instance on which I will touch) must necessarily rest with the United States.
The United States also has contributed very largely to the improvement of the situation, partly by the utmost generosity which she has shown in strengthening the economic situation in Europe and elsewhere, and in providing the means for a strengthening of defences. Although, rightly and properly, that has been done primarily with an eye to the security of the United States herself, there is no doubt that it has been done also for the sake of the peace and welfare of mankind. 1262 The American people recognise the responsibility that belongs to power and they are a most important factor in the present century. In 1850—it seems an astonishing thing to recall—the population of the United States was 23 million. In 1950, it was 150 million, while in industry, production, finance and military power the multiplication must be by a far higher figure. Moreover, a hundred years ago the great effort of the American people was wholly internal, in the domestic development of her own resources, culture and welfare. Now, her effort is external as well, and she is playing a full part in doing her duty to the world. The next step is with her, and it arises mainly with respect to the American attitude towards China. We have discussed this matter many times in your Lordships' House. I myself have spoken on it every year for several years past, and my noble friend the late Lord Perth was the first in either House of Parliament to emphasise the absolute, necessity of recognising the right of China and of the present Chinese Government to a seat on the Security Council of United Nations.
It is easy to see that it is natural for the Americans to take the line they have taken with regard to China. For a long time past the relations of the United States with China have been partly commercial, but far more missionary and humanitarian. Hundreds, and possibly thousands, of towns and villages in China have been the scene of American activity, providing schools, hospitals, clinics, churches and universities while in America, tens of thousands of towns and villages have had their committees supporting that missionary and educational effort in China; and everywhere they have their day devoted to China and the missionary effort there. Geographically, we here are often inclined to forget that since the ocean now unites more than it divides, California is confronted by Japan and China. Since the Chinese revolution, all this religious and philanthropic effort has been stopped and largely wiped out by a ruthless revolutionary Government.
When, in addition to that, the Korean war took place, and the American people suffered tens of thousands of casualties through that warfare, which was undoubtedly the work of the Chinese (and America bore almost the whole brunt of 1263 that war), there arose in America a wide feeling of resentment and anger. So we understand the menacing language that was used by General McArthur when he was in command there. I remember the declaration by a member of the American Cabinet, the Secretary to the Navy, who, referring to China, said:Let us have the courage to be aggressors in the cause of peace.He was advocating a preventive war in China. It is true that he was immediately disavowed and lost his Cabinet position; nevertheless, that kind of expression was being used from time to time. Therefore, we watched with keen interest and some anxiety the results of the recent American Election, particularly from this point of view. I heard on the radio—some of your Lordships may have heard him, too—Joseph Harsch, a reliable reporter of American opinion, commenting upon that election, and in the course of his broadcast he said that sometime ago something existed in America which might be called a War Party, but not now. It is evident that the result of that election is that that vast electorate has struck a note for moderation and caution, which should be welcome to President Eisenhower. The election has had for the President a strange result, because, in effect, it has been a defeat for his Party, but a victory for his policy.
The next word, therefore, now rests with America, and particularly regarding the admission of China to the Security Council as soon as the Korean war is definitely over. It must be obvious to the whole world that the present situation cannot possibly endure. The Charter of the United Nations allots five permanent seats to the Great Powers, and those five permanent seats are now occupied by the Governments of the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, France—and Formosa. Is that to go on indefinitely? The position is obviously merely comic. It is no answer to say that Formosa is an island of great strategic importance to the Western Powers, and particularly to the United States, or that the United States have certain commitments to Chiang Kai-shek. Those considerations cannot be allowed to override the clear intention of the United Nations Charter.
It is insufficient to say that the Charter also requires that the members should be 1264 peace-loving nations. Legalistically you may say that China is not peace-loving; but you can say just the same of Russia. And what is more important is that the United Nations Organisation is intended to be, and should be, the Parliament of man, and all should be admitted, irrespective of their ideological beliefs. The worse their beliefs are, the more necessary it is that they should be there, in order that their views may be presented and discussed and, if they are wrong, exposed in the full blaze of world publicity. Opinion in the United Nations itself is moving fast on this matter. Mr. Lester Pearson, the representative of Canada—and Canada has played a great part, with wisdom and practical sense, in all these matters—said the other day that while he did not ask for the admission of China immediately, Canada could not wait for ever before recognising Communist China; and evidently, as soon as the present Government of China is recognised by practically all the nations in the United Nations, her admission to her place there cannot any longer be denied.
I come, lastly, to a fact which is not at the backs of our minds all the time, but is in the very forefront—namely, the effect of the advent of atomic weapons upon the affairs of the world in general. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were terrible events, but the new discoveries would produce results more horrible by far. The hydrogen bomb and the other bombs may scatter radio-activity to a degree that would be fatal to human life. Every great atomic establishment—that at Harwell, and others in this country and in the United States—is obliged to have the most rigorous and detailed code for preserving the safety of the workers against radio-active contamination which may in many cases be fatal, springing either from electronic particles or from dust that has been made radio-active. We know that that is so; but we do not know to what extent, or how quickly, these deleterious factors may extend after the explosion of a large number of hydrogen bombs. We do know that now man has found the means to poison the very atmosphere that the earth carries with it in its eternal circling of the sun. That poisoning, if it took place, and if as a result of a prolonged war and the explosion of many bombs it contaminated the whole atmosphere, would affect not 1265 only all human life but animal life as well—not human organisms alone, but all of our fellow creatures; not only our flocks and herds, but the wild life of the forests and plains, imposing at the same time probably terrible suffering on each of those affected.
Nobel, who gave his great fortune, derived from the manufacture of explosives, to found the Nobel Prizes, said to his friend Baroness von Suttner, the author of a once famous book Lay Down Your Arms, in 1876:I wish I could produce a material or a machine so terrifyingly destructive on a large scale that war would become completely impossible.Well, have we reached that stage now? And will it have that result? We say that war has been made impossible, and we may believe that it has been; but nevertheless, war may come in spite of that. We thought we had learned the lesson at the end of the First World War. We had not. Have we learned the lesson at the end of the Second World War? Will mankind learn the lesson at the end of a Third World War? If it has been so foolish twice, it may be foolish a third time, no matter how great the destruction may be. There can be no victor and no vanquished; all will be ruined. Nevertheless, it does not follow that war would be ended. Nietzsche. Hitler's favourite philosopher, wrote about seventy years ago that perhaps mankind may be at the beginning of several centuries of great wars, to which he looked forward with exultation as being, as he said, "the heroic age of mankind." But to every man of morals and religion such a prospect is not to be viewed with exultation, but with horror. We have, in fact, to choose now, to-day, between co-existence or co-extinction—those appear to be the only two alternatives.
Nobel said that he would wish to see war made completely impossible. But it may be that within a year from now there will be another global war, with half a dozen hydrogen bombs dropped hereabouts, and it will be no consolation to us to know that we and the Americans have also been able to drop similar bombs on Moscow, Peking, Baku, Stalingrad or wherever it may be. We stand, therefore, in the crisis of modern civilisation. Perhaps a thousand years from now some archæologists, belonging to a civilisation succeeding our own, will send exploring 1266 expeditions to this island and will find, in what had been London, not a Temple of Mithras, but the ruins of St. Paul's and of the Palace of Westminster, and will endeavour to explain what were our dead religions and our dead politics. Let us rather grasp every opportunity now, at this stage, to end the tension which is blighting for the coming generations our present world. Let us not assume that when Russia and China make advances they are necessarily insincere and their proposals are a trap. Perhaps they, too, may realise that the welfare of their own people is at stake. Perhaps they, too, care for humanity at large. So whoever it may be who offers the hand of friendship, let us not spurn it; let us not hesitate or falter, but grasp it—and quickly.
§ 4.22 p.m.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Viscount who opened this debate for what he was good enough to say at the end of his speech in regard to the desire of the Party with which he is associated to co-operate in the Government's foreign policy so far as their corresponding views permitted. I am grateful also, in a more personal sense, for what he was kind enough to say about my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary and his efforts for the promotion of peace, and certainly not less grateful for what he was good enough to say about myself. As I indicated at the beginning, I propose at this stage to deal merely with the Manila Treaty and certain aspects of the problem which are so closely ancillary to the Manila Treaty that it is difficult to separate one from the other.
At the time of our last debate on foreign affairs, on the eve of the Recess, I was able to tell the House of the agreements which had been reached in Geneva on Indo-China, of the Heads of Agreement reached with Egypt in regard to the Suez Base, and of an Agreement with the Government of Saudi-Arabia in regard to arbitration in respect of the Buraimi dispute. The months that have passed since then have seen Agreements arrived at over the Persian oil dispute and over Trieste, and also the signing of the definitive Agreement with Egypt and of the Manila Treaty. I make at this moment no reference to the Nine-Power Agreements on future developments in Western Europe, since that matter is expressly excluded from to-day's field of 1267 discussion. These are, not to put it too high, surely not inconsiderable advances towards the removal of at least some of the causes of friction from international affairs.
Your Lordships will recall that the main results of the Geneva Conference were, first of all, to obtain a cease-fire; to arrange for the sorting out and regrouping of the opposing forces in Viet Nam; to establish the integrity and independence of Laos and Cambodia; to set up an International Supervisory Commission to regulate impartially and effectively the carrying out of these arrangements, and to secure, in the form of declarations made by each of the countries participating in the Conference, their continued interest in the observance of the terms of settlement. It may be appropriate to add here that those terms were welcomed by the Governments of Australia and New Zealand and by all those countries which we have come to call the Colombo Powers—that is, India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Burma and Indonesia.
In the months that have passed since then, Her Majesty's Government have kept under continuous observation the progress of events in Indo-China, since they are deeply concerned in the outcome. On the whole, the terms laid down have been closely adhered to, and apart from a few minor incidents the procedure worked out at Geneva has been faithfully followed. The International Supervisory Commission, composed, as your Lordships will remember, of India, Canada and Poland, was promptly constituted and installed, and is engaged in carrying out its onerous task. That task has, no doubt, been most complex and laborious in Viet Nam, since in that country, as the result of the demarcation of regroupment areas, the movement of substantial numbers of the population was involved both from the Vietminh area in the Hanoi region to the south, and from the previously Vietminh controlled area in the south to the Hanoi regroupment area in the north. These transfers have been carried out, on the whole, smoothly and efficiently.
