§ 3.0 p.m.
§ LORD HENDERSON rose to call attention to the International Situation; and to move for Papers.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, it is three months since we held our last general foreign affairs debate. The noble Lords will recall that it took place in an atmosphere of disappointment. The impression caused by the completely negative results of the second Geneva Conference was still strong. Hopes raised by the Summit Conference, with its so-called "Geneva spirit," had been dashed, and there was less certainty, less confidence, about the new Soviet policy of "competitive co-existence." What was certain was 798 that new problems were confronting the West; that our danger in the Middle East was becoming more acute, and that the failure of the West in certain important aspects of policy was becoming obvious. The West needed to make a new assessment, especially in the light of the considerable supplies of arms that were reaching Egypt from Communist sources and the launching of a bold and far-reaching campaign of diplomatic and economic penetration of Asia which was highlighted by the visit of Mr. Bulganin and Mr. Khrushchev to India, Burma and Afghanistan.
§ What was needed—and I expressed my opinion at the time—was a Western Summit Conference to assess the position afresh and to consider what should be done by the West in concrete terms. Unfortunately, there was no such Conference. Instead, there have been separate talks between the President of tie United States and the Prime Minister, together with their Foreign Secretaries, between the Prime Minister and the French Prime Minister, and consultations between the American, British and French Foreign Secretaries while attending the S.E.A.T.O. council meeting at Karachi. Communiqués that have been issued have not made any of us much wiser. I should therefore like to ask the noble Marquess, the Minister of State, or the noble Earl, Lord Home, if he is going to deal with this part of the debate, whether in the course of his speech he can enlighten us a little more as to the results of these get-together meetings.
§ Western unity does not seem to be all that it should be. There are frictions and disagreements and complaints. Mr. Dulles offended Mr. Nehru by his reference to Goa as a Portuguese Province. The S.E.A.T.O. Council angered him by making a statement on the Kashmir problem. The statement was harmless in itself, but it does not seem to me to be within the province of the S.E.A.T.O. Council to make any comment on this disputed issue between Pakistan and India. There is also the critical attitude of the French Government towards the Baghdad Pact. They complain that they were not consulted about its formation. I hope the Minister will give the facts to the House. In view of the serious troubles in the Arab world—and the French have had their share—it is difficult to believe that the Baghdad Pact was 799 formed without any attempt being made to carry France along. It was essential to have her good will. Then there is the abstention of the United States from membership of the Pact, her remaining on the side lines, as my noble friend, Lord Attlee expressed it the other day, although it is asserted that the Baghdad Pact was Mr. Dulles' own concept.
§ My Lords, these and other things that have happened are very disturbing, and they suggest that there is room for much improvement in Western relationships and co-operation. I do not say that they indicate active disunity so much as lack of unity on matters of common concern—and that is bad enough. What I have said is based on statements which have been made in the Press. The same evidence is available to the Soviet leaders. We may be sure that note will have been taken of them, and that they will draw their own conclusions and will seek to take advantage of the differences wherever they can. These internal frictions not only embarrass the West; they weaken it. And Western unity was never more needed than it is to-day. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will be able to assure us that recent consultations will lead to a greater measure of harmony, unity, and collective effort than has been manifested in recent weeks and months.
§ This is important in view of the coming visit of Mr. Bulganin and Mr. Khrushchev to this country, and the subsequent visit of the French Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to Moscow. It is well to remember that even under the new dispensation the Russian leaders still have but a single mind, a single voice and a single policy. The visit of the Russian leaders has, I think, grown in importance following the Twentieth Congress, which on any reckoning was a highly significant event. I have no doubt that the present visit of Mr. Malenkov, whether exclusively on technical matters connected with power stations or not, is proving useful to both sides at this particular stage. We on these Benches are very glad that the Prime Minister has not been deterred from going on with the Russian leaders' visit and that he is to take full advantage of it to have serious discussion on major matters dividing East and West.
§ There has been a good deal of speculation on the real meaning of the 800 Twentieth Congress. In the long run, the most significant developments may be found to be internal ones. The repudiation of Stalin may have been the deliberate choice of a dead scapegoat for excesses, mistakes and policies of the past. The replacement of one-man rule by collective rule may be the recognition of views of mutual self-protection privately held by Stalin's associates and long suppressed under his tyrannical rule. But the importance internally will surely lie in the conjunction of the repudiation of Stalin, the denunciation of the "personality cult," the official admission of specific mistakes, mass injustice, falsified history and so on. Admissions of this kind in spheres familiar to almost every Soviet citizen must, in the long run, help to encourage doubt, criticism, debate and thinking about fundamentals. A serious blow has been struck at the doctrine of the infallibility of Communist dictatorship.
§ For the future, at least for the immediate future, the change may be only one in degree and not in kind, so far as the régime is concerned. The new set-up may be less oppressive, but I think caution about the nature and the effect of the change is fully justified by what has taken place since Mr. Khrushchev made his speech destroying the great Stalin legend. As noble Lords will have read, he is reported to have told delegates at the Twentieth Congress that when Stalin, to humiliate him, ordered him to dance, he danced: it would have been too dangerous not to have obeyed. Now the Soviet peoples, the satellite States and the Communist Parties of the Western world have been ordered by the collective dictatorship to dance to the Kremlin's new tune; and, apart from the students of Georgia, they are all obediently dancing. It seems to me that the almost complete unanimity with which the ruthless debunking of the "great Stalin" has been accepted shows how powerful and seemingly unquestioned is the dictatorial authority exercised by the new Moscow "Collective" over the whole Communist Empire.
§ It is too soon to attempt to assess the possible effects of this amazing development on Soviet foreign policy. The Congress itself seems to have ratified and clarified the new Soviet foreign offensive, which had already developed. The main 801 impression from the speeches and references is that of the effort being directed towards Asia, the uncommitted areas, and neutrals— who have been virtually annexed into what is now called the "Zone of Peace." Throughout all the speeches and resolutions the same countries are listed over and over again as standing for peace: India, Burma, Afghanistan, Egypt and Syria; the areas mentioned being Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America in general—all areas of the Soviet diplomatic and trade offensive at the present time.
§ Then there was the deliberate reference to co-operation with Social Democrats, to "diversified forms of transition to Socialism," and to an alternative parliamentary road as against violence. This, also, may have been directed to Asia and other areas, rather than to the highly developed Social Democratic movements of Western Europe. It is important to note that the "diversified forms" were, in fact, followed by examples. These were China, the satellites, with Czechoslovakia held up as a peaceful parliamentary victory, and, of course, Yugoslavia. The vanguard of all parliamentary movements is to be the working class—in some speeches bluntly defined as the Communist Party. The Social Democrats, without being identified as Parties, would therefore still be in the category of reformists, revisionists and even opportunists. The Western Social Democratic Parties are familiar not only with this old tactic but also with the results where it has been followed since the war. They are not going to be lured by new overtures. They have made it clear that they reject any united front or other form of political co-operation with the parties of dictatorship, or even discussion of it, until they are given real proof of a change of attitude by the restoration of democratic freedoms and rights where they have been destroyed by Communist dictatorship.
§ Here is one of the spheres in which the new Soviet régime can show whether they are going to be more liberal and tolerant than their predecessors. I hope the Prime Minister will make the strongest representations to the Russian leaders on this important human problem. All this forms part of the background against which the official talks will take place between the British and Russian leaders. 802 It is fairly obvious, I think, that the four main problems will be: first, general reunification through free elections; secondly, the dangerous situation in the Middle East; thirdly, disarmament; and fourthly, greater freedom of contact between both sides of the Iron Curtain. The Twentieth Congress does not appear to have said anything new on any of these issues. Having had an opportunity since our last general foreign affairs debate to read the speeches made by the Soviet leaders during their Asian tour, I am not surprised that no changes of policy were hinted at in relation to these matters. Mr. Bulganin made it clear in India that, so far as the German problem is concerned, the Soviet position remained unchanged. "Both time and patience," he said, "are needed to solve the problem." They know that it will be two or three years before the Federal German Republic is able to make any substantial contribution to N.A.T.O. defence; they are no doubt calculating on a change of political power in the Federal Republic when the general election takes place next year; and they are also aware of the French Government's view that the way to German reunification lies along the path of disarmament.
§ While, therefore, it does not seem that the prospect of progress towards agreement on this issue is very bright, we hope that every effort will be made to get some advance towards breaking the deadlock. We hope, too, that renewed efforts will be made to remove some of the barriers to freer intercourse between East and West. Since the death of Stalin the Soviet leaders have not so obstinately stayed behind the Iron Curtain: Mr. Bulganin, Mr. Khrushchev, Mr. Malenkov, Mr. Mikoyan and others have gone abroad to see the free world. Wherever they have gone they have found only friendly feelings for the Russian people and a complete absence of the "war spirit" which for so long has been a stock charge against the West. If there is to be developed peaceful co-existence, one of the best means of helping it along would be freer intercourse at the ordinary people level. Here, at least, the two sides should be able to find common ground.
§ Of outstanding urgency and importance is the need to make definite progress on the road to comprehensive controlled disarmament. Hitherto it has seemed 803 that disarmament discussions have been an exercise in slow motion diplomacy. Year has followed year with little apparent result. In recent months, however, a greater sense of urgency seems to have developed. All the great Powers have declared that disarmament has become an overriding priority. Recent correspondence between President Eisenhower and Mr. Bulganin, and other official declarations, have given a new impetus to world interest and strengthened the hope that the dread menace which hangs over all nations is going to be removed. Let me say at once that we on these Benches warmly welcome the association of Her Majesty's Government with the French Government in putting a new draft plan before the Disarmament Sub-committee. What appears to be a fairly full summary of the three stages of the plan has been published in the Press. The United States have put forward three proposals, and others are to follow. The Soviet Government have yet to table their proposals. I am not going to discuss the details at this early stage, except to say this. The Franco-British plan, with its three stages, does seem to represent a practical attempt to provide a progressive programme towards comprehensive controlled disarmament.
§ What does cause disappointment is the delay that must ensure before there can be any limitation of nuclear tests. I must say that I do not understand why the two sponsor Governments did not include this in the first stage which, according to The Times diplomatic correspondent, is of great importance in the British view because it would have the merit of halting the arms race and allowing a start on some initial reductions of arms and armies. As the House knows, I have not been an advocate of the immediate prohibition of all nuclear tests, but have favoured as a first step an agreement to limit them. This is something on which it should be possible to obtain early agreement, and I hope, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government will seek in the sub-committee to have the limitation of nuclear tests brought forward to the first stage.
§ I have only one other observation to make about disarmament. The five Powers who form the sub-committee were entrusted with the task of working out a 804 plan to get a disarmed world. I believe that people regard this as the most urgent of international tasks if conditions of peace and security are to be enjoyed by all. The sub-committee have a new opportunity. We all want to see practical results achieved. It is on this that I believe the coming talks can exercise a decisive influence, and I hope that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary will press the Soviet leaders for their active co-operation in making a real advance along this particular path of peaceful co-existence.
Although it is only two weeks since we discussed the situation in the Middle East, it will not, I am sure, cause any surprise that I should refer to the matter again. The tensions and troubles between the Arabs and Israel continue to cause the gravest anxiety. There is a danger of war—let there be no mistake about it. Indeed, there are those who fear that it is imminent; that it may break out in the next few weeks or months. It is satisfactory to note, therefore, that at long last the matter has been brought before the United Nations. The initiative of the United States Government in calling for an emergency meeting of the Security Council, and in preparing draft resolutions is one which we greatly welcome. The draft resolution recognises what has been urged both here and in another place on several occasions, that
the situation now prevailing … is such that its continuance is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security.
The adoption of this resolution by the Security Council would be a notable step for peace. If speedy effect can be given to the steps proposed for reducing tensions along the armistice demarcation lines, it might be possible to ward off the threatening danger and give an opportunity for mediation to bring its influence to bear.
§ But there is still need for the policy of deterrence. Having regard to Colonel Nasser's hostility, not only to Israel but to this country and the West generally, which has become almost inveterate since he received the considerable supplies of Communist arms, I must again press upon Her Majesty's Government three courses which we on this side of the House have repeatedly urged upon them. The first is to enter into a bilateral Treaty with Israel. The argument that the Treaty with Jordan was entered into before there was 805 an Israel is not a convincing reason for refusing to enter now into a Treaty with Israel. We think that such a Treaty would have a stabilising and deterrent effect. The second is that Israel should be given an adequate supply of modern defensive weapons. So long as Egypt has Mig 15's, light bombers, Stalin and Centurion tanks, and modern heavy artillery, and Israel's defensive armament is inferior in every respect, except the fighting qualities of her people, how can Israel be expected to defend herself successfully in the event of sudden aggression? Surely, the absence of modern defensive weapons is not a deterrent hut an encouragement to aggression.
§ Thirdly, I ask what is the nature of the action which the three Powers will take under the Tripartite Declaration? Discussions have been going on for some weeks. Have they reached a conclusion? I have seen references to a British plan for "effective" military action within twenty-four hours of the outbreak of war between the Arab States and Israel, and the reports of such a plan are not discounted in London. I should like to ask the noble Earl who is to reply whether there is such a plan. I am not asking for details, but simply for public confirmation that such a plan exists and that it will be implemented within twenty-four hours of an outbreak of aggression by either the Arabs or Israel. I would, however, point out that even if there is such a plan, it does not remove the need for the speedy supply of modern defensive arms to Israel, because in the event of sudden aggression it will have to withstand attack for twenty-four hours before the British plan or the tripartite plan (which is what it must be) can bring effective action to bear. I believe that if Israel is given a Treaty and supplied with modern defensive armaments, and if it is publicly made clear beyond doubt that effective action will he taken jointly by the three Powers within twenty-four hours of aggression, aggression will not take place and there will be no war between the Arabs and Israel. We must move the Middle East away from war before we can hope to move it to peace.
§ I come to the last point with which I wish to deal, and that is the new and more subtle Communist challenge to Western democracy. To counter the Soviet economic offensive, the West must be 806 prepared to offer aid on a large scale to the under-developed countries. The need to help these areas has been there all along and exists irrespective of Soviet or Communist action. That has been recognised by this country. On this side, we have always stressed this approach to the problem, and much was done by the Government under the leadership of my noble friend Lord Attlee. That work, especially under the Colombo Plan, has been carried on by succeeding Governments. But, as the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, is well aware, we have urged a similar plan for the Middle East and disagree with the Government's reliance on the Baghdad Pact as the main channel for economic aid to that area. We have also urged that S.U.N.F.E.D. (the Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development) should be established and brought into operation, because this is a matter in which the United Nations should be playing the leading rôle and doing far more to co-ordinate existing activities.
It is in this field of economic aid that the West has to meet and beat the new challenge. As has been said from these Benches on a number of occasions, the aid must be without strings and must be seen to be without strings. It must not be limited to certain States in any area, which is the drawback of the economic provisions of the Baghdad Pact, but should take a wide sweep like the Colombo Plan. Noble Lords will have seen Mr. Dulles's appeal for a "new line" toward Asia, which includes the provision of help without any encroachment on political independence. During his recent visit to Asia, he found that:
Under these conditions, help would be welcome. Under reverse conditions it would be rejected.
This, my Lords, is the basis on which to face up to the Communist challenge in Asia and Africa. It is the way to help the uncommitted nations: to win their respect and retain their allegiance to the free way of life. It calls for a policy of maximum concerted action by the West over the coming years, not only in the provision of aid but also in making known to those who benefit how much has been done and is being done to help them. I believe that this Communist challenge will gather momentum. I appeal to the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, whose active interest in the work of the Colombo Plan is well known to all noble
Lords, to ensure that Her Majesty's Government are bold, imaginative and generous in facing up to this new challenge that confronts the free world. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.31 p.m.
My Lords, as usual, we have listened to a remarkably clear and sincere speech from the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and we are again grateful to him for bringing this matter before your Lordships' House. I do not propose to follow him in great detail, for my remarks will be confined to a short assessment of what I consider to be some of the causes of the very real difficulties in which we find ourselves to-day. I should like to start by dissociating myself and my colleagues from the very unconstructive and sometimes unfair attacks made on the present Government and leading members of that Government by a small section of the Press whose motives I cannot conceive to be either worthy or sincere. If there happened to be a Labour Government in power to-day, I should, of course, take exactly the same line of denunciation of any section of the Press which attacked through distortion rather than through fair criticism with a sense of responsibility. All Parties stand together for the welfare of this Kingdom and this Commonwealth, and the fact that noble Lords on the Liberal Benches have not recently shared in the responsibility of government does not make us feel any less conscious of our duty to support, when we can, with good will, and to oppose, when we must, with prudence. It is natural, however, that Parties in opposition should, on occasion, look with dismay on the policy or attitude of the Government; and noble Lords opposite may well remember various occasions in the past when they were in opposition and how their hearts were in their mouths as a result of some action, or lack of action, by a Labour or a Liberal Government.
