§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD TEVIOT
My Lords, I will do my best to curtail my remarks as much as possible. I do not think I can remember a gracious Speech so comprehensive and so full of ideas which, when carried out, will be of such benefit to the people. I should like to say a word about the two admirable speeches moving and seconding the Address. I was particularly pleased with that of my noble friend Lord Runciman of Doxford, because he is a member of my Party and we feel very proud of the way he conducted himself in his difficult task.
I propose to give what I hope are some constructive ideas on one or two of the subjects mentioned in the gracious Speech. I hope that the Bill on road traffic, though not in its previous form, will come before the House as soon as possible. I think all noble Lords realise the appalling state of the roads, particularly with regard to pedestrians. They are all over the place, and in spite of the use of extra police they seem to ignore all the usual ideas we have of protecting our lives. I should like to add a word about crash helmets. Your Lordships will remember that I tried to get the Government to make it compulsory for motor-cyclists to wear crash helmets. They did not agree to that proposal, but, as a result of the publicity given to the matter at the time, a high percentage of motor-cyclists now use crash helmets. 141 I feel that if this could be made compulsory, it would save a great many lives on the road. I noticed in a case only the other day that the coroner said that two people who had died in a motorcycle accident would undoubtedly have been alive if they had been wearing crash helmets.
Apropos what my noble friend Lord Selkirk said with regard to the improvement of roads, a friend of mine who has studied this question put to me an idea which I think is worthy of consideration. There are certain roads, which in the old days were by-roads, which now, because of new towns and so on, have become almost main roads, although they remain very narrow. To increase the width of all these roads would be a terrific expense, upon which I do not think the nation could embark. Yet we all know that in driving on the roads I have described it often happens that an enormous vehicle in front will cause the traffic to build up behind it and there is no possibility of passing with any safety, perhaps for a great many miles. I wonder whether it would not be possible to have, at suitable places, passing positions on the road. It would not be necessary to have them more than a hundred yards or so long, and they could be made where it was not very expensive to widen the road. Possibly the widening could be done on both sides of the road, so that these enormous goods vehicles could be passed and journeys accelerated. I put that forward as a practical suggestion which I hope will be considered.
As I was Chairman of the Committee which sat to examine the scheme for a Forth Road Bridge, I should like to endorse every word that my noble friend Lord Dundee said in regard to this matter. My noble friend Lord Selkirk said that as soon as the Government had got in everybody was trying to get them to spend more and more money. From what I know of the situation, I am certain that, if the Government do not want to spend the money to which they are committed on this scheme, if they will grant a toll for a certain number of years private enterprise will build the bridge and then hand it over to the Government later, after they have had their money back through the toll, which would be less than the ferry is today. Noble Lords who have travelled North and have gone over the Forth will realize 142 what an appalling situation there is. I. hope that every consideration will be given to this matter and that the Government will do something to meet the serious situation which now exists. To show how long this matter has been hung up, I would add that I was Chairman of this Committee in 1946. The Report, called the Teviot Report, which was then made, and which is available to anybody, said that there was no alternative to the bridge. Those who have studied the bottom of the Forth will realise that anything in the shape of a tunnel or a floating bridge is quite fantastic.
I must apologise for again having to advertise myself a little, but for ten years I was Chairman of the National Joint Council in Scotland, which is the equivalent of the Burnham Committee in England, and I should like to say a word or two about education. We all agree that, somehow or other, we must reduce the size of classes. As we know, that can be done only by getting more teachers and more schools. The Government have laid down in their policy that they are going to do everything possible in this regard. This question of equal pay is a difficult question in education, because we find so many teachers in different categories, but it ought not to be an insoluble question. It is one that has to be seriously considered, because I think that its solution would greatly help to increase the number of teachers.
I now come to the point in the gracious Speech which refers to safeguarding health. Your Lordships may begin to smile about my reference to this matter—you will know exactly what is coming now. I understand that a drive is about to take place to reduce the extraction rate from the wheat grain to 70 per cent. and to reinforce what is left with synthetic vitamins. To my idea there is no doubt that if this is done it will be thoroughly detrimental to the health of the people of this country. Wily should we take out of the wheat grain the live elements in it, in the shape of vitamins and proteins, with all the trace elements that the scientists know are there but with which they cannot deal because they cannot pick them up, and substitute chemical synthetics? The chemist never can make life, and if we are going to keep healthy we must feed the people with live food. If we get rid of synthetic chemicals, to my mind we shall enormously increase 143 the health of the people. I think it is of the greatest importance that, in the national flour, nature's vitamins, properly grown, are maintained.
I should also like to say a word or two about the administrative tribunals which hear disputes between the people and certain Government Departments. We know that when a dispute takes place an inspector is sent by the Department concerned to investigate the matter, and the report to the Minister is confidential. Our people are dissatisfied with the present state of affairs, and would like to see something in the shape of the Conseil d'état which they have in France, or an equivalent type of organisation to that which they have in America, so that they may be in a position where they can get real satisfaction and can know that justice is done. Surely these matters should be given far more publicity. There is the report to the Minister, but no-one knows what it contains. One presumes that justice has been administered as a result of the report; but if we were to give publicity to the report and to the reasons which led the Minister to arrive at his conclusions, I am sure that the country would appreciate it and that it would do a great deal of good.
During the Election I went up to Stornoway, and there are one or two things that I should like to say as to the conditions that I found there. Before the war, Russia and Germany had large contracts with those people in regard to the fish caught round the Western Islands; but, of course, when the war began that all stopped. To-day, those people find themselves in the unfortunate position that trawlers come round from Aberdeen and the East Coast of Scotland and do a little bit of poaching all round these islands on the West coast. I should like to see a six-mile limit imposed, instead of the present three-mile limit. The people who live in these islands are all what may be called inshore fishermen, and such an extension would benefit them enormously; and I do not think it would result in any less fish being caught in the area. Your Lordships who have been to these islands will realise how poor they are in relation to the production of food. The islands are bare, and agriculture is at a minimum. The consequence is that the people have 144 to import from the mainland a great deal of their foodstuffs, and as a result of carrying it up to the port and transferring it over the sea in ships there is a high freightage. I should like the Government to consider their position. They cannot be blamed for their position, which is merely the result of geographical conditions, and I should be grateful if the Government would look into this matter to see whether some special freightage cannot be charged for commodities that are necessary to the lives of these people.
I hope your Lordships were impressed, as I was, with the fine speech yesterday of my noble friend Lord Woolton, particularly when he gave us that interesting information, which nobody could give better, on the subject of industry. I do not intend to go into detail, and would only mention the one word "inflation," which seems to me to convey to us the difficulties and dangers of being very prosperous, and to give a warning that we must not feel that things are now, and will continue to be, all right. This reminds me of a story that I have told on many occasions, of a great Eastern potentate who sent for his head man and said to him: "I want you to make me a ring that I shall always wear, and I want you to write round it something that will cheer me up when I am 'down' and make me careful when I am up and prosperous." The head man went away and did not know what to write round the ring; but finally he came back, and round the ring was written these words: "All these things will pass away." With regard to prosperity, we know that it cannot go on for ever. With regard to inflation, I should just like to add a word to what my noble friend Lord Woolton said. As he aptly put it, we must go on increasing production. I believe that we should impress on all our workers the dangers of the evil of inflation, and say to them: "You are the people who might help towards keeping inflation away by always remembering, in all the work you do to give, so far as possible, and within reason, as much production as you can." If that appeal is made to all our workers, and if it is explained to them in the simple and able way in which my noble friend explained it yesterday, I am sure that they will respond. I have spoken a little longer than I generally 145 do, and I am not going to say anything more, because many other noble Lords wish to speak. I hope that the suggestions I have made will be studied by the Government and that some good may result from them.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ LORD GRANTCHESTER
My Lords I hope that I may be forgiven for introducing somewhat of a controversial note into this debate which has shown so much unanimity, and rightly so, I think, on most of the matters mentioned in the gracious Speech. Although the subject to which I wish to refer is one of domestic policy, it is one which affects international trade and will, therefore, have international repercussions. My noble friend Lord Layton, in his survey yesterday, drew attention to an apparent contradiction or inconsistency in the reference in one paragraph of the gracious Speech to a free flow of international trade, and to the imposition of new duties in another. It will be no surprise to noble Lords opposite that we on these Benches should select for critical inquiry a paragraph which foreshadows legislation to permit the imposition of countervailing and antidumping duties on imported goods. The noble Lords who spoke on Thursday last trod rather warily when referring to this paragraph; they seemed to be a little frightened of it—perhaps it made the Liberal blood in their veins run a little cold.
There has been in recent months a good deal of good-humoured speculation about the character of the new Government. Without the Liberal influence of Sir Winston, will there be a reversion to the Toryism of the 'twenties? To us, this paragraph looks like a reversion to the ideas of 1923. The noble and learned Earl who leads the Labour Opposition referred to the fact that an alert Opposition is necessary for the effective work of our democratic constitution. With this, particular paragraph he voiced no disagreement. His chief anxiety was that the Government should equip themselves with a full armoury of weapons which could be let off When faced with a difficulty—perhaps a little indiscriminately, it seemed to me—and hope for the best. But that, in our view, is not the way to conduct our trading relations, and Liberals are not in favour of concentrat- 146 ing continually-increasing powers in the hands of any Government.
Whilst we Liberals are ready to applaud and support Her Majesty's Government in carrying out the Liberal professions which they have been making (and may I say here how glad we are to note the references of the Prime Minister to the encouragement of co-partnership schemes in industry) we must keep a watchful eye for deviations. The paragraph to which I have referred is not only a deviation but a reversion to devices which, in our view, are, or should be, as out of date and as out of place in the sphere of international relations as the strike should be in the field of industrial relations. For it is as certain as night follows day that tariff provokes tariff and a duty provokes more duties.
I wonder how, in the new legislation promised, dumping is to be defined? Is it to be, for instance, the disposal of commodities abroad at a lower price than to domestic purchasers? If so, is this to be banned within the Commonwealth? Or, is it designed to check attacks on a market in this country by underselling for a period with a view to subsequent selling at a profit when the market has been captured? If so, are such practices to be made illegal in the home market? Are the regulations to be revised which apply to goods made up, for instance, in Ireland, from foreign raw materials, and then imported into this country under a preferential tariff'? We shall see.
For whatever reasons this legislation is contemplated, we say that in our view it is ill-advised. Competition from abroad is the only real and satisfactory check in the interests of the consumer on an inflated home selling price, particularly in a country where price rings abound. If Her Majesty's Government are in earnest in their desire to reduce the cost of living, they will not adopt a policy of adding to tariffs, but rather of reducing them. The same applies if Her Majesty's Government are in earnest in their desire to stem inflation, maintain a satisfactory trade balance, and keep up this country's important invisible exports. If Her Majesty's Government are in earnest in their professed desire to see undeveloped territories progress, they will not use the tariff weapon against them. Is charity to these territories to be preferred to trade with hem?
147 As our exporters know only too well, customs regulations involve not only the amount of a tariff, but a whole host of complexities in classification. The words "countervailing duties" sound ominous and replete with administrative complexities, and this at a time when we are asking the United States of America to simplify her regulations It is true that the United States and the Commonwealth countries, or several of them, have had for many years anti-dumping laws, but they have not, I believe, been much invoked. Is it desirable to stir up this sleeping monster? For how vulnerable this country is which has been riddled with subsidies, from which a Conservative Government has not yet been able entirely to free us—nearly £300 million a year subsidies on agricultural products, plus a hidden subsidy in derating, to which my noble friend Lord Meston referred yesterday. Is this to be invoked against us every time some foreign manufacturer finds our competition unwelcome?—a coal price, a steel price, to home manufacturers below the world market prices; fixed rates of exchange still operating which may conceal the real costs of many manufactured goods. What complications are the Government trying to make for our exporters? No, my Lords, in these days of Commonwealth and international co-operation other methods are open to us for dealing with our trade problems. Expansion of trade must be our watchword, and not restriction of any kind. This paragraph envisages legislation which will be highly restrictive, and I should like to express the hope that we shall hear no more of it.
§ 4.27 p.m.
My Lords, I do not propose to follow the Liberal arguments of the noble Lord who has just sat down, as I wish to deal with the importance of nuclear power. I, too, should like to add my congratulations to Her Majesty's Government for this new agreement which has been announced between the United States and ourselves as regards nuclear power and nuclear information, and I am sure that we shall all look forward to seeing the White Paper when it is issued.
