HL Deb 25 June 1957 vol 205 cc130-220

3.55 p.m.

Debate resumed.

LORD GLYN had given notice of a Motion to call attention to the increasingly widespread misunderstanding of the respective functions and powers of the Security Council and of the General Assembly of the United Nations; to the grave danger to international peace arising out of the uncertainty as to the precise nature of these functions and powers; and to the urgent need of clarification by means of some form of authoritative pronouncement from the United Nations organisation itself; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise to introduce my Motion, in conjunction with that of my noble friend Lord De La Warr. I should like to draw attention to the limited points in the Motion which stands in my name, which deals with the functions of administration at present exercised by the United Nations, and I also want to deal with one or two aspects of the finance of the United Nations. As I have indicated, this is a very limited Motion. It occurred to some of us that there was grave misunderstanding as to the respective functions of the Security Council and the General Assembly, and that the more light that could be thrown on to the limit of the functions of both these bodies the less likelihood there was of a misunderstanding.

I think that none of your Lordships will disagree that nothing is more dangerous than to believe you have a screen which is effective but which is, in truth, quite ineffective, because it means that you base a great deal of your hopes and desires on something and then it turns out to be a mere paper or tinsel screen; and the result is that all your hopes for effectiveness are dissipated by the reality of the uncertainty of the strength upon which you are relying.

I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to the purpose of the Security Council as originally set up. I think that has been forgotten; and it is well worth while to read the sixth volume of Sir Winston Churchill's book, which deals with the Yalta Conference and all that took place in regard to the establishment of the Security Council, and why it was laid down that it would never do for the General Assembly to have powers in excess of their proper function, which was to discuss matters. It was clearly laid down that if any matter was under consideration by the Security Council, that matter should not be the subject of a resolution by the General Assembly. That was deliberately done, and it is quite clearly stated why it was done. But there is no doubt that there has been a departure from that principle; therefore, I think it is important to clear up that matter.

The next point that I think is of importance is that the power of decision of the Security Council was always intended to end with the unity of the Great Powers after the war. As we all know, the tragedy is that that unity has been dissipated; there is not, in fact, unity between the Great Powers. Therefore, we see a system of "ganging up", as Mr. Menzies called it, by members of the General Assembly which tries to bring, and in fact does bring, a good deal of influence to bear in the various groups to which my noble friend Lord De La Warr referred.

There is another matter in this connection which I think is worth mentioning. To-day, I believe, the General Assembly numbers eighty members (I think it is actually seventy-eight who are effective), and a two-thirds majority is needed for any decisive resolution—that means fifty-two. There are twenty-one American States south of the Canadian border. Western European countries, plus Canada, Australia and New Zealand, add up to twenty. There is thus a total of forty-one, which is eleven short of the required number. It does not require much imagination to realise the amount of lobbying that goes on in regard to those eleven. As we all know, there is nothing so bad as Parliamentary lobbying. Mercifully, we do not have in this country, what is called "log-rolling", or the approach of "You back me on this and I will back you on something else". That is going on all the time in these lobbies in New York. It is a kind of seething mass of corruption, with some trying to get what they want at the expense of what is wanted by the rest of the world. That is something on which we should not rely. It was never intended; and though the words I have used may sound harsh, they are true. One has to realise that the time has come for reality.

On the other side of the picture we have the Soviet group, numbering, with the satellites, ten; and the Arab countries, numbering eleven, making a total of twenty-one; added to which there is the Afro-Asian group. As my noble friend Lord De La Warr has stated, the Afro-Asian group number fifteen, but I believe that four of those adopt an attitude of independence and do not always vote as a group. From our point of view, those four are therefore very important, but I do not for a moment suggest that we should enter into the field of lobbying to try, by improper means, to get their support. The real matter turns on the fact that there is now a situation almost of stalemate in regard to the powers and functions of the Security Council, which is a situation that no noble Lord wants. Those of us who believe in the necessity of something in the nature of the United Nations want to see an effective body, not an ineffective one. We therefore want to wipe out all those things which are wrong and detrimental to the great cause in which we all believe—something in the nature of a world-wide organisation.

There is one other matter which I believe is of importance. The United States recently introduced a motion which was carried. That was done without any revision of the Charter. In the opinion of some people, that led to a change of status as between the General Assembly and the Security Council. I do not believe that it did, nor do I think it was the intention of the United States Government that that should be the effect. But, so far as I know, the supreme authority of the Security Council has never been challenged; and the Charter has never been amended, so that, whatever that action may have been, it in no way altered the original conception that power should rest with the Security Council and not with the General Assembly.

The next point I want to take is that in these circumstances it is surely ludicrous for any of us to call the United Nations a "World Parliament." One too often sees it quoted as such in the newspapers. It is less like this Parliament than anything that has ever existed. It has no powers of procedure that we understand; matters are put before the General Assembly without any adequate time for consideration, and are sometimes rushed through in the hope of getting a decision. That is not the way in which the British Parliament works. The complaint usually is that the procedure of the British Parliament is almost slow, but it would be a very good thing for the United Nations if it could adopt some of our procedure and take more time to consider matters before voting upon them; because to-day there is danger in these rushed votes, carried out as a result of "ganging up."

Another matter which is not without interest is something which has been going on, quietly, steadily and all the time, in spite of, or because of, the United Nations—that is, the gradual building up, outside the United Nations, of a number of world-wide organisations. Added up, to-day they become a very formidable number. They are all dovetailed in, and normally work closely in conjunction with the United Nations. If we go through the dates on which those different organisations were formed, we get a kind of diary of crises in which the world was faced with some appalling risk, when there was an immediate dash into the idea of creating another organisation or some other group of States which would work and function together. If the United Nations was an effective organisation, that kind of thing would not be necessary. It is because of the ineffectiveness to-day of a body which we want to see effective that all these world organisations outside the United Nations have grown up.

First of all, there is the International Co-operative Administration, set up in 1947. Then there is the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, also set up in 1947, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which came into being in 1949. Then, as everybody remembers, the Brussels Treaty was signed in 1948. There was the Colombo Plan of 1951. There was the Organisation of American States which, in fact, was in existence before the United Nations, on the basis of the Monroe Doctrine; and there is the Arab League. It may be (though I do not say that it will happen) that in the future those bodies will coalesce together and may become a joint and efficient organisation without destroying the United Nations—and I think it would be a disaster if that should happen. I believe that people who talk about abolishing the United Nations do not realise the risks that they are proposing. What we want to know is how to make that organisation better and to make it a reality instead of a sham.

The last point to which I want to come is a matter on which I believe we have been very slack—the finance of the United Nations. I do not know whether your Lordships have seen the budget of the United Nations for 1957, a copy of which I have here. During the time I was in another place I spent a good deal of time on the Public Accounts Committee and the Estimates Committee, and I can assure your Lordships that we should never have passed these accounts in either one form or the other. I believe that it is very bad for a world organisation to have no auditing body or authority to check its accounts, because that situation leads to a grave danger of people getting jobs which they are not particularly qualified to hold and creating investigations which involve a large proportion of these people. I do not think it is generally realised what very large sums are involved, both directly and indirectly. There is also the fact that, so far as I can find, never since the United Nations was set up has there been any outside review to check over this expenditure and to make suggestions for economies.

The expenses of the Secretary General's office alone amount to 28,462,800 dollars for 1957, and if we analyse that sum we find some very extraordinary things. Then all kinds of committees have been set up, some of which do not seem to be very effective but all of which have a contingent of members who sit and get a certain number of dollars for attendance. And such a session may last a fortnight, a month or more. The list of these committees is an extraordinary one. There is one on the status of women, a subject which has been argued since Adam and Eve. That consists of a very large number of members who are expected to sit for five weeks this year, for which they will gain a good many thousand dollars; and what the result will be I do not know. At any rate, we pay our contribution towards that, and the annual increase of expenditure each year since the United Nations has been set up is something that I think deserves inquiry, because if you do not inquire into these things a scandal undoubtedly results.

Lastly, my Lords, I want to mention one thing with which I had to deal a little time ago. It is a very difficult subject. Your Lordships will forgive me for dealing with it now, but I think it is a good example of the lax way in which financial administration is exercised by the United Nations. All those who know the East and the Middle East have, for a long time, felt guilty about the misery suffered by the Arab refugees. Those of us who know the country and its history feel that it is a real blot that we should allow these people to suffer in misery, without expectation of something better. But I am afraid it is largely because of the lax administration of the United Nations that this happens.

The United Nations Relief and Works Organisation is in the ludicrous position at the present moment of preventing refugees from doing any active work The one hope for these poor Arab people and for their children who are coming on, is for them to be given work. Yet, under these regulations, that is barred. These refugees get a certificate, which is the only form they have to show what they are and what their life can be. But as soon as a refugee accepts work, his relief is cut down proportionately to the salary he receives for the work, so that he is no better off when working than when idling. Should he accept work at a salary which is locally equal to that of a non-refugee and is supposed to be adequate to maintain himself, his certificate is taken away and he loses all nationality and becomes a Stateless person. That is done under the regulations of the United Nations Relief and Works Organisation. There is no hope for that man of getting back to the position he was in before, and still less hope of his life in the future.

I know, my Lords, as we all know. that this is a political scandal which has been kept going because certain Arab countries want to have this misery in existence for political purposes. Surely, if the United Nations take the responsibility for these refugees, is it not the business of the great Powers—if it is right to call anybody that nowadays—to inquire how the administration is being carried out and what extra misery is being imposed on these people? There has been no inquiry since the mission which was appointed, I think, six or eight years ago, and which made definite recommendations about the re-settlement of these people in the Tigris Valley. There is no reason why that should not be done, if we had the will to do it and woke up to the misery that inaction is causing to these poor, wretched, defenceless people.


May I make a suggestion to the noble Lord? I am largely in agreement with him about this matter; I have seen the thing on the spot. It is a matter well worth discussing, but would it not be well that he should put down some substantive Motion dealing with it? He will agree that the Motion he has on the Order Paper contains no reference or hint of this subject at all, and no one has come prepared to deal with it.


I quite agree. I am at fault in this matter, but I mentioned it as an example of the need for some oversight of the way in which the money of the United Nations is being misspent. But I agree that there is nothing in my Motion about it, except that it is time there was a definition of the functions and powers of the Security Council and the General Assembly, and I include in that the need for an inquiry into the way the finance of the United Nations is spent.

So that I do not make another slip and very rightly get checked by the noble Earl opposite—I apologise to the House for riot having put down anything about Arab refugees—may I say one thing in conclusion? General Smuts, in the discussions in September, 1944, was largely responsible for the shape of the United Nations. On September 26 in that year he said: Whilst a world organisation is necessary, it is equally essential that our Commonwealth and Empire should emerge from this ordeal as strong and influential as possible, making us an equal partner in every sense for the other Big Two. I think that when General Smuts stated that, when the war was just coming to its end, he recognised that the United Nations, which he so strongly supported, could exist only if it was effective and strong and supported by those Powers who stood together in the Great War.

4.18 p.m.

THE EARL OF DUNDEE had given notice of his intention to move to resolve, That this House deplores the decision of the United Nations requiring Israel to withdraw her forces from Gaza and Aqaba without any guarantee against future aggression and interference with shipping, and that this House considers that no confidence can be placed in the authority of the United Nations until that institution has proved itself willing to enforce all us decisions impartially upon all its members. The noble Earl said: My Lords, the first two Motions which we are discussing together are of great interest, and I think they would have been equally interesting at any time. I am grateful that my own Motion should have been selected as the third one to be debated. I did not expect that it would be, because it is obviously a Motion which was rather more topical when it was put on the Order Paper last February, than it is now.

I certainly do not want to distract attention from the wider questions which have been raised by my two noble friends who have preceded me. I entirely agree with both of them that the United Nations Organisation, like your Lordships' House, can do a great deal of good by publicly discussing all matters of public interest, and that it probably ought to be reformed, but I think that the reform of this House may very likely happen long before the reform of the United Nations Organisation, about which it would be even more difficult to get people to agree. I think that for the time being, at least, we have all got to try to make the best of the United Nations as it is now.

The United Nations Organisation was not designed to deal with a permanent cold war between two gigantic Powers, one of which tries to base its policy on the United Nations while the other has not the slightest intention of ever accepting any United Nations decision except when that decision should happen to suit the designs of Communist aggression. However desirable it may be—I am sure it is desirable—to reform the United Nations Assembly, I do not think that any constitutional reform of this kind would have a great deal of effect on the world struggle between Communist tyranny and human rights which dominates every other question in foreign affairs.

My own Motion refers to Israel, and I have always thought that the history of Israel is a good example of the dangers to peace which may result from trying to base your foreign policy on an international authority which is always obeyed by one side and never obeyed by the other. The modern State of Israel was a creation of the United Nations, which did not approve of the British endeavours to establish peaceful co-existence between Arabs and Jews in Palestine itself, and which obliged us to surrender our Mandate. As soon as the new State had come into being, it was immediately invaded on all its frontiers, and the United Nations was utterly incapable of protecting its own creation. It was like a maternity nurse who helps to bring a baby into the world and then, when the baby is attacked by a savage dog, retires into a corner and whispers to the dog that it is not behaving quite properly.

But this Jewish baby happened to be a good fighter: it was capable of looking after itself, and the Jews not only inflicted a humiliating defeat on all their enemies but also expelled, or at least caused to emigrate, about one million Arab refugees who have since been living in conditions of the utmost misery and destitution. I certainly hope very much that, as the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, suggested just now, there may be a separate debate on this subject, because it is an example of a matter in which the United Nations have greatly failed in their responsibilities, and I do not think that we have time to pursue it properly now. What has happened is that there is now, so far as we can see, a permanent condition of the most implacable hostility, armed hostility, between the Arabs and the Jews.

However much we may sympathise with the more liberal elements in Arab nationalism and however much we may want (as we all do) to help the Arabs towards greater freedom and greater prosperity (which we all want to see), we cannot promise the Arabs the one thing that they want above all others—that is, the extermination of Israel. But Russia can, and has promised to give them that. It cannot be too often repeated that the principal object of Russian diplomacy in the Middle East is to draw Middle Eastern oil into the Communist orbit by helping the Arabs to destroy the State of Israel. The Russians are good strategists, and it is a principle of good strategy to strike where your opponents are weakest. In Western Europe, the North Atlantic Alliance is not entirely weak, not entirely divided. In the Middle East it is both, and if the Russians can gain their objective there, where their opponents are weak, they will then have won the cold war without ever having had to strike in Europe at all.