In the circumstances in which we are reviewing affairs to-day, I should say that our difficulties, which are very real ones, have been largely created, or at least increased, by our own backwardness over the last ten years in trying to resist the irresistible. By that I mean that both the Labour Government and the Conser- 808 vative Government have failed to go forward as the pioneers and leaders in the now world of international political freedom—"political equality" would be a better phrase—and the reason for this I believe to be a British, as distinct from an international, habit of mind; admirable and successful up to 1939 but now outmoded and obsolescent in world affairs.
We on this side of the House have sometimes (but not, I think, very responsibly) been accused of denigrating our country and our fellow citizens by not sufficiently maintaining that the British way is the best way. I refute that accusation, for in general terms there is no doubt whatever that we on these Benches—and, I feel sure, noble Lords of the Labour Party also—are perfectly clear that the British way is indeed the best way. But where we differ from our critics is that we do not expect a Frenchman or an American or a Russian to think so too. That assertion is not, I believe, quite so far-fetched as it may sound. There is still in this country a residue of the easygoing complacency of the nineteenth century, when, as a nation, we were, admittedly, supreme in wealth and power and progress. Those things were facts, and in some minds they even led to the conviction that a foreigner, provided that he was an intelligent foreigner, must know in his heart that Britain was better than his own country, and that it was merely a misplaced patriotism or some queer Continental obstinacy which prevented him from admitting it like a man.
This attitude is exemplified by the British soldier in the First World War who said that all Frenchmen were hypocrites because they called a cabbage a "shoe" when they knew perfectly well that it was a cabbage. We are no longer in that pre-eminent position of a hundred years ago. We are one of the great Powers, but the greatness is to-day a relative term and can exist only in partnership with other nations. We know that, We have, in theory, learnt that lesson, but we are not whole-hearted in putting this new, essential internationalism into practice; and there is somewhere in the Government or among their supporters, or in the Departments of Whitehall, not so much a reluctance as, apparently, a positive inability to subordinate for our own sake our preoccupation with mainly 809 British interests, at considerable sacrifice of the attention which we ought to be paying to broader and deeper symptoms in world politics.
Nobody would say that the situation in Jordan, for instance, is anything other than highly disquieting and full of sinister possibilities which we devoutly hope may nevertheless resolve themselves peacefully and perhaps profitably. But a visitor to Great Britain might well get the impression that the summary, undiplomatic and grossly discourteous dismissal of Glubb Pasha (a man whose high reputation for devoted service and single-mindedness is indeed enhanced by his admirable and statesmanlike restraint and moderation to-day) was the chief difficulty in that complicated area of inter-State rivalries. Jordan, it might appear to an onlooker here, had concentrated everything upon being insulting to Great Britain, and her chief preoccupation was to oust and humiliate the British. I do not believe that to be the case. I believe that Jordan, like any other new and inexperienced young nation, is going through the distemper of ultra-nationalism and xenophobia; and it is purely incidental, fortuitous and unfortunate for us that we, who have done so much for her, should be the victims of her ingratitude. The motivating force in Jordan is, I suggest, pro-Jordanism far more than anything merely anti-British; and our natural resentment from the purely British point of view should not blind us to the fact that the true danger is not in the anti-British aspect but in all the implications of Jordan's short-sighted type of pro-Jordanism, in almost pathetic ignorance of the enormous potential repercussions which inexperienced diplomacy can bring about.
It is not, of course, merely near to our own immediate concerns that this general danger lies. If I may repeat what I have said before in your Lordships' House, I consider that a very striking example of a potentially dangerous situation is seen in a part of South-East Asia which is no immediate concern of this country and yet which might well be the touching-off point of calamitous developments. To the British public (because the emphasis is laid in that incomplete way) South-East Asia means, in general, China, Burma, Japan, Malaya and a few other places where the British connection is either 810 traditional or immediately in the foreground. But of the great territory of Indonesia, with its teeming 80 million population of mixed origin and of immense potential wealth, of new nationhood and nationalistic pride and absence of political experience, we hear little, despite the fact that it is of crucial importance in the ebb and flow of competition and progress in that area of South-East Asia. We earnestly wish well to this young and virile but diplomatically un-practised State, whose preoccupation with self-expression, even at the cost of good foreign relations, is a thing to be watched and, if possible, guided with sympathy and full appreciation of its natural and understandable aspirations.
But meanwhile there has in that direction been a sad setback in the break-off of their talks with our good friends tie Dutch, whose past colonial connection in the East Indies is obstinately (and I think rather childishly) regarded by Indonesia as a bar to forward-looking co-operation in the post-war world. It is a most regrettable situation, not only in its negative effect upon progress and development, but because it sets up a dangerous and quite unjustifiable mistrust between a fluid and rather turbulent mass of people in South-East Asia and the free countries of the West, who sincerely want to build up these new young nations in peace as well as prosperity. The critical danger of Indonesia veering towards the Communist bloc through infiltration and seduction and the false hopes held out to a young country is just one more of those things which we cannot afford to ignore through our own preoccupation with other affairs, either on our own doorstep or nearer home.
I have mentioned only two areas, but it is similarly the adolescent and irresponsible surge of nationalism that is basically responsible for the unrest which we see in so many quarters. The failure of the older nations to appreciate the inevitability of more self-determination and to come closer together in the use of their centuries of experience, their guidance and education along constructive rather than obstructive lines, is having disastrous consequences. There is surely a clear similarity of unhappiness in Cyprus, Egypt and the Argentine—in contrast to the emergence of happy States like Burma, India or, if you like, Canada and Northern Ireland.
811 I urge Her Majesty's Government to ensure that this country takes a far more prominent part than it has done in the essential drive towards international integration and co-operation, without which catastrophe may lie not very far ahead. It is perhaps traditionally more difficult for a Conservative Government than for a Government aligned rather to the left of Conservatism to jettison the habits of thought of the nineteenth century interplay of a balance of power; but in the world to-day the balance of power can so easily be upset by one misguided policy of one small nation that we can no longer afford to be a world living in separate cells. We are totally interdependent, and I think it is unquestionably the moral duty, particularly of the greater Western Powers like the United States and ourselves, to join in the fullest measure in working together and not working separately.
There are only two nations to-day who could, if they wished, run independently of the rest of the world—the United States of America and the Soviet Republic. We are not in that category of self-sufficiency as we once were. Even if both of these great nations took an individualistic line, the civilised world, as we all want it to be, would never come forward into prosperity or real co-existence. We here can handle in comparative isolation our domestic affairs, and to a far less degree of isolation our colonial affairs; but we must no longer pursue an individual, semi-national course in the international field. I urge Her Majesty's Government to accelerate their reluctant moves towards world-mindedness, first, by more active participation in European integration, including E.U.R.A.T.O.M. in particular; and secondly, by starting to change the sword of N.A.T.O. into a communal ploughshare of world co-operation.
§ 3.45 p.m.
THE DUKE OF NORFOLK
My Lords, I intervene for a few moments in the debate, for one reason. As a Catholic Peer I have a right to speak in your Lordships' House, and I may add that I appreciate this privilege. But to my mind it carries with it a certain responsibility, which from time to time makes it necessary to speak.
812 We are all fully conscious in the world in which we live, the more particularly at this present time, of the uncertainties and dangers of the international situation; and we all hope that in due course there may be achieved a lasting peace based on justice and freedom. Her Majesty's Government are expecting shortly a visit from members of the Government of the U.S.S.R. Knowing the past and present activities of Soviet Russia in certain ways of life, it is not surprising that some Catholics, as well as other people in this country, regard this visit to our shores with apprehension. I should like to make it clear to your Lordships and to the Government that while I speak to-day entirely for myself, I am nevertheless satisfied that I have the full support of the Catholics. We do not welcome this visit; but we are the last people to interfere in any meeting which is held in the hope of obtaining better relations. We realise that the best opportunity of achieving a lasting understanding between Governments, and therefore a lasting peace, is by talks around a table.
I am, however, not happy that the religious question is as uppermost in the minds of our Ministers as it should be. For too long has the Christian way of living been left out of the general outlook on life. It is the Catholic, as it is my own, belief that religious freedom must form the foundation of a lasting peace. We deplore the persecution which is carried on in all Communist-controlled countries. So it is to-day that I ask Her Majesty's Government to give an assurance that they will make plain to their visitors that no peace can be obtained till this freedom of worship is restored. I myself, as an individual—and I believe the Catholics of this country—will play no part during this visit and the discussions, but we could be greatly helped in our silence if we knew that our views would be expressed in the strongest terms.
§ 3.50 p.m.
THE SECRETARY or STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS (THE EARL OF HOME)
My Lords, I hope it will be convenient to your Lordships if I intervene for a few moments to cover some of the fields which have been touched upon by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. I am unaccustomed to intervening in debates on foreign affairs and 813 therefore I thought it wiser that I should come now so that my noble friend Lord Reading can pick up the pieces of the world which are left when I have finished. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, approaches a debate on foreign affairs—or so I have always thought—with one guiding principle in his mind: that there should be the broadest possible identity of views between the British Government of the day and the British Opposition in Parliament. I hope that it was not too difficult for him to-day to find a substantial unity between us, because I very much echo his obvious feeling that British foreign policy gains greatly in authority in so far as it can be said to reflect the opinion of the great majority of the people of our island.
To-day the noble Lord has made a broad survey. Though he was not wholly pessimistic, ten years after a war which should have taught the world the moral cost of hate and the physical cost of scientific war, it was his melancholy task to record, in a considerable number of areas in the world, discord, distrust and friction; and in at least one area the fact that people are standing to arms with their finger on the trigger. In such circumstances people are afraid, and when people are afraid, blame for the situation is apt to be distributed impartially. Though the noble Lord did not quite deal with this background (indeed, he could not very well do so), I feel it is timely to put plainly before your Lordships what is the cause of this unrest, so that we may remind ourselves of the fundamental reason for it. It is that Russia has placed her power behind international Communism and that Communism admits the use of force and subversion as instruments of international policy. So long as, that is so, there can be no real peace.
The noble Duke who has spoken (and whom I wish we heard much more often in our debates) has reminded us that the Russian leaders are about to visit this country, and, indeed, there is one already here. My noble friend Lord Reading will be dealing with the significance of the Twentieth Congress and will say something more about this visit. It is a nice balance. I myself have taken the view that this visit is right because, by and large, I believe it to be true that the worse your relationship the greater is the necessity for plain speaking. I hope this 814 occasion will be used for some very plain speaking. We are a kindly, forgiving people always ready to forgive and forget; but it is worth reminding ourselves that, though Mr. Bulganin and Mr. Khrushchev come here on a mission of good will, nevertheless Russia is still the host of Burgess and Maclean; that, though friendship may be professed for the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, nevertheless, but for his confession, Petrov would still be working to undermine the life and Constitution of Australia; that though statues of Stalin may be destroyed in Russia, nevertheless the official line in Russia is to return to the doctrines of Stalin; and as the noble Lord has said, there was no difference whatever between the foreign policy of Lenin and Stalin. Further, as the noble Duke has told us, religion is being persecuted and the cold war against the free world is being relentlessly pursued.
In those circumstances there is no reason why we should not meet and have some plain speaking. We are a friendly and a tolerant people, and there are some who ask us and expect us to have faith in Russian intentions. Your Lordships will probably recall the doggerel:There was a faith healer of Deal,Who said 'Although pain isn't real,When I sir on a pinAnd it punctures my skin,I dislike what I fancy I feel'.What we feel to-day we dislike very much. As noble Lords on these Benches and on the Benches opposite, and as the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have said time and again: there will never be real peace and understanding between the West and the Communist world—there cannot be—until the change of heart which the Russians tell us they have is reflected in deeds.
Wherever Russia opens up new channels of penetration the free nations are compelled to respond to the challenge. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Rea, who used the phrase: "We should jettison nineteenth century habits of the balance of power." I only wish we could do so: but the free nations are compelled to respond if Russia is going to use force as an instrument of national policy. The pattern of the response in Europe is familiar. There is the organisation of the deterrent which, of course, includes the manufacture of the hydrogen bomb. There is co-ordination of power under the 815 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. And I believe we shall all agree in particular that the real deterrent which has saved not only this country but the whole of Western civilisation in recent years has been the deterrent of the American Strategic Air Command.
This policy of the balance of power which the noble Lord, Lord Rea, would like to see passing out of date (and so should we) has been a policy of terrible but calculated risk. I believe there will be no two opinions that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, applied to the area of Europe and the North Atlantic, is the organisation which has saved Europe from being drowned under the tide of Communism. I remind your Lordships of that belief in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. It is a belief which is shared by all of us, and no amount of Russian propaganda has been able to shake it. We expected the propaganda, and it has not shaken our faith in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. And although the organisation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has not always been easy, we have not been deterred by the difficulties. I recall that, because when we come to the Baghdad Pact and S.E.A.T.O., which are designed to meet a similar challenge, there seem to be at the first puff of propaganda quite a number of people who go weak at the knees. I shall return to the Baghdad Pact and to S.E.A.T.O. in a moment.
Ever since the Russians, the Communists, have been baulked in Europe, they have sought other means of destroying the life of the West; and the means are ready to hand. The tin and the rubber of Malaya are obvious temptations. The same is true of the oil of the Middle East. Under Communists rules no holds are barred; and if, by bribery, by subversion, by the exploitation of existing quarrels, or by the fomentation of national ambitions, the Communists could get behind the resistance of the Turks, the Persians and the people of Iraq and undermine them from the rear, and if chaos could be introduced into the places where oil is found, Russia would gain an area which is strategically most important and could put a stranglehold on the economic life of Western Europe. Every Russian move has been consistent with that objective.
816 With all that at stake, how could we in the United Kingdom turn our backs on this historically important area of the Middle East, how could we turn our backs on chaos substituted for law and order and refuse to use our influence to stiffen resistance? And if we are strong and resolute in our support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, why should we be diverted from our purpose by Russian propaganda (which is only to be expected) or by Egyptian opportunism? On the contrary, if there is anything wrong with the Baghdad Pact I think it probably is that it is not strong enough. The United States of America must decide the extent of her own participation. She has assured support to each member of the Pact, and assists and co-operates. But the closer United States co-operation can be, the greater chance there will be for the Baghdad Pact to maintain peace and stability.
The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, drew particular attention in his survey to the tension between Egypt and Israel. No one, of course, can deny it. But there has surely never been an action more reckless of the peace than the offer of Soviet arms to Egypt at this time, or, let me say, than the acceptance by Egypt of those Soviet arms. It has wrecked, with one irresponsible act, the careful balance of defensive arms designed to be given to both Egypt and Israel in order that they should be able to defend themselves and to maintain security. The noble Lord made three proposals which, as he truly says, he has made before. One was for a Treaty with Israel. Whatever may be the merits of that in calmer times, I can imagine that it would be most explosive now if injected into the Middle Eastern scene. The noble Lord has also made the proposal that there should be more arms for Israel. But the difficulty and the dilemma is this: if Israel is given many more arms of a modern kind than the Arab bloc, then the Arab bloc will appeal to the Soviet bloc for more arms, the arms race will be on in earnest and the end of it surely can be only one thing: a garrison, so to speak, of 1,700,000 people at the mercy of 40,000,000. It was much better, surely, to stick to the plan agreed under the Tripartite Declaration to supply Egypt and Israel with arms but to limit 817 them to defensive arms and to arms which could contribute to their own security.
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, if I may be forgiven for intervening, may I say that I agree entirely with the noble Earl that it would have been better if we could have stayed where we were under the Tripartite Agreement, maintaining a balance. But, as the noble Earl has said, the importation of Communist arms into Egypt has destroyed the balance. What is to be the position of Israel in that situation?
THE EARL OF HOME
I think that the arms which have been obtained from the Communist countries so far have probably not been very numerous. But the act of giving them to Egypt clearly was an act of great irresponsibility. I would agree that there must be an attempt to keep a reasonable balance. But may I go on for the moment? The noble Lord asked, also, about the Tripartite Declaration, and at the same time he welcomed the intervention of the United Nations Organisation. So do Her Majesty's Government. Our feeling is that we trust and hope that the United Nations Organisation will be able to make a positive and constructive proposal which will lead to a settlement, and in the meantime we feel that we must rest on the Tripartite Declaration.
