§ 2.8 p.m.
§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved yesterday by the Marquess of Salisbury: to resolve, That this House supports the policy of Her Majesty's Government, as outlined by the Foreign Secretary on December 3, which has prevented hostilities in the Middle East from spreading, has resulted in a United Nations Force being introduced into the area, and has created conditions under which progress can be made towards the peaceful settlement of outstanding issues.
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, I rise to move the Amendment which stands in my name on the Order Paper, and which would make the Resolution before the House read as follows:That this House, recognising the disastrous consequences of Her Majesty's Government's policy in the Middle East, calls upon Her Majesty's Government to take all possible steps to restore Commonwealth unity, re-create confidence between our allies and ourselves and strengthen the authority of the United Nations as the only way to achieve a lasting settlement in the Middle East.The noble Marquess the Leader of the House yesterday, in commending his Resolution, directed many of his arguments not to this side of the House but, as my noble friend Lord Silkin pointed out, to those on his own side who for 1011 two opposite reasons have been disturbed by recent Government action. I doubt whether the noble Marquess had any hope of influencing our minds. Not even he, who is the Government's best and most persuasive defender on difficult occasions, could change our position on the second Suez crisis.
Looking back over the last six weeks, I would say that nothing has happened to change our conviction that the independent action taken by the Government was wrong and dangerous. On the contrary, our opposition has been justified and reinforced by the disastrous consequences that have resulted. We are not alone in this view, either inside or outside Parliament. No doubt, noble Lords noted the view expressed by The Times on November 27 thatAnglo-French intervention after Israel's attack was ill-judged in every wayThat was a very forthright and comprehensive condemnation.
The closing of the Canal; the interruption of oil supplies; the dislocation of shipping arrangements, which will adversely affect the trade and essential supplies of many countries; the damaging effects, not only on our own economy but on the national economy of friends and allies in Europe and in Asia: the serious financial consequences, that will have wide social repercussions and will exert a very restrictive influence on the defence contributions of the members of N.A.T.O., the Baghdad Pact and S.E.A.T.O.; the loss of a re-activised Canal base, and the denial of our military and air bases in Jordan, and perhaps even in Iraq—all these are ill consequences that have flowed from our military intervention in Egypt.
There is also the shattering of our prestige and influence in the Arab world. Whatever the Government may claim as by-products on the credit side of the balance sheet, these are positive losses on the debit side. We on this side regard the balance sheet as showing a very gloomy and disturbing picture. Whatever may be the verdict of history on which the noble Marquess the Leader of the House is confidently relying, it lies with the future. The liabilities are with us now, and in the coming months we shall all have to do our utmost to cope with them successfully.
1012 We on this side of the House regard the decision to withdraw the joint armed forces as a victory for the United Nations. Preventive war is a doubtful and dubious venture. We believe that the Government were morally wrong and politically unwise to enter upon armed intervention in this case. I believe that there is a growing desire in the country that our first experience of flouting the United Nations and violating our obligations under its Charter should never be repeated, and that, for the future, the British nation under whatever Government it may place itself, will never again be taken into armed action which splits the country, separates us from our friends and allies, and ranges world public opinion against us.
The plain fact is that the Western World has been more acutely divided by recent events than on any other issue at any time in the post-war years. I am not going to suggest that everything was satisfactory, even before the first Suez crisis arose. Indeed, if I may be allowed to quote from one of my own speeches, I said in your Lordships' House in March of this year [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 196, col. 798]:Western unity does not seem to be all that it should be. There are frictions and disagreements and complaints. …and I went on to refer to some of them. But at least at that time we were all still together. In the present trouble we have been in different and opposite camps. There has been a fundamental cleavage on policy. That was made clear by President Eisenhower at the outset. He stated that the United Nations believed "the Anglo-French-Israel attack on Egypt to have been taken in error" for, he said,We"—that is, the United States—do not accept the use of force as a wise and proper instrument for the settlement of international disputes.My Lords, no good purpose would be served by calling this clear-cut division a "difference of opinion," which were the words used by the Foreign Secretary. If we are to repair the damage done to Anglo-American unity we must frankly recognise the depth of the division and the nature of its cause; for what we have to do is to restore not merely a working association but intimate relations and 1013 easy co-operation based on mutual confidence. The same is true of the Commonwealth unity. The House was reminded yesterday of the statement made by Mr. Lester Pcarson—that the Commonwealth had been" badly and dangerously split," and that at one stage it was "on the verge of dissolution." He added—and noble Lords should mark these words:And that is not an exaggerated statement.With our withdrawal from Egypt, I believe that this near-disaster within the family has passed, and that we can now look forward to a gradual restoration of the old unity. I hope, therefore, that the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations will take the fullest advantage of their talk with Mr. Nehru, which we understand is to take place on Friday, to begin the process of re-cementing friendship and understanding and co-operation believe flat it was the Asian members of the Commonwealth Mr. Pearson had particularly in mind when he spoke. We must get away from the claim that, in the world as it is to-day, this country is entitled, by independent decision, to resort to the use of force, and thereby risk involving the United States and the Commonwealth, and our other allies, as well as ourselves, in a major war. That has been a real possibility in recent weeks. The removal of that danger is a principal reason for the universal relief which our withdrawal has produced.
My Lords, I have listened to every ministerial speech dealing with the Israeli attack on Egypt and our armed intervention but I still do not know why the war was allowed to start. The noble Marquess the Leader of the House, in his speech yesterday, claimed that, first and foremost, their intervention had stopped the war which would, in their view—that is, the Government's view—almost certainly have spread throughout the Middle East. It is always a good thing to stop a war that has started; it is an even better thing to prevent the war from starting. In the course of the debate in another place last week the Foreign Secretary made this statement [OFFICIAL REPORT. Commons, Vol. 561 (No. 22, l260]:On the 26th October, we heard; nom our representative at Tel Aviv of the Israel mobilisation. It was not known then whether it was partial or total, and instructions were 1014 sent on the 27th October to Her Majesty's Ambassador at Tel Aviv to make representations to Israel on the matter,But we know also from the Foreign Secretary that the Ambassador did not see the Israeli Foreign Minister until two days later, which was the day on which hostilities opened. I should like to ask whether this belated interview took place before or after the Israeli forces had begun their attack.
In. his speech the Foreign Secretary went on to say that Her Majesty's Ambassadorpointed out that if there were an Israeli attack on Jordan, the United Kingdom would be bound to intervene in accordance with the Anglo-Jordan Treaty. He also urged restraint on Israel in other directions because it was quite obvious that if Israel did attack one of the other Arab countries there was the possibility of Jordan becoming involved and a difficult situation being created for the United Kingdom.The Israeli Government cid not attack Jordan and we were not embarrassed by being called upon to fulfil our obligation under the Arab-Jordan Treaty; but why were our obligations under the Tripartite Declaration not cited also, thereby completing the representations to prevent war?
A year ago the Prime Minister reaffirmed Article 3 of the Declaration and defined what was meant by saying— and I quote his own words [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 547, col. 963]:That would be action to assist Israel if she were attacked, or action to assist an Arab country, if she were attacked by Israel.That statement was made fourteen months after the signing of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty to which was attached an Agreed Minute which excluded the reactivation of the Canal base in the event of an armed attack by Israel. On October 30, the day of the ultimatum, the Prime Minister said that the only implication—I repeat, implication—of the Agreed Minute must surely be that Egypt did not want the Three-lower Declaration to apply to her in the event of a conflict with Israel. I am quite unable to follow this line of reasoning. The Declaration was a unilateral declaration by the three Western Powers to prevent a renewal of Arab-Israeli hostilities. At no time, so far as I am aware, was either Egypt or Israel asked to approve or accept the Declaration. Why was it not 1015 invoked to prevent the start of the recent war?
I want to ask the noble Marquess the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will give the House the following information: first, the date on which Her Majesty's Government decided that the Tripartite Declaration would not be implemented in the case of an Israeli attack on Egypt; secondly, the date on which that decision was communicated to the French and American Governments, and whether the United States Government concurred; thirdly, why was such an important decision, which seriously weakened the deterrent value of the Declaration, communicated to Parliament only after Israel's armed attack on Egypt had begun? Not even the by-products of our armed intervention can be cited in justification for scrapping what the whole nation had for years been encouraged to regard as the chief means of preventing war in the Middle East.
I want now to pass to some of the problems that lie ahead. The United Nations has succeeded in its aim of getting Anglo-French troops withdrawn from Egypt, but that was only its first purpose. It has a great deal of other business to do. Urgent tasks have now passed into its hands and must remain in its hands until they have been satisfactorily accomplished. I have said that the Anglo-French military action provided the occasion for the closing of the Canal, but its clearance is a matter of international urgency and the Secretary-General should see to it that all available clearance equipment and technical services are promptly brought into use, regardless of their nationality. I am one of those who consider that Nasser's action in blocking the Canal was in breach of the 1888 Convention; that it cannot be explained away or excused even on the ground of military defence requirements. It was a deliberate act of sabotage designed for political and material effect: namely, as a gesture of defiance and to damage the economic well being of Western countries in particular, whose trade and essential supplies, including oil, would be seriously disrupted by cutting this vital international lifeline. This action by Nasser and his subsequent refusal to allow two Nor- 1016 wegian ships to leave by using the cleared stretch of the Canal emphasise the urgency of the need for the United Nations to get negotiations going again to ensure an internationally guaranteed right of free passage for all shipping, including Israeli ships, without let or hindrance on the part of Egypt.
Then, it is of first importance that the United Nations Emergency Force should remain in its positions until a firm basis for Middle East peace has been established. It would be both unjust and unreasonable, and I believe useless, to expect Israel to accept a return to the old dangers, provocations and menacing conditions which provoked her attack upon Egypt. That would not be political realism. What is needed is a settlement that combines political security with economic stability for the whole of this troubled and troublesome area. There are two things in particular which I believe are essential to creating conditions of security and stability: the permanent demilitarisation of the Sinai Peninsula and the ending of the Egyptian hold on the Gaza Strip. I must say that I am not hopeful that it will be possible to get an agreed settlement by direct negotiations between the Arabs and the Israelis. My own view is that a settlement will have to come through the agency of the United Nations, with the Arab States and Israel acquiescing. A means for advancing such a settlement may be found in a bold plan of economic aid for the whole area and in a financially supported scheme to solve the great human tragedy of the refugees.
Russian influence and intervention in the Middle East has been almost wholly evil. It has been actuated by bad motives. It is a glaring example of power politics at their worst. Even now, when the United Nations is striving to bring peace and order to the area, Russia continues to send in armaments in violation, as I believe, of the resolution of the General Assembly of November 2. We cannot be sure whether the new arms supply is really intended for use by Syria, whether Syria is to be a pipeline or staging post to Egypt, or whether this is an investment for future political and other returns. It may be that something of all three forms the motive. Be that as it may, I submit that in the interests 1017 of the future peace of the area there should be some form of international control over he level of armaments for the Middle East.
I have always thought that there was much to commend the principle of balance at a low level, which was an important aim of the Tripartite Declaration. That has now gone and, in any case, it was ignored, both by the Russians and by Egypt. But it is important that some form of international control should be devised, through the United Nations, for preventing a resumed arms race and for safeguarding these small nations from being tempted along the wrong road with the offer of modern arms by a Power bent, for its own cynical purposes, on keeping the Middle East in a state of turmoil, confusion and economic distress.
External forces for internal disruption have to be met and beaten, not by military means but by positive measures that Will bring political stability, economic expansion and social betterment to the area. I have on two occasions in the past, speaking for my noble friends, criticised Her Majesty's Government for relying en the economic machinery of the Baghdad Pact to channel Western aid. It is far too restricted. We have pressed for a Middle East Colombo Plan of economic aid, without political or defence strings attached. We do not agree that a military defence pact should continue to be the chief instrument of economic aid, and we believe that the United Nations should take hold of this particular need of the Middle East through a scheme that is wider in its scope and free from suspicion because it is unrelated to military defence. That is one of the ways of rendering Russian machinations abortive and unprofitable. But if it is to meet the needs of the situation, the United States will have to play a decisive part.
There is another direction in which America a co-operation needs to be made more positive and practical. The Baghdad Pact is the defence link between N.A.T.O. and S.E.A.T.O. But the United States have remained aloof from taking any direct part in its military defence responsibilities. Recent events have weakened the existing association—the fact that there has recently been a meeting of the Council of Ministers from which this country was excluded is ample evidence. 1018 Iraq's attitude has, of course, been dictated by Anglo-French action in the Canal area, and her refusal to attend if British representatives were there must have been particularly disconcerting to Her Majesty's Government, for here is the one Arab State that has been a reliable ally. Now that British Armed Forces are on their way out of Egypt it may be that her present unfriendly mood will pass, and that the old relationship will be restored. But even that will not be sufficient. It seems to me that it should be a cardinal principle of British foreign policy, especially in the light of recent experience, not to undertake any collective defence military responsibility which is not accepted by the United States on the same terms, There is a limit to the burdens that our political, military and economic power can support. It is, I think, sound sense that we should not enter into collective commitments of a military character which are not shared with us by the United States.
The noble Marquess the Leader of the House referred yesterday to the United States statement of support for the Baghdad Pact. Its special reference was to the Middle East members of the Pact. In a warning that was obviously intended for the attention of the Soviet Government, the statement declared thatA threat to the territorial integrity or political independence of the members would be viewed by the United States With the utmost gravity.That was a statement of the first importance, because, if it means anything, it means that the United States would act against such a threat. I want to ask the Government whether it also means that the United States are going to become a member of the Baghdad Pact on its military defence side. I hope that that step will be taken, for I take the view, so far as the Baghdad Pact is concerned, that we should be ranged with America, either in or out, but not separated, as we are to-day.
Finally, my Lords, before I resume my seat, I feel that I must make a brief comment on a matter which is not strictly relevant to our present discussion. But we must all, I am sure, wish to see the United Nations exerting all its authority to protect a nation, and a small nation at that, from a ruthless and bloody terror. The conscience of the free nations has 1019 been more deeply outraged by the ugly events in Hungary than by any other happening for a long time. Behind closed frontiers, and under cover of martial law, the Hungarian people's struggle for independence and freedom goes on, in the form of a General Strike. What the position is at the moment we cannot know. All I will say at present is that the General Assembly should press its demand that the Secretary-General and a team of observers be admitted into Hungary to find out the facts of the situation and to report to the United Nations. If Russia remains obdurate, and continues to defy the United Nations (for it is Russia and not its puppet Government in Hungary that is the culprit), I hope that Her Majesty's Government will not hesitate to support the General Assembly, not only in censuring Russia but also in adopting any measures that may be necessary under Article 41 of the Charter. That is all I am going to say now, but I feel so deeply on the matter that I did not want to remain completely silent about a monstrous crime and a great human tragedy. My Lords, I beg to move the Amendment in my name.
Moved, as an Amendment to the Resolution, to leave out all the words after "House", and to substitute "recognising the disastrous consequences of Her Majesty's Government's policy in the Middle East, calls upon Her Majesty's Government to take all possible steps to restore Commonwealth unity, re-create confidence between our allies and ourselves and strengthen the authority of the United Nations as the only way to achieve a lasting settlement in the Middle East."—(Lord Henderson.)
§ 2.38 p.m.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
My Lords, the Amendment we are now discussing is, of course, confined to the situation in the Middle East, just as was the Resolution moved by my noble Leader yesterday. But that does not mean that I for one moment question the suitability of Lord Henderson's raising the matter which he raised in such moving terms in the last passage of his speech. Indeed, he knows, and all those who sit with him know, that the feelings of sympathy which are held by noble Lords on this side of the House and by Her Majesty's Government are just as 1020 strong as those to which he has given expression. We look with admiration and with sorrow and, alas! hitherto, in impotence, at the sufferings undergone by the Hungarian people in a legitimate struggle for that freedom which we believe should be the right of every people.
If I may now come back to the subject of this immediate debate, the noble Lord will not suffer any sudden shock, I am sure, if I begin by saying, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, that we are unable to accept the terms of the Amendment which he has put before the House. That does not mean that there were not passages, valuable and emphatic passages in his speech on which we are in complete accord—such passages as the indication he gave of his views on the position of shipping held up in the Canal, and the need to clear the Canal and to allow trade to flow through it from both ends at the earliest possible moment.
Yesterday, several noble Lords on the other side of the House, and the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, to-day, set themselves the task of attempting to work out, to their own satisfaction, a balance sheet of the gains and losses which, in their estimation, had accrued to this country as the result of Her Majesty's Government's recent actions in the Middle East. The noble Lord described the result of his calculations as being a very gloomy and disturbing picture. He, and others who spoke on this theme yesterday, seemed to imply that in their view the right dress for Members of your Lordships' House on this side, certainly for members of Her Majesty's Government, was sackcloth and ashes. That somewhat censorious approach was evident in the introductory words of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. For my part, I am in no penitential mood. I firmly reject the proposition that the consequences of Her Majesty's Government's policy in the Middle East have been "disastrous." I 'believe that, though we took a risk (are we never to take a risk?), 'we were right to take it; and that what has flown from that decision is not disaster but advantages, some of which are exhibited in the Resolution moved yesterday by my noble friend the Leader of the House and supported by the great majority of subsequent speakers.
1021 I think that it is probably true to say—and noble Lords opposite can take such comfort a; they like from it—that at the outset our action did come as something of a shock, not only to our enemies but also to oar friends. But that response in itself is a tribute to the whole record of this country and to the exemplary support which it has afforded to both the theory and the practice of international co-operation during past years. I agree that the fact that we appeared to have deviated from those standards did produce at the outset in many quarters a sharp reaction. In those first few days I saw extracts from newspapers of a number of countries normally friendly to us, and I do not disguise that their attitude ranged from what I might call pained bewilderment to brusque condemnation. But I have continued to watch the extracts from those newspapers in the weeks that have since passed, and your Lordships would indeed be surprised, and I hope in most cases gratified, at the change which has come over, and is still coming over, the comment which they reproduce. It has swung, and is still steadily swinging, from consternation to comprehension.
Now I believe—and I say this in the context of the phrase that appears in the Amendment of noble Lords opposite of "restoring the confidence of our Allies"—that they arc realising that our operation in Egypt was not a sudden and selfish adventure, inspired by a fit of temper, as I think one noble Lord suggested yesterday, or a desire for domination, but an enterprise conceived in the interests of the preservation of general order and stability, and for the protection of all those trading nations of the world, be it East or West, who like ourselves are dependent in greater or lesser degree upon the uninterrupted use of the Canal.
It is said, "Ah, but you did not succeed in your undertaking. You got no farther than Port Said, and Nasser has effectively blocked the Canal." I pause here only to say this: Are we never to venture upon an undertaking which we believe to be right because, before we set out upon it, we are not in a position to guarantee its success? That was not the spirit in which this country moved in 1914, or in 1939. I do not admit lack of success in the operation. To attribute failure to it is to mistake, or indeed to misstate, its purpose; and the purpose 1022 was—I repeat it once more, though it has been said often enough—not to conquer the Canal, but to stop hostilities in order to safeguard the Canal.
If that intrinsic fact is borne in hind, it automatically answers the complaints (and I know that there are some) of those who protest that we should have pushed on to Ismailia and Suez. For, if our objective was to stop the fighting, as indeed it was, that objective was obtained as soon as both sides had agreed to a cease-fire, and to press on further after that cease-fire would have been wholly unjustifiable. As to the sinking of ships in the Canal, it is perhaps beside the point that, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, remarked, the Convention of 1888 requires that the Canal be kept open for free passage, even in war lime; for Colonel Nasser has never shown any particular tenderness for the niceties of international obligations. Perhaps it was scarcely to be expected that even he, for no apparent military advantage, would wantonly strip himself of so essential a source of revenue on so grandiose a scale by sinking some fifty ships in the Canal. As I say, the noble Lord dealt very acceptably, from our point of view, if may say so respectfully, with the position of clearing the Canal.
As regards the future of the Canal, we have made our position clear. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary said in another place the other day that he hoped for the resumption of negotiations between himself and the French and Egyptian Ministers of Foreign Affairs on the basis of the resolution passed at the United Nations. He added that our view was that the right solution was either the 18-Power solution, which had been worked out at the London Conference, or a solution equivalent to it.
It has been argued in the course of these discussions that it was not for us to act; that we should have waited in docile resignation for the United Nations to take the initiative in an effective form. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, in his opening speech, even thought that the United Nations might have taken effective action. Does he really think that the presence of a solid Afro-Asian bloc in the General Assembly would ever have permitted the United Nations effectively to intervene? If the noble Lord did think that at one time, I should have thought that even 1023 his optimism could scarcely have survived the strain of events in Hungary.
The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, in the course of his speech asked me various questions in connection with the early stages of the operation to which I will do my best to reply. He asked me, in particular, about the interview between Her Majesty's Ambassador in Tel Aviv and the Israeli Foreign Minister, his criticism, presumably, being that an unjustifiably long time had been allowed to elapse between the instructions to the Ambassador and the actual holding of the interview. If I may give the noble Lord certain dates, I think he will perhaps see that his criticism is unjustified. He will remember that a report was received in London on October 26 from Her Majesty's Ambassador in Tel Aviv stating that the Israeli Government were mobilising their forces. It was not known at that time whether it was a total or a partial mobilisation.
Instructions were sent to the Ambassador at Tel Aviv to seek an interview with the Israeli Foreign Minister, and those instructions were despatched to Tel Aviv in a telegram of October 27. Her Majesty's Ambassador at once asked for an interview with the Israeli Foreign Minister on the 27th and was told that he could not see her until October 29. It is not always easy to gain access to Foreign Ministers, particularly in times of stress, such as the position was in Tel Aviv (although we did not know it at that moment). Her Majesty's Ambassador was, in fact, seen by the Israeli Foreign Minister at noon on October 29. That was, so far as all our information goes—and this is the other question the noble Lord asked before there had been any movement by the Israeli troops. Our first information on that subject reached us at half-past eight on the evening of October 29. I hope the noble Lord will see from the dates I have given that Her Majesty's Ambassador was not lacking in his efforts to use all despatch to discharge his instructions, and that he did see the Foreign Minister as soon as opportunity was afforded.