In Cambodia, the situation has given rise to little or no trouble, but the position in Laos has been far less satisfactory. 1268 In the two northern provinces of that country the Royal Government have been in difficulties in exercising their administrative functions, since, as the result of the wholly unwarrantable invasions by Vietminh forces, one in the spring of 1953 and the other on the very eve of the opening of the Geneva Conference, both these provinces had been overrun. We flew over this zone on our way both to and from Manila, and it was clear that the terrain, remote, mountainous and inaccessible, presented formidable obstacles to the efficient working of the international supervisory arrangements. Nevertheless progress has been made; there are, indeed, recent indications that the so-called Pathet Lao, the insurgent forces in Laos, may now be preparing to submit to the authority of the central Government. I hope that these indications may prove reliable, though for the moment we must watch for the genuine fulfilment of the promises which seem to have been made.
Such have been, in outline, the post-Geneva developments, gratifyingly reassuring up to a point, but still leaving us with an obligation on a wider scale to concert with our friends measures directed to creating a permanent scheme of collective defence, both as a safeguard to such countries within the area as might wish to avail themselves of it and as a deterrent to any country which might otherwise feel free to indulge in acquisitive adventures. Drawing a line is, after all, not a sinister or aggressive operation: it is merely in the nature of a warning against rash and hazardous actions, and should not arouse anger or resentment in anyone who has no intention of crossing the line so drawn.
It was in pursuance of that policy that the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty, which is commonly and conveniently known as the Manila Treaty, came into being, and since the House has not previously had an opportunity of considering its contents, I thought it right that I should attempt to give some particulars of it, without going into superfluous detail. I am reinforced in that view by certain passages in the speech of the noble Viscount who opened this debate. At the end of Mr. Dulles's visit to this country in April last, a communiqué was issued jointly by him and my right honourable friend the Foreign 1269 Secretary, in which it was stated, among other things thatWe are ready to take part with other countries principally concerned in an examination of the possibility of establishing a collective defence … to assure the peace, security and freedom of South-East Asia and the Western Pacific.From that moment onwards the principle of the bringing into existence of such an arrangement stood, though discussions continued about the exact timing which would be most favourable to our interests. It will be plain, therefore, I think, that we and the United States and other countries considered this over a considerable period. If I may say so, the somewhat ponderous irony of the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, in saying that we had been "permitted" to come into this association of countries, was a little irrelevant, considering that we have been in close touch in regard to it from the inception of the idea.
The Geneva Conference came to an end on July 21, and with the coming to an end of that Conference the reasons which had led Her Majesty's Government to incline to delay proceedings for the establishment of a defence organisation as long as the Geneva Conference was in being no longer applied. During the period between April and July—I want to emphasise this—my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary had been in close touch with his colleagues from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who were, in fact, present in Geneva personally for much of that time, in order to attend the Korean side of the Geneva Conference. He was also in frequent telegraphic communication with the Colombo Conference countries. At the end of the Geneva Conference, as your Lordships know, a number of different Agreements were signed, which had the effect of providing for a cease-fire, although they were to come into effect in the different States on different dates.
On August 14, when all those ceasefire Agreements had come into force, a statement was issued by Her Majesty's Government, Parliament then being in Recess, which foreshadowed the Manila Conference. That statement said:Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom have agreed with other like-minded Governments that the situation in South-East Asia calls for the establishment of a collective security arrangement, in accordance with 1270 the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations; to strengthen the fabric of peace in the general area of South-East Asia and the South-West Pacific.It went on to say that the Government of the Philippines had offered the necessary facilities and that a conference had been convened for September 6. It was followed by the statement:This meeting follows consultations between the United Kingdom Government and other Governments over the past four months.This Conference, at which, in addition to Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, the Governments of Australia, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Siam and the United States of America were represented, duly assembled.
The purpose of the Manila Conference was not to produce an elaborate and detailed plan of co-operation. It was not intended to work closely on the N.A.T.O. pattern, or to endeavour to attain precise details of an organisation with such matters as the appointment of a supreme commander to control the various forces, matters concerning the provision of forces and so forth. It was rather intended to define mutual obligations based upon common principles in relation to the maintenance of the sovereignty and integrity of such countries of South-East Asia as might be included within its ambit. Its predominant object was to unite the parties to it in a scheme of collective security to counter both open aggression against, and covert subversion of, the freely constituted Governments of the countries in the area. The proposed terms had been discussed before the assembling of the Conference, first in Washington and then by a working party in Manila which had preceded the arrival of the main delegation. The result was that, when the leaders of the various delegations met on September 6, they were able to complete their task in three admittedly strenuous days' work.
I may perhaps at this stage indicate the more important Articles of the Treaty as ultimately agreed. By Article III the parties undertake to strengthen their free institutions and to co-operate in economic measures designed to promote economic progress and social well-being. By Article IV, which is perhaps the most important Article in the Treaty, each party recognises in paragraph 1 that aggression by means of armed attack 1271 within the Treaty area against any of the parties, or against any State or Territory which the parties by unanimous agreement may hereafter designate, would endanger its own peace and safety, and agrees that it will in that event act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.
This Article, in the form in which the draft Treaty was first submitted to the Conference, contained the phrase "Communist aggression," which had been inserted during the preliminary discussions at Washington in response to American views. Her Majesty's Government, however, considered—and their opinion was shared by most of the other countries concerned—that the use of the word "Communist" in the Treaty was unacceptable. But the United States delegation were in this difficulty: the President had been given by the Senate general powers to authorise action when the peace and security of the United States were endangered, and those powers were wide enough to cover any specifically Communist aggression in the Treaty area, since in the American view, such aggression could properly be regarded as a threat to the peace and security of the United States. But any other form of aggression would not automatically enable the President to act on his own initiative, since the United States had no territorial footing in the area and therefore could not contend that its interests were automatically affected. The normal constitutional process would therefore have to be initiated and might take a longer time to complete.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
I am much obliged for a representation of what the Americans thought was their constitutional position, but in the public mind there is this thought. Supposing Japan made an attack, would they not be able immediately to deal with a question of that kind as much as with a Communist one? Or if they felt that there was a Communist aggression and all the Powers thought there was no aggression at all, how would it work? This division is very disturbing.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
Is it really very disturbing? Perhaps I might continue. I was going to develop the matter a little further. Perhaps I may be allowed to do so. The United States 1272 delegation, as I have said, attached great importance to the retention of the word "Communist"—such great importance that they were, I think probably it is only right to say, prepared to agree to the excision of that word only on condition that they attached to the Treaty a reservation in terms which noble Lords who have read the Treaty will find there set out—a reservation to the effect that, in executing it, they did so with the understanding that Article IV, paragraph 1, was limited to specifically Communist aggression or armed attack, but that in the event of aggression other than Communist aggression or armed attack they would consult with the other parties under Article IV, paragraph 2. So far as Article IV, paragraph 1, is concerned, it is quite true that they restricted themselves to Communist aggression, but they went on to say that in the event of other aggression or armed attack they would consult with the other parties under Article IV, paragraph 2, which involves consultation, as distinct from action, according to constitutional processes.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My noble friend raised the question of joint obligation. I know that the point of the Treaty is that the parties should act together. Supposing the United States considered that there was an act of Communist aggression, are we bound to come to their aid, or are we also able to reserve our position?
THE MARQUESS OF READING
Under Article IV, paragraph 1, each party acts according to its own constitutional process, and in the case of subversion under paragraph 2 their liability is limited to consultation. That is the position.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
No doubt it is due to the fact that my mind is confused, but supposing the United States were to say, "Here is a case of Communist aggression; we are going to act," are we bound to act with them—of course, by constitutional processes?
THE MARQUESS OF READING
No. What we are bound to do is to take the action which is prescribed under Article IV, paragraph 1. If each party recognises that aggression by means of armed attack in the Treaty area would endanger its own peace and security, then, in that event, each party agrees that it will act to meet the common danger.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
The noble Marquess is so patient that I am ashamed to ask him another question, but I am not clear about this. We regard aggression as being aggression. The United States has a different and rather more extended definition of aggression. Supposing they are acting on that definition, do our joint obligations come into effect?
THE MARQUESS OF READING
More limited, not more extended; theirs is a more limited obligation. I should have thought that Communist aggression, as distinct from general aggression, was more limited. I have tried to make the position clear; I am sorry if I am not succeeding. Each country is bound to take action according to its own constitutional processes. If the United States takes the view that there is aggression then, under this Treaty, she is free to take action. If we come to the conclusion that something is an aggression within the meaning of Article IV, we, too, are under a duty to take action. But it may be that we should take action thinking that it was an aggression in general, and that they would say, "No, we do not think it is a Communist aggression; therefore we are not going to take action." Each country has to look at the situation as it exists at the time when it is faced with this problem of aggression, and then decide what action to take according to its own constitutional processes. I should have thought that answered the noble Viscount, and I hope it is clear.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
I think it has been made much more clear since the statement of the noble Marquess that the Americans undertake a more limited direct obligation. They take the immediate obligation where they consider there is Communist aggression. They do not take the unlimited position that we take in regard to any aggression in the area, in the opinion of the parties to Article IV, paragraph 1. That is the difficulty, and I do not think it is very fair of the Americans.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
The noble Viscount has put the situation quite accurately. That is the position. It may be that we have assumed a slightly wider obligation than the others, but at the same time I think one has to bear in mind what the nature of aggression in 1274 that part of the world is, on the facts of the situation as we know they are likely to be, if indeed the situation happens at all.
§ LORD PETHICK-LAWRENCE
May I just intervene? I think I understand what is troubling my noble friend on the left. I should like to be quite clear myself as to who makes the decision whether aggression has taken place, whether or not it is Communist aggression. Is it a general decision, or do we have to make that decision for ourselves on our view of the situation?
