HL Deb 23 November 1954 vol 189 cc1805-88

2.44 p.m.

THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY) rose to move to resolve, That this House approves the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards Western Europe as expressed in the Agreement reached in London on 3rd October, 1954, and in Paris on 23rd October, 1954. The noble Marquess said: My Lords, as you will remember, when, a few weeks ago, the question of discussing recent developments in foreign affairs came up for consideration, it was decided by agreement with noble Lords opposite to divide the debate into two parts. The first was to be a Motion which covered all parts of the world, with the exception of Europe; and the second was to be a Motion concerned solely with the European Continent and the far-reaching decisions which have recently been arrived at by the main Western Powers regarding the defence of Western Europe. I hope the House will agree that that was a wise arrangement. Any attempt to deal with all recent events in every part of the world would only, think, have led to a rambling and untidy debate which would have been of no value to this House or to anybody else.

A fortnight ago, we completed the first part of our task. We had what I believe was generally thought to be a valuable debate, valuable in showing, if not complete unanimity—perhaps that would have been impossible—at any rate a very wide measure of agreement between the Parties over recent developments in British policy over the Far and Middle East. To-day, we turn to Europe. Here Her Majesty's Government are asking the House to pass a Resolution to approve the recent actions of the Government. I feel—and I hope I am right in so feeling—that the Opposition Parties can fairly do this without stretching their consciences, for I believe the decisions which were taken by Her Majesty's Government and which led to the success of the London Conference should command the support of a great majority in all Parties alike. First, I should like, if I may, to pay a tribute to my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, who was, as we all know, the main architect of the success to which I have referred, on his most remarkable achievement. I have now been in politics for over twenty-five years and during a large part of that period I have been connected, in one way or another, with foreign affairs, but I hardly remember any previous case where the Foreign Secretary of one single nation has, by his own efforts, plucked success from apparent failure; and yet my right honourable friend has done this twice within the period of six months, first at Geneva and secondly over the London Agreement.

It is always difficult, when the kaleidoscope of foreign affairs has made a new and spectacular turn, for us to throw our minds back and envisage the situation that existed before as we saw it at that time, but I think we can all remember that the prospect was a pretty grim one. It had, I think, been universally recognised by all the allied Powers of the West ever since the last war that the first essential step in their foreign policy, if the situation was to be stabilised, was to build up an integrated system of defence for Western Europe, including Western Germany, for the purpose, certainly not of waging war against the East, nor even of passively confronting the East and so maintaining an uneasy truce, but of providing a firm, strong base from which, in due course, we might begin negotiations with the East with more prospect of success for the solution of our outstanding difficulties. That, I think it will be agreed, was common ground among all the Western Powers, including France, and the instrument that was chosen for that purpose was the European Defence Community.

That scheme, which was a product of French genius, held the field against all others, and it seemed to provide the best chance of achieving our common object. Her Majesty's Government, with the other Western Powers, plumped for (if I may use such a term in this connection) the E.D.C.—to the exclusion of all other schemes. Then the E.D.C., on which such high hopes had been placed, broke in our hands. It became clear that, with the best will in the world, no French Government could make it acceptable to the French people. It is not for us to apportion blame in any quarter for this untoward development. As we all know, the French people had undergone experiences in two world wars which must inevitably have profoundly affected their outlook. It is certainly not for us in this country, who were spared much that they suffered, to criticise them. But the fact remained, inexorable and unanswerable, that as a result of French preoccupations it became steadily more evident that the E.D.C., on which all our hopes had been based, was rapidly becoming a dead letter. That was a sombre fact which we in this House, in successive debates, were driven ever more clearly to recognise. It was bad enough in itself, for without the integration of Allied Forces by some such plan, there was no basis for the second stage in Allied foreign policy: there was no chance of creating a situation which would give any inducement to the Russian bloc to negotiate on terms which the West could possible accept.

Moreover, there was another factor which made the situation yet more dangerous. In foreign affairs, as in other spheres of human life, things do not stand still. There is a dynamism in human affairs as a result of which situations suddenly change, either for the better or for the worse. If opportunities are not grasped when the situation is favourable, as we all know they seldom recur; and often such a delay turns out to be fatal. Indeed, as I see it, the slow disastrous drift to war which was so sad a feature of the early years of the twentieth century, was largely the result of failures by one nation or another to grasp its opportunities while those opportunities existed; and it looked as if we might well be facing another example of the same kind. The chances of bringing the free democracy of Western Germany into the Western bloc might, by our hesitations, be lost, and the Federal Republic might drift into a sterile and even dangerous neutralism. That was the situation which existed; and at that moment, when the position was already anxious enough, the French Assembly by their vote of August 30 of this year, finally killed E.D.C. As I have already said, the last thing that it would be helpful for any of us to do to-day would be to attempt to apportion the blame for this event on one nation or another. Indeed, I think it may be fairly argued, that if the French people did not find it possible to accept the implications of E.D.C., it was better for all concerned that we should know this as soon as possible, rather than let things drift on to final disaster. But, however that might be, it is impossible, I think, to ignore the fact that the situation, by that step, became immediately more acute, and it looked as if the whole basis of Allied co-operation might be collapsing before our eyes.

My Lords, it was at that moment that the Foreign Secretary acted. He first produced what had not hitherto been known to exist—a workable alternative to the E.D.C.; and, secondly, he went himself from capital to capital, commended this alternative scheme to the Allied Governments, and obtained for it their favourable consideration. The remarkable thing was that this alternative scheme, which was, after all, a last-minute switch, proved to have virtues which were not shared by the original plan of the E.D.C. The feature of the E.D.C. which had originally. I think, most recommended it to the Allied Governments was the fact that it did not stand by itself but was closely linked to the wider conception of a European political community, a federal structure for Europe, of which it would ultimately form a part. That was a fine conception, and it may in time become a reality; but, as I say, it was just exactly that feature which proved its downfall. For France it involved a relationship with Germany for which a great many Frenchmen were not yet ready; and for Britain, too, it involved special problems which, though different, were equally real.

As your Lordships all know, Great Britain is a member of another combination of nations, the British Commonwealth, which is a confederation of sovereign States. It was impossible for us, therefore, to become a State in a federalised Europe without compromising that full sovereignty which is the essence of our relationship with our fellow members of the Commonwealth. For that reason, while we could provide, and while in fact we were ready to provide, a contingent to serve alongside the E.D.C., we could not be a full member of it; and that, as I have been told (and it has been expressed frequently by spokesmen of the French people) was one of the facts which made E.D.C. unacceptable to the French nation. That particular complication, however, which was so potent in the case of the E.D.C., was entirely absent from the Foreign Secretary's alternative plan. His new plan contained no political supra-structure to alarm the French or to deter us. By that fact, of course, it became far easier for us both to join it.

It is not my intention to-day to go into all the details of the Foreign Secretary's proposals which were finally adopted by the London Conference. For one thing, I think all your Lordships already know them; they have been fully exposed in the White Paper which is before the House, and I do not want to occupy unnecessarily the time of the House. Moreover, as noble Lords know, my noble friend Lord Reading is to speak at the end of this debate, and he will be able to clear up any detailed points and answer any questions which have been asked by noble Lords. I would, therefore, only remind the House, quite briefly, that in addition to making the necessary Amendments to the Bonn Conventions, the new scheme had two dominant features. On the military side, it contained proposals to strengthen the structure of N.A.T.O., and in particular under Part 4 of the Agreement, what is now known as S.A.C.E.U.R. (that is to say, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe) is given wider powers over the forces in respect of the control and movement of troops in Europe, and increased powers and responsibilities in relation to the integration of the logistics of those forces. On the political side, the instrument of Allied unity was to be not the E.D.C. but the Brussels Treaty. The Brussels Treaty, which was to be expanded to include Germany and Italy, was to be the basis of the defensive front of the West.

That decision, of course, involved a complete transformation of the character of the Brussels Treaty. When it was originally negotiated by Mr. Ernest Bevin, the purpose of that Treaty was to protect Western Europe against a resurgent Germany: that was the danger at that time which the Treaty was designed to avert. Bat times have changed a great deal since then, and the danger of a resurgent Germany has become dwarfed, or greatly reduced, in comparison with the immediate and more formidable danger of an expansive Russia. In its attitude to this new peril, the peril of an expansive Russia, Western Germany is not against us; it is on our side. That is where its interest now lies.

Moreover, to those (if there are any here to-day) who still have doubts about this matter and still fear more than anything else a revival of German militarism, I would ask: what is the alternative? If they say that Germany should be neutralised and kept disarmed, I would reply "How do you propose to ensure that that happy situation, if indeed it is a happy situation, is to continue?" This policy of keeping down Germany was, after all, broadly speaking, the policy of the Allies after the First World War, and what was the result? After a time Germany began to rearm for herself, and no one could stop her without a war which no one would face. As a result, Germany was allowed to rearm without any control at all. That, surely, was the worst of all worlds. Are we going to fall into that same grievous error again? Is it not far better to try to bring Germany in as our partner in the defence of the West, making her own contribution to a common plan?

The last thing I want to do this afternoon is to suggest that the arguments of those who have opposed German rearmament are devoid of any force whatever; that would be foolish. But I do suggest that the choice before us to-day is not between German rearmament and no German rearmament; it is between controlled German rearmament and uncontrolled German rearmament. There can surely, I should have thought, be no doubt which alternative is less dangerous. Indeed, the provisions for the control of German rearmament under the London plan are pretty considerable, as will be seen by anyone who studies the White Paper on the Nine-Power Agreement. Germany, as a signatory of a new Brussels Treaty and as a member of N.A.T.O., will of course be in all respects equal to the other nations which are party to those instruments. She will be, I repeat, in all respects equal. But all the signatories of the new Brussels Treaty with Germany are subject to very definite limitations of their armed forces. The maximum figures will be laid down of forces which they can keep on the Continent of Europe. In addition, there will be an Armaments Agency to ensure that the agreed levels of forces and of the stocks of the more essential weapons will not be exceeded. Is it really to be suggested that these agreements will have no validity? Surely it will be clear to anyone who studies the elaborate machinery which is to be set up under the Agency that it is not in any case going to be easy for nation members to avoid these agreements, even if they wish to do so.

There is another argument which has been used against this London Agreement. It is said that it is too expensive; that it will increase too greatly our defence expenditure. Well, of course, it may in one sense be said to do that, to the extent that we shall have to take over some cost which has hitherto been shouldered by Germany herself. But was it really a good plan that Germany should pay us for the defence of their country while the German manpower which was released by that arrangement was engaged in intensifying German competition with British goods in every market in the world? I should have thought that the new arrangement would be far healthier from every point of view. There is another point I should like to make. It is this. There will not really be a great difference in the situation, because we shall have to keep these particular forces in existence in any case; therefore the change which will occur will be a change on the side of foreign exchange rather than on actual expenditure.

My Lords, I have tried as briefly as possible to indicate the main merits attaching to the Agreement which has been signed by the nine Powers in London, and for which I am asking your Lordships approval to-day. That Agreement has, I profoundly believe, entirely transformed for the better the outlook for peace on the Continent of Europe. We had reached a point in the affairs of men at which crucial decisions of one kind or another simply had to be taken. The situation could not remain as it was; developments in Germany itself would soon have made that impossible. To have let the E.D.C. die and to have put nothing in its place would have struck a mortal blow, I believe, at the whole fabric of European unity and would, in addition, have gone far to convince the American people that Europe was not worth helping and that the United States had better retire to the policy of peripheral defence.

The decision which was taken in London, on the other hand has strengthened and revivified the Western Alliance, both in Europe and outside. I do not pretend that we are now through all our troubles. Of course we are not. This represents, as I tried to explain at the beginning of my speech, only the first stage of Allied policy. The second stage will be to try to find a basis for an enduring understanding between the Communist and the non-Communist world. When that is going to be possible none of us at present knows. It depends, I should think, even more on Russia than upon the Western Powers. At any rate, I am personally profoundly convinced—and the latest Russian Note seems to bear it out—that our second task has been made not more difficult but, if anything, a little easier by the Agreement we are discussing this afternoon, for it gives some hope that the negotiations, when these negotiations do come along, will take place on a basis of equality; and that, I imagine, is the only basis from which satisfactory results can be expected.

What the future course of world history will be, even in the very near future, I do not suppose any of us will be bold enough to prophesy. The outlook in international affairs, I imagine, has never been more uncertain and more bewildering. The forces which have now been brought into play by the discoveries of atomic science are so titanic in their power that the human mind can hardly comprehend, much less at present assess, their probable effects on human policy, At this very moment as I speak to your Lordships it may be that the age of the hot war which has so long dominated the affairs of men is over, as the age of the duel was over one hundred years ago. That will be certain only if an equilibrium is established from which we can move forward to wiser and better ways It is to create that particular equilibrium that the nations of Western Europe negotiated and signed the Nine-Power Agreement six weeks ago. It is for that reason, my Lords, that I recommend that Agreement with confidence to your Lordships this afternoon. I beg to move.

Moved to resolve, That this House approves the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards Western Europe as expressed in the Agreement reached in London on October 3, 1954, and in Parts on October 23, 1954,—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)

3.9 p.m.


My Lords, in the course of his speech the noble Marquess the Leader of the House paid an eloquent tribute to the work which Sir Anthony Eden has done in managing to achieve this Agreement out of the wreckage of his hopes. That is what we expect of our Foreign Secretaries. I like to think that Mr. Ernest Bevin achieved the same measure of success when, out of the failure of the conversations at Moscow and in Paris, he managed to pluck the Dunkirk Treaty, the Brussels Treaty and N.A.T.O. itself. I think it may be said that the present Foreign Secretary is following in that same tradition.

In one sense, of course, this is one of the most important decisions which this House has ever been called upon to take. The Government are entirely right, in my view, to submit this Resolution not only to another place but to this House. In another sense, I shall not be misunderstood if I say that the proceedings this afternoon are a little unreal, because, having regard to the expression of opinion which was given in another place and in the country as a whole, we all know that it is inevitable that this House will, and I think should, accede to the Motion which the noble Marquess has put before it. Indeed, whatever we say to-day (and this is an excuse perhaps for short speeches) we know quite well that the conclusion is already decided—that is that, so far as this country is concerned, we accept these Agreements. So far as other countries are concerned I do not know: but in our discussions today we may perhaps assume that all other countries will ratify, because if any country does not ratify (the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, will correct me if I am wrong) this Treaty falls to the ground. For the purposes of our discussion, therefore, we may assume that everybody will ratify. What should we do in these circumstances?

A speaker may either emphasise his hopes and conceal his misgivings, or he may emphasise his misgivings and qualify his hopes; for every speaker—and indeed every thoughtful person in this country—realises that there is here a balance of rival considerations. There are arguments which tell strongly in favour of these Agreements, and there are arguments which tell the other way. It is a question of balancing these two sets of considerations. So far as my own Party are concerned, it is notorious that the divisions in that Party are open and plain. But I believe that they exist not only in my Party; I believe that there are divisions throughout the whole country on this question. I believe that men of good will, of shades of politics and of no politics at all, feel differences and difficulties about this problem.

In the still watches of a sleepless night I picked up Mr. Churchill's book Closing the Ring and read his account of his conversations with Generalissimo Stalin at the time of the Teheran Conference. Those two great statesmen at that time were quite certain in their minds that Germany must be kept unarmed, not for a short period but for at least fifty years. They considered that essential and that anything less would be a breach of our duty towards our Army and the gallant men who had fought for us. What has changed all that, which was the common policy of everybody in this country? It is worth observing that what has changed it is the Russian policy. It was the Russian policy with regard to Poland, Bulgaria, Roumania, Hungary and, after that, Czechoslovakia; the fact that we found Russia had immense, armaments at a time when she had no potential antagonist, and the fact that we realised that Russia had no understanding of our attachment to liberty. After all, she had known authoritarianism in the Czar's time as she does now. For at least a century after the people of this country were crying about Wilkes and liberty the Russian workers were serfs. We found ourselves utterly unprepared; we found that Russia, with these immense armaments, could if she so desired, literally walk over. That was the situation which confronted Mr. Bevin and it was under those circumstances that N.A.T.O. was born and the project of E.D.C. was brought into being, in order that we might have some means of defence against this overwhelming threat from the East.

The E.D.C., in the last resort, brought for France not peace, but a sword. In France I met people who had played a most gallant and almost legendary part in the French Resistance Movement. I met one person who had been parachuted into France twenty-five times during the war. A member of the de Gaullist Party, he was passionately opposed to E.D.C., and I realised then that, whatever vote might be taken in the French Chamber, it was hopeless to think that E.D.C. could succeed. Yet its rejection caused something like dismay throughout Europe; and in the Benelux countries (where I have many friends) I found real consternation at the result of the French rejection. There was what has been called a malaise, and I am bound to say that the result of Sir Anthony Eden's effort in this Treaty has brought hope where previously there was grave disappointment and dismay.