I suggest to your Lordships that perhaps one of the most important measures outlined in the gracious Speech is that Her Majesty's Government 148will actively promote the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.I would say that it is not too strong to say that in this short statement may well lie the future prosperity of this country. We are all, of course, most anxious to increase the standard of living, but that cannot be done unless we have a much larger supply of power than is available at the present time. It really is tragic that, after all the years of nationalisation of the mines, which it was thought in some quarters would relieve us of our labour troubles in that direction, and in spite of the greatly increased use of mechanisation, coal production is far less than it used to be and for the last three years has been practically static.
How are we to support the expanding industrial production year by year unless we can, at the same time, provide increased power? What are the figures of coal producion for the last three years? I believe that they are barely 225 million tons per annum. That really is most deplorable. On the other hand, in 1954 industrial production rose by something like 6½ per cent., and I think I am correct in saying that the present indication for this year is that the rise will be about the same. It is obvious that we cannot go much further in this direction without approaching a bottleneck in power supply. It is no use putting up more coal-fired power stations if the coal is not available. Even now we are relying on a heavy importation of coal to keep our fuel position more or less static. I think it is true to say that the demand for electricity is increasing at the rate of over 10 per cent. per annum. In 1954 the increase, I believe, was 11 per cent., whereas the provision of additional electric power was only about 8 per cent. The writing is on the wall for all to see; and unless we take drastic steps to increase our power supply the living standards of the country will be seriously jeopardised. What is equally important is that besides abundant power we must have cheap electric power; otherwise, before very long, we shall not be able to compete in the export markets of the world. It is for these reasons that I welcome most strongly the development of atomic power outlined in the gracious Speech.
I think it was in February this year that Her Majesty's Government announced a large programme for the 149 construction of atomic power plants. The programme was to extend over a period of ten years, and something like ten plants were to be built. I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government whether these ten atomic piles are, in the main, to be used for generating electrical power, and if Calder Hall and the one to be built in Caithness are included in their number. In another place a welcome announcement was made yesterday by the Minister of Fuel and Power that an additional six atomic power stations were to be constructed. Can Her Majesty's Government give any indication of when they are likely to be commenced, and when they may be completed? I do not wish to press for this information to-day, but it would be interesting to know if we can be told the location of some of these new power plants and how far ahead we are looking for their completion. I am a little disturbed, and I think many people are, at the length of time it is going to take to produce the first hatch of piles which were announced in February, which I think was indicated as something like ten years.
I should like to put these questions to Her Majesty's Government. Can the work of construction be speeded up? Is the difficulty lack of finance or of raw materials, or is it, as I suspect it is, the lack of trained scientists? We know that certain steps have already been taken in that direction. I suggest that the whole matter is of such vital importance that we should do our utmost to speed up the production of these atomic piles. If by such means we can save some millions of tons of coal a year, we can divert more to the export trade and put a stop to the senseless importation of coal. I am not criticising Her Majesty's Government for carrying out this necessary policy, in view of all the circumstances, but I do suggest that every financial support should be given to the Atomic Energy Authority so that power output can be increased at the earliest possible moment.
On a previous occasion when we debated this subject of atomic energy, mention was made of the participation of private enterprise in the field of atomic power units. I wonder whether the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, who I understand is to reply on 150 behalf of the Government, could say something about this aspect, and about what part private enterprise will be able to take in the design, construction and working of atomic piles, and what information will be available to them. I was one of those privileged, earlier in the year, to visit the atomic pile at Calder Hall and the generating plant under construction, and I was amazed at the progress that had been made. I hope that 'by suitable propaganda the people in the country can be rude aware of the great and prosperous future that is not far away if they will only grasp this great opportunity which lies before them in the development and use of nuclear energy for industrial purposes.
I hope that families will induce their sons to study nuclear energy and power, so that they become the great scientists of the future in the important developments that lie ahead. We have made a very good start, but we must keep going and forge ahead in this new industrial era. We are undoubtedly stretching out to a new industrial era which may well bring to mankind benefits barely dreamed of and new opportunities for generations to come. I should like to congratulate Her Majesty's Government on the progress that has already been made. I hope that they will be able to find ways and means of speeding up the production of nuclear energy.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I am sure your Lordships will agree that the opportunity which we have at the start of a new Session of discussing the legislative programme and the state of the world would not be used to the best possible advantage without some reference to the Commonwealth and the Colonies. The noble Marquess who will wind up this debate himself has been Secretary of State for the Colonies arid Secretary of State for the Dominions, so we can he sure of having an admirable statement of Government policy. This is peculiarly necessary, because this subject will not be discussed in the debate that is taking place in another place; so that this is the only opportunity that Parliament will have of a Ministerial statement about the Colonies and the Commonwealth.
I should like to confine myself mainly to the rôle of an inquirer who wishes to 151 ask questions. First, I should like to ask the noble Marquess whether he can tell us anything about the situation in Singapore. When I was in Singapore in 1950, I remember being told how the Communist leaders had tried to capture the trade unions in order to paralyse the Government of the Colony by strike action. Having failed to do this, they made off into the jungle and joined their friends in the Federation to start a shooting war. It looks very much as if what is happening at the present time is another attempt to discredit and coerce the newly elected Legislature. It would be extremely interesting to know how serious the strike situation is, to what extent the aim of the strikes is political and not industrial and, above all, what measures the Government of the Colony are proposing to take in order to prevent violence and to check this attempt to coerce legitimate authority. I can assure the noble Marquess that he will have our support for any measures that may be necessary in order to maintain democratic government in Singapore.
May I now pass to one or two matters mentioned in the gracious Speech. I was glad to see reference made there to the prospect of "further progress" in the setting up of a British Caribbean Federation. This new Commonwealth nation has been growing steadily in past years, more and more rapidly, and is approaching full self-government. I hope the Government will continue to speed its growth. The time factor is, indeed, a condition of success. Let it not be said in the future, as was said in another connection, that we gave "too little and too late."
There are one or two questions I should like to ask in connection with the Caribbean Federation. The Federation will not, of course, be complete without the two mainland territories. It is therefore right that the door should be left open for their entry, if they so desire, after the Federal Government has been set up. In the meantime, it is surely most desirable that they should be associated as closely as possible with the island territories in the final phase before federation. This brings me to my first question. Will the Government ask the authorities in British Honduras and British Guiana to send observers to the forthcoming conference of West Indian 152 representatives? Those observers would, of course, report back to their Governments and in this way would keep their fellow countrymen informed of the prelude to the birth of a new nation.
I am sure—and the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, was able to confirm this when he was in the Caribbean—that the fear in both these mainland territories, that federation would release a flood of immigrants from the densely crowded islands, was a genuine fear; but this fear—and this has been the main deterrent to their joining in federation—must have been lessened by the agreement in March (in which the noble Lord opposite assisted materially by his chairmanship of the Conference) to give the territorial Governments a concurrent power with the centre for the control of immigration. I think it is generally recognised already in the islands that the mainland territories cannot absorb their surplus population. It looks very much as if the prospect of British Guiana joining the Federation has improved. It was encouraging to hear that the interim Legislature in British Guiana approved the federal plan in April. But, as we all know, the British Guiana Legislature is appointed, not representative, and therefore clearly cannot commit the country. A decision to join the Federation, or a final decision not to join the Federation, would necessarily be taken only by an elected body.
This brings me to my second question. I should like to ask the Government whether they will consider the possibility of holding elections and restoring the Constitution of British Guiana, suspended in 1953. I am fully aware that the timing of elections must depend on local conditions. The Government know far more about local conditions than I do or anybody else does. Therefore I do not pretend to know how soon elections can safely be held. But it looks to the ordinary, outside observer as if the political atmosphere in British Guiana has considerably improved since the Robertson Commission reported last year. The egregious Doctor Jagan has lost his position as chairman of his Party and has been replaced by a less extreme colleague; and his wife, a no less formidable politician, has also lost her position. Indeed, it appears that there has been a wide split in the People's Progressive Party, and, as we all know from recent experience, a divided Party is not an 153 electoral asset. Moreover, the Opposition Party, led by Mr. John Carter, whom some of us had the pleasure of meeting in the Palace of Westminster last year, has increased its membership and is gaining public support. In view of this evident strengthening of the moderate and responsible elements in Guianese political life, and of the weakening of the extremists, I hope the Government will be willing at any rate to review their policy, and to ascertain whether or not these changed conditions still justify direct rule.
There is one further question I should like to put on the subject of the West Indies. When the Caribbean Federation is set up, it will not be completely sovereign, because Her Majesty's Government of the United Kingdom will retain a certain measure of control. I imagine it will be on very much the same rung of the constitutional ladder to sovereignty as the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Your Lordships will remember that the new Federation in Central Africa sent its Prime Minister, Lord Malvern (whom most of us know better as Sir Godfrey Huggins) to the recent Prime Ministers' Conference. I think it is dead certain, therefore, whatever the merits of the case may be, that the Federal Government in the Caribbean will expect an invitation. Moreover, the Federation will not be able to play its full part in Commonwealth affairs unless it shares in ministerial consultation at every level, including the highest.
This is obviously not a matter for us alone, but we could, and I think we should, take the initiative in raising this matter with other Commonwealth Governments. May I express it in this way?—we should put up the candidate as a member of the club; we should be prepared to propose the new member. I should therefore like to ask Her Majesty's Government (if they can give a reply at this stage, having given the matter consideration) whether, when the time comes, they will be willing to propose to other member Governments that the Caribbean Federation should be represented at Commonwealth ministerial conferences, including conferences of Prime Ministers. A decision on this matter, whichever way it goes, would, I think, be of the utmost importance to the whole future of our multi-racial Commonwealth. If it goes in the way that I think we should all 154 like it to go, it will do much to reconcile opinion in the Caribbean to a further period of subordination to the Government of the United Kingdom. Another matter in the gracious Speech that will directly affect the West Indies is the Bill to end State trading in sugar. I trust that the Government will safeguard the position of Commonwealth producers generally, and particularly those in the West Indies, because the economy of the West Indies is, as we all know, entirely dependent on a stable price for sugar. I hope, therefore, that, whatever the Bill may contain, it will provide some sort of safeguard for the present position of the West Indies and the continuation of a stable price for sugar.
I now come to one or two, I hope, controversial matters. I am not at all happy about the description of our Commonwealth in the gracious Speech as "the Commonwealth and Empire." To my mind this Churchillian expression is an unfortunate example of language that lags behind events. We go on using these high-sounding phrases in official pronouncements, long after they have dropped behind the movement of our Commonwealth towards greater unity and greater freedom. The expression "Commonwealth and Empire" is as much an anachronism today as was the expression "British Empire" after the First World War, although I admit that it is some consolation that the Conservative mind has at any rate moved forward from 1918. This phrase is not only obsolete—that would not matter very much, except to the theorists—but the trouble is that its use in important official pronouncements of this kind, which are read all over the world by a wide and mainly indiscriminating public, is misleading and positively harmful, because it suggests that our dependencies are still Imperial possessions. This suggestion is palpably untrue. It became untrue after 1947 when the Indian Empire ceased to exist and the two sovereign States of Pakistan and India took its place. It should be noted that our Queen is Queen, not Empress, of her territories overseas. That is the official description in the Royal Title of the present relationship between the Crown and the British dependencies.
But, apart from committing a constitutional solecism, it is surely unwise and harmful to exclude the Colonies from the Commonwealth and to go on using an 155 imperial terminology which jars on many minds and offends in many quarters. The Colonies are, after all, part and parcel of the Commonwealth. The noble Lord, Lord Hailey, whose authority in these matters we all respect, has described them as junior partners, sharing already with the senior members in many of the activities of partnership. Of this the Colombo Plan is probably the outstanding example. They want to stay in the Commonwealth when they become independent, but we shall not encourage them to do so by emphasising their political subordination or banishing them from the inner circle of self-governing countries. The suggestion of imperial rule will, I am sure, be sharply resented by most of their politically-conscious inhabitants. Every time a piece of imperial terminology reappears in an official document or statement, it offers a fresh target to the Communist and anti-colonial critics of British imperialism. We all know them in the Press; we all know them at meetings of the United Nations.
All the difficulties I have mentioned could have been avoided if Her Majesty's Government had stuck to the terms "Commonwealth" or "Commonwealth of Nations," which indeed are now commonly used when referring to the area over which the Queen is head. If Ministers wanted to mention specifically the dependent sector of the Commonwealth, as they might well have done—it would be perfectly legitimate to do so—they could surely have found a happier, more inoffensive and more appropriate word than "Empire." No one wants to be pedantic about the use of language or to impose his views on other people, but it is surely not unreasonable to expect Her Majesty's Government, in official statements which go out all over the world, to set an example of accuracy and statesmanship in the choice of words.