The noble Lord asked if there is a plan which could he put into operation at twenty-four hours' notice. As a signatory to the Anglo-Jordan Treaty and one of the Tripartite Powers, we must obviously have plans to meet all sorts of eventualities, but I am afraid that I must decline at the moment to tell the noble Lord whether they are twenty-four hour or forty-eight hour plans, or indeed what they are. He appealed eloquently in his speech for co-operation between the Powers, and any plan that is announced—if one is to be announced at all—will he announced by the three Powers together.
§ LORD HENDERSON
May I be forgiven for again interrupting? I fully appreciate the point made by the noble Earl, but he must be aware that this statement has appeared in the Press, and I have seen comments by an official spokesman. If an official spokesman can make comments about some plan which 818 Her Majesty's Government are supposed to have, surely official representatives of the Foreign Office can make the same statement in this House.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, of course, if an official spokesman has made a statement, my noble friend the Marquess of Reading will be able to repeat that statement. But if any publicity is to be given to such plans as exist, they will have to be made public by the three Powers.
§ LORD KILLEARN
My Lords, I apologise for intervening, but surely the whole point of the Tripartite Declaration, as I understand it, is: Who is the aggressor? I know there has been infinite discussion in the past about defining an aggressor. Someone has said something in to-day's debate about action in twenty-four hours by the three different guaranteeing Powers acting together. I interject this question because it seems to me a fundamental point of great difficulty. Who is going to determine who is the aggressor? I do not doubt that this point has been covered filly in inter-governmental discussion, but I mention it because we cannot ignore it. If aggression occurs, who is the aggressor? Who is supported against whom? In whole favour does the Tripartite Declaration work?
THE EARL, OF HOME
My Lords, I see the difficulty, but nobody can decide beforehand who is the aggressor. That would have to be decided; and once it had been decided, then Tripartite action would be taken against them.
Apart from the Baghdad Pact, the other regional Pact is S.E.A.T.O., which came into existence in much the same way as the Baghdad Pact. It was the natural reaction of a group of Powers in danger and, as in the case of the Baghdad Pact, the United Kingdom is a member. Both these Pacts have come under fire, not only from Russian propaganda but also because there is a certain hostility to them from those who call themselves neutralists. As N.A.T.O. was a spontaneous reaction to the danger of Russia in Europe, so the Baghdad Pact has been the spontaneous reaction of Turkey and Iraq, later joined by Iran and Pakistan. But British participation has been seriously criticised. Pakistan is a Commonwealth country, with both flanks 819 exposed to attack by the Communist world. Turkey is a member of N.A.T.O. Iraq and Iran are independent peoples who have been traditionally friendly to the United Kingdom. The Middle East as a whole is the gateway to Africa and it is essential that law and order should be maintained there. And, as I have said, oil is of interest not only to Western Europe but also to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. So it is difficult to see how the United Kingdom, with all these responsibilities weighing upon her, could possibly have refused to be a member of the Baghdad Pact. Indeed, I think that our partnership in the Baghdad Pact has given it the necessary stiffening, although, as I say, it could with advantage be made stronger.
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, if the noble Earl is passing from the Baghdad Pact, may I remind him that I did not criticise British association with the Pact? I referred to the French complaint that they had not been consulted in advance.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, as I think I said, the Pact was not originally our conception. The noble Lord will remember that it was the conception of Turkey and Iraq; later Pakistan and Iran came in, and the British. But it was not originally our conception.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, did that preclude consultation between this country and our prominent Ally before going further with the matter?
THE EARL OF HOME
In the beginning consultation was precluded because this was a Pact formed by Turkey and Iraq. Since then, the French, on the whole, have been rather hostile to the Baghdad Pact; but, of course, there is nothing to stop conversations from being undertaken if they wish to come in. So far as the S.E.A.T.O. regional Pact is concerned, it has been the target of Russian propaganda and it has been disliked by the neutralists.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, if the noble Earl is referring to India, would it not be better to speak of India as one of the great countries in our Commonwealth?
THE EARL OF HOME
I was thinking at the moment of Egypt, but the Pact is not particularly liked by India either. To the neutral nations who do not want to get tied up in Pacts of any kind, I would say that, unless Pacts like the Baghdad Pact and S.E.A.T.O. are successful, these nations will be the next and direct targets of the Communist world.
It has been argued that economic aid is the answer; that military Pacts are out-of-date and that we should concentrate on economic aid to these underdeveloped countries in these politically unstable areas. That is part of the answer, let me admit at once. In the Baghdad Pact, and in S.E.A.T.O. as well, there is provision for economic aid. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, suggested that these Pacts were not the right umbrellas under which to administer economic aid. That is a debatable point. We shall not be dogmatic about the matter. It might be best to transfer economic aid to S.U.N.F.E.D. or some other organisation. That is a matter which could be argued. But do not let any of the uncommitted or neutral countries fall into the error of believing that Soviet aid is the way to freedom. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, is aware of the conversation which is reported as having taken place between Mr. Harold Wilson and Mr. Khrushchev. Mr. Wilson was telling Mr. Khrushchev how we had pushed money into the Colonies and had pumped more in than we had taken out. Mr. Khrushchev's comment was. "I cannot understand why anyone should enter a country except to pump out." I hope that the uncommitted countries will take note of that intention.
The merits of the Kashmir dispute were not discussed at all at the S.E.A.T.O. Conference, and the noble Lord accepts that. I doubt whether Kashmir would ever have been mentioned if it had not been for the intervention of the Russians, who definitely aligned themselves on the one side when they paid their visit to India. I can only repeat that it is the hope of Her Majesty's Government that this dispute between two Commonwealth countries will be settled between those two countries direct or by proposals made by the United Nations.
The noble Lord has drawn our attention to the need for the greatest cooperation between the United States and 821 the United Kingdom and the other countries of the Western world. Of course, we agree. Russia has an advantage in central direction. The free world consists of a number of free partners. Dictatorships have an inherent advantage, and the democracies must do their best to overcome this handicap. There will at times be inconsistencies between, let us say, the United Kingdom and the United States—inconsistencies which will not occur in Russian publicity. There are no free-for-all Press conferences in the U.S.S.R. But I think that the noble Lord realises that the foundations of British foreign policy are intact. The United Kingdom is pursuing a policy of strength. There is complete co-operation within the Commonwealth. There is a close alliance with the United States, which we are aiming constantly to improve. It is the small differences which hit the headlines, and the 99 per cent. field of agreement is seldom mentioned.
Of all countries, the United Kingdom is most interested in peace. We are concerned to profess peace not only because we believe in it as an ideal but because for us, as a great trading nation with our communications exposed, it is a matter of self-interest. My noble friend Lord Reading will deal with the work of disarmament, and he will tell your Lordships how we wish to assist in every way in the disarmament conferences. None will respond more readily than this country to a change of heart in Russia. None, I think (and I say this especially to the noble Lord, Lord Rea) will be more forward than this country in taking what he calls the modern line. I think our record in the colonial field in giving self-government to countries is a proof of that. But, my Lords, I must insist that until the offensive of international Communism is called off, although we may long for peace and work for peace, there will be no real peace; meanwhile, British foreign policy will be based on strength, but a strength that will be used for high purpose.
§ 4.22 p.m.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, I had not intended to intervene in this debate today, but it has gone in such a direction that I think it is rather necessary that I should do so. I made my own position quite plain last week in the defence de- 822 bate as to how I regarded the coming conference in this country with the visit of Marshal Bulganin and Mr. Khrushchev. I said then that the situation in the world to-day had largely stemmed from the attitude the Russians had taken up in, and ever since, the Paris Peace Conference, and there is no question about where I stand in regard to attaching blame in this matter. But I must say that whilst it is necessary for Ministers, when they meet these two principal visitors from the U.S.S.R., to speak quite plainly, as the noble Earl has said, the diplomatic approach we have had this afternoon in regard to this very important gathering seems rather strange. For all the reasons the noble Earl has stated, this gathering is important to general peace and trade interests and the like. But it is also important because there are many authorities in the world who believe that war is much nearer than some of the ordinary people think; that the sands are running out, and that every possible endeavour must be made in negotiation with anybody, in any country, to see whether that last and final catastrophe can be avoided. Although I have systematically condemned the part which Russia has played in many parts of the world which has led to the present situation, I have also urged that we should have negotiation whenever and wherever possible with the true aim of arriving at a basis for a lasting peace.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, I did preface my remarks about the Russian visit by saying that I believed it was right, and for exactly the reason the noble Viscount has given; because I think that when the hydrogen bomb, and things like that are hanging over the heads of humanity, we must meet and see whether we can find some solution.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
The references my noble friend Lord Henderson made to the Middle East, and especially with regard to Palestine, struck me very forcibly. I thought how right he was to raise them. I regard the position with regard to the supply of arms necessary to give something like a restoration of equality, of power to defend themselves against the nations now lined up against them, as something eminently reasonable. Here, again, the question of time is important, because, if I recollect aright—I am 823 speaking from memory; I have been thinking to myself as I listened to the debate this afternoon—when Mr. Dulles appeared before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, as far back as the middle of February, in cross-examination by Senators he referred to the arms which had been supplied. He said that there was a bilateral treaty, a military treaty, with Egypt. The Senate seemed to know exactly what had been supplied, but we do not always know exactly what we have supplied from this country to the various countries concerned. Mr. Dulles was asked how long it would be before the Egyptian forces were sufficiently trained to use the new and powerful modern weapons which had been supplied. He thought it would be a considerable time, but, under pressure, he said two months. If that is the view taken, how urgent becomes the question of the inequality of these countries at the present time in acquiring the necessary arms for their defence! How much time have you?
It is perfectly correct to say that some aspects of the Baghdad Pact, for example, are very helpful. We have not opposed it from this side of your Lordships' House. But the noble Earl referred in general terms to neutralism after the Baghdad Pact, and, knowing from whence some of the neutral opinions have come, I did not think it helpful to maintaining the full support we want to get within the British Commonwealth to speak of the great Republic of India merely as a group of neutralists. I do not think that is very helpful. I should have thought there might have been a better approach than that.
With regard to the question of a Treaty with Israel, I would point out that we on this side have supported the Tripartite Agreement. But the point has been raised by the noble Lord, Lord Killearn, who interjected from the Cross Benches, that the fundamental question is who is to be regarded as the aggressor and how long does it take to decide amongst the signatories of the Tripartite Agreement. Well, I should hope that there are arrangements within the Departments of those who are the sponsors of that supporting Agreement for the victim of aggression, which may be operated at a much quicker pace than would seem to be the case. There is almost certain to be considerable delay unless we can have the 824 assurance that the statements of the official spokesmen—as I understand from my noble friend from the Foreign Office—can be confirmed in Parliament by the official Ministers representing the Foreign Office.
Now I come to one other point which moved me very much to intervene in this debate. I do not want it to be misunderstood. We should all like it if the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk, were able and had the time to attend the House more often and to speak more often. I am sorry he has left the House, and I expect it is because he has some other urgent business appointment. But I think it would be fatal to the feelings of the majority of the people of this country if it were left to be understood that our Ministers are in some way in this country deficient on the religious basis; that they have not the religious aspect sufficiently in their minds to go into these negotiations for what he describes as the defence of freedom. I want to look carefully at the actual text of what the noble Duke said as it appears in Hansard to-morrow, but if I make any misjudgment of what he said, I shall be glad to correct it afterwards. As I understood what he said, it was that our Ministers had not sufficient religious approach to this matter. Now I leave the Ministers themselves to defend their own religious attitude to these matters, but it would be a serious thing if it were to go out from this House to the common people of this country, the great majority of whom belonging to religious denominations are Protestants, if only by assent to that speech, that the Protestants are not concerned, and our Ministers are not concerned, from a religious point of view, with the conference into which they are going. That is an important thing for us to remember.
If it comes to a question of, say, Catholic defence of freedom, some of us in this House, at any rate, would wonder what is going on in Spain; what is going on in Ecuador; and what is going on in Colombia; and we should wonder about the frequent reports about Catholic countries where not only persecution but loss of life, as well as the denial of civil rights, is going on to-day. I am bound to draw attention to that aspect, when the matter is raised in this House by one so highly respected in our State and so prominent, as a layman, in the Roman 825 Catholic Church. I want to assure the House—and I speak on this point as President of the United Kingdom Council of Protestant Churches, with its twelve associations in London and the country—that we should resent very much the idea that our Protestant Ministers are not concerned from a religious point of view, or that it is mainly the Catholics in the world who are concerned with the defence of freedom. If that were so, I should be looking up my history books again, and looking at the things that went on in Germany and in Austria: at the welcome of the Anschluss that Hitler forced upon Austria; at the attempt to restore the Hapsburg Monarchy in Hungary, and the like. There are many things that I could put on the other side, if I had time. While I have great respect and affection for thousands of Roman Catholics whom I know, I think is fundamental for us to remember that when it comes to the defence of freedom, the last 400 years prove that it is the Protestant countries who have been the spearhead as well as the rearguard in the defence of the true Protestant faith and freedom.
§ 4.33 p.m.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, I hone noble Lords who have preceded me will forgive me for not following the line which they have taken in regard to the most important matters which they have raised, but I wish to break new ground and refer to the subject of slavery. It must be a very long time indeed since slavery was mentioned, let alone debated, in your Lordships' House and with your Lordships' permission. I desire to say something about it to-day. The noble Marquess, Lord Reading, who is to reply later on behalf of the Government, has kindly agreed that I should do so. As President of the Anti-Slavery Society I frequently correspond with the noble Marquess. At times I fear he must regard me as something in the nature of an importunate widow, but it is my good fortune always to find him seized of the importance of the subject, and I wish to acknowledge most sincerely his unfailing patience and courtesy in his dealings with it. Perhaps I may be allowed to say that the members of my Committee are greatly encouraged, in what is rather an uphill fight, by the interest of the noble Marquess.
826 It is an interest which carries on a long British tradition, for slavery is a matter in which Britain has a long and honourable record. It was, in fact, as long ago as 1814, at the Congress in Vienna, that Lord Castlereagh fought tenaciously for the abolition of the slave trade. His advocacy was regarded at the Congress as a strange English obsession; but he won his way. Then again, at the Brussels Slavery Convention of 1890 the interest in the matter there was largely stimulated by a speech which Mr. Sydney Buxton (later Earl Buxton) made in the House of Commons on the subject of slavery. Going on later still, at the League of Nations Lord Robert Cecil, Lord Lugard and Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland made new endeavours for the abolition of slavery, and the British Government submitted a draft of what ultimately became the Slavery Convention of 1926.
Britain worked hard to make that Convention effective and secured the setting up by the League of Nations of a Standing Advisory Committee of Experts to supervise the application of the Convention. During its existence that Committee did very good work. The matter was revived at the United Nations in 1948 and, as a result, the General Assembly called upon the Economic and Social Council to study the problem. Britain has actively co-operated in this work at the United Nations, and has resumed her leadership in this matter. If I may, with respect, I should like to congratulate Her Majesty's Government on preparing and submitting to the Economic and Social Council a draft Convention on Slavery which aims at filling in some of the deficiencies which have come to light in the Convention of 1926. It is most satisfactory to see this country continuing to take the lead where slavery is concerned.
I hope that the noble Marquess will feel able to agree that the Anti-Slavery Society have worked hard in this respect, and have contributed a great deal to some of the achievements which have been won. A representative of the Society has made it his business to attend the meetings at the United Nations. He was appointed the Rapporteur of the Committee of Experts which was appointed by the Economic and Social Council in 1948; he drafted the recommendations of that Committee in 1951; and the delegates of many nations have paid warm tribute to 827 his knowledge of the subject. In about 1953 our Government put in a draft Convention, and the Economic and Social Council then appointed a Committee representing ten nations to prepare another Convention on the subject. That Committee were working in January on the basis of the United Kingdom draft, and have perhaps strengthened it; and the draft Convention which they have been preparing will be debated by the Economic and Social Council in April. I mention these facts in order to bear out that our Government are continuing along the line laid down by Lord Castlereagh as long ago as the Congress of Vienna, and that British Governments have never wearied in well doing on this particular subject.
When I endeavour to interest people in the work of the Anti-Slavery Society I run up against the common belief that slavery was abolished in the last century, and I am asked what I am talking about. But, of course, that is not so. Slavery in its very crudest forms still exists—forms which include mutilation, castration and branding of slaves. Slavery still holds millions in its grip, and when I think of it there comes to my mind words used by Laurence Sterne in Sentimental Journey, when he says:Disguise thyself as thou wilt, still, slavery, still thou art a bitter draught!To-day, long after Laurence Sterne, slavery is still a "bitter draught" for millions. In some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, the status of slavery has never been abolished. It is an accepted practice in the Arab world, with Africa as the chief source of supply. The traffic is openly carried on. There is no concealment about the slave markets. The slaves for sale are paraded round and round the ring like cattle at a cattle market. In China and Japan it has been an ancient custom to sell children into slavery. In parts of Africa women are sold into marriage without their consent, and widows are inherited by the late husband's heir. In certain Latin-American countries millions of aboriginal American Indians are peons or serfs on the estates of the immigrant Spaniards. A very bad system of forced labour, which is really indistinguishable from slavery, exists in the Portuguese colonies. The Anti-Slavery Society brought the facts about that matter to the attention of 828 the Government as recently as last August.