I have ventured to seek out for myself the arguments for this Treaty and in propounding those arguments I am assuming throughout that there will be complete ratification by Germany, Italy and all the other countries: otherwise, of course, the question does not arise. I will proceed to consider the arguments for and against, and having set out both sets of arguments I will say that in my opinion the arguments for the Treaty outweigh those against it. The first favourable consideration is that we receive an important addition to our military forces. As the noble Marquess has said, we provide both a ceiling and a floor—if those expressions may be used—and we get some twelve divisions: but much more important than twelve divisions is the fact that we get an increased sense of European unity. To that point I attach great importance. West Germany by these Treaties is joining the West. Secondly, a priceless result, we are, I believe, doing something to bury the hatchet as between France and Germany. If we can do that, it is difficult to see that any price would be too high to pay.

Thirdly, the Occupation is being ended, and to those who were full of mistrust about this I will point out, as has the noble Marquess, that the occupation had to end some day. It could not go on in saecula saeculorum. West Germany becomes our equal and the situation is ended whereby Eastern Germany is armed and Western Germany is unarmed. Next, again on the assumption as before, France, our closest ally—closest geographically and I hope spiritually too—wants this Treaty, and we should hesitate long, whatever we may think, before we deny France that which she desires. Her people, and those of Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium have known what it is to have a German occupation. Italy wants this Treaty, too, as does West Germany, on this assumption. Apart from that, there are the United States and Canada. Let us stop to consider what an awful thing it would be if the United States fell back into isolationism. Supposing we had to have what Mr. Dulles called "the agonizing re-appraisal," where should we all stand? And is it not a tremendous point in favour of these Treaties that we are, so far as we can see, in entering into them doing that which the United States and Canada, our own kith and kin, desire?

But there are drawbacks: there are arguments on the other side. The first of those arguments—not the most important but it must be mentioned—is the very substantial extra cost that will be involved. I cannot quantify it, but it will be a large number of millions. There is a further fact—and I speak as one who was born in the Victorian age; indeed, my private school days were spent in the Victorian age. I realised that we must have conscription during a period which must certainly come in my lifetime, but I never before realised that we were going to have conscription for a period which will cover my grandson's lifetime. That is a very serious consideration. In those far-off Victorian days, when, as a small private schoolboy, I used to sing neat little songs about our "nice little, tight little island," and Britannia used to rule the waves, we spent a large part of our money on our Navy, and what little we could spare after that on a small Army.

But to-day things have been reversed Though I have no doubt that we have to spend very large sums on the Army—and a conscript Army at that—I sometimes tremble when I think that we are in danger of allowing our Navy to fall from the position it must have. After all, in the event of war, if we are to live, food has to be carried to these islands; and, notwithstanding anything that the Air Marshals may say, it can be carried only in ships. All this is a matter of serious moment, so far as expenditure is concerned. I make no attack on the Government on this point. I do not pretend to understand these matters, but I read somewhere the other day that when this Government assumed office a pound bought twenty shillings' worth of goods, whereas to-day it buys only seventeen shillings and elevenpence worth. The noble Lords, Lord Brand, and Lord Balfour of Burleigh—who has now gone out of the Chamber—would probably tell us that we are in danger of spending too much. Therefore, I do not think at the present time we can treat it as a matter of no importance at all that we have this large extra expenditure thrown upon us.

But the money and conscription are small things compared to the real question, about which some of us are so deeply concerned—that is the question of rearming Germany. I do not believe that it does any good not to face the facts. I see that later this afternoon Lord Russell of Liverpool is to make his maiden speech in your Lordships' House. We probably all know that he recently published a book regarding cases which were public cases and facts which, to all those who were sufficiently industrious to acquaint themselves with them, were notorious. The facts were that during this last war things were done by the Germans in Germany which are a disgrace to the name of civilisation. Those are the facts. It is fair to add that Dr. Adenauer and his associates and friends are about as unlike Hitler and his friends as any people one can possibly imagine. I have not been to Germany very much recently but I had a chance to go to Baden-Würtemburg, and I met there a group of men nearly all of whom had been either on the run or imprisoned by Hitler during the war. I found them as fine and as liberal-minded a set of men as one could see anywhere. Those are the men who in that area are in charge of government.

I realise that it may be said that there are in Germany extremists of the Right and extremists of the Left. There is in Germany a clamant demand for unity between East Germany and West Germany. On the doctrine that Paris was worth a Mass—a doctrine which appealed to Henry IV—I suppose there would be those who would say that unity at the price of Communism should be attained, and at the price of Russian friendship. I add to those considerations that the Germans—one of the greatest races in the world, and one which has contributed an immense amount to the culture and advancement of mankind—for some odd reason seem to have some strange lack of political judgment which enables them to be stampeded. How on earth a great race like that fell under the spell of a man like Adolf Hitler it is almost impossible to understand. Then, it is asked, when you rearm the Germans are you quite sure on which side they are going to fight? Indeed, Germany and Russia combining together would be a terrifying combination. But I would ask this question—and it is the same one as the noble Marquess asked: Would these risks be obviated by continuing the Occupation of Germany? On the contrary does it not lessen these risks to make it plain now that Western Germany should become anchored to the West and should become an equal collaborator and associate with us? I believe that it does. I believe, from this point of view, being deeply conscious of the perils, that it is desirable to sign this Treaty.

Fourthly, it may be said that what we are doing is strongly against Russian desires; that anyone would be foolish in this troubled world to-day who is going out of his way to antagonise Russia. Mr. Molotov has said that it will make talks more difficult. Moreover it can, I think, be fairly said that the prospect of achieving German unity in the near future will be lessened rather than increased by passing these Agreements. But, even if that be true, how good were the prospects of German unity? What chance was there that in the near future Russia would have agreed to free elections, as we understand them, in East Germany? And free elections in East Germany must be the basis, as I understand it, of any settlement at all.

I look on the matter from this point of view. I think that either course open to us—accepting these Treaties or rejecting them—involves us in risks. I think that if we look around we find risks all around us, and the problem of the statesman to-day is not to avoid risks but rather to select which risk he should take. For my part, though I quite realise that others might feel differently, I select as the risk I would take the risk which is involved in signing this Treaty. I hope that at the earliest possible moment which is considered appropriate—that is, I gather, after ratification—we shall be astute to try to resume our talks with Russia. I do not suppose that in the near future we shall get much out of our talks with Russia. The late Mr. Ernest Bevin used to tell me that the quality needed by a Foreign Secretary more than any other was patience. I hope that we shall go on trying. Even if we achieve nothing in the way of success we shall at least convince the Russians of what is to me a very sure fact—that our object in signing these Treaties is not aggressive. We have no desire to attack Communism. We desire to resist aggression, and nothing more. When the Russians realise that, as in the fullness of time they will, I hope that we shall be able to resume happy and good relations with them; and that is the real object of all statesmanship. Therefore, for my part, trying to weigh fairly, as I have done, the arguments for and arguments against, I come to the conclusion that the arguments for outweigh the arguments against; and therefore I am in favour of supporting the Motion which stands in the name of the noble Marquess the Leader of the House.

3.30 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lords who sit on these Benches will warmly support the Motion approving the London-Paris Agreements reached last month. The reasons for doing that have already been given from both sides of the House. I would merely say that after the rejection of the European Defence Community there was a grave danger that all progress that had been made since the war towards the unity of democratic Europe would be lost. These Agreements have prevented that catastrophe. We approve them also because they appear to be the only possible alternative method to E.D.C. of bringing Germany into our common defence and into the community of Western Europe generally, on a basis of equality. We believe also (and this point has been made already in another form) that if the system contemplated in these Agreements comes into effect, it makes it more likely and not less likely that we may reach a basis of peaceful co-existence with the Soviet Union. These are three supremely important aims. If the Agreements are ratified, we shall have taken a very great step forward. Mr. Dulles was justified in regarding the London Conference as one of the most significant of our time. And in that context, may I say from these Benches that we endorse every word that has been said about the most important rôle that has been played in these stirring events by the Secretary of State.

But though we strongly support these Agreements, some of us regard the system which they bring into force as definitely a second best to that which was contemplated under E.D.C. Let me say at once that in making that statement I am not making it in any depreciation of the great work which has been done, or in criticism of any other country or of anyone in this country, but I make it because we must scrutinise with the greatest care every step that we now take if we are to select our future policy wisely. The Agreements differ from the system under the E.D.C. scheme in many ways, but certainly they differ in two important respects. In the first place, they permit the creation of an independent German General Staff. It is true that all German troops will be in N.A.T.O., unless specifically agreed otherwise; but these forces will be raised by a German War Office directed by a German national staff. Germany's military organisation of the future will be on the same basis as the military organisation of France, Belgium or Italy. I shall not pursue this matter further than to remind your Lordships of the words which have just been spoken by the noble and learned Earl the Leader of the Opposition: that that is an increased risk compared with what would have been the case under the alternative scheme. Secondly, the military forces themselves will be less integrated than would have been the case under E.D.C. At anything less than army level, integration is to be governed by the very flexible formula that it is to take place "to the maximum extent possible." It is an open question.

The London-Paris Agreements add up to something which is much more than a coalition army of the old type. The Supreme Allied Commander, the agreement on the scale of forces and on the apportionment and control of armaments put it in an entirely new category. It is something for which there is no precedent in history. But it is not an international army in the fullest sense of the term. Therefore, it will require a further conscious effort on the part of the nations concerned if we are to move in that direction—and it is a direction which I myself certainly hold to be desirable. We cannot, indeed, rule out the possibility that the situation might move in the opposite direction. In the debate in another place it was said by a number of speakers that these disadvantages are offset by the fact that Britain has come in on the same basis as other countries. It is indeed immensely important, both to us and to our Continental neighbours, that Britain is, to-day, irretrievably linked in the matter of defence with Continental Europe. This situation was not created by what was done in the last few weeks; it was brought about by the aeroplane, and the link has been strengthened year after year. Self-propelled missiles, atomic warfare and the present-day speed and power of air attack make it impossible to contemplate defending these islands from this side of the Channel alone, and the dramatic circumstances of the London Conference and, the terms in which Britain's offer were pit forward in the Secretary of State's famous declaration disclosed the situation with the force of a new revelation to the world. For that reason, it was most important.

It is true that the situation had been rather timidly put forward in the Protocols signed last April in Paris and by the offer then made of a token force of one division. Indeed, there is a parallelism between that offer in April and the offer in September, although they are different in the sense that the bid has been increased. But though the offer has risen from one to four divisions, it remains a token force in relation to the forces needed for the protection of Western Europe. Our promise to consult and accept a majority decision of the Western Union, immensely important as it is symbolically, is also accompanied by an escape clause. In spite of that, I am not deprecating what has happened. We have made an important step forward. But to get on to the same level as our European neighbours, so to speak, the new scheme has unquestionably involved a retreat by the Continental countries from the position they had taken two or three years ago.

What we have to ask ourselves is: Will the less stringent terms imposed by this scheme prove adequate to the purpose they are intended to serve—that is to say, will they make possible the rearmament of Germany without running the risk of renewed militarism? As has been explained by the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, the scheme rests upon the strengthening of N.A.T.O., supplemented by specific undertakings regarding the force and the armaments entered into by the seven Powers of the Western Union. So far as its European members are concerned, the strengthening of N.A.T.O. stops the holes revealed by the withdrawal of Italian troops from the N.A.T.O. force at the time of the affair at Trieste a year ago and to which I called your Lordships' attention in our debate on defence in March last.

The contributions of the Continental Powers to N.A.T.O. are no longer to be voluntary; they are to include all the troops stationed on the Continent of Europe except those specifically exempted. Their deployment is to be in accordance with N.A.T.O. strategic plans and their location will be determined by the Supreme Commander, who is given increased powers in regard to logistics. He is also to have control over the training of all N.A.T.O. units, including facilities for inspection. No one who has read these documents can have avoided being strongly impressed by the immense, the almost fantastic, responsibility which is put upon the shoulders of the Supreme Allied Commander, and the problem that will be involved in selecting the right person and giving him the necessary support. Nevertheless, provided that the right man is found and supported in the right way, the scheme is clear and straightforward regarding the size of the forces.

I am not quite so happy, however, about the proposals in regard to inspection and control of armaments. The Agreement provides for the control and inspection of armaments, and records in the text the voluntary abandonment by Germany of the right to produce atomic and certain other weapons. But there are certain small features in the scheme to which I should like to draw attention. All of us who are accustomed to international documents are familiar with the fact that the crucial and critical word "control" means something different in French from what it means in English. In French, "contrôle" does not mean the power to order someone to do anything; it means "check" or "audit." The nearest possible English translation of "contrôle" is the word "audit"; and it is clear from the context that this is what is meant by the control to be exercised by the Agency concerned with armaments. It is to collect the figures, and see that they are in accord with the recommendations of N.A.T.O.; to check them up with production, with stocks, and with imports and exports, as the case may be. It is to check all those with the approved requirements of armaments.

The Agreement goes on to say that these figures can be verified by inspection of plants, stores and so on. In this connection, I would ask the noble Marquess who is to reply (again it is a matter of words): what is the meaning to be attached to the phrase in the Paris Agreement where it is said that inspection by the Agency shall not be of a routine character, but shall be in the nature of tests carried out at regular intervals. Experience of the inspection of Germany's munitions factories and military establishments, not under Hitler but under the Weimar Republic, shows how difficult it is to get at the truth by inspection. Without in any way imputing motives to any country, or looking for trouble, I say that it would seem that inspection at regular dates would be the surest way of facilitating evasion, if anyone wished to evade.


I do not know whether I can help the noble Lord on that point. I am told that, in fact, the word "regular" is a misprint, and that the proper word is "irregular," and that an amendment to that effect has been circulated.


I am grateful to the noble Marquess, and delighted that he has removed one of my misgivings. But the Agreement goes on (perhaps there may be a misprint here too) to say that if a country does not stick to its undertakings the matter is to be reported, and if the explanations are not satisfactory the Council will take the measures it deems necessary in accordance with procedure to be determined. Perhaps in reply to the debate, or even now, a word from the noble Marquess might be said as to the meaning of this rather cryptic phrase.

These may seem to be points of detail, but as we have abandoned a fully integrated international army, inspection becomes of crucial importance. I believe that it would be much easier under the proposed régime to ensure that this inspection is effective if the troops under the Supreme Commander are genuinely distributed throughout Western Europe and not confined to their own country. If in each country there are Allied troops in residence, evasion in the matter of munitions will be more difficult. I confess, however, that in this matter of munitions, on which war potential depends, I should be happier if the more specific intentions under the E.D.C. to control the placing of orders for the whole group of armaments on a wider basis could be introduced. This, presumably, is the idea behind the proposed pool of the French Prime Minister. I wonder whether the House could be told what is the state of that proposal, and, in particular, whether it is intended that Britain should participate in it; for here again I note something which I am unable to unravel from the documents. Can we be told whether the inspection of munitions production programmes applies to British production generally, or whether, as it seems from the documents, it applies only to the armaments provided for those forces which are stationed on the Continent of Europe.

I return to my basic question: Will this scheme produce the security that we all so ardently desire? It is difficult to prophesy, but one thing we can say for certain: if this scheme is to succeed it must have the backing of public opinion. It is for this reason that I welcome the proposal to associate the purely European side of the scheme with the Parliamentary representatives of the seven Powers in the Assembly of the Council of Europe. Here again, there is a matter of textual criticism, if I may so put it. The Paris Agreement makes two changes in the text dealing with this matter, as compared with the London Agreement. In the first place, the report which is to be submitted to the Parliamentary representatives is extended to cover the whole field of activities of the Western Union Council, and not merely the production and inspection of munitions. I welcome that extension, because clearly, if Parliamentary criticism is of any value, it should apply over the whole field, including not only the military side but the economic and other activities of the Western Union Council as well.

On the other hand, the Paris statement describes these representatives as "an Assembly" and not merely a group of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe meeting in restricted session. Indeed, it is being said that this represents a victory in the Paris discussions for the adherents of a Little Europe, because it creates a new Assembly, which could have a new Secretariat, and so forth, and perhaps be situated in a new city, which may acquire for itself increasing power. I do not know whether there is any truth in that suggestion, but I would emphasise this point: it is desirable that Western Union—particularly as it is a group of Powers which, I would say, must increase by the adherence in due course of Scandinavia, and possibly other countries—should be set up as a third organisation covering international collaboration. We have N.A.T.O., primarily military, but with an injunction to proceed into the fields of economics and politics. We have the Council of Europe with its Assembly, concerned with all matters affecting unity. Are we going to create a third organisation also concerned, as the Brussels Treaty makes it perfectly clear, not only with military matters but with economic, cultural and social affairs? All I can say is that if there is to be duplication of this kind, the public will get still further bemused, and it will result in confusion.