Now I come, as briefly as possible, to my second controversial remark. There is no mention in the gracious Speech of the situation in Cyprus. I am sure that that does not mean that it is not causing the Government a great deal of concern. The facts, so far as I can judge them from studying the Press and from conversations, are these: not only has there been no improvement in the last few months, but it appears, from what one hears, that things are steadily getting 156 worse. In Cyprus itself violence, sabotage and lawlessness continue. Our relations with Greece, which used to be so good, are deteriorating, and in consequence the organisation of Western defence in the Mediterranean has been weakened. It looks very much as if Cypriot nationalism is taking the same reckless and destructive course as Irish nationalism, and will continue to do so unless it is redirected. While this unrest goes on in Cyprus, Greece will stand out of Mediterranean defence and the Western Alliance will suffer. I hope that if these facts are not correct I shall be told so, as Her Majesty's Government naturally have much fuller reports in these matters than we can get. If these are the facts of the situation, there is surely urgent need for reconsideration of policy and for a real effort to find a new approach to the interconnected problems of strategy and politics.
It is not the first time that we have stated this, but it may be worth stating it again in order to get our view considered by Her Majesty's Government. We on this side of the House believe that a new approach could be made if only Her Majesty's Government would initiate discussions with all the parties concerned, with the object of securing an agreed settlement of all these differences. I cannot believe that it would be more difficult, when we are dealing with our own friends in the Commonwealth and with our allies outside the Commonwealth, to reach an agreed settlement in the Eastern Mediterranean, than it will be to deal with the Soviet Union in reaching an agreed settlement on these much wider, vaster and even more important issues in relation to Europe and disarmament. At any rate, we feel very strongly that the attempt should be made; if it fails we shall not be worse off than we are now.
The success of any negotiations, for whatever object, must depend on the willingness of all parties to make concessions. The concession that we ask Her Majesty's Government to offer, without which I do not suppose talks would even begin, is the right of the Cypriot people to ultimate self-determination, not excluding a change of sovereignty. We should make it clear that this right cannot be exercised now but that it would be permitted at an appropriate and 157 agreed date. Although, again, it is difficult to judge on this side of the House we should probably be right, on this basis, first to start talks with the Greek and Turkish Governments. We should ask the Greek Government to support a political settlement in Cyprus, and we should also ask them to accept our strategic requirements on the island, including the leasing of bases in the event of a change of sovereignty. The Turkish Government would naturally need an assurance that we were not backing out of our defence commitments in the Eastern Mediterranean, and should also be guaranteed adequate safeguards for the Turkish population of Cyprus.
If these negotiations with our Allies were reasonably successful, we could then go on to make a similar approach to the leaders of the Greek and Turkish communities in Cyprus. We could offer them self-determination on two conditions: first, willingness to co-operate with the Government of the Colony in re-establishing parliamentary rule with proper safeguards for minorities. The second point upon which we must insist is that they shall facilitate the use of the island and its harbours by the Armed Services of the Crown. Whether or not a settlement can he reached on these lines, I am sure that we should try for it. After all, it is the bankruptcy of statesmanship to persist in a policy which experience has shown to be unsuccessful; and we know from experience that the noble Marquess the Leader of the House and other members of the present Government are statesmen and men of resource who must, I think, be willing to consider alternatives to the present policy.
In conclusion, I would only say this. There is no substantial difference between the Parties about the aims of Commonwealth and Colonial policy. That is a state of affairs which has continued for a considerable time; it is highly desirable and I hope that it will go on. At the same time, there is a good deal of difference between us about the right method of securing these aims. I can assure the noble Marquess that we shall continue in this Parliament to try to find common ground with Her Majesty's Government and to support them whenever we can conscientiously do so. But when, and if, we differ from Her Majesty's Government, as we did in the last Parliament over 158 Central African federation and as we appear to do to-day over Cyprus, we shall not hesitate to state the case for what we believe to be in the best interests of the Commonwealth family.
§ 4.57 p.m.
§ LORD STRABOLGI
My Lords, I must crave your Lordships' indulgence in rising from my seat a second time this afternoon: I feel compelled to do so on a certain matter, although I shall not detain your Lordships for long. May I say at the outset that I am very glad that the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, has raised these various colonial questions and how much we on these Benches agree with what he has said, particularly about the appearance in the gracious Speech of the anachronistic word "Empire."
I am somewhat disappointed that the gracious Speech makes no mention of colour discrimination. In recent years we have seen some alarming examples of this most un-Christian and illiberal prejudice. We on these Benches are strongly opposed to any form of discrimination against Africans and West Indians because the colour of their skin happens to be different from ours. The Church, as is to be expected, of course, has given a good lead over this vexed question. I would say also, without wishing to appear in any way patronising, that Her Majesty's Government, during their last term of office, adopted entirely the right attitude. They have done much to foster better relations between the different races in Africa; they have not attempted to prohibit the entry of Jamaicans and Africans into this country, and where prejudice against them has existed in this country, they have done their best to discourage it.
I am bound to say quite frankly, however, that there are many people in this country, of all classes, who from time to time are guilty of colour discrimination; and this is a fact which in my view must be faced frankly. We have had some cases lately. For example, members of a particular trade union have refused to work with coloured people; nurses in a certain hospital have refused to work with other nurses because they happen to be coloured. The other day the headmaster of a private school refused to take a boy, not because he was not a good boy, not because he could not pass the examination, but because his skin had 159 been given a different pigmentation by nature. I consider this last case, affecting as it does a young and innocent child at a most sensitive age, to be a particularly cruel one. And there must be, every day, cases which never get into the Press of rudeness and arrogance from which Africans and West Indians continually have to suffer. We are told that this is the result of lack of education in individuals. But I myself have found colour prejudice among some of the most highly educated people I have ever met, and also among some of the most ignorant; so that cannot be the true explanation. Perhaps it is the result of some psychological defect in certain people—noble Lords who are members of the medical profession will know about that better than I do. But what I do know is that this attitude has done more harm to our reputation amongst our coloured fellow men than anything else. I should have liked to see some mention in the gracious Speech that the Government, whose policy has been right, as I have said, would consider appointing a Commission to inquire into ways and means of dealing with this question, because I believe that one day it may have great repercussions. This is a very complicated and difficult subject, but it is one that has got to be faced. It is my earnest hope that Her Majesty's Government will see their way to appoint such a Commission during their present term of office.
§ 5.2 p.m.
THE EARL OF MANSFIELD
My Lords, when I first gave notice of my desire to speak in this debate, it was my intention to confine myself to a mere couple of points mentioned in the gracious Speech, but, after all, this is—or should be—a debate, and several matters have been mentioned upon which I feel I must also speak, though I will do it as briefly as possible. First, the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, alleged that he made a non-contentious speech; but it contained one remark, or rather a series of remarks, that were both contentious and inaccurate. When the noble and learned Earl said that, in his opinion, the prestige of your Lordships' House had declined during recent years, that was a complete fallacy. If the noble and learned Earl would take the trouble to examine the position in the country as a whole, I 160 think he would discover that your Lordships' House has seldom, if ever, had greater prestige than it now has throughout the country. It is for that reason that I view with a certain amount of apprehension the penultimate sentence of the gracious Speech in which is announced the Government's intention of investigating the possibilities of improving the composition of your Lordships' House.
Now this country has always progressed slowly in matters of constitutional reform, and I should be perfectly prepared to see minor changes in our composition, but I think it would be a very great mistake on the part of any Government to introduce a comprehensive measure which would attempt radically to alter the composition of your Lordships' House. I should much prefer to see it done piecemeal, though I know that there arc many who are opposed to such a course. Let us rather consider seriatim suggestions such as that for the creation of a limited number of Life Peers, and possibly that for permitting heirs to Peerages to remain Members of another place, or stand for election if they are not already Members, and other matters of that kind. Let us consider each question on its merits, and then, if we think fit, attempt to make the necessary alteration in our Constitution. But wholesale change would, I am convinced, neither add to the reputation of your Lordships' House—which, as I have said, stands very high—nor in any way improve the working of the combined Parliament of this country.
In a few words I should like to support my noble friends Lord Dundee and Lord Teviot in their comments on the most welcome proposals for the improvement of road services in Scotland, with particular reference to the crossing of the Forth, whether such crossing is to be by bridge or by tunnel. I raised this matter in your Lordships' House some months ago, and the reply then given could be described, at best, as noncommittal. But I am very glad indeed that since then the Government have found it possible to state that it is their intention to proceed with this most necessary improvement within a reasonable period of time. The noble Lord, Lord Teviot, spoke of a toll which he said should end after a number of years. It does not seem to me that there is any reason why such a toll should not be 161 permanent. The ones that exist in many areas in the United States appear to be permanent and no one seems to grumble about them. Such a toll would go far to produce the necessary revenue for the upkeep of the bridge or tunnel as the case might be.
In connection with this matter of improvement of roads and that of the extension of the housing programme, there is one point which I should like to lay before Her Majesty's Government, though it is one with which they are already all too familiar. I wish to urge them to do as much as they can to spare agricultural land when carrying out these improvements. By the nature of things, our great cities are usually situated in plains where the best agricultural land lies. Equally, roads tend to run along valleys near rivers, which is, again, where we find our best farm land. In this small country—particularly in Scotland, though it applies to the whole of Great Britain—we really cannot afford the unnecessary loss of one acre of good farm land. We know, unfortunately, that as we progress we are bound to lose a great deal more, but I hope that every effort will be made to ensure that the courses of roads are run where possible over less good land, and that houses, where possible, are built in areas which are not of the most valuable description from a farming point of view.
It is rather disappointing to me that until the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, spoke, so far as I am aware there had been no reference in any speech to what—pace him and Lord Strabolgi—I shall continue to call "the Colonial Empire," which term I hope Her Majesty's Government will also continue to use, for it is my view that we have no reason to be ashamed either of our Empire or of so calling it. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will give further serious consideration to the question in particular of the West Indies and of their development to meet the needs of an ever-growing population. Now that the Chief Minister of Jamaica, Mr. Norman Manley, is in this country for the purpose of discussing the future banana trade between Great Britain and Jamaica, I trust that opportunity will be taken to have discussions upon a much wider basis than that merely of bananas. Though conditions in the Caribbean have improved generally over 162 the past few years, undoubtedly there is still in every island a vast amount of poverty and malnutrition which, in some cases, amounts to actual starvation—in the case of Jamaica, for example. Although many areas have benefited extensively from the increased amount of sugar cane now grown, from the increased area under bananas, from the ever-growing tourist traffic and, to a lesser extent, from the discovery and exploitation of bauxite, it must be remembered that there are a considerable number of extensive areas which do not enjoy any one of those advantages.
In considering what aid can be given from the Colonial Development Fund, I would urge the Government to bear in mind particularly roads and water supplies. In Jamaica there is much ground which at present is hardly used at all, even for agriculture, because of its inaccessibility. Many of these areas could be opened up without much difficulty by using bulldozers, and roads could be constructed which, although possibly hardly of the type to take ordinary motor cars, would still enable the small settlers to get their produce out, and would open up large untapped sources of agricultural production.
It may surprise your Lordships to learn that although Jamaica has a very high rainfall the problem of water is just as acute as it is in certain parts of Scotland which have an equally high rainfall. That is due to the fact that the terrain of Jamaica is so porous that there exists in the whole of the country only one lake, and that practically at sea level. When water touches the ground, some of it runs down the rivers and streams to the sea, while the rest of it sinks right through the limestone rock and forms natural reservoirs underneath, some of which have been tapped. But much more could be done, thereby rendering fertile many areas, particularly in the south of the island, which at present are of a semidesert nature. The improvement of water supplies, which means the construction of catchments, would be of great benefit to the people all over the island. It is a common sight in Jamaica to see women and small children carrying kerosene cans full of water on their heads for distances of two miles and more, that being their sole water supply for drinking, cooking and washing.
163 The question of population of the West Indies is of paramount importance. Within a generation the population, which is already somewhat larger than can be supported, will be doubled; and then the position will be one which we can regard only with the gravest apprehensions. For that reason the problem must be regarded as of extreme urgency, and it is very much to be hoped that when the Caribbean Federation comes into being we shall be able to induce both British Honduras and British Guiana to accept a suitable number of settlers. That can be done only by the provision from this country of large sums for opening up the hinterlands of both these countries. British Honduras is comparatively small, but British Guiana is very large, and great sums will have to be spent on the construction of roads and the provision of other services before immigration on any substantial scale will be feasible; yet such immigration is the only possible solution on a large scale of this terrible problem of over-population. Where else are these people to go? They are not being accepted any longer, save in very small numbers, either in the United States of America or in the other islands of the Caribbean, which, in any event, are them-selves grossly over-populated. So, hand in hand must go improvement of roads and water supplies in all the islands, not only in Jamaica, together with some attempt to solve the pressing problem of the ever-increasing birthrate in relation to resources which hardly increase at all.