The evidence for these things is over-whelming. Writers such as Mr. Eldon Rutter, Mr. Bertram Thomas, de Gaury—all men who have lived long in Arabia, and are sympathetic to the Arab way of life—have borne witness to the continuance of slavery in Arabia. There is official evidence on record. In 1936, King Ibn Saud, by decree, prohibited the importation of slaves into Saudi Arabia and the selling of free men into slavery. All slaves had to be registered within a year of the decree coming into force. That decree in itself is conclusive proof, if more proof were needed, of the continued existence of slavery.
As recently as 1953 the French Ambassador in Saudi Arabia reported to his Government the existence of slave trading between Africa and Arabia. Africans, he reported, who had become naturalised as Saudi-Arabians return to Africa, to the Sudan and to the Atlantic seaboard of that continent. They return there in the guise of Moslem missionaries and delude African compatriots into accompanying them on a pilgrimage to Mecca. When these Africans arrive in Arabia they are arrested as illegal immigrants and handed over by the police to the consignees, and are at once sold into slavery. Amongst the consignees is the chief of the Jiddah Municipality. Quite genuine Moslem pilgrims take servants with them to Mecca, and if they get hard up they sell their servants as slaves. The passage from Africa to Arabia is made either via Port Sudan or Suakin to Leith, in Saudi Arabia. I do not know if that fact has been brought to the notice of the Sudan Government, which should be asked to be vigilant and to check this traffic in human beings.
A French gentleman, M. La Greviere, conducted an inquiry last year on behalf of an organisation which is an adjunct of the French Parliament. His report indicated a heavy slave traffic and slave hunting in the Cameroons, French West Africa and French Equatorial Africa. We have no precise information from China, which is readily to be understood, but certainly in the 'thirties it was estimated that 3 million children were pseudo-adopted into slavery and were held as household drudges, as concubines and as prostitutes. The information from 829 Japan is more recent. The Japanese Ministry of Labour reported in 1954 having traced in the past twelve months 1,500 boys and girls sold into slavery. Tribal Africans in many parts of Africa sell their daughters into marriage without their consent.
I have already mentioned the right of the husband to sell his wife and their children to another man, and the right of the husband's heir, on his death, to inherit the wife. I have mentioned Latin America. In Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia the aboriginal American Indian can get land to grow his food only from a Spanish landlord. To get it he must work for that landlord three days a week, without pay. To rivet the shackles more firmly on him, the landlord keeps a shop and entices the peon to get into debt. Of course, the debt never gets paid; and the interesting fact is that if the man dies the debt passes on to his heir, so it becomes hereditary, and, of course, results in genuine serfdom. It is reckoned that 8 million American Indians are in the grip of this system.
To my mind, the important thing is this. While a great deal is done to check slavery—and I hope that work will continue—one thing is certain: that if the endeavours to end slavery were to cease it would very rapidly extend. Between the Brussels Convention of 1890 and the outbreak of war in 1914, there was great activity in suppressing the slave trade. Between the two wars, the seas around Arabia were regularly patrolled by the Navy, and a check was kept on slave-running across the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. But during and since the Second World War, for reasons which one can well understand, vigilance has been relaxed. It has not been possible to keep on those patrols. The traffic in human beings has again become active; and in fact it has become stimulated because, thanks to the oil royalties, money has been pouring into Arabia, with the result that unheard of prices are being paid to-day for slaves. An attractive girl will fetch £400 a strong able-bodied man will fetch £150, and even old women can reach the figure of £35.
What should be done to-day to take up again the fight against this horrible business? The United Nations have taken over the functions of the League of Nations under the Convention of 1926. 830 The United Nations have prepared a Supplementary Convention to plug the loopholes in the 1926 Convention. That Convention of 1926 was signed by forty-four States. Those States ought to be strongly urged to ratify the Supplementary Convention without delay. Once that is done, I should like to see the United Nations set up a Standing Advisory Committee of Experts to study and advise the Economic and Social Council on the steps necessary to implement the revised Slavery Convention. I urge this most strongly, because at present there is among the members of the Council an almost complete lack of knowledge about slavery, so that no real advance is made. Owing to this lack of expert knowledge, the discussions follow the same lines year after year; and I believe they will continue to do so until such a Committee of Experts as I have mentioned is set up.
It would also be an enormous help (though I am afraid the Admiralty could not be very encouraging about this owing to the shortage of ships at the present moment) if the waters around Arabia could once again be patrolled as they used to be, with such admirable and excellent results. In addition to such measures as these, economic measures are also necessary to enable emancipated slaves to establish themselves, and to reduce poverty in those countries where economic pressure results in children being sold into slavery and peons into serfdom. I again urge a Committee of Experts as the proper body to deal with the matter. The Secretariat of the United Nations is not the proper body for the job. Secretariat officials naturally do not care to accuse Member States of slavery because the officials regard those States as their employers. I notice with interest that between 1951 and 1954 the Secretary-General made four reports on slavery, but in not one of those reports did he mention the countries where slavery exists. That is an interesting fact and explains why so little progress is made.
The provision of information to the United Nations is, of course, of the first importance. The League of Nations Convention of 1926 limited the supply of information to what was (these were the words) "spontaneously furnishes," and any laws passed about slavery were to be reported by the contracting States. But information was only to be "spon- 831 taneously furnished." One can quite imagine that countries with a bad record in this matter were not likely to be very spontaneous about furnishing information, and countries with a thoroughly good record in this matter would have no information to convey.
I understand (I hope I am not wrong) that the Foreign Office view is, or at any rate has been, that the information should be limited to copies of laws passed to implement the Convention, and that States should inform each other and not the Secretary-General. Of course, laws passed on this subject cannot be obtained without the agency of the country which has passed them, and the suspected States are naturally reluctant to furnish information. For instance, the I.L.O. has been quite unable to get much information about forced labour. The subject of forced labour seems to arouse peculiar bitterness at the United Nations. The guilty States are vigorous in denials or in opposition to reform, so that only completely innocuous resolutions are passed on the subject.
It is quite clear that the refusal to furnish information is a confession of guilt. In general, I would say that our Government are a little—may I use the word?—"cagey" on this question of supplying information and what the Conventions say on the subject; I can understand that. That "cageyness" or reluctance is due to the fact that our tradition is never to undertake what we are not reasonably certain we can fulfil. Any apparent reluctance in this matter on the part of our Government is, I dare say, rooted in the old tradition. I should also like to urge particularly that our Government should appoint an expert on slavery as a member of our delegation when the subject of slavery is to come up at the United Nations. This would only be continuing an old practice, because Lord Robert Cecil and Mr. Roden Buxton were so appointed in League of Nations days. If this is not done, I fear that drift will continue to be the general disappointing practice whenever slavery comes up for discussion at the United Nations. I pay full tribute to the Foreign Office officials who deal with this matter in New York. They take out a human and good brief, but, not being experts, they are at a disadvantage in the debates 832 when it comes to challenging other delegates on erroneous matter which they raise in the debates. Owing to their lack of expert knowledge, they are not able to take an expert part in the discussions on these subjects. Of course we all know—and it may be a wise attitude—that officials are always prone to regard time in the light of eternity. Consequently, as swift progress as some of us may wish for is not always made.
In conclusion, I should like to say this. Although slavery is a subject which rather stays in the background and is little heard of, it is a matter in which we can take great pride in regard to our past record. I have been told that, when these matters come up at the United Nations, it is said that only the British interest in the subject keeps it alive; that without the British interest it would drop. That is a testimony in which the Foreign Office can feel great pride. Perhaps the noble Marquess will feel able to agree that it is a testimony in which the Anti-Slavery Society also may feel a little pride through having had a share in this work. Great British names are associated with British work for slaves—Wilberforce, Buxton, Hoare, Gurney. All those names are recorded on the roll of those who have worked in this field. I feel that, as long as we remain true to the ideals which animated those great men about slavery, our name will continue to be a great name in the world.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ LORD LAYTON
My Lords, I am glad that the large number of people who are still in slavery in the world have found a spokesman in your Lordships' House, and that the noble Lord, Lord Winster, has raised this question here—it is a good example of the value of a general debate of this kind. But I am sure that he will forgive me if I do not follow him at all in the subject which he has raised.
In the last two or three weeks there has been a series of debates in this House which have covered international affairs on a very wide canvas. I hardly remember a series of debates following so quickly the one upon the other which have been so wide in their impact—military, political and diplomatic. The general picture that they leave is not a happy one. Some fifteen years ago, when Great Britain, with her Dominions, was standing almost alone one might almost 833 have thought that after the war the world would show deep gratitude for our steadfastness in preserving civilisation. But if one looks around at this moment, the picture is anything but of that kind. On the contrary, Britain is apparently cast for the rôle of whipping boy, and it appears, in face of the awakening which is happening throughout the Continents of Africa and Asia, that we are in retreat. The fact, however, that we especially seem to be suffering from the difficulties that this situation has brought about, stems not from any natural wickedness or jingoism (because that is very nearly dead in this country) but from the fact that we have had links everywhere in the world. I, for one, believe that the verdict of history will be that Britain in the past few years has done more than anyone for freedom in the world, for its extension and for the liberation of peoples.
Whence, then, this discontent? The noble Earl, Lord Home, said, quite properly, that an important and potent factor here was Communism, and the attempt to create international Communism and for it to permeate to these countries. Of course, that is a potent factor, but it is not the only one. I suggest that even apart from that—if there had been no sort of spreadout from behind the Iron Curtain—we should still have been facing problems of this sort simply from the fact mentioned in a recent debate by my noble friend Lord Rea, that there is inter-communication and these vast populations have been pushed, unprepared, into the maelstrom of our modern civilisation. Many of these problems are due to that fact.
Although these external circumstances are the main causes, is there nothing that we could have done so that things would have turned out differently? Looking over the debates and casting one's mind over the last few years, I think we must admit that, in certain respects, the policy of this country under both Governments has been open to criticism. One aspect, already mentioned to-day, is that we have still fully to accept in our hearts, as distinct from on paper, the necessity for adjusting our policies and actions to an international framework. Secondly, even when we have moved forward in the direction of international action, our timing has not been happy. When we have decided to take action we have 834 found that events have moved forward and fresh problems have arisen. This view was put forward strongly in the course of one debate by my noble friend Lord Rea. I do not propose to go over the ground again, but I do not think it is entirely fair to make that sort of statement without giving some indication of the specific ways in which it has occurred and in what way matters can be arranged differently. Therefore, I want to make just one or two comments on this general thesis, which I believe is shared generally by Liberals in this country.
The theme was developed in a recent debate by the noble Lord, Lord Hore-Belisha, in regard to the Cyprus base. I suggest that there can be no doubt whatever that the course of events in the Mediterranean would have been completely different if the base had been made a N.A.T.O. base two years ago. If that had been done, political responsibility would have rested where it properly belongs—on the full Council of the nations who are members of the Atlantic Pact, including Turkey and Greece. The same criticism of timing may be made in regard to the rejection in August, 1954, of the European Defence Community. If the British offer which led to the setting up of Western European Union had been made two years earlier, the present condition of Europe would have been radically changed for the better.
That the international solution is the right answer in the military sphere is now generally accepted. In his remarkable maiden speech on March 21, the First Lord of the Admiralty based his exposition on this proposition—I quote from his speech [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 196, col. 632]:…we must avoid regarding the problem of our defence as a purely national problem. Defence in isolation is to-day a contradiction in terms.If this is true in the military field, it must also apply to foreign policy, for military forces in a democratic community are the instrument of policy; and this is at least as true of international forces as it is within the single nation. N.A.T.O. cannot last if its members are to "go it alone" in matters of diplomatic policy. Yet it is only too clear that our policies in the Mediterranean are far from being harmonised. Lord Hore-Belisha, in the speech to which I have referred, quoted 835 the statement of President Eisenhower, thatAmerican interests were greatly jeopardised by what is happening in Cyprus.Looking in a second direction, we find that France is wrestling with immense difficulties in North Africa. Our position in the Middle East will be much affected if the vast stretches of territory from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea are in disorder or hostile.
Thirdly, France, as well as Britain and all Europe, is deeply involved economically by the action that may be taken by American companies in the oil territories of the Middle East. In face of this unco-ordinated behaviour the Tripartite Declaration seems a rather brittle instrument. Surely it is high time that we developed the Council of N.A.T.O. as an instrument for harmonising policy. This is not a new suggestion. Indeed, on the economic front it has been contemplated from the first that the North American Treaty Powers would endeavour to establish a unity of policy and behaviour. Clause 2 of the Treaty states that the memberswill seek to eliminate conflict in their economic policies and encourage economic collaboration between any or all of them.Clearly, a military alliance cannot last if there is an economic difference of opinion. A common international policy is essential to the permanence of a military alliance of this type. Yet nothing has been done in these other fields on which, in the long run, the stability of the military areas of N.A.T.O. must depend. The moral of our debates is that the strongest possible initiative in these directions is urgently needed.
It may be said that that is not a policy which is going to operate very quickly, particularly in this Election year in the United States. I am rather an optimist, certainly in the long run, or rather in terms of the next few years. I feel that, whatever may happen in the American Election, there will be, at all events on the executive side, a willingness to develop towards this essential unity of international policy. All known candidates in the field have in their respective spheres very good records in that respect. But though that may be so, it is no reason for not going forward. If the larger unification of policy cannot come about 836 because of that difficulty in the United States, why not make a start in Europe?
I am certainly not going to propose any kind of new machinery. I have sympathy with those who say we have far too many pieces of organisation. The Press and political documents are littered with rows and rows of initials of this and that organisation. I myself find it utterly impossible to feel passion for E.C.O. or S.O.C., or to burn with indignation for something which has another series of initial letters. In all languages there are great words round which a concept may grow—words which may move the hearts of people; but they are not this kind of plethora of initials. Moreover, confusion is created in the public mind.
Some of our most distinguished statesmen and diplomats, speaking from the Cross Benches the other day, drew the conclusion that we should get back to the Ambassador and give more authority to him. Though I very much sympathise with that view, it interested me to know that in London there are no fewer than fifty-nine Ambassadors and eleven Legations. Like other bureaucrats, the diplomats seem to have propagated, not only in government but in international circles, on what the Economist humorously described in a satirical article the other day as "Parkinson's Law" of the development of the multiplication of bureaucrats. I am disturbed by the large number of organisations which have come into being, but one thing worries me more —the thought of seventy diplomats each trying to fix up his own little particular scheme in private bilateral negotiations. The answer is not to increase international bodies but to cut them down in number and to simplify the organisation of international relationships in Europe and ultimately in the larger sphere; and to make much greater use of those which exist.
In that context I believe that it is the duty definitely imposed upon Her Majesty's Government to put a great deal of drive behind the Western European Union—an organisation which was Britain's answer to the failure of E.D.C. but which has been going slowly. It is not making much headway. It has lost its function in relation to the Saar, owing to the plebiscite which took place there last autumn. There remains its function 837 in the field of munitions and armaments control. It has not great prestige in Europe and I believe that it would be very bad for the confidence of our European associates in the intentions of Britain if they came to regard the W.E.U. as an orphan child whose parents were not supporting, with the full pressure of their authority, a scheme which may be of great importance; because it is a voluntary organisation for the control and inspection of munitions. I believe that to be a special responsibility, but the point I wish to make here is that Her Majesty's Government should press on more vigorously in the use generally of international institutions which already exist, including, in particular, those which exist in Europe.
I am not going to say anything about the Council of Europe Assembly. That is a parliamentary institution, and represents an important experiment which I believe is going to play a great part in the free world through submitting international affairs to parliamentary criticism. But it is only an advisory council. I would remind your Lordships that the Council of Europe consists of two bodies. A disappointing feature over the last seven years of its existence has been the failure of the Committee of Ministers to fulfil the hopes entertained for it. That Committee was the concept of the late Mr. Ernest Bevin, who thought of it in terms of a Cabinet of Europe which would grow into a permanent and effective combination planning the international politics of Europe. It has not done so.