I have said that this is a great step forward. We are adding our voice to a tremendously important decision which may be a definite turning of the ways for Europe and the world. But the plan, as I have suggested, is not so secure from certain points of view as that which it replaces. How will it look in five or ten years' time? The answer depends on the behaviour of each and every one of the countries concerned but particularly on two of them—first of all, Germany. Success can come only if it is accepted with good will by the country and if the support of Germany for a European solution that was given to Dr. Adenauer a year ago in the election of September, 1953, is renewed at succeeding elections and is accorded to the Governments and the Chancellors who will follow him. If that is to happen, it opens up the whole sphere of international diplomacy, including the field of economics and politics and the development of the concept of European union in those respects.

The other country is our own. We have taken the initiative at this moment. For some time to come our European neighbours will certainly go as far, but not much farther, than we are prepared to go. Yet all our instincts are insular. Our people have so many interests and friends across the oceans. In voting for the ratification of these Agreements, we should remember that the system that has been set up is a compromise. It will gather strength and become a permanent basis for security only if Great Britain continues in the lead and pursues an active policy of collaboration with our Allies in Europe in all the fields of international relationships.

3.54 p.m.


My Lords, I wish to associate myself with those who have paid a tribute the very remarkable contribution the Foreign Secretary has made to the peace of the world. When E.D.C. was vetoed by France, years of work seemed to have been useless, and a situation was created which was full of danger both to Europe and also to co-operation with the United States. The Foreign Secretary acted with both wisdom and speed, and by so doing he has shown that, though the United Kingdom is much weaker in material forces than it was in the past, it is still able to give a lead to Europe and to the world.

Like many others, I have had the gravest doubts about the rearmament of Germany. It is a question upon which sensible and conscientious men have reached very different conclusions. It is clear that rearmament carries with it many risks. It is plain that in some quarters in Germany there is still a warlike spirit, and I am haunted by the account which Mr. Wheeler-Bennett gives in his remarkable book The Nemesis of Power, in which he shows how immediately after the first war Germany secretly and successfully rearmed, notwithstanding Pacts, Treaties and conditions of inspection. In his preface, written, I suppose, sometime last year, he points out: In a far shorter period than was the case after the First World War, German rearmament is now in operation, not, however, in secret contravention of treaty provisions, but with the open and avid approval and the material assistance of the Western Allied Powers themselves. … The register of the Officers Corps has already been re-established, The ex-soldiers' leagues are already in the field. The legends of the stab in the back are already in circulation. We have therefore to recognise the very real dangers which the rearmament of Germany brings with it. But, notwithstanding these obvious dangers, it seems both the safest and the most hopeful policy to adopt at the present time.

As the Leader of the House said in his opening speech, the choice is between controlled and uncontrolled rearmament. Rearmament seems to be the only practical policy at the moment. It is inconceivable to keep Germany permanently disarmed. The ideal of a neutral Germany in the midst of an armed Europe is sheer wishful thinking. A strong, intelligent and vigorous people, with a young generation to whom the war is a somewhat remote memory, will never tamely acquiesce in remaining unarmed, dependent for protection on the good will of her late enemies and threatened on one of her frontiers by Communist forces. Moreover, the rearmament of Eastern Germany has really made it impossible for Western Germany to remain unarmed. It would be humiliating to her pride and would give her a sense of ever-present insecurity if she had to remain unarmed while Eastern Germany, with the help of Russia, is piling up armaments. The demand for rearmament from Western Germany would soon become irresistible. The attempt to prevent it would cause bitter resentment and eventually would be stopped only by force. The more the Western Allies attempted to prevent it, the more certainly Germany would have been attracted to the East. As the Foreign Secretary said last week in another place (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 533 (No. 182), col. 404): … the real choice lies between anchoring Germany to the West or leaving her to drift in the centre of Europe with the certainty that she would be sucked into the Soviet system sooner or later … It is not only to avoid creating in Germany a dangerous sense of frustration and anger, but because it is a positive contribution to the peace of the world that I support the Agreement. It is, I think, now generally recognised that pious resolutions and exhortations will by themselves never prevent aggression. At present, strength as well as good will is necessary to prevent it. The stronger our defences in Europe are, the less will be the danger of a sudden attack. I understand—and here I can speak only from second-hand knowledge—that the best military opinion agrees that without the co-operation of Western Germany we could not hope to resist successfully a sudden Russian attack. I doubt very much whether the people of this country, and still more the people of America, would be content to keep large forces on the Continent if Western Germany made no contribution to a defensive Army.

There is something much larger at stake, however, than the defence of Western Germany, Our aim is to create a system of armed collective security as an insurance against the danger of war; in other words, the Declaration and the policy embodies is a step, a great step, towards collective co-operation for peace. The chief justification of the policy we are now discussing is that it is building up an armed barrier so strong that the temptation of aggression will be reduced to a minimum. Neither Russia nor any other country will start a war if it knows that it is invoking retaliation in full strength. But the deterrent will be the more powerful if it comes into action at once. By bitter experience and at the cost of terrible loss of life, we have learnt through two wars that armies rushed at the last minute to the Continent will not prevent aggression. To do so, they must be on the spot. The thought of another "war of liberation" excites no enthusiasm in the minds of those who were liberated at the close of the last war. By this Agreement Germany, as has been already pointed out in the debate, will do far more than supply men and armaments. It makes her an active and responsible partner in a system of collective security. Standing outside of it, restless, aggrieved and embittered, she would be a source of perpetual anxiety to the rest of the world. Within the system she will no longer be an outlaw nation but a contributor to the cause of European peace.

The fact that she will no longer be isolated but will be sharing in a great enterprise will be a safeguard against any unauthorised rearmament on her part, though that safeguard by itself, as is generally admitted, will not be sufficient. Her membership of an organisation to which many other nations adhere will remove from her some of the dangers of unilateral rearmament. I support, therefore, the policy which has been explained to us this afternoon because I believe it holds out good hopes of peace. But there is one observation I want to make. I know that many fear that this plan will make even more rigid the Iron Curtain and will make Russia more suspicious than ever of the West. I hope, therefore, that, as soon as these proposals have been ratified by all the nations concerned, but not before, talks with Russia may be opened on the highest level.

We know that there can be no real peace, either in the West or in the East, until an understanding has been, reached with Russia. At present our relations with her are bedevilled by fear and suspicion far more than by hate. We cannot say too often that we have no aggressive designs against her and are anxious to live at peace with her. Let her send visitors over here—not only athletes and ballet dancers but ordinary people, to mix with ordinary English people, not only with pacifists and Left Wingers. They will learn for themselves our good will. Co-existence is good so far as it goes, but we want something less negative and more friendly. I hope, therefore, that as soon as it is possible and advisable the Foreign Secretary, who has done so much recently to remove in various other directions causes of friction, will make one more effort to lead the nations on the long and hard highway—for it is a difficult way—to that collective security in which Russia also will take her part in the promotion of world peace.

4.5 p.m.


My Lords, in rising to address your Lordships' House for the first time, I would ask of your Lordships the indulgence which you always so kindly extend to a newcomer. I know that it is usual on such occasions to avoid controversial subjects. This is not always easy in foreign affairs, but on this occasion I hope it will not be too difficult for me to remain within the bounds of bipartisan and of tripartisan policy, for I feel that the present occasion is particularly auspicious. I feel that all your Lordships must welcome what is, in fact, the fruition of a long series of bipartisan negotiations leading up to a final plan, Indeed, so much has already been said in praise of it that it is difficult for me to find any fresh points to make. I can only say one or two things which strike me more particularly, having spent the last six years in Paris.

The first steps which were to lead to these Paris Agreements were, of course, taken by Ernest Bevin when he signed the Anglo-French Alliance with M. Bidault in 1947—and the Anglo-French Alliance is, in fact, the basis and the foundation of the whole scheme. Having achieved this, Ernest Bevin, again with M. Bidault, proceeded to negotiate the Brussels Treaty itself, which brought Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg into alliance with ourselves and France. That was in 1948. In the following year, 1949, was taken the roost fateful step of all, the conclusion of the Atlantic Pact, whereby the United States and Canada associated themselves with the Brussels Powers in the Western Union. The good work was carried on by our present Foreign Secretary, who had to face the further problem of associating Western Germany with the plan. In many ways this was, I think, the hardest part of the whole road—inevitably so because of the suspicion and mistrust left in Europe by the German conduct of war. These had to be reconciled in such a way that Western Germany, with all her vast material and her vast military and economic potential, could become a free, equal and safe member of the Western Union, without which it would have been at best but a makeshift and inadequate shield for peace and security.

I do not want to go into the past history of the E.D.C., which is still vivid in your Lordships' minds, but I should like to say this. Although the E.D.C., which was of course a French proposal, was rejected by France—irrevocably so—and the present proposals were substituted, the objective of the two is fundamentally the same. It is the association of Germany in conditions of equality and security with the Western Allies. It is a question of means and not of ends, and if the method of the E.D.C. has been rejected, the intention remains. Therefore, I feel that your Lordships will think it appropriate that on this occasion I should also recall the great contribution of the previous French Governments, and notably of the two Foreign Ministers, M. Bidault and M. Schuman, who during those earlier years stood by us and co-operated so loyally and so courageously with Her Majesty's Government. That was a time when our resources were very different from what they have since become; when none of our Allies on the Continent of Europe had any forces of any size, or with modern equipment; and when, in consequence, apathy and defeatism and ignorance abounded. Although, in the end, the E.D.C. Plan with which they were associated was rejected, as a means, I think we should not now forget their great contribution to the final result as authors with us of the original Brussels and North Atlantic Treaties.

The present documents represent the detailed text of the Agreements which were negotiated in London at the end of September under the stress of the events in the summer; they represent the alternative and, as I think, the only possible alternative to the E.D.C. If any one man was responsible for bringing about the present Agreements, it was the British Foreign Secretary. He stepped into the breach caused by the rejection of the E.D.C. and by the confusion of minds in Europe which followed. He at once realised the danger of drift, and he did not hesitate to set out in person to visit the various capitals in turn and to prepare the ground for the Agreements which are now before us.

I do not think it is always sufficiently realised what might have happened if we had not stepped in at that point. The E.D.C. had been rejected and the problem of Germany and her association with the West remained. The very fact that the E.D.C., a French proposal, had been rejected by France as insufficient, showed how mistrustful French opinion was, and how unlikely it was that France would agree to simple German membership of N.A.T.O. There was a real danger that the whole system of Western Union would collapse. As I have said the present Agreement represents, I am sure, the only possible alternative to the E.D.C. Supra-nationalism, the leading feature of the old E.D.C., has gone, but the mechanism of the Brussels Treaty has been specially strengthened to take its place. Germany becomes a direct and equal member of both the Brussels Treaty and the North Atlantic Treaty. I think it should be emphasised that the Brussels Treaty, in addition to its defensive aspects, has always had a very definite economic and social purpose; indeed, its title is A Treaty of Economic, Social and Cultural Collaboration and Collective Self-Defence, and its objective always was to bring about a greater community of life between its members. It is the desire for closer union between those States who wish to preserve what I can only describe as a Western European way of life that is at the back of the European movement. I think it is a genuine urge and a most valuable one. Even if the E.D.C. and its supranationalism has been rejected, there is no reason why these other aspects should not be pursued on other lines, and this feature of the Brussels Treaty, which can obviously be developed, should go some way, I hope, to meet those who may be inclined to regret the more intimate bonds of the old E.D.C.

Therefore, on the military side, we now have a firm and coherent system of Allies, including Western Germany, whose forces are all under the integrated command of the Supreme Allied Commander, and under the political control of the N.A.T.O. Council. Within that comprehensive Alliance we have the more intimate European group of Brussels Powers, now including Germany and Italy, which are bound by certain special ties and obligations. But the important and decisive factor in the new Plan is the decision of Her Majesty's Government to commit four divisions and a Tactical Air Force to Europe for the duration of the Treaty, subject to the majority decision of tine Brussels Council. There can certainly be no doubt of that fact. Throughout the long discussions of the past one fact always stood out in France—namely, the general, and indeed almost universal, anxiety, among opponents as well as among advocates of the E.D.C., for closer association with Great Britain. Indeed, one of the features of the opposition to the E.D.C. was the fear that France, by joining the E.D.C.—of which Britain was not a member—should gradually be wedged away from Britain herself. It was, if I may say so without impertinence, above all, thanks to the courage and statesmanship of our own Foreign Secretary in grasping this fact and making this offer, that agreement became possible. Now I think there is no possible doubt that this British contribution is in fact the linchpin of the whole thing.

My Lords, it is a great and historical decision; yet I wonder whether it was really quite so revolutionary as has been represented. Looking back over the long centuries of our national life, there have not been many periods, except the Victorian era, when British soldiers were long absent from the Continent of Europe. Even to-day, before Her Majesty's Government undertook this commitment, Britain, as signatory of the Anglo-French Alliance and of the Brussels Treaty, was already committed in certain definite circumstances to sending troops automatically and instantly to Europe to repel aggression. All we do now is to keep the troops there in advance, in order, as we hope, to prevent aggression from occurring, instead of sending them afterwards when it is too late.

In any case, certain it is to my mind that, without some definite commitment of this kind, the creation of a Western Allied Group, including France and Germany, would have been impossible. I do not believe that without a firm British commitment any association of France and Germany, even if brought about on paper, would have worked. There are too many memories. Yet for ourselves, as for France and our other Allies, it was absolutely essential to bring about such an association. After all, our own security is bound up with it. Western Europe or Great Britain can no longer be defended from the Rhine. How could Western Germany herself, for whose protect ion the Western Allies are now responsible, be defended? We could not go on occupying Western Germany—nobody has advocated that. Yet, if she were not occupied, she must be free; and if free she must be accepted freely and equally.

The problem has scarcely changed since 1919, when France consented to withdraw from the Rhine in return for an Anglo-American guarantee. We all know what happened then—how the American Senate rejected the Versailles Treaty and the guarantee fell to the ground. Thereafter came Locarno, always with the same purpose, that of reconciling France and Germany. But Locarno failed, too, because, as I think, it was not tight enough, and because it was too often watered down by official declarations. Her Majesty's Government have always disliked committing themselves to automatic action or to keeping troops in Europe, though again and again they have had to send them there. And France, after each war, has always been reluctant to see Germany set up again as a free and equal European State, though in the end she has always had to agree. Now, at last, what might seem obvious has happened: we have agreed to keep troops there, and France has agreed to the admission of Germany to the Western Union as a perfectly free and equal partner with ourselves and the other Brussels Powers and the United States and Canada. The difference is that we are at last committed, and our forces and resources are interwoven. We can none of us water down our obligations, and no one can just pull out; it is a firm contract. All the friends of France in this country must therefore hope that she will see in this solution the best practical solution of the age-old problem of Franco-German relations.

I know how profound and sincere was the wish of all in France, both those pro-and anti-E.D.C., for closer British partnership and association. Well, here it is—the commitment of British troops and air forces for the duration of the Treaty. We have given France the fullest possible British association in the only way in which we can give it, as Allies in the Brussels Treaty. We are now all united and yoked together in a great design. Each nation has made its contribution; all have been called upon to sacrifice prejudice and make difficult decisions. But we must all remember that this is one package; it is not possible to give any more here or take back there without upsetting the balance of the whole thing and without, in fact, destroying the whole thing.

To those here and in France who fear the re-creation of a German army, I would draw attention to the very precise nature of the provisions of the Brussels Treaty, as now strengthened and enlarged. It now has an Executive Council, instead of a purely consultative one. It will be able to take binding decisions, including fixing the numbers of each of the national forces to be allowed, including of course the German forces. In addition, there is to be an armaments authority to ensure the prohibition of certain arms and to check the stocks of the rest.

The fear was often expressed that the German forces might concentrate at some particularly "ticklish" point of the Eastern frontier and thus start off adventures of their own. But now we have under these Agreements a far stricter control by the Supreme Allied Commander than before over the moving and stationing of all the Allied forces, and over their supplies. Over and above that there is to be the integration of all forces upwards from army level. It is impossible to conceive a German contingent being able to take independent action in such circumstances. Then it was sometimes feared that Germany would conduct her foreign policy in such a way as to embroil us with Russia over Eastern Germany. But now we have a definite Western German undertaking never to resort to force for the recovery of her former frontiers. More than that, Western Germany herself will be a member of the N.A.T.O. Council, a body sitting permanently to review policy, a body of fifteen members, including France and ourselves and the United States and Canada. Can it really be maintained that such a body can be swung as easily as that?

Finally, there are those, we know, who fear the division of Europe into East and West, and who believe that the Agreements may make more remote an ultimate agreement with Russia. To these one can reply only that the division of Europe and of Germany is not the fault of the West. What have we all—Britain and the United States and France—been trying to do ever since Potsdam, except to secure reunification of Germany in conditions of freedom and decency? Ever since the Potsdam Conference we have not ceased to hold conferences with Russia for this very purpose—but with no avail. Failing reunion, we have perforce gone ahead with restoring sovereignty in Western Germany in the only way open to us, and this is the culminating point. This is now our only alternative. We can no longer keep Western Germany in conditions of inferiority; it is only by both restoring her sovereignty and at the same time making her our Ally that we can release her safely and wisely.