I have already spoken for as long as I intended, but I want to say just a few words on a subject which I did not know was going to be raised to-day but which is one of great importance—that is, the question of the colour bar, raised by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi. I am happy that I am in complete agreement with him on this point. The colour bar operates differently in various areas of the world. It exists somewhat strictly in some of the islands of the Caribbean, but I am happy to say that in Jamaica it has almost disappeared; and such remnants as arc there are going fast. Jamaica is a good example of how, given good will on all sides, black, white and the shades in between can live amicably together. But the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, is quite right; there is a great deal of colour 164 prejudice, and it is as harmful and as irrational as anti-Semitism. Whether the appointment of a Royal Commission to examine the situation is the best way to find a solution I should not be prepared to say, but this whole question of the colour bar deserves, and I hope will receive at an early date, the earnest consideration of Her Majesty's Government. In conclusion, let me congratulate the Government on producing a gracious Speech which contains in it a great many potential measures which should be of the greatest benefit to the people of this country and what I am still pleased to call the Empire.
§ 5.16 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
My Lords, in the last Parliament the Government majority in another place was a narrow one, and I think most people will agree that this had the effect of making it difficult for Ministers in that place to fulfil their respective obligations to Parliament and to the Departments, and also of imposing a serious strain both on the Ministers and on the senior civil servants of their Departments. In this Parliament the strain will not be so great, and I hope that it will be possible and much easier for Ministers to give more time to the Departments than they were able to do in the last Parliament. I feel that that is very necessary, because if the gracious Speech was described in certain quarters as "stodgy" I take it that that was only another way of saying that a great deal of humdrum, honest-to-God administration would be required to implement what was proposed. The proposals in the gracious Speech can be implemented only if the Ministers have proper time to take proper control. I am not saying that the Ministers should spend all their time at their desks, because I hope that they will be able to get out and about, particularly those Ministers in charge of Commonwealth and Empire affairs (again I used the word "Empire"), of agriculture and of industry. There is plenty to do in these directions.
So far as agriculture goes, I think it is fair to say that a start was made by the Minister to take control in the last Parliament. Then we have the questions of local government, re-rating and boundaries. The Departments concerned and the Ministers in charge will need to show 165 a great deal of skill, tact and firmness if the whole thing is not to degenerate into a form of jungle fighting between Whitehall and the local authorities, which otherwise it would do.
In the field of defence I think it is most necessary for the Ministers to give real attention to what is going on at the lower levels of their Departments. The gracious Speech touches on the problem and in certain places talks about the need to maintain our power to meet the obligations of N.A.T.O. and the free world, and of the necessity to keep order, both at home and abroad. One of the things giving most cause for thought at the moment, I believe, is the difficulty in which the defence Ministers and their Departments will find themselves in trying to develop their forces on the modern lines which atomic and nuclear energy demands while maintaining our obligations to N.A.T.O. and our need to keep order elsewhere.
All this is a most complex problem. The right solution, I imagine, depends on what sort of appreciation Service Ministers and Service Departments make of the form which possible aggression might take in the near future. Sometimes one hears the suggestion that because atomic and nuclear energy are in existence, we can assume that any aggressor will not make use of any other method than atomic and nuclear energy. If that were true, it would make the whole matter easy: we could scrap everything that was not atomic or nuclear; we could finish with National Service, and we could send the Home Guard and the Civil Defence home. I do not think that is at all the right way in which we should begin, however, because if we were to take that view we should be assuming that any possible aggressor would disregard the principle of economy of force which used to be one of the principles of war. So I think we must go on assuming, at any rate for the present, that an aggressor has the choice, either of using nuclear or atomic weapons or of using conventional weapons, if he thinks that is the quickest way of doing the job he is going to do.
If that is right, it means that we must do two things during the transition period. We must, of course, go on developing our atomic and nuclear weapons equally for defence as for peace, as is said in 166 the gracious Speech; but we must also see that at no time do we allow our position to be worsened in regard to our power to meet our obligations to N.A.T.O., and to keep order within those areas where we are responsible for keeping order. And we are under the necessity to support our diplomatic effort at what is going to be a most important stage, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said, by seeing that our defence effort matches our diplomatic effort until the final goal is achieved and disarmament becomes not merely a hope, albeit a strong hope, but a matter of practical politics.
So we get this transition period; and when we get a transition period, as has happened before, we get a number of slightly specious arguments. There is the argument which is brought up in Treasury circles which says that, since change is so quick, anything you produce now will he obsolete by the time you produce it. That is a grand argument: it happens to be the argument which deprived this country of tanks for the first two years of the last war, and I hope that it will not be used again. Then you get the argument that, because atomic and nuclear warfare is developing so rapidly, National Service is unnecessary; and from that you get the argument that an inquiry of some kind or other should be held to decide on the necessity, or otherwise, of National Service. I devoutly hope that no-one will listen to any such proposition, and I should like to give my reason for saying that. After all, the need for National Service depends largely on the forecast which the Government make, with the help of their advisers, the Chiefs of Staff, of what is likely to be the need for National Service; and this forecast is bound to depend, to a large extent, on secret information which could not possibly be published as cart of the proceedings of a Royal Commission.
In any case, I do not think there is any difference of opinion in any part of the House, or outside the House, with regard to prolonging National Service, or calling up more men for National Service than are absolutely necessary to fulfil the needs of the time. Therefore, whether you have an inquiry or not, whatever Government are in power will certainly reduce the numbers called up for National Service as soon as it is safe to do so. In the meantime, there are plenty of well-known ways 167 of regulating the number of people called up—and one way, as we see from our newspapers to-day, is to discharge all cricketers with flat feet. What is important is to make certain that no-one called up for National Service is employed on a job which is not really necessary for defence purposes; or, to put it another way which comes to much the same thing, is employed on a job which he will not be the better for doing when he finishes his National Service.
If we are to pursue our policy of reducing National Service as fast as we can, we must, at the same time, see that those National Service men are replaced with Regular Service men who make the Services their career, because at the moment one of the important things that the period of two years' National Service is doing, as opposed to eighteen months, is providing a large proportion of the junior leaders and junior technicians in the Forces. They will be required whatever happens, and they will need to be replaced by career soldiers or airmen, and perhaps even sailors, if National Service men are to be dispensed with. That involves giving a great deal more thought to the question of the lot of Regular soldiers and Regular airmen, and possibly more expense, whatever my noble friend Lord Selkirk may have said. Now that we are in a slightly easier housing period, I think it is legitimate to point to the crying need to improve barracks, or, if you like, the hutted camps. We shall not get men to make a career in the Forces, and we shall not get their wives to allow them to, if the amenities in the Services are not at least as good as those in the Welfare State outside and if there is not some compensation for the frequent moves which Service life entails.
Another job which I am sure needs to be undertaken by those in charge of defence Departments is to take a fresh look at the whole position of voluntary part-time service in peace time: what are the needs for that service; what are the conditions offered; whether, under the new conditions in regard to home defence, we still want what we wanted a few years ago; or if not, what do we want; whether we expect people in civil life to give that service, and if so, how we can make it sufficiently attractive and objective to get the right number of recruits of the right 168 types. The whole question of home defence has been in a mess ever since the Civil Defence Act, 1948. The matter was brought to a head last year by the developments in atomic power, which, rightly, caused the disbanding of Anti-Aircraft Command. But whatever the causes are, the position is still in a mess. Far too many cooks are getting busy with that broth, and we shall not get the matter right until home defence is looked at as one problem, and until we get Ministers to insist on looking at that job as one problem, whatever the number of Departments they now find dealing with different ends of it.
Having said that, I should like to turn now to the needs for a proper state of defence. I would put it this way, and say that one of the advantages—though by no means the only one—which we should get from proper defence and strategic preparations is the maintenance of, and maybe the increase of confidence in, the industrial power of this country. I feel that proper defence preparations definitely have their effect on the strength of the pound sterling and the confidence which overseas investors might well feel in placing their money in this country. I do not think we should underrate the contribution which sound defence can make in that respect.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
This is a very important point. Will the noble Viscount look back to the early part of 1951? After the proposal to extend the triennial defence programme to £4,700 million there was such a rush on raw materials and such a strain on sterling that you created the financial crisis of 1951.
§ VISCOUNT BRIDGEMAN
I quite appreciate what the noble Viscount has said, but I was assuming that the defence expenditure would be regulated in such a way as not to cause a crisis; and I have confidence in my noble friends in front of me not to do that. However, the two things go largely together, just as I am sure that we are getting now to a very critical stage with our trade in this country. We are meeting far more competition than we have met up to now. The Germans and the Japanese are in the market. Our cost of living here has to be kept down if the prices at which we offer our goods are to be kept down. If those prices are not kept down our 169 goods will not be bought but the goods which arc being offered by the foreigners at lower prices will be bought. Therefore, the whole question is vital to this matter of full employment.
There is another factor which creates a need for extreme care, and that is that two of our most important markets, Australia and New Zealand, are both going through a period of an adverse balance of payments which is limiting the amount they can take from this country, however much they want to take goods from us. That is why I was glad to see in the gracious Speech that economic development of the Commonwealth and Empire is to be encouraged. That is going on now. It was most heartening to read, and to hear in East Africa when I was there, that the World Bank is providing a loan for improved transport in the form of railways and harbours in East Africa. It was most heartening to hear that the Kariba Scheme in Rhodesia has been agreed upon. All these things are most necessary, and the Government of this country must encourage them. Equally, it is necessary for industry in this country to make every effort to produce competitive tenders and competitive prices, in order that the orders for capital goods come home and do not go abroad. My noble friend Lord Mansfield, who has just sat down, referred to the same sort of subject when he was talking about the West Indies.
Look at it from another way. Many of us hope that before very long the pound sterling will be convertible; but it can be convertible, and convertibility can be round the corner, only if we maintain our confidence in the pound sterling. We certainly shall not maintain it if, for any reason, people overseas think we are incapable of producing the goods or of maintaining our deliveries. That is another reason for thankfulness and relief that the stoppage of work on the railways has now ended. It is too early, and in any case extremely difficult, to measure the loss of confidence that a stoppage of that sort might represent in the minds of foreign buyers. After all, disputes of that sort are, in a sense, luxuries which at the present time we can ill-afford if we are not to damage our means of creating the wealth to pay for the things that are promised in the gracious Speech and which, to a large extent, are part of the policy of all the main Parties.
170 A great deal can be done, as was hinted by the Prime Minister in another place, in encouraging profit-sharing schemes. In some industries it is not easy to produce profit-sharing schemes, but in the manufacturing industries it is very easy, and most necessary, to produce some sort of incentive bonus, based on output, which, directly or indirectly, passes some of the profit made by the company to the people who are actually manufacturing, selling or helping in some way. That is a most necessary thing, and I hope that full use will be made of such schemes in order to make everyone, in every manufacturing concern, feel that he has a definite and distinct part to play in what is undoubtedly the national need to keep up our production. And we must realise that our failure to do so will be a national danger. A great deal of hard work will have to be done if the programme outlined in the gracious Speech is to be realised, but if good will is there on all sides, and there is good team work, then there is no reason why the plan outlined in the gracious Speech should not go steadily forward.
§ 5.36 p.m.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, this debate appeals to me as being somewhat in the atmosphere about which the Press commented so much during our visits to the hustings—it has been very quiet all the way through. The noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, did not like the words in the gracious Speech being described as "stodgy," any more than he seemed to like the comment of the London Times of April 30, that the Tory Election programme was "woolly," and other remarks of that kind. I must say that the gracious Speech is a very long one. There are many references in it to a large number of subjects, and when somebody like the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, feels bound to leave it entirely to see what the Administration are going to make of it (because there is nothing more concrete in the gracious Speech than that), then we can only say at this stage that we shall really have to "Wait and see." We hope it will meet with good results—we all hope that our country will always meet with good results.
The noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, at the outset of his speech, made a reference which I liked very much. That was the 171 reference to our great rejoicing over the end of this most unfortunate and damaging industrial dispute, which has led to such a serious interference with our general life and which has been such a threat to the general build-up of the economic position we require to reach. As I understand the position, the settlement involves reference to a great and learned Lord Justice, and I take it that under the terms of reference the parties to the dispute will abide by the decision which he is called upon to make. I think I speak for my Party when I say that we welcome this method of procedure for dealing with the matter. The only pity of it is that it could not have been arranged many days earlier. I am not blaming anybody for that. I am not blaming the Government in any way. However, it sets a pointer; and whereas there might be great difficulty in trying to follow the example of Australia by having a legislative basis for compulsory arbitration—which has not, by any means, always been successful—it is better to have a willingness to state a case on each side and to have it referred to this kind of real and factual consideration in order to try to get a settlement than some of the other methods which have been applied. Therefore, we welcome the statement of the noble Earl very much indeed.