THE MARQUESS OF READING
It is an individual decision; it is the decision; of each particular country. Each party recognises, and it takes action in relation to its own constitutional processes. It has apparently been suggested that because my signature appears together with other signatures below the text of the reservation made by the United States in the printed text of the Treaty, the United Kingdom was, in some way which I confess I do not follow, committing itself to a similar reservation. Of course, there is no such intention or consequence. The reservation is specifically stated to be the reservation of the United States of America and does not extend to any of the other signatories.
Article IV, paragraph 2, is directed against the threat of subversive activities short of actual aggression or armed attack, and provides for immediate consultation, as distinct from action, between the parties in order to agree upon measures of defence. Paragraph 3 of Article IV is one to which Her Majesty's Government attach particular importance, not merely because it was inserted at their instance, but because its terms and its purpose merit careful consideration, particularly by those countries of the region which still look with some suspicion upon the Treaty. It was in our view essential that any country designated under paragraph 1 of Article IV should be assured that its territory would not become a battlefield against its will; and the paragraph in question (Article IV, paragraph 3) accordingly provides that action under Article IV, paragraph 1, shall be taken only "at the invitation or with the consent of the Government Concerned." That is surely, as it was designed to be, an adequate guarantee against those apprehensions.
1275 Article V establishes a Council which will have the task of carrying out the provisions of the Treaty on both the economic and the strategic sides. I hope that it will hold its first meeting as soon as the Treaty has been ratified by the parties. We have offered Singapore as an appropriate venue, and we trust that that will be acceptable to the other countries concerned. Article VII permits an invitation to other countries not yet parties. I do not think that if a country within the region comes along and desires to be included, the noble Viscount need have any apprehension of its encountering opposition. Article VIII defines the Treaty area and also contains power to extend or otherwise alter it, if circumstances so require.
My Lords, I do not propose to take up other Articles of the Treaty but only to say this in general. The Manila Treaty specifically refers to, and endorses, the existing obligations of the parties under the Charter of the United Nations; contains nothing at variance with those obligations, and, indeed, emphasises them. Moreover, the obligations under the United Nations Charter include provisions in respect of possible aggression, just as much as this Treaty does on a regional basis. This Treaty, in fact, is no more than a regional application of the principle which is contained in the Charter. The criticism which has been directed against the Treaty appears to take the form of what I can regard only as two inconsistent angles. On the one side it is said to be so ineffective as to give reassurance to no one; on the other, it is said to be so menacing as to cause legitimate perturbation to the Government of the Chinese People's Republic and possibly to other countries in the area. The critics, as so often, want to have it both ways.
It is also argued that it is likely once more to increase tension in the area which had been relaxed as the result of the Geneva Conference, because, it is said, it has the effect of dividing countries in that part of the world into two opposing blocs. But the answer to that contention is surely that China and Russia together with Viet Minh, dealing only with South-East Asia, are already a solid bloc, and although we greatly hope that they will never take it into their heads to start aggression, if they should do so, we must be prepared 1276 in advance to halt them. And that object cannot be achieved if the aggressors are monolithic in structure and their victims only a number of isolated fragments varying in size and strength.
There is the further suggestion that in agreeing to attend the Manila Conference Her Majesty's Government were acting prematurely—a point upon which the noble Viscount touched in his opening. It is said that the right policy would have been to wait anyhow until the calling of the Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers, which is to be held next January. But that would have left a gap in time of which advantage might possibly have been taken if the determination of the countries assembled at Manila to organise their collective defence had not been made apparent to the world. It is unfortunately true that some of the countries of South-East Asia are not at present parties to the Treaty. But I believe that, in all the circumstances, by far the wiser course was to draw up and sign a Treaty without delay, with as many countries as possible associated with it, even in the absence of other countries, rather than wait, perhaps indefinitely, in order to secure their accession. For as the Treaty now stands it is open to any of these other countries of the region to apply for admission as a party to the Treaty, and we certainly hope that sooner or later—preferably sooner—some, if not all, will have taken advantage of that provision.
There is a not unuseful parallel, to which my right honourable friend made reference the other day, to be drawn from the situation in Europe. A few years ago, when the Brussels Treaty Organisation came into being, it included only a few Powers who were willing to associate themselves with it. But it did come into being; and when the next stage came, and N.A.T.O. was born, it was far easier to get the other countries into the wider sphere of N.A.T.O. because there had already been this regional grouping together of countries under the Brussels Treaty. Although I am now contemplating one Treaty, not two, it will at the same time be far easier to get countries to come into this Treaty, once the organisation and the framework of the Treaty is there, than it would have been had we merely been discussing in vacuo whether or not there should be a Treaty and what form it should take.
1277 The Treaty takes into account not only the military but also the economic aspect. It is obviously not possible to say at this stage what precise form economic assistance under the Manila Treaty may take, or to anticipate the decisions of the Council to be established under it. But Her Majesty's Government are, of course, deeply concerned with this problem in South and South-East Asia as members of the Colombo Plan. At the recent meeting of the Consultative Committee of that body, which I attended in Ottawa, there were four noteworthy features. First—firmly excluding myself from this category—there was the high level of representation, most of the countries being represented by either their Foreign Ministers or their Finance Ministers—a considerable moving forward from the level of attendance characteristic of the earlier years. Secondly, there was the great importance which the Asian members clearly attach to the Plan, and their satisfaction with the results of the meeting. Thirdly, there was the increased measure of interest which the United States, which is a full member of the Committee, shows signs of developing in the Colombo Plan; and fourthly (a point to which the noble Viscount made reference), there was the election of Siam and the Philippines as full members, in place of their previous observer status, and of Japan. With the election of Siam and the Philippines, membership of all the countries of South-East Asia is now absolutely complete.
When the time comes for the Council under the Manila Treaty to consider the economic clauses, they will obviously have to take into account the various forms of aid, including technical assistance, which are also current in South and South-East Asia, such as United Nations technical assistance and the United States Point Four, and, by close co-ordination, avoid duplication of activities as duplication has been avoided with these bodies and the Colombo Plan. For their part, Her Majesty's Government attach great importance to the preservation of the existing character of the Colombo Plan, and feel strongly that it would be doing a disservice to the whole system of economic co-operation, as it is at present understood and practised between the members of the Colombo Plan, if radical changes were to be introduced. The keynote of the 1278 Colombo Plan is that it has no comprehensive central design but is, in effect, a series of partnerships freely entered into between friends for the attainment of specific agreed objects. As such, it has already warmly commended itself to its members, and as such it must be allowed to remain.
My Lords, I have gone over as rapidly as possible what appeared to me to be the outstanding points to which the attention of the House should be drawn, and I propose at the end of this debate, with the permission of the House, to reply to such points on other subjects as may be raised in the course of succeeding speeches.
§ 4.59 p.m.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
My Lords, as there are a number of noble Lords who wish to speak, and as the noble Marquess has told us that he will necessarily make a second speech, I shall be brief; and I trust that I shall be forgiven if I do not attempt to make any comment upon the interesting and important speech which the noble Marquess has just made. It is a safe rule in this House, and perhaps elsewhere, that no one should speak unless he has some special knowledge of the subject. I have no special knowledge of the subject upon which the noble Marquess has just been addressing your Lordships, and I shall confine my remarks to a problem on which I have some special knowledge—namely, Palestine. I first went to Palestine some forty years ago, when it was under Turkish rule. My second visit was paid when the Arabs were openly preparing for insurrection early in the 'thirties. My last visit was at a time when I had to be protected almost wherever I went against possible acts of violence by the terrorists. Though I have not been to Palestine since the State of Israel was formed, I have been in very close touch with a number of people who know Palestine well and are working there.
There are three problems in connection with Palestine which give many of us great anxiety. First, there is the problem of Jerusalem itself—the city which is sacred to three great religions, and which was, at one time, the centre of pilgrimages from all parts of the world. It was understood that Jerusalem was to be 1279 an international city, and this was the advice, or the decision, of the United Nations. I fully realise that there are grave difficulties in carrying out that decision. It is a decision which at present is accepted neither by the State of Israel nor by the State of Jordan. But that makes it all the more important that nothing should be done now which could prejudice the carrying out of the decision in the future, or which might prejudice the possibility, even if the city is not internationalised, of placing the sacred places and other sites, both in Jerusalem and elsewhere, under some international authority.
For these reasons, there was considerable anxiety on the part of many of us when the State of Israel moved its Foreign Office to Jerusalem. That anxiety has been increased recently by the fact that our Ambassador and, I believe, the Ambassador of the United States, have presented their credentials there. I realise that this may be due only to reasons of convenience and courtesy, but it has given rise to a good deal of anxiety and possible misunderstanding. I hope, therefore, that the noble Marquess, even if he is unable to say anything about the future of the city, will be able to assure us that this recent act does not mean that the Government have entirely given up the principle of policy laid down by the United Nations on the question of the internationalisation of Jerusalem.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
Perhaps it would be convenient if I assured the most reverend Primate at once that it was merely by reason of a question of what he called convenience and courtesy that these credentials were sent in as he has stated.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
I am glad to hear that.
The second problem is, I am afraid, more difficult—it is the question of the frontier. The frontier is no real frontier. It cannot be justified by geographical reasons, by strategic reasons, by historical reasons or by common sense. In fact, the frontier is simply an imaginary line; it is the line, I understand, on which the forces ceased fighting when the truce came, and the result is that, in some cases, it runs through villages. In one case that I have heard of recently, the line literally 1280 runs through a village, and a grandfather who is on one side of the line is unable to speak to, or to embrace, grandchildren on the other side. There are other cases where the wells are in the territory of Israel while the village which uses them is in the territory of Jordan. Quite apart from that, there are a large number of cases where the Arabs still have their houses, but their fields are cut off from them by the frontier. From their homes they can watch the Jews, who occupy their property, cultivating these fields and picking the fruit from the trees which the Arabs and their forefathers have planted.
This position is bound to lead to every kind of friction and difficulty. An Arab strays across the frontier, perhaps to try to gather some of his crops; and he is shot. Or he himself may be the aggressor. On the one side, there are the Jews, armed and ready for any attack, never knowing where at night an attack may be made upon their homes. On the other side, there are the Arabs, full of resentment, feeling that their ancestral fields have been taken from them, and deprived of the means of livelihood. Where on the one side of the frontier, there is hate and, on the other, fear, sooner or later there is bound to be the gravest possible trouble. And this frontier now is one of the danger zones of the Middle East. I would, therefore, press most strongly on Her Majesty's Government to urge the United Nations either to see that the frontier is properly and adequately patrolled or to make another attempt to see that a more reasonable frontier is settled.