I must say that, after all these abortive efforts strung out over the past ten years, it is a little too obvious that the Soviet Government should have put in their invitation for a fresh conference to-day, on the very eve of these debates here and in France and in Germany. It is rather too obvious a manœuvre to bring about still further delay, and it is remarkable and heartening that in none of the countries concerned has any large body of public opinion been taken in by it. When the time comes to speak again with Russia—and of course it will come, though it will be after, not before, the ratification of the present Agreements—then we shall be able to speak with greater authority, because Western Germany will be with us, and no longer a floating and disturbing element in the midst of Europe. We shall be able to vouch for her. My Lords, no doubt the position is not ideal, but politics are the art of the practical. Half a Europe is better than no Europe at all, and that, I am absolutely convinced, is at present the only alternative.

4.27 p.m.


My Lords, I am extremely happy that it should fall to me to express the pleasure that no doubt it has given to all your Lordships to listen to the first speech my noble friend has delivered in this House. He has subjected the matter under debate to a thorough, searching and complete analysis that has been extremely stimulating and suggestive, I do not doubt, to all your Lordships. In one sense this is not strictly the first time that my noble friend has addressed your Lordships' House. He has done it vicariously, because for many years, as most of his friends know, he was charged with a very responsible post in the Foreign Office—that of Private Secretary to the Secretary of State—and in that capacity was responsible for marshalling many of the powerful arguments with which spokesmen of the Foreign Office have from time Ito time been able to mollify your Lordships' anxieties and fears. Indeed, as I look back, I understand now, hearing my noble friend speaking, why my own speeches when I was at the Foreign Office were as good as they were. Therefore, for that vicarious benefit that I have enjoyed, I again take the opportunity of thanking my noble friend and urging him frequently to give us again the pleasure that he has given us this afternoon.

My Lords, every speech that has been made this afternoon has rightly contained a notable tribute to my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary. It was indeed a desire to add my meed of tribute to what I knew would be said in that fashion that prompted me to intervene for a few moments, and for a few moments only, this afternoon. I think that the qualities of imagination by which the Foreign Secretary immediately saw what was involved in the imminent failure of the original plan, his courage in being prepared to take the necessary action immediately and his perseverance in refusing to admit failure are qualities that are beyond praise. I found myself in almost complete agreement with the noble and learned Earl who spoke for the Opposition. I am one of those who feel that, without exposing ourselves to the charge of dreamy or of wishful thinking, we can safey take note of what appears to be a legitimate difference between the decisions on which my right honourable friend the Leader of the House has moved his Motion and most other decisions which the Foreign Secretary or the country has, in recent years, been obliged to take. It is true to say, as did the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, that a great many decisions in the realm of foreign policy are habitually the choice of evils. Often there is no ideal course, and we choose that course that offers less objection and less danger.

May I mention only two? It may be that there are some noble Lords here this afternoon who feel that that quality of disagreeable choice between alternatives, neither of them in themselves ideal, applies to the situation in Indo-China and even to the Egyptian situation. This European business, however, seems happily different. There is a difference of degree, but one so great as almost to constitute a difference in kind. It is not merely a selection of risks; it is, at some risk, to do something that is positively desirable. I was very happy to hear the most reverend Primate, in his contribution, stress that point with great emphasis—that here we are doing something that is positively a contribution to what is desirable. Having regard to the history of the past, it is in a way more remarkable that that kind of thing should be happening in Europe, which for so many years, as my noble friend has just pointed out, has been the grave of the hopes and aspirations of all parties. That result is, in part, due to the fact that all Parties in this nation, and I imagine in other nations too, have learnt the salutary lesson that no robust or independent foreign policy is possible in an age of naked power politics such as that in which we live, without the appropriate maintenance of physical strength. I was very happy indeed that the noble and learned Earl who leads the Opposition in this House, while naturally regretting those necessities, yet gave them full force in his appraisal.

Like others who have spoken before me, I find it most easily possible to measure the worth of what is represented by these Agreements by a dispassionate review of where we should have been without them. Let me, in two or three sentences, show your Lordships the fashion in which that picture presents itself to my mind. Where it seemed to the layman so vital to sow confidence in France for the re-establishment of the moral stature of that great nation we should, without these Agreements, surely have left hopelessness and despair. Where Germany needed purpose and hope there would have been only empty frustration and resentment. Where the United States demanded a programme of constructive European order she would have found only disappointment and an increasing temptation, as my right honourable friend said in another place the other day, to withdraw once again within the American fortress. Where it was most of all essential to show our neighbours of the Soviet Union that the West was capable of drawing new strength from a new-won unity, we should have shown only distraction and divided counsels. It is not difficult to imagine what would have been the universal reaction to such Western failure on those in every land who seek to represent established order and established Governments as merely nerveless and effete survivals.

In our long history as a nation, composed as we are from so many different sources, we have learned how obstinate and how unpredictable often are the currents by which the affairs of men are swayed and moved. It is perhaps one of the greatest differences between our selves and the American people, who are constantly apt to believe that if only everybody is industrious enough, or honest enough, or courageous enough, there is a solution to every question round the corner by Tuesday morning. We know there is not, because our history has taught us to be infinitely more patient; and Mr. Bevin was certainly profoundly right when he emphasised the importance of that quality of patience. It is for that reason that we, as a nation, "keep our fingers crossed" very much more than do some other peoples. He would therefore be a very bold man who would prophesy how all this business will look in ten, twenty, thirty or forty years' time. But, looking at it dispassionately, as one can to-day, and measuring its pros and cons, as the noble and learned Earl did in his speech, I do not believe it is extravagant to suppose that, providing the world is still existing in the year 2000, those who will then be alive and will be recording history or judging the events of the past as they see them, will look back to these Agreements of 1954 as a turning point in our history and as material from which those who came after Sir Anthony Eden, M. Mendès-France and all the other European statesmen had been able to draw, to carry further and yet higher the building of the house of European and world peace.

4.38 p.m.


My Lords, it is perhaps bold for someone from the Back Benches to express a doubt when there is so much unanimity. Yet I find, as time passes, that if I have more courage it is not because I have more confidence in my own judgment but because I have less confidence in the judgment of others. I should have been very glad to hear from the noble Earl, Lord Halifax, the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, and the noble Lord, Lord Hore-Belisha, something about the foundation on which this series of treaties has been built. On from the Munich Agreement it is one story; it is a question of how you are to take the German strength and the Russian menace and fit them into a picture of peace. You must see it in that light. I am the only person, not even excepting the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, who saw the Versailles Treaty brought back into the House of Commons. Of those present on that occasion only the Prime Minister, Lord Winterton and myself now survive. I remember the House getting up and cheering wildly. That was the foundation of Hitler. I remember September, 1938, when the Munich Agreement was made, and I remember the view, of experienced observers on that Agreement. May I just read your Lordships an extract: The volume of applause which continues to grow throughout the globe, registers a popular judgment that neither politicians nor historians are likely to reverse. That was what The Times said of the noble Lord's Agreement with Hitler. Therefore, although I do not say that to be unanimous is always to be wrong, I do say that to be unanimous is not always to be right.

And so I take some courage in expressing such views as I have formed recently, mainly through spending seven weeks wandering around Europe anywhere between Lublin and Danzig, Warsaw and Strasbourg. It was not my first visit; not my first experience. The first thing I want to say is that I am amazed at the claim made that in these Treaties we are meeting the military danger. I am astounded at the remarks of the noble and learned Earl who is the leader of my Party here; though we are in complete accord with the Party decision that we should abstain from voting for these proposed Treaties. The noble and learned Earl was speaking about redressing the balance of power which is going to produce such a miraculous effect in the mind of Mr. Molotov. He spoke about old times when we spent money. He mentioned the Army and the Navy, but from beginning to end of his speech he never mentioned the Air Force. Is it really to be argued (I am talking now of the military position, not of the diplomatic position) that if you free all the good people in Spandau and put everyone into a pickelhaube—500,00 of them—it makes a snap of the fingers difference to the balance of power of the Soviets with their atom bombs and the Americans with their atom bombs?

I am glad to see that the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Trenchard, has come back to the House. I do not suppose he would approve of me very much, but at any rate I owe this to him. Having served in the Royal Naval Air Service, the Royal Flying Corps and, finally, the Royal Air Force (always in a junior position of course), I cannot doubt that the power that counts in war is now in the air: it lies to an overwhelming extent with the supersonic bomber which will carry the hydrogen bomb. While we can speak about the value of German soldiers—and they are very fine indeed—what difference are twelve German divisions going to make in the balance of power when a third world war comes to be waged? My noble friends of course, are basing themselves on history. They realise that if only the Prussians had turned up sooner, the job of the great Duke would have been very much facilitated at Waterloo. I say that with some feeling: it is absolutely true.

I want to talk now about these Agreements, and to look at them very briefly, as they concern different parties in the European scene. The material thing about the Agreements is not that they are creating twelve new German divisions but that they make Dr. Adenauer a sovereign power; and not only do they make him a sovereign power but they make him a sovereign power in partnership with the United States of America. I do not know whether Dr. Adenauer will get his Agreements through the Bundestag. In any case he stands only for a section of the whole of Germany, and we do not know what he represents, even in Western Germany. I am surprised that my noble friend sitting below me, being like myself an International Socialist, has not paid more attention to the opposition to these Agreements from the Socialists in Western Germany. They say that, from the point of view of their own country, these Agreements are objectionable.

As regards the checks and controls, the power in this matter, is bound to be in the hands of the United States of America—it cannot be otherwise. I am not complaining. If you look at the names of the seven Western Union Powers every one of them is economically dependent upon the United States of America. It is said that they will decide by a majority vote. But how is Luxembourg, for example, going to stand out if it is indicated from the State Department that they had better vote this way or that way? I say, therefore, that there is reasonable ground for the assertion that this is a partnership between Dr. Adenauer and the United States of America. I am surprised at the unflinching way in which the State Department press their views. First of all they are going to purge Communism from their own country. There is the McCarthy committee. Then they are going to purge Communism from the United Nations. Then they are going to purge Communism from industry. This item appeared in The Times only a day or two ago. Some American officer went round Italian shipyards and cancelled a contract because he thought that Communist influence was too strong in the trade union concerned. No doubt that is legitimate: he who has the money controls the job; but it is a remarkable example in support of my contention that this is, in fact, a German-American partnership.

As regards ourselves, we know that this is going to cost money. I was surprised at the noble Marquess when he said that we have to spend money anyhow. I do not know what the good of having disarmament conferences if it is necessary to arm anyhow. Surely if we can reduce our commitments we can reduce our expenditure—but apparently that is not the case. Furthermore, do not let any of my friends who are supporting these Agreements come along afterwards and plead for a reduction in the period of National Service. They cannot have it both ways. As my noble and learned Leader has said, this scheme means conscription up to the year 2001. That is something we have to think about. Moreover, it means reduction in our influence all over the world. What was the trouble about A.N.Z.U.S.? The trouble was that we were not able to make a contribution which was sufficient to admit us to membership. What would the noble Marquess have said at Manila if it had been said that, of our scanty reserves, four divisions were to be permanently allotted to the Continent of Europe? Those are some of the considerations from the British point of view. As to the French, I have listened with increasing impatience to the debates in this House. For fifty years the French have been our Allies. They are the people who gave political liberty to Europe. Their culture is precious. They helped the United States to gain their liberty. Now, people apologise for France and say that pressure has to be put upon the French. Politicians in the United States have forgotten Lafayette and are thinking only of the German voters of Milwaukee.

Of the other countries, I wish to say one word about Austria. The Inter-Parliamentary Union held recently a most remarkable conference in Vienna, and I should like to take this opportunity of expressing my sincere thanks to the Austrian Chancellor, Herr Raab, and President Koerner, and others, for the magnificent reception they gave us. I had the privilege of moving a resolution at the conference which was supported by every member of the conference—including the Communist States represented there, for ours is a universal organisation—in favour of doing something to bring the Austrian case before our various Houses of Parliament. That I do now. It is imposing on the credulity of the public to pretend that by the simple signature of some document Austria can be put where she wants to be. The position of Austria is the same as that of Germany: she is one of the States in the balance, and until we get a general detente Austria cannot look for the full independence she desires. When she gets it, one thing she will demand is freedom from all these military blocs; and, above all, although her sentiments are undoubtedly with the West, she will refuse to have military bases placed on her territory.

Now I come to two other countries whose names I am sure the noble Lords here will hear more critically—Czechoslovakia and Poland. First of all Czechoslovakia, which is in the group of Communist countries. I do not see how anyone from Great Britain is going to say much to Czechoslovakia. I should not like to have to go to Prague and explain British policy. When we remember the history of those miserable months in 1938 when, not for military reasons, as the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, says in his book, but because we believed it was right, the Sudeten lands were swept into the German Reich, we cannot imagine that Britain would have very much influence in Czechoslovakia to-day.


My Lords, may I interrupt? I do not know whether the noble Viscount was quoting me. If so, I think his memory has erred. I never said it was a good thing that the Sudeten Germans should be absorbed into Germany. What I did say was that it was an issue upon which a great many people thought it was not right to have a world war.


No, I read the book with immense interest, and the noble Viscount also said it was a principle embodied in the Treaty of Versailles and he never made a moral issue of it at all. It is true he said it was not an issue worth having a war about, but he never said that to permit a big neighbour to snatch this land was wrong. And that is where we have lost caste for I do not know how long with the Czech people. What are we doing about Czechoslovakia? The noble Lord, Lord Layton, knows more about this than anybody, because he has been an honoured and distinguished figure in the Council of Europe. Is it not a fact that we are using balloons, or somebody is using balloons, to pour leaflets into Czechoslovakia, inviting the people to rise against their Government? Is it not a fact that at one stage in the devaluation false currency was being pushed into Czechoslovakia in order to break the currency of the Czechoslovak Government? What is our attitude towards this? That might be very good in war, if we are going to fight to save these people, but egging these people on and then to do nothing is merely strengthening the Government you are opposing. I wish it were possible to have some pronouncements on this matter. Do we seek a debate on propaganda? What is our real policy in respect to Czechoslovakia and Poland?

Let me take the question of frontiers. I understand that the frontiers of Czechoslovakia were fixed at the end of the war, when we said we would divide the Germans within the frontiers of 1937 into four zones and the frontiers were the frontiers of those zones. I do not know precisely about that, but we have the immense advantage of the presence here of the noble Lord, Lord Strang, and I very much hope he will elucidate that matter for your Lordships. But that is what I understand to be the position. When the Germans say they will not alter frontiers except by peaceful means, does that declaration cover the Czech frontiers? There is a society of expelled Sudetans who want their farms and their homes back. They will agitate, and the, have votes and strength. What is our attitude going to be? If in 1938 we let the Sudetans go to the Germans because it was in accord with the Treaty of Versailles, are we going to oppose the reasonable demand of the Germans to have the Sudetenland back again to-day? The Agreement says "except by peaceful means." In fact nothing was more peaceful than the transfer of the Sudetenland to Germany after the Runciman mission. Not a shot was fired except by the miserable Czechs who committed suicide on their own fortifications. This is the thing that is agitating the Czechs. They are asking themselves: "If you are rearming the Germans, what is going to happen to us? Are we assured of our frontiers?" And I should like someone to say clearly what is the Government policy in this regard.

Then I come to the question of Poland. Poland is a great country. Poland was invited by the Powers at Potsdam to reorganise her frontiers. Poland was told to cede territory to the East to the Russians and take, for the time being, until the Peace Treaty, territory in the West. The territory in the East was largely ethnologically Ukrainian and the Poles gave it up and transferred five to six million people to the West. Poland, which was an agricultural State, has become largely an industrial State and her whole economy depends on her retaining the territories which were given to her by the Allies—namely, so far as the West is concerned, the Oder-Neisse Line. Now, the Germans will have twelve divisions. Here is where the twelve divisions come in. When Mr. Attlee said that they were for fighting a war but not for "stopping small boys stealing milk bottles," I think that was an extremely apt description of the European situation. But when that demand is made, what is the Government going to say? Will we support the Oder-Neisse Line? Because the whole question of Poland is being held up until they know whether that decision, which was made a good many years ago now, on which their economic life is based, is to continue.

We never had the Nazi terror here. But I have been in Poland and I have seen what happened there. I have seen piles of human hair, even the little curls of babies, piled high. I have seen the heaps of clothing, with the little slippers of babies, of those taken by train to the incinerators. I do not want to stir up hatred: I mean that, but, by God! when the Scripture says, "Love your enemies," it does not say, "Give them back the weapons with which they fought you." That is the feeling in Poland and Czechoslovakia. And one of the immediate effects of this Treaty will be that—in fact, I saw it announced already—the Poles will begin to increase their armaments for the safety of their frontiers. So far from weakening the East, this Treaty will strengthen the East. It is not that the Poles and Czechs want to get under the Russian wing: there is nobody else to protect them. The more we increase the tension, the more they are driven and consolidated under the Russian power.