On the other hand, a whole series of other Ministerial Committees have come into existence. We should simplify that apparatus. There should be one Committee of Ministers, not half a dozen; and its nominal members should be the Prime Ministers of the democracies of Western Europe. I think it is remarkable that there has been no meeting of the Prime Ministers in Europe, as such, since the war. Those Prime Ministers should operate through various other Ministers, as the circumstances might require. A start should be made with the fusion of the Council of Europe and the O.E.E.C. This device would strengthen and develop both, and would stimulate international co-operation in a number of ways. Moreover, its prestige would be 838 greatly strengthened if the O.E.E.C. were to be strongly supported by Her Majesty's Government on proposals connected with co-operative control of nuclear energy—a subject which is going to be of the greatest importance. Surely that affords an opportunity for Britain to be in at the start, instead of discussing and negotiating for a position at a very late stage. I know the Foreign Secretary shares the view that it is all-important that we should be associated with the development for peaceful purposes of nuclear energy. I confess, however, that I should have preferred to see a rather more warm-hearted expression of that view than the statement he made the other day when he said:we do not rule out a particular relationship between us and the European Powers if the plan goes forward.The gravamen of my personal criticism and complaint about our international policy in recent years is precisely that, as shown in debates at the United Nations, we have been content to tag along behind, rather than give the lead in what goes on in Europe. I have given some specific indication of what I mean. We on the Liberal Benches want to see much more dynamic force put into the creation of international institutions, in the conviction that, unless you have these international institutions, unless you have a building up from the military side and from the diplomatic side, fortified on the economic side, all this palaver about the unity of Europe as an integral part of the unity of the free world will fade away and come to nothing.
What I have said may have seemed critical. I know that in the very difficult situation of the past decade Her Majesty's Government—both Governments—have done many things which were helpful and important. But, as my noble friend Lord Rea said a little earlier, it is a question of breaking down long-established tradition and replacing it by something else. Although we complain of lack of drive in that direction, if we were speaking not in our own British Parliament but to some other people much more severe criticisms might be made. I am not suggesting for one moment that the record of Her Majesty's Governments in this respect drags behind that of other people. What it does drag behind is the necessity of the case, and I venture to make the criticism in that form because that is the 839 only way in which we Members of this House can do anything to help Britain, in action and in thought, to keep pace with the revolution that is taking place throughout the world before our eyes.
§ 5.23 p.m.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, I am sure that we owe a great debt of gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Layton, for reminding us of international principles. I am afraid that I am in no position to speak of great international principles. I content myself rather with dealing with ad hoc situations. We have at this moment so many problems on our hands as to present an embarrassing wealth of situations all over the world for our consideration. I propose to confine myself to two rather obvious aspects of the international situation. First of all, I would refer to the confusion of emotions in our minds as the result of the decision to invite our two Soviet guests to this country; and secondly (and I make no apology for it) I would offer a few passing comments again on the Middle East. On the former topic I have only one reflection to make, and that in no way whatsoever involves any criticism of the Government's decision to invite these gentlemen. In fact I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Home, that it was probably wise to send the invitation—provided always that the invitation is used in the right way.
It so happens that, whether by design or accident, they are coming at a moment when Communists all over the world outside the Iron Curtain are bewildered at the sudden denigration of Stalin. It has been said that it is a tragedy that it has worked out this way, the implication being that we have a situation in England which, if we cared to exploit it, could be turned as a weapon against our enemies, but in the interest of good manners and good diplomacy, though we have this trump card in our hands we just do not play it; I suggest that that is a fatalist and defeatist kind of view. My view—and I think that the noble Earl indicated that it is perhaps the Government view as well—is that, so far from this coincidence (if it be a coincidence) being a tragedy, it is a golden opportunity for us. The Prime Minister emphasised, and the noble Earl, Lord Home, has also emphasised, that these gentlemen are not coming over here to exchange platitudes at public 840 receptions; they are coming here for important and very grave political discussions. And it is in those talks, which we may not hear about or know about, that the great opportunities will occur.
In using this comparative somersault in Soviet affairs, might I be so bold as to suggest the lines on which perhaps the situation can be turned to our advantage? The Daily Worker recently drew attention to the fact that any man is entitled to change his mind. Mr. Harry Pollitt has apparently changed his mind as the result of seeing and sifting the evidence which has conveniently come to his notice after his great idol has passed away. Mr. Harry Pollitt was entitled to change his mind—the Daily Worker was quite right. But what neither the Daily Worker nor Mr. Harry Pollitt nor the millions of hynotised rabbits with them are ever able to explain is how, for twenty-five years, these masses lingered on, suffering under an overwhelming individual tyranny, but were quite unable to express that suffering.
In 1951 I was able to go to Czechoslovakia along with some 250 members of the British Communist Party at the invitation of and in answer to an advertisement in the Daily Worker. There I witnessed British citizens almost saying their prayers to the photograph of their idol. I tell your Lordships this to emphasise the true nature of the situation which, if turned to our advantage, can be a deadly weapon at this moment in this battle of brains and words. I trust that in these conversations which will take place—and I hope that full publicity will be given to them—not only ad hoc situations will be discussed but systems as well.
Turning to the Middle East, I would draw attention to the statement of Colonel Nasser given to a correspondent of the Observer which has caused some comment. I am dealing with this matter not so much to reveal the nature of the misrepresentations which were made as again to stress the need of an organisation on the ground to give an answer to these misrepresentations. If the noble Marquess who is going to reply for Her Majesty's Government can in any way elaborate the news that has come to us about the meeting of the information officers in Beirut in order to co-ordinate these arrangements for spreading information, we shall be grateful. But may I first 841 elaborate the depth of the misrepresentations? Colonel Nasser was answered by that rather nebulous agency, a Foreign Office spokesman. I shall hope to show that, for many reasons, this is not enough.
In so far as Colonel Nasser talked about the Baghdad Pact, he made three claims. He said first that the Baghdad Pact was a threat to Egypt's vital interests. Secondly, he said that it was against the genuine desires of Arab nationalism; and thirdly, he said that the attempt to extend the Pact to other Arab countries represented a move to isolate Egypt from the rest of the Arab world against the danger of Israel. Not one of those statements has the slightest validity whatsoever. In 1954 Colonel Nasser was prepared to recognise that a threat to Turkey represented a threat to the entire Middle East, which included a threat to Egypt, and therefore represented the circumstances in which the Suez Canal base could be reactivated. The Baghdad Pact is concerned largely with the security of Turkey. In other words, it covers just such a purpose as Colonel Nasser was prepared to accept in 1954. If his argument means anything at all, it means that a threat to the Middle East is in the interests of Egypt. The truth is, of course, that the whole North Tier conception, not in a political sense but in a physical sense, represents Egypt's security.
The second charge that he made, that the Baghdad Pact is aimed against Arab nationalism, has been refuted, not from the West but from the Middle East. Your Lordships may recall that recently the Prime Minister of Jordan made a visit round the Arab capitals. This was his comment on the Baghdad Pact:To suppose that the Pact is a creation of General Nuri and the English, and that no one else in Iraq wants it, is a mistake. I talked to no Iraqi statesman, of whatever Party or affiliation, who did not back the Pact. Therefore it is vain to suppose that Iraq will abandon her principle any more than Egypt wilt.Then, as to the third charge, that the Baghdad Pact aims at isolating Egypt and leaving her alone to face Israel, what a distortion of the truth! Article V of the Baghdad Pact lays down specifically that any State that wishes to join the Pact has to he recognised as a member by all members of the Pact. In other words, the Pact excludes Israel. Of course, it is a Pact against aggression, 842 whether it comes from Soviet Russia, from Israel or from anybody else, and if Egypt ever cared to join the Baghdad Pact, she would have here insurance against Israeli aggression. I suggest that the arguments which Colonel Nasser used are nothing but a mirage in the mind of a man who at the moment seems to be concerned with his own personal leadership in the Middle East.
I emphasise these points merely to draw attention again to the need of an organisation to combat this campaign of slander. To that end I welcome the announcement made in The Times that conversations are taking place between information officers at Beirut. We have to remember that the Arab, whether a reader or a listener, is not impressed by accurate_ measured or academic replies. What he wants is an immediate reply. In this case I think he got it, but rather indirectly, through British newspapers aimed at converting the already converted. One further reflection which comes to my mind in connection with Colonel Nasser's statement to the Observer is about the Suez Canal base. The base was conceived to support large mobile forces at a great distance from Egypt. It was not conceived for the purpose of defending Egypt and the Canal, but of maintaining forces in association with the conception of the defence of the whole of the Middle East. In other words, it was conceived for the same purpose as the Baghdad Pact was conceived. One cannot see Colonel Nasser in his present mood ever permitting the Suez Canal base to be used in association in any way with the Baghdad Pact—and you must remember that in a few weeks' time it will be in his hands. That raises in our minds the question of whether we should not consider alternatives to the Suez Canal base. I do not want to press this matter in the form of a question; I merely put it before your Lordships as a matter which I hope the Government is bearing in mind.
Then, there is the eternal problem along the Arab-Israeli frontier. As I indicated in the debate the other day, I fully support Her Majesty's Government in their refusal to commit themselves deeply to any statement in regard to that policy. Colonel Nasser cannot have it both ways. Recently he accused the Foreign Secretary of having no British policy in the Middle East. He said that 843 he had asked the Foreign Secretary for his policy and that the Foreign Secretary was unable to explain it. In the same breath he refused us any influence in the Middle East. It is rather difficult to have a policy in the Middle East without having some influence. Ten days ago I attempted to put the case for some form of international association with the Tripartite Agreement, and for that reason I certainly welcome the United States initiation in moving a resolution to the effect that the Secretary-General of the United Nations should go out and attempt mediation. Our hopes and prayers will certainly follow him.
I cannot believe that the French attempt to join in stirring the pot can be regarded in any way as a contribution to the situation, and I think the same applies to the French attitude to the Baghdad Pact. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said that it was essential to have France's good will towards the Pact. I cannot see that the Baghdad Pact should be dependent in any way on France's good will, and I take the opportunity to reinforce what the noble Earl said in relation to the Baghdad Pact from my own impression, formed in Baghdad at Christmas. The Pact represents at the moment practically nothing in the military sense. Where on earth would we have been in 1948 in regard to N.A.T.O. if we had adopted this completely defeatist attitude? What the Baghdad Pact offers us is facilities to come back into Iraq in a perfectly constitutional way and use Iraqi soil. The same thing applies to Iran. It was recently pointed out that Iran's military contribution at the moment would be nothing, but the fact that we can use Irani soil, and know that we shall be welcome if we do, surely adds strength and colour to a Pact which says little more than that we all share common interests—which is not a bad basis for friendship.
I should like to say one thing on the position of the refugees. The refugees—900,000 of them—have always been asked to choose their fate in one form. They are asked, "Do you want to remain within your refugee camps or do you want to return to Israel?" Of course, they have only one answer to give to that. If the Israelis could be persuaded—and the onus falls on Israeli shoulders—to put the question in this form: "If we are 844 willing to take back Arab refugees who want to come to Israel, are you, the Arab States, ready to take back the refugees who do not?", my information is, that the great majority would not wish to go back to Israel, and therefore Israel could safely put the question. If to that were added, perhaps, an international or United States offer to take the Arab refugees, I have a feeling that we might make a little headway in this great problem of refugees.
As to the Tripartite Guarantee, we came to know, through the New York Times, of action to be taken within twenty-fours hours. I am not going to discuss that matter and I know the noble Earl, Lord Home, would not wish me to do so, but I would say this: if action has to be taken, surely we must all stand squarely behind the Government. It is going to be very unpopular action when it does come. As the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, reminded us in a debate some time ago, the penalty of being a great Power in international affairs is unpopularity, and I would ask our Arab friends to distinguish between popularity and true friendship. Anyone can win popularity; true friendship is a little more difficult. I am reminded within this context of the story of King Lear when he turns to his three daughters and asks who loves him the best, and after the extravagant language of the two elder daughters the youngest daughter says to him:I love your majestyAccording to my bond; nor more nor less.That I suggest, is the nature of the friendship which will come to the Arabs if they choose to seek it.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ LORD HADEN-GUEST
My Lords, I feel that the changes in the world that have taken place during the past twenty years are by no means only political. It is not that one nation has risen and another has fallen: it is that new means of intercommunication between peoples have been brought into existence. During the last twenty years the radio, international transmission of conversations, of studies of social questions, of music, of entertainment, have had an enormous influence on people all over the world.
I say this because during these last twenty years I have spent a large part 845 of my time in travelling, largely on Government business in connection with the medical forces in the different countries where they are employed. I have been to the Far East and I have been to Africa; I have been all over the Continent of Europe, and I have been—not in the same capacity but in another—on two or three occasions to the Soviet Union. I venture to think that we are ascribing too much influence to political questions and too little influence to changes in the economic circumstances of life brought about by broadcasting, by the radio and above all, perhaps, by the possibility of rapid travel from one part of the world to another. I do not think that it is entirely due to changes in government—in fact I am sure it is not—that men have changed their views so very much. It is due to changes in the world.
Let me give an actual example. In 1947 I was on a mission, with three other Members of Parliament, to West Africa, Nigeria and the adjoining areas belonging to West Africa. We went there to examine the conditions of the African at that time in the area and to study and report on them. Lord Ammon was one of the members and there were two other members not in the House of Lords—I not spend time in talking about the names, but if anyone is interested I shall be very glad to give him the names. We talked to the people of West Africa on the subject of government, on the subject of how they wanted to conduct their lives. We saw all the prominent African people who are now engaged in various activities, including Government activities, and we asked them questions. I particularly pressed the question on all the people I could get at—and we went to places like Ibadan, the university city, and other similar places. On no single occasion did any African mention the desire for self-government. I thought that a very remarkable thing.
In the last few years there have been immense changes in the world. Our homeland here has changed as a result of radio and the multiplication of the possibilities of distant travel by air and so on. I believe that the change in the world at the present time is not due primarily to political changes. The political changes themselves have been greatly helped and stimulated by the 846 changes with regard to rapid travel, rapid distribution of goods, and the possibility for people to go for a short time to different parts of the world. It happens that my own travels have been very extensive, and I am quite sure about the influence of these agencies of new development. They have been extraordinarily effective, and I do not think we ought to disregard them and try to change everything merely by making more changes in the form of government. It is much better to try to arrange a talk around a table to understand what people want (some of them have no idea of the organisation of any kind of government) and get them to decide on a form which can be agreed.
I believe that if we disregard the influence of the agencies that I have mentioned we shall be making a profound mistake. It is not the political issues that interest the African in Africa, or a good many people of low intellectual status in other parts of the world: it is the conditions of his ordinary life. And these new agencies to which I have referred have changed the lives of men all over the world.
§ 5.49 p.m.
My Lords, I desire tonight to deal with some of the problems which confront us in the Far East, particularly in relation to Korea and the Korean embargo on trade with China, the latter subject being of vast importance to the British economy and British industrialists. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to view the present position in its proper perspective without recalling some of the salient features relating to the strategical problems of the Pacific and the events of the past leading up to the present day. These problems and events of the past must inevitably have a considerable bearing on any future settlement of the Korean and North Western Pacific problems. I hope, therefore, that I may have your Lordships' indulgence if I pass them as briefly as possible in review.
Korea is one of the best-known names in the world to-day; but it is much more than a spot where hostilities have recently raged. It is a peninsula jutting out from the China mainland which has occupied for centuries, and still occupies, a strategic position, the vast importance of which is recognised by China, Japan and Russia. "Who holds Korea holds the keys to 847 important doors," is a saying that was impressed on me in Peking several decades ago, and it has always remained dominant in my mind. Korea is the gateway to the invasion of Manchuria and China from the East and the North and has been used as such on four vital occasions—in 1592, 1894, 1904 and 1932—these invasions having left behind them in China (and I want to stress this, because it has a considerable bearing on subsequent events) a lasting dread of the invasion of Korea by any foreign Power, particularly also looking to the fact that such possession of Korea threatens the Maritime route to the Gulf of Chihli and Peking. Japan, from the angle of her security, has always been concerned that no major Power should be in a position to use Korea (only 112 miles from her shore) as a base for an attack upon her. It was to guard against this possibility, amongst others, that she fought Russia in 1904–05 and captured Port Arthur, at the tip of the Liaotung Peninsula in the Gulf of Chihli, and drove the Russian armies back to Mukden.