The noble Earl referred to the agricultural subsidies as amounting to £250 million. I do not quarrel with the great spirit of support of the farmers which he evinced, and his hope that it will work out to the benefit of the farmers; but they do not by any means get the whole of the £250 million. On any examination of the actual process through the channels of production, distribution and the like, one finds that it is a very small part of the £250 million that goes into the pockets of the farmers. They very much resent its being said that they get all of it. They pointed out in their conference last January twelvemonth that they have been put in a position which is out of place with that of nearly all the other large industries in the country which are afforded statutory protection. There is no other means of providing farmers with the kind of incentive to production that is given to other industries which are on a secure basis as a result of statutory 172 protection. I hope that when the noble Earl looks at the matter again, he will agree with what I have said.
I was interested, as I am sure my colleagues who listened were, to hear that the noble Earl agreed with my noble and learned Leader on his three main points regarding trade and economics. He said that of course the Government were willing to use any method which was applicable to the situation; that they had used controls and, of course, would not hesitate to use again whatever controls were necessary. After the Election campaigns of 1951 and 1955, it appears that it is only just a question of which variety of controls the Tories are committed to—whether they are to be on the special lines that we had, within a general planned economy, or whether they are to be, as exercised in what is supposed to be the new free political world, penal and certainly very often unjust. I must say I thought that was very peculiar indeed.
Let us see what the implication of this sort of policy is upon our economic practices. We do not need to go to any Socialist handbook or trade union brochure to learn about the fears for the future. I thought the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Brand, upon the Second Reading of the Finance Bill on May 2, following that of the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, was most revealing of the real situation facing the Government. Much of it has arisen without their special contribution to the creation of difficulty, and it has been aggravated by the two main strikes which have occurred; but, of course, much of it also has been caused by their policy. The noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, just now said something about the need to deal with what I might call the nexus between cost of living, wages, prices and general capacity for competing in the world. As he was speaking, I thought there was a great pointer to that this morning in the announcement made by Sir Basil Sanderson, of the Shaw Savill Line, that his company are ordering four great ships for the New Zealand line traffic.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY)
One in Belfast.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
But three abroad—I had not quite finished. I was going to say that of the four ships they were ordering, three were to be ordered from Bremen at a cost of over £3 million, on the ground that there was going to be 15 per cent. difference in price and up to eight months speeding up in delivery. It is perfectly true that the general overall cost of living has increased by 8 per cent. in the last three and three-quarter years in this country; but the ratio of food prices has become one of the principal factors in the pressure for increase of wages, and wages have become a large factor in the question of increasing prices of production for export. The Government have a very heavy load to bear. The noble Viscount, Lord Woolton, promised the electorate in 1951 that they were not going to remove the subsidies.
§ VISCOUNT WOOLTON
It is a very old story, but if the noble Viscount will insist on bringing politics into this debate, he might finish the sentence.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I should be glad to do so if I had it by me, but certainly they were making great promises. The fact of the matter is that the largest increase in the cost of living in the last three and three-quarter years has been centred round food commodities, and that has been chiefly responsible for the increasing pressure from the industrial workers for rises in wages. That has had a great effect upon our general costs of production. It is far better to spread the cost of giving any help we can give to our export trade over the whole of the taxpayers, as was being done, than to adopt the methods suggested, and indeed put into practice, by the Government.
For example, what would be the effect of the kind of control that the noble Earl obviously indicated if the situation regarding the balance of payments, pictured by the noble Lord, Lord Brand, should arise in the next few months and you still further restricted credit by the ancient use of the bank rate method? Apparently, the Government have still not learnt how that reacts upon industry. 174 I hope they will give some little attention to it. They might take the lesson from how it is reacting upon themselves. On matters of that sort, I like to go to documentary evidence. I have here a copy of the Midland Bank Review. I cannot be accused again of quoting from special Party sources when I say that the Midland Bank Review for May, 1955, refers to the effects on Government borrowings of the rise in the bank rate. They are fundamental. Treasury Bills that were costing the country 10s. per cent. under a Labour Government in 1951 are costing, at the end of May, something like £3.85 per cent.—very nearly £4 per cent. It has its effect upon productivity and it has its effect upon the use of credit by the Public Works Loan Board. The whole of the activity that we want to see devolved upon local authorities is being handicapped, cribbed, cabined and confined. Bank rate may have to be increased in some cases of necessity, but to suggest that that is the kind of control which will be more effective in helping us to reach our general objective of a sound economic level in a planned economy for the whole country just does not make sense, in my experience of what has happened.
I hope that the wise and cautious words of the much more temperate speech that my noble and learned Leader always gives to the House than I do—not that I want to be rude or anything of that kind; it is just my way of putting a case—when he raised this question yesterday, will be given much attention. Now that the noble Earl has committed the Government to exercise whatever controls are required to meet the situation, I hope they will not be too nervous about getting the right sort of controls and making them of such a kind that will lead to a general improvement in the whole national economy.
There are one or two other points to which I should like to draw attention. I was sorry that the noble Marquess was not here when the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, was speaking, although I expect he has heard of the speech. I thought it an excellent speech. I did not agree with all of it, but it brought home to us, at a time when Mr. Manley is visiting us from Jamaica and no doubt is making contacts with Ministers, what is the position in Jamaica in particular, and the generally desirable objectives to 175 be reached to bring relief to the West Indies, and especially the development of the Federation. If the noble Marquess is unable to answer the noble Earl today, I sincerely hope that at some time when either he or the Under-Secretary for the Colonies is speaking we may have more detail from the Government about what is the actual plan for dealing with those matters.
I was exceedingly interested in the speech of my noble friend Lord Listowel, and especially in what he had to say about Cyprus. Although I certainly do not intend to go into the detail of his general submissions on Cyprus—it would take far too long—I do want to draw the attention of the noble Marquess to the note from the London Times correspondent in Athens, on May 29, which said thatGreek officials have announced that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's Mediterranean headquarters in Malta has acceded to the Greek Government's request that Greece be excluded from all Allied exercises until further notice.In the cutting it is explained that they want to do some work for themselves in connection with the earthquake, reclamations and so on. But at the end the correspondent went on to say:There is no doubt in the minds of foreign observers here that this is a specious pretence for the cancellation of the 'operational visit' of British warships to Greek ports in the course of the exercise after recent developments in the Anglo-Greek dispute over Cyprus.My noble friend spoke about the possibility of a dangerous rift in our generally developing North Atlantic Treaty Organisation for defence in the Mediterranean, and I hope that when the Government are considering the submissions made by my noble friend they will consider this aspect of it. If the noble Marquess has any knowledge of it, perhaps he will tell us exactly what he thinks about it.
The speech made by the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, which I had not expected, was nevertheless interesting. He said that the greater expenditure upon and organisation of defence might well bring financial confidence in the country. I suppose that may be true sometimes but, with my hand upon my heart, I can say that my experience in 1950-51 proved just the opposite. I listened to the Prime Minister when he 176 broadcast his first Election speech. I thought it was a nice speech and I really had no reason at all to criticise it until, at the end, he seemed to me to make the suggestion that the country must have confidence in those who are going to undertake the control of our foreign affairs and continue a policy of negotiating from strength. All I have to say about that is this. On the point made by the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, I would point out that in 1950 we had to increase our Defence Estimate for a triennial period from £3,500 million to £4,700 million. That did not bring confidence financially. In November-December, 1950, I saw the rush for raw materials in New Zealand and Australia, and then the consequent strain upon sterling. That, and especially the rush upon sterling in the following months of 1951, was the main cause of the growing financial restrictions. So I would not put down that point of the noble Viscount as being a wholly sound argument.
Then the noble Viscount came to talk about the general problems of high office. I have no general quarrel with his main approach to that question, and about the types of weapon which will have to be considered—whether they are going to be used, and what equipment will be necessary. I have no quarrel with his general approach. He is a most experienced staff officer. But I am concerned with what is the real danger to the country to-day. I do not want to say too much of a dampening nature, but the noble Marquess has long experience in the handling of foreign affairs, and I think that the Foreign Office like to hear views from outside on what is considered to be a question of critical decision. I would say that we stand to-day in a position of almost greater danger than any in which we have stood at any time since the war, because there seem to me to be movements going on which quite possibly would defeat the undoubted objective of the Government and of those who properly support their view within the federation of free nations—namely, to have a defence of the free Western world which is at the proper place, and with the correct view of how we in this country should stand behind that defence.
I am not giving any real secrets away when I speak of how from time to time one has to consider the way in which America has reacted to this matter. There 177 is no question at all but that we have heard a great deal about an ultimate defence line from the Pyrenees to Casablanca. That I should call retiring to a defence upon the extreme rearward periphery, whereas what we are all trying to seek is a real union of free nations in Europe who will be fighting on an internal defence line that is going to protect them. That is the great question we have to settle, and that is where the greatest danger lies to-day. The problem on the European side of foreign affairs to-day is fundamental. The Government have had very great difficulty. I had great sympathy with the present Prime Minister, when he was Foreign Secretary, in the difficulties he had to face, and great sympathy indeed for him in regard to the contingencies which were arising all the time. He saw E.D.C. defeated from 1952; M. Schumann sacked, and the M.R.P. becoming non-effective. Now he has achieved Western Union and he has got the new approach of Russia, which I should like to see coming to negotiation. But I should like the negotiation to come upon a reasonable basis.
Frankly, if we are to maintain the question of the internal defence that I have mentioned, we must certainly not permit of the neutrality of Germany in this matter. I am bound to say that I view with some concern the separate visit by Dr. Adenauer to Moscow. So far as one can tell from the communications sent by Moscow to Germany, the position is not merely one of talking things over: it is really to insist that Dr. Adenauer should discuss other matters separately, including the alliances. I know that the noble Marquess may well say to me that Dr. Adenauer is probably going to see the Foreign Secretary, and maybe the Prime Minister, when they go to the United States; but I think that Dr. Adenauer ought to know that there would he considerable concern in this country w ere there to be any attempt to win him away from the statements which, I am glad to see, he made during the course of consideration of the offer from Moscow, on Germany's inability to accept a neutral position. In my view, it is fundamental that the Western Union must be kept together upon the general basis on which it was formed, and with the same objectives in mind. That is why I am glad that the discussions at top level ("summit talks" 178 is the title they are now given) are to take place fairly early.
Why am I so concerned about it? Here perhaps I am on difficult ground, where one has more or less to rely upon personal recollection of history. In the course of more than forty years of political experience I have seen many great national and international dangers arise, and sometimes I have had to sit down years afterwards and try to discover how those had arisen. When I consider the attitude of the Romish Church, so different from any other religious organisation in the world, with its own position as a temporal power, with its ambassadorial representation in nearly every national Chancellery, and when I start to trace what has happened in the past, I begin to wonder what is going on at the present time. The mind goes back to the days after the First Great War and to the position taken up for a time by the social revolutionary, Mussolini. He made contact with a cardinal in Milan, and there was next something of an agreement between him and the Romish Church which ultimately ended with the Lateran Treaty of 1929—and then came Abyssinia and after that the Fascist Axis.
When one looks at history one does not see all the decent, fine, individual Roman Catholics in the world who are involved; one sees what has been the work of these secret societies within this Romish control which have so much to do with policy. I pick up a copy of the Universe, the Roman Catholic paper, and I see a report from Rome which says that it is necessary for them to deny in the Osservatore Romano—the official Vatican newspaper—that there is a secret society working within the Vatican. They then go on to comment upon the fact that it is wrong to suppose that the Curia, the general body of the Roman Catholic priesthood, has anything to do with these outside influences—trying, in fact, to give the impression that there is no great schism in this matter at the moment.
Then I see, in another edition of the Universe. that a Jesuit priest has returned from Russia—so-called "released"—with word that, in spite of all that has been said on both sides, Russia is returning to God. I am just wondering whether there is some move going on for the kind of Axis that these people set 179 up; first Mussolini, then the Lateran Treaty and Abyssinia; they then got Von Papen to lead the Roman Catholic Party in Germany over to the side of Hitler, with Von Papen himself ending up, during the war, as the German Ambassador to Turkey. I do ask the representative of the Foreign Office to take particular note of the present situation and to regard it very carefully, because I believe that perhaps the greatest need of all at the present time is that we should come to something like the kind of change which came to Europe with Martin Luther. We read in our history of a new learning. We, at the present time, need a real new learning to deal with the situation confronting us, and a return throughout the world to standards which would be in accordance with the vows on the Protestant faith that we in this House take, and that Her Gracious Majesty took when she ascended the Throne. As I have often said before, man will be free, and will fight till he is free; and no peace that may be arranged which does not give freedom between nations will ever bring real peace. We believe that to be free you must be free in every respect.