The third problem, which is closely connected with the problem I have just mentioned, is that of the refugees. There are at the moment nearly 900,000 refugees from Palestine—the exact number is, I believe, 880,000. The numbers are increasing every year. Some 30,000 babies are born every year, and when allowance has been made for deaths, the number of refugees is increasing by some-thing like 20,000 every year. These refugees are living in conditions of poverty and squalor. It is true that some of them are in the great camps which have been provided by the United Nations, but it is a complete mistake to imagine that the majority of the refugees are in these camps. The majority are living where they can, some in the towns, 1281 some in the villages—their own villages already overcrowded. Many are living in the caves, and in the summer many are living and sleeping out of doors, under any shelter they can obtain. And the children, as well as the majority of the adults, are always very near to starvation and hunger.
Great work has been done by the United Nations, by U.N.R.R.A., in providing food and keeping these people from actual starvation; but the facts are these. There are 30,000 children of just over one year of age who are drawing only half a ration (that ration is 760 calories), far below what is necessary for health or life. And there are 45,000 children who are not drawing any ration at all: they are dependent on what, possibly, can be earned, or upon the various allowances made by the charitable societies which are endeavouring to help them. But the most ominous fact about the whole position is that very few of these people have been rehabilitated. Year after year, they are living in the same surroundings, which are gradually deteriorating. I believe that, out of the 900,000, only some 9,000 have been settled in some kind of, more or less, permanent occupation, or in homes of their own. If this position continues, there will be a festering sore on the borders of the State of Israel.
These unhappy refugees, gradually deteriorating, are filled with intense bitterness. It is easy to say that they are perpetually making raids across the frontier—no doubt often they are; and the retaliation which follows is often out of all proportion to the offence. But those who censure them for this must remember the position they are in, close to the fields and olive yards which they planted, seeing them in the hands of those whom they regard as their foes. I do not think there can be any settlement in Palestine, or any settlement of the problems which confront it, unless something is done on a very much larger scale for the refugees. The position is made the more anxious (here I think perhaps the noble Marquess may be able to give some reassurance) because the United Nations mandate, which provides relief for a large number of these people, is due to come to an end next year; and if it does come to an end next year, a large number may be doomed to starvation. Although this 1282 question may seem to be a small one, compared to the great and vast questions which have been discussed this afternoon, this is a problem which is not only of the deepest concern to Christians all over the world, whatever their Church may be, but may, unless dealt with and dealt with wisely and properly, threaten the peace of the world.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, perhaps to begin with I may say how entirely I endorse what was said so movingly by the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of York. I happened to be in Istanbul a couple of years ago at a Parliamentary Conference, where I met representatives of all the Middle Eastern countries; and at that time this problem of Arab refugees was already causing intense bitterness between Palestine and her neighbours, and great concern to all the Arab States.
My sole excuse for taking part in this debate this afternoon is that I have just returned from a short visit to the Soviet Union. The fact that Russia has been referred to on several occasions during the speeches to which we have listened seems to show that there is considerable interest among your Lordships in Russian policy. Perhaps I may be allowed to remind the House that I was a member of the Parliamentary delegation and that I had the honour of being chosen as one of the representatives on that delegation of your Lordships' House. I spoke last week to the leader of the delegation the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, just before he left for the United States, and he asked me to tell your Lordships how sorry he was to be unable to be present to report to the House personally. He asked me to inform your Lordships that our hosts, the Supreme Soviet and Government of the Soviet Union, received us with superb hospitality and great kindness, a view which I think is shared by every member of the delegation. I should like to take this opportunity, on their behalf, of expressing our warmest thanks for this friendly reception.
During our short stay, I think we all did our best to understand the Russian point of view, and I hope that I shall not weary your Lordships if I mention briefly some of my own impressions. The ordinary Russians we met in the towns and in one or two villages we visited 1283 were charming, friendly, law-abiding, peace-loving folk, who lived in a Marxian fairy tale peopled by capitalist ogres and Communist knight errants. However that may be, I firmly believe that they realise that it will take many years before the standard of rude Victorian comfort promised by their leaders is generally available. They also realise that another war would be the worst of all possible setbacks. The horror of war is something very real in Russia. That is partly due, I think, to rational anticipation of its consequences, and partly to an indelible recollection of the suffering caused by the German invasion of their country.
No promise of their leaders is more generally popular than the policy of "peaceful co-existence." We were particularly anxious to find out from the authorities what exactly they meant by this much-advertised expression. Therefore, the first question we asked Mr. Malenkov when we met him in Moscow was whether he regarded peaceful coexistence as a long-term arrangement between capitalist and socialist countries, or as a brief interlude before world revolution. He was quite definite about the durability of this relationship. Perhaps I may be permitted to quote what he said in reply:Socialism has advantages over capitalism which will be proved by peaceful competition. We respect the sovereignty of other countries and we shall not interfere in their domestic affairs.Although I do not know whether other noble Lords interpreted his speech in the same way, I thought the Prime Minister took rather the same view in this respect when he spoke last night at the Guildhall. He said, if I am quoting rightly:It would be to no one's disadvantage if the Powers of East and West tried to live together in a friendly way.Presumably that is another way of saying that we should try to bring about "peaceful co-existence."
But, of course, the practical difficulties in this policy are very considerable, and some of them emerged extremely clearly from Mr. Malenkov's reply to our next question. We naturally asked how this policy was to be carried out. Here again perhaps I may be allowed to quote what Mr. Malenkov said?We believe in collective security under the United Nations. We do not believe in military 1284 blocs, which we think contrary to a policy of peace.The last sentence in that answer makes two things perfectly plain: first, that the Russian conception of security is entirely compatible with our own, and secondly, that the essentials of Russian foreign policy have not changed since Stalin's death. They obviously regard our regional security areas, such as the area in South-East Asia, which the noble Marquess has just expounded, as aggressive, military Alliances which will be used by the United States, as the dominant partner, to serve its own nefarious designs against the Soviet Union. The power of the United States is their bugbear, and they would like to expel American influence from Europe and Asia. Fortunately, the present Russian Government, unlike the Governments of Germany and Italy before the war, do not seem to be prepared to use force in default of agreement. They have become accustomed by this time to diplomatic deadlocks with the West and have come to regard them as a much lesser evil than war.
These opposing views of national security seem to make a general settlement as far off as it has ever been. I do not believe that negotiations, even at the highest level, could dispose of these basic differences. This does not mean, of course, that the Russian Government are unwilling to reduce specific tensions between East and West in different parts of the world. I think the marked change we have seen in the last few weeks in the Russian attitude over Trieste, Yugoslavia and even Turkey, where they seem to be a little more amicable, does suggest a most unexpected willingness to have more friendly relationships with these areas in Europe. I am inclined to think that Mr. Malenkov is more conciliatory than his predecessor, and there is therefore a better chance of agreement about many important specific matters, including disarmament and the non-military use of atomic energy. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will take full advantage—I am sure that they will—of the present opportunity, because opportunities in politics do not last for ever.
I suppose that one thought that was uppermost in all our minds when we were in Russia was how to find a way of improving relations between this country 1285 and the Soviet Union. We all felt that a great deal of misunderstanding at the present time is due to the profound ignorance of people in this country about conditions of life and opinions in Russia and the profound ignorance of people in Russia of conditions of life and opinions in this country. We were, therefore, somewhat reassured to find that Mr. Malenkov shared this view and expressed his own willingness to encourage personal contacts and exchange of information. He added that he had already asked his Foreign Office to examine the possibility of admitting individual tourists—at the moment only these rather large delegations are admitted. I was told, at the same time, from a reliable source, that the main difficulty up till now had been the lack of hotel accommodation in Western Russia, due to the war. I hope that we shall soon have a brisk and increasing traffic in both directions, as I am sure the better we get to know one another as individuals the more Englishmen go to Russia and meet Russians and the more Russians come to England and meet Englishmen—and not just members of the Communist Party and fellow travellers, because they are not representative of Englishmen, although one of the misconceptions often is that they are—the more people in both countries will learn to understand and respect basic national differences, and to recognise and realise the fundamental common interest in world stability and peace.
§ 5.23 p.m.
§ LORD VANSITTART
My Lords, there has been so much random talk about Cyprus that I feel bound to commend the Government for standing out against what is really rather a preposterous claim. The classic distinction between mine and thine seems in some danger of being obliterated. I noticed that Sir Alan Herbert had a good letter in verse in the Daily Telegraph last Monday. He said:So Franco itches to alterThe arrangements at Gibraltar;Poor little China endures so gross aShortage of space she should have Formosa,Some Greeks are viperous concerning Cyprus …and so it goes on, and he takes us round the world in what he calls… the drabAnd ugly game of National Grab.1286 I am afraid there is all too much of it, and I hope that the Government will not weaken. We have already lost our base at Suez. I maintain my apprehensions about that momentous move, but as all three of your Parties seem happy about it I will not dwell on it beyond saying that I think you have made a huge concession to a fundamentally unstable régime. But as now we seem in danger of also losing our bases in Iraq, surely, with the best will in the world, Cyprus becomes more than ever essential to the communications, not only of the Commonwealth, but of the free world. I might very well feel differently about this if we lived in an era of perfect and permanent peace; but the twentieth century is a jungle, and it would not be even in the Greek interest, let alone in ours, that we should dream at this juncture of handing over so vital a key point to the custody of the weaker power.
We live in an era of short memories, and it is only ten years ago that all Greece would have been taken over by the Communists but for British intervention. We remember, too, that a great portion of the Greek-speaking Cypriots are Communists. Carrying that a little further back, I remember well—although I have never once seen this point made in all the controversy that has raged recently—that in the First World War the Greeks had a King called Constantine who did his best to lose it for us. I shall not easily forget the alternate ecstasies with which they drummed him in and drummed him out. The Greeks say they will not love us if we do not give them something that is not theirs. I most earnestly trust that we shall retain their affections; but if such commodities have to be weighed, our affections for them are just as valuable as their affections for us—and that is one of those masterly understatements for which this country has long been famous, and might with advantage be repeated, my Lord Marquess. Perhaps you would consider it.