We now come to the third Power engaged in this strategical game of chess, if I may so call it. Russia's ambition—since in the middle of the last century it was clear that her perennial longing for warm water ports was to be denied her in European waters—was to obtain those ports in the Pacific; and having secured by duress from China the session of the Usuri Region, to the East and South of the Amur (which became the Maritime province of Siberia) she created the naval base of Vladivostock. Russia's next aim, on her march to warm-water ports, was to gain control of the Korean Channel, or Tsushima Straits, and to this end she cast her strategic eyes on Korea, with its splendid harbours, such as Pusan, a name now well known, out of which strong naval bases could be created. But the Boxer struggle in China in the year 1900 gave her the opportunity to bypass Korea and to gain access to the warm waters of the Pacific by installing herself at Port Arthur; and secondly, to obtain in a comparatively short space of time virtual control of both Manchuria and Korea. It was in these conditions, as I have previously indicated, that Japan drew the sword in 1904.
848 We now come to the 1914–18 war, at the commencement of which the Japanese captured from the Germans the German-leased port of Tsingtao and the territory of Kiaochow, to the south of the Shantung Peninsula on the Chinese mainland, declaring at the same time their intention of eventually restoring these to China. Needless to say they never did so; nor, in my opinion, was it ever their intention to do so. During the debate in the other place on the Versailles Treaty of Peace Bill in 1919 I urged in vain that the Council of Four at the Paris Peace Conference should remedy the injustice done in this matter by Japan to China, saying that the situation created by Japan virtually involved the complete domination, military and economic, of Northern China by the Japanese. I added these words:This small piece of territory that we know as Kiaochow may well turn the future of one hundred years.I was wrong about the number of years: Kiaochow has turned the future perhaps for all time. But, looking back, I venture, in all humility, to think that I was not far wrong in my first prognostication. With their grip on Shantung—coupled with that on Port Arthur and Korea—the Japanese were able in 1932 to swing their right flank round through Manchuria and to overrun the Northern Provinces of China and Peking. This was preparatory to opening their attack on Shanghai and the Yangtse in 1937, these being their first major steps in their all-out attempt two years later to dominate the Pacific and, in conjunction with Nazi Germany, to dominate the world.
I bypass the war period and come to the year 1949. In October of that year the People's Republic, under Mao Tse-tung, was proclaimed at Peking, and in December, 1949, the Kuomintang Government under Chiang Kai-shek, transferred themselves from Chungking to Formosa. It is interesting to remember the attitude of America at that juncture. Our recollections in this respect are assisted by the recent publication of a book entitled In Two Chinas, by Sardar K. M. Panikkar, who was India's Ambassador in China from 1948 to 1952, first to Chiang Kai-shek's Government and then to the Government of Mao Tse-tung at Peking. The following passage occurs 849 in an article on the book in the Contemporary Review for December, 1955:In January, 1950, it was no secret that the United States were preparing the way for early recognition of the Peking Government. Panikkar refers in this connection to Foster Dulles' book War and Peace, but he does not mention the statements issued by President Truman and Dean Acheson on January 5, 1950: they declared that if the Government in Peking took possession of Formosa the United States would not intervene, for all the Allies were agreed that, by the terms of the surrender imposed on Japan, Formosa had become once more a province of China, Nor does he mention the McCarthy witch-hunt which impelled Truman a few months later to abandon this policy and adopt instead a policy that the Government of China was not the Government in control of the mainland, but the refugee Government on Formosa.The foregoing quotation seems to me to lift the curtain and enables us to envisage some of the truths of the past which are hidden amidst the propaganda of the present.
By 1950, Korea had been divided into two at the 38th Parallel—North Korea under the ægis of Russia, and South Korea—with its President, Syngman Rhee, a sturdy resistant of the Japs, whatever may be some of his undemocratic qualities—under the wing of the United Nations. In June, 1950, three months after Russia had undertaken, by the Moscow-Peking Agreement of 1950—an Agreement to which I referred in a speech I made in this House in July, 1951, as one requiring special study—to evacuate Port Arthur, a significant movement which was perhaps not unconnected with that Agreement, took place. The North Koreans advanced from their Russian-sponsored zone, overran much of South Korea and nearly captured Pusan, which, incidentally, would have made a first-class warm-water port and naval base for their comrades of the U.S.S.R. When it became apparent in the autumn of 1950 that General MacArthur, after repulsing the North Koreans, had it in mind to cross the 38th Parallel and to threaten Chinese power stations on the Yalu and in Manchuria, the Peking Government gave a warning to Sardar Panikkar, the Indian Ambassador, who passed it on to Delhi, whence it reached Washington, that if General MacArthur crossed the 38th Parallel, China would intervene in Korea in order to protect her vital territorial interests.
850 No heed was taken of this warning. MacArthur advanced, and China crossed the Yalu into North Korea. In relation to that particular incident The Times, in a leading article of August 18, 1951, said that China's crossing of the Yaluwas in peat part actuated by, anxiety over the approach of a powerful foreign army to the Manchurian frontier.The Hong Kong correspondent of The Times said on December 15, 1951, thatthe first motive of the Chinese advance was the defence of the Chinese frontier.Yet an American resolution to brand China as an aggressor in Korea, which was moved in the General Assembly of the United Nations on January 20, 1951, was passed, although it was common knowledge at the time, and freely reported by responsible sections of the American Press, that. Britain, Canada and France did their best to persuade the United States to be more moderate. Thus is history made. The branding of China as an aggressor was a blunder, as the late Earl of Perth, a distinguished diplomat, with all the authority of the Secretary-Generalship of the League of Nations from 1919 to 1933 behind him, and the distinguished Indian lawyer, Sir Benegal Rau, consistently pointed out. But, as they also emphasised, China having been branded as an aggressor, she had every right to be accorded, in the terms of the Charter, a seat in the United Nations, and this was denied her. To that seat she has since been, and still is, entitled.
In May, 1951, came the United Nations embargo on trade with China, with which I propose, with your Lordships' indulgence, now to deal. In view of an answer which was given to me by the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, on December 6, 1955, I feel compelled to quote again the terms of the United Nations resolution of May 18, 1951. This is the essential part of the resolution passed by the General Assembly on that date:The Additional Measures Committee…(A) Recommends that every State:851 Now three things seem to be clear from this resolution: first, that it was intended to cut off supplies to China, during the period of the Korean war, of arms, ammunition, implements of war and materials of a clearly warlike nature; secondly, that it was framed specifically to deal with a situation arising from active hostilities ("to meet with aggression," "contribution to the military strength…", "the military action of the United Nations") in Korea and for no other purpose; thirdly, that it was left to each country to determine which commodities should fall within the scope of the embargo. Those are what I take to be the essential objects of the resolution which was passed by the United Nations. I am strengthened in that conviction by replies which have been given to me in this respect over the last two years. I begin, for instance, with the reply of the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, with whom I have had many friendly tussles in this matter, and in all of which he has always displayed that courtesy for which he is so well known.
- (i) Apply an embargo on the shipment to areas under the control of the Central People's Republic of China and of the North Korean authorities of arms, ammunition and implements of war, atomic energy materials, transportation materials of strategic value, and items useful in the production of arms, ammunition and implements of war;
- (ii)Determine which commodities exported from its territory fall within the embargo, and apply controls to give effect to the embargo."
On April 28, 1953, the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 182, col. 50]:I think quite clearly it would be reasonable to say that the restriction on strategic goods which was put upon China as long as the warlike activities were pursued in Korea cannot possibly be extended to any general overall peace plan stretching far and away beyond Korea.That was in reply to a Question which I put asking whether the Government took the view which I took, that the resolution applied to Korea and to the hostilities in Korea only. That was on April 28, 1953. Previous to that, on March 24, the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, had said to me in a reply on very much the same subject [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 181, col. 242]:Her Majesty's Government…are obliged, in accordance with the United Nations resolution of May 18, 1951, to take all possible steps to prevent the export to China of any goods which would be of military or strategic importance to the Chinese forces in Korea.On March 24, 1954 [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 186, col. 689], I referred to a Question which I had put on February 3, and said:The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, informed me that the United Nations resolution of May, 1951, relating to the embargo on the export of strategic materials to China, was 852 adopted in order to provide additional measures to be employed to meet aggression in Korea, and that its scope had not been widened so as to cause it to become operative in relation to hostilities in Indo-China or in any other territories outside Korea and Korean waters.When I put a Question to the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, on December 6, towards the end of last year, he added a qualification which I had never heard from him or the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, before. He said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 194, col. 1093]:it is necessary, when discussing this matter, to bear in mind that the resolution of the United Nations was not confined to the end of hostilities in Korea. What the last paragraph of the resolution said was that it 're-affirms that it continues to be the policy of the United Nations to bring about a cessation of hostilities in Korea and the achievement of United Nations' objectives in Korea by peaceful means.'If that be so, that of course alters the whole character of the resolution to which, so far as I was aware, we were working.
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE MARQUESS OF READING)
Is the noble Viscount saying that that is not in the resolution?
I do not say it is not in the resolution, but I do say this. Repeatedly from the Front Bench opposite I have been told in the last few years that the embargo was placed on trade with China in strategic goods for the purpose of ending as soon as possible hostilities in Korea. In answer to my questions as to whether it extended in any way to territories outside Korea, I was told that it did not. With great respect to the noble Marquess, I say that this is the first time, after at least three years, that this qualification has been produced. It is the first time that any qualification has been put on to the original objective, which we all believed to be that of the United Nations' resolution. We leave it at that.
It widens the whole scope. May I ask the noble Marquess this? I have repeatedly asked him questions on this subject; I have repeatedly asked the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, questions and I have never had this qualification quoted as anything to do 853 with the resolution. The noble Marquess brings it up now, but it is a qualification which, to my mind, is not acceptable in view of the past. Perhaps the noble Marquess, when he replies, will inform the House why he never added this qualification before in all these last three years. Because it is a distinct qualification. Why did he not add it before?
I come from that to the embargo itself and the exchanges which have taken place on the subject of the embargo between Her Majesty's Government and the Washington Administration. This is the position resulting from what I may call the Eden-Eisenhower compromise at Washington. The first intimation of any change came from a United Stares Government source, quoted in the American Press on February 2. It was stated:The principle involved is that applications for a relaxation of trade restrictions will be judged in the future as much on the benefits to the free nation involved as on the usefulness to the Communist Chinese economy of the goods involved.A fortnight later the Foreign Secretary in another place, Mr. Selwyn Lloyd, confirmed this statement. He had been asked whether he wouldpress for the real and substantial revision indicated by the early reports in the Press of the Washington talks.The Foreign Secretary's reply was—if I may quote him as a Minister of the Crown:We are agreed that the test with regard to decontrol is the extent to which it serves interests of the free world. The whole list will be gone through, bearing that test in mind, and the process has begun.So far so good. But there is a further implication of the Foreign Secretary's statement which would appear to me to call for some clarification. Having reiterated that the object of the review was to make the benefits to the exporting country the deciding factor, he goes on to suggest that the Anglo-American review already in progress was the same thing as the "Cocom" review. It is to be hoped that this impression will be dispelled, as such an assumption would again seem to fog the issue. For instance, Japan could benefit most from exporting iron or steel to China, British industry could press for export of diesel engines, motor vehicles or generating plants, and the Belgians steel and so on.
854 If the object of the review is to produce controls and to work them in a changed situation (I greatly hope that this is a changed situation), it must take due account of the needs of each member of the group. The result of making the needs of one country the starting point for a control system to be imposed on more than a dozen would be to increase, rather than diminish, temptation circumvent the controls or to opt out of the system. In that respect, may I ask the noble Marquess, if this test is to be of benefit to the free world anti particularly to this country, how it is to be applied? Is Britain to be its own arbiter in this matter'? I hope that in the changed circumstances, as stated by the Foreign Secretary, it is not suggested that Britain, through its Government, should have to ask "Cocoa'," the Committee in Paris, whose sittings are conducted in private and of whose deliberations there is no report to Parliament, to device whether or not the decontrol of this or that item is of benefit to the free world, and particularly to the economy and trading policy of this country. I hope it may be possible for the noble Marquess to give the House an assurance on that point.
In this connection, I hope that he will take the opportunity of reminding the United States Government, and that his message will reach the ears of Congress, that in the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week, British economy to-day is a very delicate engine, dependent on slender resources after the frightful losses of two wars. The economies of the United States and of Britain are quite incomparable. The United States exports 4.3 per cent. of its gross domestic products, whilst the United Kingdom exports 17.7 per cent. What does that mean? It means that if America dropped her 4.3 per cent. it would cause hardly Ea ripple on the surface of her economy:, but to us the 177 per cent. represents our life-blood; and every possible effort must be made to increase this percentage.
On the general question, no one expects the war to which the China embargo was specifically related to break out again in Korea. There is a mere handful of United Nations troops there as a token force until art armistice is signed. Certainly the Prime Minister 855 does not expect a resumption of hostilities, for on March 1 in another place he said:Happily, the Korean fighting is over, which we all welcome.I suggest that the China embargo is completely out of date. Gaps have been made in it through which the traders of some other countries are rushing to do trade with China in so-called strategic goods, a trade which has been debarred to British traders. As the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, appositely said in the economic debate in this House on March 8 [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 196 (No. 69), col. 243]:So often Britain joins an international club and plays We game and obeys the rules while many others do not but indulge in such things as hidden export subsidies and many other devices which I could mention.I do not suggest for a single moment that Her Majesty's Government should break the rules. What I do say is that the situation has changed in favour of the Government, as witnessed by the quotation which I have taken from the speech of the Foreign Secretary; and I am asking that the Government should take full advantage of that change in the interests of British trade.
In the case of the China embargo, for instance, it is common knowledge that. at the recent Leipzig Fair. West Germany, a "Cocom" country, was making a determined bid for the China market in all kinds of engineering goods; and no secret has been made of the fact that in the first eleven months of 1955 West Germany exported to China an appreciable quantity of embargoed goods, such as heavy machinery, heavy vehicles, electro-technical products, precision tools and optical instruments. To-day. China is trading freely in strategic goods with Russia and with the Soviet bloc—East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Poland and Bulgaria; and also with the non-"Cocom" countries—Sweden, Switzerland and Yugoslavia. In other words, China to-day is sidetracking the Korean embargo and any possible effects of the embargo—to the immense benefit of the economies of the countries which I have just named, who are some of our principal world competitors, and to the loss and serious future detriment of the British economy and of British industrialists.
856 My Lords, in the Economic Debate statements were made showing the vast importance, particularly to-day and looking to the future, of our export trade. As the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said, [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 196 (No. 69), col. 295]:Unless we can trade and sell in the markets of the world, we shall die as a great nation.Lord Balfour of Burleigh showed how necessary was an increase in our oxports. The noble Marquess will know that there has been reference to the serious effect of the embargo on Hong Kong and on Malayan interests, in connection with which a leading article appeared in the Financial Times of March 19.
To bring my remarks to a close, it seems to me that all the signs point to the tide of trade flowing strongly in the direction of China, and the tide is increasingly composed of strategic, as well as of non-strategic, materials. "Business is business," said Mr. Yoshida, the ex-Prime Minister of Japan, a few years ago. It is clear that the same motto hangs before the eyes of certain other countries to-day. I fervently hope that in the changed circumstances British traders will not be chained to a stake and submerged in the tide whilst, in their struggles to keep alive, they watch their foreign competitors swimming cheerfully along on the surface.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, one of the advantages of speaking from this side of the House is that one is not compelled to deal with every topic that has been raised throughout this rather wide debate. The noble Marquess who is going to reply is less fortunate, because I imagine he will have to deal with a rather wider range of subjects than I propose to speak on.
§ LORD SILKIN
That is very good news, but I should be somewhat out of my depth in dealing with the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, and he will not expect me to say anything on the subject with which he dealt, except that I sympathise with a good deal of what he said. The same applies to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Layton. I believe there are three topics in 857 which this House is interested and with which I feel it is my duty to deal. They are: the question of the Soviet leaders' visit, the Baghdad Pact and the Middle East crisis and I propose to say a few words on each of them.
On the question of the Soviet leaders' visit, we had to-day the incursion of the noble Earl, Lord Home, and I should like to welcome him into the more rarefied atmosphere of debates on international affairs. The last time we met was on the very much calmer seas of the Dentists Bill, when it was easy to agree with the noble Earl who on that occasion was extremely reasonable and most conciliatory. I was rather disturbed by his speech on the Soviet leaders' visit. He holds certain views about the Soviet Union and the attitude of the Soviet leaders. Of course, he is perfectly entitled to hold them—and they are held by a majority of people in this country. But in relation to the prospective visit I wonder whether it was timely to come out now with all the views about the Soviet Union which he has expressed. Mr. Bulganin and Mr. Khrushchev are coming here at the invitation of the Prime Minister and as our guests. We were under no obligation to invite them. There are a good many people in this House and outside who take the view that they never should have been invited. I believe the noble Lord who is facing me takes that view. Certainly the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk, took the view that he did not welcome the visit. But since they have been invited, and are coming, it seems a great pity to jeopardise the success of their visit by setting out all the crimes that they are alleged to have committed over the years, whether or not those allegations are true, and to talk about a change of heart.