I think that I should probably be right if I added this—that the political strategy and the military strategy of Russia, with very extensive military preparations, is now giving priority to the Middle East over all other objectives, both in Europe and in Asia; and it may well be that if Russian policy in the Middle East should fail, the regime in Russia may collapse. I have always held the view that the Israel-Egyptian War last Autumn was really a Russian war in which Egypt was the tool of Russia. But, however that may be, the United Nations, again, were not only entirely incapable of stopping this war but they did not even begin to understand what the war was about. When the war was temporarily stopped by French and British action, the United Nations promptly intervened, not to save Egypt, but to save Russian policy from total defeat—in which they were entirely successful.

And I am afraid that everything which has happened since then has tended to re-establish the dangerous position which existed last Summer. I have often asked the Government whether they can give me information about the extent of Russian arms now being sent to Egypt or which have been sent there within the last six months. The Government have not been able to give any precise information. I do not know whether they have any more now. But your Lordships have no doubt seen reports in yesterday's editions of The Timesand the Daily Telegraphof the review of the Egyptian Army which took place on Tuesday—that is, the day before yesterday—in Cairo. It is stated that hundreds of Soviet-built tanks, self-propelled guns, truck-drawn heavy artillery, and other equipment, including a group of barrelled rocket launchers mounted on Soviet-built truck carriers, droned past for three hours in the hot sun. Most of these new armoured weapons for Egypt had been coming in, according to my information, in the last six months. At the same time, Soviet submarines which have been supplied to Egypt, have now been seen following Israeli ships in the Gulf of Aqaba.

Nothing has been done by the United Nations to implement the assurances on which, we understood, Israel agreed to withdraw her forces from Gaza and Aqaba. There are many people in this country who are comforting themselves by telling each other that Egypt's prestige in the Arab world is now declining. I do not know whether that is so or not. But I am afraid that Western prestige in the Arab world is certainly declining, because everything that is happening strengthens the impression among the Arabs that if they back an irresolute and divided West they will be backing a loser, and if they back the Communists, who know what they want and know how to get it, they will then be backing a winner.

I think that we have now got to make the best we can of the United Nations. And may I conclude with one word about what seems to me to be the most hopeful line of policy which the United Nations might be persuaded to follow? One result of the Suez incident was the establishment of a United Nations police force in the area, in whose favour first Britain and France and then the Israelis withdrew. And it should, of course, be remembered that we had always said that it was our intention to withdraw in favour of such a force as soon as it effectively fulfilled its functions. I am told that a fortnight ago a deputation from both Houses of Parliament—with members of different Parties in it—went to see the Foreign Secretary in order to represent to him that the United Nations should be pressed to form a larger and more permanent world police force. I understand that their arguments were favourably received by Mr. Selwyn Lloyd. I had nothing to do with that deputation, but the noble Lord opposite, Lord Pakenham, was kind enough to suggest to me last night that I might try to say one word about this matter, since the noble Lord himself, to our great regret, is not able to speak in this debate. I am sure he is right in wishing that the subject should be discussed by your Lordships.

I do not think anyone would suggest that a world police force could have any effect in a world war. Nor would it be able to stop even a minor war, which might have more serious consequences, unless it happened to be there. The Korean War could never have been stopped by the United Nations if the American troops had not been there to begin with, and the Israeli-Egyptian war could not have been stopped by anybody if British and French troops had not been ready stationed in the Mediterranean. Therefore, it would be no use having an international police force stationed say in New York, ready to be sent to any quarter of the world where there was trouble, because by the time the force could be transported to the scene of action, the minor war would probably be finished and the major war might well have begun. Therefore, I think that if an international United Nations police force is to be of any use, it must be permanently stationed in one or possibly two areas in which it is anticipated that trouble is most likely to occur, and in present circumstances I think there is no doubt that this area is the Middle East.

I should like to see the present United Nations Force in the Middle East strengthened and provided with some aircraft and armoured fighting vehicles. It could not be expected to defeat a major act of aggression against Russian armour manned by Russian volunteers, but if preliminary police action, which might prevent a more serious situation from arising, were to be taken by the United Nations Force, it would have an enormous advantage from our point of view, because it could not then be said by any country that this police action was prompted by British colonial imperialism. When Britain has to take police action it is nearly always represented in Asiatic countries, in parts of the Commonwealth and all over the United States that this is an example of British colonialism. I hope that if the Americans have to take any action under the Eisenhower doctrine we shall always support it and not condemn American police action as they have condemned ours. But in the neutralist countries, the Eisenhower doctrine is already being represented as a new kind of American imperialism. I think that a permanent international police force, although it may not be strong enough to defeat aggression, nevertheless might be of the highest value to the cause of peace by removing those misunderstandings and divisions among the free nations which until now have always played into the hands of the aggressor.

4.33 p.m.


My Lords, we have listened to speeches from three noble Lords who sit on the Benches opposite. If I may say so, they are all noble Lords from whom we on this side of the House derive, and have derived, help and whose views we sincerely respect. It always seems to us that they talk good sense and with sound knowledge, though we think that, unfortunately, it is coloured by a wrong political point of view. Having said that, I must say that to-day it seems to me that all three of them have fallen far short of their own standard. In preparing the few remarks that I am going to make to your Lordships, I have found great difficulty in getting to grips with this matter at all. I think the noble Earl who introduced the debate, Lord De la Warr, found just the same thing because he apologetically said that his speech was going to consist largely of platitudes. I feel just the same; I am afraid that my speech will also consist largely of platitudes.

I found little in the noble Earl's speech which was really constructive. That there are defects in the organisation of the United Nations is plain for everybody to see—anybody who does not should have his head examined. The trouble is that it can be amended only by common consent, and at the present moment there is not the slightest chance of getting that common consent. That is the realistic point of view. The noble Earl did not seem to me to be ready to offer much consolation on that particular point. The noble Lord, Lord Glyn, realised what a difficulty he was in, and went boldly right outside the course and jumped a great many hurdles—he jumped very well—which had nothing to do with the competition at all. There is nothing whatever in his Motion dealing with the Arab refugees or with the lack of control of finance. On both these topics, if I may humbly say so, he has my deep sympathy; and if on either of these topics, on a different occasion, he will put down some Motion, I should very much like to take part in the debate. But I have not come prepared to-day, and indeed no-one, reading his Motion, could possibly have been expected to come prepared to-day, to say anything about those matters.

What the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, has done to-day is to suggest that there is great danger to international peace arising out of the uncertainty about the precise nature of the respective functions and powers of the Security Council and the General Assembly. That there is an uncertainty is undoubted. Perhaps it is desirable that that uncertainty be cleared up; I will accept that. Somebody recently—I cannot remember who; perhaps noble Lords would be able to help me, but I think it was a distinguished living statesman—said with regard to Constitutions that he thought they should be short and obscure.




I thought it was someone more recent than that—Sir Winston Churchill. But never mind. There is much to be said for those who take the view that an unwritten Constitution is better than a written one. But I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, that there is uncertainty, and by all means let us clear it up. But I cannot think that that is the real danger to peace in the world to-day. If we are going to be realistic, surely the danger to peace in the world rises from imperialist Communism, and from nothing else. Whatever force we have, whatever treaties we have, that will be the fact. To the references of the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, to Israel, I find myself exceedingly sympathetic. Perhaps I ought not to be, but I am. But I do not at all like the conclusion of his Motion, which seems to me to have the effect of denigrating the United Nations, which, after all, imperfect though it is, is better than nothing; and so I cannot bring myself to accept that.

I think that the long and short of the matter is that there are two schools of thought about this question. There are those who hoped that the United Nations would solve all problems and enable the countries of the world for ever afterwards to live happily together; and there were those of the other extreme school who thought that the United Nations was a mere talking shop, which prevented people from taking any action on their own account and did nothing, and was therefore mischievous. Sometimes, the two points of view are combined in the same person. Sometimes somebody will say that the United Nations was blameful for not having stopped the tragedy in Hungary, and that in regard to Suez, where it had the opportunity of stopping the invasion, it was guilty of acting as a mere interfering busybody.

So, my Lords, it comes to this; that there are some who want it mended and some who want it ended. I think that to-day everybody agrees that to end it would be a disaster. Then, if I may say so, I think the menders are completely unrealistic. Look at the speech which the Foreign Secretary made in another place, a few days ago, on July 10. He said that the Russians had said—and, of course, all their satellites—that any change would be a change for the worse. Well, my Lords, if that is so, they are asserting the doctrine of perfection; and that is a strange doctrine to assert about this or any other human institution. But, equally, it is to my mind quite unrealistic to think that you can talk about changing the United Nations at the present time, which I think I am right in saying involves the consent of everybody. The Foreign Secretary made it plain that he was trying. Let us by all means, as the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr said, get closely in touch with our American friends, and keep closely in touch with them for ever, and see what we can do. But I do not see much chance at the present time.

The maintenance of peace really depends upon the unity of the great Powers, and that we have not got. Of course, if a Power is prepared to disregard its pledged word, and disregard the opinion of the world, then the only way of stopping that is to wage a successful war against such a Power. The only way of stopping Russia from invading Hungary, in the brutal way she did was to declare war on her, and to win that war. I see no other way. If a Power is sufficiently "thick-skinned" and removed from the impact of world opinion that it does not care what people think, what else can be done? All the same, I think that the United Nations was useful. In the Suez case, by a majority of 64 to 5, the Assembly called on us to withdraw. We were sensitive to world opinion, and rightly so; and we withdrew. In the case of Hungary, the Assembly called on Russia to withdraw, in an equally strong resolution.


I am grateful to the noble and learned Earl for giving way. I should like to ask him, on the interesting point he made about what the United Nations could have done about Hungary, this question: If, in fact, the Secretary General had arranged for his team of observers to be flown in during that twenty-four hours or so during which the Nagy Government were in power, would not that have made a difference to the situation?


It might have done; but I doubt it. I am anxious not to say anything controversial. I myself think that it was a Godsend for Russia at that time that the limelight was rather deflected from what she was doing in Hungary by the unfortunate Suez crisis which took place just at that time. I think that if world opinion had been absolutely focused on Hungary there might have been some chance of doing something.


Would the noble and learned Earl agree that the inaction, which he accepts, and the action, which he applauds, both served Soviet Russia?


I do not think the first did. As I have said, I do not want to be controversial, but I believe intensely that our attitude over Suez was wrong and in breach of our Treaty. I had hoped not to have to go into that matter, but if I am right in that view, then I am sure the noble Lord would agree that we should not have acted as we did. It is for this country to keep its obligations, at all costs. But I do not want to go into that.

I would say this. The Assembly passed these resolutions. Do not let us assume too readily that the resolutions are worthless in the case of Russia. The Assembly appointed a Committee; that Committee made a report, and I think that that report shocked the conscience of the world. It is a fact that a week after the report came out Molotov was dismissed. I cannot pretend to say whether one followed from the other, but it is a coincidence. I am by no means sure that, even in the case of Russia, the conscience of the world and public opinion may not have some effect. The noble Lord is laughing at me—well, he may be right. In spite of the fact that Hungary has for years been under oppression, the young Hungarians do not seem to like living under a system of oppression; and in spite of the fact that Poland has for years been under oppression, I do not believe that the desires for liberty are killed in Poland—and I have heard that they may not even be killed in Czechoslovakia. Is it not possible that these stirrings of the human conscience may in time make themselves felt in Russia also? It could be a long time, or it could be a time shorter than that which the pessimists believe. But do not let us belittle the importance of the collective judgment of the world as to what is right and wrong. Therefore I welcome the fact that the "Uniting for Peace" resolution of 1950 did transfer to the Assembly powers which perhaps it did not have before.

I am entirely at one with the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, in saying that the voting system is ridiculous; and no one could say to the contrary about that. But if the conclusions of the Assembly are mere recommendations, does that matter so much? If there is some better system, what is the system to be? Is it going to be based on population? If so, would India, for instance, have seven times the number of votes that we have? How would it be arranged? I follow the noble Lord in saying that the point should be cleared up as to whether the effect of the resolution of the Assembly is a mere recommendation or something beyond that, something to which we have committed ourselves. But it does not seem to me, if it is a mere recommendation, that it matters so much what the system of voting is, so long as a substantial majority—a two-thirds majority, the sort of majority which obtained in the Suez case and in the Hungarian case—is required. Then I think we may fairly claim that that does in some sense mirror public opinion of the world, an opinion which, in my view, cannot be lightly disregarded.

I should like to say a word or two on the Motion of the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, because I confess that on the particular matter of Israel, which he mentioned, I find myself in a position which is not far removed from his. As your Lordships know, for a lone time past in this House, and particularly when I was Leader of the Labour Party here, I have pressed the Government of the day to give further arms to Israel to offset the arms which were being given to the Arabs. I pressed them to say, categorically and clearly, not merely that they would get together with other like-minded Powers to see what should be done if there was an invasion, but to make it quite plain that, if Israel was invaded, they would all come to her assistance. Unfortunately, those steps were not taken. It is, of course, easy to be wise after the event; but if those steps had been taken, perhaps the action which Israel herself took would not have been necessary.

I have expressed in this House my view that the action which Israel took was justified, faced, as she was, with threats which intimated that the whole State was to be extinguished—thrown into the sea. But I have since talked over this matter with many distinguished jurists, of many nationalities, and undoubtedly the prevalent view is that Israel's attitude was not justified. Article 51 makes it quite plain that the right of self-defence arises in one case, and in one case only; and that is in the event of armed attack. I have not the Article before me, but I shall be corrected if I am wrong. Unless you can say that what Israel had to endure was armed attack (of course, there were the border raids), then it would follow that Israel was not justified in taking the law into her own hands. If she was wrong in taking the law into her own hands, then I suppose it would follow that any judge would have to say thin the territory which she gained by so doing—namely. Sinai and Gaza—should not be retained by her by what, on that hypothesis, was a wrong.

Equally, however, it is abundantly plain that she has the right to pass her shipping through the Suez Canal, and that she has the right to use her own territory, the port of Alat in the Gulf of Aqaba. I saw in to-day's papers, as others of your Lordships did, that a Danish ship had been allowed through the Gulf of Aqaba, and that the one Israeli seaman on board the ship had been arrested and was restored at the other end, so that it could not be claimed that any Israeli had passed through the Gulf. But at any rate the Danish ship, with its cargo to Israel, was allowed to go through.