§ LORD HENDERSON
If I may interrupt the noble Marquess, may I say that I hope I did not give the impression that I was criticising Her Majesty's Ambassador. I put the question, as I 1024 thought, objectively, because it seemed to me strange that two days should elapse before the interview could take place. I did not assume that it was necessarily the Ambassador's responsibility. I thought that perhaps the fault had been on the side of the Foreign Minister.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
I am obliged to the noble Lord for that intervention, and I hope that the dates I have given him have now cleared up any doubts—I do not say for a moment sinister doubts—which were in his mind. What one has to bear in mind, I think, in all this story of these few days from the 26th onwards, is that it was a matter of extreme urgency to act when information began to come through. The noble Lord asked a question about the Tripartite Declaration, and I will try, so far as I can to clear up his doubts upon that subject. Your Lordships will remember that the Tripartite Declaration of May, 1950, came into existence not long after the end of the Arab-Israeli war. During that time there had been a complete ban on weapons. Weapons began to come in again, and it was thought necessary to have some agreement which would regularise the position as regards weapons, which would indicate a policy, and which, at the same time, would indicate a desire to take measures to preserve peace and tranquillity in the area. The noble Lord. Lord Henderson, indicated that, in his view, steps should have been taken in advance of the breaking out of hostilities. He said that it was better to prevent a war than to stop a war after it had broken out. But there was this difficulty. Both the Israeli and the Egyptian Governments had said that the introduction of any police force (which this would have been) into their territory would be unacceptable to them; they had intimated that to Her Majesty's Government on various occasions. So there were difficulties in putting, against the will of the two countries concerned and before there were any hostilities between them, any form of troops into the area.
I now come to why it was not used later, and the three questions the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, put to me about the non-use of it during the crucial period. There were three parties to this Declaration: ourselves, the French and the Americans. When information was received here and in Washington that Israel was mobilising, although it was not 1025 known at that moment in what direction the forces would turn if they took the field, it was felt necessary to hold consultations with the Americans and with the French in Washington in regard to the Tripartite Agreement. Those consultations tuck place on October 28 and 29. At those consultations on October 28, the United States Government were informed by us of the point with which I have just dealt, which is closely connected with this, namely, the warning which Her Majesty's Ambassador in Tel Aviv had been told to give to the Israel Government. 'That warning was, at that stage, primarily concerned with Jordan, since it was a possible clash between Jordan and Israel that was our main concern; because in a Jordan-Israel clash there were involved the provisions of our Treaty with Jordan. But we did not rule out the possibility of a clash in another direction, although Jordan seemed the most likely, particularly in view of the course of events—the raids and forays which had taken place—immediately prior to this date, The Americans were therefore informed that if the Israel attack was directed to Jordan we should, under the provisions of the Anglo-Jordan Treaty, discharge our obligation to Jordan.
Discussions were resumed the next day, still in Washington, about the Tripartite Declaration and its applicability, not merely to the Israel situation, but to the situation in the whole area to which it applied. The conclusion was stated by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, on, I think, October 30, in this respect: that the Tripartite Declaration was not applicable to Egypt in so far as it might involve the sending of troops to Egypt. I am not going to argue, for this purpose, what the grounds of that decision may have been. But that is the fact: that there was agreement between the three countries. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, asked me about the United States—that in the situation which might develop in Egypt of an Israeli invasion of Egypt it would not be, under the terms of the Tripartite Declaration, the duty or the choice, if your Lordships prefer that word, of the three Powers concerned to send troops in for the protection of Egypt.
§ EARL JOWITT
May I ask a question, because this is very important? That 1026 agreement was come to on the afternoon of October 29?
THE MARQUESS OF READING
Yes. That was the position, as the noble and learned Earl says, on October 29. In all the time that has passed since then I have never heard any suggestion from the United States side that we ought to have used the Tripartite Declaration as a method of preserving peace. What happened was that it was decided to proceed to a meeting of the Security Council, at which, your Lordships will remember, there was subsequently proposed a resolution condemning Israel as an aggressor. That resolution was contrary to our view of the justice of the case, and we unfortunately found ourselves unable to support it.
§ LORD HENDERSON
This is very interesting and important. Do I take it that the decision on October 29 was an agreed decision, a tripartite decision: that they all agreed to take the matter to the Security Council, and that the American resolution sought to brand Israel an aggressor, but we disagreed with that? That I follow. Did Her Majesty's Government representatives in that conference, or in any other way, indicate that we should veto that resolution when it came before the Security Council?
THE MARQUESS OF READING
I am afraid that I cannot answer that point, because I think it is probably true to say that at these discussions the terms of the resolution were not yet before them. It is very difficult to follow every detail.
§ EARL JOWITT
Is it not the fact that the Americans presented us with the form of the resolution; that we saw that the word "aggressor" was there with regard to Israel and asked them to take the word out?
THE: MARQUESS OF READING
But, as I say, I cannot pledge myself, and I do not think the House would expect me to pledge myself, to every detail of the most complicated negotiations that nave gone forward in New York during this period. That is the position, at least as I understand it. 1027 Noble Lords opposite have been pleased to be sceptical in this context of our claim that, in stopping the actual hostilities, we also prevented them from spreading over a far wider and certainly not less inflammable an area. I should hope that noble Lords who take that view would put to themselves, not necessarily for public answer, certain questions. Some of the evidence was given in the extremely impressive speech, if I may be allowed to say so, by the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, at the close of last night's debate—the evidence that the Egyptian Commander-in-Chief, who controlled also at that time the forces of Syria and of Jordan, had indicated his reasons for holding back, calling off, any attack by the other country.
But apart altogether from that not un-useful piece of evidence, from our point of view, is there really a single noble Lord opposite who, when the Israeli attack descended upon Egypt, did not instantly expect in his own mind that one or more, if not all, of the Arab States would at once hasten to the succour of Egypt? Did they not expect that the Arab League would hasten forthwith to Nasser's aid? I doubt whether there is a single noble Lord opposite who was not startled by the passivity of the other countries of the Arab League. Now we know what the reason was from the testament of the Commander of the Egyptian Army. The reason for their inactivity was exactly our and the French activity in Egypt.
It is again contended that it was not our policy in any way which resulted in the creation of a United Nations Emergency Force, since it came into being at a subsequent stage to our landing, and was not in contemplation beforehand. I do not for a moment accept that argument. It was just our initiative which, being taken as it was, drove the United Nations to action; and that action, promising indeed as I believe it to be, was to collect and to send to Egypt an Emergency Force. It may be that it is what was called by various noble Lords—I think in slightly derogatory terms— a "token force." My Lords, in a sense any policeman is a token force, although he may be, in some cases, a fairly massive one. But however powerful he may be as an individual, his real strength and his real authority spring from the fact that behind him is the whole formidable apparatus of 1028 the law. In just the same way, if the United Nations Emergency Force is to be a success if it is challenged, it must have behind it the full authority and power of enforcement, not merely of the small nations but also of at least some of the larger and more powerful nations.
The noble Lord's Amendment calls upon Her Majesty's Government to "strengthen the authority of the United Nations"—and it may well be that it needs strengthening. though the exact method will require much thought, much ingenuity and, no doubt, much negotiation. I hope it will be of some comfort to the noble Lord. Lord Pethick-Lawrence, who spoke last night, when I say that in the view of Her Majesty's Government this is a problem that must be faced and must be solved. I do not propose to indulge at this moment in any of the process of vivisection which was carried out so expertly yesterday by the noble Viscount, Lord Cherwell, on the body of the United Nations. But I may perhaps say this: I am not quite sure what the noun of assembly—perhaps I should say the noun of General Assembly—of members of the United Nations ought to be. But it seems to me that it is not unfair to say that the right word is, unfortunately, not a unanimity of nations but rather a fragmentation of nations.
My Lords, I think that we in this country have some cause to complain of the treatment meted out to us in New York by the United Nations during these past few weeks. I read recently a telegram from one of Her Majesty's representatives abroad in which he reported a brawl, one of the participants in which had to be removed to hospital; and the account ended:Local officials think the victim will be heavily fined for assault.I think that that is not an inapt comparison with the position that we have been under in the United Nations.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
I do not mean Egypt, as the noble Lord very well knows, if he followed what I was saying. The particular passage in my speech was directed to the statement that 1 thought that we had been badly treated.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
in this particular case, yes. I believe—and I have given some indication why I believe it—that the re-creation of confidence between ourselves and our allies is well on the way to a process of repair. I make no reference to the Commonwealth, leaving that, more appropriately, to my noble friend who will wind up the debate.
I ant not going to argue at this point of time the evidence for or against the existence of the Russian plot. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, in dealing with the situation, turned to some extent to the economic aspect and advocated various measures, including the establishment of a "Colombo Plan" for the Baghdad area. Of course the position of Baghdad is not alone in this respect. Your Lordships will remember that S.E.A.T.O. has economic clauses, and S.E.A.T.O. is in the Colombo Plan area. But if the countries of the Baghdad Pact area were to desire such a plan, I do not doubt that Her Majesty's Government would see in what directions they could help with it.
§ LORD HENDERSON
The proposal I made went far beyond the range of the Baghdad Pact. I know the position under the Baghdad Pact. What I was dealing with was a plan to cover the whole of the Middle East, because it is only a small part of the Middle East—one country, I think—that comes into the Baghdad Pact.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
The noble Lord is quite right, and I should not have limited it to that extent. He inquired whether the United States would become a member of the Baghdad Pact. All I can say is that nothing would be more welcome to Her Majesty's Government. The, decision lies with them. As my noble Leader has already said, the United States have in various ways already given indication of a reviving interest in the position of this country, notably, I think, in the Vice-President's welcome speech a few days ago. I would add just this comment. There have been some people who anticipated that once this immediate trouble had died down, the Americans might start to build Nasser up economically. We have been assured that, so far as the Government of the United States are concerned, they have no policy, no plan for changing the status of their aid to Egypt from the position it occupied before the Israeli invasion. It was at that 1030 time, I think, running upon a very modest basis. I thought it right to tell that to the House.
My Lords, I am sorry for being rather long, but I am trying not only to answer the noble Lord but to deal in some measure with some of the thirty speeches made yesterday, and I promise not to be much longer. As I say, I do not propose to deal with the question of the Russian plot, because I think it has become largely irrelevant, if only fog this reason. Since the early days, other and later manifestations of Russian interference, or threats of interference, in the area—an area where there is no direct interest except that of general mischiefmaking—have become clear. These interventions prove once again the pervasive menace which Soviet Russian policy is.
My Lords, when the Foreign Secretary made his statement in another place on December 3 some passages in it were greeted with mocking laughter by members of the Labour Party. Amongst those passages singled out for particular derision was one in which he spoke of our action in Egypt as having "alerted the world to the dangers of the situation in the Middle East." That may be a very humorous phrase, but I am bound to say that the comic aspect does not at first sight spring to my mind surely it is a true and cogent claim. The world has come to see more clearly arid more urgently than ever before that none of us can afford any longer to sit by and gaze from afar with disapproval at so troublesome a situation, without taking active and immediate steps to tackle it. The story of these last weeks has, I believe, infused a new sense of urgency into this situation and convinced even the most indifferent and inert that a solution must be found and that time presses. That is why I believe that the third point in my noble Leader's Resolution is abundantly justified.
We want a new and a necessary realism of approach to a problem Which has been allowed during these past years to drift along. Our action and the Russian reaction have, in my view, been responsible for this new outlook to a far greater degree than the Israeli sweep into Egypt alone. We have been reminded by various Opposition speakers in this debate that times change. So they do, and must, and should; but if times change, there is still an opportunity for the free world to 1031 ensure that, in spite of hostile machinations, freedom shall abide, and that the peoples of the Middle East shall be helped towards a settlement of their differences and a life of greater prosperity, security and hope. I am reminded of the words with which at the Bandoeng Conference, General Romulo, the extremely eloquent leader of the Philippine Delegation, concluded his reply to Mr. Nehru in a discussion on the theme of neutralism. He said:The empires of yesterday on which it used to be said that the sun never set are departing one by one from Asia. What we fear now is the new empire of Communism on which we know that the sun never rises
§ 3.23 p.m.
My Lords, those of us who expect to be extinguished in the course of the next few months by the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, when he brings in his reforms, have a natural urge to address your Lordships before we are replaced by people of more importance, who carry more weight. I regret to say that there is no feeling of laconic reticence in those who arc about to die. On the contrary, we have a "Lord Chatham" feeling about us which we hope will prompt your Lordships to listen to what we have to say. Therefore, perhaps I may be allowed to leave my accustomed ground and take a part with others in the survey of our present situation
In moments of doubt and difficulty, when the question, "What do we do next?" is in everybody's mind, and when the question, "How can we recover from this unmerited disaster?" is hard to answer, I find people turning, as they have always turned, to the Liberals for hope of a solution, especially if some abrupt change of direction is required. Even in the recent past it was from Lord Keynes that there came the revolution of full employment, and from the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge the foundation of the Welfare State. The late Lord Davies was responsible for the campaign for an International Police Force—and that Police Force has now been inadvertently created by the action of Her Majesty's Government. I have every hope that once again Liberals will find the way out. For it can be hardly denied, I think, that, on the short view, the Government have got us into a mess; and it is clear that, 1032 whether their policy was good or bad, they have not carried it out with any skill or efficiency. They had a difficult task and have made many mistakes, but it is important to remember that their intentions with which they have paved our temporary hell were good. The attack upon them suggests that the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, the Lord President, is a liar, a cheat and a warmonger; yet everybody knows that, in point of fact, he is a man of the highest honour and integrity.
The country is strongly divided in opinion and many people have become emotional and extreme. The extreme Right can be represented by a schoolmaster who said to me last week, "I have never felt so free and happy since we stood alone in 1940." The extreme Left, instead of helping us to clean up the mess to which I have referred, keep rubbing our noses in it. Indeed, they go so far as to join up with a lot of foreigners to kick the country when it is down. Both extremes will fail, but I have a strong conviction that the Conservatives would win a large majority if they had an Election at this present moment. Anybody who has considered with any unheated care the psychology of our fellow-countrymen will be aware that they always support those who have done their best and failed. The Labour Peers in your Lordships' House have not indulged, so far, in any unpleasant or shaming extreme, nor has their ablest man in another place, Mr. Bevan. It may well be that he will emerge as as great a man as Mr. Bevin, and that history will not be able to distinguish between them.
Surely it is time to turn away from the unhappy past and consider what we should do now. As throughout our history, I hope that we shall take as courageously as ever any punishment, deserved or undeserved, that may come our way, but it is also very important for all sober men to learn the lessons from the confused turmoil of this crisis. I am only an amateur politician, a person of no importance, coming from an artistic circle of highbrow people very largely ignored by the robust world in which the majority of your Lordships live, but seeing that the lowbrows were in such low water I decided to make this speech. I said to myself: "Never has any Government been so packed with foolish virgins, with 1033 not a drop of oil in their lamps." But I thought they might listen to us Liberals trying to put a few cards into the hand of our distressful country. I was not conceited enough to think that I should be able to help these destitute damsels in any way, but I felt that it was vital to get out of the grooves of thought, so deeply embedded in both political Parties—those automatic reactions that have become a second nature to experts and civil servants.
There is no reason why we in Great Britain should not take a lead and stop tagging behind others as we have done for so many years. After all, we are conscious of no evil intention, conscious of doing our best in a difficult and dangerous world. We have given away most of our Empire without a word of protest, and now we are called "culprits" by a number of nations who are no better than we are and who have contributed far less to the peace and progress of the world.
As our Liberal Leader in another place has said, between the policy of the "Suez Group" and the "hat-in-hand to the United Nations" policy of the Labour Party there is a middle way. It can be called "passing the buck" to the United Nations, and leaving ourselves free to strike out a line of our own in Europe.
If the United Nations is going to take over and run the power system in the world, surely we should study the way the United Nations works and see that we count in its deliberations and decisions. The Afro-Asian bloc is organised; the United States-South American bloc works together, and it is time that Europe formed a bloc of its own—a league of European States which cannot fight a major war, but holding up its head to face the mastodons who can. I feel that that should be our policy. I think we are at a turning-point in our history when events have given us a momentous choice, either to go on playing the game of being a Great Power, not quite rich enough, not quite strong enough, to do it—an uneasy, on-the-edge-of-bankruptcy life, with no future in it—or to use the United Nations as a dump on which to cast our obsolete burdens leaving us free to build up a new life for ourselves in which we can excel and prosper.
1034 If England and France were to form a European League, I believe there are very few countries who would not join us. Certainly Germany, so reluctant to rearm, would welcome us, and I believe it would be acceptable to the Commonwealth. This would give a better balance and proportion to the United Nations. One of the first steps of the European bloc at the Assembly should be to ensure a natural counterbalance to Soviet Russia, by proposing the admission of China to the United Nations. 'Whatever its opinions, such a great nation cannot be ignored; it has every right to be recognised, and indeed it has already been recognised by us.
After all, whether one approves or disapproves of our intervention at Suez it is clear that we can never use our conventional armaments again. I remember a very famous story about the noble Marquess's distinguished grandfather it was at a time when the question arose whether we ought to keep the city of Kandahar. Lord Salisbury is supposed to have said:It would he morally wrong to keep this city of Kandahar, and anyway it would not he any use to us.It seems to me that on this occasion we can say that it is morally wrong to use conventional armaments, and in any case we cannot afford to pay for them. We ought to leave all this, therefore, to the United Nations, and admit the fact that, outside a major war, no one will allow us to fight in any circumstances whatever. Mr. Bevan, in another place has said what I consider to be very true—namely:These civil, social and political objectives in modern society are not obtainable by armed force. The processes of modern society cannot be run by attempting to impose will upon rations by armed force.If Mr. Bevan was right—and it looks as if he was right—of what use then are the Armed Forces?
Leaving the United Nations as the arbiter of small wars, I should like to examine for one moment, if your Lordships will bear with me, the economic and military effects of this realistic policy. From the military point of view it dispels sonic of the illusions under which we live. We shall no longer have to pretend that we know how to deal with the 400 submarines that Russia possesses. We shall no longer have to pretend that N.A.T.O.'s few divisions can prevent the vast 1035 Russian Army from walking to the Channel ports. General Norstad, like all his N.A.T.O. predecessors, has said:N.A.T.O.'s military plans arc based on the full and prompt use of atomic weapons, and I am convinced that they would be used if it became necessary—in fact, Western Europe could not be defended without them.Surely we must accept this sensible admission that conventional weapons are of no use in a major war. Surely, then, we should reconstruct N.A.T.O. on that basis and scrap all the conventional weapons that General Norstad knows very well must be discarded if a major war breaks out. No doubt a screen of international police with United Nations armbands would be required on the Russian frontier. But apart from our contribution to that, we could dispense with our ruinous armaments, relying solely on N.A.T.O. and its atomic weapons to protect us and our friends in the European League against Russian attack. Nor do I see why Great Britain or indeed any part of Europe, should remain the advance base for atomic war. Every nation wants to avoid being an unsinkable aircraft carrier, the flattened-out target of a major war. The increased pace and power of warplanes makes it unnecessary that we in Europe should provide these bases, and the European League should have them removed to Alaska or Greenland, which are now well within reach of Russia.
From the economic point of view, we shall gain the advantages that Germany has enjoyed since the war and that Austria is enjoying now. Probably £1,000 million a year could be saved on armaments. I notice that the working-class like their present great prosperity; indeed, it is very enjoyable, especially when you are young. I know a young mechanic who is earning £22 a week. He is not married, and says it is the greatest fun in the world. But this high standard of living has to be preserved. It is always precarious, and in my view it can be done in only three ways: first, as I have said, £1,000 million a year saved on armaments, and then that the enlightened self-interest of the English people should persuade them to do two things—to get a good many million more tons of coal out of the ground and to be sufficiently afraid of cancer of the lung to prohibit the import of anything except Rhodesian tobacco.
1036 No doubt there will be great reluctance to give up conventional armaments. There are enormous vested interests dependent upon the past, which will produce very specious arguments against their own extinction. Recently I made an inquiry as to how long after the invention of gunpowder it was before the English gave up the bows and arrows with which they had won the Battle of Crécy and conquered France. I am told that it was 100 years. We cannot afford to wait as long as that; in fact, we cannot afford to wait at all.
If I may be forgiven for such a strong expression, I do not think that either of the great Parties in the State have been, or are being, very bright. It is the business of the Liberal Party to stimulate them with the benzedrine of their own ideas. Her Majesty's Government, obsessed as they are by this crisis, live from day to day: they have no coherent policy or pattern for the future. Surely a long-term plan to secure a renewed independence for Britain is required. Passing the buck to the United Nations is such a plan, recognising as it does the end of the imperial era and the urgency of solving the problem of the balance of payments. Waiting for President Eisenhower to smile is not a policy at all. I hope that the Conservative Party, which was elected to "set the people free" will share my strong feeling that we want to stand upon our own feet and run our own lives.
Let us therefore lead the Commonwealth and our European League into the new world, creating, as we have a chance to do, a large free trade area in Europe and concentrating on the production of nuclear industrial power—not forgetting that £1,000 million a year of free money that I am very anxious to get hold of. Think what we can do with it! We want a complete system of new roads in this country. We need a vast development of secondary and university education. We need to rebuild every slum area. We need a large increase in the vote for the Arts Council and the British Council (that is where I come in). If we can get more freedom of action, if we can get those ancient and obsolete burdens off our backs, we can give the intelligent people of this country a chance to make Great Britain I the centre of modern civilisation.
§ 3.44 p.m.