As your Lordships can well imagine—and I am sure the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, will agree with me—I am not suggesting, on these subjects which I have put before your Lordships, that I have anything to do except to ask Her Majesty's Government to see that this matter is very carefully examined. I say that in the light of history, and of facts which. had I had time, I was going to quote from Vatican newspapers, as reproduced in the Universe. I very much hope that Her Majesty's Government will very carefully watch this new line-up, as it may well prove to be, between Moscow and Rome. If anything else were needed to confirm a Conservative Administration upon that point, it might perhaps be found by examination of the Encyclical Letter for the beginning of May of this year, 1955, which will be found to state (I am speaking from memory) that capitalism is not conformable to Nature and, indeed, not in accordance with God's law. It seems to me that the major Moscow moves have been made after the issue of that Encyclical Letter.
180 I hope that I have not sprung a tremendous surprise upon the House about this matter, but it does not hurt us at any time to try to examine our own immediate, intricate and puzzling problems, in the light of what we have been able to perceive from events. I would end by saying to Her Majesty's Government, whatever else I may say, however much I may criticise, that I am most anxious that they shall secure the greatest possible success in getting this general settlement between the nations on the basis of a free people and not one which is either under the dictation of an overwhelming Power or under a kind of dictation from a power which claims to be both temporal and spiritual.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, it falls to me this afternoon to say the last word on behalf of Her Majesty's Government at the end of our two days' debate on the humble Address. This debate, as noble Lords will know, traditionally being concerned with all the topics included in the gracious Speech, covers the whole political scene. Nothing is excluded from it. In my experience, at least, it always, therefore, ranges very wide, and this has certainly been no exception to that rule. The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, who has just spoken, said that it had been a quiet debate. Well, it has been unusually quiet, although debates in your Lordships' House are never extremely noisy. But, if not controversial it has, at any rate, certainly been extremely comprehensive. I am, in fact, rather embarrassed by the plethora of questions which I have been asked to deal with and to answer—foreign affairs, Imperial affairs, defence, atomic energy, home economic policy, and reform of the House of Lords. Those are just a few; and, to me, it sounds much more like a good list of subjects for debates to occupy a whole Session, than headings for a single speech in your Lordships' House.
With many of the subjects that have been raised, I do not propose to deal. They have already been discussed by the noble Viscount, Lord Woolton, in the very remarkable speech which he delivered to your Lordships last night, and also by my noble friend Lord Selkirk this afternoon. And that, of course, applies particularly to home affairs. I do not want 181 —time, in any case, would hardly permit—to trench on the same ground again, especially as both noble Lords spoke with very much more authority on those subjects than I could hope to do. I, therefore, shall say very little on such subjects as finance and economics, full employment, inflation and matters of that kind, which have found a place in many of the speeches to which we have listened. I hope that the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, will forgive me if I do not follow him into that field, for, if I did my speech, I warn him, would be absolutely endless.
There is, however, one sphere—and perhaps it is the most important of all—which Lord Woolton left to me. That is, of course, foreign affairs. On these, something, clearly, should be said, especially in view of the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, to which we have just listened, and of the important speech which was delivered to us earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. Lord Henderson, if I may say so in his presence, is always listened to with very great attention in this House. He always speaks with moderation and, if I may say so, with a total lack of partisan bias upon the problems which face our country in the international field. To-day he spoke, just as we should have expected. As I understood him, he reaffirmed his Party's support, first, of the United Nations; secondly, of the Atlantic Alliance, and, thirdly, of disarmament, as the ultimate aim of our policy. I can assure him that Her Majesty's Government warmly welcome the assurances which he gave on behalf of his Party in this House. It immensely strengthens the influence in the world of any British Government that it should be known that all Parties alike support these three main buttresses of British policy.
The noble Lord referred, very rightly, with satisfaction to the progress of preparations which are being made for Four Power talks at the highest level, which are to take place, as we all know, at an early date. It will, I imagine, come as no surprise to him if I ay that I cannot go into any great detail at the present juncture on this subject. He knows, I suppose, as well as anyone in the House, the dangers that might easily flow from Governments being forced, or even wheedled, by their Parliaments into taking up public positions, before they enter into delicate 182 conversations with each other. As Professor E. H. Carr has wisely said, in his study of foreign policy from the time of the Versailles Treaty to the outbreak of the Second World War—a work published some years ago, that I have read with very great interest:Democracy must remain in ultimate control of foreign policy. But some means must be devised by which British interests in vital and delicate negotiations shall not be imperilled by a fire of public exhortation and comment directed at the negotiators.As we who have also worked there all know, Professor Carr worked for many years in the Foreign Office. There are others who would, I am sure, re-echo his words.
However, I can, I think, go so far as to say this as to the present position in Europe, the position with which the negotiators will have to deal. It seems to me, as I think it seemed to the other noble Lords who have spoken on these questions, that there are encouraging signs—what one might call hints of the possibility of better things on both sides of the Iron Curtain which has so long divided Europe. On the Western side, after all the hesitations and delays which have for so long frustrated every effort of Western statesmen—the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, also referred to this subject just now—a new chapter really does seem to have opened. The occupation of Western Germany, which was an inevitable legacy of the last war, has come to an end, and the Western European Union, with Germany and Italy full members, has come into being. Old enmities, we may hope, have been ended and new friendships, we may hope, are being forged. That, of course, would in itself be very welcome to all of us. It is the more welcome at the present juncture because it provides a common base for the Western Powers to come together to make a further advance towards a general relaxation of world tension.
At the same time (I think Lord Henderson mentioned this) there are, equally some signs, as I see it, of a more accommodating spirit on the further side of the Iron Curtain. There is, for instance, the decision of the Soviet Government to bring to an end the division of Austria, to withdraw their troops from that country and to restore her independence. There was a time, not so very long ago, during discussions upon these matters in 183 this House, when the conclusion of an Austrian State Treaty seemed to most of us an unattainable aim. It looked as if the occupation of Austria was something which might well be with us throughout our lives, and possibly long after. And now the Treaty is an accomplished fact. It is no longer something far off in the future; it is something that has been done. And that gesture towards Austria, as we all know, has since been followed by a further gesture towards Yugoslavia. Of course, none of us knows what lies behind this new trend, or this apparently new trend, of Russian policy. Does it represent a change of heart? Or is it merely the realisation by Russia of a growing equality of strength in the West and a desire to reinsure against it? Or is it, finally, the first result of the development of the hydrogen bomb, with all that that must mean even for the greatest and most extended countries? Time alone will show exactly what is in the minds of the Russian Government. But, if I may use such a metaphor, there do appear to be some signs of the breaking up of the ice jam after the winter. One can only hope that it will prove to be a precursor of the spring. At any rate, I think we all agree that the moment seems propitious for a Four Power meeting at the highest level.
This is the present position. As your Lordships know, we have proposed to the Soviet Government that the heads of Government should meet in Geneva on the 18th July. The Soviet Government have now accepted that proposal. This afternoon, the Foreign Secretary leaves for New York, where he hopes to continue with Mr. Foster Dulles and M. Pinay the talks which he had a few weeks ago in Paris. He will be present in San Francisco at the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the foundation of the United Nations, and, since Mr. Molotov will also be there, the Foreign Secretary hopes to resume the informal discussions which he began with him in Vienna, both on general topics and with regard to the arrangements for the Four Power meeting. Beyond that I cannot go at the present stage. It would be idle, as Lord Henderson said, for us, at the present moment, to speculate as to what exact course those talks are likely to take. I can only repeat what is the gist of the words of the gracious Speech: that Her Majesty's Government do genuinely 184 and hopefully look forward to fruitful negotiations. Let me add, that I am, quite sure that there will be no desire unduly to restrict the scope of the exchanges of views which will take place.
Now I should like, if I may, to turn for a moment to the Middle East. I was asked by the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, whether I could say anything about Palestine and about the recent unhappy incidents which have occurred between the Jews and the Egyptians. The noble and learned Earl rightly stressed the importance of that area to the peace of the whole Middle East. I honestly wish I could give a more reassuring account, but I am afraid it is idle to deny that the situation at Gaza provides serious ground for disquiet. Unhappily, incidents seem to continue on both sides of the frontier. There are reports of Israeli vehicles blown up by mines on their own side of the line and then of retaliation by Israeli forces against Egyptian military forces on the other side of the line. As your Lordships probably know, General Burns and the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation are at present doing their best to calm the situation, and we and the United States and French Governments are giving the fullest support to their efforts. I understand that a number of practical proposals have been put forward to ease the situation, and at present General Burns is engaged in trying to bring the parties together so that they may discuss them at rather higher levels than is allowed for by the machinery of the Mixed Armistice Commission.
In the meantime, we—that is to say, Her Majesty's Government—have made clear to both parties that we feel that they should co-operate with General Burns in the efforts to relieve tension. One can only hope that these efforts will be successful and that talks will soon begin again. In our view, and, I am certain, in the view of every noble Lord, this will be to the interest of the parties themselves and of general peace throughout the Middle East.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, ever since the new arrangements with Egypt we have been anxious as to the exact situation in which we stand with Israel, as the noble Marquess knows, and particularly with 185 regard to the passage of goods through the Suez Canal. We have still a very important interest in the Canal. What are we doing to try to avoid the continuance of that position? We have a grave responsibility there. I am sure it is receiving the attention of the Foreign Office, but I should like to be assured about that, because it is half the difficulty.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I should have liked notice of that question, because it is rather technical, but I understand from my noble friend, the Marquess of Reading, that there has been no recent change in the position.
The noble and learned Earl also asked whether I have any information which I could give him about the situation of the Arab refugees, of whose plight noble Lords are all aware. Here, again, I regret to say that the situation still remains far from satisfactory. At the same time, I think I ought to add that I find, from inquiries I have made (because the noble and learned Earl was good enough to give me notice that he intended to ask this question), that the reports which were published in the Press early this year and which the noble and learned Earl may have seen, that there was widespread ill-health among the refugees, appear happily to have been exaggerated. The noble and learned Earl will he glad to learn that new hospitals have already been opened for the relief of those suffering from tuberculosis, which was one of the evils afflicting the refugees, and the Government hope that further progress will be made with this problem when the United Nations' Relief-and-Works Agency receive the result of recent investigations which have been carried out by the World Health Organisation. In the meantime, I can assure the noble and learned Earl that the Government are watching every opportunity that presents itself of alleviating the lot of these unhappy people. As he knows, there is not an immense amount that can immediately be done, but we are fully aware of their suffering and we want to do what we can to assist them.
There are one or two other questions in the international field with which perhaps it would be convenient if I dealt now. The noble Lord, Lord Layton, was a little worried at there being mention in the gracious Speech of the Western Union, but no mention of the Council 186 of Europe. He was worried whether it implied any shift of emphasis in Government policy. The short answer which would be given in another place is, "No, sir." There certainly has been no such shift. The position is exactly as it was. I think the practical proof of this is that the new Foreign Secretary, I understand from inquiries I have made, who is well-known as one of the oldest protagonists of the Council of Europe, has already decided that he will himself attend the meetings at Strasbourg this autumn.
Perhaps I ought now to say a word about the Far East, to which the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, referred. Here I have nothing very definite to report, but at any rate we can (if I may use a French word for which I think there is no exact English equivalent) constater, that here, as in other parts of the world, there has been some relaxation both of hostile acts and hostile propaganda in connection with the Formosa problem. I am sure that all of us will welcome that as warmly as the Government do themselves. I hope most sincerely, with the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, that that relaxation will be maintained and extended. In order to assist that aim, quite recently Her Majesty's chargé d'affaires in Pekin has been in touch with Mr. Chou En-lai to try to obtain some clarification of the statement which was made by the Chinese delegate at the Bandoeng Conference about the willingness of the Chinese Government to open negotiations with the United States Government; and I expect that some of your Lordships know that Mr. Krishna Menon, who has been-very active in these affairs, has also been in Pekin discussing that particular point. So far as I know, nothing very definite has yet emerged from these approaches, but it is our hope that the discussions which have already been held will enable us to continue exchanges for the purpose of further relieving tension and bringing nearer the solution of the present difficulties in the Far East.