May I, with great temerity, interrupt for one moment over the question of the position of Israeli ships passing through the Canal? I think we need to be very careful here, because the Egyptian case, as I understand it, is based on Article 10 of the 1888 Convention, which has the effect of excluding those Articles of the Convention which interpret the Convention as allowing complete freedom in peace or war to ships passing through the Suez Canal, even those of belligerents. I think we have to be very careful if we say that the law is against Egypt.


It is not for the noble Lord or me to announce a decision. There is the International Court at The Hague. I would most humbly suggest that the time has now come when the opinion of that Court ought to be taken. It is open either to the Security Council or to the Assembly to ask for an advisory opinion. I readily understand that it might be difficult for Israel to ask for that opinion, but I suggest that it would be a good idea if either the Security Council or the Assembly were to ask for an advisory opinion on two points; first, is Israel entitled to pass her ships through the Suez Canal; and, second, is she entitled to use the Gulf of Aqaba for the purposes of her shipping as she desires? In view of the difficulties we have reached, that seems to me to be the best solution we can take in this matter.

My Lords, I felt that I ought to say what I have said. I want to make it quite plain to the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, that I agree with him in saying that if there is any country which has been exposed to unbearable threats and difficulties it is Israel, and that she has shown great patience in the face of these provocations. I had thought that she was justified in the course she took, but I think l should be right in saying that the majority of jurists would say that in that respect she was wrong, because she could not establish that an armed attack had been made against her.

All that remains for me to say is this. I think it is perfectly true that there are great criticisms to be made of the United Nations—first of all, the elementary fact that the United Nations has no power to right a civil wrong. You may have the Canal snatched away from you in breach of the plainest contract. The United Nations cannot afford you a remedy. All she can say is that you must not take the law into your own hands and provide your own remedy. That, I think, is a weakness. It is a weakness, too, that there is nothing in the United Nations which provides for change or development. Things are constantly changing in this world, and the United Nations, of course, is based on the status quo. But when all these things have been said, I agree with (I think it was) the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, and the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, both of whom said that it is far better to keep what we have got than to go back to the international anarchy which prevailed before we had anything at all. I believe that in that respect we are all at one.

I sincerely hope that the United Nations will grow and develop. I regard it as a living organism which will improve, or may improve, with time. I agree wholeheartedly with the noble Earl, Lord Dundee: I should like to see some kind of a force developed. At present we have an ad hoc force which went into the Canal and did very useful service there. The noble Earl, as I understood him, did not envisage a force that could stand up against one of the great Powers, or anything of that sort, but a force which might be extremely useful in border disputes and the like, with the authority of the United Nations, formed rather on the lines of the French Foreign Legion. I believe that would be valuable.

When the deputation went to the Foreign Secretary the other day, he said that he wanted people to go on canvassing this idea and working it out. That has been done. My noble friend Lord Pakenham, for one, and many Members on the other side of the House have contributed ideas to this, and in the fullness of time it may come about. I will encourage all those things. But just because we cannot get all those things at once, do let us realise that we must keep what we have. We must not jettison what we have, slender protection though it may be. The hopes of those who worked so well in forming this body—my noble friend Lord Attlee, who is with us now; the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, who took a most distinguished part; Sir Anthony Eden, who also took part, and many other distinguished public men—have not been realised to the full. That they would admit at once. Their hopes have not been realised because, unfortunately, the unity for which we hoped among the great powers of the world has not been achieved. At the present time, anyone who is completely realistic must recognise those facts. Everybody must recognise that something better could perhaps be evolved. All I would ask your Lordships to do is to show patience and hope, trusting in the ideal that public opinion throughout the world may ultimately have a stronger effect than to-day we can realise. Do not, I urge, jettison what we have, although the sad fact is that the immediate prospect is that there is no chance whatever of amending it along the lines I have indicated.


My Lords, I interrupt to inform your Lordships that, as it is probable that we shall go on for some time, dinner will he available in the Dining Room.

5.0 p.m.


My Lords, I should like at this stage to comment on some of the points made by the noble Lords who have already spoken, and in particular those noble Lords whose Motions we are debating to-day. I thank them for their courtesy in having let me know in advance what they were likely to mention during debate.

The Charter of an organisation, like the United Nations, however brilliantly thought out it may be, must in the last analysis depend on the support of its members. The fact that the United Nations organisation has the appearance of having two sets of rules is not the fault of the Charter but of the fact that there are two types of morality in the world to-day. This is no reason for saying that the United Nations is powerless. It is imperative for the peace of the world that it is made to work, and to work effectively. Her Majesty's Government is making, and will continue to make, every effort to this end. The noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, has pointed out some of the defects and has suggested some possible remedies. Although the noble Earl did not specifically suggest reviewing the Charter itself, I should like to take this opportunity to explain the present position.

Your Lordships will recall that on June 6 a Committee consisting of representatives of all members of the United Nations met in New York to consider the organisation, the timing and the procedure of a conference to review the Charter. This was in accordance with a resolution adopted at the Tenth Session of the General Assembly in 1955. Although we and a number of other nations were strongly in favour of holding this conference, the Committee came to the conclusion that all it could do was to recommend to the next Session of the General Assembly that the Committee itself should be kept in being and should report to the General Assembly, not later than its Fourteenth Session: that is, in the autumn of 1959. The reason for this somewhat negative decision was that the Russians and their satellites had at the Tenth Session of the General Assembly made it plain that they would oppose any idea of such a conference. They repeated their objections in the Committee. Their abstention in the vote on the Committee's recommendation was due to the fact that their opposition to Charter review was so firmly rooted that they would not even take up a position on any resolution referring to it.

The Committee's recommendation was accepted by 67 votes to none, with the 9 abstentions from the Communist countries. This is most regrettable, to say the least, but it is no use flying in the face of reality; and we had to agree, as did nearly all the other countries represented on the Committee, that a review conference would be pointless, if not in fact harmful, unless it were to take place in auspicious international circumstances. The fact is that until the Russians change their minds the circumstances will not be auspicious, as no amendment to the Charter can be accepted unless it is ratified by two-thirds of the members of the organisation, which must include all the permanent members of the Security Council. In these circumstances, the Committee's decision was the only practical one to take at the time.

As there is no possibility at present of altering the Charter in order to remove the double standard which appears to exist, let us examine one or two of its faults. As the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, said, the United Nations was extremely effective against Britain over the Suez issue, and in fact backed up Nasser who had by then become an aggrieved party. On the other hand, it has been notably ineffective over Hungary and in other places mentioned by the noble Earl. In other words, it is successful where the countries concerned are willing to abide by a United Nations decision in the case of the Security Council or of a recommendation in the case of the General Assembly. Surely, though, this is not the fault of the United Nations, but of the members who make it up.

In 1950, in Korea, the United Nations provided with reasonable promptness a United Nations Command which was eventually effective in halting the invasion of South Korea by North Korea. True, Russia had at that time withdrawn from the Security Council and therefore was not in a position to exercise her Veto. Nevertheless this is an example of rapid and effective action of which the United Nations is in fact capable, if allowed to do so. Further, we must not forget that the fact that the United Nations was at least trying to promote a settlement made it possible to maintain some measure of control over the turbulent situation in Palestine up to the Israeli attack on Egypt last year, so that for years, despite constant trouble in the area, there were in fact no full-scale hostilities. In the same way, the Kashmir problem has been kept below boiling point, and, while this is due in large measure to the wisdom and moderation of the Indian and Pakistani leaders, a good deal of credit should and must go to the United Nations.

The noble Earls, Lord De La Warr and Lord Dundee, asked whether the possession of a police force might help to give the United Nations the confidence necessary for tackling its problems a little more courageously. Her Majesty's Government have always made it clear that they would like to see the creation of some form of permanent United Nations police force which could be used in emergencies and to keep law and order. That is why we hope that something permanent may develop out of the present United Nations Emergency Force; and in this connection I would refer noble Lords to a statement made by my right honourable and learned friend, the Foreign Secretary, in another place, on July 10. I do not propose to follow the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, into the details of the working of the United Nations emergency force, but I should like to emphasise that this force continues to provide a considerable guarantee of peace in Gaza and at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba. Egypt maintains no troops in the Gaza strip; the frontiers of Israel, with the recent exception of that with Syria, have been relatively free of incident; and the right of passage in the Gulf of Aqaba and through the Straits of Tiran is at present being exercised.

I should like now to turn to the Motion tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Glyn. He mentioned the confusion which exists over the respective functions and powers of the Security Council and the General Assembly. I agree that there is misunderstanding, to say the least of it, and that this is dangerous. It is perhaps natural that some misunderstandings should arise, because the functions of the two bodies overlap in certain respects. The United Nations Charter makes it quite clear, for example, that it is the Security Council, where the five Powers have the power of veto, which is vested with the primary responsibility for mainaining international peace and security.

It is also true, as the Charter again makes clear, that the General Assembly has a secondary responsibility in this sphere also. But those who framed the Charter knew very well what they were doing in assigning the primary responsibility to a compact body of eleven instead of to a body designed mainly for debating purposes. There is, of course, another most important distinction which has already been mentioned. The Security Council can take decisions which are binding upon members, while the General Assembly, except in practice in certain administrative and budgetary matters, cannot. The General Assembly can only recommend, and its recommendations are not mandatory. It is the nature of the General Assembly to be a debating forum where ideas are exchanged. It cannot by its nature wield executive authority.

The fact is, however, that the Assembly has lately tended to acquire some of the executive powers which the Charter recognised were unsuited to it. The main cause of this has been the use of the "Uniting for Peace" procedure. This has been used twice since October last year, once in the case of Hungary and once in the case of the Middle East. This procedure, which is described in some detail in the White Paper on the proceedings at the last Session of the General Assembly, was approved by an overwhelming majority of the General Assembly in 1950, after the Korean war had demonstrated the danger that, in any emergency, action by the United Nations might be blocked by a Veto in the Security Council. Whether this procedure was properly invoked is not the point at issue. We took the view that it was not properly invoked in the case of the Middle East but was properly invoked in the case of Hungary. Be that as it may, twice recently the General Assembly has had to deal with vital questions concerning international peace and security, in a manner very different from what was foreseen by those who drew up the Charter.

Moreover, the large expansion of membership of the United Nations has, not unnaturally I think, contributed to this tendency by the Assembly to try to increase its power and status where it can. I think this tendency might have been at least partly arrested had it been possible, as Her Majesty's Government wished, to expand the Security Council last year after the admission of the main batch of new members. It is a matter of great regret to Her Majesty's Government that this proposal, which we fully supported, failed because of Soviet opposition: the Soviet Union insisted that there could be no expansion of the Security Council until Communist China was seated in the United Nations.

To sum up, the distinction between the powers and functions of the Assembly and the Security Council is there for all to see, and should be respected if the nations are willing to do so. Once again, we come back to the old, old difficulty, which is that, while some nations are prepared to observe and to abide by the spirit of the Charter, others are not. I doubt, therefore, whether it would be possible to have an authoritative pronouncement by the United Nations itself setting out the differences in the powers and functions of the Security Council and the General Assembly. In a sense, as I have tried to explain, it already exists in the basic United Nations document—the Charter. On the other hand, if it were possible by an amendment of the Charter to make the distinction and differences clearer, in a manner acceptable by those concerned, then such a proposal would have the full support of Her Majesty's Government. Her Majesty's Government will do all in their power to have the authority of the Security Council maintained.

The noble Lord, Lord Glyn, called attention to the deficiency of the United Nations' budgetary system and mentioned that it has no equivalent of the Estimates or Public Accounts Committees. It may perhaps be helpful to your Lordships if I explain the budgetary procedure adopted by the United Nations. I think your Lordships will understand from this that it is not perhaps quite so loose as the noble Lord seemed to suppose.

The expenditure of the United Nations is controlled by the General Assembly under powers derived from Article 17 of the Charter. The United Nations budget is drawn up by the Secretariat and appears in its first form as a report by the Secretary-General. This report is considered by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions. After a detailed review, which generally lasts about two months, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions passes its own report and version of the budget to the Fifth Committee, where it is further considered. It is at this stage that individual sections of the budget are considered in detail. Each section gaining a majority in the Fifth Committee is returned to the Secretary-General, who produces a revised section. This is continued until all sections have obtained a majority. The Fifth Committee then submit their report, containing the revised budget, to the Assembly in plenary, where the budget is finally accepted. Budgetary questions require a two-thirds majority under Article 18 of the Charter.

Finally, I turn to the second part of the Motion of the noble Earl, Lord Dundee: that the United Nations should prove itself willing to impose all its decisions impartially upon all its members. I should like to say at once that I am not without great sympathy for what he says. The trouble is that the United Nations does not have the means, at present, to enforce its decisions. This derives from the fact that the Charter has never been enabled to operate as its drafters intended. As I said at the beginning of my speech, the Organisation has to depend upon the good will of its members, upon their willingness to abide both by the spirit of the Charter and by the recommendations of the Assembly or the decisions of the Security Council. Until this situation is rectified the authority of the United Nations will undoubtedly suffer. But I am sure that your Lordships, with the world divided as it is now, and the United Nations reflecting these divisions, would not contend that the representatives of the United Nations of a certain point of view, however morally justified, should invariably attempt to impose the authority of the United Nations by force. That, I think your Lordships would agree, in the Hungarian affair could easily have led to nuclear war.

The fact that the Russians should have got away with ignoring the resolutions of the United Nations on Hungary, however reprehensible, is a reflection of Russian international behaviour. That world opinion is flouted is not to say that world opinion is wrong, or that it can always be enforced. Indeed, who knows what effect the attitude of the United Nations over the Hungarian affair may yet have on the conduct of Russian policy in the longer term?

Recent events will have performed a valuable service if they have brought home to members of the United Nations a better understanding of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the Organisation. Unfortunately, I cannot say that it follows that steps will be taken to put things right. This requires not only a wide measure of international agreement, but a greater respect for international law. I can assure your Lordships that Her Majesty's Government, for their part, will not fail to support all proposals which would have the practical effect of strengthening the United Nations.

5.20 p.m.


My Lords, after the speech of my noble friend Lord Jowitt I shall not detain the House for long. I recall that it was a little over twelve years ago that, with others, I was engaged at San Francisco on the work of forming the Charter. On looking back, one can say that there was a certain amount of illusion and lack of a sense of reality at the time. For instance, the view most prevalent at the time in the minds of our American friends was that they and Russia were the two "big boys"; that they would agree and all the world would go with them. We found that influence later. Since then, the Americans have swung right the other way. There was also the illusion, which I never shared, that at that time China was a great Power. It was not. Since then it has become a great Power. Yet at that time China, which was then in a general state of civil war, was put on the Security Council. Now that China is an effective Power in the world she is disregarded.