I do not know what is a change of heart. I do not know whether the noble Earl can recognise such a change when he sees one; but certainly it is very difficult for anyone to say whether a change of heart has in fact taken place or whether there is merely the appearance of a change of heart. If, however, we are to judge by appearances, I believe that something really remarkable has taken place in the Soviet Union in the past few weeks. We have seen self-accusation, the 858 admission of crimes, injustices and oppressions and the destruction of the Stalin myth. Is this a change of heart, or is this an act put on merely for the purpose of blinding the noble Earl in connection with this visit? After all, all these things were stated to the Soviet people; these speeches were published in the Soviet Press. While I should be the last to wish to be dogmatic about the effect of all this any more than, any member of Her Majesty's Government would wish to be dogmatic on it, nevertheless I believe that it has its significance and ought not to be just brushed on one side.
We are all entitled to speculate, and my own speculation is that, as my noble friend, Lord Henderson, says, this change is of far more significance in relation to the people of the Soviet Union themselves. These statements have been made and, in my view, represent an undertaking to -the people, which they will expect to be honoured, that things are going to change. The people of the Soviet Union will expect a change, and if they do not get it then, in the new atmosphere, I imagine that they will make themselves felt. That seems to me to be at any rate some evidence of a change of outlook, and. I should prefer to use the term. "change of outlook" rather than "change of heart."
There are, however, other significant factors as to the relationship between the Soviet Union and the outside world which we must take into account. One is the admission that Socialism can be achieved by Parliamentary means. Hitherto, it has always been part of the Communist doctrine that Communism can be achieved only by revolution. Surely this is a change of great significance. Then there is the fact of the much freer interchange of visits: the fact that Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Bulganin are coming to this country, and the presence here of Mr. Malenkov, are all indications of a change of outlook. We should be very foolish to ignore those things and to pretend that they do not exist. On the other hand, we have to try, while they are here, to clarify our minds on a number of things. One is: what do they mean by "peaceful co-existence"?
The other day I was reading an extract from a speech by Mr. Harold Stassen, who is special adviser on disarmament to President Eisenhower. Speaking at 859 Philadelphia on February 19 last, he said:The policy of the United States is to regard the present international position as a long race between the United States and others over competitive ways of life. We are going to carry on that competition short of World War Three, and we feel certain that the free way of life will triumph.If one transposes "United States" and substitutes "U.S.S.R." is not that exactly what they are saying? And if we can accept that as a proper basis of the relationship between the West and the Soviet Union, we have a basis upon which we can found some kind of peaceful relationship. Each will endeavour to put forward his own way of life and try to convert the uncommitted world to that way of life. Mr. Stassen added:Methods short of war to help accomplish this include ideas, economics and diplomacy.Are not those exactly methods which are being employed to-day? I submit that we can really accept the United States' definition of "peaceful co-existence," which to my mind is exactly the same as the Soviet Union's definition, and that each side should, for the time being, work on that. The competition will then be in the realms of ideas, economics and diplomacy.
I believe that the true test of the visit that is about to take place—a visit of which I personally have high hopes; though we all have, and are entitled to have, our own views on the subject—will be found in the results. The first result that I hope can be achieved is some understanding about the Middle East. That is the danger point at the present moment, and I believe that, to a very large extent, the Soviet Union hold the keys. I will come to the question of the Middle East in more detail later, but, as I say, I think that that will be one of the tests of the success of the Soviet mission. The second, of course, relates to the general question of disarmament. We are all delighted that these discussions are taking place in London at the present time. It may be a little too early for the noble Marquess to be in a position to say anything about how these discussions are progressing. If he can make any statement, so much the better; but if he cannot do so, we shall understand. We certainly do not want to do anything that might jeopardise the success of the talks.
860 Then there is the point made by Lord Henderson, that while we welcome collective visits, as the Soviet Union and their bloc are pleased to call them, of deputations from their country, and the reverse, we think it would be of great advantage to have individual visits on each side. To make that possible there will have to be some alteration in the rate of exchange. The Soviet Union could say tomorrow: "We will give a visa to anyone who wants to visit Russia," but ordinary persons, like most Members of this House, would find it quite impossible, in view of the present rate of exchange, to take advantage of that. The rate would have to be something like four or five times as favourable to us as it is now, to enable us to avail ourselves freely of such an offer. I should regard success in these matters as justifying the visit and as bringing "peaceful co-existence" very much nearer than it is at the present moment.
About the position of Germany, quite frankly, I have doubts. We are all in favour of a united Germany, but I can see that this is a matter which will require far more discussion. One can appreciate the point of view of the Soviet Union—even if one does not agree with it—that free elections at the present time are bound to lead to an anti-Soviet Germany, or at any rate to a Germany which will be much closer to the West than to the East, and a Germany which, being free to decide for itself, will almost certainly join N.A.T.O. One can understand that, without many safeguards, the Soviet Union would not welcome a state of affairs which would, in effect, involve the strengthening of N.A.T.O. against themselves. On the other hand, it is only fair to say that the Prime Minister has attempted to deal with that by offering certain safeguards. And it may be that a solution to the difficulty lies along lines of creating adequate safeguards which would ensure to the Soviet Union that they would be free from any possible attack, and that if aggression were attempted against them the whole of the free world would go to their assistance. But I realise that that is a long-term kind of discussion, and, like my noble friend Lord Henderson, I have not high hopes of solving the German problem at these discussions.
861 Leaving this aspect of the subject, I personally, with the noble Earl, Lord Home, welcome this visit. I should have had no objection to the noble Earl saying exactly what he did say direct to the members of the Soviet delegation, but, as I have said, I think it perhaps a pity to have said this in advance, and possibly to have somewhat conditioned them for the kind of thing they are likely to get when they arrive. I welcome also the statement of the Prime Minister that the purpose of the visit is not to fête and entertain the two gentlemen hi question but to have serious discussions, though I think it would be a pity not to give them as full an opportunity as possible of seeing the way in which we do things in this country. I know that Marshal Bulganin has been here before, because I met him many years ago, but Mr. Khrushchev has not and I think it would be good for his education that he should see as much as possible of this country.
There is just one other matter connected with our relations with the Soviet Union to which I should like to refer. I believe that there is a danger, in one sense—T will not say of both sides being blackmailed (that is a term which someone has used), for I think that perhaps is rather too strong a word, hut at any rate of some countries attempting to play off one side against the other, and trying to get the best of both worlds. Perhaps that might form a subject of mutual interest, because it is the fact that there are countries, themselves uncommitted, which are seeking to play off one against the other and to get benefits which they would not ordinarily receive, merely as a result of exploiting the present state of tension between the two States.
Now, I should like to say a few words about the Baghdad Pact. I understand fully the reasons which prompted Her Majesty's Government to interest themselves in this Pact and eventually to join in it. But it has not turned out as we had hoped—I think there can be no doubt about that. We have not got France in, and perhaps the noble Marquess, when he replies, will be able to tell us (this was a matter upon which I imagine the noble Earl was in some difficulty in giving a reply) whether France was, in fact, approached before we joined the Pact. While it can be 862 said that we were under no obligation to approach her, I think that, as an Ally, it would be wiser if we had done so, and possibly invited her to join us. As the position stands at the moment—that is unless the noble Marquess can pet a different light upon it—-it would seem that we did not do so. The fact is that France is not in the Pact, nor is the United States of America. And there is a virtual certainty that no other Arab country, and probably no other country at all, Arab or otherwise, will join.
Furthermore, this Pact has excited extreme hostility—a hostility which I imagine we had not anticipated at the time when it was created—particularly among Arab countries. Obviously, if we had for a moment suspected the reception which our approaches to Jordan on this subject would have received we should not have sent Sir Gerald Templer to Jordan. We have, I imagine, been taken completely by surprise by the reception which the Baghdad Pact has had from Arab countries. It seems to me that by reason of the intervention of the Soviet Union in the Middle East a new situation has now arisen. I would not recommend that the Pact should be abrogated that would be a weak thing to do, and I cannot conceive that Her Majesty's Government would think of trying to do so. But I think it might he desirable to re-orientate the Pact and regard it as something different from the original conception. In his interesting speech, the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, made some observations about the advantage of having territory in Iraq and Iran which we could treat as a base, presumably for land armies or even for the Air Force.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, wt at I meant to imply was not that these countries could be used as a base but that we could return and use this territory in a properly constituted and recognised way, or accepted by the country concerned, whether it be Iran or Iraq. In my view that would be a very great asset.
§ LORD SILKIN
I do not think we are far apart and I accept what the noble Lord says. Does not that contemplate some sort of action in which we shall be involved, along with the signatories of the Baghdad Pact without either France 863 or the United States? Is not that the assumption which the noble Lord is making? And is it not an assumption that is quite irrelevant at the present time, because I cannot imagine in what circumstances we should be involved alone with the other signatories in the Pact without the help of our Allies?
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, I do not quite know what is in the noble Lord's mind when he speaks of the participation of the British in the Baghdad Pact. I have no information as to whether France has been asked or has not been asked, but I cannot see France being in a position at this stage to make any contribution at all in view of her preoccupation in North Africa. If the noble Lord had been in the Middle East recently, I think he would have come to the conclusion that the background to the French approach is based on a false conception.
§ LORD SILKIN
I was in the Middle East recently, but I had the wrong passport and could not visit that part of the world about which the noble Lord was talking. The noble Lord presupposes all the time that some conflict will arise in which we should find these territories of great value to us. I cannot conceive that we should be involved in any conflict, or stand the slightest chance of success, if we had to "go it alone."
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, I emphasised that the Baghdad Pact was an initiation between Turkey and Iraq, certainly with our approval and possibly with a little encouragement; but the Pact was originally signed in February of last year by Turkey and Iraq, and we later accepted it in the form of a special agreement.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I will leave the noble Lord with the last word. I have made my point and I must leave it at that.
Now I want to say a few words about the Middle East generally. As my noble friend Lord Henderson said, we had a debate on this subject recently and it might appear unnecessary to discuss this question again. I should have agreed, but for the critical situation in which we find ourselves. This is not merely a question of Israel and the Arab States: it is a question in which we are deeply 864 involved, whether we like it or not. We have committed ourselves in this area, and we have vital interests in it, as the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, pointed out to us some months ago, when, in an important speech, he described the extent of our oil interests. In the event of any conflict in the Middle East, apart from the possibility of our becoming deeply involved in the military sense, there is the probability that we should lose the oil which we are obtaining at present.
I want to return to the three points which my noble friend Lord Henderson asked the noble Marquess to deal with. The first is the Treaty. I can see no reason, although the noble Earl, Lord Home, tried to give us a reason, why we should not make a Treaty to-day with Israel, guaranteeing to defend the existing temporary frontiers against aggression. That would not involve guaranteeing permanently those frontiers they would be the subject of negotiations if and when a peace Treaty was discussed with the Arab States. When that time comes is entirely in the hands of the Arab States. The Israeli Government have constantly expressed their willingness to negotiate, and it is the Arab States that stand in the way because they refuse even to recognise the existence of Israel. Frankly, I was not in the least convinced by the reasons which the noble Earl gave for not making such a Treaty. I believe that it would have a deterrent effect if we seriously undertook to come to the help of Israel if she was attacked. I think that that in itself would be regarded by the Arab States, and particularly Egypt, as a deterrent.
In addition to that, is there any reason why we should not provide weapons of defence to the Israeli Government? I do not know whether the Government realise the seriousness and urgency of this problem. I am informed that right along the roads outside Cairo there are Soviet planes lined up for public display, ready to go into action, and that every day the Egyptian forces are becoming better equipped and better trained to carry out their work. The general belief in the Middle East is that it is only a matter of weeks before Egypt attacks Israel in the Gaza strip. We have seen evidence of it in the recent Agreement between Jordan and Syria. What can that Agreement mean? It cannot be 865 defensive; it can only be a mutual understanding to go to the attack as soon as Egypt makes a start.
Her Majesty's Government must realise that this is an urgent question. We cannot afford to drift into trouble of This kind. Therefore, I say that for the moment, apart from a Treaty, the most helpful thing the Government can do is to assist Israel to see that they get a certain amount of weapons to enable them to defend themselves, at any rate when the first blow conies, against attack. It is not a question of large quantities of weapons; nor is it a question of an arms race. In our defence debate a few days ago almost every speaker spoke of deterrents, and we were congratulating ourselves that we now had sufficient hydrogen bombs and atomic weapons to enable these to operate as a deterrent against attack. We were not arguing that we had more than the Soviet Union, or less, but simply that we had sufficient to make the Soviet Union hesitate as to whether they would attack or not; and I think the general understanding is that we have been successful in the deterrent effect. Why is not the same principle operated so far as Israel is concerned? Why cannot they be given sufficient weapons to act as a deterrent against attack?
That also, of course, is not sufficient: in itself. The deterrent could be there, and the Treaty—probably the combination would be operated. But if the Government wish, they can operate the Tripartite Agreement as well. It appears to many of us on this side, however, that what is lacking in this Agreement is "teeth." There have been talks, and France has proposed that there should be talks in May. I hope that will not be too late. The Security Council are meeting at the present time. Unfortunately, they have postponed discussion to enable various countries to consider the resolution that has been submitted by the United States. And this leisurely kind of discussion is not going to be very effective.
It has been stated in the Press (and the only information we have is what we get in the Press from the various diplomatic correspondents) that we shall be in a position to take action within twenty-four hours of an attack taking place. But we are told also by the same, presumably inspired, correspondents 866 (because I have seen it in a number of newspapers) that Britain would not be prepared to act alone; that is to say, that unless we had the agreement of France and the United States even the Tripartite Agreement would not operate and that we ourselves would not take action. I should not have taken very much account of this statement but for the fact that over the week-end it appeared in the Sunday Times, the Observer, and the Daily Telegraph in almost identical language. So it certainly looks as if this statement was inspired by the Foreign Office. If that is so, it weakens the effect of the Tripartite Agreement. I should be grateful if the noble Marquess could say something on that subject.
Supposing—though I have no reason to imagine this would necessarily be the case—we could not reach agreement with France and the United States as to the action to take in the matter, what then? Should we act alone or would we not? If not, does that not strengthen the case for the other types of deterrent—namely, a Treaty with Israel and the provision of quality weapons of defence? I hope that Her Majesty's Government will see their way to making sonic statement on the position, if only to allay a desperate state of affairs which might in itself create unforeseen difficulties.
My Lords, the only encouraging factor in the whole situation, it seems to me, is the fact that we are aware of the gravity of the situation and that some kind of movement is going on which I hope will not be too late. Possibly the most hopeful line is the discussions that are about to take place with the Soviet Union. All their talk of wanting better relations with the West, it seems to me, is a mockery unless they are prepared to do something; and they can exercise great influence to avoid the immediate crisis that confronts us. I would suggest to the noble Marquess —and it is the only real suggestion I am making about the conversations—that item No. 1 in importance should be the situation in the Middle East. I believe that this debate has been of value. We have covered a wide field, but I think it was essential to have a debate before Easter, before the visit of our guests from the Soviet Union, and certainly before the crisis becomes worse in the Middle East. One can only hope that by the time we come back the situation will have become 867 much clearer and that the clouds that hang over us will have been removed.
§ 7.5 p.m.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend, Lord Home, for having borne the heat and burden, at any rate of the earlier part of the afternoon, and I should like to assure the House that, in view of the somewhat ominous movement of the hands of the clock, I do not propose to expatiate at great length on what has been said this afternoon. I hope that the House will forgive me if I do not again go over the ground that we have been over now for the third time on the subject of the Middle East. At the end of December, some ten days ago, and now again earlier this afternoon, we have traversed almost exactly the same field. The three points which the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has Just repeated were made by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. They were dealt with by my noble friend, Lord Home, and the best excuse I can offer for not going over them again is that, if I did, I should be repeating what my noble friend said, which I am not desirous of doing.
I will deal with one point raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, and by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, on this question of the British twenty-four hour plan. So far as I can make out while this has been going on, that story arose from an article in the New York Times. The Foreign Office spokesman was asked about it and neither confirmed nor denied it. All I am prepared to say about the position in regard to the Tripartite Declaration is, as I think my noble friend has already indicated, that we, together with France and the United States, have been in the recent past, and are at this moment, discussing the whole situation in the Middle East. Naturally, we have plans; but equally naturally, I think the House would not expect me to say what plans are in each particular pigeonhole for each particular situation that may arise. I have said that discussions are proceeding, and that is as far as I am able to go at this moment.