My Lords, I am sure it would be a great disaster if any reform of the House of Lords were to extinguish the noble Viscount who has just spoken. We have not so many people with a keen sense of humour that we can spare him, and although I do not agree with very much of what he said yet I certainly enjoy listening to him; and, in parts, I do agree with him. I agree with him about the closer integration of Europe. I agree with him about the consequences of the arms cut that is going to come—I hope. Unfortunately I have not the noble Viscount's capacity for humour and I confess that I do not think this is a very humorous occasion. We are debating a Resolution and an Amendment to that Resolution, neither of which, so far as I can see, lends itself to humour in the slightest degree. There has been an air of unreality about this debate all the way through. Whether Her Majesty's Government were right or wrong in the course they took, it seems to me that if we are honest with ourselves we shall have to admit that it has been a complete failure. I agree with the Daily Telegraph of December 4 which said:There [...]s no escaping the fact that our quilting Port Said is humiliating.I believe the vast majority of your Lordships would agree with me in thinking that.
I have, for the last three years, when I have had time, tried to devote myself to one particular cause. That cause was to see whether it was possible for a well-meaning individual who had the opportunity of travelling and meeting many people to bridge the gulf which exists between Israel and the Arab States. I am sorry to say that it has been a completely useless occupation. I hope that it has been a harmless occupation. At any rate, I have learned a great deal, and I am hound to say that what has happened has been no surprise at all to me, so far as Israel and the Arabs are concerned. I was in Egypt in March last, having travelled through the Arab States and seen many of the Arab leaders. I thought it right to write a letter to the noble Lord opposite stating my conclusions, for, after all, when one travels abroad one reports to one's Government if one has anything to say—or at least I hope so. I came to the 1038 conclusion that nothing short of a miracle could prevent a war from breaking out this year; and in some four or five months the war did break out. Though I did not, of course, know the exact extent of the Russian arms supply. I knew that there had been very substantial Russian arming of Egypt; and if we had any intelligence service there it is almost certain that we must have krown that it was very substantial.
In one respect I was wrong. The MiGs that were flying in such perfect formation over Egypt in March were obviously not being flown by Egyptian pilots. I assumed that the pilots were Czech or Russian, and I was apprehensive that when the war did come, as plainly it was going to come in a few months' time, those planes would be flown by Russians or Czechs. That I expected. I was wrong, and I am very glad that I was wrong. I am afraid that there is a lesson which the Russians may have learned: that it is not much good entrusting complicated machinery to the Egyptians or the Syrians. The lesson will be that if that is to be done in future, they must supply lot only the machines but the men. The position with regard to Russia, and of coming round behind the area of the Baghdad Pact (because Syria is behind that area and it would be a case of an attack in the soft underbelly) is one of great seriousness and not one on which I can be in the least humorous.
I must start with the subject of this debate by saying that I feel very deeply upon it. If anyone talks about morals one is apt to get the taunt of being "holier than thou," but I feel that there is a moral question involved here. I do not suggest that those who differ from me have any less acute moral sense than I have, but I feel that it is a question of morals in the first instance. For better or for worse, however bad, however useless U.N.O. may be, we entered into a bargain, we signed the Covenant we undertook to be bound by the provisions of the Covenant and the Treaty. It may have been very foolish, but that is what we did. On the strength of that, other people signed too. As I pointed out the other day (perhaps Lord Cherwell does not remember it; but I expect he does) when the small nations were hesitant about coming in and signing, we pointed out to 1039 them that they had every reason to come in, because under the terms of the Treaty no-one could take any steps against them by way of armed force unless all the major Powers agreed. On the strength of that, they came in and signed the Treaty. That is a historical fact, and no-one knows it better than the noble Marquess the Leader of the House.
Therefore, all this talk that U.N.O. is useless—let us assume for the moment that it is useless; all this talk of the necessity of its being reformed—let us assume for the moment that it should be and could be reformed: all that-does not seem to touch the particular point. The particular point is that we have made a bargain that we would he bound by a certain Treaty; and if we have breached that Treaty then I think that that is a question of morals. I believe—and I am afraid I am in a vast majority among the lawyers of the world—that we did breach that Treaty. I do not believe that by any possible extension of the words of the Covenant and the Treaty you are entitled to constitute yourself a policeman and say: "I am a policeman, and I am now going to take appropriate police action by occupying key points in the cities of some other country." That is the issue between us.
§ VISCOUNT CHERWELL
Under paragraph 51 you are entitled in self-defence to take action. I imagine that if someone comes behind you and puts a noose around your neck you do not have to wait until he has tightened it before you take action to remove it. I consider that that is self-defence.
§ EARL JOWITT
I quite agree—selfdefence. For that reason I cannot blame Israel, though Israel took the first action. She was not going to wait for the noose to be put round her neck, and I think she was entitled to strike. Of course, if self-defence is an answer here—well, that is all right. But I do not believe that we could possibly justify our conduct in seeking to occupy key points such as Port Said, Ismailia and Suez, on the ground of self-defence. I do not believe it is possible. And if this should come—and bear in mind it may come—before a court (the rightness of our action may be tested if it does come before a court) I venture to say it will be said that there was no adequate facts in the nature of 1040 self-defence to justify the action we took. If that is right, I am sure that the noble Viscount who does not think much of U.N.O.—he may be quite right in that—will agree with me that we have made a bargain and we must stick to our bargain, even though it be to our own disadvantage.
§ EARL JOWITT
Certainly; everyone ought to stick to his bargain, of course. Some noble Lords laugh. But the situation in the world is very serious, and it is easy to criticise U.N.O. and, if you like, to say, "Scrap U.N.O." That seems to me—as the noble Marquess who leads this House says it seems to him—a counsel of despair. If you can improve it, then improve it. But do not, for goodness sake! with the world in the state it is in to-day, scrap it without very careful thought. That seems to me, therefore, to be the first real grievance. We had a great reputation as upholders of the rule of law. Our administration of justice in this country was the admiration of the world. I believe that everyone thought that, so far as the maintenance of the rule of law, internationally and nationally, was concerned, this country could be relied upon. And my first trouble is this: that I think that that reputation has been tarnished. And I think that that fact will take us years to live down.
I come to the second point I wish to talk about. I believe we have lost respect in the United States. I am not one of those who think that we ought to abstain from all criticism of the United States and indulge all the time in flattery and the like. I think nothing of the sort. But I am very disturbed about what is happening there. As I see it, the trouble is not merely that we did not give them information. I think we have to face this fact: that what they are saying and what they are thinking is not merely that we tricked them, but that, to use a vulgar phrase, we "led them up the garden path".
1041 I want for a moment to consider that view. We did not tell them, and it has been said by the Foreign Secretary—and I think it was said in this House also—that we had no time to tell them. Lord Silkin dealt with this question yesterday and the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, has given no answer. It has been said that we had no time to tell them. Was it that we had no time to tell them, or was it that we did not want to tell them? M. Mollet, at his Press conference in Paris on December 9, made a statement in this connection. My quotation is a translation taken from the Manchester Guardian, but I have had it looked up in Le Monde, and I think you can take it as correct. M. Mollet said:Your Government"—he was talking to the United States reporters—was not told, and the reason, the only reason, I must confess, is that we were afraid that if we had let you know you would have prevented us doing it, and to that we could not agree, you see.When the noble Earl, Lord Home, comes to reply at the end of the debate—we have got to the stage now when we have to get right down to brass tacks—I should like him to say whether what M. Mollet said is the truth or what our Foreign Secretary said is the truth. These two statements are utterly and wholly inconsistent. We had better clear that up. I hope the noble Earl will put that matter on his list. Even if I may not be here (I may have to leave before the end of the Sitting) I shall read with the greatest interest his answer to that question.
Now I want to go a little further into this American question. I am not going to trouble your Lordships with a lot of dates, because I know you would not like it, but here are just a few dates. I will start with Friday, October 26, 1956. On that day, as the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, has told us, we were informed by our Ambassador at Tel Aviv that mobilisation of Israeli Forces had begun. May I remind your Lordships of what the Minister of Defence said about that in another place—I am not going by newspaper reports; I am taking the dates and facts from Hansard. He said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 561 (No. 22), col. 1244]:The possibility of an Israeli attack on Egypt had been in the minds of the General Staff and of the Defence Committee and the Cabinet for some considerable lime.1042 And so I should hope.Our first true knowledge that it was going to take place was when we were informed about the mobilisation.That was on October 26. On the admission of the Minister of Defence, we knew that the attack on Egypt was going to take place, and the mobilisation in the Negev made it perfectly plain.
On Sunday, October 28, and on the Monday, we were discussing these things with the Americans in Washington in the tripartite discussions. May I tell your Lordships something about those tripartite discussions and what they mean? In February of this year, our Prime Minister went over to Washington to discuss with the President the dangers of Russian influence in the Middle East and how action in support of the Tripartite Declaration should be organised. At the end of the Washington talks, on February 1, 1956, a declaration was made which stated:We believe that the security of the States in the area cannot rest upon arms alone but rather upon the international rule of law and upon the establishment of friendly relations amongst neighbours.The next day our Prime Minister was asked to address the Senate, and this is what Sir Anthony Eden said to the American Senate on February 2 of this year:In the areas where the danger of conflict is most acute we should, wherever we can, declare our unity of purpose. For instance, between the Arab States and Israel, where the danger has increased, we have done well to make clear that we are to discuss together what action we should take.On March 7, the Prime Minister again said:It is of the greatest significance that we and the United States should be in complete agreement about it and have discussions as to the nature of the action we should take in such an event.That was, in the event of war in the Middle East.
So that on October 26, as admitted by the Minister of Defence, we knew there was going to be a war. On the 27th and 28th, we were meeting with representatives of the United States, our partners in the Tripartite Declaration. We said to them not one word at that stage about what we contemplated doing. I do not suggest that the final "t" had been crossed or the last "i" dotted—that was not done until the day afterwards—but that the broad conception of what we 1043 should do was in our minds was perfectly plain, and we went with our friends, with the United States, into those discussions on the Tripartite Declaration, playing an elaborate game all the time, concealing from them what we knew. Then, at 9.30 in the evening of that same day, Israel, having given an assurance that she would not invade Jordan, invaded Egypt, as of course we had known, ever since the 26th, that she would do. On October 30, the American Ambassador, as good a friend as this country has ever had if I may venture to say so without impertinence went round to the Foreign Office in the morning to see our Foreign Secretary. He was told nothing about what we were going to do. At 4.15 that day the ultimatum was handed to the Israeli and Egyptian Ambassadors, who had been summoned to the Foreign Office. Mr. Winthrop Aldrich was then told, and the Prime Minister react it to the House of Commons.
My Lords, I am bound to say—it is much better said here, because it is being said in America—that I cannot think that that was "playing the game" with our American friends. And the point had much better be dealt with. It is not merely, your Lordships will see, a question of not giving information. It is not merely negative but positive; developing discussions in this way and concealing completely the true position. But the New York Times, which as your Lord— ships all know is a most reputable paper, is now saying something much more serious even than that. It made a statement the other day to the effect that the State Department had in its possession documents showing that we (by "we" I mean either us or the French. or both) had actually connived at, and helped to start, the invasion. I do not believe that. I cannot believe that. It would be an act of such utter dishonour that I absolutely decline to believe that members of Her Majesty's Government, whom I know and with whom I am friends, could have done such a thing. But they know as well as I do that that is being said, and is believed in certain circles in America.
I want to ask them this question. I remember that when my noble friend Lord Attlee was Prime Minister and there was some talk about bribery in the Board of Trade, I discussed with him what 1044 should be done about it. I said to him that I was perfectly certain that if that sort of rumour had got about, the only thing to do was to have a complete inquiry into the whole thing, with the utmost publicity. In that way, and only in that way, could we scotch the rumours which were flying around: if anything had gone wrong we would find it out. My noble friend agreed, and we had what was known as the Lynskey Inquiry. I ask the noble Marquess, for his own interest, for the interests of the Government and for the good name of the people of this country. in order to scotch these ugly rumours, which I do not believe: would it not be wisest to have some kind of Select Committee or judicial inquiry, or what you will, in order to demonstrate to all the world that, whatever else we have done, however many mistakes we have made, at least we did not do that? It would be utterly deplorable if, when our defence is that we went to put out a forest fire, anybody were to say that we helped to light it. Let us destroy that rumour, and I think that an inquiry is the best way to destroy it.
I want to point out one other matter which, to my mind, is very serious. We have succeeded in what, last March, I should have thought was almost a miracle: we have succeeded in uniting all the Arabs against us. And make no mistake about it! that is going to cost us bitterly, because for many years (I agree entirely with what the noble Viscount, Lord Esher, said about making the time before we can change over to atomic power stations and the like as short as possible) we shall be dependent on oil; and if we are dependent on oil it must come from the Arab countries. Yet they hate us and distrust us passionately.
When I was there in March and sent my report in to the noble Lord, nothing could have been happier than our relations with Iraq. Now Iraq will not even meet us when there is going to be a meeting of the members of the Baghdad Pact. If I may be cynical—though I do not want it to he thought that I am advocating this course, because I think there is a moral issue, and therefore nothing else matters—I would say that if only you had stuck to the Canal that might have made some sense. If you had said: "You. Nasser, have committed a 1045 plain breach of contract"—as indeed he had—you could then, perfectly rightly, have the negotiations, which Mr. Menzies conducts. If they come to nothing, and you go to the United Nations, where Russia uses the Veto, you have then exhausted all your remedies. Then you might have said: "There is a school of though that thinks"—I do not say whether it is right or wrong—"that after we have exhausted our remedies before the United Nations, we are once more free to do what we think proper." You might then have gone and taken the Canal.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Perhaps I may interrupt the noble and learned Earl. He says that he does not say whether that would be right or wrong. What does he think?
§ EARL JOWITT
I say this. if you are going to do this thing at all, you must act sensibly; you must time the thing properly and think out the consequences. I say this to the noble Marquess—I am not advocating this course, because I think it would have been immoral and wrong, and in breach of our Treaty. But if you were going to do it, why on earth did you not go through and take the Canal? Then you would have split the Arab world because the Saudi-Arabians and the Iraqis by no means liked Colonel Nasser's seizure of the Canal, which is the vehicle through which their oil goes. But if you make your attack, ostensibly identify yourself with Israel and go into a war with Israel against the Arab world, then you may he certain that every Arab will hate you like poison.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The only thing I would say to the noble Earl is that I think that is the most cynical argument I have ever heard.
§ EARL JOWITT
I am sorry that the noble Marquess thinks that. What I am pointing out is that not only were you wrong here, but your timing was wrong; the whole thought of this was wrong. You are like a man who goes burgling and gets stuck in the window of the house on the way in and never even reaches the "swag." If you are going burgling, do get to the "swag," and do not get stuck in the window, as you have done here. What good have the Government done by their action? I can see some point in going through, 1046 although I should not have done it, because I think it wrong. But if you do not consider it wrong—and ex hypothesi the Government did not think it was wrong—I do not see that there is anything cynical in saying: "If you do not consider it wrong, then consider what is the best course to take, and consider your timing."
For the rest, my conclusion when I was out there was this. Nasser was in a very weak position. I met no one there who did not think that Nasser's régime would be finished within a few months. What was his position? He had seized power, as politicians often do, by making wild promises. He had not the slightest hope of carrying out those promises, and everybody was against him. The one thing he had was the agitation against Israel, and that got all the Arabs round him. He had become the victim of his own propaganda, and if he stopped his agitation of Israel then the Arabs would fall away from him. He was weak, depressed and in a miserable position. What we have clone, as the result of this, after he had been trounced by the Israelis and made to look ridiculous—as we all knew he would be—is to throw him up again; and there he sits as a kind of great die-later. The Government's position in regard to the Suez Canal was weak before: they had not got mach of a hand then. Now, they have the most cornplete "Yarborough" I ever saw. How are they going to negotiate with him now?
The noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, said yesterday: "Do not let us sit down under this." Nasser says that our ships are not to be used. If Nasser says that our ships are not to be used, they will not be used. He says that not until our troops have gone will a start be made on clearing the Canal. If Nasser says that a start on clearing the Canal is not to be made until our troops are gone, then that is the position and we must go first. That I consider is a deplorable situation.
§ LORD TEVIOT
Perhaps I might ask the noble and learned Earl a question. He has given this side of the House and the Government a terrible trouncing on many questions. Is it the policy, and has it always been the policy, of the 1047 Opposition Party that, in the circumstances, they would have done nothing whatever to protect the interests of this country and the world?
I will tell the noble Lord what I should have done. On October 26, when I knew the attack was coming, I should have gone straight to the Americans and told them about it I should have discussed with them, as I was obliged to under the Tripartite Declaration, what we should do; and then, with them. I should have put the matter before the United Nations. And although the United Nations cannot do much in the case of a Power like Russia. I venture to think that if the United Nations, with America and ourselves, had passed a resolution, then we might have stopped Israel going beyond a certain point.
VISCOUNT DE L'ISLE
In the earlier part of his speech I think the noble and learned Earl said that a Government—I am not sure whether it was the Nationalist Government or the Socialist Government—had induced the smaller Powers to come into the United Nations on the plea that no action could be taken against them unless the Great Powers agreed. Perhaps he would tell us the source of that statement, because I do not recollect it, although I am sure he gives it out of his great knowledge. But if it be true. does he not agree that that as been the fons et origo of all the evils that have flown, because no small Power can be controlled if the Veto covers them as it always has?
§ EARL JOWITT
That may be so. The history of the matter is this. This Treaty was negotiated in the days of the National Government, under Mr. Churchill (as he then was), and the signatures were then obtained. Nobody played a more honourable part in it than the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, who knows much more about this matter than I do. The Act ratifying the Treaty was introduced and passed during the time of the Labour Government; it was, indeed, the first occasion that I ever spoke in this House when I became Lord Chancellor in 1945.
§ EARL. JOWITT
The smaller Powers were hesitant about coming in. because 1048 they thought the big Powers might ride roughshod over them. So we said: "You need not be alarmed about that; nobody can give you a 'rough house' unless they all agree." Whether or not it is the fons et origo, is not my point. I am dealing with the fact; and that is the fact.
§ EARL JOWITT
The noble Marquess asked the question: Were we not all surprised at the passivity of the other Arabs? If I may humbly answer the noble Marquess, may I say that nothing would have surprised me more if it had been otherwise. I am perfectly certain that what was going to happen was this. When the Israeli attack on Egypt started, the other Arab nations were going to wait to see how it went. They were exceedingly frightened of the Israeli armies, which were formidable. If the Egyptians had "knocked the Israelis for six," all the others would have come in at once. If, on the other hand, it had been the other way round, they would not. That is the fact, and I do not think it requires any great knowledge of the Arab countries to know that it is the fact.
May I state my conclusions on the whole matter? First, I think the lesson we have all learned is this: that we can all learn lessons from our mistakes. I was at one time in my life closely concerned with the life history of Rasputin, whose theory was that the great thing to do was to repent and to have a thoroughly good repentance you must have something to repent about; therefore, you must lead a very wild life for a certain time, and then when you went to repent it really did something tremendous to you. That practice had to be repeated from time to time. Of course we can learn from our past failures, but I do not suggest that we should countenance failures in the future because we may get over them.
The next lesson to learn is that this country should never contemplate going to war unless it can carry with it a more or less united nation. The noble Viscount, Lord Esher, knows much better than I do which way the next Election will go. Whether it is 45 per cent. on the Government side and 55 per cent. on our side. I do not know. But everybody must have known when we started on this adventure 1049 that the nation would be absolutely divided. To start an adventure like this when you know that behind you is a deeply divided nation, seems to me entirely wrong. In view of the remark which I have heard about Mr. Bevan I should like to say this: that I am sure that Mr. Gaitskell has made some mistakes; he probably would phrase things differently, and so on. But, broadly speaking, I think he has represented faithfully and truly the attitude of this Party. I think that that should be said.
Here is the next lesson I think we have to learn. Let us remember that, in the world as it is to-day. we cannot "go it alone." Even with France, we cannot "go it alone." We must keep close to the United States. I hope—and as the noble Viscount, Lord Esher, has mentioned the point I will not deal with it further—that we shall be able to get a much more closely integrated united Europe. I did not always think that. I have sometimes listened to the noble Lord, Lord Layton, on this point, with some reservations, but recent events have convinced me that along that line lies our salvation. I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Esher, in thinking that once we realise the fact that we are not going to "go it alone," that we are eliminating that idea altogether, we shall be enabled to review entirely our whole military position and expenditure believe that whether we like it or not, we must have a drastic reduction in Our military budget.
The next thing I would say is this. We must do all we can to make ourselves independent of oil. I think the Government, are doing extremely well about this matter. I saw in the Press the other day that we are to have five new power stations. I urge the Government to think again and see whether they cannot make it ten. If they can they should try to telescope time in this matter and devote all our resources to it, because I believe that on those lines lies our salvation. Of course, whatever we do about it, for many years we must be dependent on oil. What can we do here? The other day, the noble Lord, Lord Hore-Belisha, made a suggestion which I hope has been carefully examined. It was one of the few constructive suggestions which have been made—the possibility of a pipeline from the Gull of Aqaba. I hope that the Gulf of Aqaba at least would he free to Israeli ships, just as I myself hope that the Gaza 1050 Strip will not go back to Egypt. Now is that proposal regarding a canal possible? I have heard projects of other possible places for canals, but I am no engineer and I do not know anything about it.
The cost of building enormous liners to go round the Cape is very heavy indeed. But if you build ships of 30,000 or 100,000 tons, then you can produce your oil here almost as cheaply as you can by using a smaller tanker going through the Suez Canal. There is the question of a pipeline through Turkey, but the royalties demanded by people through whose territory pipelines pass is immense. I am told that the royalties which Syria exacts for the pipeline which goes through her territory is more than Egypt gets from the Suez Canal which passes through hers. It does not seem that that is a hopeful way. I think that our oil has to come in ships.
I do not think it is any good blinking the fact that this is a turning point in our history. I do not believe that petrol rationing is going to be of short duration: I think it is going to last for many long months, and I believe it will probably last all next year. The financial consequences are going to be most grave, and I believe the consequences on unemployment are going to be serious, too. Indeed, I think the whole situation is very serious. But, having had our quarrels, as we have about this business, as to the way it arose and soon, when we have concluded the inquest which we are having to-day, we must all get busy and do whatever we can to see that this country of OUT'S gets through the great difficulties which now confront us.