Finally, one word upon one of the most dramatic questions of to-day—the urge for German unity. It is no good saying that we have done our best; it is the Russians who are responsible. If you and I were Germans, there is only one thing we should think about—how are we to get a united Germany. What is the state of affairs now? Everywhere you go in Germany you are met with it. May I give some personal anecdotes to show your Lordships how this obsesses the mind in Germany? The stationmaster at Minden helped us with our luggage, and when we thanked him he said, "You are welcome. Is it not time something was done for a united Germany?" I took a cab from the Friedrichstrasse to the Kurfurstendam, and the cabby said, "This is what you call a united Germany, I have to stop here." What is happening is that we are creating a twofold Germany, which is disastrous for the peace of the whole of Europe.

When you go to Marienbad or Helmstedt you find that people whose relatives live in the next village have to get a pass to go there for a fortnight and then come back again across the frontier line. Even the Eastern Protestant Church is getting into a different mould. I heard a report from someone who was at the Leipzig Congress, and they said that the Protestant Church in the East was getting into a different mould. There is one ray of light in the whole thing: that at Evanston there was co-existence. There were people there from everywhere except, unfortunately, two Poles who were too late for their visas—co-existence in being. I would say that this division is clamping down a great force which is going to explode. If you were a German, would you say that Goethe did not live in Germany, that Luther did not live in Germany: that they belong to the Soviet Zone? Of course not. Germany is one Germany, and any good German will tell you that Germany never has been divided but is only partly severed for the moment.

The central point about all this is Berlin. Till the other day I had not been to Berlin since the war—I do not know whether many of your Lordships have been there—but Berlin is a nightmare. Your official car has to set you down at one place, and you have to transfer your luggage to another car in order to cross the street. If you have a newspaper which you get in the Eastern Zone and you go into the Western Zone, that might be taken by a policeman, and you might be punished because that newspaper is forbidden. Then there is the radio pounding and pounding away, telling the East of the wickedness of Bolshevik rule. And more than that, there are illuminated lights saying: "This is the news from the free world for you." You cannot avoid the propaganda from one Zone—I have no doubt it is reciprocal—to the other. Moreover, here again, speaking of currency, offices are set up so that you can get currency five times as cheaply on this side of the street as you can on the other, with the object (or at least it has the result) of dealing a blow at the value of the East mark. Then you have the people seeking so-called right of asylum. I have no doubt that life in East Germany is very hard—it is in all Communist countries—but do not imagine that everyone seeks the right of asylum for political reasons. If you have not paid your tailor it is easy to seek the right of asylum for a few weeks until you are in a better financial position.

Just to conclude my remarks about Berlin, what strikes one about Berlin is that there is a speedier improvisation in the Western Zone, where they have turned on the lights and streets are lit up like Oxford Street, where the place is rehabilitated. That is not so in the Eastern Zone. In the Eastern Zone there is a steady tread; there is a plan; and it does not matter how long it takes, that plan is going to be carried out. There you have all the monuments, both of German greatness and German defeat, in the hands of the Russians. You have these masses of concrete and steel, the tombs of Hitler and Goebbels, to be preserved as a reminder. You have the Stalin Allee, and that formidable Russian graveyard, with the great masses of red marble and the dipped flags. That is something that can only be compared to an Egyptian pyramid in its grandeur. And you have the touching statue of the weeping woman in granite, and the soldier. That is Berlin.

If you go to Bonn and ask any Member of Parliament what he thinks of Bonn, he will tell you that Bonn was a schoolhouse but has been made bigger. The so-called Parliament is a schoolroom, where the Ministers sit on a platform and the members sit on forms. As a Member of Parliament in Bonn said to me: "Dr. Adenauer is not a Prime Minister, he is a schoolmaster; he comes and lectures to us." No unity without Berlin; no Berlin without Russian consent; no Russian consent without conference. Further, noble Lords say: "What does this Treaty matter?" It does make a difference. Once this has been passed, Western Germany will rearm; once Western Germany is rearmed, Eastern Germany may be more fully armed; and when they are both armed, when they both have the same desire—namely, to be united—and when they find a willing dealer in Russia, do your Lordships not think it possible that East and West Germany will come together and make some arrangement with the Russians that will make all these Treaties look rather foolish? It is all based on the Russians from start to finish.

My charge against the Government, and especially against noble Lords on the Benches below the gangway, is this: that they have carried on, from the birth of the Russian Government, ceaseless warfare to destroy them. I remember the Revolution of 1917. I remember Denikin and Kolchah and Wrangel—and so does the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood. We carried on an immense war to try to destroy the Government—that was the one idea. After that, we incited the Poles; and they took Kiev, and the Russians swept back and nearly took Warsaw.


Does the noble Viscount suggest that it was a unilateral war?


What does the noble Viscount mean by a "unilateral war"?


That we were making war upon the Russians, and they did nothing in return.


I will ask the noble Viscount this—I am talking now about 1919 the Cordon Sanitaire, the £100 million worth of munitions. Does he say that the Russians were invading us? I say that all those people were working with our support to try to destroy the Bolshevik Government. Is that not true?




I must say that that is complete news to me. When did the Bolshevik Government, when did Lenin and those people, make war on us? We are speaking of history, and it can all be looked up in a book. As the noble Viscount knows, I have the deepest respect for him, but I am sure that his history on this matter is entirely wrong.

The point now, therefore, is the same point as it has always been: What are your relations with Russia going to be? It is the last word I speak, and these are the questions I put to the noble Marquess who is to reply. You laugh at Mr. Molotov's proposals for the 29th of this month. I do not say a word about the criticism of the noble Lord, Lord Harvey of Tasburgh, because, except for the noble Lord, Lord Strang, he is the most qualified technical critic in these matters in your Lordships' House. At the same time, Mr. Molotov makes a proposal, and he then says that he will postpone it. Then along comes M. Mendès-France and says: "Let us have a Conference next May"; and Marshal Tito agrees that a Conference is a good idea. But all we get from the Government is, "No doubt," and "Some time we will have a Conference with the Russians." That will not do. The situation is deteriorating the whole time. I fear, and many of our Party fear, that the view of the Government is the view of Senator Knowland who still commands forty-seven votes in the Senate—namely, that the idea of co-existence with the Russians is merely a Trojan horse, and means giving away the position to the Communists. Does the noble Marquess wish to intervene?


I was only wondering how far the noble Viscount was going on that theme—that is all.


I hope that I have not gone too far, Does the noble Marquess mean in time, or in argument?


In argument.


Senator Knowland said that he regarded co-existence as a Trojan horse—is that correct? Yes, it is correct. Then I have not gone too far; that is extremely satisfactory. But what the public want to know is: What are your plans for meeting the Russians? If you want to have these plans for the divisions (I do not think it is of great Importance, though surely it will poison the whole of a united Europe; and when I say a "united Europe" I mean a Europe that includes Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and all the old constituents of a united Europe) we want to know what are your plans then for meeting the Russians. Supposing you wait until Luxembourg has signed the last paper: are you then going to meet the Russians, or what conditions do you make for a meeting on which we believe the hope of peace depends?

5.10 p.m.


My Lords, in craving the indulgence which your Lordships always grant to a Member of this House who addresses it for the first time, I feel that I must do so with added earnestness—for three reasons: first, because I do not think that what I have to say to your Lordships will be as electrical as the speech to which we have listened; secondly, because I am breaking a silence of thirty-four years—though I have not been "mute of malice," because during those years I have been in the service of the Crown and, by precedent and custom, have been obliged to refrain from making any observations, either in writing or by speech, on matters of public controversy; and thirdly, because I should have had to choose this occasion to address your Lordships for the first time. The other day I read that the late and much respected Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow said that if you were going to make a maiden speech it was better "to make a grand speech on a wee occasion." Unfortunately, mine will be a little speech on an occasion of supreme importance.

Having said that, I should like to tell your Lordships where I stand. The Foreign Secretary, speaking in another place a few days ago, divided the opinions of Members, or Members and their opinions, on the subject of Germany into three categories: those who had fears about the future of Germany, those who had hopes about the future of Germany and, thirdly—the category which he considered was perhaps in the majority—those who had both hopes and fears. I belong to that third category. I have both hopes and fears, and I am hoping that your Lordships will allow me at this stage to say something, because I think it may be necessary to cure an impression that I am suffering from anti-German rabies and that I am unable to regard this subject as a reasonable being would do. It is necessary for me to say that for this reason. I hope that I shall not be out of order in doing so or that, if I am out of order, I shall be so little out of order that your Lordships will not find it necessary to stop me.

The noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, referred to a book of mine, about which some of your Lordships may have heard, which was published recently. It was suggested at one time that the book was written in such a way as to stir up hatred of the Germans as a whole; and it was rather implied that it was written for that very purpose. To be perfectly fair to those who made those suggestions, I do not think they can have read the book. If they did read the book, they omitted the preface, the prologue and the first chapter, because in those parts of the book I was at great pains to point out that these crimes, which were unprecedented in the world's history, were the natural outcome of the Nazi doctrine of the Master-Race; that they were part and parcel of a pre-conceived and pre-concerted plan, and that the German people were submitted for some years prior to the war to a reign of terror and oppression.

Having said that, I hope your Lordships will accept what I am going to say as being said sincerely and without any such feelings about Germans as have been attributed to me. I am convinced that in Germany to-day there are large democratic forces. Apart from the older people who hold liberal opinions, I believe that there is a young generation in Germany to-day, those to whom the words "Sieg heil!" mean nothing, who are so far removed from the traditional German outlook as to make the future, in certain circumstances, very hopeful. Many of them have never even visited Berlin, and for most of them Prussia and Silesia are only geographical names. Until a few years ago, the omens for successful democracy in Germany were bright, and it is to me, therefore, all the greater tragedy that the spectre of Communist aggression should have changed the whole of Allied policy towards Germany.

Nevertheless, if there were to be a division on this Resolution—which is most unlikely—I should vote for the Resolution, for I regard these Agreements as a great improvement on E.D.C. Speaking in another place last week, the Foreign Secretary said that E.D.C. was quite different; that its whole essence was its supranational character, and that no Party in Britain was willing to subscribe to that. I entirely agree with that statement, and for that reason I feel that it is a pity that the French have been criticised so much for not being able to ratify E.D.C. There has been in recent times a somewhat deplorable tendency in this country to abuse the French. Even a Roman Catholic prelate has indulged in it quite recently. It is a matter of great regret. I have always thought it unreasonable to criticise the French for taking the view that what was not good enough for us was not good enough for them. For that reason, I certainly do not condemn the Foreign Secretary, as some people do, for having given such an important undertaking in regard to the forces which we are agreeing to keep on the mainland of Europe. Whether we like it or not, we are part of the European system, and I am glad that Her Majesty's Government have recognised that that is the case and that we must accept commitments in Europe on equal terms with other European nations.

The real reason why, although I support this Resolution, I view these Agreements with some misgiving is this. In moving the Resolution in another place the Foreign Secretary said (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 533 (No. 182), col. 404): … The real choice lies between anchoring Germany to the West or leaving her to drift in the centre of Europe with the certainty that she would be sucked into the Soviet system sooner or later. I entirely agree with that view. I share the Foreign Secretary's hopes, but I do not share his optimism. We are often asked to be realists in regard to this matter, and I do not think that, merely because some of us are prepared to disregard the lessons of the past, we should be disposed to close our eyes to the possibilities of the future. Furthermore, we should be singularly foolish if we deluded ourselves by imagining that the German leaders are going to act contrary to the best interests of their country. That is what they are there for, and it is no criticism of them to say that that is what they would do. May I remind your Lordships of something which Doenitz said in his farewell message to the German Officers' Korps. He said, or rather he wrote, this: It is clear that we have to go along with the Western Powers, for it is only through working with them that we can have hopes of later retrieving our land from the Russians. There is only one burning question in Germany to-day, one that transcends all others; that is the question of reunification. How is that reunification to be obtained? Clearly, it will be only by peaceful means. It is not, I imagine, thought by anybody that we are going to war in order to reunite Germany. Even if anyone had believed it possible that the United States wanted a preventive war, Mr. Dulles has only recently made it quite clear that the United States has never considered any such thing.

The Western Powers think and hope that this new solidarity, this new Western Union, will force Russia to agree to free elections in East Germany, and that that will eventually lead to the form of unification which the Western Powers desire—that is, unification within Western Union. I cannot think that the Russians will ever agree to that. But supposing a peaceful reunification cannot be obtained in that way, what is going to happen? What I fear is that when that happens, if it does happen—and I sincerely hope that it will not—great pressure will be brought to bear on the Government of Germany at the time by certain powerful sections for an entire reorientation of German policy, the policy of Drang nach osten. I do not wish to subject your Lordships to an historical lecture, but, since I have made that statement, perhaps you will bear with me while I give some examples of what I consider is some evidence to justify it.

Your Lordships will remember that, after the defeat of Napoleon in 1812, there was a Prussian corps serving with Napoleon's army. Immediately after the defeat of Napoleon, the Prussian General, General von Yorck, disregarding the wishes of his monarch, made an agreement with the Russians which has always been known, as your Lordships know, as the Pack of Neutrality of Tauroggen. That was the beginning of the Russo-Prussian Alliance which was to put the final seal on Napoleon's fate only three years later. Your Lordships will remember that during the time that Bismarck was in power, a policy of friendship with Russia dominated all his policy until it was changed by the young Emperor at the time—which, as your Lordships will remember, Punch commemorated in that famous cartoon of "Dropping the Pilot." Thirdly, during the Weimar Republic the German Officer Korp, under General von Seekt, also insisted on, and in the end made the Weimar Republic adopt, the same policy. We then had the Rapallo Agreement of 1922 and the Berlin Agreement of 1926. Lastly (and this is within the memory of all of us) Hitler, who never ceased to run down the Communists and Communism in his most fiery speeches, after several months of secret negotiation signed a pact with Soviet Russia on April 26, 1939, which enabled him to attack Poland without any fear of Russian aggression. I hope that, now that I have recalled those incidents, your Lordships may say that although perhaps my fears are far distant, they are at any rate not far-fetched.

Nevertheless, I think it would be a mistake to postpone ratification of these Agreements merely because the Russians have made another offer for a conference on collective security. I do not think that anything can be gained by that. If the Russians really desire an understanding and friendship with the Western Powers, ratification and the rearming of Germany will not make any difference. We have already travelled too far along the road of German rearmament. In any event we have already promised Germany her sovereignty. I think we have reached the point of no return. The Foreign Secretary in another place said that these Agreements contain all the safeguards it has been possible for human ingenuity to devise. There is one outstanding question which I have been unable to find (perhaps it is there but I have not been able to find it, either in the Agreement or in the documents with the Agreement); and that is the timetable for forming these twelve new divisions. I was also glad that the Foreign Secretary said, regarding those divisions: Those twelve German divisions are a contribution of importance, but they are not considered the decisive factor here. The decisive factor is bringing Germany in. I wonder—perhaps one may be told this at a later stage of the debate—whether there is such an urgency for a formation of twelve divisions, because what I feel is that, if they are going to be formed without taking time, and without caution, we shall have the wrong people in the new German Army. It will be largely officered by Nazis, and most of the N.C.O.s will be Nazis; they will be veterans of the last war who, because of the shortage of time, will have to be brought in to form the cadres to train the others. I believe that there are in Herr Blank's "Shadow" Ministry of Defence those who do not want to proceed with such haste. They want a longer period to enable them to hand-pick the cadres. They think that only in that way will they be able to prevent the new Army from returning to the bad ways of Prussiansm and Nazism.

I should like, therefore, to urge upon Her Majesty's Government a view which I see was recently expressed in a leading article in the Daily Telegraph; and, as it comes from that quarter, I have some hopes that perhaps more of your Lordships will agree with this part of my speech than may have agreed with the first part. May I remind your Lordships of part of that article, if your Lordships will give me permission to quote from it: Which, then, is the more important—to have twelve divisions by the end of 1956 or to have the foundations of German military life carefully relaid according to new ideas? If, as General Gruenther seems to think, strength is more important, then one thing is certain—the diehards and Nazis will appear among the cadres just because they are veterans and good soldiers. If it is the spirit that is more important, then the Western Powers would be wise to consider how the possibility of five rather than two years should be taken over the task to which Generals Heusinger and Speidel are setting their hands It would be a thousand pities if pressure from Washington or from a Supreme Commander should frustrate the work of reform that many Germans want. My Lords, which is the more important? I hope that you will say that it is more important that the new foundations of German military life should be properly laid, because if they are not, and if the new Army is to be formed in haste with the veterans of the last war, then I think, to use Mr. Wheeler Bennett's words in the book, The Nemesis of Power, which has already been quoted this afternoon, it will be: where we came in, in the repetitive history of the German Army in politics. I think it was Goethe who, when asked, "What is Germany?", said: I do not know. There are two Germanys, and where spiritual Germany ends, political Germany begins. I hope and trust that this spiritual Germany will now be given a chance, because not only will it be the first that it has had, but it will be the last that it will get. The other Germany is there waiting: the other Germany is waiting to play its part; it is standing in the wings ready to take its cue.