One has therefore to look and see. In particular, it is all too easy to view the proceedings of the United Nations from the angle of the interest of one's own country at a particular time. For instance, the action of the Assembly over Suez caused quite a revulsion of feeling among a number of people who felt that, whatever might be done by other countries, it was shameful that their country should have acted in the way it did. We must take a pretty realistic view of it. If, as a matter of fact, we were wrong, it is just as well to confess it.

I agree that at the moment there is not a great hope of getting the change we want. It is really quite useless to think that all the wrong is on the one side. I think that Russia has been completely wrong in the way she has used the Veto. I think that Russia is completely wrong in her obsession and fear—it is largely fear—of the West. I think the United States is wrong in her objection to putting China on the Security Council. I think we have a rather better balance in regard to these things—that may be merely a matter of national make-up. Obviously, we want the United Nations, and we must continue to work it. We can only hope that in time it may develop. But I certainly think that a time will come when there must be an overhaul. The Security Council was created at the end of the war. As was natural, the victors in the war were placed on the Security Council. The time must come when that situation must be reviewed. Since then, Asia has attained a much bigger position in the world than before. We have to get away from the old obsession that it is only Europe and people of European descent who matter in the world. China, certainly, and India, I think, must, in time, have a place on the Security Council. No doubt in time we shall also have to consider ex-enemy countries. Therefore, one ought to keep one's mind wide open to changes which are necessary.

I have seen a number of detailed proposals for changes in the Constitution of the United Nations. I do not believe in them much. One could have a wonderful Constitution, but Constitutions do not work unless people want them to work. Our Constitution could break down at dozens of points: it does not do so because we want to work it. Your Lordships' House could not work if it were not for the fact that we want to work it. The United Nations' Constitution does not work logically one bit. Therefore, I think one must view this matter with a calm and judicial air, and must not expect the United Nations to achieve wonders all at once. Progress has been made. After all, there has been great progress in those parts of the organisation of which we hear least—that is, all the non-military and non-quarrelsome parts. That is something to build on.

The actual Motions before us call attention to certain defects. They are there; and I do not think they are the only defects. Therefore, as I say, we have got to work at it. But fundamentally, as things are to-day, the United Nations must depend primarily on its effect on public opinion. Let us remember that, in all the years during which it has been operating, public opinion behind the Iron Curtain has practically never been able to express itelf. Now, a breach has been made there. One has at last begun to get expressions of opinion from people behind the Iron Curtain; and if that relaxation continues, so much the greater will be the effect and influence of the United Nations. As to the rivalry between the Assembly and the Security Council, I do not think there is a serious difficulty there. One thing we should beware of is this tendency to think of the United Nations as a kind of parallel to Parliament. That is perfectly ludicrous. You could not work it, even if you had a vote such as we have at the Labour Party Conference in which the trade unions stand for so many hundreds of thousands of members; it is impossible to equate the different parallels and allocate a vote. It is quite useless to think that you can act by a meticulous consideration of votes and small majorities. It is only when you get a large consensus of opinion that you get something really effective.

My final point is this. Among other matters brought up to-day has been the subject of an International Police Force. I remember being most enthusiastic for that idea in between the wars. Lord Davies carried on a great agitation for that, and I was pleased to associate myself with it. I have always believed that that should be done, and I opposed the kind of criticism made by people who said that you could not get a composite force made up of people speaking different languages. Of course, in the war we had a demonstration of what could be done, by that remarkable army under General Alexander in Italy. Since then, we have had examples of it by what has been done in Korea, and to-day in the Near East. It can be done, and it is a great object lesson.

We have to get away from nationalist rivalries, and have people belonging to a force which is quite definitely serving the cause of peace and humanity, and not one individual interest. Therefore, while I do not profess to suggest for a moment that any major conflict could be settled by an International Force, I believe that where difficulties arise such as we find in borderline places, where law and order have not always been stable, there would be a great advantage if an International Force could be sent to keep the peace, rather than a force belonging to one particular Power, because, whatever is happening in these areas, there is still the taint of imperialism. I remember particularly at the time of the Korean campaign stressing how important it was that any action taken there should command the assent of Asiatic as well as European Powers. That was done. I think, too, that in dealing with any of these minor disturbances we must be very careful that we do not have interference by some Power which, rightly or wrongly, is suspect. That was one of our troubles over Suez. I offer no more than these brief remarks to your Lordships. I think we need to have great patience. We cannot afford to scrap the United Nations. It may be years before we get effective peace, but, after all, we have had centuries of war.

5.30 p.m.


My Lords, I think I should begin by declaring an interest in this matter, because my pension as a former member of the International Court of Justice depends upon the budget of that Court, which budget forms part of the budget of the United Nations. Several aspects of this debate have gratified me very much. I should like to say a word or two about the proposal for a permanent United Nations Force, which was endorsed by two of the three noble Lords to whom we are indebted for this debate. I believe that such a Force could be created within the limits of the Charter and without breaking the law.

It is most illuminating to examine the process of the establishment of the United Nations Force that operated in the Middle East towards the end of last year and the beginning of this year. It will be noticed that the most meticulous care was taken, in communications between the Secretary-General and the Governments contributing contingents to that Force, to see that everything that was done was legal and constitutional. But the proposal now under consideration differs in one or two respects from the establishment of the Force of a few months ago. The proposal now is that the permanent Force should be formed not by the contribution of national contingents by different Governments but by means of voluntary and individual enlistment; and I attach great importance to that. I believe that we are much more likely to get the kind of men who are wanted in such a Force if they have personally enlisted in it and thus are volunteers in the true sense of the word.


My Lords, would the noble and learned Lord explain whether he means that the United Nations should have an air force and an army—armed forces—of its own and for which it pays? I am asking purely for information.


The proposal which has been made recently by a group of Members of this House and another place, and from all Parties or no Party, does not go to the extent indicated by the noble Earl. The suggestion for the moment is simply that there should be a lightly armed Force of some 20,000 men, available to be flown at short notice to any sensitive spot in the world—not that this Force should engage in warfare in the ordinary sense of the word. In the light of our experience of the last ten years, and indeed the years before that, one can easily imagine that it would be of great value to have a Force immediately available for the temporary occupation of a danger spot, pending, for instance, the conclusion of an armistice, the holding of a plebiscite or the reference of a dispute to some kind of pacific settlement. It was very gratifying to note that quite recently this proposal received a very encouraging response from the right honourable gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and having regard to the welcome that has emerged in so many speeches to-day, I sincerely hope that those who were responsible for putting forward this proposal will now study it even more closely and endeavour to ensure that it has the fullest consideration in the highest quarters.

If your Lordships will permit an obiter dictum, I must say a word or two about one statement made by the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, which rather surprised me. I am wondering whether he had firsthand information on the point. The noble Lord said that there was no auditing authority in the United Nations. I can speak only from my own first-hand experience in this regard. I know that when I was responsible for the budget of the International Court this question of the budget was each year a quite lengthy and substantial matter. In the first place, it was necessary to send a representative of the Court to appear before the appropriate committee of the Assembly which prepares the budget. There the representative of the Court would have to justify the various items for which he was asking. Secondly, it was necessary to have somebody present during the meeting of the Assembly to appear before the Finance Committee of the Assembly in order again to justify the contents of the budget. But thirdly—and perhaps most important—I recollect that each year the auditors visited The Hague; and they were not officials of the United Nations but responsible financial officials of the Member States who had been seconded for that purpose. Your Lordships will therefore understand my surprise on hearing that statement from the noble Lord. I have never examined the whole accounts of the United Nations. Indeed, my knowledge of accountancy is so slight that they would not convey very much to me.

Another gratifying thing about our debate so far has been the realisation of the fact (I hope I am not exaggerating) that the United Nations is not an external body, a foreign body, seeking to impose its will upon this country and others, but a body in the creation of which we have ourselves played a part. If I may say so it was very well described recently by the Prime Minister, when he said that, like any other human organisation, it is no more than the sum of its partners; and it is only the partners in this organisation which can improve it. It is a good thing that we should have an opportunity of doing a little stocktaking and considering in what way we can suggest improvements to our fellow partners, members in this organisation. I think it is quite possible to do that without holding a post-mortemon Suez, although it is inevitable that Suez should be in all our minds.

If we may attempt to construct a balance sheet of the United Nations in the light of the last twelve years, we find certain items on the credit side, and certain items on the other side, I hesitate to say as much as I should like to your Lordships upon the non-political work of the United Nations. Unfortunately, both nationally and internationally, political activities receive much more attention than the social work of Governments or of any organisation. But we cannot lose sight of the solid progress in these non-political activities that has been made by the United Nations in the last twelve years. I will mention one or two of them very briefly: the prevention of disease, such as malaria, and the improvement of health; the relief of poverty and destitution, particularly amongst refugees; and the control of evils such as the drug traffic and the white slave traffic.

And now I come to labour conditions. I consider that this has been one of the League of Nations and of the United Nations. At one time I had unusually good opportunities of observing the work of the International Labour Organisation. By a large number of Conventions, always preceded by most expert study and investigation, they are gradually enacting a labour code dealing with conditions of labour in the widest sense of the word, in which I include such things as maternity protection, prohibition of night work for women and children, fixing proper minimum ages for the entry into this or that kind of employment, labour inspection and so forth.

The reason why we in this country are so little aware of this aspect of the work of the International Labour Organisation is that most of it has consisted in levelling up labour conditions in industrially backward countries so as to be more approximate to the conditions that prevail in this I country and in half a dozen other of the leading industrial countries. But from the point of view of the workers in the industrially backward countries, I am quite persuaded that this Specialised Agency, the International Labour Organisation, which is, I believe, the only one that has I had a continuous existence since 1919, has brought untold benefits to millions of people who were too weak to do anything for themselves. I would willingly continue on that social theme, because I think it is so important, from the point of view of establishing the moral authority of the United Nations in the world, that there should be the greatest possible public realisation of what is being done in this unsensational social sphere.

I turn now to the debit side, the political side, the political side. There can be no doubt that the high hopes that were formed in 1945 have been deeply disappointed—one must be quite frank about that. I do not propose to deal with any particular incidents marking that decline of hope; I prefer to ask you to look at the three principal things that have brought about this decline. It was, as we all know, intended by the framers of the Charter that the eleven members of the Security Council, five of them permanent, should bear the main responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. But the discharge of that responsibility has been frustrated by three things: first, the absence of good relations between all the permanent members; and secondly, the abuse of what is commonly called the Veto, although I believe that word does not occur in the Charter but it is the popular method of describing the effect of the provision that in decisions in non-procedural matters there must be an affirmative vote of seven members, including the concurring votes of the permanent members. Your Lordships will notice that I have said "the abuse of the Veto" rather than "the existence of the Veto," because I should be very surprised indeed to see the great Powers join in eliminating this so-called Veto from the Charter altogether. And thirdly, there is the failure of the provision in the Charter which was designed to place armed force at the disposal of the Security Council for use with the assistance of its Military Committee. Those are, as I see them, the three main factors that have brought about this frustration of what we all regarded as the primary responsibility of the Security Council.

Those three things have produced a certain shift of the centre of gravity. I should like to explain that. As to the function of maintaining peace and security, the centre of gravity has been shifted from the Security Council to the Assembly and to regional organisations such as N.A.T.O., S.E.A.T.O., and so forth. As to sanctions for the power of the United Nations, the centre of gravity has shifted from military measures to public opinion—we had a striking demonstration of that not very long ago. One of the main ways in which this shift of the centre of gravity from the Security Council to the Assembly took place is to be found in what is popularly called the "Uniting for Peace" resolution. I do not propose to take up your Lordships' time by examining that resolution, but I would most earnestly direct your attention to what appears to me to be the clearest statement of this "Uniting for Peace" resolution that I have yet seen, and it occurs in the Report of the Proceedings of the Eleventh Session of the General Assembly, which was presented to Parliament within the last week or two. Your Lordships will find there Annex I entitled "Uniting for Peace Procedure" which gives a clear statement. It is interesting to note that Great Britain was one of the principal sponsors of the resolution that brought about this change, and we are told here that the views of the United Kingdom delegation were closely reflected in the resolution as adopted.

In spite of that frustration, I think any fair-minded person must agree that the Security Council, confronted by one acute problem after another throughout the last twelve years, has, nevertheless, been able, not by the exercise of force but by the exercise of powers of persuasion and negotiation, to bring a large number of those disputes to a successful conclusion, and has been doing precisely the sort of work that the Council of the League was doing. And it will be recollected that the Council of the League had no force at its disposal.

I think it very unlikely, as things stand at the present moment, that there can be any wholesale revision of the Charter. I do not doubt that Her Majesty's Government, who are keeping in close touch with their like-minded partners in the United Nations, will choose the right moment at which proposals for either minor or major revision of the Charter can take place. The framers of the Charter had the foresight to see that the Charter, like any other human document, could not remain unaltered for all time, and they made express provision for its revision after a period of ten years. But, of course, in the present political climate, it would be folly to attempt that.

My Lords, there are only one or two other things that I wish to say. I think your Lordships will all agree with me that the existence of eighty-one independent sovereign States without any closer and more effective organisation than exists to-day is a standing danger to the peace of the world, and that no person of good will can or ought to relax efforts to do everything in his power to make that organisation closer and more effective.

There is one aspect of the Charter (and this is my final point) that has been borne in upon me in my contacts with many foreign colleagues, and I do not think it is fully realised in our own country. We in this country have no written Constitution: there is no single document to which we can look as enshrining our liberties and our main purposes. But though I, for my part, believe that the relevant Statutes and Case Law and constitutional conventions, which together make up our Constitution, suit us better than a written Constitution would, nevertheless the majority of the inhabitants of this world think otherwise, and in most countries there is a single document which they call a Constitution. Notably is that the case in the United States, where, as your Lordships know, the Constitution is the subject of deep reverence. Children receive instruction upon it in the schools, and it occupies a unique position in the general make-up of the ordinary American citizen.


It gets them into great difficulties at times.


The result of that habit of looking upon a Constitution in that way is that the Charter, with all its imperfections, is looked upon by large numbers of people as a Constitution for the nations of the world.

That habit of mind, that way of looking at the Charter, has produced that degree and that kind of devotion and emotion which in those countries habitually surround their Constitution. Possibly our nearest approach to it is the way we feel about Magna Carta and the Writ of Habeas Corpus. But that widespread devotion to the Constitution is a fact that we cannot afford to forget. And now that the legal ties between the members of the British Commonwealth are weakening, the Charter seems to me to be assuming a new importance for us in our relations with our fellow members of that Commonwealth. Here we have a legal tie with them, in this common membership in the United Nations; and. looking ahead, it seems to me that we are not likely to be able to get the fullest measure of co-operation with our fellow Commonwealth countries, and with the United States of America, unless we can adopt something of that attitude towards the Charter of the United Nations as a Constitution.