There is something else which should be said at Athens. I am very glad indeed that the Government have protested against the violence of the Athens radio. These are direct incitements to bloodshed, and if we took them literally they might cast a strange light on the value of Greek friendship. Another suggestion I 1287 might make for the benefit of the noble Marquess is that he should remind the Government at Athens of that recurrent theme in all classical literature, that anger is a brief madness. Only last Sunday our ambassador was the victim of a hostile demonstration when he went to lay a wreath on the grave of the unknown Greek soldier. What a day to choose for such an exhibition! I earnestly hope that the Greeks will desist from such practices. When I was young an ambassador was held to embody the majesty of the Sovereign. There are now so many ambassadors that perhaps that no longer holds good; but, at least, there is no reason whatever why our representative should continue to be exposed to these insults.
Your Lordships have already had a long debate, and I shall be as brief as possible, but there is one further word I would say. I would add that a church which uses its influence to deny its services and sacraments to those imbued with any loyalty to this country is proving unworthy of its high traditions. I trust that sanity and amity may return. There is one thing more that needs saying, and it is the whole kernel of the matter. In the last debate on this subject that your Lordships had in this House at the end of July, the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, made a beautiful speech, and he ended it with something, rare in these days—it was a peroration. From his Pisgah he looked out over the Land of Promise; he saw a second Elizabethan era more glorious than the first, and he promised the rising generation, not a sunset, but a dawn. I thought he might have been re-reading Shelley's Hellas:The world's great age begins anew,The golden years return.That is lovely stuff, my Lords, but it must be received with caution. I wish to goodness I could share the Prime Minister's view, expressed yesterday, of the future as a broad and smooth causeway. To my eye, the way ahead is, on the contrary, rocky, dark, and precarious. Do not, of course, forget Shelley's verse or Lord Samuel's prose; but do not forget also the long, the bitter, the invariable experience we have had hitherto in dealing with totalitarian Powers. And then perhaps you may also remember, at least until the hopes of the optimists are ful 1288 filled, the equally immortal farewell of Pistol in Henry V:For oaths are straws, men's faiths are wafer-cakes,And hold-fast is the only dog, my duck.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, before I say what I have in mind to say to-day, I should like to add my support to what the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, said about China and the United Nations and her right to a seat therein. I well remember when my father discussed that question with me before he advocated that course in this House. I believe he was right then, and I still do. I was glad when I read that this debate was not to take into account the Paris and the London Agreements, not because they are not of first importance but because I believe that there are other subjects of great importance, as we have heard to-day, to consider. One that I had particularly in mind is, I fear, in danger of neglect. Political agreements and defensive agreements are in themselves of little value if the participating nations are in difficulties economically. Let us take as an example the case of Japan, whose allegiance to, or being on the side of, the Western Nations, is of the first importance.
Japan is a country a little larger than the British Isles. Her agricultural land is only one-sixth of the total; her population is 80 million, and she has few natural resources. Before the last war she had possessions in Formosa and Korea, and had developed Manchuria and the Chinese mainland. All that, and more, has gone; and she is faced with the problem of her economic livelihood. How are her people for long and for sure to remain linked with the Western Powers? How is she to resist the blandishments of trade with China and Russia if we on our part do not do something to help her? It can be done, but concerted action is needed; and the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth should, I feel, take a leading part, along with the United States, in this action. We have to work out long-range plans, and perhaps avoid the risks which might otherwise arise in relation to China and Russia.
Japan, it may be argued, is an exceptional case, but there are other countries which are to-day, or are likely to be in the future, similarly placed, whether in 1289 Europe, in Asia or even in South America. Take, for example, the case of Germany or Yugoslavia and the pull of the markets of Eastern Europe. That does not appear a present danger, but it may well prove to be one if we are not careful in our economic planning as well as other planning. I should not wish it to be thought that I am advocating a closed trading bloc of the Western Powers. Far from it. I am a great believer in trade with the Communist nations, subject, of course, to the necessary prohibition on the export of strategic materials. Trade establishes personal contacts, and I wholeheartedly agree with the importance of those as mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel. It breaks down harriers and raises the living standards of all, which may be a real contribution towards peace. But I do not want to see Western countries driven into the Communist area merely because they cannot find markets elsewhere for their prosperity and their very livelihood.
The basic truth of all this was generously recognised by the United States in the Marshall Plan, and later with others, in the Colombo Plan. Much has been done, and is still being done, through such bodies as O.E.E.C. and G.A.T.T. This country has often shown its awareness of the economic problems and has taken measures that were at times unpopular to expand trade—I have particularly in mind the trade agreement with Japan. This having been said, I wonder whether the economic issues are at this time sufficiently in the forefront, and whether the long-range planning of the Western Nations is not too much inclined to the selfish interests of each individual. Yet now, when we have relative prosperity, is the time to act, rather than when protection and tariffs are a popular cry. The United States now has a Republican President, who has come out fully in favour of action along the lines I have been suggesting. She has also a Democratic Congress, and the Democrats are traditionally the Party of liberal views. Their leader, Mr. Adlai Stevenson, said—and I think he put it very neatly:We can be sure that if our friends and Allies cannot find markets outside the Iron Curtain, trade within the Communist orbit will grow. I doubt if anyone is going to starve to prove to us how anti-Communist they are.1290 Now is the time to act, and the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth are well placed to take a leading rôle, for the sterling area does half of the world's trade, and ingrained in our very bones is the knowledge that to trade is to live.
Having developed my theme so far, I may be asked what I specifically suggest. Frankly, that is a very difficult question to answer, because the subject is so vast and so complex. First, I would say that I do not want to suggest anything which leads to new Government trading or new controls. But perhaps Governments might lay down a long-term framework within which individuals could act. The framework may be expensive, but we should think of it in terms of an expenditure similar to that which we undertook for other difficulties, with the important difference that in the end, if all goes well, it may bring us material benefits. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's slogan "Trade, not aid" is undoubtedly right between the United States and the British Commonwealth, but may not always be right with other nations. With other nations perhaps it should be "Trade and aid." Which these nations may be, and what aid should be supplied, are some of the problems to be faced. They are, perhaps, too complicated for one institutional body to try to deal with centrally, but what has been done in O.E.E.C. with its independent analysis of its member countries' economic behaviour, has proved of great value; and perhaps it could be duplicated in other areas. As an aside, I would say that I earnestly hope that the Government will continue to support O.E.E.C., regardless of whether or not they achieve convertibility in the near future.
It may be that a piecemeal approach is the right one—for example, a conference of nations who are particularly concerned over Japan and her problems. All that is for study and for decision. For me, the important thing is that the Western nations should recognise that in foreign affairs economic questions are as vital as political and strategic ones. Now, when so much has been achieved in the latter two fields and we have prosperity with us, special attention should be focused on the long-term economic problems of some nations. During the lengthy period of ideological struggle which there may be ahead, even with peaceful co-existence, 1291 the magnet of economic development can be of great force in deciding a country's future allegiance. Let us make sure that the magnet of the Western nations is the more powerful one. Let the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth take a leading part in achieving this; and let them do it now.
§ 5.41 p.m.
My Lords, I know the whole House will have followed the observations of the noble Earl with the closest attention. He speaks, of course, as a great practical expert in these economic matters. I do not want to stand for very long between his remarks and those of the noble Marquess who not only speaks for the Government but is acquiring an ever greater position of his own in the world of international discussion and diplomacy. I have stepped in at fairly short notice to help this side of the House in this debate. Therefore I hope I shall be forgiven if I offer some remarks which are not in all cases perhaps as fully clear as those of my noble friends and which have not perhaps in all cases been fully worked out; but I make the promise that they will not be greatly prolonged.
When I listened to the noble Marquess in his careful and helpful survey, my mind went back to a scene at the Oxford Union a few months before the war, when Sir Winston Churchill (Mr. Winston Churchill, as he then was) was addressing the undergraduates. He had addressed them some years earlier and apparently had not found a very friendly audience. On this occasion, however, I remember his finishing the evening, after he had been enthusiastically acclaimed, by saying:I find myself much more at home here than a few years ago. I have not changed; but you have trained on.We feel that noble Lords opposite have "trained on" considerably in the last few years; but, with no desire whatsoever to impede their process of self-education, I hope I shall not be accused, as was my noble friend Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, of a "ponderous irony" if I say that our resources of wisdom in these matters will always be at the disposal of the noble Marquess and his colleagues. We hope he will 1292 make use of them as fruitfully in future as he has clearly been doing in recent months and years.
I am not at this hour going to get involved in the details of the matters discussed. We salute the noble Marquess for his personal part; we give credit to the Government for a great deal that they have done, but we do feel considerable anxieties about some of these arrangements. If I may say so, I felt that the noble Marquess used, if not a "ponderous irony," at least a kind of frivolity for which ponderosity might have been exchanged with profit, when he dealt with the question raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, as to the military effectiveness of the Manila Treaty. He was asked a question—and I know the noble Marquess is always most anxious to answer questions to which an answer appears available—as to the military effectiveness of the Manila Treaty. To put it colloquially, the noble Marquess "ducked" that question by saying that some people said the Treaties were militarily ineffective and others said that they were a military menace and we could not have it both ways. The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, was only trying to have it one way. I hope the noble Marquess will say something positive to us in answer to that question and try to tell us how the Government think that the Manila Treaty has added or will add to the military effectiveness of the defence against Communism in that area.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
I should not like to be accused of frivolity in this debate. What I was saying when I said that critics could not have it both ways was directed to the general criticisms which have been levelled at the Treaty from many sources, and not to the question which the noble Viscount put and which I overlooked in my previous speech—an oversight which I shall endeavour to remedy in a few minutes.