Your Lordships know what it wants. I am going to quote from one of many similar speeches which have been made at the reunions which Field Marshal Kesselring has been holding all over Germany, in which the speaker said this: We want to bring back to Germany the old spirit of the Prussians. All this talk of a democratic army is nonsense. It must be the Prussian system again. This was the system which created tough men at arms. If the world wants our soldiers it must let us train them our own way. The army must once again become the first estate of the realm. My Lords: The army must once again become the first estate of the realm. What does that mean? It means the end of yet another German Republic, for no German Republic has ever been allowed to live long unless it was prepared to play ball with the militarists. I hope that before the end of the debate, possibly in the reply to the debate, the noble Marquess who speaks for Her Majesty's Government will be able to satisfy those of us who are worried at the prospect of creating these divisions without caution and in too great haste.

My Lords, before I sit down (I must again apologise for having detained the House so long) I want to go on to one new subject—I want to speak for moment on the question of compensation of the victims of Nazi persecution. The position in regard to this matter has never been satisfactory. As most noble Lords know, the compensation law discriminates against non-German victims of Nazi persecution in Germany, and although a large number of questions have been asked of the Foreign Secretary in another place, up till last July no satisfactory reply has ever been given. I see now from the White Paper that the relevant paragraph in the Bonn Convention regarding this compensation is to be deleted and that an exchange of letters is to take its place. I think that is a grave mistake, for this reason: if Her Majesty's Government were unable to get satisfaction on this question at a time when we were able to bring pressure on the German Government, and when we were able to exercise some control, I do not see how it is to be expected that after Germany has regained her sovereignty the position will be any better, unless some enforceable guarantees can be obtained. I hope that at the close of the debate someone will tell us that these unfortunate and defenceless people will not be left in the lurch.

5.36 p.m.


My Lords, it gives me the greatest pleasure, as I am sure it would do any of your Lordships, to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, on his maiden speech, not only for the method of its delivery, but for the logical and clear manner in which he made his case—a case with which. I am glad to say, I am able to associate myself. I note that I am to be followed by the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, who on a previous occasion conveyed his displeasure at various remarks I made last March. I feel that in the fullness of time an opportunity may arise for me to speak after Lord Pakenham, and I am looking forward with keen anticipation to that occasion. In the meantime, I am glad to feel that his strictures may fall both on Lord Russell of Liverpool, kindly, as befits a maiden speaker, thought on me, perhaps, a little less kindly. However, Lord Russell of Liverpool has already made such a good speech, and has said a number of the things that I wished to say to your Lordships, that it Will have the excellent effect of shortening my remarks.

The noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, has already referred to a book which was recently written by Lord Russell of Liverpool. I remember that in a debate not long ago the Lord Chancellor, speaking of some document quite unassociated with, this subject, said that he had divided people into three classes: those who agreed with it, those who disagreed with it, and those who had read it. I believe the same applies to Lord Russell of Liverpool's book. Quite a number of people who have deplored it to me personally have said, when asked whether they had read the book "Oh no! we have had enough of that sort of thing"—or words to that effect. That is a very common attitude to meet with, and I think in some ways it is understandable; but in my view it is wrong.

Having heard Lord Russell of Liverpool to-day, I feel that his speech compares extremely favourably with his book. The book is a factual account of what happened. Nobody has denied that it happened—not even the perpetrators. Therefore, there is nothing that can be said against its publication—and that appears to me to be the general view of the public, since the book is now in its eighth edition in fourteen languages. Apart from that, as a result of the noble Lord's resignation consequent upon the publication of the book, the Army loses an extremely valuable officer, and one whom it will not be easy to replace. However, I will spare the noble Lord's blushes by passing on now to the main subject of the debate.

About three weeks ago, the editor of The Times saw fit to publish a letter from me in which I said that the public had been to some extent reassured by the publication of the terms of the London Agreement on German rearmament; that up till then the expression "German rearmament" had been to some extent a bogy which people did not understand very well, but that as a result of the publication of the Agreement they knew more, and some were correspondingly reassured, though by no means all. In that letter I raised two points—I do not apologise for introducing the chill impact of facts when, quite often, a high level of oratory is found more acceptable. The Agency which is to be set up for the control of armaments will have no control over products destined for civil purposes. The noble Lord, Lord Layton, spoke generally on the same subject. I myself do not quite understand how products destined for civilian purposes can, in these days of scientific warfare, be separated from products destined for military purposes. How the Agency will manage that I do not know, but let us hope for the best.

As for the switch-over from a peace-production basis to a war-production basis, that has been done before and is not so difficult, particularly in the hands of people so technically able as the Germans undeniably are. After the 1914–18 war a certain Brigadier Morgan, who was Deputy Adjutant General to the Forces of Occupation, tried very hard, and has since written a book and several articles on his efforts, to explain to our Government that, in spite of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, the Germans were showing the most remarkable aptitude for evading it. The genius behind it, as your Lordships know, was General Hans Von Seeckt. The mantle of Brigadier Morgan has fallen on another distinguished Brigadier, Lord Russell of Liverpool, who has this afternoon tried to point out and bring to your Lordships' notice facts of a rather disquieting nature. Lord Layton also referred to Article 20 of Protocol number IV, which has again to do with the control over the actions of the proposed Agency. So I will not mention that matter again and take up your Lordships' time unnecessarily.

The second point I raised was that the Commands and Staffs of these new formations, both of land and air, must inevitably, in the senior ranks, and even in the medium ranks, consist of officers who were well thought of in the Nazi régime. That is a matter of fact; it is quite unavoidable. The putsch, the attempt on Hitler's life, when it was put down certainly disposed of a few of the people that perhaps Herr Blank would like to employ now, but a very few—perhaps a hundred or so. And these formations which are to be organised will need very substantial numbers of officers and staff officers. From the rank of captain or major upwards they must be those who not only were serving in 1945 in the German forces but were the efficient ones; otherwise, presumably, General Speidel would not have chosen them. This point has been made already by Lord Russell of Liverpool, and I do not want to be repetitive. As a result of my letter in The Times I was taken to task a few days later, as I fully expected, by a certain noble Lord who accused me and others of belonging to the school of "they're at it again." I accept that; I do belong to the school of "they're at it again," because I believe that to be the fact; and I also believe that a great number of people in the country—not by any means all belonging to a certain section of the Labour Party—think the same. After all, in the 1930's no less a person than Sir Winston Churchill was saying "They're at it again." Hardly anybody would listen, though had they done so the Second World War might have been avoided. So at least I feel that I am in good company.

Charges are made against persons such as myself of obstructionism, feelings of revenge, and so on. But those charges are easy to make by those who prefer to go with the tide (I do not speak of your Lordships' House, but of the general public) rather than to think things out for themselves. It is a rather unpopular activity in this country to get down to it and really think a thing out. When doubts and fears are expressed, as I have expressed them, and as the noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, has also, the question one is asked—and it is reasonable—is, "What would you do?" Indeed, that is the nub of the matter. Before I try and answer it perhaps I may digress for a second in a lighter vein and refer to an admirable book called Lord M, from the brilliant pen of Lord David Cecil. I am sorry that he did not include a story about Lord Melbourne and Queen Victoria, when Lord Melbourne was trying to get the Queen to agree to something about which she was not at all happy. She listened and became more and more silent; and the discussion was not going at all well. Eventually she asked: Lord Melbourne, is it right or wrong? If it is right I will do it; if it is not, I will not. But please do not use the word 'expedient' again. Expediency has to be resorted to, as we know; otherwise there would not be politicians: it would be left to the soldiers or the strongest man. Nevertheless, there are Members on both sides of your Lordships' House who are interested in the question of ethics, and I believe that, in the long run, the ethical view, rather than the expedient, will prevail.

In another place last week, Mr. Gaitskell made an excellent summing up of the four possibilities before us—your Lordships will certainly have read his excellent speech. Therefore, when I am asked "What would you do?" I can only say (I have not seen it in the Daily Telegraph) that the period of about two years which has been allowed to the Bonn Government for putting under arms half a million men—or perhaps substantially more, when the police forces are included—is too short. I should say that a period of five years would be too short; I should prefer to see eight. But in any case I regard two years as too short, for the following four reasons, in ascending order of priority. First, a longer period would avoid the necessity of re-employing many Nazi officers of medium and senior rank—and when I say medium and senior rank, I mean those who must have served before the end of the war in the Wehrmacht; otherwise Herr Blank would not re-employ them now. Secondly, it would allow proper time for setting up this Agency. One saw this at the end of the war, when the Military Government moved into Germany; it had to be an ad hoc organisation because nobody knew exactly when the war was going to end. Therefore, an ad hoc organisation was put into the country to do its best. That was followed by the Control Commission, of which I was a member and therefore have some knowledge, and I cannot think that the results achieved were as good as they should have been.

Thirdly—and this is more important—the members of N.A.T.O. would have more time to note most carefully the progressive reactions of the Germans to their restored or about-to-be-restored strength; and whether some of the tendencies which Lord Russell and others have mentioned began to emerge again or whether they did not. There are those who will tell you that Nazism is dead and there are in Germany now only good democratic people, the same as anybody else. There are those who think the opposite and some who are doubtful. The longer we have in which the High Commissioner and his staff in Germany can note most carefully the reactions to the succeeding phases of rearmament, the better chance we shall have of saying "Stop" if it is not going the way we want. I think the question of time would make a negligible difference to the deterrent effect that these Agreements are presumably intended to have oil the U.S.S.R. There we are dealing with people who are not very interested in time; they are semi-Oriental, and quite prepared to wait for the result they want.

I mentioned earlier the attitude of some people who resent very much the efforts to take time, to doubt, to fear, to wonder. They say they are the tolerant people; that they want people to get on with each other in the world. Well, do not we all? But there is a difference between tolerance and apathy and I wonder whether anybody ever tried to define exactly that difference. I believe there is a stronger tendency towards apathy in this country than is generally recognised. I should be sorry to think so, but I believe it may be so. Again, there is the question of susceptibility; people's feelings must not be hurt. I put it to your Lordships, the situation is really too serious to consider too fastidiously people's feelings on this question. The Germans, after all, have never been particularly careful on whose toes they trod.

So we must be quite clear and firm. For even now there are cases worth noting. Not so long ago Herr Adenauer made a pilgrimage, which achieved considerable publicity, to the tomb of Bismarck. Perhaps it was not a very tactful thing to do, because those who bother to read history will agree that of all the acquisitive bullies which the last hundred years have produced, Bismarck must rank nearly as high as any, as Germany's neighbours discovered to their cost. President Heuss of Western Germany the other day issued a statement to the Press, or at least was quoted in the Press, as having sent a message to the war criminal von Neurath when the latter was discharged from Spandau prison—quite rightly—on the grounds of clemency, congratulating the Baron "on his release from martyrdom." If you use the word "martyrdom" you presuppose that von Neurath was wrongly convicted, and if you presuppose that he was wrongly convicted then surely so were a great many other war criminals. That action, again, was not entirely tactful on the part of President Heuss.

Finally, if the declaration made by the West German Government in London on October 3 last is faithfully adhered to, then indeed an enormous stride forward is being made, and I am sure nobody thinks differently. Time is getting on, and I am sure many noble Lords will have read that declaration by the German Government in London on October 3, so I will not quote it; but whatever one's feelings may be, one cannot fail to feel grateful to the Foreign Secretary for his efforts, which have been really superhuman. If they are crowned with success he will surely go down in history as a great man. I think one could find a great measure of agreement upon that view. But I believe it is impossible, and, what is more, it is wrong, to ignore the lessons of the past. An agreement is only as good as the man with whom you make it. If you are in commerce, as I am, you make many arrangements. I make arrangements every day with different firms. Some arrangements I make verbally and I would not dream of asking to have them written down; some I make on the telephone. There are others one likes to have in writing and there are yet others which one makes in writing and a copy of which one sends to the firm's solicitor. Why behave differently to different people? It is because of their past records. One is not being aggressive by acting, in that way; one is merely being careful.

I suggest, therefore, that in matters of this sort—vastly more important than commerce—the same lines must be followed. After all, Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg did not hesitate to tear up an agreement and regard it as a scrap of paper when it suited him in connection with the neutrality of Belgium. The Locarno Pact Treaty went the same way when Hitler marched into the Rhineland. The Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact went the same way, as the noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, has said, when it suited Germany. I end, therefore, by saying that it is profoundly to be hoped that the London and Paris Agreements will meet with a better fate.

5.54 p.m.


My Lords, we have listened to a series of most impressive speeches. I personally found myself in strong agreement with the first five speakers, and if I am allowed to say so without slavish deference to my noble and learned Leader, I have never heard even that remarkable advocate put a case more effectively than he did in this House this afternoon, following the very able speech of the noble Marquess the Leader of the House. The last three speeches were made by noble Lords holding passionate convictions and they will not be surprised to know that their convictions disagree totally with mine. In this House there is a very strong tradition in favour of congratulating maiden speakers, whatever they have said, and I should in any case attempt to honour that tradition this afternoon, but I can say with complete honesty that the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, was one on which any fair-minded person would congratulate him, however much they disagreed with him. Perhaps as I have said that and as he did refer to his book, I may disagree with him about that very popular production. I cannot agree that it is unlikely to stir up hatred. I readily accept the view that it was not intended to do so; but, having refreshed my memory to-day, I am bound to feel that the book, particularly as it has been serialised in a newspaper reaching millions of people, is likely to do great harm. If the noble Lord is understood by the general public to-day, or as I think he feels he is perhaps misunderstood, as a hater of all things German, he is bound to share some responsibility, because the public will have read the juicier extracts which are naturally those which appear when a book is printed in serial form. Speaking as one of those here who have written books which have not reached editions such as those of the noble Lord's book, I pass over the matter by congratulating him upon its commercial success and wishing him good fortune in whatever new career he is attempting. His speech this afternoon was a sober assessment, from his point of view, of the question, and, speaking as chairman of the Anglo-German Association, I should have no difficulty in proposing him for membership on the strength of that speech, provided the book could be forgotten. I would personally feel his point of view is essential, in this House and elsewhere, if we are to judge the German question fairly

The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, seemed to expect that I should attempt to censure him, and I might indeed attempt to do so except that on a previous occasion I rather passed the bounds of courtesy in replying to him and I do not wish to err again this afternoon. He took us far afield and back into history, as is natural on an occasion of this kind, and sideways in this direction and that. I am not proposing to argue as to whether Bismarck was or was not an acquisitive bully as compared with statesmen of other nations who achieved the unity of their country. In a new book by Mr. A. J. P. Taylor, published by the Oxford University Press, the noble Lord will find that Bismarck, according to Mr. Taylor (who is no particular friend of the Germans), took rather more pride in bringing about the Franco-German war than he was entitled to, and when one goes into it one finds he had no more responsibility than the French. That is, I think, the conclusion which Mr. Taylor arrives at, though we cannot pursue the subject this afternoon.

I should like to reinforce my noble and learned Leader in emphatically offering support for these Agreements, placing myself emphatically behind all he has said in arguing the case, on balance, in favour of the Agreements. We on this side of the House present an attitude towards our present Foreign Secretary which is not perhaps one often held by political Parties towards leading members of another camp. On this particular occasion he has shown exceptional qualities of initiative, tenacity and sympathetic understanding of the positions of other countries. If I may quote what was said by Mr. Gladstone about the grandfather of the noble Marquess the Leader of the House: Such a man will always be respected in England. Certainly in that tribute the Labour Party, I know, would wish to bear their full share. I cannot, however, feel that the achievement of the Government in recent times, extraordinary though it was during those weeks, can be left quite where it was left by the noble Marquess in his introductory speech. If he would allow me to borrow a metaphor from golf—a game which some of us play very imperfectly—I should have said it was a magnificent niblick shot from a very deep bunker. I feel that he has placed the ball very near the hole, so that the putt should be slotted without much difficulty. There are many holes still to play. The question arises, however, why we were in the bunker.


Perhaps this game is a foursome.


I think it is at least a foursome. I am certainly not saying that we alone played the ball into the bunker, but we must bear our share of responsibility. Perhaps more than one Government in this country must bear their share of responsibility for the position we found ourselves in at that crucial moment when this miraculous recovery had to be effected. My own opinion is that it would have been far better, if possible, to have offered some guarantee corresponding to the one that was given at an earlier date The noble Marquess gave us one reason—the same reason which was given by the Foreign Secretary —why that could not be done. I think that if we look at the thing broadly and in a historical way, we are bound to regret that somehow in this country we could not take that kind of initiative sooner in the day.