One thing we all seem to be clear about; that is, that the United Nations is quite indispensable. No one has proposed that we should leave it. I would go further and say that I think it would be a disaster, both for us and for the United Nations, if we were to give the impression that we were dragging our feet in our allegiance to it and our co-operation with it. It has been very gratifying to me to hear so many noble Lords speaking in such a way that it is clear how important, both to us and to the United Nations, the continued support of this country is.

5.58 p.m.


My Lords, my first duty is to offer my profound apologies to the noble Earl who is to reply for the Government for my inability to be here at the close of the debate. When the date of the debate was changed from July 24 to July 25 it found me with an engagement in the country which I have to keep. In the circumstances, I can only offer my apologies and also thank the noble Earl opposite, Lord Lucan, who has so kindly allowed me to speak now. The noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, referred to the difficulties that the first three speakers had had, perhaps, in getting to grips with their problem. That all the more emphasises the difficulties that subsequent speakers have in delving into a rather large bran-pie.

So far as the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, is concerned, it dealt specifically with the case of the Middle East, and I should like to try to redirect our minds to the position of the United Nations in regard to both the Israelis and the Arabs. It seems to me that the case is always presented as the United Nations operating so as to assist the Arab cause at the expense of the Israeli cause. To give but one example, the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, has said that the modern State of Israel was created by the United Nations. I submit that that is not quite correct. The United Nations created something considerably less than the modern State of Israel, which created itself in 1948. In fact, the United Nations created a partition, in November, 1947, which represents less than the modern State. That is an example of the way in which the operations of the United Nations are invariably interpreted as assisting the Arabs at the expense of the Israelis. If we were to delve farther back in history, I could quote some telling examples where the United Nations had operated to frustrate justice, as the Arabs interpret it. I suggest that when we attempt to show the United Nations as always acting to the detriment of Israeli interests, it operates as a boomerang.

I shall not attempt to follow the three noble Lords who, with far more authority than I can command, pushed deeply into the difficulties of the United Nations. We might remind ourselves that it is not so much the machinery which is at fault as the mechanics who work the machine; and if we were to follow that sidewalk off the main road, we should be in the realms of philosophy and metaphysics. So I do not propose to follow that kind of argument. I propose to confine myself to the issue, which has been referred to several times, of the prospect of a permanent United Nations Police Force and, secondly, to refer to a matter of theory, where it seems to me I shall be ploughing a completely lonely furrow and on which I would ask your Lordships to reserve judgment until we come to the way my mind operates on our association with the United Nations in future.

Whilst we all recognise the defects well enough, instinctively we regard the fortress as impregnable. I am going to put forward the view that in certain circumstances the fortress is not impregnable. I would put it this way. The noble Earl said that anyone who can deny the need for some such organisation is not a realist. I would put it in a different way, and say that we all recognise the need for such an organisation but that the realist may be the one who believes that the only way it can ever be effective is to make a fresh start. That is something a little different from what the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, referred to when he spoke of deliberate sabotage.

The idea of a United Nations permanent Police Force is of course as old as time. It owes much to Sully, King Henry of Navarre, and the late Mr. Davies, in our own country. It is one of those matters the logic of which is quite indisputable but the practical difficulties of which seem to me to be equally overwhelming. All the familiar analogies can be deployed: the policeman, the court, the criminal and his victim—I will not repeat them. I come straight to the practical creation of such a Force, and I take as the basis of my argument the Report, which has been referred to, of the Commission set up, under the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, under the auspices of Federal Union in combination with our own Parliamentary Group for World Government, which was published on May 27. I agree with much of that Report, which well repays reading, but I would select one or two points on which I am in disagreement.

As the noble and learned Lord, Lord McNair, reminded us, the Commission discussed whether the Force should take the form of contributions by national contingents or of individual enlistment, and they come down heavily on the side of individual enlistment—a view which the noble and learned Lord supports. High qualifications of education and character are advocated, and, wisely, it is laid down that no one member of the United Nations shall command more than 10 per cent. of the total Force, the idea being to obviate the possibility of the Force coming under the control of one particular Power. But the main argument they produced for such a Force, which seems to me to bear some resemblance to the French Foreign Legion, is that the withdrawal of a national contingent on instructions from its own Government would not arise, because in a system of individual enlistment the individual would be insulated from politics. I am not convinced by that argument. Certainly individuals can be isolated in time of peace, when they are training; but it seems to me that directly the Force is put into operation, a national Government could demand the withdrawal of individuals just as easily as it could demand the withdrawal of a national contingent.

Here we are up against the old type of problem in which the best is the enemy of the next best and the practical. We have to ask ourselves: "What works?". The fact is that in two world wars we have seen national contingents do not too badly. They won two world wars; and the same applied to Korea. To-day, the whole conception of the North Atlantic Treaty is based on national contingents. Anybody who visits Paris recognises quickly what a high degree of successful co-operation naticnal contingents have been able to reach. Even the much-maligned United Nations Emergency Force in Sinai, a modest and very cosmopolitan symbol of belated United Nations solicitude for international justice, was put on the ground within twelve days of the Canadian resolution of November 4 which was responsible for its creation. And though it may be said that that Force could be by-passed by either Israel or Egypt, supposing they so wished, since its inception there has been no major land incident in the Sinai Peninsula. I think the fair way to regard such a Force is to regard it as a 6 lb. baby which will one day, perhaps, grow into a vigorous adult.

I should like to comment on this question of the size of the Force. We have been reminded that the Commission concentrated on a small force of 20,000, because they foresaw that that was the only type of Force which the United Nations would be prepared to accept. I would suggest, however, that a large Force is not necessarily the answer, provided, as noble Lords have pointed out, that the Force set up can be moved into, or near to, the probable area of operations and can be interposed between prospective belligerents. If I may use an analogy, before it is born a baby hardly needs much force to stop it from being born; but once it is born, a much larger force is needed to prevent it from growing. My mind moves back to Palestine in 1948. At that time, if we had had a Force of some 15,000, well-led and well-trained, they would, apart from saving the life of a very gallant international servant, Count Bernadotte, in my opinion, have brought the whole of the Palestine situation under control. It is not so much the size of the Force as the representation in the background that matters, the knowledge that he who attacks the Force attacks the world.

I would criticise one feature of this interesting Report—that is, the presumption that a Force could enter a country only with the consent of the Power concerned. I am not quite sure whether the implication is "with the consent of" or "at the request of"; there is a subtle difference between the two. The situation, if it is "at the request of," is not so outrageous, because it could be argued that any real victim of aggression would not hesitate to invoke an international force to come to its aid.

But is that always the case? Suppose, for instance, that in the case of Suez we had not acted, and an Anglo-French force had not gone on to the Canal; and suppose that there had been an international force available to go: would Egypt have asked it to go? I very much doubt it. All the indications are that Egypt would have turned to her neighbours in the Arab League and would have far preferred their assistance to that of an international force. In other words, it is not sufficient, to my mind, to depend upon the invocation of aid by the State concerned. But, in any case, I submit that the whole concept of a force which has been set up by the United Nations being allowed in only on the consent of the nation concerned is also linked to the right to demand the same force to go out; and immediately you admit that, the Security Council, in its rôle of custodian of international peace and justice, becomes a mockery. I would say that a force which cannot be ordered in by the responsible United Nations authority is not worth the creation.

It is here that we face a dilemma. It is quite easy to create an effective and foolproof force, to organise it on a regional basis, and to have all the plans ready to bring it to any part of the world by air or sea. Any group of officers in the War Office or in the Imperial College could in a month or so thresh out a perfect plan on paper. But, when all that is done, are you going to risk placing that force at the disposal of an international dispensation in which international democracy has gone completely mad? By all means let us continue to think out ways and means of improving this force; let us recognise that the ideal is a force on the basis of individual enlistment. There will be other Koreas and other Suez situations, and it would be folly to abandon the idea of collective United Nations action. But let us remember the long-term problem implied in the prospects of its misuse, or a refusal of its use, by the wrong authority at the helm.

In conclusion, I would turn to the theoretical side and refer to my ideas of this long-term problem. To my mind, it all depends on a grave decision: are we going to view the future progress of the international family in terms of expediency or in terms of morality? If the former is to be the pattern of the future, then, remembering that the Charter revision requires separate ratification by eighty-one Powers, we can drift on for a century or so in coexistence, watching international injustice thrive in successive situations. I can give an example that passed unnoticed the other day but which is extremely significant. In April of this year the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, after much argument, adopted a quite innocuous resolution concerning the right of asylum of refugees in a foreign country—and, of course, the case of 120,000 Hungarian refugees was in mind. Hungary was not specifically mentioned in the debate, but the Soviet representative was quick to assume, and quite rightly, that Hungary had been in the mind of the Commission, and therefore proceeded completely to frustrate and obstruct the proceedings. I am sorry to say that he was supported by the Indian representative, and in the words of The Times this gentleman also objected that extraneous matters of political consideration should not be included in the resolution; and in a spirit of compromise the offending phrase"— that is, the phrase referring to Hungary— was eliminated. In other words, a moral issue—and let anybody who doubts that go and seek medical advice—was interpreted as a political issue at the behest of a minority of the Commission and was therefore discarded. Justice in terms of morality was negatived, and the compromise was hailed as a success.

My Lords, I submit that continued recognition of that kind of process is utterly degrading for a great Power to accept as a permanency; a Power which has twice in this century risked its existence in discarding expediency and supporting justice. So let us get the United Nations and its future clear in this matter of priorities. I would remind your Lordships that the Afro-Asian bloc and the East-European bloc to-day together command thirty-five votes, sufficient always to block a two-thirds majority. May I, in this situation, revert to a familiar analogy, often given, of the case of a kind of social club to which most of us belong, and I would put it in this way. In 1945 a club was formed and rules were framed for its conduct. Persistently, one influential member of the committee breaks the rules and persuades a number of others to do so with him.

What then happens in your normal social club? In normal conditions the members turn round and expel the offending member. But if the rules have been so framed as to make that explusion impossibie—and in this case it means that Article 18 of the Charter cannot be implemented, because you are never going to get your two-thirds majority—there is only one thing remaining to do in a normal club in our country, and that is for those members who agree that the rules have been broken to leave the club. The subsequent fate of the club may be a matter for regret, but the logic of placing your priorities in their right order, at least, would have been faced.

The United Nations is an instrument to protect principles, and if the instrument fails to protect principles, surely the thing to do is not to scrap the principles, but to scrap the instrument. I am not going so far as to say that the instrument can be scrapped; but what I will say is that if the members who feel that way leave the club, then something. happens: either the club reconsiders its rules or one may see some of these professional international negotiators, who "to and fro" around the world, trying to sort out these situations, get to work and try to persuade the members who have left the club to go back again. In those circumstances, they are in a fairly safe bargaining position to have the rules revised.

These views may seem hardly compatible with a Question that I have down for next week concerning the recall of the United Nations in the case of the Hungarian situation. I would submit that there is a clear line indicating a parting of the ways between a full use of the United Nations and pushing every issue you can lay your hands on into it by a decision when the thing is failing you; and therefore it is perhaps better to leave the club. It is the doubt and ambiguity of the qualified use, or merely using it because it is there, that seems to me so dangerous.

In effect, I am not suggesting the destruction of the Agencies. I am suggesting only a decision concerning the political machinery. I may have shocked some of your Lordships in doing so. If so, I ask those who dislike these harsh words about the United Nations to believe me if I claim that it is far easier to reconstruct from new foundations with no ties with a completely arbitrary kind of past, than to revise an existing failing organisation. The very conception of the Security Council with its "Big Five" is based on a purely arbitrary point in history. In another generation the children may come along and say. "Big Five? Who are they? Why are they?" The whole conception is purely arbitrary.

But do not let us necessarily scrap the Agencies which we have been reminded of, in the cultural and educational sphere, and so on. They have done excellent work. It may be that by keeping them sustained we may find common ground, and perhaps in time the political issues may be overshadowed. Conversely, I suggest that if every time we meet on the political level we disagree, might it not be better not to meet for a time? We should then revert to a laissez faire kind of system, of friends and groups of friends, seeking themselves out, on an international scale, in the kind of game which we used to play as children, known as General Post.

I have not forgotten that the policy of the great United States, implicit in the formula, "Action through and in complete support of", faces up to no question of any showdown. I have also not forgotten that perhaps the question of the admission of Communist China is involved. If I were to follow those two particular alleys we should be talking about other things. I think it was Palmerston who said that we have no permanent friends, only permanent interests. All I have hoped to show is that our permanent interests and the defence of permanent principles are indissolubly linked and inseparable.

6.23 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to deal with only one aspect of this subject, and I rise as a substitute, because my noble friend Lord Pakenham is the person who is, above all others, qualified to talk about the question of a permanent Force for the United Nations. My noble friend was Chairman of a Commission which was set up by Federal Union to study this question. I think your Lordships should know something of the composition of this Commission, because it was a remarkable essay in all-Party agreement. There were members of the House of Commons; Admiral Hughes-Hallett was Vice Chairman; and there were two Conservative Members and two Labour Members. The noble Lord, Lord McNair, gave his advice. Major-General Lyric, the Chairman of the United Nations Association, was a member, as was Captain Liddell Hart. The Commission, moreover, had the advice of many highly qualified officers and ex-officers of the Services.

The noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, gave his views and his criticisms on the proposals for a permanent light Force published by this Commission. The short answer to his criticism is: What more would it be possible to get at the present time? Admittedly, such a Force would in no sense be a means of asserting the authority of the United Nations against opposition, but how many Powers in this world at the moment would give up their sovereignty to the extent of allowing foreign troops on their soil? There is no country, our own not excepted, which I believe would go to those lengths towards world government and the rule of law. We all hope to get there some day, but the study that has been made was done on strictly realistic lines, on the grounds that something in the nature of a token force, or a symbol of United Nations opinion, is better than nothing at all.


Could the noble Earl tell me whether the Commission studied what is the existing situation, as I understand it—that is, that under the Charter as it is at present nations are in a position to earmark certain contingents to be available to deal with an international situation? That was, I think, the original conception. Is that, in the view of the Commission, not sufficient?