§ 4.27 p.m.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, I rise with the greatest diffidence to make my maiden speech, and I feel that your Lordships may well hold a grievance against me, in that I have had six years in which to avail myself of this privilege and yet have chosen an occasion when your Lordships have been inundated with a positive flood of words and speeches. Your Lordships may well think that you might have been spared my contribution. I would assure your Lordships, however, that my contribution to that flood will be the merest trickle.
I have two reasons for intervening in this debate. The first is that, as the noble Viscount, Lord Esher, pointed out, 1051 there is at hand legislation which, if passed, might well mean that if I did not speak now I might for ever have to hold my peace. The other is a far more serious reason: that it gives me an opportunity of expressing my wholehearted and unstinted admiration of the actions of Her Majesty's Government during the past few weeks. As the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, has said, this is not a matter for levity, and in that view I heartily support him. I welcome what he said, because it was in marked contrast to the conduct of his colleagues in another place.
I should like to follow him in his earlier remarks about the moral problem with which Her Majesty's Government have presented us. I have absolutely no doubt of the principles and beliefs that led people to think Her Majesty's Government were morally wrong; but, with all humility and respect, I must say that I think those who hold that view should be accused of muddled thinking. I will not weary your Lordships with any further reiteration of the happenings of the past few weeks, but can it really be thought to be an act of immorality to stop a war? Can it really be thought to be an act of immorality to prevent a far worse and entirely catastrophic conflagration from taking place?
Let us go back to that well-worn metaphor of the burglar. It seems hardly a moral attitude, if one sees very considerable preparations going on for one's neighbour's house to be burgled, to sit by one's fireside and take no action. I am quite certain their Lordships opposite would agree that the right thing would be to call a policeman. I, too, should agree. But, like so many things, it depends on the policeman and here we come to the crux of the whole matter. In the present matter under debate we have a policeman, certainly. And I go further. From the amount of noise he is capable of making, I think it is true to say he has been equipped with a whistle. But that is as far as the watch committee who appointed him were prepared to go. They did not see fit to arm him with even as little as a truncheon, with the tragic result that he is entirely incapable of preventing the burglary. If it comes to a question of morals, I have no doubt that the moral 1052 thing, in the absence of an effective policeman, is to prevent the burglary oneself.
I should like to follow one point made by the noble and learned Earl. I understood him to say that although the United Nations might not yet be capable of dealing with great Powers such as Russia, it should be fit to deal with, and impose a solution upon, Powers of the size of Israel. I can only say this: that the actions and effectiveness of the United Nations in enforcing its decision about the passage of Israeli ships through the Suez Canal seems to me to offer little evidence that the United Nations is, in point of fact, able to enforce its decisions.
Last night, in his most admirable speech, the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, drew attention to the tragic difference 'between now and 1939. I should be the first to admit that the tragic division of the people of this country during the past weeks has been one of the saddest aspects of the whole affair, but I do not think it is a fair comparison to compare now with 1939. In 1939, prior events had been such as to convince even the most ostrich-headed of our citizens that, had we not gone to war, we should have been destroyed. We had to go to war. As I see it, the action of Her Majesty's Government recently was taken to prevent war. Had the Government, in the months and years prior to 1939, taken similar action, they might well have prevented the tragedy of 1939. It is equally possible that, in so doing, they might not have carried the whole country with them, as they did when the ultimate disaster was faced. But surely it is the duty of a Government to do what they think right; it is the duty of a Government to lead, and not to follow.
There is a further aspect of our intervention in the Middle East—that of trying to secure free passage in the Suez Canal. To my mind, my Lords, Her Majesty's Government would have been fully entitled to act and use force for this, if not for the other considerations which they had to keep in mind. Suez is not only our lifeline; it is the front line of defence, not only of Britain and France but of the whole of Western Europe. If one agrees with that view, and I think it is a reasonable line to take, it is interesting to note, in view of 1053 the very harsh criticism we have suffered from the American Government, what their attitude would be, always remembering that we consider the Canal our first line of defence. I should like to quote what was said by Senator Knowland, the Republican Leader of the Senate, in a broadcast last week. He said:Based on what I have seen at the General Assembly, I am not willing to risk the defence of my country on the present effectiveness of the United Nations.That, to my mind, is a confession that had the United States been faced with the same problem as we were, they would have done exactly the same. I think, therefore, that much of their criticism is unjust and unfair.
It must be admitted that in this single respect our intervention has been a failure: the Canal is blocked and may be blocked for some time to come. We should be foolish, however, to be too downhearted by that temporary failure because I think that by our action we have forced the United Nations, supported by the United States, to take a series of steps which will ultimately result in achieving our aim, internationalisation of tile Canal. The first step, the creation of the United Nations Force, has already taken place. I refuse to be too discouraged by this aspect. After all, some of those who, many years ago, witnessed the burning of Archbishop Cranmer at the stake must have thought they saw in the smoke and flames the failure of all that great man believed in. Indeed, the whole of history is studded with examples of great and just causes apparently brought to naught and failure, though subsequent events have shown that in that failure lay the beginning of total success in the future. My Lords, I hope and believe that the future will show that Her Majesty's Government's action here was one more example of this thing which has happened in history so often before.
§ 4.37 p.m.
§ LORD HORE-BELISHA
My Lords, it falls to me to congratulate the noble Duke on a remarkable maiden speech. It was characterised not only by verve and vigour and by excellence of argument but by little reliance upon notes, and that is a remarkable achievement. I am sure 1054 that the spirit of the noble Duke's fisher, for whom so many of us entertained regard and affection, and indeed the spirits of many of his ancestors will have been gratified by his intervention in a House in which so many of them played a notable part. I can only wish with the utmost sincerity and indeed there is every promise that this will come about— that the noble Duke's ability and his gift for public service in so many directions will result in his holding the highest offices in the State.
My Lords, the noble Duke has to some extent answered the extraordinary intervention, for in some respects it was extraordinary, of the noble and learned Earl. Lord Jowitt. He—the noble and learned Earl—commended to us the philosophy of Rasputin, of which we noted he had made a deep study. We can only hope that when he returns to his bed this evening. before falling asleep he will engage in that act of contrition which he recommended to Her Majesty's Government. When I listened to the noble Earl describing the iniquities of Ministers, I could not help recalling the witty speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Esher, who preceded him, who said, in effect, that in the course of these debates about Suez he had heard the noble Marquess who leads this House described as a cheat and a rogue and he found it difficult to reconcile the noble Marquess thus pictured with the man he knew in private life as a good and patient gentleman exhibiting the ordinary domestic virtues. I find it very difficult to recognise through the screen of denigration which the noble Earl released, the Sir Anthony Eden whom we know. I find it impossible to believe that he would have engaged in an act of deliberate deception of our American colleagues or indeed, of anyone else. I hope that the noble and learned Earl, on reflection, will wish to exonerate him and all other Ministers from such a charge. We may have differences of opinion, but I do not think it corresponds with the character of Ministers on the Front Bench to engage in acts of deliberate deception.
§ EARL JOWITT
I shall be most delighted to withdraw that statement on hearing from the noble Earl who is going to wind up, bat the facts are that on October 26 we knew, on October 28 and 29 we discussed the Tripartite Agreement, and only on the 30th did we tell the Americans. Those are the facts
§ LORD HORE-BELISHA
I cannot understand the gravamen of the charge. On October 26 we knew of the Israeli mobilisation?
§ LORD HORE-BELISHA
On subsequent dates we discussed with the Americans and with the French the possibilities of the situation, and the noble and learned Earl is saying that in some way we failed to divulge then some information which we knew about that situation.
§ EARL JOWITT
I know it is important to get it right; I want to get it right. On October 26, according to the Minister of Defence, we not only knew of the mobilisation but we knew then that they were going to attack. On October 26 we knew that the Israelis were going to attack the Egyptians. That is according to the Minister of Defence. I have it here.
§ LORD HORE-BELISHA
I think there must be some misunderstanding about this, because it has been stated repeatedly by Ministers that we did, not know exactly whom the Israelis were going to attack, if indeed they were going to attack at all. We knew they were mobilising; we gave a warning about Jordan; and if the Minister said in fact that we knew three days before the Israelis actually did attack Egypt that they were going, specifically to attack Egypt, there must be some error in the Report.
§ LORD HORE-BELISHA
I am sure that this will be refuted in some way or other in the course of this debate. Nobody speaking for the Government, in another place or here, has said that we were privy to the Israeli decision. In fact, that has been categorically denied. I hope, therefore, that in the circumstances the noble and learned Earl will hold himself in patience until the misconception can be rectified, because it seems to me completely impossible upon the facts of the situation.
§ LORD HORE-BELISHA
I am not disputing that the noble and learned Earl has found that quotation in Hansard. I am sure that, if it states that Her Majesty's Government knew that Israel was going to attack Egypt and knew in terms authoritatively three days before Israel made that attack, that statement is made in error and can easily be corrected. Let us leave it at that, because nobody but the Government can give the denial. I hoped that the noble and learned Earl would have assumed that there was some error, without making the very strong strictures upon Ministers which he made, based upon that charge of deliberate concealment, which, as I say, is completely out of accord with their personal characters.
The trouble throughout this debate and throughout all this series of debates is to reconcile the facts as they are with what is said about them by noble Lords opposite. The noble and learned Earl says that the great issue between Her Majesty's Government and the Opposition is the contention of Her Majesty's Opposition that we have acted in breach of the Covenant. That is the great grievance which the Opposition allege against Her Majesty's Government. That is what causes this chasm which separates us. But, if that in fact, be the main division between us, why is it not asserted in the Amendment? Why is that glossed over? The noble and learned Earl knows well that there is a difference of opinion in the interpretation of the Covenant. The letter of the Covenant may be in dispute; but what cannot be in dispute is the spirit of the Covenant. The whole spirit of the Covenant is directed towards the stopping of war, and it is in that spirit, misguidedly or with wisdom, that Her Majesty's Government acted.
It may be possible to say that they were wrong. Of course, there is a case to be made against many points in the Government's policy; but that they acted against the spirit of the Covenant of the United Nations, I should have thought, was not arguable, and that the spirit of the Covenant was the simple one of stopping war surely cannot be countersaid in this House.
Her Majesty's Opposition have chosen to quarrel with the Government about a 1057 number of matters which they have set out in their Amendment, and in order that we may vote under no doubt as to what is really involved, I think that this should be briefly examined.
The first statement is that by these events there has been caused in some way a breach in the Comonwealth. To sustain that argument, the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, this afternoon. and even more emphatically the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, yesterday, purported to quote some remarks made by Mr. Lester Pearson. I think it is due to the House that the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, who is to speak, should have regard to what in fact Mr. Lester Pearson said. We have the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, telling us yesterday that the Empire was on the eve of collapse, and that Mr. Lester Pearson had said that there was a time after the Anglo-French landings in Egypt when the Commonwealth was "on the verge of dissolution." He asks us to give weight to a statement of that kind made upon that authority. But it is not at all in fact a fair interpretation of what Mr. Lester Pearson said. He has corrected or clarified that statement and I think that it should he upon the record. Whit Mr. Pearson said on December 3 was that he had Asian members in mind when he stated that the British Commonwealth was at one stage in the Middle Fast crisis "on the verge of dissolution."There never was any danger",he addedthat the association of the older members of the Commonwealth, such as Canada, Australia. Britain and New Zealand, would have broken up."There never was any danger." On landing here the day before yesterday he said this:We have not agreed 100 per cent. with Great Britain at the United Nations. But I feel certain that our relationship has not been affected. We have voted with the United States and, although we are close to the United States, we are closer to the United Kingdom and we want to keep it that way.What becomes of this assertion in the Amendment that the Commonwealth is being broken up? Mr. Menzies has identified himself—and nobody has greater authority in this matter—fully with all the steps taken by Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. Mr. 1058 Casey has done the same. Mr. Holland has made a very moving statement.
§ LORD CHORLEY
Is the noble Lord saying that the Asian members of the Commonwealth are of no importance? Do I understand that to be the burden of his remarks?
§ LORD HORE-BELISHA
I hope that the noble Lord will not think it necessary to twist my remarks in that manner. I am saying what I am saying, and I will draw the conclusions from what I am saying in one moment, and I hope that the noble Lord will agree with me. I am speaking of the Amendment put down by the noble Lord's Party, and I am answering it. It is moving to hear the words "Mother Country" used from the other side of the world, and Mr. Holland, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, said:When many harsh things are Mug said about our Mother Country, it seems not inappropriate for the country most distant from Britain to acknowledge the great generosity showered upon our land by the United Kingdom. We should be nowhere without' her guidance, generosity and wise counsel.And he added,There are now real prospects of a solution in the Middle East, and it is my belief what the prospects have been accelerated and made possible by the British and French action.I ask, what note is taken of that statement, in the Amendment moved by Her Majesty's Opposition? Then we have Sir Roy Welensky, who completely identifies himself with the policy.
I now return to the interruption of the noble Lord. He asked: Did I say that the Eastern members of the Commonwealth were of no account? He knew that I did not say anything of the kind. But what I do say is, as Mr. Lester Pearson implied, and as Sir Eric Harrison has implied in his first statement in London as the new Australian High Commissioner, that there are two parts of the Commonwealth, and it is just as well that upon this fact we should have our minds unclouded. There is a British Commonwealth, and there is a wider Commonwealth comprising certain Eastern countries. It is alleged or implied in this Amendment that we have "split the Commonwealth "and that we have" brought it to the verge of dissolution"—to use the phrases which are popular in the minds of some noble 1059 Lords who have spoken. I have shown that that is not the case at all with the British part of the Commonwealth, with the older part of the Commonwealth.
With regard to the other part of the Commonwealth, to which the noble Lord has just drawn my attention, the fact is, of course, that their policy has never been the same as ours, Mr. Nehru does not accept N.A.T.O.: he attacks it. He does not accept the Baghdad Pact; he attacks it. He does not accept S.E.A.T.O: he takes exception to it. Throughout the events of the post-war world, since India has achieved her independence, Mr. Nehru has taken a line, which he is entitled to take, but which is completely and avowedly out of accord with the line taken by the members of the British part of the Commonwealth. It is a proof of the toleration of the Commonwealth that it can comprise dissenting opinions of this kind. But it is not these events in the Middle East that have caused that breach. As I say, all along the policy pursued by Her Majesty's Government and the other Dominions has been under stricture from Mr. Nehru—and he has told us what his purpose is.
The noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, in that characteristically outspoken speech yesterday, said that the right way to deal with these matters was to speak out; that America understood that kind of treatment and that it was best calculated to cement any relationships. Surely the same applies to India, if, as this Amendment would suggest, we are to agree with India simply to get unity in the Empire on whose terms are we to have unity? Are we to abandon N.A.T.O., abandon S.E.A.T.O., abandon the Baghdad Pact, and fall in with Mr. Nehru's wishes? It was said at the time of the Crusades that the world could have been united and peace made with Saladin on the terms that the Crescent was everywhere substituted for the Cross. Are we to accept the whole of Mr. Nehru's policy in order to go into the Lobby with noble Lords opposite? Surely not.
This is what Mr. Nehru says. First of all, he says in effect that he is not going to regard the United Nations as an authority: he regards his agreement and understanding with Nasser as more binding. His contingent despatched to Egypt 1060 is not there to serve the purposes of the United Nations and to be at their command; it is to be there only so long as Colonel Nasser wishes to see it there. That is not very loyal to the United Nations, to start with. He goes on to say—I am quoting from his statement on December 4:Indian policy at the current session of the United Nations General Assembly has been to resist all attempts by interested parties to distract attention from the Egyptian question by harping on the events in Hungary. We were determined to keep Egypt in the forefront and we have succeeded.Does the Opposition identify itself with a statement of that kind—that we should use the Egyptian situation to distract the world's attention from Hungary and from the murders, atrocities, cruelties and outrages going on in that part of the world?—because that is Mr. Nehru's declared policy. While he has been so anxious to send a contingent into Egypt, he has been resisting attempts to send even observers into Hungary. What has happened in Hungary, he says, is their domestic affair: he will have nothing or as little as possible, to do with it, and he is fighting line by line every resolution brought before the United Nations which can bring even moral succour to that distressed country.
Therefore, I beg noble Lords opposite to think what they mean when they call for the unity of Commonwealth policy. Mr. Menon's latest contribution to the relief of the miseries of the Hungarians has been to recommend that the Secretary-General of the United Nations should enter into negotiations in Washington with the Russians and the present Hungarian Government, to be followed, if necessary, by negotiations in Moscow.
§ LORD SHERWOOD
Will the noble Lord allow me to intervene? After all, Hungary was against us before the war as a Nazi country, and took one-third of Czechoslovakia as the prize which she won in going with a man called Hitler.
§ LORD HORE-BELISHA
Until this moment, I had understood that my noble friend, who has interrupted me was a Liberal, and I thought that just and humane treatment to human beings did not depend upon race or colour or past records; that it was a matter of absolute standards. Does the noble Lord really 1061 suggest that what is happening in Hungary is the just reward for what they did in the war, and that therefore we should stand aside, indifferent?
§ LORD SHERWOOD
My Lords, all I am saying is that it is a bitter past, an unhappy past, which I cannot forget.
§ LORD HORE-BELISHA
My Lords, surely the noble Lord does not wish to encourage those who are emulating. Hitler in torturing, persecuting and deporting the innocent citizens of Hungary. So much for the unity of the Commonwealth. I ask noble Lords: upon what terms is this unity to be affirmed?
We next come to the second assertion in the Amendment, that we have broken up our relationships with our Allies. The Amendment calls upon Her Majesty's Government to restore these relationships. My Lords, the Opposition come a little late to the feast. The dessert has been finished; the loving cup has been passed round. Mr. Nixon has said that the United States had not assumed its proper responsibilities in working out a settlement in the Middle East. He called for the abandonment of all recriminations and for the adoption of a policy which seems to he in complete accord with the policy pursued for many months past by Her Majesty's Government. The President of 'he United States has issued the declaration to which the noble Lord. Lord Henderson, referred so powerfully this afternoon, in which he says that the united States will regard with the utmost gravity a threat to the territorial integrity or political independence of the members of the Baghdad Pact. "Excellent!" said the noble Lord. But that has been brought about by these events. He ought to he paying a tribute in his Amendment, instead of taking exception. If we have changed the policy of the United States, and reconciled even the noble Lord opposite and his Party to the Baghdad Pact, and to welcoming that the United States would intervene immediately to protect any attacked member of that body—
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to interrupt him? I have supported the Baghdad Pact in several speeches in your Lordships' House. I have welcomed the statement by the United States and I have asked for them to go further. I cannot do more than that.
§ LORD HORE-BELISHA
My Lords, certainly the noble Lord cannot do more than that, except to put down an Amend-merit calling upon Her Majesty's Government to bring about what is already a fact! I ask the noble Lord this question: this statement of the United States guarantees the members of the Baghdad Pact against any attack, and the United States will immediately intervene to protect them, with or without the agreement of the United Nations; because according to the noble Lord it is immoral that we should make interventions of that kind spontaneously—
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, on the contrary, the Baghdad Pact would operate under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
§ LORD HORE-BELISHA
My Lords, the United States has declared that upon one of those Powers being attacked—in other words, on the outbreak of a war in that area—it will intervene. That is exactly what Britain did in Egypt: we intervened to stop a war. Anyhow, I am glad to know that that policy has the support of the noble Lord.
Now surely it will be agreed by noble Lords opposite that the great defect of our existing arrangements was this. While we, with the French and with the United States as principal parties, had an Agreement, which constitutes what is known as N.A.T.O.—intended to repel the Russian danger in Europe—the flank was left exposed. How we can cover that flank is now the subject matter of discussions between Mr. Dulles, our Ministers and the French. Surely that is a good result which comes out of all this business. Mr. Dulles was illogical enough to assert, or to assume, that he could make an agree-merit with us for the protection of Western Europe against the Russians, but leave nothing on the flank. Now we have the declaration of the United States, in the most unequivocal terms, that they will develop a Middle Eastern policy. That, I submit, makes nonsense of the second leg in the Amendment.
Finally, there is in this Amendment a reference to the United Nations. What is proposed? Here we have a case in which Britain intervened. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, yesterday compared our action to the action of a murderer who claimed credit for the activities of the hangman. 1063 But the Prime Minister, in another place, announced on November 3, after we had gone into Egypt, that Her Majesty's Government would be willing to hand over physical control to the United Nations. On November 4 the Resolution sponsored by Mr. Lester Pearson to form a force for this purpose was moved. It was from our Prime Minister that that suggestion came. The comparison of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, is therefore completely erroneous. It was we, the British, who were calling in the police to stop a murder which was being committed.
My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to interrupt to ask why that suggestion was not made when we first issued our statement; why it was allowed to come only so late in the situation?
§ LORD HORE-BELISHA
My Lords, it is said that time and tide wait for no man. Surely if a murder was being committed, to take the simile of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, the first course was to act; and the second course was to say that we would hand over our position to the police—to the United Nations—if they would take it. It may be that twenty-four hours or more were allowed to elapse, but that statement was made; and this matter must be judged broadly in the light of an emergency. At any rate, it is not an act injurious to the United Nations to say that we will hand over our position; that we require nothing for ourselves, although our own interests have been compromised—some might say unduly compromised—by our not occupying the whole of the Canal.
§ LORD SHERWOOD
My Lords, the noble Lord must admit that there was a reason why they should have taken that action then.
§ LORD HORE-BELISHA
My Lords, I do not quite follow the noble Lord's intervention, but I am sorry to say that he is rather prolonging my speech. I agree with what the noble and learned Earl. Lord Jowitt, said in the last part of his speech—it gives me pleasure to say that, because I took exception so strongly to the first part. This question of the Suez Canal has mesmerised us for too long. We have for too long come to regard it as the coronary artery of Britain. That has been a mistake. It was unwise in the 1064 past, from the moment that Egyptian nationalism showed its head, to allow ourselves to be unduly dependent upon this single avenue of communication.