I have two other regrets. Here I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Layton, who was so interesting, as always, would agree. I am sorry that the majority in Germany—the Coalition—have not been able to carry the Socialists with them in support of this Agreement. I am not saying that because they have not been able to carry the minority with them they cannot speak for their own country. As one who believes—leaving our own people out of it—that Dr. Adenauer is as great a statesman as can be found in the world at the present time, I would offer the thought that perhaps even Dr. Adenauer could learn from us in this country a certain amount of technique in the handling of opposition. I am sorry that up to the present the various efforts made by the other German Parties have been unsuccessful in drawing the Socialists along.

Finally, I speak with considerable hesitation—for an obvious reason—about the Saar arrangement. It is not one for which Her Majesty's Government are responsible, but I think that in this House we must pool our hopes and fears. So I admit I am somewhat nervous about the Saar Agreement. I speak diffidently because we know it has been much criticised in Germany, and the last thing I want to do is to give fuel to the critics. One provision that gives me alarm—I hope that as time passes its dangers will disappear—in the Saar Agreement, is this. (That Agreement of course was reached under conditions of considerable stress. It was reached between the French and the German Governments.) In paragraph 6 there appears this sentence: If the Statute is approved by referendum, it shall not be called in question until the conclusion of a Peace Treaty. First, the people of the Saar are given the chance of saying whether they like the settlement or not. Then there is a pause—and it may be a long pause—before they are allowed to question it. Then they get another chance at the time of the Peace Treaty. I do not want to press Lord Reading to give me a reply upon this point because the repercussions might not be altogether fortunate, but I must say that I hope we are not placing too much reliance on the docility of the people of the Saar. If there were not a Peace Treaty for a long time, it might be very hard to force the Saar people to honour it. Outside countries can honour it by not stirring up criticism from outside. But it might be difficult, in my opinion, to see that it was honoured by the people of the Saar. So that provision, I am bound to say, is the provision in the whole framework which causes me the most anxious thought.

We are, of course, back once more on the crucial question of whether the Germans should be rearmed. I am very sorry that E.D.C. fell by the wayside. I accepted it and I supported the arguments here upon it—the arguments put forward by the two noble Marquesses and others so eloquently in past times. I was always slightly pessimistic in my own mind as to whether the French would ratify, but it is no use arguing about that now. I am clear that, it having failed, everything has been done under the new Agreements to secure the same result—that is to say, a German military contribution, a basis of equality without discrimination against Germany, and, at the same time, a set of controls which will guard against the dangers which some fear from the German people.

I think one can regret the disappearance of E.D.C. on two main grounds. In passing I may say that I hope its disappearance is not final, and that at any rate something of the kind may reappear some time hence. In the first place, if I were the noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, or the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, I should have felt that E.D.C. did provide more safeguards than the present arrangement. But secondly, I think that in this House we are not always aware of the tremendous enthusiasm aroused in Germany for the European idea. Lord Layton, of course, is better qualified to speak about that than I am. But I remember that in 1948 that was the first idea which really inspired the German people after the war. It inspired them to see a vision of a new world on a higher plane than that of pure nationalism. I earnestly hope, as the noble Lord, Lord Harvey of Tasburgh, asked in his very striking maiden speech, that we shall use to the fullest whatever germs exist in the new arrangements for the purpose of maintaining or restoring that European inspiration.

And now to come to the broader issue, I will not dwell on it for long, but I must say one or two words about the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, who sits behind me—a speech which I and others have found so deeply moving. There is no one, it seems to me, whose instincts on behalf of justice and the under-dog are more compelling than those of the noble Viscount, and when he is pleading on behalf of Africans, Irishmen, Egyptians or Jews, I am with him. But he seems to have just that one blind spot on his humanitarian horizon. The poor Germans are the only people who must not be given self-determination. Give it to the Cypriots, he says, give it to the Chinese—


This is not a measure for giving self-determination to the Germans; it is a measure for giving them arms.


I must make my point as the noble Viscount has made his. If you are proposing to give to a people self-determination and full freedom, and you do not allow them to have arms, you are not interpreting self-determination as it would be interpreted by ninety-nine people out of a hundred. I feel there was a time when the noble Viscount was sounder on this question than he is to-day. He said that the Versailles Treaty was the foundation of Hitler. I do not know what was wrong with the Versailles Treaty, except that it was rather hard on the Germans. Now it seems to me that the noble Viscount wants to repeat that precise error. If he says that it all flows from the Treaty of Versailles, I think he must think very seriously whether his policy would not have the same effect.

One is bound to ask whether these Treaties, if they go through, will in fact, impede a settlement with the Russians. One is bound to ask, further, what kind of settlement with the Russians is conceivable at the present time. We all here agree as one man on the desirability and necessity of arriving at a settlement of that sort at some time, if we are to see our women and children sleeping safely in their beds. But at the present time if we refused to let these Treaties go through, or if we had not brought forward something of this kind, we should have been denying what is desired by the majority of the people of Germany. None of us feels qualified to say what the people of East Germany want. The only people of Germany who are free to choose and support a solution of this kind are the West Germans, and if we are going to say to the Germans that we are sorry, but a settlement with the Russians comes before everything else, we shall not be giving them what the majority want.

The noble Viscount raised another interesting point, but I rather doubt whether on balance the Protestant Churches in East Germany take the same view as he does. The right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester can throw much more light on that question. The other week I had a talk with him and an eminent Protestant churchman from West Germany who is closely in touch with the real situation. I gained the impression that the majority of East German Protestant Churchmen would favour a solution of the kind put before us to-day.


My Lords, I think the noble Lord mistakes me. I did not present the view of the East German Protestants in anything I said. I said that what is going on is forcing an unwanted division in the Protestant Church in Germany.


I apologise to the noble Viscount; I thought he was using it as an argument and that he was bringing in the opinion of the Church. I am entitled to bring in what is an interesting fact. To the best of my belief, the leaders of the Protestant Churches in East and West Germany favour the solution that is commended to us to-day.

To return to my main argument; it may be said that the Germans could be persuaded to abandon their connection with the West. That would be one alternative. The other would be simply to expel them by force, or to join with the Russians in holding them down. And that would be the immediate course if the Treaties were rejected and the policy of neutralism imposed on Germany. Either way, it might be said that in the interests of world peace we should work towards a settlement whereby Germany was left between the two blocs. If the Russians agreed, she could be left with an army as the Russians suggested, or without an army—at any rate left between the two blocs. I should say for myself, and I think the noble Marquess and the Foreign Secretary have expressed this view most clearly, that nothing would be more dangerous than to have a large, strong State in that position, a State whom we deliberately asked not to join the West when she wanted to join the West. I do not hesitate to call myself pro-German, yet I recognise the force of the evil influences that the noble Lords, Lord Windlesham, and Lord Russell of Liverpool, have touched on to-day. I should imagine that these forces would then be given an unrivalled chance. Whether or not Germany, under those conditions, would be dictated to by the Communists I do not know, but what I think is most likely is that Germany would become an extremely unpleasant military Power, playing off East and West. I should regard that as a supreme tragedy. If we were to cast them off, or persuade them to stand between the blocs, I do not believe that history would ever forgive our generation of English statesmen.

I would say only one thing more, because I have often spoken on Germany. I am not putting this argument but the noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool (I am grateful to him for the tone in which he spoke), said that the Germans could, in theory, be denied arms. But, as was said by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and as was emphasised, also, I think, by my noble and learned friend Lord Jowitt, how do we deny the Germans arms unless, in the last resort, we are prepared to hold them down by force? Leaving out the moral aspect, I do not think anybody believes that that is a policy for which the British people would ever stand. In practice if we tried to deny them arms and held them down for a while, it would be for only a very little while; and in a few years the mood in which they emerged from that condition of restriction would be far less favourable than the mood we witness to-day.

I do not want to go into details about modern Germany; there will be other occasions for dealing with that subject. We share the ideals expressed by the noble Marquess, and surely they are of the kind which animated the Labour Party before the war and during the years since. I feel that here is a great people whose whole spiritual condition is linked inextricably with the spiritual condition of the world. I cannot imagine a peaceful world, or even a sane one, without a peaceful and sane Germany. Certainly we have not seen one in recent times. I believe, taking the broadest view of them, that these Agreements will give the best chance to the peaceful forces in Germany. I wholeheartedly support, in my humble way, these Agreements, because I consider the Germans have made a tremendous effort since the war. These Agreements will give them a further encouragement in the programme to which this great people have set themselves, of redeeming themselves, and in that way making a contribution to all those who have suffered in the past at their hands.

6.16 p.m.


My Lords, it is always a pleasure to listen to the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, especially when he is speaking on an international theme, and I hope that I shall have no cause to fear his assessment if I follow rather than precede him. I wish to support the Motion moved by the noble Marquess the Leader of the House. I wish also to join in the tributes that have been paid to the Foreign Secretary and to underline the tributes paid to the French Prime Minister, the former Prime Ministers and the Foreign Secretaries of France. I should also like to take the opportunity to pay my tribute to the skill, courtesy and steadfastness of Chancellor Adenauer, who has had a very difficult rôle to fill, because his own country is not united upon this subject. It seems to me that he deserves the fullest support which we who desire peace and co-operation between the West and Germany can give.

I believe that this is the right step to take at this stage of the international situation, but it also seems to me that on the steps which are taken after this one the verdict of history will depend. After the shattering experiences of the last forty years, our children and our grandchildren, if any survive, will thank the statesmen of 1954 only if ratification of these Agreements is followed by further action taken by all the Western Allies in a spirit of determination to reduce, and if possible end, the East-West tension, having as their aim the ultimate achievement of a united Germany, a united Europe and a united world. We must not forget that in Germany itself there are two views about German rearmament. On October 5, Chancellor Adenauer, who favours German rearmament for the sake of integration with the West, said that only the unity of the European nations would ensure for Germany and Europe a future in which life in freedom and dignity was possible. … The European idea has influenced our national life profoundly and promisingly. The Germans have rejected reactionary nationalism. There is abundant evidence that the old Nazi champions are to a large extent outmoded, and that the response from the younger generation to some of those who cry the old cry is very small. I was glad to see that the noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, did not ignore that fact. There was an extraordinary demonstration of a unanimous vote by a youth congress at Cologne only the other day repudiating the Nazi programme.

On the other hand, we must not overlook (though it has not been mentioned this afternoon) the somewhat disturbing vote of the Trades Union Congress in Western Germany on October 9, representing 6 million trade unionists, who said that the restoration of a German army as laid down in the London decisions would mean the danger of the creation of a militarist and authoritarian State which could"— not "would"— spell the end of all efforts of the German workers' movement to create a political, social and economic democracy. There are certain danger signals of which we must take notice. One was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, when he spoke of the unfortunate (as I think) triumphant reception of von Neurath on his most welcome release, and the unfortunate telegram or letter sent to him by President Heuss referring to his "martyrdom." I am thankful that men like von Neurath should, on humanitarian grounds, be released, and I hope that his release may be followed by others. But the true Germany does not regard them, and those who are not quite filled with the true spirit in Germany should not treat them, as heroes.


Perhaps I may interrupt for a moment, although I wish someone more qualified could do it. We are assured, are we not, by German scholars that the word "martyrdom" in Germany does not involve an act of noble sacrifice, but may simply refer to a period of prolonged suffering? It would seem that that is what President Heuss had in mind.


Let us hope that that is so. The same German Protestant Prelate, with whom we both had a conversation the other day, also expressed his misgivings about the use of that particular term. If there are these dangers in German rearmament, and these dangers of the creation of a militarist and authoritarian State because of them, it seems to me that the power in which the control of the German army is vested is of great importance. We have already been told by the noble Lord, Lord Harvey of Tasburgh, that the ultimate control in the hands of N.A.T.O. or the Supreme Allied Commander is very definite; but it is the control within the German army that is important also. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of seeing that responsible persons are placed in leading positions in the German army; and it is impossible to exaggerate the importance of there being in Germany itself the right public control, and of ensuring that all means are taken to prevent the danger of a coterie getting charge of the forces.

But though the risks of German rearmament in Germany itself to German people are clear, the important fact, in Germany as well as outside Germany, is the decision by the Federal Government to integrate with the West. That is the supremely important fact, and I think we ought to support Chancellor Adenauer in his insistence on this as being of the essence of the decision. But we also have to ask ourselves, as Western Allies, for what purpose is this integration. It is possible to say that we are gathering our arms; that we are facing the foe; that there is a permanent division of the world into two blocs; that we are strong and that we intend to increase our strength. It is possible to say, on those lines, that it would be madness to act as if the present division into two blocs were of a purely temporary kind. But to adopt such an attitude would be fatal. It would be bound to lead, in the end, to a Third World War, and would be the suicide of our civilisation. The right attitude, as I conceive it, is to believe and to act as though the integration of Germany with the Western Allies provides the necessary foundation of stability and a common purpose in the West, which is the only basis, I agree, for seeking an understanding with the East.

I was in the United States earlier this year, attending the Assembly of the World Council of Churches at Evanston, to which the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, has referred. I had an interesting conversation with a leading American churchman who was describing the efforts he was making to induce a more reasonable view in the mind of a member of Congress who was somewhat infected with the familiar disease of "McCarthyism," or part of the disease of "McCarthyism." As my churchman friend developed his argument in a reasonable and moderate way, this member of Congress, with wide open eyes, asked him: "But are you in favour of peaceful co-existence?" My friend replied: "Are you in favour of war?" The member of Congress said: "No." Then my friend said: "But what is the alternative to war, except peaceful co-existence?" His partner in the conversation then asked: "Do you support the Communist way of life? "My friend said: "Not at all, but I do believe in existing together in a divided world."

I believe that we should pursue this understanding with Soviet Russia by a variety of means. The Soviet Ambassador yesterday quoted Sir Winston Churchill as desiring bridges, not barriers, between Britain and Russia; advocating trade and cultural exchanges and visits as means of developing such an understanding. And Mr. Malenkov, in an aside, perhaps, the other day, in a most welcome manner, reasserted the importance of diplomatic channels. More effective than anything else, of course, would be a change in the spiritual climate, and here I believe that the Churches can help. The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, if I may say so without impertinence, was quite right in emphasising the fact that the re-unification of Germany is almost the all-important subject of reflection amongst Germans of all kinds in all parts of Germany to-day. It is significant that the German Evangelical Church is the one corporate body which unites both East and West and which, in the summer, gathered together many thousands of German Protestants from East and West in Leipzig in a great Kirchentag. That was a great demonstration of the spiritual basis of unity.

Fear and mistrust on both sides are formidable obstacles. Something can be done to reduce this fear and mistrust if the Governments and the peoples continue to speak with one another and avoid rancour and malice, and if statesmen and leaders of public opinion, and especially in the Press, refrain from words and actions which are designed to inflame enmity and hatred. More still would be done if the Allies in the West were more and more insistently to give public expression to a positive policy. Let them insist that we in the West want to live in accord and amity with Russia. We want to join with Soviet Russia in a common effort to secure a decent standard of living in all countries, and this is an effort in which India and the other countries of Asia should, and can, join. We in the West stand against submission to engulfment by or appeasement of totalitarian tyranny and aggression. We are also against the exploitation of any peoples by economic monopoly or political imperialism. In the world community, we in the West must stand for freedom of all people to know the truth which makes men free, and for the basic civil liberties of all people to struggle for higher freedom. Nevertheless, conflicts of conviction have long existed within societies which are essentially peaceful; and however deep a conflict may be, whether ideology cal, philosophical, or even religious, it is not in itself an insuperable bar to living together in a divided world. I have no doubt of the seriousness of the decision which we are now making or of the risks involved in German rearmament. But I believe it is right to take the risks on the understanding that, once the Agreement is ratified by the nine Powers, prompt and persistent steps are taken to find a way of living together in peace with Russia, and towards ending divisions in what is now a divided world.

6.35 p.m.


My Lords, I find myself in agreement with what the right reverend Prelate has just said. In fact, he has said many things which are already on my notes, and for that reason I feel that I must be brief and deal with just one or two other points which arise. I believe the debate in this House to-day has shown the great importance of the decision to which we are coming. I think we can say quite truly that the speeches which have been made have marked the occasion as a great one. It is certain that, so far as this country is concerned, ratification of these Agreements will take place. No one, I think, can feel that we are doing wrong in so amending the position of Germany that she can play her part fully in European economics, friendships and social and cultural life.