I was directing myself more to the noble Lord's complaint that the Force would depend upon the consent or the invitation of the country concerned. The Commission considered carefully the composition of the Force. They weighed up the alternative methods of composing it, either by individual enlistment or by national quotas. The conclusion to which they came was that the individual enlistment offered the best prospects.

I think I should explain what the proposals were. They have been referred to by nearly all noble Lords who have spoken, and referred to almost without exception with approval. We know that the Foreign Secretary, in another place on July 10, expressed agreement with the principle, and hoped that further studies would go on and that the idea would be widely canvassed. There has just come into my hands an important piece of information from the United States on the subject. I am informed that on July 9 the Foreign Relations Committee of the American Senate reported favourably to the Senate on a Bill to express the sense of the Senate that the United States should support the creation of a permanent United Nations Force. The sponsors were Senators of both parties, and from several States. We also hear that the Carnegie Endowment has set up a project to study a permanent United Nations Force, and they expect to issue a report in a few months. None of these reports is final and definitive. They are all searching for something that will lead us a short way on the road to the rule of law in the world. So it is of the greatest importance that the studies, such as they are, have received so much approval from such authoritative quarters.

Briefly, the scheme which was evolved by this all-Party Commission took as its starting point the present United Nations Emergency Force. They proposed that this should be replaced by a permanent force of a moderate size—a total of 20,000 is envisaged, in order to cope with two emergencies at a time, each requiring about 10,000 men. The crux of the matter, the vital point of the proposal, is that this should not be a fighting force—let us get that clear. My own view is that the fact that it is not a fighting force should be made clear by its title, and I think some such title as "Constabulary" or "Gendarmerie" would be much better than calling it a "Force", which may be thought to be a fighting force.

The whole point of this idea is that, for a variety of reasons which would take too long to go into, it is impossible, in the international climate at the present moment, to envisage a Force under United Nations control capable of engaging in hostilities with any national organised armed force. That is the basis of it. It is not what we like, of course, but I submit that in the present situation it is the best we can hope for. Therefore the force would have nothing more than personal arms, light automatics, lightly armoured vehicles, and light reconnaissance aircraft; no offensive weapons. They would be capable of defending themselves against attack, individually or by small units, but would not be capable of engaging, and would not be intended to engage, organised armed forces.

The question of direct recruiting is also one that would take far too long to go into; but the conclusion the Commission came to was that individual recruitment was likely to produce the best men and would run less risk of hostility or bad feeling between nations having national quotas; and that, in short, it would be the best starting point for the idea of an international Force which we visualise. The point which the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, made, about individuals being under the power of their own Government is, I think, met by the proposal that while under contract of service to this Force members would suspend their own nationality; in other words, they would cease to be citizens of any national State and would become citizens of the United Nations. They could resume their national rights when on leave, going home or after retirement. The finances for this Force, like that of the Specialised Agencies, would come from quotas from Member States.

The control of the Force is obviously one of the most important things about it. It would have to be constituted by the General Assembly and the Security Council, under a permanent Statute setting up a Military Council; and it would be the Military Council which would directly control the force. Members of the Military Council would be elected by the General Assembly and by the Security Council from a list of candidates nominated by the Secretary-General. As the noble Lord, Lord McNair has told us, there is no legal or constitutional objection to that proposal; no amendment of the Charter would be necessary.

Now as to the use to which this force could be put: a number of cases have been quoted by noble Lords, but it is obviously an instrument that could be interposed in any area which was likely to become an area of conflict. It could, by the consent of one of both neighbouring countries, occupy or garrison one or both sides of a frontier line—a disputed frontier or one on which hostilities were likely. It could occupy areas that were in dispute or where disturbances were likely to occur, and although, as I have said, the Force would not be designed to take on, or capable of taking on, a national army, the mere fact of its presence there would cause a temporary lessening of tension and lowering of the temperature, and remove fear from the country that considered itself in danger. It would allow time for negotiations to take place and a political settlement to be arrived at.

The Military Council, as intended in the scheme, would be separate from both the Security Council and the General Assembly and would therefore not be subject to the Veto. The Commission looked ahead, of course, to the ideal of the future, which would be a situation in which the United Nations had power in its hands and in which all power resided in the United Nations. But that is so far in the future that it is really beyond the scope of our thoughts now. Similarly with a medium-sized Force capable of fighting small nations. Either of those, it seems to me, is so far in the future that we need not concern ourselves with them at the moment. Briefly, my Lords, this Force would be symbolic of public opinion as expressed in the United Nations; and, as a number of noble Lords have said, this public opinion does count in the world to-day. If this Force were placed in areas of dispute or areas of conflict, it would be a token, and anyone who attacked the Force would be attacking the world. It is not what we should like, but it is something; and I submit that if it succeeded it would in the short term remove fear and suspicion, and in the long term would certainly generate some confidence for the future rule of law in the world.

6.40 p.m.


My Lords, I should like, first of all, also to apologise to the noble Earl who is going to reply for the fact that I shall be unable to be here to listen to him. I, too, have been slightly put out by the change of date, and I have to take a train to Scotland in the early evening. I hope he will forgive me. I should like to add my thanks to those of other noble Lords to the noble Lords who put these Motions on the Order Paper for to-day, because I feel that this debate has been of great value in clearing our minds about the United Nations. I venture to make a few brief comments only because I spent some four or five months in New York last winter as a member of the British delegation to the Assembly.

The Motions before your Lordships' House to-day illustrate, I think, in their different ways, what is a very general and justified sense of disquiet at the way in which the United Nations is fulfilling—or rather, perhaps, is not fulfilling—the functions for which it was set up. And it is indeed quite obvious, as many noble Lords have already pointed out, that it has so far been frequently unable to implement its resolutions or enforce its authority. For myself, I believe that this chronic impotence has two fundamental causes. The first, I think, comes from the existing balance of authority as between the Security Council and the General Assembly. As your Lordships have heard, that, paradoxically enough, has come about from an attempt at improvement. I am referring to the "Uniting for Peace" resolution which was agreed to in 1950, by which the General Assembly was enabled to meet and call for collective action in matters where the Security Council was not able to act. The events of the last year have, I think, shown that this well-meaning bird has come home to roost and that the Assembly itself is really no effective substitute for the Security Council.

Apart from the Anglo-French withdrawal at Suez, which was a voluntary action, the chief achievement of the General Assembly, as has already been pointed out by many noble Lords, has been the creation of the United Nations Force; but it is in general equally recognised, I am sure, in the body of the United Nations as well as outside, that Assembly resolutions are nearly always ignored or set aside; and, in any case, as noble Lords will know, they are not legally binding. But I think also that this unreal authority with which the Assembly has been invested since 1950 has given rise to other problems. In the first place, it has inevitably led to a strengthening of the position and authority of the Secretary-General.

This may not be a bad thing in itself, but I feel that there is a danger that the Secretary-General is likely to become a kind of world Foreign Secretary, because he is inevitably charged with implementing the resolutions that are passed by the General Assembly. I myself feel that, with the already crushing burden of administrative and routine work that the Secretary-General has on his shoulders, and for which I am sure he deserves the highest praise, it is too much that Mr. Hammarskjoëld should be asked to undertake delicate and difficult diplomatic missions which, in any case, are frequently too broad in scope for any one human being.

Secondly, your Lordships' attention has been drawn to the fact that what I may call the bloc system has been increasing. I am sure that this is due to the fact that voting in the General Assembly has assumed more importance, the result, of course, being that the deadlock between the various blocs has frequently been almost as bad as the Veto. The greatest possible difficulty has been found in getting the necessary two-thirds majority, and this has generally been only at the price of great bargaining and haggling to reach a compromise. I think that there is ground for hope that the rigidity of the bloc system may have already reached its highwater mark. I quite agree with one noble Lord who said that we can expect no change in the attitude of the Soviet bloc, but the Latin Americans are to a certain extent under the influence of the United States.

I think that the Afro-Asian bloc is not necessarily bound to remain unanimous. For one thing, it contains the largest proportion of the new member States. I think that, of the last seventeen, twelve or thirteen are members of the Afro-Asian bloc and, like all new boys, they tend to band together to seek strength. I think that time will alter this. In addition, I feel that the Afro-Asian bloc is held together primarily by colour bars, which give it a tendency to be emotionally anti-white, a tendency which is sometimes described more conveniently as "anti-colonial". It comprises so many different races, creeds, strains, stresses and shades of colour that I do not think there is any reason to suppose that ultimately the coloured peoples will be any more unanimous than the white peoples have been.

So, to minimise so far as possible these factors, I would agree that the Assembly should return to its original rôle as more of a forum for debate, exchange of views and the making of recommendations on world problems. I think it has a value as a minor of world opinion. I feel, for instance, that its reactions both to Suez and to Hungary last year were on the whole fairly representative. Attention was drawn the other day—I think it was by Mr. Menzies of Australia—to the fact that the Assembly should get a little more order into its proceedings. I would agree that it is certainly unwieldy, cumbersome and undisciplined. But it must also be borne in mind that there are eighty-one member States in it. The majority of them are small countries and, as I think has already been pointed out, their financial contribution is small and their sense of responsibility is about proportionate to it. Some of them have no experience whatsoever of democratic government. Therefore, while I would join the plea for better organisation and ordering of the Assembly's own internal affairs, I should like your Lordships also to remember that it has taken several centuries for this country to evolve its disciplined Parliamentary system, and a great many heads have rolled in the process. I think it would be too much to hope for overnight perfection from the General Assembly of the United Nations.

To return to the original conception of the Assembly's function in the United Nations, I would suggest, presupposes the re-establishing of the Security Council as the centre of United Nations authority. Of course, I recognise that here at once we are up against the crux of the whole problem, which is the Veto. I would agree that at present there seems to be little or no chance of getting agreement on any alteration of the Charter with respect to the Veto. Nevertheless, I feel that, in principle, the ideas of the founders, the originators or the creators of the United Nations were right—I speak of the principle of having the Security Council as the executive authority. For one thing, its resolutions have legal force; for another, it is a smaller and. one hopes, therefore, a less emotional and more efficient body. Of course, one must recognise that if things really come to a showdown it is going to be the great Powers that have the say in what is going to happen, and those great Powers are to be found among the five permanent members of the Council. In addition, I hope it is not being unduly optimistic, or indulging in wishful thinking, to suggest that the present ideological lineup as between the East and the West may not persist for ever, and that there is hope that one day the Veto will prove less paralytic than it has in the past.

I was sorry to hear from the noble Earl, Lord Gosford, that the negotiations regarding an increase in the size of the Security Council had broken down. I feel there is quite a strong case for this. After all, since it was founded the United Nations has increased by, I think, thirty member States, and I feel that a limited and balanced increase in the size of the Security Council would be logical. I should not like to think that the end has been heard of this matter—I doubt whether it has been, just as I doubt whether the admission of Red China to the United Nations has died a natural death. But I agree that the two are probably bound up together.

So far, I have tried, briefly but I am afraid inadequately, to analyse from what I saw out there some of the reasons for the past and present ineffectiveness of the United Nations. Noble Lords have touched on various matters by which the situation could be improved, and I would agree with them. The first concerns the United Nations Force. I am not going into this any more; we have heard quite a lot about it to-day from a wealth of expert knowledge and in detail. I would only say that I hope that the Force will be developed. I think it is very important that there should be some sign of the visible authority of the United Nations, and I also feel that it could have great use in different parts of the world, not so much in preventing fighting but in calming down passions to enable quarrels and disputes to be worked out in a less highly charged atmosphere.

I think difficulties will be run into over the question of payment of the Force. I must confess that when I was in New York last winter there was quite a lot of difficulty concerning the payment of the existing Force, and I think that any increase in it, and in its rôle, is going to mean trouble. However, I think it is a duty on all member States to do everything they can to ensure its continuance and its growth. Secondly, I believe that the influence of the Commonwealth delegations in New York can be of great value. In so far as the Commonwealth contains States and Nations spread all over the world, who share to a large degree common and, it is to be hoped, stable political conditions and symptoms, it gives a unique example of how the bloc system can be cut across and how to tackle the more wild emotions which are to be found in New York.

I was very glad frequently to attend meetings out there of all the Commonwealth delegations, at which current problems were discussed and, so far as possible, common policies agreed upon. I thought that was a wonderful example of the kind of global co-operation which could usefully be extended to other nations in the United Nations. But everything that I have said in the long run depends really on the attitude of each individual member of the United Nations. So long as there are members who treat it cynically, as nothing more than a political platform, I feel that it must make a sham of co-operation. So long as there are delegates who treat it or use it for their own publicity, with an eye on their political reaction at home, it remains what it has been described as—a talking shop, with a premium on hot air. So long as there are States who attempt to use the United Nations for what they can get out of it irrespective of what they contribute, any attempt to improve its efficiency must, to a large degree, be a waste of time. I am sure it is obvious to your Lordships, as it was to me, sitting in the debates in New York, that there is a fair proportion of such offenders. Admittedly, any huge human gathering presupposes, to a certain extent, such failings, but I think we have the right to try to see that they are minimised so far as possible. At the same time, I think we must recognise that the United Nations comprises many States and individuals who are tirelessly and selflessly trying to make it work, and I think they deserve all our support and, indeed, our gratitude.

The noble Earl, Lord De La Warr has already, I think, paid a tribute to the permanent British delegation there and I should like wholeheartedly to support him in that. I feel I may have strayed somewhat outside the terms of the Resolution and the Motions on the Order Paper. If so, I must apologise. But I feel very strongly that the United Nations is an experiment which is worthy of civilised peoples. The opportunities it gives for human contacts are of inestimable value and, with all its faults, it is the most remarkable and exciting and, I feel, potentially useful attempt at international co-operation and understanding that the world has yet seen. I feel that it is almost the duty of the more mature of its members, like ourselves, to take the lead in trying to attempt to realise the ideals and aims which inspired its creators. At the same time, anybody who has had experience of working in the organisation realises how far short it falls of the hopes and trust that world opinion placed in it at the beginning. If it is a deterrent to war, it is not the only deterrent. I think that while it is essential that we should never regard it as a substitute for foreign policy or for other deterrents to war—atomic weapons, regional pacts and military alliances—we must, I venture to say, at the same time set about doing all we can to improve it.

6.59 p.m.


My Lords, I wish for one moment to refer to the Motion of the noble Earl, Lord Dundee. This states that Israel withdrew from Gaza and Aqaba without any guarantee against future aggression and interference with shipping. That is, of course, the case—without any written guarantee. But my recollection of the events at that time is that words were used which might very well have given Israel the impression that, were she to become the victim of aggression or interference with her shipping, she would receive support from the United Nations, and could safely rely upon that support.