Indeed, there are some signs already which I trust noble Lords will regard as not unhopeful. One is the release of the four airmen imprisoned in China, to which the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has already referred; yet another is the statement by Mr. Chou En-lai on May 13, thatthe Chinese people were willing to strive for the liberation of Formosa by peaceful means, so far as it was possible.187 That may not go very far, but still I think it is a step in the right direction. I do not want to raise false hopes in these matters. Of course, the situation remains delicate. But I think that we can, at any rate, as I have said, register a small but definite improvement; and that is a great deal more than could have been said the last time I addressed your Lordships on this subject. I think the right course now for all concerned is to feel our way steadily forward, not indeed attempting to go too fast, because that may only frighten either one party or another, but never relaxing our efforts—to keep, as it were, a steady pressure for peace. So alone, I believe, by combined patience and resolution, will the position in the Far East be finally stabilised.
Before I pass from the subject of foreign affairs, I would add a word about a kindred subject. Together with foreign affairs always goes defence. The two are inseparable, for without defence forces—and by defence forces I mean adequate defence forces—one cannot really have an effective foreign policy at all. That is the hard truth; one that we all have to recognise. It is for that reason that I welcome so warmly the speech made by my noble friend Lord Bridgeman. He spoke with wisdom and with the authority which he has on the subject to which he addresses himself. That speech was full of "meat," and I should like to study it before I make any further comment on it. I believe that such a study would be of great use to the whole House. It may form the foundation for a debate on defence when the time is ripe for that.
In the meantime, I would say that, whatever fears may be expressed in some quarters—I am referring to some words which the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, used in the latter part of his speech—I frankly do not share them. I have full confidence in Herr Adenauer; I believe him to be a great man and a strong man, and I think, as a result, that the situation is certainly better than it was a short time ago. Still less, if I may say so, do I share the other views which the noble Viscount expressed at the end of his speech; they seemed to me to be absolutely fantastic. Everybody is entitled to his own views, and the noble Viscount may not share mine; but in view of the 188 record of those parties that he mentioned, I can hardly believe in the sort of danger which he appeared to anticipate.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
If the noble Marquess is passing from foreign affairs, I would say that I note what he says, but in view of his having had no notice of this matter I think I shall have to raise it again and perhaps bring even more impressive proof.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
In that case, no doubt we shall do our best to give the noble Viscount an answer—and when I say that, I do not mean an answer in the sense that we shall repulse what he says; we should like to hear what he has to say. I personally cannot believe in the sort of fears he mentioned and the sort of sinister forces that he believed to exist. However, that is a matter of personal opinion.
I should now like to turn to another sphere which I think is quite as important to us in this country, in its own way, as are foreign affairs. I refer to the Commonwealth and Empire. Of the general relations between the members of the Commonwealth there is little that I need say. They remain as close and as cordial as they have always been. I think, under all British Governments. No doubt on this or that issue we have our small differences, but, broadly speaking, our relations remain a model for other nations to follow and, I believe, always will do so.
In the colonial sphere, to which a good deal of attention was devoted by various noble Lords, a number of questions were raised by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, about which I feel I should say something. First, he spoke of Cyprus. This, as I am sure your Lordships will all realise, is an extremely delicate subject; it is about the most delicate subject there is at the moment. The noble Earl was good enough to tell me that he intended to raise this matter, and I have been in touch with my right honourable friend, the Colonial Secretary, who tells me that there is nothing he can usefully add at present to his statement of May 5. However, I think I may usefully remind your Lordships, if you have not lately studied that speech, that there was in it a broad definition of our policy which I should like to quote—and as it is a Ministerial statement on behalf of the Government, 189 I do not think it will be outside the Rules of Order if I quote the words used by my right honourable friend in another place. He said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 540 (No. 83), col. 1993]:Her Majesty's Government have in Cyprus a number of duties which it is our intention to fulfil; to carry out a strategic responsibility on which, in our belief, our survival, Greece's survival, the survival of Turkey and the N.A.T.O. nations and, indeed, the free world depend; to maintain law and order and promote economic advance; we have the will and the means to do all those things, and we also want orderly constitutional development. For that, of course, we need co-operation and if we are given that co-operation we will pursue that end, I assure the House, with precisely the same vigour as our other aims.I hope noble Lords will forgive me if do not go further than that to-day. I know that the Secretary of State will consider carefully everything that has been said by the noble Earl this afternoon on behalf of his Party—and I recognise that he was speaking not only for himself but for his Party as well. I am sure he will believe me when I say quite earnestly to him that I do not think it would be helpful to the situation at the present moment if I were to go further than I have.
Then the noble Earl raised some points regarding Singapore, and wanted to know what was the position in Singapore arising from the present troubles. I have here a statement, and I think it conforms with the statement being made in another place by my right honourable friend, and I am sure that the noble Earl and the House would like to have it here. I do not think I can do better than inform the House along the lines of the statement which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies is making today in another place. This is what he says:There has been an organised attack on the authority of the newly-elected Labour Front Government by extreme left-wing politicians, including members of the People's Action Party. These, with the help of well-organised pupils from the Chinese Middle Schools, have worked to prevent any compromise in industrial disputes and to excite strikers to acts of violence. Their aim has clearly been to discredit moderation and to subvert constitutional processes. These reckless tactics resulted on the night of the 12th May in an outbreak of rioting in which four men were killed. I should like to express on behalf of Her Majesty's Government and, I am sure, of the whole House, our deep sympathy with the families of all those who lost their lives. Only the magnificent forbearance and firmness of the 190 police prevented further and more extensive damage and casualties. The strike which was the ostensible cause of the agitation leading up to the earlier troubles has been settled. It is, however, clear that those responsible for the riots are undeterred by the bloodshed which has been caused and are prepared to continue using the same tactics. Sudden strikes have been called by unions dominated by the People's Action Party and on Monday last there was an attempt to call a general strike.The Singapore Government have warned the persons responsible for these troubles that they will not tolerate these attempts to use violence to thwart the mandate so recently given to them. Responsible leaders of the Trade Union Congress have warned their members not to allow themselves to be used as tools to further the political ambitions of persons who have no real regard for their interests. On Saturday last the Government authorised the arrest of a number of key agitators who were playing a large part in the general strike threatened for Monday. About 15,000 men were on strike on Monday, but in a statement in the morning papers of that day, the T.U.C. called upon 'all trade unions to maintain restraint on their activities and not to take hasty action which might worsen the present Industrial unrest.'I have no doubt that the great body of ordinary, decent people in Singapore are anxious to help their Government in carrying out the paramount duty which it owes to all citizens of the Colony, the maintenance of law and order. In this they may be assured of the full support of Her Majesty's Government. Upon the maintenance of law and order depend alike the economic stability of this great centre of trade and the success of the bold constitutional advance which it has just made.That is the position which exists at the present moment, and I have no doubt that if there are further developments and the noble Earl puts down a Question we shall be happy to answer it.
From Singapore the noble Earl turned to the Caribbean, and he asked me a number of questions in relation to that area. First, he asked what progress was being made towards the establishment of a British Caribbean Federation. The present position is as follows. The three Commissions set up to consider the fiscal, civil service and judicial aspects of federation have started work. The issues they have to consider are complex and far-reaching. The Commissions will work as quickly as they can, but they cannot all be expected to present their Reports before the autumn of this year. After the Reports have been considered by the West Indian Governments and by Her Majesty's Government a revised federal plan will be drawn up for consideration at a conference of representatives of West Indian Colonies who will, it is hoped, 191 have power to act on behalf of their Governments. It is unlikely that a conference can be held before the turn of the year. When the final plan has been agreed, the drafting of the necessary constitutional instruments will have to be completed and a Bill introduced into Parliament. With all these stages to be completed, it is doubtful whether we shall see a Caribbean Federal Government in being before 1957. Her Majesty's Government will, however, carry out all the stages within their control with the utmost expedition. We want, as I know the noble Earl does, to get this Federation as soon as we can, but I have had experience of the formation of Federations, and it is a very slow job.
The noble Earl asked a second question arising really out of the first: can British Guiana and British Honduras, that is to say, the two Colonies on the mainland, be represented at the final conference? The answer to that question is that Her Majesty's Government certainly wish to see these two mainland territories represented at the final conference. The Commissions have been asked to take account of the possibility of the territories joining the Federation and of arrangements being made—I think this is the special point he made—for them to come in later if they should wish to do so. Then he asked further whether consideration will be given to the possibility of early elections in British Guiana, so that it will be possible to obtain a valid expression of public opinion in the Colony on federation. As the noble Earl knows, the British Guiana Legislative Council, which is not an elected body, included in their resolution in favour of the Colony joining the Federation a request to the Governor to take steps to ascertain the state of public opinion towards federation. The present position is that my right honourable friend is waiting for a recommendation from British Guiana on that request. Clearly, however—and I am sure the noble Earl will appreciate this—a return to representative government can be considered only in the light of the general political situation: and this, I can assure him, will continue to be very carefully watched.
Finally, the noble Earl asked whether, when federation is in being. Her 192 Majesty's Government will take the initiative in asking Commonwealth Governments to invite the Federal Government to send representatives to the Imperial Conferences and to the Prime Ministers' Conferences on the analogy of the Central African Federation. I think this was a hypothetical question. I have no doubt it will be considered at the proper time, but I am not in a position to give an answer now. That, I hope the noble Earl will agree, answers the questions he asked me on this important question of federation. Then I think he added something about sugar. There is not much I can say about that subject. I think the point he is worried about is whether the price will be maintained.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
Whether the guarantees under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement can be continued if we go back to private trading in sugar.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
In any case, whatever is done now, it will not be possible to complete anything new until 1962—that is, in about five or six years—and a great deal can happen before that. But I will bear in mind what the noble Earl has said. Lastly, he asked something about the East African Reform Commission—the Royal Commission sitting on East Africa.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Then I will not answer it. In the latter part of his speech the noble Earl also made a very wide excursion, and a very interesting one, relating to the nomenclature of the Colonies. That is, I have no doubt, a very important question, and it is not the first time I have heard it discussed. But I am sure the noble Earl will agree that in the course of a long speech at the end of a debate there is not the opportunity of dealing with it fully. It is a matter which I think we could discuss further at some time more appropriate.
193 There was one further question raised, not by Lord Listowel but by the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, relating to assistance to these Colonies, which he thought was inadequate. I should like to refer him to a speech which was made by my noble friend Lord Munster in a debate on the Second Reading of the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund Bill on February 24 of this year. From that I think certain facts emerge. The first is that the total provision which was being made to all Colonial Territories was £80 million. That is, I think I am right in saying, over a period of ten years. The second fact which emerged was that, out of that £80 million, £13½ million or £14 million will go to the Caribbean area. That does not include the assistance which is to be given to the University College of the West Indies. The territories there will also share in the central allocations for the overseas territories as a whole. In addition, Her Majesty's Government have given specific undertakings to certain of the West Indian Governments in connection with certain schemes of assistance which may be necessary to safeguard their banana and citrus industries.
I am not going to say to the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, that that is enough. I do not think you can ever give enough to people who want more; and I know that there is in the West Indian Colonies a genuine and proper need for as much as can be given them. But I do suggest that, out of £80 million for the whole Colonial Empire, £13½ million is not a bad allocation. I do not think there is any possibility of increasing it at the present time; but this matter of colonial development and welfare is always being kept under review, though I should not like to give the noble Earl any hope that any more can be done at the moment.
THE EARL OF MANSFIELD
May I say to my noble friend that the question is not so much what percentage of the total allocation it is. However welcome it is, it is totally inadequate.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
That might easily be said of other territories within the British Empire. There is only a certain amount we can give for this purpose, and I think that this country as a whole is doing its best to be as generous as it can.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I was most interested in the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield. There was a special case for Jamaica, which badly needs assistance. That might also bring relief from this sudden wave of labour emigration from Jamaica to this country. Unless they have the industrial capital they cannot do much more themselves. I think there is a rather special case for Jamaica, and I was hoping the noble Marquess would be able to say something better in his reply.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I quite appreciate that point. One of the difficulties with regard to Jamaica, if I remember aright, is that it is not simply a financial question, but also a question of over-population, which would not necessarily be solved by the means which have been suggested. Indeed, this is a very difficult matter.
I do not want anybody to think that the Government have not these things seriously in mind. No Government with any sense of responsibility can neglect such things. But the specific question I was asked was what was being given and what more could be given. At the moment I think they are getting their fair share of the total global sum which is available under the Colonial Development and Welfare scheme. I do not say that the Colonies do not present any problems—of course, any agglomeration of growing and developing communities presents problems; one cannot avoid that—but I think it is fair to say that, broadly speaking, these colonial territories, as they are called, which now compose the Colonial Empire, are continuing to advance, and, in particular, are continuing steadily to climb the ladder of self-government. That, I think, is the policy agreed among all Parties in this country. It is in fact the essence of the family relationship for which we stand, and will, I hope, continue, whatever Government may be in power.