There is a difference of opinion, however, on the question of defence, but so much has been said about that particular matter this afternoon that I will not deal further with it except to say this. In the area in which we find ourselves at the present moment, I think it would be idle for us to believe that we could not bring Germany into some system for defence. I was encouraged by the fact that the Lord President enlarged upon what was said last week in another place by the Foreign Secretary: that steps will be taken as soon as possible for negotiations to take place with Soviet Russia. The Lord President said that the second stage must be the basis of an enduring peace between us and the Communist powers. I am certain that that is the right attitude to adopt, because I feel that we in this country have an important contribution which we can now make towards the peace of the world. In my view, after we have ratified our Agreements with the nine Powers, that contribution must take the form of negotiations with the Soviet, in order that we can bring Russia into the full community of European nations. Without the bringing about of that position, we may travel many years through a period of cold war (I am glad to say that that is straightening itself out), and we may then go on, unfortunately, to a hot war. I think I am right in saying that there cannot be any peace in Europe unless there is a full community of European nations.

The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, referred to the Versailles Treaties. If I may make a personal interjection here, may I inform your Lordships that I was reminded at that moment that my own brother, who was known to many of my colleagues and others in this House, was at that time a member of the Supreme Economic Council. According to the information which he gave me later, he spent many anxious hours and days trying to persuade the statesmen of Britain, France, the United States and Italy to bring Russia into the European community of nations at that time. That, unfortunately, did not happen; for many years we went on with suspicion of Russia, with distrust, with open hostility, with lack of trading facilities. It might well have been that if the friendliest of relationships had operated between this country and Russia at that time, the Second World War need not have happened.

The position now is much the same. Naturally, there is suspicion on the other side of the Continent; there is suspicion here. And, unless we in this country and the other countries of Europe can come together in unity, the future of this country, of Europe and of the world, may well be in the melting pot. Therefore, I want to endorse the plea made by the right reverend Prelate: that in the months which lie ahead we should take whatever steps we can to bring about some act of co-operation between these two great nations, so that we may rest assured that peace is established for all time. Soviet Russia is a member of the United Nations Organisation. So also are other countries—other countries which are about to sign these Agreements. I think, therefore, that we can rightly and properly came together in some form. The right reverend Prelate referred to the visits here of Russian nationals. I am happy to say that they are coming; I am happy to say that, so far as we are concerned, our nationals are going there; our trade delegations are going there; our religious leaders are going there. The athletes and the footballers of both countries are meeting together. It would seem to me, if I may use this expression, that the athletes are already yards ahead, and the footballers already goals ahead, of our statesmen and diplomats in regard to the fostering of good relationships between the two countries. We are naturally perturbed about what is to happen in the future. I hope that we are not unduly perturbed. We should not be, for if common sense is exercised between the nations, if we believe in co-operation, as we should do, and if we believe that all men were created in one image, then we can surely come together so that we may make a united Europe and a peaceful world.

My noble Leader referred to the question of his grandson who might be conscripted in the years ahead. I take the position in much the same way. My noble friend Lord Pakenham is the happy father of many children, and I may say that I am a happy grandfather of twelve children—six boys and six girls. My noble Leader referred to what might happen to the boys. I want to know, also, what is going to happen to the girls in the years which lie ahead. For their sakes, I think we in this generation should do whatever we can to make their generation assured of peace. It is a curious fact that in the debate in another place not one lady Member of the House was called to speak; and so far I have not heard the reaction of the mothers of Britain to these Agreements. I hope that the Government may be informed, in some way or another, about how the womenfolk look upon this Agreement and our relationships with Soviet Russia. Surely the women of this country should have a voice. It is impossible that they should have a voice in this House, but I hope that not only women's organisations but also women themselves will voice their opinion and their reaction to the momentous Agreements which are shortly to be ratified, and to the relationships and the possible holding of a conference between ourselves and other nations so that we can settle the differences of East and West Europe.

In company with other Members who have spoken from this side of the House and from the other side of the House, I endorse the Agreements and pay my tribute also to the Foreign Secretary for the work which he has been doing in the last six months. We hope that it is a step towards peace. If it is not a step towards peace, it may be a step towards tragedy, because there is nothing but one or the other that can come from this Agreement. We hope that it will be a step towards peace.

6.49 p.m.


My Lords, I wish to express gratification, as noble Lords on all sides have done, at the Agreements reached in Paris and London in the very difficult circumstances which had arisen. There was a real danger that Europe would fade out as an influence in world affairs. When we think of the contribution that Europe has made to civilisation, that would have been an irretrievable disaster. European culture is a composite culture. It is its composite character that we wish to preserve without the domination of any element and certainly without the domination of the German element. We may therefore reasonably be expected to help safeguard the necessary balance. As Arnold Toynbee has so rightly pointed out in the latest volume of his Study of History, having accepted the task in 1939 of denying to mankind an odious pax Germanica," Britain is in duty bound to help shape a more beneficent order for mankind than that which Hitler sought to impose. In this obligation lies the real justification for the heavy commitments Britain has assumed under these new Agreements designed to secure a pax Europa.

But in supporting these Agreements we cannot, as the noble Lord, Lord Layton, has said, blind ourselves to the fact that in some respects they are less satisfactory than the more radical proposals under E.D.C. We have still to strive to build an effective union in the political field without which the military agreements may fail in their purpose. I ask Her Majesty's Government to explain plainly—which I do not think was done in the debate in another place—in whom they consider the political control of the military set-up is vested. The Supreme Commander is in command of the forces and of armaments for the forces; but matters such as the disposition of those forces may raise political questions. Political responsibility appears still to rest with the national Parliaments of the fifteen States which make up N.A.T.O. Is it considered that such control can be effective in peace time? Is such an arrangement safe in the interests of peace and amity, which these Agreements are designed to promote? Crises have a way of developing very quickly. Or, if this is not the position, are we being asked to approve the delegation of some kind of political decisions to a body of Foreign Ministers in the Council of Western European Union, and, if so, how far can these Ministers commit us? For instance, can the Council take political decisions affecting the seven Power section of the Supreme Commander's forces, without waiting for a political decision affecting the remainder of his forces?

I should like to raise three other questions. The Agreements provide for maximum contributions in manpower from each country. So far as I understand it, Britain is the only country which is committed to a minimum contribution. Is the German maximum contribution also a minimum? Is there any understanding with France on a minimum contribution? Secondly, is there any understanding, or was there any discussion, about a common period of military service, or are variations to be allowed? Can one country, in fact, by cutting the period, impose a greater burden upon another member? Thirdly, Britain is to keep some divisions in Germany. Britain has responsibilities in many outlying parts. Would Germany not welcome an opportunity to share with us some measure of responsibility, and may we expect some such reciprocity from Germany? Some of our divisions are to be stationed in Germany. We have responsibilities all round the world. Would it be too much to expect that, side by side with our troops in some parts of the world, we might have a small contingent of German forces?


May I interrupt the noble Lord? Is he really suggesting that, under this arrangement, we should invite German troops, for example, to reoccupy their old colonies in Africa?


If you are having a union, I suggest that what you are trying to achieve is an amalgamation of national forces, and therefore they should be used for the good of all.

I should like to turn now to the subject which my noble friend Lord Layton briefly mentioned—namely, the multitude and ever-increasing number of international organisations operating in Europe, occupying, themselves with economic integration, social and social security problems, health, cultural relations, communications and trade. First, in addition to the United Nations Organisation itself there are no fewer than six major United Nations Agencies, most of them with a European section. These are inter-governmental, and they must retain competence where there is no intention of delegating any sovereign rights in respect of the matters with which they deal. Surely care should be taken to see that their functions are not overlapped by new organisations. For instance, to give just one example, it is known that the European section of the International Labour Organisation is conducting an inquiry into social security and related problems. Yet, in Western European Union social security also figures in the constitution. I hope that Western European Union will not duplicate the work which is being done by the International Labour Organisation. In addition to these United Nations organisations there is N.A.T.O., again entrusted with economic and cultural subjects as well as defence. Then there is the supranational Coal and Steel Community and C.O.C.O.M., which seems to function in practice as a sort of supranational authority. Finally, there are no fewer than seven specific European organisations, two of which have associated with them a political assembly. The same economic matters are entrusted to Western European Union as have up to the present come within the orbit of the work of O.E.E.C.

My Lords, we should ask whether any endeavour is to be made to bring order out of what can only be described as a chaotic situation. These European institutions are satellites without a sun while no effective European Assembly exists. The consultative status arid rôle in Europe of the Strasbourg Assembly has had scant respect. So far as I know, it has never been specifically consulted on any major problem, and this is the only body which has really caught the imagination of the ordinary citizens in Europe. Worse still, while the expenditure in European currencies of ordinary citizens of their own money is restricted, there is at government levels in these same countries an extravagance and disregard of businesslike economy in inter-State administration. A thorough overhaul is long overdue.

Surely, it is obvious that two major reforms are urgently necessary: first, an insistence that there shall be not more than one single centralised secretariat serving all European organisations; and secondly, the merger of all European organisations, with the Council of Europe voting as a body of six, seven, fourteen, eighteen or twenty-one members, as required, according to the number of European countries concerned and the matters discussed. In conclusion, may I emphasise that union—which is what these Agreements are designed to promote —will never become a reality unless it is based upon popular support. As a result of these Agreements for so-called union, will ordinary citizens have any more freedom? Will Her Majesty's Government take a practical step to this end and announce their readiness to abolish exchange controls between this country and any of the countries who are parties to these Agreements who will do the same? If the noble Marquess who is to speak to-morrow is not prepared to answer this question, will he ask his right honourable friend at the Treasury to ascertain whether the Bank of England, in conference with the Central Banks of the countries who are parties to this Agreement, can devise a feasible scheme for the early abolition of what I suggest is an unnecessary restriction, one that is keeping peoples apart rather than united.

7 p.m.


My Lords, the searching questions which have just been put by the noble Lord who has just sat down as to the working of the military organisation and the political control seem to me to emphasise what I have felt was a rather curious feature of to-day's debate. That was the number of speeches of noble Lords where the burden and strength of the argument seemed to me to lead to a conclusion against acceptance of the Treaty but where the speaker nevertheless expressed approval of the Treaty. I personally have not changed the views on the rearmament of Western Germany which I expressed in our foreign affairs debate in July. I will not weary the House by repeating them, but as I have not changed them it will be no surprise to your Lordships when I say that I do not share the general support which is being given to the Treaty in our debate to-day. At the time of our July debate the outstanding probability was that France would refuse to ratify E.D.C.—as indeed she did. Events moved very rapidly, and to-day the probability—to put it no higher: it is, I think, a virtual certainty —is that all the countries concerned will, in fact, ratify the London and Paris Agreements. There will be almost that unanimity which has been expressed in your Lordships' House to-day. I do not feel, however, that that absolves me from the duty of expressing my own view in the matter.

These Agreements have been hailed as a great triumph for British diplomacy, personified in the person of our Foreign Secretary, and I should like to make it clear that I think those who are critical of the Agreement, will join wholeheartedly with those who support in paying tribute to the work of the Foreign Secretary. We all have a great respect for him. I admire, in particular, the manner in which he conducts foreign affairs, the charm, the courtesy, the absence of threats and bullying—on both sides of the Iron Curtain there are those who might well learn from his example. I think it would be agreed that it would be a very sad end to such skilful and patient negotiation if the result were only to accentuate the division between the two great blocs of East and West, to crystallise their differences, to make their opposition to each other more rigid. I should have thought that the aim of diplomacy might well have been rather to keep the situation more fluid, to avoid crystallisation until a greater measure of common ground could be found between East and West.

It is generally agreed that the degree of international tension has lessened in the past few years. Opinions differ, of course, as to the reasons for the lessening of tension. It is variously attributed, according to one's point of view, to the death of Stalin and the coming of a new Russian policy; to the strengthening of the Western Powers in N.A.T.O.; to the development of the hydrogen bomb; or to the emergence of China as a great new Communist Power, both a strengthening of the Soviet bloc and possibly, at the same time, a disturbance within Russia's orbit. I do not underestimate the importance of a correct interpretation of the reason, or it may be a combination of reasons, for the easing of tension, because that, obviously, must affect one's view of future policy. But for the moment I am concerned only with the fact that tension has lessened and with the question of whether our policy is designed to take the maximum advantage from the improved situation.

I am rather surprised that no reference has been made in our debate this afternoon while I have been present—and I have been out of the Chamber very little—to the statement which is reported to have been made by Mr. Molotov to a correspondent of Pravda, as reported in yesterday's issue of The Times. The Times Report says: On the question of all-German elections he"— that is Mr. Molotov— said that if the re-militarisation of Western Germany was renounced, these could be held—'free, with secret ballot,' and with a guarantee of democratic rights for the population of the whole country. That seems to me to be a statement of some considerable importance and of some relevance to our discussion this afternoon. Is that not what we want—a unified Germany, with free elections by secret ballot, and democratic rights, guaranteed by East and by West? If that could be agreed, surely the other matters relevant to a unified Germany, the level of her armaments, the nature of her alliances, could be settled by negotiation between the Four Powers and Germany.

Would it not be possible, even now, while ratification of the Treaties is going on, to examine that statement by Mr. Molotov and take it as the starting point for further negotiation? Having waited for three years without disaster for E.D.C. to be ratified, would not it be possible to wait a few months more before ratifying the Nine-Power Treaty if the unification of Germany, on the basis of free, secret-ballot elections, could be secured by negotiation? This, to me, raises the question of what is the prime objective of our policy. Apart from what must naturally be the overall objective, the securing and holding of peace, I mean, in the more limited sphere, what is our prime objective? Is it a united democratic Germany, or is it the addition of West Germany's military strength to the Western Powers? To my mind, it is unrealistic to believe that these two objectives can be combined. The answer to the question, "Which of them do we really want?" must, of necessity, determine the course of our future policy. There is a secondary question which arises within that major question. That is, is it, as some people have suggested, already too late to reunite East and West Germany? Some people say that there is now too great a difficulty because of the impossibility of integrating the Communist economy of the East with the capitalist economy of the West, and it may be also that they are a little nervous about the political pattern which might emerge after unification. If the official view is that it is now too late for unification, that fact should be stated. We should then have to abandon the argument that it is Russia's refusal of free elections that stands in the way of unification. If, however, it is not thought to be too late—and I hope and believe that that is the view of Her Majesty's Government—and if unification is our main objective, then surely some attention must be paid to the statement of Mr. Molotov, which seems to give a starting point for further negotiation.

If, on the other hand, our main objective is to add West Germany's strength to that of the Western Powers, then I believe that we are paying a very high price indeed. That high price, as has been said from these Benches already this afternoon, includes compulsory military service almost certainly at the present two-year level for the rest of this century. What do we get at that high price? Ratification, in my view, means a permanently divided Germany, permanently divided, at least as long as peaceful conditions exist; and in the long run I consider that a permanently divided. Germany is the greatest danger to peace. It is the perpetuation of a Korean situation in Europe, and is almost certain to lead to another war. If, on negotiation, there proves to be no alternative, then, of course, we must make the best of things; but we cannot say that there is no alternative unless we have taken up Mr. Molotov's offer, and done so in the spirit of the speech made in this House by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, two weeks ago, and have then found it to be an empty offer. Were we to make this further effort to secure agreement, and should the effort fail, the acute differences that exist in this country, and in West Germany itself, about the nine-Power Treaty would disappear. And if the effort succeeded we might well move into a period of real hope for lasting peace.

7.14 p.m.


My Lords, I do not wish to detain the House at this late hour, but the debate has opened such very wide and promising issues for the future that I feel obliged to make my testimony on that account. The noble Lord, Lord Layton, earlier in the debate said this was an Agreement new in history. I believe this co-operation between ourselves, Central Europe and the United States, may well mark the beginning of a new world policy. I do not share the view of those who always look backward and think of the fights there have been in the past, because the world at the present time is changing rapidly, as anyone knows who has travelled widely. If one is absent from a place like West Africa for two or three years one can hardly recognise it on returning. That is perhaps an exaggeration, but the whole world is changing and Europe is changing, too. I feel strongly that this co-operation between ourselves, Central Europe and the United States is a form of co-operation which could be made applicable to most nations in the world.

We have been compelled—dragooned perhaps—into common sense and into making these Agreements by our realisation of the facts of the situation in Europe. We cannot go on as we are. These Treaties are only a first step, and the nations concerned must make their position clear to the U.S.S.R. It must be made clear that the Powers signing the document offer to co-operate with Russia and (though this is outside the scope of this debate) with all other nations in an effort to secure world peace. I believe that is a practical proposition at the present time. The atomic bomb and atomic weapons generally are not only a threat; they are a warning of what war may bring, and all sensible men will take that warning to heart and avoid the use of those weapons by avoiding going to war. This Nine-Power Agreement could and should be the beginning of a new world movement, starting in Europe with the co-operation of the United States of America. That is a splendid foundation for a task of this kind. We are treading in the steps of a real beginning to a new world policy, and I hope that before long we shall see that this is applied, in instalments of course, to the world as a whole.


My Lords, on behalf of the noble Lord, Lord Winster, I beg to move that this debate be adjourned until to-morrow.

Moved, That the debate be now adjourned.—(Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough.)

On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.

House adjourned at seventeen minutes past seven o'clock.