For this reason, I regret deeply that the Government did not pay attention to the pleas, which I made as long ago as six years, that we should take steps to provide ourselves with an alternative, either in the shape of a canal from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Mediterranean or in the shape of pipelines—which are now, I understand, to be put down. But even that position has been by-passed. and we now have made further progress. I cannot forget reading that whereas for hundreds of years Egypt drew her prosperity from trade with the East which used to come across the Red Sea and then overland to the Mediterranean, that position was completely destroyed by the voyage of Vasco da Gama round the Cape, and it was found it was possible to take goods otherwise than by the land route across Egypt. The last of the Mamelukes was so furious at Vasco da Gama's discovery that he pleaded with the Pope to excommunicate him, and he actually sent a fleet to destroy the new commerce.
Four hundred years have passed, and Nasser by his own act has destroyed or compromised the sources of his national wealth. We shall recover. Egypt will not so easily recover, for this problem will not be settled, and is not being settled, by politicians and diplomats, but by scientists, engineers and shipbuilders. I was exhilarated to read that the British steel industry, which is the greatest consumer of oil, was actually producing more steel to-day than before the Canal was blocked by Nasser's ships. It had found another fuel, a by-product of making gas and coke, namely, tar, and it was using tar. Sir Robert Shone, a member of the Iron and Steel Board said:We have offset the 10 per cent. cut in oil already, and in the last few weeks production has been higher than ever before in the history of the steel industry. One outcome of this crisis may be that we shall permanently use more of these products for firing steel furnaces in the future.The resourcefulness of British industry is not dead, and it is dismal and discouraging and unworthy that articles should now be written in the Press, and speeches should be made, sounding the death knell of Britain as a Great Power. That is not 1065 the position at all. Our atomic energy programme is most promising. We have been the first nation in the world to use atomic energy for the production of electricity on a commercial scale, and within the next few years we shall be saving £60 million a year on imported fuel as the result of it. We shall, consequent upon these events, expedite, as we have been told by the shipbuilders and the Atomic Energy Authority, the propulsion of ships by atomic energy. We shall overcome these difficulties; and far from what Nasser has done spelling the downfall of Britain, it will spell our resurgence. We have only to remember the fable of the dog which bit the man. In this case also it will be the dog that dies and not the man,
§ 5.15 p.m.
THE EARL OF AIRLIE
My Lords, events have moved so fast that I suppose it would not be entirely unfair to suggest that this debate is almost out of date. But it seems to me that your Lordships' House has always shown great strength when addressing itself to a subject upon which there has been time—throughout the country as well as in your Lordships' House— for proper thought. I make no apology for intervening in this debate, and I promise you that my intervention will be brief. I feel that a "Backwoodsman" (which it what I now have to be classed as, though I was once a Whip in your Lordships' House), sometimes has a little more time to think and to see clearly. It is easier to see clearly when one is away from the problem under consideration: it is, in fact, possible more easily to see the wood apart from the trees.
We have all, of course, been extremely distressed and disturbed at the situation in the Middle East, and we have all searched our consciences and prayed that those in authority shall be shown how to take right decisions' Personally, from the very first few days, after the first plunge which was like a plunge into ice-cold water, I have had no doubts. I have felt completely happy, and confident that Her Majestys Government had taken the right step. In fact, with all due deference. I do not think that the Prime Minister has put a foot wrong throughout the proceedings connected with this matter. However. I recognise that there may be very many different views with regard to this. 1066 About one thing I am completely confident. I am sure that, whether or not mistakes have been made, here or in other spheres, from what information has been granted to us (it has not been too much—indeed, it could not be) it is best to realise that it is now all past history and our task is to do all we can to heal any breaches there are, either national or international, and to show a united front until we can stabilise the situation.
I may be very stupid but, despite what anyone else may have said, I think that three really big objectives have been gained. The first, undoubtedly, was the prevention of the conflict in the Middle East from becoming a really large fire. The second objective was that Russian motives were undoubtedly revealed, and only just in time, by the courageous action of the Prime Minister. The third, and most important, was that U.N.O. was prodded into playing an active part and into becoming a world force with some "teeth"—milk teeth, perhaps, at present, although we hope that they will become molars and prove to be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
To my mind, no useful purpose an be served by recriminations, but there are one or two lessons that could be, and should be learned from this period of travail. The first is this. In crises such as these, sometimes self-importance is inclined to take the guise of, and get mixed up with, conscience. I think that perhaps a stand such as was taken by a certain group in another place came into that category, though I am sure that it was sincere enough. I wonder whether those concerned have considered whether it was wise and what was the alternative. Was it worth risking bringing this Government down only to put in its place another Government composed—and I am sorry to have to say ihis—of people who really stabbed our troops in the back as they were going over the top into battle? That needs to he said by someone, and I think it is better that it should be said by a "Backwoodsman."
No doubt there are a good many of your Lordships on both sides of the House who have partaken of that exhilarating pleasure known as "going over the top." I have had some of it myself. I am not saying that I went over as often as some of your Lordships. but I went over a sufficient number of times 1067 to learn what it was really like. It was not a pleasant task, but it was quite exciting when you knew that your country was solidly behind you. But when troops have to go over the top, as they have had to do this time, feeling that their country is split from top to bottom and disunited behind them, it must be very uncomfortable and unpleasant indeed. The first lesson we should learn then, though it may never happen again, is that although everybody is entitled to his own view, and possibly to express it, once it has been expressed a rider should be added that as the troops arc committed, we must stand with them shoulder to shoulder. We cannot send troops over the top with the country divided. It is not fair.
My Lords, may I interrupt to ask the noble Earl a question? Surely if you think that your country's war is an unjust war, it is your duty as a public man to say so.
THE EARL OF AIRLIE
You can say so, but you should couple with it the rider that, once our troops are committed, we are all "in the jam" together, and therefore must stand behind the Government. I may be wrong, but that is my view, for what it is worth. That was the view held in the old days. You do not stab your troops in the back once they are committed.
The second lesson is, to my mind, most important. It seems to me that no real attempt was made by this Government, or is made by any Government, really to educate the people in what their policy is. Hearing of the present Government's action was like a dash into a cold bath, and I feel that an explanation of our intentions should have been put in front of the country and of our Allies much earlier. We must be more outspoken and tell our people: they are wise and good, and will react sensibly when the truth is told to them. If they are not told, then we cannot expect anything but a shiver when the cold shock comes. It is said that the Government's propaganda is bad. I hate the word "propaganda". That is not the right word. The right word is "facts". That is what our people want, and what they ought to be told often and beforehand, so that they may form a sound opinion. I trust that your Lord- 1068 ships will afford Her Majesty's Government your support in no unmeasured form tonight.
§ 5.23 p.m.
My Lords, the noble Earl is vastly more qualified than I am to talk about military affairs, but being the first speaker on this side after his speech, may I say how deeply we resent the charge that we "stabbed the troops in the back." To my mind that kind of charge would make any public discussion impossible. I believe in being extremely mild in political warfare. But my wife happens to have received a letter this morning, and as a Minister has used a letter publicly which came to him in the same kind of way, except that it came to him as a member of the Government, I should like to quote from this letter.
The respected and sincere lady wrote, as follows:While I was in the nursing home I read that your husband does not blame the Prime Minister. … My youngest son, he would have been 20 last week, was killed. The telegram said he was Missing, believed killed.' My husband went to Malta, Cyprus and Port Said, and we are quite sure we shall never see our son again till we die. … Never, never again will I vote for that Conservative. I wouldn't vote for any other Party so I am joining, the party of those who never trouble to vote.That is the feeling entertained by those who regard this intervention as a criminal affair: and just as it is courageous for noble Lords to say what they think about us, we should not be doing our duty to people who feel like this if we did not express quite candidly our views on the matter.
THE EARL OF AIRLIE
My Lords, the noble Lord has a perfect right to express his views, but I said that he should add a rider that, in view of the fact that the troops were committed, we did not want to go against the people in charge of the Government.
Do not think that it is an easy position for the Opposition in these circumstances. But if we think the war is unjust, it is our business to try by every constitutional means to bring it to an end and to save lives. I did not want to flare up in that way, but the noble Earl will not be surprised if his comment drew some kind of reply.
1069 To deal with a more harmonious matter, I would follow the noble Lord, Lord Hore-Belisha, in congratulating with great warmth the noble Duke who made his maiden speech this afternoon. I think that there will be many here who will be anxious to pay him tribute, even if it had not been a successful speech, by reason of his father and family. But all who heard him will agree that he has brought still more distinction to that great family, and is likely to bring further distinction in future. I do not know whether he will necessarily maintain all the traditions of his family in this House. Noble Lords may recall the story told of one Duke of Devonshire who dreamt that lie was speaking in the House of Lords—and woke up to find that he was. I am sure that no one will associate the noble Duke with dream-walking or dream-talking, for I cannot imagine a speech more delightfully alive. He has made an honoured name still more honoured.
I hope that I shall not put him in difficulties with his distinguished relatives, but I am bound to say that the put up the best case we have yet heard for the Government. It was a more candid case. The noble Duke came forward and said that the Government were clearly right in intervening, as also did the noble Marquess who spoke earlier—and I am sure that it is believed on that side of the House. But the noble Duke had the courage to say that the operation was a failure. I believe that it would have befitted the Government if they too had said it in the House. The noble Duke argued that the motive was good but that, in the long run, the results would never counterbalance the failure. That is a matter which clearly deserves careful consideration. I thought that in his vivid, not over-confident remarks, the noble Duke made a better statement of what should have been the Government case than anything we have heard in these two days of debate.
Unfortunately, we have not with us this afternoon my old friend and kindly patron. as he was for many years, the noble Viscount, Lord Cherwell but I would allude for a moment to his observations. The noble Duke followed the line of the noble Marquess the Leader of the House and the line of the Resolution, and argued that the Government's action had brought into being, among 1070 other things, this United Nations Force. I am ready to hope that the aspirations of the Government will have been fulfilled, though I do not give them quite the credit they take to themselves. But the noble Viscount, Lord Cherwell, does not take that view at all, and I must ask the noble Earl, Lord Home, to repudiate him a little sharply, if that is possible with a member of Ms college, when he comes to reply.
The noble Viscount, Lord Cherwell, poured complete ridicule on the United Nations from start to finish, in a speech which no doubt was entertaining but which did not greatly help anyone that I can conceive of at the moment. He said we were told that all we hail to do was to endow the United Nations with a police force, and he went on to say that the Government seem to be greatly encouraged because a beginning had been made in doing this in the last few weeks. That is what the Government Revolution ask us to congratulate them upon, but the noble Lord said [OFFICIAL REPORT. Vol. 200. col. 903]:I think, on analysis, that this also is a case of wishful thinking.I hope that the noble Eral, Lord Home, will tell us plainly to-night whether he sides with his noble Leader on the Resolution, and repudiates the noble Viscount. Lord Cherwell, or whether in some way he is going to try to concoct an unreal synthesis between these two points of view. My own view is that we can find national unity only through a general support of the United Nations.
I am not going to dell with the past. We have had five forceful speeches, and more than one brilliant speech from my own Front Bench. The company I keep may be limited and may be monotonous, but in the last six weeks, certainly in the last fortnight. I have not met a person who considers that the Government's enterprise has turned wow, anything but a shambles. That may be my misfortune. It may be possible to discover people, by going far enough or by sinking low enough or rising high enough, who will say that this has turned out well. But I have not yet found such a person.
I have had many arguments. I have heard the Opposition criticised, General Eisenhower criticised tad almost every. body, including the Government, criticised: but I have not for found anybody who says that this is anything but a shambles 1071 in the result. I listened to a debate in the other place not long ago, and as I came away a Conservative lady said to me: "Why cannot they stop kicking the corpse?" I agree that trying to shake the Government is rather like rattling the bones of the dead. I see that the noble Viscount, Lord Cherwell, has returned after I have attempted to reply to him. He may be sure that my observations were (as I thought) deadly, but, as I think, deserved.
§ VISCOUNT CHERWELL
I am sorry I did not hear the noble Lord's remarks, but I will read them with all the attention they deserve.
I think the noble Viscount will have to put a towel round his head when he reads them to-morrow, if he is going to get any kind of reconciliation with the noble Earl. Lord Home. I may say that I hope it will not spoil the influence of the noble Viscount, Lord Cherwell, with the noble Earl, Lord Home, who I know the noble Viscount hopes will defend him when it comes to the preservation of Christ Church Meadow. On that point I feel that the noble Earl. Lord Home, should pay much more attention than on this to the views of the noble Viscount, Lord Cherwell.
I am not suggesting anything except collusion, which I know the Government do not consider corrupt.
As I say, I do not wish to discuss the past; I think that has been dealt with sufficiently. I want to say, for myself, quite briefly, that I do not think most of us on this side of the House will ever have gone into a Lobby with more complete conviction than we shall go into the Lobby tonight in condemning the action which Her Majesty's Government have taken. However, looking to the future, I want to add some remarks (they will not be as brief as they might be, but I promise to keep one eye on the clock) on the question of unity, which has been touched on by the noble Earl, Lord Airlie, and by other noble Lords. I agree that what foreigners tend to admire most in our country is this unity; they 1072 often find more unity than we find ourselves. But I do not think foreigners have found very much unity in recent weeks. That unity should, I think, be restored. But it cannot be restored by asking the Opposition to rally round the Government. That is not the kind of unity which they should expect, any more than, if we were in office (and perhaps we soon shall be), we should expect it from them.
I feel that we shall never recover our influence in the world until we can restore the same kind of foreign policy accepted by the nation, as a whole, as was operated from 1940 to 1955. I do not say that that policy was perfect, but it was broadly accepted by the country and in recent weeks we have had a foreign policy which, by general agreement in this House, has split the nation from top to bottom. How can we find a foreign policy broadly acceptable to the nation? The trouble about laying down principles of foreign policy is that they are easy to set on paper but not so easy to operate in practice. We can go back and look among the great statesmen of the past. We can seek, if you like, in the deeds and words of Castlereagh or Palmerston—though I should not myself expect to find much wisdom there. We can study the life of the famous Lord Salisbury, the ancestor of the present Leader of the House; or Lord Grey, Mr. Arthur Henderson or Mr. Ernest Bevin. I do not want to detain the House with many quotations, but I do want to submit the point that our foreign policy is not a static thing, but must always develop as the world changes.
Take Lord Salisbury, for instance. In 1901 he rejected a proposal for including Britain within the bounds of the Triple Alliance, or, in fact, in any alliance at all. He did so on behalf of a policy of isolation. He wrote:Count Hatzfeld speaks of our isolation as constituting a serious danger for us. Have we ever felt that danger practically. … It would hardly be wise to incur novel and most onerous obligations in order to guard against a danger in whose existence we have no historical reason for believing.That is not to suggest that Lord Salisbury (I am still, of course, referring to the ancestor of the Leader of the House), if he were alive to-day, would be an isolationist; but that seemed to be to him at the time the wisest course. By 1905 1073 we had an alliance or a quasi-alliance with France, and by 1907 with Russia. But that did not prevent the First World War.
In 1925, we find Lord Grey, in his memoirs, Twenty Five Years, saying something which to me seems as apposite to-day as it was when it was written, as I am sure many of the older members of your Lordships' House will agree. He wrote, in the last chapter of his book:It should he possible to find at least one common ground on which they should come together in confident understanding—an agreement that in disputes between them war roust he ruled out as a means of settlement that entails ruin; that between nations, as between individuals, the risk involved in settlement by law or arbitration is preferable to the disaster of force.That is what Lord Grey said in 1925, and that has certainly been the guiding influence—as I am sure my noble Leaders on this Bench will tell me—behind the thought and action of the Labour Party for thirty years; though I do not need to be reminded that Lord Grey was, in fact, a great Liberal, and therefore I am not saying for a moment that only the Labour Party have been guided by those ideas. But I do say that if this view is not shared by our Conservative friends; if it is going to be dismissed, as it was last night, in effect, by the noble Viscount, Lord Cherwell, and by others, equally sincere, as a kind of will-of-the-wisp, a sort of amusement for learned people to discuss after dinner, then in my view (and I do not think there is any doubt about this) it means goodbye to any hope of a united British foreign policy: Britain will limp about the world, broken-backed and peevish and begging for any alms that may come her way.
But why should I suggest that this view is not shared? About three months ago I submitted in your Lordships' House—to the great irritation of noble Lords opposite, I am afraid—that some noble Lords opposite did not believe in the United Nations in the same sense as we did. Since then we have had the intervention in Suez; we have been condemned by the Assembly of the United Nations, and have flouted the United Nations in various ways. But I do not stand here taking up time in order to say, "I told you so." What I am trying to place before the House is the hope that 1074 in the end it will prove that the lesson of the last few weeks has taught us the physical impossibility of pursuing any far-reaching course which seems to the world to defy the spirit of the Charter. I hope we realise that this is the last time that we can try to play the game of taking the law into our own hands and "playing policeman" alone.
It may be said by the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine (I mention him, because his speech last time on this issue interested everybody, although it did not meet with any great agreement here), that while this was an aspiration that everybody should share in devotion to the ideal of the United Nations, it was another matter to consider the fact. The noble Lord said last time that practically every public man in this countryhas declared for the past ten years that the United Nations is equivalent to the rule of law and that the creation of the United Nations Organisation meant that in international affairs the rule of law had taken the place ct international anarchy. …The noble Lord said that public men were saying that. He also said that it was untrue; and he finished by saying that the need for the United Nations "has never been greater". Certainly I can echo that last sentiment of the noble Lord, but I should hope that when he speaks to-day he will reconsider what he told us earlier on that occasion.
When Mr. Ernest Bevin. supported by Mr. (now Earl) Attlee and his colleagues, and the Opposition leaders, played so large a part in building up the defences of the Western world against the Soviet menace they were not really so innocent as the noble Lord supposes. They were not labouring under such a childish illusion. They knew, none better, during those crucial years, when the Russian threat was as present as it is now, the physical limitations of the United Nations. "They knew that its original purpose had been interfered with by Soviet Russia, and they set to work laboriously to build up a system which would supplement the United Nations, but which would all the tame act within the Charter; and that, I should hope, because it was supported by all sides, would generally be regarded as a most successful achievement.
En the Middle East there have been special obstacles familiar to us. There 1075 has been the hitherto unrelenting antagonism between the Arabs and Israelis; there has been the clash between the emergent nations and the established countries. and there has been the embarrassing uncertainty as to whether, and if so how, the old British primacy in those areas could pass from us to the United States to mutual advantage. But I do not think much purpose is served—I would hope that one of the most distinguished servants of the United Nations like the noble Lord. Lord Salter, would feel that not much purpose is served—by saying that the United Nations has not settled these things. Of course, we are part of the United Nations. We are still one of the leading countries in the world, and if we believe in the United Nations intensely, then we have an intense responsibility for what it achieves. So I hope that the dichotomy between Britain and the United Nations will not be sustained.
Can we now, without fatuous optimism and condoning what has been done, hope for better things in the future? That is the point to which, at any rate, all my own thought is directed. The United Nations police force, even if at first no more than a trip wire, offers possibilities of security which Israel has not hitherto possessed. I am not arguing whether the Government deserves credit for that. I hope that it is a step forward, and I hope that the Government spokesman, unlike the noble Viscount, Lord Cherwell, will think so. Personally, I should like to see that force expanded and strengthened, and gradually assume the character of a truly supra-national force, owing allegiance directly to the United Nations itself. Then again, the Americans are beginning to assume responsibility in the Middle East. Some people may be frightened. They may say: "Are we to play second fiddle?" I would say rather that we can still be the leader of the orchestra, but we must accept them as the conductor, and I think we can benefit from doing so.
The noble Lord. Lord Coleraine, in that speech which interested us so much, said that the only way by which you can express moral force is through physical force. I do not agree with him there. But even if that argument is true, let us look at the physical forces in the world. The supreme physical defence against Soviet Russia rests in the hands of the 1076 United States, and it is perfectly clear that the United States intends to act. particularly in the Middle East, only through the United Nations. I think we must face the fact that, whether we are thinking of the physical impact or the moral impact we can make, if we want to play a great part in the world's affairs at all we can do so only as an active member of the United Nations otherwise we shall be a small and not very important nation. In all this I see nothing which necessarily divides the nation. I know that some Conservatives opposite wonder whether we on this side have despaired of Britain's historic destiny, but when they look at the achievements of Mr. Ernest Bevin I do not think they have any grounds for supposing that we have abandoned the traditions entrusted to us. But if unity is the object—and I am assuming it is—we must be sure that our friends opposite have not retained illusions of grandeur which belong to a cruder age, and an age when our relative position was much stronger.
If I -might paraphrase a passage in a fine leading article in the Observer last Sunday. I would say that our chance of exercising an actual influence in the world to-day depends on our moral authority, our reputation for aiming broadly at the common good. and sagacity in understanding and interpreting effectively the interests of others while not, of course, neglecting our own. Our country is a country which understands the needs of others and is trying to help them, it should say myself that the clash of political opinion reflected in the past in the pursuit of national aims and national idealism exists no longer, or. at any rate, has no continued reason to exist. We on this side remain unalterably opposed to what has been done. It remains in our view a grave blot on the national record, but a blot, I say without irony, which can be removed even while the present Government remain in power. It can be removed by nobler, more characteristic deeds.
May I return finally—and I am glad to see that I have not been so long as I feared. but I dare say long enough for your Lordships—to Lord Grey. In his book which he wrote thirty years ago he said:There is much in history which supports the view that nations are incapable of learning by experience. But man has in fact, 1077 ascended from savagery to civilisation, and this ascent has been possible only because men, individually and collectively, have been capable of learning by experience.We have eaten bitter fruit in these last few weeks, and while we place the prime responsibility on the Government we do not forget that we are bone of their bone, and that recovery, if it is to be made at all, must be made in common. Nor, in matters so infinitely complex, are we so lacking in Christian humility to claim all wisdom for ourselves. If these lessons arc grasped, then national unity is possible, and a time may yet come when our children will point to our generation as one which knew how to extract honey from the poison and healing from the wounds.