Nothing could have been more handsome than that intervention of the noble Marquess. We have studied with care the text of the Egyptian Agreement and we consider that, by and large, the Government have done the right thing. But we are still very anxious about the position of the Sudanese. I think noble Lords behind 1293 me, some of whom were closely concerned with this matter in our Government, will bear me out when I say that, if it had not been for our care for the position of the Sudanese, we ourselves would have reached an agreement. My noble friend Lord Alexander of Hillsborough confirms that. But, be that as it may, I hope the noble Marquess will seek to reassure us about the future of the Sudanese as far as words uttered today can do so, because some of us feel alarmed at the prospect which apparently awaits them.
All of us are far from happy at the prospect of future animosities, to say no more, between Egypt and Israel. I myself should hope—perhaps the noble Marquess will say something about this either to-day or on a later occasion—that, now that this Egyptian Agreement is more or less concluded and the Egyptian issue is for the time being cleared up, we could draw closer to Israel. I have often wondered why in recent years we have not been able to establish a firmer basis of friendship and alliance with Israel. To put it bluntly, I suppose the Egyptian issue has come between us. I would ask the noble Marquess whether he thinks it possible that in future still more intimate relations can be established with Israel, because unless something of that kind is effected, many of us view the prospect, if not with despondency, at any rate with great concern.
In the few remarks I have to offer on my own part in the debate, I should like to follow the kind of line that was adopted by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, in his remarkable speech. I did not agree with all that the noble Viscount said, but I think that few who heard his speech will not feel deeply privileged to be present to-day. In this House, and indeed in the country, we seem to-day to agree on a policy of which peaceful coexistence is one of the main features. The Prime Minister last night spoke about that subject. He said he believed that the Powers of the West and the East should try to live in a friendly and peaceful way with each other. I do not think there is anybody in this House who will not applaud that effort. But, as the noble Viscount pointed out, we are in a sense pursuing, and are forced by circumstances to pursue, two policies: a policy of peaceful co-existence and a policy of defence 1294 against Communist aggression. One can either call them two policies or two aspects of a single policy, or one can use an expression used by the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, in his most interesting book in relation to pre-war years—the "double line."
It seems that once again the British Government, with the support in this case, though not in those pre-war years, of the whole country, are pursuing something that can be called a "double line" perfectly properly, with nothing dishonest about it, no double dealing let alone double-crossing—a double line in the sense that there are two aspects of the policy. I myself—and I know that I speak for everyone on this side of the House, and, I suppose, for every noble Lord present—agree that that is the only kind of policy which is either tolerable or laudable. I suppose that, in effect, we are building up strength, offering to negotiate at the same time, and hoping that eventually the time will come when the barriers between East and West can be pulled down and a kind of world society will come about.
To-night I am only going to offer the thought that this "double line" programme is not in any case perhaps a complete policy. If I seem to bring to the argument some idealistic conception, I would submit that it is perhaps the duty of an Opposition to point out ideals, to lay down standards, and to ask the Government to try to give effect to them, so far as means permit. Supposing this double line succeeds much better than the pre-war double line succeeded, I wonder whether, fifty years from now, our per-formance as a country will be held to have attained the highest possible standards of international conduct. If we have struggled and tried to pull our own country through, and helped to pull the world through, a phase that might have led to war, and in fact have seen the avoidance of war (I am referring, shall I say, to the next ten years, or even the next twenty years) will that seem sufficient when historians come to describe this period? My Lords, I am inclined to wonder. I would venture also to quote another sentence from Sir Winston Churchill's speech. Heaven knows! in this House we all admire him profoundly, and one is not trying to take him up on minor phrases, but he used 1295 one expression which perhaps deserves a moment's pause and consideration. He said this:If the Soviets really like being governed try officials in a sealed pattern, as long as they do not endanger the safety or freedom of others, that is a matter for them to decide for themselves.I wonder.
I pause on that just for a moment or two, to see whether perhaps we can let in any fresh light. I venture to suggest that in this difficult period we as a country may be in danger of forgetting our solidarity with all peoples, whether in the Western bloc, as it is sometimes called, or in the Eastern bloc, or in the areas between. When I say that, I have two thoughts in mind. In a book which I have been reading recently—an immensely stimulating book, to use no higher phrase, by Miss Barbara Ward—we are reminded that the white races have an average standard of living of anything up to eight times as high as that of places like India and South-East Asia; that the average expectation of life of the white peoples is about sixty years and that of India about thirty; that only one in thirty white children die at infancy, whilst in Burma the proportion is about one in five. She goes on to say that, to most of us, all this may be true, yet it seems to possess no more particular significance than that the Himalayas are high or that the tropics are hot.
I think we are also bound to reflect that in the areas now ruled by the Communists, widespread persecution takes place—not only persecution of Christians; and when, therefore, we hope, as a practical ideal, to struggle through the next ten years, it seems to me that we must couple with that these two further thoughts: first, that a large part of the world is living at a standard that would be considered a disgrace in this country; and second, that a large part of the world is living under Communist tyranny against its will, and that many of the people concerned are suffering extremes of persecution.
It seems to me that those thoughts should prevent any complacency, if there is any tendency for complacency to grow; and it seems to me that we should be haunted by those thoughts, even while we pursue the practical policy laid down so carefully by various spokesmen from 1296 the various Front Benches. I need not say much about religious persecution. I mention the obvious fact that it does not exist only among Communists. Communism is violently opposed to the Christian religion, and indeed to religions of all kinds; and any devout Communist is naturally inclined to try to exterminate religion, and is usually fairly active, if circumstances permit, in pursuing that object.
That being so, I ask your Lordships to search your consciences as to what we can do about these persecuted people, without interfering with the policy of peaceful co-existence which all of us support and applaud, and which I am in no way trying to disparage. I am sure that the most reverend Primate would guide us so much better on this than any layman. His answer would be that we should pray, and his word would carry a different kind of authority from mine. But after that, it seems to me that we must never condone religious persecution. It is easy to ignore its existence; it is much more comfortable to forget that it exists. Somehow, in dealing with these Communist countries we must find a way of peacefully existing, making it clear that there is no question of attacking them, (heaven forbid that such thoughts should pass through anybody's mind!) but also that we not only disagree with what they are doing but thoroughly disapprove of it. In this fundamental matter we must somehow develop a policy, a double-line again, of friendliness combined with the frankest criticism. That, I offer as at any rate one thought to be dropped into the common pool.
But also (and this is my last contribution to-night), when we think of the economic suffering in the world, the appalling economic conditions that prevail in most Asiatic and African countries, we are bound to ask ourselves whether we, the white people, have a very good chance of winning the support of all these backward peoples, taking the long run, whatever defence agreements are reached. As I say, I am not trying to undermine the efforts which have been made by the noble Marquess and others in recent times; but whatever the military arrangements reached, however subtle and active and high-minded the diplomatists may be, it is a fact that the greater part of Africa and of Asia are living in economic 1297 conditions which one would think would be bound, in the long run, to render Communism a great deal more attractive to them than the kind of existence which has previously been offered them, frequently under Western dispensation. Therefore, I put this point to the noble Marquess—I know that his heart is in this matter, and that he has done more in connection with the Colombo Plan than someone like myself has ever begun to do; I am not trying to whittle away his credentials, so to speak. I hope that, when winding up, he will say something still more emphatic than he said earlier about the Colombo Plan and, more widely, about the long-term effort involved.
When all is said and done, it seems to me very unlikely that we shall be able to raise the standards of these people without sacrifices here. Some people suggest that it is cunning statesmanship, that it is an act of self-preservation, to raise the standards of these countries. I think it is wise statesmanship; it is prudent that in the interests of our own people it should be done. But it is the moral approach which matters most of all. We shall not accomplish much unless we tackle the task of assisting these backward people and of making the necessary sacrifices ourselves as an act of conscience; we shall achieve very little in winning them to our side, and we shall deserve to achieve very little. In no pernickerty spirit, I end up with the thought that if our object is not just a diplomatic success, if it is the fundamental Christian object of trying to make the world more Christian, we shall make the world more Christian only by behaving as a nation in a still more Christian fashion ourselves. I hope and believe that the noble Marquess will be able to say that that is the policy of Her Majesty's Government, and that it is a policy which will be carried out, not only in deeds but in words.
§ 6.0 p.m.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
My Lords, I will now fulfil my earlier promise and deal with various matters raised by noble Lords who have been good enough to contribute to the debate. Starting in chronological order, the first point taken by the noble Viscount who opened our discussion was on the question of disarmament, a matter to which 1298 the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, also referred. I quite agree that we should not miss opportunities of coming nearer to the Russians on disarmament. The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, spoke of the need to avoid treating every approach as a trap. Certainly one does not wish so to regard every approach. One continues to hope that it may hold the promise of a genuine performance; but past experience has led us to look carefully at some proposals put before us so that we may not be induced to place ourselves in a situation different from that Which we had contemplated. One continues to start with the hope that something will emerge from these things, even though one may be compelled to subject them to some scrutiny.
Noble Lords will remember that not long ago, upon our initiative, talks were held at. Lancaster House between representatives of various countries, including the Soviet Union, at which we endeavoured to present a formula on disarmament which would not remain merely a formula but which would be translated into something more real and reassuring as time went on. I recall saying on the last occasion on which we debated this subject that even though that particular attempt had been frustrated by the unwillingness of the Russians to advance towards us in the matter, we were proposing to follow it up in the next forum open to us, the Disarmament Committee of the United Nations. We have, in fact, followed that up and, as noble Lords will know, discussions have now been proceeding. One hopes that these discussions may prove fruitful: but they are in the somewhat delicate state of being at present under very active discussion between the parties, and perhaps the best service we can render is not to try to analyse and balance the attitude of the parties, one against another, but to hope that, with a common effort and good will, some more fruitful progress may be made in our present discussions than, unfortunately, was possible in the London meeting.