I am afraid I have addressed your Lordships for a long time, but before I sit down there are one or two things I must say on aspects of home affairs which were not dealt with by my noble friend Lord Woolton. First, I ought to say something about the remarks which were made by the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, in the latter part of his speech yesterday afternoon, as to the 195 attitude which is to be adopted by his Party in the Parliament which is just beginning—a matter of great domestic interest to us all. Noble Lords opposite have had, within recent weeks, an experience which I am afraid comes sometimes to all of us who are engaged in politics: their Party has been beaten at the polls. It happened to us on this side of the House—I remember only too well 1945—and we had to make up our minds at that time what attitude we should adopt. It was for us, I think, in some ways, an even more difficult decision than that which has had to be faced by the noble and learned Earl and his colleagues, because we had a very large majority in your Lordships' House and we could have defeated the Government at any time we wished. But we decided, as your Lordships remember, that it was not for us to dispute the will of the people, as expressed at the General Election. Therefore, so far as measures were concerned which in our view had been definitely before the electorate at the Election, we confined our action to trying to improve those measures and to make them more workable, even though often we did not like them very much. I believe that, constitutionally, that was the right decision for us to have taken. Therefore, I am very happy to know from what the noble and learned Earl said yesterday that he and his Party have come to very much the same conclusion.
Of course they must, and I have no doubt will, reserve to themselves complete freedom of action, in individual cases, to judge of their attitude as each comes before them. But, as I understood the noble and learned Earl—and I do not think I misunderstood him—there will not be from the Benches opposite any factious opposition. I was glad to hear that declaration. I can assure noble Lords who sit on that side of the House that we shall welcome the co-operation of the Opposition and the Liberal Party in improving legislation. I feel certain, if I may say so, that, so far as the Liberal Party are concerned, that co-operation will be forthcoming under their new Leader, the noble Lord, Lord Rea, whom we are so glad to see in his place, just as it was in former days under the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel. If I may, I 196 would add this: of course, we all hope that, although the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, is no longer to be leader of the Liberal Party in your Lordships' House, he is not going to desert the House. We look forward to his continuing his wise counsel to us on any subject on which he feels inclined to address us.
That brings me to another question, also a domestic one; that is, the reform of the composition of your Lordships' House, about which we had some remarks last night from the noble Lord, Lord Silkin. I had some doubts, I must say, as I listened to him, whether he was in favour of the reform of the House of Lords or against it. On the whole, I felt that he was in favour. Anyway, he did stress the importance of an effective Opposition, as did the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt. I think it is quite clear that the only chance of getting a really effective Opposition is by some scheme of reform which will enable noble Lords opposite further to recruit their members. That is only my own view, and I hope that it is not an impertinence on my part to say it. With all that was said by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and also by the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, on the same score, or at least with the great part of it, I find myself in very general agreement. I can assure them that I will bear in mind very much the points they made, whether they be financial or other points, and I will see what I can do to improve the position.
Unfortunately, I was not in the House this afternoon when the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, spoke, but I am told that he does not see the need or the desirability for the reform of the composition of your Lordships' House. Of course, we have discussed this matter lately, but, as I do not think he was present on that occasion, I should like to say to him what I think I said last time to the noble Lord, Lord Elton: that, if it were practicable for him—and I know he has other important commitments—to be more often in the House, I am quite certain that he would realise how tremendous are the difficultties in carrying on at all its activities with which we, who have to keep your Lordships' House running, are faced at the present time.
THE EARL OF MANSFIELD
I must intervene, for I feel that my remarks have not been interpreted correctly by the noble 197 Marquess. What I said was that I was very much opposed to any wholesale alleged reform of your Lordships' House, although I was perfectly prepared to consider favourably the creation of Life Peers, or other matters that have been raised in detail. I merely said that any reform which would in any way greatly curtail the hereditary element, or anything of that kind, would be one that I should be bound to oppose vigorously.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The last thing I wish to do is to misrepresent the noble Earl. I do not want to begin now a full-dress debate on the reform of the House of Lords, but my convinced view is—and I have been driven to it by my experiences over the past few years—that the House cannot go on for very much longer exactly as it is at present. The only question is how it is to be reformed. When we come to that point, no doubt the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, and I, and many others, will have to try to work out a scheme which is generally satisfactory.
There is another point which came from the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, who made, I thought, a most interesting speech. He complained of an apparent discrepancy between the paragraph in the gracious Speech which deals with the free flow of goods and the paragraph which deals with anti-dumping duties. With all deference to the noble Lord, I personally do not see any discrepancy between those two. One can desire the free flow of trade and yet find it possible to defend, or take steps to defend, British industry against the dumping of goods, perhaps sold here below the cost of production, a thing which might well happen and to which British industry might be subjected. I personally had, in my innocence, imagined that even those of us who desired the maximum liberation of trade would in present circumstances accept that.
If the noble Lord boggles even at that, if he holds that in no circumstances is there to be any protection of any kind for British industry against competition, 198 however cut-throat that competition might be—if that is the attitude of his Party (I cannot believe it is the attitude of the general run of his Party)—then I am afraid that it is not the Government, as he suggests, who are out of date: I think he is living years behind the times, if he will forgive my saying so. I should have thought that he provides in his own person, in his visible form, the complete explanation why all the more realistic Liberals, or a great many of them, are at present abandoning the Benches on which he sits, not particularly in this House but throughout the country, and taking refuge in other Parties.
§ LORD GRANTCHESTER
I did say that there were other methods of dealing with the problems to which the noble Marquess refers. I hope that, rather than instigate a new commercial war by bringing in new tariffs, those more modern methods will be used to deal with the problems to which the noble Marquess has referred.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I can assure the noble Lord that neither this Government nor, I am sure, any other, welcomes higher duties for their own sake. We have had very deep divisions in this century in this country between those who thought that protective duties were right and those who thought that protective duties were wrong. I think the general view now is that protective duties are wrong, except in special circumstances which justify them. I do not imagine there is really a great deal between the noble Lord and me; but I thought it was a point which I ought perhaps to make.
I come now to the last part of my speech which deals with the situation with which we have lately been faced in the industrial field. I feel bound to say a word about this, though can assure your Lordships that I shall try to avoid speaking in any controversial spirit, for indeed I do not feel in any controversial spirit about it. The present ferment in industry has not occupied any great part of this debate, and that is, no doubt, because noble Lords in all parts of the House were most anxious not to exacerbate the present position. Nevertheless, I am sure it is in all our minds; and I am equally certain that, for that reason, noble Lords in all parts of the House welcome extremely warmly the 199 news that the railway strike is over. It has been a victory for common sense, at a time when common sense was extremely badly needed. But I should have thought that there could not be anyone, in any Party, to whom this crop of disputes which we have recently witnessed has not come with a sense of severe shock. It is not my purpose to-night to go into their rights and wrongs—no doubt there will be an opportunity for that in due course—but none of us can be blind to the evil effect which disputes of this kind have, not only on our material prosperity but on our reputation in the world, just at the moment when the high repute of Britain was perhaps more needed than ever before in our history.
My Lords, we in this country have lately, as a result of our own efforts—I am not saying the efforts of this particular Government or of any other particular Government—attained a standard of living for our working people which I believe has never been equalled before in our history. But that does not mean that any of us—that means any section of the community—can afford to take risks that might imperil the maintenance of that standard of living. Otherwise, we shall undoubtedly, as Lord Woolton said last night, as earlier had Lord Runciman of Doxford, who speaks with very great authority on this matter, merely fritter away all that we have gained, not only after the war but through all the arduous years of the war; and nobody will benefit but those who desire our destruction. It seems to me that a higher responsibility is thrown upon this country than perhaps ever before.
We must recognise—and I do not mean only your Lordships, but everyone—how fragile our hard-won prosperity is, how delicate, as Lord Runciman of Doxford said, is the machinery upon which it depends, and how easily, without meaning it at all, that machinery might be utterly shattered. We cannot, any of us, afford to take liberties with that machinery. And yet in this country there is always that danger, especially when things are good. It is just when things are good that is the dangerous time.
Practically a hundred years ago—I think it was in 1853—Mr. Disraeli, in a speech in the House of Commons, spoke some words that I should like to quote 200 to your Lordships, because I think they have a certain relevance to our present position. He said:The English nation is never so great as in adversity. In prosperity it may be accused, and perhaps justly, of being somewhat ostentatious, and, it may be, even insolent: in middle fortunes it may often prove itself unreasonable: but there never has been a time when a great sense of responsibility has been thrown upon the people of this country, when they have not answered the occasion and shown that matchless energy which has made and will maintain their position as the leading nation of the world.I hope that all of us—all sections of our community—will ponder those words now. We do not want adversity, and it is for us to see that we do not get it. I agree most profoundly with what Lord Woolton said yesterday: there is no reason why we should get adversity. There is much to encourage us, if only we all work together.
There was a speech this afternoon by the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, who spoke about nuclear power. The noble Lord mentioned the installations which are being installed in the North of England. I am sure he would agree that no one who has seen those installations, as I have, would come back without being imbued with a new vision of the immense potentialities of atomic energy for the future. He asked me certain specific questions to which I think he has a perfect right to an answer, as to the production of these new atomic piles. He asked what was the purpose of the new piles, for the construction of which plans were now being made. Are they purely for the production of power? The answer is that they are not entirely for the production of power but they are expected to be of great value for that purpose.
The noble Lord also asked why plans are not being made to complete them soon. My Lords, the reason is not primarily a mere question of money; there are rather more fundamental reasons. The first is that atomic piles are still in an experimental stage: each pile is an experiment, and from each pile we learn something which can be used in the next pile which is built. Therefore, it would not be wise to build them all at the same time. The great thing is to build one, to get your experience and to use the benefit of that experience in building the second one. Moreover, at present there is another very simple reason why we 201 cannot go too fast: the workmen for this particular sort of work are not available. It is a completely new sphere, and we are gradually having to train up people who can do what is necessary. So, for all those reasons, we shall, I think, have to proceed at a fairly sedate pace. But I entirely agree with the noble Lord that the introduction of atomic energy, as I have seen it, may well lead to a real revolution in British industry.
I believe that the potentialities are quite incalculable, but, if I may repeat this just once more, even these things, even these new forces, even the electric power which is provided by these new forces, will not bring prosperity, unless the industries, which those stations are to feed, work smoothly and harmoniously in their operation—unless they act, if I may use a very hackneyed metaphor, as members of one body. In my belief, at any rate, we really must give up thinking of employers "and" "employed" as inevitable enemies, in an unending struggle, in which the object of each is to get the better of the other. We really must come to regard them as allies and partners, each contributing something to a common enterprise and each earning the reward to which their contribution entitled them.
My Lords, I am afraid that you will say that this is a very old hobby-horse of mine—and it is. I inherited it originally, I think, from my noble relative, Lord Cecil, who, as your Lordships know, has long been interested in the question of co-partnership and profit-sharing in industry. Indeed, I fancy, almost the first speech I ever made in another place—the House of Commons—when I arrived there in 1931, was in support of a Bill which was to give the advantages of protection only to those industries which introduced profit-sharing schemes. Looking back, I do not think it was a very good Bill; it greatly over-simplified the issue; and, I am sorry to say, it was counted out during the Second Reading—as a result of what we who supported it regarded as a thoroughly disreputable and unholy conspiracy between industrialists and trade unionists, both of whom disliked it for varying reasons. But it was defended. 202 even at that time, on the grounds that the theory that capital purchased labour, just as it purchased raw materials and machinery, in the cheapest market, was out of date, and that it had been succeeded by a new and better one under which capital and labour were, in fact, partners, each of whom lent something to the business in which they were jointly engaged.
My Lords, even in those days, over twenty years ago, it was considered a novel, indeed, eccentric and, to some people, a definitely dangerous idea. But I feel that it is now coming into its own. Indeed, almost every week now some new scheme is announced by some great firm, which incorporates in one form or another just that type of idea. I feel that we may be on the verge, even though we do not fully realise it, of a new Industrial Revolution, as "glorious" as the Revolution of 1689. if that proves to be the case, these present troubles which have opened the eyes of thinking people in all sections of the community to the disastrous results of industrial strife may well have been worth while. But we shall only succeed if we discard our old pre indices, if we forget old bitternesses, and if we look resolutely forward to the future. That, as I see it, is a challenge to till political Parties, to Her Majesty's Government and to the Opposition alike. It is a challenge from which we cannot shrink; and upon our success in meeting it the future prosperity of our country will most assuredly depend.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to nemine dissentiente: the said Address to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with the White Staves.