§ 5.47 p.m.
My Lords, the noble Lord who has just sat down quoted a letter from a family who said they would not vote Conservative again owing to our action in Egypt. Perhaps the noble Lord missed a letter in The Times which said:Owing to the way my Party have acted during the troops' activity in Egypt. I will never vets Labour again.
The noble Lord was not following me closely. I said that I was reluctant to quote the letter but I was doing so because the Minister quoted. I deplore the introduction of this kind of thing; but as we have been accused by a Minister of stabbing troops in the back I felt compelled to quote that letter. But mine was not the first action.
I would point out that there are two sides to every question. I certainly cannot support the Amendment which has been moved by the noble Lord. Lord Henderson, and I should like to say at once that I fully support the action of Her Majesty's Government in Egypt. But I cannot help feeling that they would have received far more support from all quarters of the country if their reasons for their action had been quickly and resolutely put before the people. I would say that not only has our Information Service at home been bad, but also our propaganda in the Middle East—perhaps I should add propaganda of facts, to satisfy my noble friend. Have we forgotten that when Glubb Pasha was dismissed from Jordan many of your Lordships were anxious 1078 about our propaganda in the Middle East, and great stress was laid on this matter of psychological warfare?
What have Her Majesty's Government been doing during these past few months? suggest that we have been far too slow in reorganising our Information Services, and I am sure we all hope now that the Postmaster-General, Dr. Charles Hill, will be able to pull the whole matter together as soon as possible. But what about our Psychological Warfare Department which played such a great part to assist us in the last war? May I suggest that we get this department going again so that we may have a chance of winning the cold war and not losing it? It is the loss of the cold war in the Middle East which has really led to the hot war, and might well have been avoided if we had had an effective Psychological Warfare Department.
I certainly do not want to weary your Lordships to-night -by going again over all the arguments for and against our intervention in Egypt. Briefly, I consider that although Her Majesty's Government did not attain all their adjectives, they certainly did accomplish some important matters. I feel that they were fully, justified in acting in consort with our French allies. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has asked: Why was the war allowed to start? Noble Lords opposite, I fear, are not willing—and they made it quite plain to-day—to admit that our action in Egypt undoubtedly prevented a much larger war. I have little doubt that history will reveal that that is the truth
May I also suggest to your Lordships that in Egypt we have recently witnessed a new technique by Soviet Russia. This technique is the so-called sale of heavy weapons and war material to small countries, material which is deposited in strategic centres and then followed by Russian experts, under the guise of instructors, to look after it. We have seen the Arab-Israeli conflict chosen as the excuse. Let us make no mistake, the real object of Russia was to store heavy weapons for use by the Russian Army whenever they could find an excuse to fly personnel they call "volunteers" into the area. I suggest to your lordships that our intervention anticipated by a very small margin just such a move by Soviet Russia. If immediate action had not been taken the world might have been 1079 faced with a fait accompli, a Russian army in Egypt
We have recently had a declaration from the French Prime Minister, which was touched on by the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt. He said that the French Prime Minister had said that Britain and France did not consult America because her attitude of appeasement in Egypt was well known and that any approach for resolute action would not only be refused, but might even be resisted. There was obviously no time to come to any kind of decision as a result of consultation on this basis. Faced with this attitude, with the threat of war developing on a very large scale, I consider the Prime Minister took most courageous action and was fully justified in the circumstances. The noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, has maintained that this country should never go to war unless with the approval of the United Nations. Surely, my Lords, we cannot surrender our sovereignty entirely to an organisation which at the present time can do little more than pass pious resolutions. It can do no more than that until it is reconstructed
Like the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, I believe in plain speaking, and our allies across the water, I would say, prefer it that way. I think we must look further back into history for an explanation of America's attitude. It may well be true to say that neither the First World War nor the last would have occurred if America had played her proper part in world affairs at that time. America's foreign policy has always been a mixture of isolation and anti-colonialism. I have little doubt that when history comes to be written the attitude of the United States during our intervention in Egypt will be set down as one of the most sordid in her history, and largely due to pique of certain people in high places; and I feel they are not supported by the American people as a whole in spite of what has been said by the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, that we have created in America an appalling situation
I think that historical parallels are perhaps dangerous, but may I remind your Lordships of the British intervention in Greece at the end of the last war to stem the rise of Communism 1080 during the Civil War in that unhappy country, and what were the views of our American allies at that time? The then American Secretary of State even then thundered against what he called British imperialism, I need hardly add aided and and abetted by the Socialist Party at that time. We must try to break down somehow that latent fear of "colonialism" which we all know exists in America and which has been at the bottom. I would say, of most of the troubles in Egypt to-day
The N.A.T.O. countries are searching now for a new policy in the Middle East, and such a policy will have to guarantee Israel's security and block Soviet infiltration. The basic condition must be to stabilise the Arab States. now racked by internal and external feuds, and lastly the return of freedom of passage through the Canal, which seems to-day to be further off than ever. It seems that General Wheeler the American officer who is charged by the United Nations with the clearance of the Canal is investigating the possibility of using British equipment without British crews. I fully support the First Lord of the Admiralty in the view which he made quite clear in Malta yesterday afternoon, that our ships should not be divorced from our crews. It would be a monstrous thing if all the experience gained by our unrivalled experts were thrust away at the behest of Colonel Nasser or the United Nations.
THE EARL OF HOME
Might I intervene, because it might come better at this point than when I reply? There is no intention that ships and crews should be separated.
I am sure we are all delighted to hear that statement. I hope that if our salvage fleet—I understand it will be—is placed with its crews under the United Nations flag, Her Majesty's Government will press for suitable guarantees that our ships will be used in the most effective manner, and ensure safety and reasonable working conditions for the crews, which I think is a very important factor. There is little doubt that if our fleet of salvage vessels, with their experienced crews, were not used, the Canal would not be cleared for months and months.
Before I sit down, I am sure all your Lordships would wish to join with me in expressing our admiration and thanks for 1081 the great salvage feats already carried out by our salvage crews under the direction of Admiral Durnford-Slayter. I understand that the latest news is that the Canal has been cleared sufficiently to allow for ships of as much as 20,000 tons to negotiate the Canal for the distance of 23 miles which I think is under British control. That is a great effort, worthy of the highest praise. Let us make sure that these services are maintained. I am delighted to hear that this is now expected.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ LORD TEDDER
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Killearn, when he began his remarks yesterday, referred to his long time in Government service and said that as a result it had always been his instinctive reaction on any issue to agree with the Government. I am not sure that my time in Government service was not even a little longer than his. In my particular branch of Government service it was my instinct, it was my practice, and frankly it was my duty, to back the Government, and once the Government's policy had been decided, whether I agreed with it or not I kept my mouth shut. In this recent affair felt myself similarly bound to silence so long as the troops were engaged, and on that point I agree entirely with what the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, said. I might also add that I agreed wholeheartedly with that excellent and much-to-the-point letter which the war-tune Chiefs of Staff wrote to The Times.
Now—as many noble Lords have preached and practised—is the lime for frankness, and I will be frank. My immediate reaction when I heard of the ultimatum was of shock; quite frankly, it is one of the biggest shocks I have had for years. My first reaction—again I must he frank—was that it was a tragic mistake: I almost felt inclined to use the word "folly". To me it was utterly incomprehensible. I just could not understand what had led to such action. I have done my best since then. I have attended the debates in your Lordships' House, I have read the reports of debates in the other place, I have read the various pronouncements by members of the Government and by representatives of the Government and I still cannot make things lit. it is still to me a tragic mistake; tragic because, just at a time when, 1082 above all, we needed unity, it has split people more bitterly and more completely than I suppose the nation has been split for many years.
And do not let us be led astray by the discipline of the Lobbies, because I think that is misleading. This split cuts right across Parties; it cuts right across class it even splits families. One even knows of families who are giving up their Christmas gathering because they know there will be fighting over this issue. That is a tragedy. Another point is that it has split our relations with the Commonwealth; it has split the mutual confidence on which our partnership with the Commonwealth and our relations with the United States depend. That split will and must be healed, but it will take time. Let us face the fact that there are going to be scars for a long time. I cannot get beyond the point that, to me, it was a tragic mistake and a folly, because it was the wrong action at the wrong time and in the wrong way.
Some years ago before Hitler's war, was a teacher at the R.A.F. Staff College. and one of my tasks was to study and teach the Mesopotamian Campaign. The theme that I chose on which to give those lectures was the importance of selecting and sticking to a clear objective, making sure that it was attainable and that one did not chop and change about during the business. Of course, since armed action is just one expression of political policy, above the military aim you must have a political As many of your Lordships will no doubt remember, the original military aim in the Mesopotamian Campaign was the simple one of capturing Basra and securing the end of the oil pipeline—it has a familiar ring. Then, very soon a vague but glittering political objective came over the horizon, and more and more took charge—the prize of Baghdad. If ever there was a mirage, there it was. It led us into the tragedy of Kut. There, there was no proper military appreciation. There was a complete misjudgment of courses of actions, strengths and everything else, and there was an objective which bore no relation to anything which was practical.
When I listened to Lord Iddesleigh's searching analysis of the Suez affair, I could not help but feel that here was, for 1083 future students of the higher direction of war, a glaring example of how not to handle a politico-military problem, and an example of what happens if you have changing and conflicting objectives. We certainly have been given enough objectives to choose from in this affair. I sometimes wonder, even now, whether we have really heard the real objective, the removal of Nasser—whether that was not, in fact, perhaps even subconsciously, the mirage which led us into this mess. Surely this is also an example of failure to work through the other stages of the appreciation—I am sure most noble Lords know the jargon of the Staff College. But as my noble friend last night pointed out, if that appreciation had been properly done how could anyone have failed to anticipate the blocking of the Canal? That puzzles me. Somebody went wrong somewhere.
I have no desire whatever to stir up unnecessary mud in this unhappy affair. The sooner the subject can be neatly filed away as one for students the better, but we must get the records right first. Judging solely by what we have heard from the Government. I am forced to the conclusion that this failure—and it is a failure; do not let us try to gloss over that—is due to confused and conflicting objectives and inadequate analysis of the various political implications of military action. The disturbing thing is that if this can happen now, it can happen again.
May I intervene for one moment? Surely the noble and gallant Lord realises that political policy is the science of compromise. It can hardly be anything else. I think that is something we ought to remember.
§ LORD TEDDER
I am sorry. but I do not follow the noble Lord's argument. Everything is a compromise. One has to argue things out, granted; but that is no excuse for ambiguity or political objectives that are not attainable. There is bound to be much heart-searching after this and rightly, and in view of the economic price to be paid there will inevitably, and again rightly, be another re-examination of Defence expenditure. I heard the noble Earl say it would be a drastic one. Such a re-assessment will call for the closest possible co-operation and understanding between the Chiefs of 1084 Staff, the Defence Committee, the Foreign Office and the Government. Let it not be forgotten that it is the political commitments that set the framework for Defence expenditure. The almost incredible misjudgment of the political factors which has been shown up by this affair makes one very nervous as to the immediate future
Past history has given us quite a number of examples of the responsibility for political failure being "planted"I—use that word in its colloquial sense—on the military. I am glad to say that so far there has been no sign of anything like that, certainly not from the Government. But I can see a danger, in the coming reassessment of our defence setup, that false conclusions may be drawn from recent events. It may be alleged that our very heavy military expenditure is all wrong, because here is a practical problem which the forces we maintain were incompetent to solve. I have seen the signs of a campaign like that starting up in some organs of the Press. Let it be quite clear, my Lords, that the basic reason for the military failure was not the incompetence of the military or the unsuitability of our forces, but the complete and utter misjudgment of the worldwide political reactions to our intervention, as a result of which we had the early cease-fire which stultified the whole operation and left us with a blocked Canal. Here let me add that if and when, if ever, the full story of this operation is told, I think the one really bright spot in it will be the supreme efficiency and precision of all three Services. I have heard stories of standards of efficiency which, to one who was in the Services, are most heartening, coming at a time like this, when people are depressed and there is talk about mutinies and so on. It is a wonderful record.
I should like to say just a few words on the subject of the American views on the Middle East. For some years I had ample opportunities of discussing that subject with my American colleagues and friends, and there was no doubt in my mind that, with few exceptions—there were a few—they found it extremely difficult to comprehend our view as to its strategic importance. I fancy that many of them sincerely felt that we British "had a bee in our bonnets" upon the subject. Your Lordships will remember that it was not without difficulty that 1085 they came to agree at all to the North African campaign. One still hears occasional echoes of that. I think we are rather apt, too apt, sometimes, to take it for granted that the American does, or at any rate should, understand our viewpoint, and I doubt whether we take enough trouble—and here I myself plead guilty—to look at things from their point of view. I will not discuss the question of so-called colonialism—there are two sides to that, as, the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, so aptly pointed out yesterday. I would merely say that there have been times when I have felt that Lafayette meant more to Americans than even Foch or Pershing. May I say one thing with all respect and sincerity: I do not want to be hurtful, but I deplore some words used as regards the Americans by noble Lords who have preceded me. I think it is a pity.
But to turn to more modern times, we sometimes criticise the United States that they were slow in coming into action in two world wars. In doing so, I think we are apt rather to forget the problem that has faced their Administration in trying to get that strange motley of states and peoples to unite as a nation and meet the supreme challenge of a war thousands of miles away. If our Government has been unable to unite this that t little island, who are we to criticise the Americans? Again, we should remember that it was Pearl Harbour that finally galvanised the Americans into unity as a nation, and the Pacific war has inevitably taken first place in their minds. Again, just when peace seemed secure, up came the horrors of Korea and the heavy casualties which they went through—just when they said "the boys are home." I think that that has cut deeper into the American character and mind than almost anything; but few of us really appreciate it. Is surprising, as the noble Earl, Lord Halifax, said, that our action profoundly shocked the Americans, just as their action in U.N.O. profoundly shocked us? The noble Earl discussed the whole problem with a wisdom and statesmanship which I shall not attempt to emulate; I should only like, in all humility, to endorse everything he said on that subject.
Finally, my Lords, I have seen it stated that it is disloyal, unpatriotic and 1086 even treasonable to criticise the Government's action on Suez. During the last war I would have agreed with that; but during that war we were a united nation. I must disagree with the noble Duke the Duke of Devonshire, who made such an excellent maiden speech, about unity in war. To my mind, to start a war with a disunited country is extreme folly. We have got to get back our unity. We have got to do something about it, but we shall not do it by any process of "Let's say we are united." It is no use trying to cover up our disagreements and pretending that they are not there. Before we put the hatchet away we have got to make sure it is clean.
I do not for a moment question the sincerity with which the Government's case has been put before your Lordships. If I may say so, I was deeply impressed and touched by the deep feeling which so evidently inspired the noble Earl, Lord Home, in the previous debate, when he referred to his experiences eighteen years ago with Mr. Neville Chamberlain in his sad efforts for peace through appeasement. I realise that the bitterness left by associations of those days of Mussolini and Hitler has probably been a considerable factor behind this recent action, and it is perhaps the factor in changing a general feeling of frustration into one of desperation. Yesterday, the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr said that the action at Suez was taken in desperation, but as the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, said later, statesmen do not act in desperation.
My Lords, despite all that has been said by members of the Government, there is still a widespread feeling that we have not yet been told the whole story. What we have been told has come out in bits and pieces, and I fear that some of the bits still do not quite fit. Many of the outstanding questions have already been raised to-day and yesterday, but I should like to refer to just two of them. One is: where do the French fit into all this? Where do they come into it? Were they, in fact, the moving spirit, or even, as has been suggested, the driving spirit? I think we are entitled to know. Again, how in the name of heaven did our political intelligence come to be so utterly out of touch with feeling in this country and throughout the world? I dislike the 1087 word "propaganda" that has been used, but there is another phrase—"public relations"; and members of Her Majesty's Government have been known to lecture British industry for lack of good public relations. With all respect, I think that perhaps a little attention by Her Majesty's Government to their own public relations—not propaganda—might be a good thing.
All I ask is that Her Majesty's Government will tell us the whole story, from beginning to end. It may not be easy to tell it all, but it would be worth it. It is better to get it out of the system, rather than hide it up and let it fester in the imagination of people. That is the only way to recover unity. I have been frank; I have been sincere. I have criticised, and I am afraid that I have not been able to adhere to that good old motto, "My country, right or wrong," because I feel that my country has been led up the wrong track. I am not sure, but I think it was G. K. Chesterton who said:No patriot would think of saying My country, right or wrong' except in a desperate case. It is like saying, ' My mother, drunk or sober'.
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ LORD SALTER
My Lords, so far as this debate is an inquest upon action already irrevocable, I shall make little or no real contribution to it. I wish that I could differ more than I do from the main theme of the noble and gallant Lord who has just spoken. In general, my views on this point are those which were expressed and implied yesterday by the noble Earl. Lord Halifax. It may be, as both he and the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Tedder, have suggested, that the ultimate verdict of history will be somewhat affected by the disclosure of facts known now only to Her Majesty's Government and not known to us. But we have to do our best to judge on what facts are already publicly available, and at this stage, after the debates during all these weeks, I have little doubt that all of us in this Chamber have formed our own conclusions and that we can, none of us, now hope to convert each other by argument. For these reasons I shall speak almost entirely about the future rather than the past. Nor shall I even dwell upon the effects, only too familiar as they are to all of us, on our 1088 relations with countries previously friendly to us, of the events of the last few weeks. It is probably true that the intensity of the feelings first evoked, will somewhat diminish, although slowly and unevenly as between one country and another; but that, I fear, is about the best that we can say.
I think it is more useful at this moment to discuss what opportunities may now be opening to us and how we can best use them. It is true that there are some items on the credit side of the account, though I would not myself suggest that the gains on that side are equal to the losses on the other side. Also, I think it is true to say, as I believe the noble Marquess the Leader of the House frankly admitted yesterday, that those gains are by-products rather than the calculated objectives of our action.
What are these opportunities? First, I think it is true that we and the United States of America have begun to learn, indeed have largely learnt, two complementary lessons, each of them perhaps in some respects unpalatable to us. We, on our side, realise that in any major issue which interlocks with the main conflict of the modern world we are not now strong enough to act without the support of the United States of America. In the carefully chosen words used recently by the noble Lord, Lord Strang:It is better in the last resort to be with the United States, even if we think their policies inadequate, than embark alone on adventures involving far-reaching and incalculable risks which we no longer have the political, military or economic strength to bear.What was possible and perhaps permissible, in the nineteenth century is no longer possible in the middle of the twentieth. Two great wars and the events which happened between and since have changed not only our relative strength in the world but the basic factors to which foreign policy has now to be adapted. For among these developments there are the acceptance of new rules of conduct under, first the Covenant of the League of Nations and then the Charter of the United Nations: the increased intensity of nationalist passions and the demand for complete equality and independence by countries previously willing to accept a subordinate position: the scale and character of any future great war; and the greater interest in foreign policy, and influence on it, of the great mass of electors 1089 in all free countries. The last few weeks have, I believe, done much to drive home the lesson of these new developments. Nostalgic Palmerstonianism, if not yet eliminated from the body politic, is no longer, I think, a contagious disease.
The United States is also realising that both the late of the Middle East and the continued strength of this country are of vital interest to the whole free world and herself. In one sense the defensive strategy of the Western World is indivisible. This does not mean that there should be no differentiation of function. In Korea, for example, the United States initiated policy and bore the main burden of its execution. Yes; but we and other free countries not only agreed with her but expressed our agreement, both to each other arid to the world as a whole, by sending supporting forces. Such unity, made equally obvious to the world, is essential if the problems of the Middle East arc to be solved successfully. In my view, this applies to Egypt, to Israel, to the Arab countries and also to Cyprus. It means a willingness on our side to modify our policies when we cannot persuade our Allies of their wisdom. It means, on the American side—instead of intermittent, and often inconsistent and irresponsible interventions—patient, constructive, continuous, co-operative and responsible 'policy-making. There is now, I believe, a real chance of this; it has certainly been increased by the recent accession to the American Administration of Mr. Christian Herter.
But let us not deceive ourselves. There are great obstacles to overcome in reaching a policy on which we can unite. On our side there is the psychology of a country bitterly conscious or subconscious of a changed relative position in the world. In the Middle East we know that we have a longer and more responsible experience than America, and a more intimate knowledge of the complex interacting factors in that perilous region. We believe, rightly I think, that America has been entertaining dangerous illusions about Colonel Nasser and the way to deal with him, about the value and practicability of an American relationship with the Afro-Asian countries at our expense, about the nature and the origin of the forces developing in Syria and elsewhere and now menacing Iraq. We have to make our experience and our advice 1090 available to persuade where we can; but in some cases also to defer when we cannot, as the price of an agreed policy. Moreover, in present circumstances, we have to accept, and accept without resistance or reluctance, that in the presentation of agreed policy we must now take the secondary position in a region where we were for so long the leading Western Power.
And there is one conviction which has been burnt into me in the experience of many years of negotiation with Americans. There is no people in the world who are better and more generous partners when they know that they are being treated frankly: there is no people in the world with whom it is so dangerous to give grounds for the suspicion that they are being deceived. The counterpart, of course to all this on the American side, is that they have many illusions to give up and, I think, many modifications of policy to make in regard to the Middle East, if the policy is to be realistic.
With your Lordships' permission, I will suggest just one or two of the constituents of such a combined policy. The Canal, itself, though important, is not, in my view, the most important or the most difficult element in the problem. I have always thought that it was a great exaggeration and a great mistake to say that the Canal was a matter of life and death to us. But what, I think, was wrongly said of the Canal would not be wrongly said of the political stability of the whole of the area where oil is produced and through which the pipeline go. That is a vital interest to us and, with us, to the Western World. It is here, I think, that the most urgent political action is needed to reverse the present trend towards either anarchy or Communism. Happily, now that hostilities have ceased in. Egypt, it is possible for the Arab countries, without the inflamed psychology that was inevitable a few weeks ago, to consider and calculate coolly some of the economic consequences of the loss of production and the loss of markets.