The noble Viscount was next somewhat censorious on the subject of the noble and gallant Viscount, Field-Marshal Montgomery. He complained about a recent speech which the noble and gallant Viscount had made and asked, who was 1299 responsible for making pronouncements on policy? He felt major decisions should be made by a Minister. Of course major decisions should be made by Ministers, and major pronouncements equally should be laid before the public by Ministers; but let us bear in mind just what the noble and gallant Field-Marshal was doing and let us bear in mind what is his status. He takes a leading part in the N.A.T.O. organisation and, as such, he is not directly a servant of this country; he is a servant of N.A.T.O. I am not arguing that point so much, but let us see where and in what circumstances he made his pronouncement. I have only The Times report which the noble Viscount also saw, but let us check what he said. Indicating expressly that he was giving a personal view of the situation, and speaking in the course of an address to the Royal United Services Institution (an audience mainly composed, I believe, of serving or past officers of the three Services, of professional experience and with an interest in the development of military and strategic plans), the noble and gallant Viscount said, I understand, that at Supreme Headquarters they were basing their operational planning on using, atomic weapons. He did not say more than that. He did not say that that was the policy now laid down. He was stating the fact to this audience of persons whose interest in these matters was great, that at those headquarters that was the basis of their planning. I would certainly agree that pronouncements as to policy put forward by Her Majesty's Government should be made—as they are—by the responsible Minister.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
But the noble Marquess will remember that the noble and gallant Field-Marshal went much further. We repeatedly cross-examined and asked questions of the Government about protection against this form of attack, and the noble Marquess said that no protection exists—that not one of the N.A.T.O. Powers has efficient protection against the atom bomb.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
My Lords, quite frankly, I have no recollection of saying that, because I do not remember the raising of the actual question.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, I am rather anxious about this matter. The occasion was undoubtedly the delivery of a speech in relation to military policy and tactics, probably to members of the Forces. But how comes it that on that particular subject, from which so many inferences can be drawn affecting international relations, at the very time when we are having an argument about the atom bomb a copy of that speech is issued to the Press to broadcast, as though it were a fundamental declaration of policy on behalf of N.A.T.O.? I really object. Those things should be done by Ministers.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
I do not know (although the noble Viscount seems to) that a copy of the speech was issued to the Press to broadcast. For all I know, it may have been taken down by Press men attending on that particular occasion, and circulated in the ordinary way. It is of importance and of interest to the persons who made up that audience to learn the views of those directing N.A.T.O. in the military sphere, and the noble and gallant Field-Marshal was giving that audience those views.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, I want to be quite clear. I understand the Government support this attitude—that is the important point here. Do I understand that Her Majesty's Government support the making of pronouncements of that kind by serving officers?
(THE MARQUESS OF READING
It depends on each occasion upon the circumstances in which they are made. I am not going to lay down a general rule, nor would the noble Viscount have done so when he was Minister of Defence.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
Does the Government endorse the view voiced by the noble and gallant Field-Marshal? That is the important point here. Is it true that we have no defence against these things?
THE MARQUESS OF READING
That is not the important thing here, nor is it what we are discussing. We are discussing whether the noble and gallant Field-Marshal was justified in making the speech he did make. That is the ques 1301 tion I have been endeavouring to answer. As I have said, he was telling this audience, composed largely of professional people, what were the views on this particular subject of the organisation with which he is intimately and eminently concerned.
May I pass on to the subject of Persia, which was the next item with which the noble Viscount dealt? He had, I think, his reservations on the subject of Persia and what had happened, but it seemed to me that, at the same time, he was prepared to give a general benediction to it. He made some reference to the fact that there had been in the past, when the Government of which he was a member were in charge, some claim to compensation. Surely the situation that was then contemplated was rather a different one. I do not want to go into this in any detail, but just for the noble Viscount's consideration I would put this forward. The compensation that was then being envisaged was surely, to a large extent, compensation for future loss, the loss of revenue which the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company would sustain in the future owing to the fact that their plant and other equipment, in Abadan and elsewhere, had been nationalised by the Persian Government. That aspect of compensation does not now arise, because the future, so far as the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company is concerned, is protected by this Agreement; first by their 40 per cent. participation in it, and, secondly, by the fact that they are due to receive—I am not sure that it has actually been paid over—this substantial sum, I think £214 million, from the other members of the consortium in respect of the surviving period of their connection with these oil wells. Therefore, future compensation drops out. The actual sum of £25 million is arrived at as a set-off to the claims and counterclaims of the two sides. I do not want to argue this matter; I just make that comment on the noble Viscount's criticism.
His next point was upon the Manila Treaty. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, has called my attention to the fact that I did not deal with that in my earlier speech. The noble Viscount asked whether it did not bring a great accession of strength. I think that that is a rather premature judgment, because one cannot tell what form the military aspect of this Treaty is going to take at this stage, any 1302 more than, as I said in my earlier speech, one can judge of the exact application of its economic provisions. At the time when we were negotiating this Treaty we felt, I think rightly, that it was impossible to work out a scheme in great detail. One must have a certain flexibility and elasticity, and we thought that the right way was to entrust the more precise and detailed application of the general principle of economic and strategic planning to the Council. When the Council has met and has had the opportunity of considering what military arrangements can be made, and upon what principles planning is to be based, if the noble Viscount then feels that the military set-up is inadequate in any way, that would be the moment to criticise it. I suggest that at the present moment it is premature to make any criticism.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
I thought I had explained what was my object. I did not think that. I was being unduly difficult about the matter. I was rather struck by the urgency brought into this question by the Foreign Secretary, perhaps quite rightly, with regard to the growth in manpower and organisation, and by the implied suggestion that it was a sort of justification for driving on with the conference at Manila, without waiting to get complete agreement in the Commonwealth. What I am anxious to get is the maximum adhesion of strength by the inclusion of the other countries who are not now in. That is what I was stressing.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
So, frankly, I understood. I do not think that there is any difference between the noble Viscount and myself upon that. What my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary said was directed in some degree to the question of urgency. On the other hand, that did not all develop before the Manila Treaty was entered into: it has been a continuing process. The accretion of strength to the Viet Minh army, though it may have developed or shown signs of development at the time of Manila, had not had the opportunity between the end of July, which was the time of Geneva, and the beginning of September, which was the time of Manila, to assume very formidable proportions. I have no doubt that my right honourable friend quoted it as showing that conditions in the area had 1303 not subsided as definitely and finally as we might have hoped, and that continued vigilance was therefore necessary. I hope it may not be very long before this Treaty comes into operation and the Council established under it may have the opportunity of meeting, of drawing up military plans and of determining what are the forces that it regards as necessary for its purposes.
The noble Viscount did say one other thing which I do not think I dealt with in connection with Manila. He asked whether sufficient endeavour had been made in time for our representations to the other countries which have not come into the Treaty to be effective. I think it is an answer to his inquiry that quite continuously, from the beginning of Geneva, and, indeed, before the actual opening of the Geneva Conference, to the time of the signing of the Manila Treaty, and afterwards, my right honourable friend has been in the closest touch with all those countries, has given them the fullest information about what has been going on, and has given them every opportunity of seeking further information if they should find it necessary. But if they had not come to a conclusion at the time when the Manila Treaty was signed, I can only say, as I said before, that I think we were right in going forward with such countries as were ready to range themselves with us at that stage, in the hope that others would come in later, rather than defer the whole operation until the others had drawn themselves up in line and said that they were prepared to advance. There may be room for difference of opinion on that matter, but that is the line which Her Majesty's Government have taken and pursued. I think they were right in so doing.
The noble Viscount then dealt with the Suez Canal situation, which he described as a strange and sad story, though he agreed that the withdrawal of the British troops was advisable. He dismissed as untenable the proposition advanced by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, that a very considerable cause of the change in the Canal situation had been the introduction of atomic weapons. Surely that is by no means an untenable proposition. We had in Egypt a very large base, a base which had been growing in the years since the war till it occu 1304 pied a vast area, an area also crowded with something like 80,000 troops, all conglomerated in what was not a large space for the accommodation of all those installations and all those men. What is now happening is that there will be a redeployment of the troops who are freed from the base and there will be left in Egypt a very much reduced base. It seems to me quite a sound proposition to say that in the age of atomic and hydrogen bombs we cannot hope successfully to mass whole collections of installations, accompanied by a large number of men, in a relatively small area without their being exposed to quite intolerable danger. By dispersal, by redeployment, by splitting up our forces in various parts of the Middle East and by reducing the size of our base (after all, Cyprus is a headquarters, and not a base, in the contemplation of those who are responsible for the replanning) we can avoid the risk of very extensive damage. That is the position which I think my right honourable friend the Prime Minister had in mind, and it is surely the right position.
The noble Viscount went on to talk about traffic through the Canal. We dealt with that subject the last time we were discussing these matters in this House, when noble Lords opposite raised the question. The noble Viscount also raised the general question of the position between Israel and the Arab States: he asked with some indignation what has become of the Tripartite Declaration of 1950, in view of the changed situation. I am not agreeing that there is a changed situation which is a change for the worse. The change, of course, is that we are shifting from the actual Base area of the Suez Canal, but that does not mean, as has been pointed out many times before, that we are evacuating our forces from the entire Middle East. It means merely that we are redeploying them into more favourable positions. To that extent I find no reason to say that, from the point of view of Israel, the situation has necessarily worsened. The noble Viscount asked: What becomes of the Tripartite Declaration? It is in as full force and effect to-day as it was on the day in May, 1950, when it was first signed. Indeed, this has been reiterated both by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, and by the Governments of the United 1305 States and France within the last few months.