The course of the debate since my noble friend spoke started with the noble Lord, Lord Winster, who was extremely kind about the help which he had received from the Foreign Office in connection with the campaign against 868 slavery in which he takes so ardent an interest. I know that he thinks that in the Convention—for the draft of which, as he was good enough to say, Her Majesty's Government have been largely responsible—there is not sufficient provision for proper supervision of what is going on. He has urged that upon us already, and we have explained to him—though, I have no doubt, not to his satisfaction—that there are difficulties in going any further than the draft, which we think is by itself sufficient protection. The draft has been the subject of long negotiation, discussion and compromise, and if we are going to get it through at all I think it would be extremely unwise at this stage to try and make radical changes in it, more especially since, as I have already said, Her Majesty's Government regard it as adequate for the particular purpose for which the noble Lord doubts its efficacy. We could not hope to satisfy everybody, but I think we have, at least, produced a draft which will be of real value in assisting to cope with a survival of slavery which undoubtedly does go on in certain parts of the world and it is a great satisfaction to Her Majesty's Government to be able to take the lead in the efforts to eliminate it.
The noble Lord, Lord Layton, thought that we were not internationally-minded enough. We have in all these matters, as he well knows, to consider two points of view, which do not necessarily conflict, but which none the less must be borne in mind; that is to say, our relations with the Commonwealth, and our relations with Europe itself. Really, I do not think his charge is fair. Looking back upon the record of Her Majesty's Government —and, indeed, I do not know that it need be confined to the present Government—I should have thought that it would be agreed that they have taken a substantial and vigorous lead in trying to promote a better situation in Europe, notably perhaps in the negotiations which were undertaken and which resulted, after the unhappy decease of the European Defence Community, in the birth of the new Western European Union. We have for some time held the chairmanship of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, and I think the various British holders of that office have performed a useful service towards bringing the nations of Europe together.
869 The noble Lord referred, in particular, to the present movement in connection with nuclear energy—which is normally called "Euratom" He will not forget that before "Euratom" came into the foreground O.E.E.C. was already conducting an investigation of its own into the possibilities of harmonising the interests of the various European countries in this matter and directing them into the most effective channels. That is what we are engaged in looking at this moment: to see how far the "Euratom" aspect and the O.E.E.C. investigation aspect can usefully be dovetailed one into the other. We are not at all cold to the idea of assisting the progress of the various European organisations which exist, but, as I say, we have always to look at it with just that reservation, that we have our own separate obligations to consider which are distinct from those of other countries concerned.
The noble Lord. Lord Birdwood, gave an effective exposition of the position as he saw it in the Middle East, and made some suggestions which will certainly be carefully borne in mind. He asked, in particular, about the conference of information officers at Beirut. That was a routine meeting, but the fact that it was a routine meeting does not mean that it may not have been, at the same time, an opportune one. No doubt the officers there gathered together have been considering the local situation.
The noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, traced the past history of Korea some little way back, and then dealt with the situation which called into being the embargo on the sale of strategic goods to China. From what he said, I thought he seemed to have come to the conclusion that the United Nations were wrong in ever having declared China to be an aggressor, and consequently—because it was a subsequent action—in having taken steps to cut off strategic goods to China which might be used in hostilities. The noble Viscount said that I had at some stage imported into the discussions that he and I have had by way of question and answer a new qualification. I am afraid that. I have not got before me all the OFFICIAL REPORTS containing all the questions and answers that have been exchanged between him and me on this subject—I should need some sort of transport if they were to be brought into the House—but with regard to the particular 870 extract which he quoted and to which the noble Viscount was rather inclined to take exception, the words I used, I see, were on the last paragraph of the resolution on Korea, and I made it clear by saying this [OFFICIAL. REPORT, Vol. 194, col. 1093]:… I think it is necessary, when discussing this matter "—that was the embargo—to bear in mind that the resolution of the United Nations was not confined to the end of hostilities in Korea. What the last paragraph of the resolution said was that it reaffirms that it continues to he the policy of the United Nations to bring about a cessation of hostilities in Korea and the achievement of the United Nations objectives in Korea by peaceful means.'I went on to say, I think quite fairly, that although the first of those objectives —that is, the cessation of the hostilities—had been brought about, the second, which was the achievement of the United Nations objective by peaceful means, was still outstanding. I think that was a perfectly proper qualification; and if it was a new qualification it may well have been because it had not been relevant to any of the questions which had been asked up to that date, which had been directed rather to the geographical area over which these applied rather than to the actual conditions governing the resolution.
The noble Viscount asked me certain other questions on this subject. The position, as I understand it to be at the present moment, is this. As the Washington communiqué said on February 1 of this year, the trade controls are all continuing—that is, in relation to the trade with China—but it was agreed that they should be reviewed now, and also periodically, as to their scope in the light of changing conditions, so that they may best serve the interests of the free world. We have since then been discussing with the United States this question of what articles shall and shall not figure in a particular list, but that does not mean—and the noble Viscount must be under no illusion about this—that there is no consultation with the Consultative Committee on China at a later stage. We have all the time and, surely, rightly consulted with the other free countries of Europe —because it is in the interests of the free world that this is to be administered—and not only Europe but also other countries associated with us, as to what 871 is the right standard to set and whether particular articles do or do not come within the limits of that standard. That position surely, we must continue to follow.
The noble Viscount said that it is well known that this and that happens: that there are appreciable quantities of embargo goods and that this country and that country is trading with Germany on an extensive scale in goods which are actually on the strategic list. With great respect to him, it is easy to say, "It is well known." That is actually one of the favourite phrases of the Soviet Government when they are going to say something which everybody knows to be completely untrue. I do not mean to say that that applies to what the noble Viscount says, but it is, in fact, a well-known opening of Soviet oratory.
If the noble Marquess will forgive me, I would point out that I have had admissions from hint and from the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, that my suggestions were perfectly true.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
I think that what both my noble friend Lord Mancroft and I have said is that there have been exceptions, of which many countries, including this country, have taken advantage at times. Those are reported. But that is quite a different thing from saying that, quite irresponsibly and without reference to any other country, we can construe this list exactly as happens to suit our own trading position. That has not been our practice, and rightly so. We have endeavoured to work in with our friends in order to see that this test, which is so phrased in the Washington communiqué but which is, after all, not a new test, is carried out: what measures may best serve the interests of the free world.
I come now—and I will not deal with it at anything like the length that I had at one time thought I might, possibly in your Lordships' interests—to the visit of Mr. Bulganin and Mr. Khrushchev and, in a much abridged form, to what I had originally intended to say about the Twentieth Congress. The visit, while we recognise, as we do, that it has opponents in this country, and recognise equally, as we do, that it may cause some apprehension in other countries, is based on the view which we hold that contact 872 with the Soviet leaders is, in the interests of this country and beyond this country, both desirable and necessary. The visit will be undertaken, not in spite of the differences which we acknowledge to exist between us, but because those differences exist, and in the hope that in the process of time, of which this may be only the first stage, we may succeed in eliminating some of them.
One of the most dangerous aspects of the world in the days when Stalin was at the height of his power was perhaps his own isolation the fact that he was cut off from all outside influences and heard only what those immediately about him thought was good for him to hear. If a man is in that position and has, at the same time, the power over other men and the influence over other countries which Stalin possessed, that is a situation which anyone would regard with considerable fear. Therefore, it seems to us that it is wise, in the interests of all those concerned, to encourage the Soviet leaders when they begin to show a disposition to emerge from their solitude into the normal contacts of the world, because, after all, only in that way can they form judgment of the system of life which other countries enjoy, and only by contact with them can we form an opinion whether an accommodation with them is possible or not.
I do not suggest that a view of Portsmouth Harbour or a glance at Windsor or even Edinburgh Castle is going to persuade the Soviet leaders to abandon all their preconceived Communistic views. At the same time, the tour which they will carry out in this country may at least help to show them that there is another side to the picture which, I think, is too often painted for them of what life in a capitalist country is like. Even if they do not like everything they see, it may at least persuade them that the opinion which they have hitherto held is erroneous and that even if they would like to carry out some of the things that they have hitherto had in mind, the task may not be so easy as they thought. I think that this visit comes—although perhaps we could not have foreseen it at the time —at a highly opportune moment, because it is clear that. whether you call it a change of heart or a change of outlook (let me take the middle course and call it a change of position), that change of 873 position is in some respects going on, though the extent and purpose of it are inevitably not yet fully manifest.
At the Twentieth Party Conference, the Soviet leaders repudiated Stalinism. Since the end of the Congress they have turned to repudiate Stalin himself, and perhaps it is—as I promised, in an abridged form —worth while spending a few moments in examining the present position and in trying to decide whether the present condemnation of Stalinism is a talking point or a turning point. The speech made by Mr. Khrushchev at that meeting set the whole theme, and perhaps that is not entirely to be wondered at, because I understand that it lasted for six hours. Your Lordships do not know how lucky you are! Actually, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said, it shed, and indeed attempted to shed, no new light on foreign policy. It did not touch on the sort of discussions which had taken place at Geneva. Co-existence was, all through, the theme song of the conference, and also the strength of the Soviet Ur ion and the weakness and disarray of the socallad capitalist world.
It is not, I think, impolite to suggest, even if these two gentlemen are corning shortly, that the Soviet Union is apt vigorously to condemn any move by the Western Powers to increase their own unity or to strengthen their own defences. These are at once to be censured as part of the wicked policy of "positions of strength." as the normal activities of an aggressive bloc. But no one who reads the speeches which were made at that Congress in Moscow can possibly doubt that the Soviet leaders are more single-mindedly bent on the construction of a position of strength than the West has ever been—certainly than the West has ever appeared to be from outside. As I say, co-existence was the word which was common on everybody's lips, hut behind it all at the same time was the reliance on the long-term development of Soviet power to bring about the triumph of Communism throughout the world.
The elements of Soviet strength are, perhaps, not too difficult to analyse, at any rate, as they set them out. The elements which appeal to them are: their rapidly growing economic strength; the solidarity of the Sino-Soviet bloc at the present stage: and the strength of the Soviet armed forces. Some of the remarks 874 which were made in the course of the discussions—"discussions," perhaps, is not the right word: "disquisitions"—at Moscow were a little startling on the military side. Because Marshal Zhukov, for instance, saidThe Soviet armed forces now possess various atomic and thermo-nuclear weapons and different types of powerful rocket and jet armaments, including long-range rockets.Both he and Mr. Mikoyan spoke of the Soviet Union's capacity to retaliate with nuclear weapons against North America.
Several of the Soviet leaders indicated that they still clung to what I may say is a most difficult view to follow: that nuclear war, if it ever took place, would bring an end to capitalism but would allow Communism to remain. I have never understood how that process was to be conducted. It is apparently on the assumption that Russian nuclear weapons operate like a sort of selective weedkiller, succeeding in killing off all capitalists with whom they come in contact but leaving all good Communists unscathed. Whatever may be in their minds about that, the fact that they bring forward this thesis is slightly disturbing. Indeed, Marshal Zhukov went out of his way to deny that it would be possible to use tactical nuclear weapons in a future war—that is, the kind of weapons which are used by field forces—without provoking the massive retaliation of a full-scale, nuclear war.
Of course, there was a great deal of talk about the "great zone of peace." The noble Earl, Lord Home, called some attention to that—the attempt which is made always to associate the countries which are not definitely attached to one bloc or the other as part of the Soviet bloc, the suggestion always being that the uncommitted bloc is on the Soviet side in the struggle against the West. And, again, there is the suggestion that there is a struggle all the time and that, whatever the surface may show, behind the surface this struggle is an inevitable part of the whole doctrine of militant Communism.
The attack on colonialism found its place. In spite of the return to Leninism, in spite of the fact that Lenin himself gave support to the doctrine of self-determination, the satellite countries of Europe and the Central Asian republics received no encouragement to think that 875 any form of self-determination was in the near future going to be forced upon them. It may well be that the Russians genuinely cannot understand the Western policy of assisting the colonial peoples to qualify for their independence and helping them to carry out that independence when the moment comes. Nor, perhaps, can they understand the nice balance of relationships which exist to-day between this country and the other older countries of the Commonwealth and those who have come into it in more recent post-war days. The "front" organisations, about which we know so much already—what Molotov called thefighting movement of workers in the capitalist countries, the international solidarity of the working class, the wide democratic movement of peace partisans, the activities of democratic organisations of women and youth, and other forms of mass struggle in defence of peace and against war "—not by their admission but by their own proclamation, form a part of their armoury; and one is tempted to ask: what about the five principles of which we hear so much, one of those principles being non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries?
It is true to say that, so far as we can judge at present, the new Soviet approach is both more subtle and more flexible than Stalin's, and it is undoubtedly an advance that the present Soviet leaders seem, even if largely tacitly, to recognise that open warfare does not at the moment look like being a paying proposition. Competitive co-existence may be a relative, rather than a positive, approach to peace and friendship, but, none the less it is a better and more hopeful approach than the international tension that we have known during the past years, strained almost to breaking, point as it was in the last years of Stalin. I do not see that there is anything in the new form which this doctrine has taken which need in any way cause Western hearts to quail. We have perhaps to readjust our ideas to it in many ways, and to redirect our activities; but it is a challenge to which the West can surely stand up.
The dethronement of Stalin himself perhaps best falls into perspective against the background of such manifestation of foreign policy as there was at the Party Congress. In the past Stalinism has been the great obstacle standing in the way of 876 greater subtlety or greater flexibility—and not only in foreign policy, but I think clearly in home policy as well. It must be that in 1953, on Stalin's death, his successors were faced with considerable problems: the consolidation of the West, the aftermath of the Korean war abroad —indeed, the succession to Stalin himself all confronted them with substantial problems. And it may well be that the key to their ability to keep abreast of the problems which confronted them has been their willingness to depart from the rigid standpoint which was characteristic of the Stalin régime.
My Lords, it was perhaps not unexpected that the Party Congress should depart to some extent from the armour plating of Stalinism to the somewhat more flexible, but still fairly resistant, chain armour of Leninism. Since this Congress the abandonment of Stalinism has gone a stage further—to the debasement of Stalin himself. He is not the first figure in the Soviet hierarchy who, when his policies fell out of favour, fell out of !favour very rapidly and forcibly after them. But may we doubt whether the picture of Soviet policies has really been greatly changed by this attitude towards Stalin? It may be, perhaps, that the essential Soviet aims and policies are still there, and that it is his methods, rather than his policies, which have been under such vigorous fire recently. Excesses in the collectivisation campaign, mistakes in the conduct of war, purges of Army and Party colleagues are things which have been criticised by the Inner Soviet, and not the collectivisation campaign itself or the other policies which Stalin initiated and carried on.
I do not want to continue to elaborate this matter, but I think it is important that, before these gentlemen come here, we should have in our minds, so far as we can (I admit that it is bound to be still somewhat in the field of speculation), what changes have come over the scene during these last weeks, and what may be the possible effect of them. I have tried, very superficially and hurriedly, to give some indication. It may be—it probably is—too early to judge in their full effect the consequences which may flow; but the Soviet Government will not find Her Majesty's Government hanging back in any degree if a real improvement in international relations becomes possible. Some 877 of your Lordships have mentioned specific questions which you hope will be discussed when these talks begin. I should be surprised if those questions did not figure in the non-existent agenda for those talks, because they are obviously matters of great importance.
I hope that I may be allowed to say to the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk (although he is no longer here), that I am quite sure that in this matter my colleagues are not oblivious to the religious aspect of the differences which exist between us and the whole policy of Communism. May I also be allowed to point out that the Communist attitude is not peculiar to any one religion but is, unfortunately, common to all. The fact remains that we are looking to what is coming out of all this. After all., the Western Powers resisted Stalin before his own people began to take to that occupation. Therefore the Western Powers cannot be entirely blamed if they now look for the deeds rather than the words that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said were required, and if, when these talks come, they ask for a convincing sign that Stalin's essential policies, as well as merely his methods, are being rejected and will be following Stalin into obloquy or oblivion. If such indications even begin to emerge from the talks which will be shortly taking place, they will indeed prove to have been worth while.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, the debate has come to an end and I think, 878 despite the fact that the Middle East was reintroduced into the discussion within a matter of a few weeks, the number of new matters that were raised and views expressed have justified it. The number of points which the noble Marquess has had to cover show, how wide the debate has been. My noble friends and I raised one or two special points, and I must say that we were disappointed in the replies which we received. The real significance of the points which we were making was most skilfully evaded by the two Ministers sitting opposite, and I think I had 'better now assure them both that we shall be back on those matters as soon as we return from the Easter Adjournment. My Lords, I beg leave of the House to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.