Here we come to the question of how we can hope that America will bring in its help, supposing it moves along the lines we would wish. I think that a very interesting test and barometer of the American attitude, and, indeed, of the general situation in the Middle East, is what she will do about the Baghdad 1091 Pact. I realise that a fuller association with that Pact by America would mean a change in her attitude towards Colonel Nasser. So much the better. It would also be a very difficult matter of timing in relation to the opinion of other Arab States at the moment.
But let us remember that the putative paternity, not publicly admitted, of the Baghdad Pact is really American. The Pact was left as a foundling on our doorstep. It showed for some time a healthy strength, but more recently, with inadequate sustenance, it has undoubtedly been losing weight. Of recent weeks there have been some encouraging signs that the real father is showing some parental interest, and is prepared to contribute towards the support of the child. I hope it will be possible for that interest to proceed as far as a full legal association with the family, and perhaps also lead to a closer relationship between N.A.T.O. and the Baghdad Pact. If that were so, it would remove one of the greatest difficulties we have been experiencing for all these years in the Middle East. I have lived for a considerable time in Iraq in the last few years, and the whole time I was there I was bitterly conscious that, undermining both our influence and the strength of any Government which might be favourable and friendly to us, was the fact that it could be argued by opponents, at least plausibly, and sometimes with truth, that the policies upon which we were set had not got the support, and sometimes appeared to have the opposition, of the United States. American membership of the Baghdad Pact would, of course, put an end to that. So much for the short term. This immediate trend in the countries to which I have referred must, if possible, be somehow arrested and reversed.
For the longer term, there is, of course, the central question of Israel. We all know the difficulties, but the responsible association of the United States with all the problems of the Middle East—without special bias or pressure in respect of any one particular area—may make a solution at some time in the future more possible than it has been hitherto. The time may come when an offer of a combined and conditional guarantee of defined new frontiers—a guarantee of Israel against invasion from without and of the Arab 1092 States against the expansion of Israel beyond her frontiers—might be acceptable to both parties. But, as I say, I do not think that that time has yet come.
I should like to add a further comment on a matter which has already been referred to by Lord Teynham—that is, propaganda or, if Lord Tedder dislikes that term, public relations or psychological warfare. No one who has lived for some time within range of Cairo Radio will doubt that this is a matter of the utmost importance, and that the arrangements which have been made on our side up to this moment to counter it have been quite inadequate. I do not think that the problem is to be solved only by enlarging Embassies, or by the British Council, or even by the B.B.C. When you are dealing with the kind of propaganda that comes from Cairo, aimed as it is at the crucial masses of the population in Arab countries, who are for the most part illiterate and who can only to a small extent be reached by the Press, and who sit round in cafés or other meeting places listening to the radio, you must have a different kind of institution. It must be one that can act both more rapidly, and with less inhibitions, than an official, or even a semi-official, institution can do. I think Governments can do something to stimulate the creation of such an organisation, but they must leave it to others to control and direct.
There is one last question to which I should like to refer. Many references have been made in this debate to the position of the United Nations. Everyone agrees that a more efficient instrument of international action is required. Many have doubted whether that can be provided by the United Nations. I hope that the route along which we shall try to proceed towards a solution is not that which first comes to mind—namely, the amendment of the Charter and the removal of the Veto. The fact is that the Charter cannot be amended and the Veto removed. After all, one country can veto that change. Even if it were not Russia, as it probably would be, I do not think that either America or ourselves would be prepared to be under the absolute and unconditional obligation to abide by the decision of a majority, even of a two-thirds majority, under the present electoral system of the United Nations, under 1093 which, for example, Canada and Luxembourg have one vote each.
I believe, however, that there is another route to a solution. I was rather disturbed to hear from the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, that some assurances had been given to some of the smaller Powers, at the time when ratification of the Charter was under consideration, which might be an objection to what I am now going to suggest. But as I read the Charter itself—and I have not found any difference on this point, from the distinguished lawyers I have consulted—if the Veto prevents the United Nations from arriving at a valid legal decision, then countries who are members of the United Nations are perfectly free to construct their own arrangements either within the United Nations itself or without breach of the Charter. For example, the resolutions that are now being passed in New York by the General Assembly are in virtue of the system set up, not by an amendment of the Charter but by resolutions of the Assembly itself in 1950. I do not think that that procedure is per-feet, but it might be improved by the same method. Also, of course, there are other organisations like N.A.T.O. and the Baghdad Pact, not within the United Nations, which are perfectly consistent with it. I think it is along that line that we have to search for an improvement of the international mechanism, and not along the line, which is not likely to be possible for many years to come, of actually amending the Charter.
I have only one final remark; I commend as applicable to the present situation of this country some reflections which Tennyson put into the mouth of Ulysses at the stage of his life when he was conscious of some (diminution of his natural powers:Tho' much is taken much remains; and tho'We are not now that strength which in old daysMoved Heaven and earth; that which we are, we are …There is much, not only and not mainly in our physical strength and resources, but in oar political experience and traditions, and in our association with many countries and many races, with which the free world cannot afford to dispense—and with which, under its present leadership, it will not, I think, wish to dispense.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, when the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Tedder, rose to address your Lordships, I was debating whether, in view of the very late hour, it would not be wiser for me to withdraw my name, but in the light of the deeply impressive speech which the noble and gallant Lord made, which think impressed those who disagreed with him as much as it impressed those who agreed with him, I felt it would have been a cowardly withdrawal. In a few words, I shall try to explain why I disagree with the noble and gallant Lord and why I think he is tragically wrong.
I think that all of us have been terribly shocked by the events of the last weeks, but to be shocked by something does not necessarily mean that that something was wrong. It may mean that we are shocked and hurt and wounded because we have been stripped of some of our hopes and of some of our illusions. I shall go into the Lobby tonight in support of Her Majesty's Government without any doubts that I am doing the right thing, but I shall not do it with my great feeling of happiness. I have been puzzled by much that has happened. There are many things that I have not understood. The noble and gallant. Lord, Lord Tedder, wants to understand everything now. I think that he will have to wait for history to give his descendant's and mine understanding. There have been things I have not understood, but I am perfectly clear to-day, as I have been all through, that at its root the policy of Her Majesty's Government was right and the policy of the United States was wrong; that at its root the diagnosis of the situation in the Middle East by Her Majesty's Government was right and that the diagnosis by the United States was wrong. In my own mind I am absolutely sure of that.
The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Tedder, said something about the bitterness of the days of Mussolini and Hitler having continued on and affected policy decisions that had been taken now. But is that so very surprising, and is it so very wrong? I know that it, is fashionable to say that Nasser is not Hitler. How do we know that Nasser is not Hitler? What we do know is that. Nasser has the hallmarks of Hitler; that he has paranoic ambition, a snarling hatred of those who stand in the way of his ambition, an 1095 absolute irresponsibility and complete faithlessness. I do not see why we can be so sure that Nasser is not Hitler.
One of the great difficulties is that you do not always recognise Hitler when you see him. Twenty-three years ago, in 1933, when Hitler came to power, we did not know that he was Hitler. We thought he was Charlie Chaplin; we thought he was a pathetic little man with a toothbrush moustache who went about in a rather curious chauffer's uniform. We rather pitied him, and felt that in some way he was speaking for the underdog, just as to-day some people feel that, though they do not condone his actions—nobody condoned Hitler's actions—Nasser is in some way speaking for the under-privileged and the underdeveloped countries of the world. Surely, we have learnt something since 1933; and surely it is right to remember those days, and not wrong, as the noble Lord seemed to suggest. What we have learned is, surely, this: that if you make available to a dictator all the equipment of destruction and all the equipment of corruption which science has put at the disposal of man, and you leave everything else to the dictator's good will, you are not ensuring peace, but are making the Third World War absolutely and utterly inescapable. I think the Government were absolutely right.
There is one further point that 1 should like to make to your Lordships, with great diffidence, and 1 think it may in some way give comfort to the noble Lord, Lord Tedder. I am reminded of twelve years ago to this day. Twelve years ago I was a Minister in His then Majesty's Government, and I was sent to Washington on a mission, the purpose of which was to try to extract some shipping from the Japanese theatre and have it diverted to the European theatre of war. It was a somewhat difficult job, anyway, but it was made infinitely more difficult by the atmosphere which suddenly blew up in Washington when I was there. It was a storm of suspicion, resentment and anger against British action in Greece. At that time we were fighting in Greece. We were not fighting the Germans, but were fighting the Greeks. We were told by our Allies—just as we are told to-day—and, we were told by the wide sections of public 1096 opinion here, that we were defeating all the ideals of democracy; that we were defeating the Atlantic Charter; that we were defeating all those causes for which we had taken up arms. I cannot describe to your Lordships the atmosphere in Washington at that time. Those who had been our staunchest friends were most angry and shocked against us.
I would try to explain what it was we were trying to do. I would try to explain that if we did not act as we were doing the Russians would come into the Eastern Mediterranean. I was told that it was no good talking like that; that dragging in the Russians was just a pretence. I was told that we were not in Greece to stop Communism; we were in Greece as a support of British colonialism. In particular, I was told that we were there to force back on the Greek people a king that they did not want; and I was told that the Prime Minister of the day had a kind of neurosis about kings, just as I am told the Prime Minister to-day has a kind of neurosis about dictators. I was terribly shocked and humiliated by all this. I realised that British prestige had never been so low; that we had never been so far apart from our friends in America. I really felt that I should resign from the Government and see if I could not take a job on the Manchester Guardian or the Observer. I am very glad that I did not. The months and years passed, and as time passed everybody in Washington, all over the rest of the United States, and everybody in the whole world, except in Soviet Russia, agreed that we were right. We were not trying to force King George on to the Greek throne; all we were doing was to keep Communism out of the Eastern Mediterranean. And we did it. We did it then, and I believe it will be shown in years to come that we have done it once again.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ EARL ATTLEE
My Lords, after this long debate, in which we have had so many interesting speeches, I shall endeavour to keep my remarks in as small a compass as possible. I must say that I was a little surprised at the satisfaction of the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine. While his objective seems to have been to have "outed" Nasser, the effect of the action of the Government has been to put Nasser in a position as the leader 1097 of the Arab world and the Muslim world stronger than ever. I should have thought that the noble Lord would have deplored the Government action, which has done exactly what he did not want.
§ EARL ATTLEE
I see. That illustrates the great diversity of aims which we have had given to us by various explanations from 'Ministers in one place and another. That has confused everybody. I think it has confused our friends abroad. The fact is that the Government have not yet come out straight on what were their real objectives. They have tried to do a kind of double all the time. It reminds me of what Lady Macbeth said to Macbeth:What thou would'st highly,That would'st thou holily.While engaging in an act of real politik they try and wrap it up by pretending it is police work, U.N.O. work or something of that kind. If a Government wants to do something outside the United Nations, the right thing is it say so perfectly clearly. I recall having to go to the United Slates at the time when we were having the action of the United Nations in Korea. We joined in that. The Americans, at the same time, were engaged in putting their fleet between the island of Formosa and the Communist Chinese Government. They made no pretence that that was not something outside the United Nations. They said quite plainly that they believed their strategic interests were involved in preventing Formosa from falling into the hands of China, did not agree with that but I understood it.
Here we have a perpetual mix-up. I think the position of many people was put with extraordinary clarity in the remarkable speech of the noble Lord, Lord Tedder. The fact is that people were shocked by this action. It is no good suggesting that it is some Party matter, in which the Labour Party pride themselves on a superior morality. It is nothing of the sort. It went right through Parties to all kinds of people, nonpolitical people. I venture to think that if you could take the views of most of the people in the Government service in this country you would find that they had this shock; and you would find that it 1098 extended into other parts of the world. As I remarked the last time I spoke in this House, this news came to me when I was in India, and I knew what the effect was, not only upon Indians and Pakistanis but on the British overseas it was a profound moral shock. It is no good the Government pretending that our position has not sustained a severe blow, because there are these imponderables. In days when we have not the enormous strength we had years ago, with a British fleet commanding all the oceans we still have that moral position, and that has been gravely shaken.
I never like to say a word against my own Government when I am abroad or in parts of the Commonwealth, but I had to on this occasion. It was quite necessary to show that this action was not endorsed by the whole mass of the people, and I said that I was quite sure that that was the view of the Labour Party. That is one of the fatal errors: no attempt was made to sound out what other sections of the country thought of it at all. There was practically no consultation with the British Commonwealth—another fatal mistake. And from all we can gather now, there was a deliberate dodging of telling the United States about it. I believe that, in modern days, to go into any major adventure without at least the good will of the United States is fatal. To undertake such an adventure at a time when there was a Presidential Election in progress in America was crass folly. I have had experience of that arid I know perfectly well that if we sought support we would not get it in Election year.
We therefore come to this. I have never yet understood why it was so urgent to take this action at t this particular moment. Obviously, there was plenty of time to have warned Israel not to make this attack, and I do not think they would have disregarded it. They are a very intelligent people. I do not believe myself that an all-out attack on Egypt would have been launched by the Israeli Government in the face of the armaments piled up there, particularly the aeroplanes, without some assurance from somewhere that action was going to be taken to help them. Either they got a hint from somewhere or the race of prophets is not extinct in Israel. I cannot believe for a moment that they would 1099 have "gone it on their own", and I cannot believe that it could not have been stopped. The fact is that, doing it at the worst possible time, and taking advantage of a case in which the general appearance to the world was one of aggression by the Israeli Government, put us in the wrong from the start. I find that, while there was a division in this country on the moral question of whether it was right to do this, there was almost unanimity on the ineptitude of the Government's action. That seems to unite people of all political views. And it is a very serious matter, because while, of course, it has lowered the stock of the Government, it has lowered the stock of this country in the world, and that affects us all.
I believe there was a failure not to look more widely round the world instead of concentrating on the Suez Canal and "all about Nasser," because I gather from the speeches made by Ministers in various places—particularly the Minister of Defence—that at the back of all this was an idea that arms were being piled up in Egypt for use by Russian troops. That is the impression I got. We were told about I million blankets. I do not know why you want 1 million blankets on the Suez Canal—I never did. All these arms were not supposed to be used by Egyptians, but by Russians. If that is true, we ought to have been told about it. But is it true? I do not believe that there 'was an impending military attack by Russia.
What I think is much more remarkable is that that was the beginning of the crumbling of Soviet Communism from within. We saw that in Poland, we saw that in Hungary, and there are signs of it in other countries and, I am told, in Russia, too. What was important was that this was not a movement of people of the old regime—it was the young people, a revolt of the young against the inhuman and immoral regime. That is of vital importance. To cut across it with this kind of direct action was fatal. Despite our great sympathy for the Hungarians, we have been hampered all the time by the fact that this action cuts across it. As a matter of fact, whether we like it or not, the introduction of this particular action against Nasser which for some curious reason is considered to be colonialism, because Nasser is not a 1100 European—has spoilt the effect which might have been aroused right across Asia—the sympathy of everyone with the Hungarians. It just put the whole thing off.
What we are looking for is not another Armageddon; not a last world war with atomic bombs against the Communist countries of the world, but for the changing of the Communist regime from within. This year was a year of hope, and it may yet be, due to the gallantry of the 'Hungarians, because there we see the be-ginning. What we have done by taking this action is to set alight all the old anti-colonial prejudices. So far from saving this vital area from the Communists we have thrown it into their arms. The Arab States now look for their friends in the North. Therefore, I say that this was a monument of ineptitude.
It has been said that we must not look at the past. We have to look at the past if we want to know what is going to happen in the future. It is said, "Why go over all this muck?" Because the Government did not come clean. They say, "Why hark back to the past?" That is exactly what a convicted prisoner in the dock always says when they call for his previous convictions. What we see here is the same kind of double attitude. I recall very well the 1935 Election, when Mr. Baldwin got a majority in the country by his support for the League of Nations—and that was followed by the tragedy of Abyssinia. There are a great many people in this country who are not attached to any political Party, but who had a great faith in the present Prime Minister because of his long record as a fervent supporter of the United Nations and the rule of law. That faith has been killed. That is one of the difficulties of the situation because both at home and abroad confidence has been killed.
When someone says to me: "At the end of a debate like this in your Lordships' House one should make some practical and concrete suggestions", I am sorry to say that the only concrete suggestion that occurs to me is that it is time this Government gave way to another.
§ 7.10 p.m.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS (THE EARL OF HOME)
My Lords, we are 1101 coming to the end of two days of extended and intensive debate, in which your Lordships' attention has been focused on the world stage by speeches from more than forty noble Lords, all of whom, I think, have spoken with the authority and the experience which the country has come to expect from this House. Comparisons are always odious, but I must, and your Lordships would wish me, especially to congratulate the two noble Lords who made such distinguished maiden speeches. First, the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, brilliant in technique: thoughtful and refreshing in his approach, having the assurance and the wisdom of a veteran. His father who used to delight us would be proud indeed if he could have seen his performance in this debate. Then there was the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, with a speech which had pith and thrust and substance, and which kept us alert all the time and wishing that we had had more. Your Lordships will hope that both of 'hose noble Lords will speak to us often in the future and give us the benefit of their wisdom.
The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, once referred to me in another place, in a moment of irritation, as an "amiable Lord". In this series of debates I am bound to say that he has stretched my amiability. I should like to remind him, when he criticises our action and all but, if not quite, dubs us as aggressors, that twice in a generation this country has expended all its wealth, and many of its lives, because we have known for certain that not to deal with a dictator who wishes to dominate mankind is a fatal policy. The criticism to which we have been subjected in the past—I am not quite old enough to remember 1914, but certainly in the case of the rise of Mussolini and in the case of Hitler's policy in the Rhineland—was that this country did not use its power in tune when it might have prevented a world war.
If I can do any service to your Lordships' House in this final speech—after all, the arguments have been put backwards and forwards across the House—it may be to focus attention on the main themes which have been common to the majority of speeches. While noble Lords have discussed the rights and wrongs, the wisdom and stupidity, of the Government's action in Suez, none has been able 1102 to isolate this action from the wider backcloth of world affairs, and in particular from three features: the post-war role of international Communism, backed by Russia's power; the collapse of the security system, as it was originally designed, to enforce International Law; and the part which must be played by the United States of America if security and safety for the countries of the world is to be found.
My Lords, since 1945 Russia has adopted the conception of permanent hostility to the West, and her foreign policy has openly been advertised as a policy of world revolution. Your Lordships are familiar with the instruments of that policy: subversion within and military pressure without. I need not remind all those in this House this evening of the ruthless and unrelenting probing that there has been against what they conceive to he the weak spots in the structure of the Western world Iran, Greece, Turkey, Berlin, Malaya—and I could continue the catalogue. The purpose has always been to extend Russian dominion, which is greater to-day than it was in 1939. There have been three prongs to this sustained attack: the physical occupation of Eastern! Europe and the division of Germany the use of Communism in South-East Asia to deprive Europe and the West of the mineral wealth of that area; and to deny Europe the oil of the Middle East My Lords, what a prize if Russia could bring that off, the destruction of an industrialised Europe, the outflanking of Turkey and Iran and Iraq and Pakistan, and the opening up of the gateway to Africa!
Then to these traditional methods of political warfare and penetration they have, with diabolical cunning, added another, and that is anti-colonialism. I do hope that not many of our friends will "fall for" this Russian game. Ever since representative institutions were given by the Crown to a colonial territory, the pattern of the British Commonwealth has been clear: a pattern of independent, free countries, freely associated with each other—in what contrast to the Russian Empire, as indeed must be plain to India and Ceylon and to the world at large! The Russian objectives are perfectly clear: to weaken the West, to use the confusion in colonial territories or Arab countries to dominate later. They breach co-existence and they practise anarchy. 1103 When noble Lords opposite are inclined to twit us—and I take it in good part—that we have exposed a Russian plot, perhaps "plot" is a misleading word. This has been the consistent and continuing policy of Russia, and the Baghdad Pact was designed to meet it. What was revealed in the recent operations was how near to maturity the joint Russian-Egyptian plan was. I have emphasised this aspect of policy because I do not believe it is possible to understand the action or, indeed, to explain it, and the recent events in the Middle East, unless one looks at them against this large feature of the background of Russian foreign policy in promoting international communism.
The second fact from which none of your Lordships has been able to escape in considering this Suez situation has been this: that since 1945 collective security has been stultified. The United Nations, as at present constituted (I am going to respond later to the appeal of the noble Lord. Lord Pakenham), cannot guarantee the physical security of any one of its members. And, worse than that, not only can the Russian leaders block the processes of conciliation or the action of security which is necessary to protect one of the members of the United Nations, but any stooge on Russia's payroll can snap his fingers at treaties and conventions and International Law. The noble Lord, Lord Coleraine has made some very significant speeches in this series of debates, and in the last debate he made the most penetrating analysis. He said that we have a complete system of International Law: it is logical: it is consistent: it is ascertainable. In fact it is quite watertight. There is only one thing wrong with it: the wicked will not obey it and the righteous will not enforce it. That is not International Law. All it means is giving an open licence to the criminal
This is the background: the fact of Russia's ambitions; of the United Nations inability to exercise its authority, and the unwillingness of the United States to do so. Here, let me agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said (I am paraphrasing; I hope I am not misquoting): that the United States, in its membership of N.A.T.O. and its membership of S.E.A.T.O., has recognised that it has a responsibility to underwrite the security of Western Europe and the security of South-East Asia. I am not criticising. 1104 I am simply saying that the United States, possibly for its own very good reasons, has never thought that it need go so far in this area of the Middle East. A great many of our troubles, I am afraid, have flowed from that attitude. In these circumstances, the whole burden of ensuring the stability in that area has fallen upon the shoulders of the United Kingdom, and has been accepted by the United Kingdom over the years: in Jordan, the subsidy; in Iraq, help. In the Middle East, and in part in North Africa, the burden of maintaining stability has fallen upon us. In these circumstances, there was always the strong possibility that, if the balance were upset, the United Kingdom would have to shoulder the responsibility of enforcing order and of having to act perhaps to prevent a general war.