Perhaps I may refer to the last occasion on which my right honourable friend repeated and emphasised the continuing validity of this Declaration. This was on July 29 in another place, in the debate on the Suez Base. When he was dealing with the hopes of rebuilding peace and prosperity in the Middle East. My right honourable friend said this (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 531 (No. 159), col. 820):With Israel we want and shall maintain the friendliest relations we can establish. There is no question of us forgetting our obligations. That is why yesterday we reaffirmed the obligations which we have under the 1950 Agreement, by which we stand and by which our Allies have recently said they stand.That was said in the context of the debate in another place on the Suez Canal Base, so I think the noble Viscount need have no doubt that. so far as Her Majesty's Government and France and the United States are concerned, that Tripartite Declaration is as valid and efficacious to-day as ever it was.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, I am much obliged for the statement that the noble Marquess has made. What I feel is that the situation has changed quite considerably, because when earlier statements were made by the Foreign Secretary there was still a ban on the export of arms to Egypt. I understand that the ban has been removed and that arms are now being freely exported to Egypt. From conversations that I have had it appears that that has increased the anxiety in Israel about the effect on the Treaty itself of the new obligations we enter into with Egypt and the Arab countries, if such statements as I have mentioned this afternoon are being made by Major Salem.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
Whatever Major Salem may have said in that context does not affect the validity of the Three-Power guarantee. That stands. It is a much more effective document than it sometimes is given credit for being. We talk a lot about this joint guarantee without pausing to refresh our memories about what it really contains. It may not be unhelpful—it is not a long document—to call attention to its contents. It was published as a joint state-ment by the Governments of the United 1306 Kingdom, France and the United States on Thursday, May 25, 1950, and it has stood ever since. It says:The Governments of the United Kingdom, France and the United States, having had occasion during the recent Foreign Ministers' meeting in London to review certain questions affecting the peace and stability of the Arab States and Israel, and particularly that of the supply of arms and war material to these States, have resolved to make the following statement:—Then comes the statement—1: The three Governments recognise that the Arab States and Israel all need to maintain a certain level of armed forces for the purposes of assuring their internal security and their legitimate self-defence and to permit them to play their part in the defence of the area as a whole. All applications for arms or war material for these countries will be considered in the light of these principles. In this connection the three Governments wish to recall and reaffirm the terms of the statements made by their representatives on the Security Council on August 4, 1949, in which they declared their opposition to the development of an arms race between the Arab States and Israel.2: The three Governments declare that assurances have been received from all the States in question to which they permit arms to be supplied from their countries that the purchasing State does not intend to undertake any act of aggression against any other State. Similar assurances will be requested from other States in the area to which they permit arms to be supplied in future.Paragraph 3 is certainly not the least important.The three Governments take this opportunity of declaring their deep interest in and their desire to promote the establishment and maintenance of peace and stability in the area, and their unalterable opposition to the use of force or threat of force between any of the States in that area, The three Governments, should they find that any of these States was preparing to violate frontiers or armistice lines, would, consistently with their obligations as members of the United Nations, immediately take action, both within and outside the United Nations to prevent such violation.That is what happens if the three Governments find that any of these States is preparing to violate. A fortiori, if one of these States proceeds to violate without giving signs of previous preparation, the obligation will, presumably, come immediately into force. There are serious safeguards contained in that statement and, as I say, it has been recently reaffirmed by the three countries in the context of the new state of affairs produced by the Agreement between Her Majesty's Government and the Egyptian Government.
1307 The most reverend Primate also dealt with certain questions arising out of the situation between the Arabs and Israel, and in response to his first question about Jordan I gave him the assurance that what had taken place had been done in the spirit in which he himself suggested it might have been done, because it was a matter of convenience and courtesy, and it implied no more than that. He spoke of the frontier, and of the position of refugees. One cannot help being very conscious of both those situations; but, though it is well that those in the position of the most reverend Primate and others should raise these matters and discuss them here, I am not sure that, in the present state of affairs, anybody representing Her Majesty's Government is not better advised to say as little about them at the moment as possible.
There has been, I know, a great deal of criticism about the Suez Canal Agreement with Egypt, abut I should like noble Lords to consider whether the argument that I put last time is not a valid one. It is this. I think it will be clear to all those who have any knowledge of the situation in that part of the world that any attempt on our part to make the conclusion of an Agreement with Egypt conditional upon an arrangement that Israeli ships shall pass through the Suez Canal, or any other condition favourable to Israel, would have led to the immediate breaking off, or at any rate breakdown, of those negotiations. What noble Lords have to consider is this: whether, in all the circumstances unhappily existing in that part of the world, it was not in the general interest that we should conclude our negotiations with Egypt and eliminate the most vigorous quarrel that we had in that part of the world, and look forward to a far more hopeful and friendly arrangement with Egypt than had prevailed in the years immediately past.
If that situation of more friendly relations between Egypt and this country came about—as we hope it will come about, and indeed, there are indications that it is coming about—then, and then only, should we be able to conduct any conversations with Egypt which might possibly be fruitful in the long run—I say "in the long run," because I do not think that from to-day to to-morrow we can hope with any great confidence for any serious change in the unfortunate 1308 situation there. It may be that that is too pessimistic a view, but there is no simple solution to the problem. If there had been, successive Governments would, between them, have discovered it. I feel, however, that it will be easier to resolve a question like this if we can secure a general improvement in relations in that part of the world. I feel, too, that it is a condition precedent to our being able to exercise any helpful influence in that part of the world that we should have come to an arrangement such as we have come to with the Egyptian Government, and thereby reduced the very explosive conditions which in the past few years have obtained between us. I think that probably I had better leave that subject at that stage.
The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, dealt with matters of high policy, if I may say so without offence, on the very high level which we have always expected and received from him. He rather indicated that he thought it was only what he called the Right wing of the Conservative Party which emphasised the importance of national defence at the expense of international negotiation—which laid more stress on the military aspect than on the diplomatic one. I would respectfully remind him of the speech—the impressive speech, because of its balance, knowledge and detachment—which the noble Lord, Lord Strang, made on the last occasion when we discussed foreign policy in this House, in which, though not, I think, approaching it from the view of what the noble Viscount calls the Right wing Conservative, he indicated his views. I do not mean that that view does not exist, but I think it is more widely diffused than the noble Viscount thought. When I say "more widely diffused," I mean not so much localised, although it may not be widely held. I believe that the real body of opinion is what he called the central body of opinion, which regards these two policies as both essential to progress. It may be only because not so long ago, and for quite a number of years, I sat beside the noble Viscount and not opposite him, that I share that view as to the balance that has to be preserved between the two schools of thought: that it is necessary to look at this problem from both angles, and try to produce a satisfactory balance between the two. That is, in fact, what we have been trying to do.
1309 I have dealt very much in outline with what the most reverend Primate said because, as I indicated, I think it is better that I should not attempt to go into it in any detail. I am sure that the House is obliged to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for giving us, at the first opportunity since his return from what must have been an interesting and, I gather, an agreeable adventure, his impressions of life in Soviet Russia, and of the reactions of the people and some of the leaders of that country to problems which are common between them and the West. The noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, gave us a vigorous defence of the position in regard to Cyprus, interspersed with an attractive medley of mythology and poetry, but as regards the real core of what he was saying I certainly would agree with the point of view that he took up. We have, unfortunately, had to protest, and have protested, against the kind of statement which has been put out only too frequently by Athens radio and which obviously has a deplorable effect.
The noble Earl, Lord Perth, called attention largely to the economic aspect of international affairs, and dwelt particularly upon the position of Japan. Japan is not an easy problem, and it is a problem (I dislike this phrase, but I am going to use it) which we have under very constant consideration. It sounds as if I were trying to "ride off," but I do not use the phrase merely as an official phrase. I use it as indicating quite clearly that this is one of the most serious problems that we have to deal with, and one that is constantly under consideration. The noble Earl knows that there may be difficulties on the Japanese side. From the United Kingdom point of view, the situation also is not free of difficulty, and here again we have to do what we can to adjust as well as we can the balance between the two.
The last speech made was by the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, whom again I have to thank for the personal kindness of his references to myself. He dealt with the whole situation from a lofty and rather detached standpoint, in some ways, but gave us a speech of a quality which is always welcome in your Lordships' House. He asked particularly about the position of the Sudanese. Your Lordships will remember that the Prime Minister of the Sudan is at the present 1310 moment, I am glad to say, paying a visit to this country. Her Majesty's Government's interest in the Sudan is that the Sudanese should be free to come to their own conclusions about what their future is to be, and that they should have the opportunity of arriving at that conclusion without interference from outside. That, after all, was the purpose for which we came this arrangement with them; that they might look forward to a future in Which they decided what their own status should be; and that is what we desire they should be able to do.
The noble Lord finished up by speaking about the Colombo Plan. I have never taken the view that the Colombo Plan was a mere matter of expediency. I have always thought that behind it, and, indeed, not only behind it but in the forefront, was not so much the political or perhaps even the economic aspect as the humanitarian aspect of it; and I believe that that view is very largely shared. It may have, as part of its consequence, economic rehabilitation, and it may have, a political value as well. But I think that what the Asian countries value in the Colombo Plan is the friendship between countries, into which there enters no element of patronage of any kind. They come to their own agreements by their own volition, without pressure of any kind, in what is believed to be the interests of the general community in that part of the world.
It is, of course, an enormous problem, and one feels the size of the problem weighing upon one every time one deals with these issues of the Colombo Plan, if only for the reason that all the time one is pursued ruthlessly by this increase in the growth of population in the area. One feels sometimes that the problem is not so much to increase the standard of living as to maintain even the existing low standard of living, with the strain imposed upon it by all the new mouths that there are to feed and the old mouths which continue hungry long after the time when, in the conditions prevailing a few years ago, they would have passed to a sphere where they would have required no more food; because the increase in population is due not only to an increase in the birth rate but also to a lowering of the death rate. Although one may have at moments these despondent reflections, I 1311 am satisfied in my own mind—and I think it is also the belief of Her Majesty's Government—that this Colombo Plan plays an essential and valuable rôle in the general Asiatic scene, and that, by bringing together in friendly intercourse, as it does, countries of the East and West, it is doing something more than merely solving their economic and political problems; it is enabling them to discuss their mutual affairs on terms of equality and friendship. Upon that realisation of the value of those principles of equality and friendship depends, surely, the peaceful and happy development of the countries of South-East Asia, and with that the peace and development of the whole world.
§ 6.47 p.m.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, I am sure that we shall all agree that we are greatly indebted to the noble Marquess for the care with which he has replied to all the points which we have raised in this debate. I should like to thank all noble Lords who have taken part in the debate for making the debate worth while. Whilst I most fundamentally disagree on this question of who pronounces policy, I feel strongly that it ought to be easy, within the N.A.T.O. Council, to make conditions of the sort under which we 1312 usually work. I have appreciated the answer of the noble Marquess. I shall study it in the Parliamentary Report with great interest. I think one can say that we have had a generally satisfactory answer from the noble Marquess in the detail he has given us. With that, I should like, by leave of your Lordships, to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.