My Lords, my Motion is intended to imply that, and to condemn the United Nations for not implementing their unwritten guarantee.


My Lords, that was my impression, but I am sure the noble Earl will not mind my emphasising that point; it was my only reason for referring to it. The noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, in opening his remarks, apologised for the fact that he would have to use a great many platitudes. That cannot be helped, of course, for all the great truths have long ago been enshrined in platitudes and it is impossible to debate such a matter as this without using them. To my mind, the only difference that exists is that some people detest platitudes and use all their ingenuity to avoid usirg them, while others find, in well-worn platitudes. a convenient refuge from the tiresome business of having to think.

The main fact underlying this debate on the United Nations is that law can exist on an international scale only if an international will to obey the law exists; but as things are I fear that it is not respect for law, but only political and economic considerations, which prevail. Military, economic or financial might seems to me to "rule the roost". I believe it would be foolish to deceive ourselves on this point. No country is guided by morality where its national interests are affected. Foreign policies are certainly not decided upon a basis of moral principles, and we only deceive ourselves if we are so foolish as to think they are. When foreign policies are so decided we shall have reached a stage in civilisation where force and such institutions as the United Nations can be dispensed with; but we are still a very long way from that stage. We are really only at the stage where some nations are perhaps slightly better principled than others. The whole international system to-day is an affair of control by force in one form or another. To believe otherwise is hypocrisy and, I am sorry to say, very often it is, in some months, unctuous hypocrisy. There was a time when the British Navy controlled matters. That time is over, and now it is the American dollar which has replaced the British Navy as the controlling force in the world.

I hope I am not too much of a pessimist in saying that I am not even sure that we are progressing towards a higher stage of civilisation. I would say that all we are doing is to run very fast indeed in the hope of remaining where we are and not slipping still further back. To imagine that the United Nations has moved us further forward on the road to civilisation is, I believe, a delusion. If United Nations countries respected the Charter, there would be no need for the United Nations. Progress will be effected only by recognising these rather unpalatable facts and looking them in the face. One depressing thing about the United Nations is that some if its own members have little respect for the Charter. For instance, Chapter XII of the Charter established a system of international trusteeship, and Article 77 said that that system should apply to territories held under mandate. Well, South Africa held South-West Africa under mandate and the International Court of Justice has ruled that South Africa is bound to render to the United Nations annual reports on South-West Africa. But South Africa consistently defies this ruling and renders no reports; and the Union of South Africa has enacted legislation which, in effect, makes South-West Africa a fifth Province of the Union. Some of these countries which have lately become members of the United Nations are not likely to have much respect for the Charter when they see a member of the Commonwealth disregarding the Charter in such a manner.

As regards the enforcement of United Nations decisions, it is the case that, if the Security Council arrives at a decision for the maintenance of peace, then, by Article 25 of the Charter, members must agree to carry it out. Article 42 assumes the existence of a Force for this purpose, yet no such Force has existed from the time that the Charter was adopted; and, in any case, even the making of an appeal to Member States to assist in, the enforcement of a decision can be vetoed in the Security Council. So long as the United Nations disposes of no forces for use by the Security Council, the United Nations has to depend upon the response by States to an invitation to act. And we have seen what happens when such invitation is issued. At the time of Korea, one country responded, I believe, by supplying a stretcher to the Korean force.

There again, while we have heard this afternoon about the constitution of a United Nations International Force, it must be remembered that no such force could be constituted without some sacrifice of national sovereignty; and to the best of my recollection (and I have tried to read these things as closely as I can) the Veto was enshrined in the Charter because of this very principle of national sovereignty. It was put into the Charter so that no nation should be compelled to put its armed forces at the disposal of another nation without its agreement. I believe that to be the reason why the Veto exists to-day. We have heard about the institution of a Force for the United Nations—that has been very clearly set out to-day by my noble friend Lord Lucan. I doubt the possibility—and I believe other noble Lords have expressed the same doubt—about the setting up of a fighting force. I doubt whether, at best. we could get any further than the establishment of a gendarmerie; but even a gendarmerie would be capable of acting as the voice of civilised opinion in the case of an aggression or of provoked trouble—and that itself would have value. As we have heard to-day, however, the idea of a permanent Force is in the air and it has met with quite a wide measure of agreement. I am sure that it is well worth while to continue the investigation into that idea to see if we can get some distance with it.

On the question of reform, the British and Canadian Governments are agreed upon the need to strengthen and improve the working of the United Nations as an instrument for preserving peace with justice". We can all agree, but the question is: how is this attractive aphorism to be converted into constructive policies? What has happened up to date has not been very encouraging. At San Francisco in 1945 great importance was attached to provision being made in the Charter for changes in the Charter in the light of experience. So strongly was that felt that it was laid down that such a review was automatically to be placed on the agenda in 1955 and that (this is the important point) the Veto was not to apply to this being done; no Veto was to prevent that. In 1953, Mr. Dulles described the Charter as a pre-atomic Charter and said the United States would press for amendments when the matter came up, if it did come up, in 1955. I think it was clear that he wanted to restrict the use of the Veto by making the admission of new members and the election of the Secretary-General" nonvetoable", if I may coin such a phrase. But amendments of such a nature as that, amendments of the nature that Mr. Dulles had in mind, are themselves subject to the Veto, and there could be no hope of any such amendments being carried, because the Russians have made it clear that they would allow no tampering with (these are their words) "the sacred principle of unanimity."

The question of review, of course, came up in 1955. It came up, as it happened, after the "love feast" at Geneva, and believing the Russian smiles to have been genuine, nobody at the United Nations wanted to deal with this thorny subject of review. So approval was given to the idea of a review conference, but that it should not be held until the international atmosphere was auspicious. I remember that Admiral Fisher was fond of signing his letters "Yours till Hell freezes", and I think the international situation seems likely to become auspicious somewhere about the same time. As things are at present, postponement is the order of the day.

As well as the amendments affecting the Security Council, there has been brought under fire the "one-nation one-vote" principle in the Assembly. There is a move for weighted voting in the Assembly. I do not think the small nations will give up their votes, any more than Russia will give up her Veto; and as regards enlarging the membership of the Security Council, all I would say is: enlarge it to any number you like, but the Russian Veto will still remain. However large you make the Security Council, you do not affect the Russian Veto. But I think there may be some advantage in enlarging the Security Council, because a larger vote, a heavier vote, against Russia in the Security Council would emphasise her intransigence. But the snag in these things is that no amendments can become effective without the agreement of all the great Powers. I think that on this question of reform we may leave the last word to The Times, which, in a very sane and sensible leader on June 3, said this: The United Nations Committee which meets to-day to see if there is any hope of improving the Charter might just as well try to get a little order into the weather or the new influenza epidemic. Radical cures for the Charter are unlikely because the Communist block is content enough with it as it is. I think that is the last word for the moment on the question of reform.

My Lords, I want, in conclusion, to call attention to what I think is a matter of real importance. The fact is that the centre of gravity of the United Nations has now shifted to the neutralist Afro-Asian countries, with the admission of twenty-one new members in December, 1955. This Afro-Asian bloc totals over a third of the United Nations membership. It can block any policy recommendation of the Assembly. With the ten Communist members, it musters about half the total membership, and it may also at times enjoy, as it has done, the support of the Latin-American nations. That is the state of affairs to-day. The centre of gravity has shifted, and the United States, after having controlled almost every Assembly before the package deal in December, 1955, has had since to give up on the Middle East and leave it to "George"—"George" being the Secretary-General. I imagine that the popularity which the United Nations has enjoyed in the United States has been conditional upon the United States having its own way; and we must now see what is the effect in the United States of this shift in the weight of voting.

My Lords, Soviet Russia reckons on this rift in the non-Communist world to swing the balance against the Atlantic Alliance. An illustration of this rift is that France maintains that the United Nations has no right to discuss Tunisia, whilst the Arab-Asian countries maintain that this is an international question. So far as I can make out, the American line in this situation has been to say "Let Tunisia be discussed, but let nothing come of the discussion except words requiring no action". I believe that this is likely to make the Tunisian situation worse, and not better. We must face it: things have been going badly with the United Nations. In America, people are not only asking, "Can it survive?" but voices have been raised asking whether it ought to survive. There is a widening gulf between the North Atlantic democracies and the nations of Asia and Africa, and the endeavours of the Atlantic nations to maintain themselves in these Asian and African nations result in expensive, exhausting and discouraging conflicts.

If my voice could reach so far, there is one word, in conclusion, that I would address to the smaller nations. It has been said to-day that the "wangling" and the wrangling and the lobbying which go on at the present moment in the United Nations are something that have to be witnessed to be believed. I have paid two visits there, and it is impossible to speak too harshly about the lobbying and "wangling" that goes on. I wish someone whose voice could reach so far would point out to the smaller nations that they have got far more to gain by the existence of the United Nations in health and vigour than they have to gain by exploiting some given opportunity which presents itself. It is not enough for the United Nations to table a resolution merely because the majority will vote for it. A vote should be a commitment to action, action which ought to continue until a solution is achieved. A vote is only a vote and nothing more, in a question involving peace or war, and a vote of such a nature is only irresponsible. But I feel that reform of the United Nations must come from within, and if the Western Powers are to maintain their influence in the United Nations it can be only for two reasons: that their policies outside the United Nations stand for right things, and that their military and economic strength is maintained. Only upon those two conditions can the Western Powers maintain their influence in the United Nations.

7.20 p.m.


My Lords, it is perfectly natural that informed British opinion should be deeply interested in the proceedings of the United Nations and should keep an attentive eye upon its shortcomings, because it is a fact that the United Nations, like the League of Nations before it, owed much in its inception to British initiative and British political conceptions. British opinion is, therefore, naturally disturbed when it finds that the United Nations is not succeeding in fulfilling its two main, twin and inseparable objects—first, to maintain international peace and security and, secondly, to safeguard justice. The United Nations, as the noble Lord, Lord McNair, has very rightly emphasised, is doing admirable and quite indispensable work in the social and economic sphere, but in its main objects, which are political, it is not succeeding, and the three Motions before the House to-day are, it seems to me, symptomatic of this present disquiet about this situation.

The Motion of the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, refers generally to certain defects in the working of the United Nations. The noble Earl, Lord Dundee, and the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, are more specific. Lord Dundee points to lack of impartiality on the part of the United Nations and a failure, therefore, to do justice as between one member and another. And I think that that charge is justified, both in the particular case which he mentioned and also in a more general way. Lord Glyn, for his part, has drawn attention to a point of some importance—namely, the lack of clarity as to the respective powers and functions of the Security Council and the General Assembly. I think that this lack of clarity is regrettable, but I do not agree with him in thinking that it is a danger to peace. In any event, it is a highly complex question. It may be said, however, that if there is uncertainty in these matters—and I think there is—this is due, in some part at any rate, to the fact that, in order to adapt the practice of the United Nations to the conditions of the world in which we live, the Charter has been somewhat stretched—I do not say violated, but somewhat stretched.

One stretch to the Charter was given when the so-called "Uniting for Peace" procedure was adopted by the General Assembly in 1950. Under the Charter, as has been explained already this afternoon, members of the United Nations agree to carry out decisions of the Security Council, even when those decisions are taken by a majority vote of only seven out of the eleven members. But there is a proviso that on non-procedural matters these seven votes must include the votes of all five Permanent Members of the Council. This is the so-called "Great Power Veto": it is the safeguard that is provided, or, if you will, the price that is paid, for the power of the Council to take enforceable majority decisions, a power which was not possessed by the Council of the League of Nations. It is an innovation introduced in the United Nations Charter, and to my mind it is a reasonable provision. I think that as certain other noble Lords (the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, was one of them) have said, without the Veto we should certainly not have had the United Nations under its present Charter, because without it neither the United States nor the Soviet Union would have joined the United Nations.

Let us note, as has been said by the noble Lord, Lord McNair, that it is not the existence of the Veto but the abuse of the Veto by the Soviet Union that has crippled the Security Council, and reduced it, to a large extent, to impotence. This, as was explained by Lord McNair, is the reason for the adoption of the "Uniting for Peace" procedure. That procedure, approved by the Assembly itself, enables the General Assembly, acting by a two-thirds majority, to exercise some of the Security Council's responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security, even to the extent of recommending extreme measures in defence of the Charter—in other words, sanctions. But these will be recommendations only. Members of the United Nations will not be obliged to comply with them. But the expectation of those who framed the "Uniting for Peace" procedure was that, given a two-thirds majority, the members of the United Nations chiefly concerned would probably comply. The Russians said that all this was quite illegal. It was, they alleged, amending the Charter by Assembly resolution. And there are some authorities in other countries who think that the "Uniting for Peace" procedure was a departure from the intentions of the makers of the Charter, and that the right of the Assembly even to recommend sanctions is disputable. However that may be, the "Uniting for Peace" procedure has itself broken down in the aftermath of the Suez affair, and the Charter has had to be given yet another stretch.

Just as the Security Council has been crippled by the Soviet Veto, so the action of the General Assembly under the "Uniting for Peace" procedure has been frustrated by the power of members of the Afro-Asian Group, with their Communist associates, to prevent the passage, by the necessary two-thirds majority, of any Assembly resolution unpalatable to one of themselves. So a new device was adopted, a new, small stretch to the Charter. The only way to get any action taken at all in the circumstances was to enlist the services of the Secretary-General, to request the Secretary-General to make recommendations for action, giving him general terms of reference, and requiring him to report back to the Assembly within a stated period of time. And even the Secretary-General's operations had to be supplemented by the action of individual Governments through diplomatic channels. In this particular case of the Middle Fast it was the United States Government who undertook this duty, very helpfully but not altogether successfully.

This, my Lords, is a regrettable picture of the relapse of a great institution, and it may be asked, why has it happened so? It might be argued that the framers of the Charter set their sights too high. It it natural, but unfortunate, that the United Nations Charter, like the Covenant of the League of Nations, should have been drafted under stress of war: natural, because there was a desperate need on the part of the peoples of the world to avoid a repetition of the disaster of war; unfortunate, because in times of hardly bearable strain, governments and peoples are apt to give comprehensive and far-reaching undertakings which, later on, in more normal times, when the worst danger has passed, are found to be difficult, if not impossible, to fulfil. But as things have turned out, the sights have been set even higher than people thought. Two things which have since happened have upset all calculations. As Lord Dundee has pointed out, one is the polarisations of power in the two great concentrations in Washington and Moscow, and the, consequent great cleavage among the nations of the world. The other is the influx of a large number of new and still somewhat inexperienced Governments into the United Nations, with formidable voting power but with—for the present, at any rate—an inadequate sense of responsibility. The result is that the United Nations is not at present in a position to ensure either security or justice.