I should like, because I think it ought to be mentioned, to recall to your Lordships how over the years we have done our best to help Egypt. There was a series of political and economic agreements, and we withdrew from Egypt so that Egypt should enjoy unqualified sovereignty over her soil. What has been the reward? Colonel Nasser has used his sovereignty as a passport to illegality. He has seized the Canal. He boasted that Israel would be the next victim on his list, and there is no getting away from the fact that he gave notice to Israel, and perhaps wider afield, of war. Even so, with that background—and I do not think that many noble Lords will disagree with the analysis that I have given—we did not intervene between Israel and Egypt in order to remove Colonel Nasser; we did not intervene in order to impose a settlement for the control of the Canal. We intervened to stop them. We intervened to prevent the war growing. We intervened in order that the foundations should be laid on which there might be a permanent settlement of the Middle East.
I was interested in the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, because my mind went back to an occasion in another place, when we were debating the Middle East in the context of the Arab-Israel war, to a speech which Mr. Bevin made on that occasion. I have refreshed my memory. He said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 460, col. 941]:If there is any danger, or when we see danger, we must react quickly. I must ask for 1105 the support of the whole House and the nation to this principle that if this area is endangered, we shall always react quickly.An honourable Member asked, "Which area?" Mr. Bevin replied:The Canal Area and the Middle East Zone.The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, was then Prime Minister, and presumably he agreed with his Foreign Secretary. Whether he agrees with his "Shadow Foreign Secretary to-day I cannot guess or know.
If the Government believed that a general war in the Middle East would cause economic and political chaos throughout the whole of the Middle East, what was their duty? The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said that this was a moral question so did the noble and learned Earl. Lord Jowitt. I do not dissent. There must be a moral quality and quantity British foreign policy. But if the life is to be squeezed out of the United Kingdom and the countries of Western Europe, if the authority which is set up to maintain International Law, to bring security and to see that justice is done between peoples, is to function, then I think—arid it is only a personal opinion; I cannot argue it on a legal basis with the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt—there is not only a moral right to prevent that but a moral duty to do so, because the first catty of a Government is to bring security to the life of its people.
The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, said that we suffered from illusions of grandeur. We were more concerned with our continuing life, with the threat of war over the whole of this area. The noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, asked me certain questions and, in particular, one about consultation with the United States. My noble friend Lord Reading to some extent dealt with that matter, and the Tripartite Declaration and action under that, but Lord Jowitt also asked about M. Mollet's statement in Paris (I think it was) that the reason why there was no consultation was, in fact, that we knew that America would disagree. The reason was—and the Foreign Secretary has given it—that, at the time of the Israeli attack, speed was of the essence if this action was to succeed. I shall give to your Lordships in one moment the reason why I think that can be justified. and justified up to the hilt.
1106 The noble Lord asked me again about something that the Minister of Defence had said in another place. I have looked up that quotation. It was a quotation at the end of a number of questions. It was in the third supplementary dealing with the Israeli mobilisation, to the effect that there was an inconsistency, I think in the reply. If the noble Lord will consult Columns 1258 to 1260 of Hansard of December 5 in another place, he will see the Foreign Secretary's answer, which states the position quite Clearly: that on October 26 we knew of the Israeli mobilisation but from then until the time that Israel attacked they might have attacked anywhere.
What results have we got front this action or for what results can we hope? A war has been stopped. Is that a "disastrous consequence", as the Amendment suggests? A war has been prevented from spreading. Some doubts have been expressed from the Benches opposite as to whether this war would have spread any further. My noble, friend Lord Rennell, last night—I am going to quote again what he said because many of your Lordships were not here and did not hear him—mentioned what the Egyptian Commander in-Chief bad said in a broadcast on November 30. The Commander-in Chief began by saying that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Jordan, the Yemeni Kingdom, the Syrian Republic and Egypt had a military agreement. Then he said:On the evening of 24th October … issued instructions to put into effect the plan. prepared to meet this treacherous aggression. … Syrian armed units began to move … The Saudi forces were assigned to move to the Jordanian-Israel front to undertake a joint operation with the Arab-Jordanian Army …Then he said:After the Anglo-French ultimatum…orders were issued to the commands of the joint forces to avoid taking part in substantial: military operations.My Lords, that seems to be not only evidence but proof that a wider war has been stopped.
There may have been mistakes. No Minister of a Government in this situation when events have not been of our own timing, can claim, or would claim, that every action has been perfect But a war has been stopped; a war has been prevented from spreading. For whatever 1107 cause, a United Nations force is actually there on the ground, for the first time in an international dispute of this sort; and the United States for the first time has said that it will not tolerate interference with the integrity of the countries which make up the Baghdad Pact. I cannot equate any of these results with "disaster."
Then, indeed, what would the Opposition have done? The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has been fair. He told us that they would have consulted more effectively than we did under the Tripartite Declaration, and that they would have sought action. Noble Lords opposite have said that they would have acted and sought agreement to act under the United Nations; and as I understood them, they would not have acted without that assent. My Lords, the United Nations is exactly as effective as its members choose to make it, and up to now the members have chosen to make it just as effective as this—a body which passes resolutions. Two hundred and two meetings in the Security Council on Middle Eastern affairs! What comfort to an Israel whose life was about to be squeezed out of it would meeting number 203 have been? What comfort to Turkey or Iran or Pakistan, about to be taken in the rear, meeting No. 204? And what comfort to Hungary the strictures passed on Russia by the United Nations Assembly which Russia brushes aside as inconvenient to receive!
At long last, two nations, members and loyal members of the United Nations, have dared to assert that no moral law can be enforced unless it is supported and sustained by physical power. We wish to see this physical power exercised by the United Nations. I say this in response to the speech of Lord Layton, in particular, and to those on the Liberal Benches who have pleaded for this. We will work with the United Nations to make it no longer a sham behind which we all hide, but a reality in international affairs. My noble friend the Leader of the House made that most clear yesterday when he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 200 (No. 16), col. 852]:It is idle to shut our eyes to these harsh realities but, at the same time, to say that is, of course, no reason for writing off the United Nations as a dead loss. That, I believe—and here I agree with the Opposition—would be a 1108 counsel of despair. On the contrary, it seems to me a compelling reason for looking forward and not back, for getting together with other like-minded nations and seeing what can be done to give to the Organisation that life and strength without which it would not be a protection but a danger to the world.I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, that it is the unqualified intention of Her Majesty's Government to make the United Nations a reality.
With regard to the noble Viscount, Lord Esher, I cannot but comment on the delightful speech which he gave us to-day. He compared the Government to a lot of foolish virgins. Foolish we may be, my Lords! But which would he rather be—a foolish virgin, or a lady of impeccable virtue sitting on the fence while generation after generation pass by until she is desiccated and dead, and no good to anyone? My Lords, he said that he was an artist—he did not quite say this, but he meant it—an artist among virgins and vulgarians. But, if I may say so, after his speech, although he may vote the other way, I thought his "art" was in the right place.
I have never disguised from this House—and perhaps Lord Tedder has already kindly given me some credit for this—that our action was a shock. It was a shock to the Commonwealth, to the United States and to ourselves, that, as I have said before, a country, which built up the League of Nations and has done more than any other nation (I think we can say that without arrogance) to sustain the United Nations, should be compelled to take action of this kind. I am not going to apportion blame between ourselves or the United States. When there is a cleavage of opinion, I wish that the Opposition would not always assume that it is this country which is wrong. I am going to say that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to co-operate fully and absolutely with the United States in N.A.T.O., and S.E.A.T.O., and in any security pacts in any field, and in the United Nations Organisation, because it is our profound belief that upon that co-operation the existence of the free world depends. So too with the Commonwealth, because the Comonwealth and the United States of America, peoples devoted to the ideals of democracy, must underpin any effective world organisation.
On consultation, our purpose is always to find out each other's thinking. Our 1109 thinking cannot always be the same. My noble friend Lord Hore-Belisha pointed out, for instance, that India and ourselves have always disagreed about security pacts and about the Baghdad Pact in particular. But we will attempt always to keep each other informed, in the hope that the maximum understanding of each other's policies will lead to a basic appreciation of motives and aims. If, on occasions, there is not that basic appreciation, then a country must take its own decision; but we can hope that understanding will be intimate and complete. Some of the Opposition speakers have ended their speeches on a note of almost unrelieved gloom. But this may be one of those turning points where the free world will begin to live and to breathe again. For China has not become a Russian satellite; Eastern Europe, with incredible bravery, is breaking the grip of Russia upon it, and in the Middle East Russian policy has had a setback which may have lasting consequences. I
§ greatly welcome this opportunity to exorcise international Communism, which has been the curse of mankind.
§ The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, said—and the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, agreed with him—that there were two remedies: one was to change the Leader of the, Conservative Party. Well, I would hesitate to make any such suggestion to another Party. It would be very difficult if I had to make any suggestion about his Leader. I should have to ask him, first of all, which one? The second suggestion was that if Her Majesty's Government felt so confident in their policy we might go to the country. My Lords, I admire his bravado; but beware we do not take him at his word!
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided:—
§ Contents, 39; Not-Contents, 136.1111
|Attlee, E.||Crook, L.||Macpherson of Drumochter, L|
|Baldwin of Bewdley, E.||Darwen, L.||McNair, L.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Douglas of Kirtleside, L.||Mathers, L.|
|Huntingdon, E.||Faringdon, L.||Milner of Leeds, L.|
|Iddesleigh, E.||Greenhill, L.||Morrison, L.|
|Jowitt, E.||Haden-Guest, L.||Ogmore, L.|
|Listowel, E.||Harvey of Tasburgh, L.||Pakenham, L.|
|Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Henderson, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Inman, L.||Quibell, L.|
|Alexander of Hillsborough, V.||Kenswood, L.||Rathcreedan, L.|
|Hall, V.||Kershaw, L.||Silkin, L.|
|Latham, L.||Winster, L.|
|Burden, L. [Teller.]||Lawson, L.||Wise. L.|
|Chorley, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor.)||Gosford, E.||Cherwell, V.|
|Home, E.||Davidson, V.|
|Salisbury, M. (L. President.)||Howe, E.||De L'Isle, V.|
|Inchcape, E.||Devonport, V.|
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Iveagh, E.||Falmouth, V.|
|Bucclench and Queensberry, D.||Limerick, E.||FitzAlan of Derwent, V.|
|Devonshire, D.||Lindsey and Abingdon, E.||Gage, V.|
|Northumberland, D.||Lonsdale, E.||Goschen, V.|
|Wellington, D.||Morley, E.||Long, V.|
|Onslow, E. [Teller.]||Margesson, V.|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Poulett, E.||Monsell, V.|
|Reading, M.||St. Aldwyn, E.||Ruffside, V.|
|Selkirk, E.||Runciman of Doxford, V.|
|Airlie, E.||Shaftesbury, E.||Soulbury, V.|
|Albemarle, E.||Stair, E.||Stonehaven, V.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Swinton, E.|
|Beatty, E.||Wemyss, E.||Abinger, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Woolton, E.||Ailwyn, L.|
|Craven, E.||Yarborough, E.||Amherst of Hackney, L.|
|Crawford, E.||Ampthill, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Bridgeman, V.||Ashbourne, L.|
|Dudley, E.||Bruce of Melbourne, V.||Ashton of Hyde, L.|
|Ferrers, E.||Caldecote, V,||Balfour of Burleigh, L.|
|Fortescue, E. [Teller.]||Camrose, V.||Balfour of Inchrye, L.|
|Birdwood, L.||Fraser of North Cape, L.||Pender, V.|
|Blackford, L.||Gifford, L.||Polwarth, L.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Grantchester, L.||Reay, L.|
|Brassey of Apethorpe, L.||Gridley, L.||Remnant, L.|
|Broughshane, L.||Hacking, L.||Rennell, L.|
|Bruntisfield, L.||Hampton, L.||Rochdale, L.|
|Chesham, L.||Hastings, L.||Rockley, L.|
|Clitheroe, L.||Hawke, L.||Russell of Liverpool. L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Hayter, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Conesford, L.||Hore-Belisha, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Congleton, L.||Howard of Glossop, L.||Savile, L.|
|Cornwallis, L.||Hylton, L.||Somers, L.|
|Coltesloe, L.||Jeffreys, L.||Strathalmond, L.|
|Cranworth, L.||Killearn, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Croft, L.||Leconfield, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Derwent, L.||Lloyd, L.|
|Digby, L.||McCorquodale of Newton, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Dinevor, L.||Mancroft, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Dormer, L.||Melchett, L.||Vansittart, L.|
|Dovercourt, L.||Merthyr, L.||Waleran, L.|
|Dowding, L.||Milne, L.||Walpole, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Monk Bretton, L.||Walsingham, L.|
|Fairfax of Cameron. L.||Newall, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Foley, L.||Palmer, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 7.56 p.m.
§ LORD REA rose to move, as an Amendment to the Motion, to leave out all the words after "House" and add: "calls upon the Government as a matter of urgency to collaborate with the Commonwealth and the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation so that a common policy may now be pursued both in the Middle East and in Europe, thus avoiding further damage to Commonwealth relations and western unity." The noble Lord said: My Lords, I do not propose to detain your Lordships for more than a minute. This long and important debate has clearly revealed two things: first, that a large section of your Lordships' House is not prepared to endorse an Amendment containing severe recrimination about the past; secondly, that a large section of your Lordships' House is equally unwilling to endorse a Government Resolution of self-congratulation, also about the past. Accordingly, we are clear about the issues on which we disagree. To my mind a much more important point has emerged: that we are all agreed that, whatever opinions we hold about the past, we must try to work together, irrespective of political patronage, in the heavy task which lies before us. It is the future which matters.
§ I respectfully submit that at this juncture approval and disapproval are equally irrelevant, unnecessary and unhelpful, and we should therefore record in the Division Lobby what unites us rather 1112 than what divides us. We all, I suggest, want something to vote for, not something to vote against. Accordingly, my Lords, I beg to move from these Benches the Amendment which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ Moved, as an Amendment to the Resolution, to leave out all the words after ("House") and add ("calls upon the Government as a matter of urgency to collaborate with the Commonwealth and the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation so that a common policy may now be pursued both in the Middle East and in Europe, thus avoiding further damage to Commonwealth relations and western unity.")—(Lord Rea.)
§ 7.58 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, during the last two days of debate, and especially as the result of the speeches of the representatives of the Government during that debate, your Lordships will, I am sure, have detected that the main purpose of the Government in tabling their Resolution was to obtain the support of Parliament for the policy they have thought it right to adopt in the Middle East. The noble Lord, Lord Rea, thought that that was irrelevant. I do not agree. If a great crisis has faced the country, and if the Government of the day have had to take steps which have aroused criticism and opposition, it is perfectly right that that Government should seek to obtain the support of both Houses of Parliament. It is a feature of the Liberal Amendment that it rather elaborately omits every single reference to Her 1113 Majesty's Government's policy in the Middle East. Therefore, in spite of the many admirable sentiments which it contains, I am afraid that it will be impossible for us to accept it.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, I do not think that the House can quarrel with the noble Marquesa's presentation of what is the Government's right in this matter. I deny absolutely that there is any truth in Lord
§ Resoled in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.1114
§ Rea's remark that the Amendment on which we have already voted was recriminatory. Certainly it was as constructive as this further and unnecessary Amendment appears to be. Therefore, we do not propose to vote on the matter.
§ Question, whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided:—
§ Contents. 14; Not-Contents, 122.1113
|Gainsborough, E.||Amulree, L. [Teller.]||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]|
|Perth, E.||Carnock, L.|
|Colwyn, L.||Rea, L.|
|Elibank, V.||Grantchester, L.||Sherwood, L.|
|Esher, V.||Layton, L.||Stamp, L.|
|Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor.)||Camrose, V.||Fairfax of Cameron. L.|
|Cherwell, V.||Foley, L.|
|Salisbury, M. (L. President.)||Davidson, V.||Fraser of North Cape, L.|
|Dc L'Isle, V.||Gifford, L.|
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Devonport, V.||Gridley, L.|
|Falmouth, V.||Hacking, L.|
|Buccleuch and Queensberry, D.||FitzAlan of Derwent, V.||Hampton, L.|
|Devonshire, D.||Goschen, V.||Hastings, L.|
|Long, V.||Hawke, L.|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Margesson, V.||Hore-Belisha, L.|
|Reading, M.||Monsell, V.||Howard of Glossop, L.|
|Ruffside, V.||Hylton, L.|
|Airlie, E.||Runciman of Doxford, V.||Jeffreys, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Soulbury, V.||Killearn, L.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Stonehaven, V.||Leconfield, L.|
|Beatty, E.||Lloyd, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Ailwyn, L.||McCorquodale of Newton, L.|
|Craven, E.||Amherst of Hackney, L.||Mancroft, L.|
|Crawford, E.||Ampthill, L.||Melchett, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Ashbourne, L.||Milne, L.|
|Ferrers, E||Ashton of Hyde, L.||Newall, L.|
|Fortescue, E. [Teller.]||Balfour of Burleigh, L.||Palmer, L.|
|Gosford, E.||Balfour of Inchrye, L.||Pender, L.|
|Home, E.||Birdwood, L.||Polwarth, L.|
|Howe, E.||Blackford, L.||Reay, L.|
|Inchcape, E.||Brabazon of Tara, L.||Remnant, L.|
|Iveagh, E.||Brassey of Apethorpe, L.||Rennell, L.|
|Limerick, E.||Broughshane, L.||Rochdale, L.|
|Lonsdale, E.||Bruntisfield, L.||Rockley, L.|
|Morley, E.||Chesham, L.||Russell of Liverpool, L.|
|Onslow, E. [Teller.]||Clitheroe, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Poulett, E.||Colcraine, L.||Sandford, L.|
|St. Aldwyn, E.||Conesford, L.||Savile, L.|
|Selkirk, E.||Congleton, L.||Somers, L.|
|Shaftesbury, E.||Cornwallis, L.||Strathalmond, J.|
|Stair, E.||Cottesloe, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Swinton, E.||Croft, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Wemyss, E.||Derwent, L.|
|Woolton, E.||Digby, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Dinevor, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Bridgeman, V.||Dormer, L.||Waleran, L.|
|Bruce of Melbourne, V.||Dovercourt, L.||Walpole, L.|
|Caldecote, V.||Dowding, L.||Walsingham, L.|
§ On Question, Whether the Resolution shall be agreed to?
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Resolution agreed to accordingly.1116
§ Their Lordships divided:—
§ Contents, 120; Not-Contents, 37.1115
|Kilmuir, V. (E. Chancellor.)||Camrose, V.||Fraser of North Cape, L.|
|Cherwell, V.||Gridley, L.|
|Salisbury, M. (L. President.)||Davidson, V.||Gridley, L.|
|De L'Isle, V.||Hacking, L.|
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Devonport, V.||Hampton, L.|
|Falmouth, V.||Hastings, L.|
|Buccleuch and Queensberry, D.||FitzAlan of Derwent, V.||Hawke, L.|
|Devonshire, D.||Goschen, V.||Hore-Belisha, L.|
|Long, V.||Howard of Glossop, L.|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Margesson, V.||Hylton, L.|
|Reading, M.||Monsell, V.||Jeffreys, L.|
|Ruffside, V.||Killearn, L.|
|Airlie, E.||Runciman of Doxford, V.||Leconfield, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Soulbury, V.||Lloyd, L.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Stonehaven, V.||McCorquodale of Newton, L.|
|Beatty, E.||Mancroft, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Ailwyn, L.||Melchett, L.|
|Craven, E.||Amherst of Hackney, L.||Milne, L.|
|Crawford, E.||Ampthill, L.||Newall, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Ashbourne, L.||Palmer, L.|
|Ferrers, E.||Ashton of Hyde, L.||Pender, L.|
|Fortescue, E. [Teller.]||Balfour of Burleigh, L.||Polwarth, L.|
|Gosford, E.||Biilfour of Inchrye, L.||Reay, L.|
|Home, E.||Birdwood, L.||Remnant, L.|
|Howe, E.||Blackford, L.||Rennell, L.|
|Inchcape, E.||Brabazon of Tara, L.||Rochdale, L.|
|Iveagh, E.||Brassey of Apethorpe, L.||Rockley, L.|
|Limerick, E.||Broughshane, L.||Russell of Liverpool, L.|
|Lonsdale, E.||Bruntisfield, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Morley, E.||Chesham, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Onslow, E. [Teller.]||Clitheroe, L.||Savile, L.|
|Poulett, E.||Coleraine, L.||Somers, L.|
|St. Aldwvn, E.||Congleton, L.||Strathalmond, L.|
|Selkirk, E.||Cornwallis, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Shaftesbury, E.||Cottesloe, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Stair, E.||Croft, L.|
|Swinton, E.||Derwent, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Wemyss, E.||Digby, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Woolton, E.||Dinevor, L.||Waleran, L.|
|Dormer, L.||Walpole, L.|
|Bridgeman, V.||Dovercourt, L.||Walsingham, L.|
|Bruce of Melbourne, V.||Fairfax of Cameron, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Caldecote, V.||Foley, L.|
|Attlee, E.||Carnock, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Gainsborough, E.||Chorley, L.||Macpherson of Drumochter, L.|
|Listowel, E.||Colwyn, L.||Mathers, L.|
|Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Crook, L.||Milner of Leeds, L.|
|Perth, E.||Greenhill, L.||Morrison, L.|
|Haden-Guest, L.||Ogmore, L.|
|Alexander of Hillsborough, V.||Harvey of Tasburgh, L.||Pakenham, L.|
|Elibank, V.||Henderson, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Hall, V.||Inman, L.||Quibell, L.|
|Samuel, V.||Kenswood, L.||Rathcreedan, L.|
|Latham, L.||Rea, L.|
|Amulree, L.||Lawson, L.||Silkin, L.|
|Burden, L. [Teller.]||Layton, L.||Wise, L.|