How is the remedy to be found? So far as security is concerned, the Western Powers have found their own remedy. They have set up their own mutual security organisation outside the United Nations, but in harmony with the principles of the Charter. If there is any security in Western Europe, it is not due in any sense to United Nations; it is due to N.A.T.O. and, behind N.A.T.O., to the nuclear power of the United States and the United Kingdom. So much for security. But how do we safeguard justice, when the United Nations, as at present functioning, is apt to protect the delinquent State and to restrain the injured State from seeking its own remedy? That is a much more difficult question.

Mr. Hoover, speaking for the United States, put his finger on the crux of the problem when he said, a short time ago, that the United Nations had demonstrated its capacity to rally world sentiment against the use of force, but that it was much harder to rally the same amount of sentiment in favour of remedying the injustice which caused the resort to force. It may be that only time can solve this problem; that we shall have to wait until the newly formed States acquire wisdom and responsibility, by dint of bitter experience; and indeed that well may happen. Certainly there are no short cuts. To amend the Charter would serve no purpose, even if it were possible—which it is not. To abandon the United Nations would be a counsel of despair, not to be contemplated.

I think that some words of great wisdom were used on this subject of the future hopes for the functioning of the United Nations a short time ago by the Australian Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies—there was nothing spectacular about them, but they are none the worse for that. Mr. Menzies said that there were three things to hope for. The first was a self-denying ordinance amongst the smaller States to refrain from using the General Assembly as a forum for irresponsible faction. That same thought has been expressed in your Lordships' House this afternoon by the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, and the noble Lord, Lord Winster. Mr. Menzies' second point was the adoption by the General Assembly of proper Parliamentary procedures, with adequate notice of meetings and adequate opportunity for informed debate—a point also made by the noble Lord, Lord Glyn. His third point was extremely interesting. It was the recognition by the Great Powers—not the small Powers this time—of the new character and status of the General Assembly, and their recognition of the duty which this laid upon them to present their own views to the world with clarity and force, and the opportunity which it gave them to secure the widest measure of support for their policies. Those, my Lords, I repeat, were wise words, and I think that members of the United Nations would do well to give heed to them.

7.34 p.m.


My Lords, it has been said this afternoon that the high hopes which had been raised when the United Nations was constituted have not been realised. They have not been realised because the people who held these high hopes did not realise the enormous difficulty of bringing them about. What had to happen if those hopes were to be realised? Nations had to give up some of their absolute sovereignty. No nation in the past has ever done so except after defeat in war. Nations had to give up the resort to war to decide their conflicts. Since the beginning of history conflicts have always been decided by ordeal by battle, in the interests of the nation with the biggest political power. Nations had to decide to organise together, to co-operate for the benefit of all mankind. Those were good ideals. But the idea that this could be brought about in a few years was obviously illusory. The fact is that this rather ramshackle structure, thrown hurriedly together, has existed for all these years, and it is now the general opinion in this House and throughout the world that some kind of world government, some kind of world organisation, has to be made to work, for the sake of the whole human family. Never before in world history have eighty nations come together with at least the avowed intention of realising these great ideals.

I should like to speak for a moment or two on some of the new conditions which have arisen in the world owing to the advance of science. The great problem of the United Nations is to adjust human society to these new conditions. The first is the shrinking of the world. The world is now so small that no event can take place in any part of it without almost every country being more or less involved. Under the old world order these conflicts of national interests and ideologies would be decided by ordeal by battle, but to-day, with nuclear weapons, we cannot decide them by battle. So we are left with the generally agreed principle that we must have some supranational organisation to resolve these conflicts.

Most of the discussion in connection with the United Nations is taken up with the prevention of war. But there is another aspect which is almost equally important. The great scientific powers that brought about the hydrogen bomb also brought about a great capacity to produce wealth. To-day, with the advance of technology, we could abolish hunger and poverty throughout the world in one generation. With the same number of men working twenty hours a week, we could produce as much as we can with these men working forty hours a week. And the advance in medical science in the last fifty years has added twenty years to our expectation of life. All these things have been brought about by the great power which science has given to mankind; but the problem is how to pass from the old world, with its long hours and persistent poverty for the majority of mankind, to the new world of peace and economic prosperity.

Many people are interested in drawing up a new Charter. The difficulty about that is that Russia would not sign it. I question whether America would sign it. I question whether they would abide by it if it were drawn up and signed. The best we can do is to work, with flexible rules for guidance, for world government if and when the United Nations is resolved into a world order. In my opinion, a world Government has to evolve slowly and we have to reach it step by step. I should like to indicate some of the steps that might be taken. A World Police Force, which would show the flag and exercise the authority of the United Nations, has been discussed. Everybody seems to approve of that. It has been suggested that the United Nations might be given some power over part of the world—the Antarctic or extraterritorial waters—which would give it greater prestige. But, even more important than these, the United Nations could bring about co-operation among the Specialist Agencies which have already been formed to promote the welfare of the people of the world: organisations like the Food and Agriculture Organisation, designed and shaped to eliminate hunger and raise the standard of living of the poor peasants of the world, and the World Health Organisation, formed to eliminate preventable disease. If we could get the nations, including Russia and Red China, to appoint representatives to sit down and consider these huge problems—because we are talking not about capitalism, Communism or conflicting national interests, but about limited concrete objectives—then I think we might bring about a better atmosphere in the world and a better understanding of the difficulties of the different nations, which would make it easier to resolve some of these problems.

When that question has been raised, people have said: "Where is the money to come from?" In my view, it could be provided from disarmament. Obviously, we must gradually disarm if we are to secure peace; otherwise the piled up hydrogen bombs will explode in a world war. If you get all the nations to agree to cut their armament programme by, say. 10 per cent., then half of that saving could go to relieving the intolerable burden of taxation in the various countries, and the other half could be put into a development fund, under the control of the United Nations, to be run by a commission of businessmen to be appointed by the United Nations, on business lines, with no charity and no political strings, with grants made to be repaid after a certain date. Then you would have a better atmosphere in the world. An encouraging fact is that the world is gradually moving along all these lines.

A big difficulty raised often this afternoon is as to what can be done with Communist Russia. You cannot destroy Communist Russia by force; that is impossible. Russia has a first-class system of scientific and technical education, and people who are educated in science will think in accordance with the facts and not in accordance with ideologies. It is true that they have been indoctrinated with those views; but once people are educated, it is very difficult to maintain a totalitarian Government. The hope is that Russia will change. And if all the other nations were prepared to carry through co-operation, such as they do in the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation, and were prepared to cut their defence programmes by 10 per cent., and put half of that saving into this fund, could Russia afford to keep out? If so, she would be ostracised.

These are great changes that are taking place in the world, and human society must be adjusted to them, otherwise we shall never have a World Government. I think this nation of ours should take a bold lead in promoting ideas like these. We are better able to do it than America, Russia or any other nation. We have given freedom to our possessions; we have established the Welfare State; and no nation is afraid of economic domination or military domination by this country. At the end of the last war I travelled through all the Latin American countries and through all the Eastern European countries. Poland, Czechoslovakia and so on. They look to this country for leadership. We threw away the leadership of the world at the end of the last war, and I feel that we should regain it.

Ministers in office are very harassed and have to deal with day-to-day difficulties. But they have in the Houses of Parliament a Parliamentary Group for World Government, where ex-Cabinet Ministers and experts meet and discuss these world problems and try to work out solutions; they then discuss them with the Foreign Office, the Secretary for War, the Secretary for the Colonies and so on. By doing that in a free and independent atmosphere, and trying to work out solutions, carrying them to the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office, they are doing excellent work. And it is all the more so, because there are thirty other nations with Parliamentary Groups doing the same thing. With that association of people, I feel there is great hope of getting the nations to agree to the measures needed to bring about the wonderful new world that modern science has made possible.

7.55 p.m.


My Lords, I feel strongly about the matter of this debate, and I can only hope that, despite a sore throat which I have been attempting to cure for nearly a week, my feelings will be apparent, and even intelligible, to those of your Lordships who remain. Part of my determination to intervene in this debate springs from the fact that I fought under the United Nations flag for a year, during 1950–51, in Korea. I went as a volunteer at the behest of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, who was then Prime Minister. I cannot assume that he was conscious of my solidarity and support on that occasion, but I should like to make it clear that to this day I am glad I went. I am positive that the decision of the noble Earl and his Government was right, and I feel privileged to have taken part in that unique campaign—a campaign which was made legal, as the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, has reminded us, only through a fit of sulks by the Soviet Government. But I want to go further and declare my view that not only was this campaign entirely successful in the very properly limited military scope in which it was set, but that the moral success entirely outweighed the military success.

Indignant, peaceable men from a dozen countries gathered upon an unsavoury peninsula, for some of them as far across the world as they could travel, because an aggressor had crossed an unheard-of frontier, and broken the rule of law. They fought under the most repulsive conditions until that aggressor was thrown back across the frontier. I am certain that this action gave serious pause to the aggressor personified by the Soviet Government. They must have wondered in the Kremlin, if men of peace were ready to fight in Korea, where would they not fight? They must have wondered if a bully's right of way would ever again be safe, or ever again go unchallenged. A thin beam of light broke out over the world.

Since the Korean campaign, prospects have needlessly and inexcusably darkened. Looking back over the years that followed, it seems to me that every shred of advantage gained at such cost by the Korean campaign, has been thrown away. All the moral territory won (has been cravenly, almost cynically, abandoned; the sacrifices (I must not wax sentimental over this, but when I speak of "sacrifices" certain of them are bound to come personally and poignantly to my mind) appear to have gone for nothing. After that East effective effort to face a threat and to overcome it, every subsequent threat has gone unopposed. Aggression has gone unchallenged. Initiative has been cast aside.

Noble Lords have already fixed upon some instances, and I should like to fix upon that of the Hungarian report, perhaps the most blatant example of moral cowardice before our eyes at the moment. On June 26 the twenty-four nations sponsoring the last General Assembly resolution on Hungary met to discuss the convening of a special meeting of the General Assembly. At this meeting no date was agreed, but sometime in September, before the 17th, was suggested. This was after it had been unanimously agreed that the report should be considered as soon as practicable to do so having regard to the interests of the Hungarian people and the issues involved. Is it really seriously true that the earliest practicable moment is some time in September? Do we honestly suppose that the Hungarian people would agree that their interests were best served by this delay? Is it not conversely true that the greater part of the impact of the Hungarian report will be lost by September?

This September proposal came on the same day that the United States Congress and Senate had both passed resolutions calling upon their Government to seek immediate reconvening of the General Assembly to consider the Hungarian report. Are those two Houses satisfied that their demand for immediacy has been met? I must say that on this occasion, a small touch of American hustle would have had my support. And I should have been happy to see it accompanied by British decisiveness. I am told that the reason given is that in September more Foreign Ministers can be present. I should not have thought this occasion required great fanfares of silver trumpets and banquets of oratory. Indeed. I feel that it would tend to cloud the simplicity of the issue, and would give the opportunity for filibustering and procedural delay, in which the Russians have lately shown themselves such masters.

It seems to me a time to declare as simply and directly, and above all as promptly, as possible that we believe every charge contained in that Report to be entirely accurate, and to pronounce the condemnation of the human species upon the criminals. Do we need a quorum of Foreign Ministers to do that? If we get that quorum, will it compensate for the time that has been lost since the publication of the report? Finally, is it truly an honest reason for the delay? Is it not more realistically a desire to put off an uncomfortable meeting? I believe that a separate and unworthy explanation exists along these lines. There is a kind of moral sickness in the United Nations which touches each member. It explains why that building, which should be the shrine, the oracle of peace-loving men, has become a sort of up-ended wind tunnel. It explains the existence of one law for the compliers and another law for the defiers of United Nations authority.

When the noble Lord. Lord Henderson, spoke of this the other day, he called it a "double-standard" and claimed, as I remember, that the charge was not justified because it was not the United Nations which set that double-standard but one of its founder members, Soviet Russia. I must question the argument of the noble Lord, because it is the United Nations organisation which accepts that standard. It becomes a de facto standard upon which the Russians can count with positive confidence, without being bothered by the de jure aspect. I cannot exculpate the organisation itself because it has not written this double-standard into the Charter. It is there between the lines until expunged. In yesterday's debate in your Lordships' House, the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, delivered himself of a searching and incontestable aphorism in a quite different context. He said, "Justice is always difficult." As he spoke the words, I was struck by a pang of unease, relating to this debate. If public relations officers of the United Nations read their Hansard, they may well snatch up that phrase and we may find it emblazoned over the doorway of their building. But whereas the noble Lord, as I understood it, employed the phrase as a challenge, the United Nations Organisation, in its present mood, will employ it as an excuse.

I have one more anxiety to air, or perhaps one satisfaction to disturb. It has grown fashionable of late to refer to the Hungarian revolution in almost optimistic terms. It has been described as an imperishable monument, as an enduring example, as an act of national heroism never to be forgotten by humanity. I wonder how soon it will, in fact, be forgotten by the majority of free men, of well-cushioned humanity. I suppose that most men living in the free world can quote certain figures. By mid-November of last year, 22,000 Hungarians had been killed by the Red Army. How many Members of your Lordships' House, how many Members of Parliament, how many delegates at the United Nations, can recall the death roll of the Warsaw rising thirteen years back? Can even the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, who has such faith in collective judgment and the consciousness of the world, recall that death roll? Two hundred and forty thousand killed in sixty days: slaughtered as much by Russian calculation as by German savagery. Small wonder that, on the one hand, the Russians, and, on the other, the persecuted peoples and the endangered peoples give little credence to the rolling phrases, the ecomiums, the unconscious valedictories of the West, from such good-hearted and legally minded gentlemen, as the noble Earl, Lord Jowitt!


My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt because, for various reasons, I have heard very little of the debate. It is within my recollection that when we discussed Hungary in this House, and some of us made sad and overwhelmed speeches, the noble Lord made the most optimistic speech. He took a bullish line about the whole thing. Am I quite wrong?


I think I took a positive line about the whole thing, and I think my criticism of the United Nations is that in its present mood it is incapable of taking a positive line. I do not think the views. I expressed on that occasion in any way conflict with the views or the dismay which I am expressing at the moment. It is extremely timely that the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, should have spoken, and I am delighted to see him here, since I am now going to mention him. Not long ago I listened to the noble Lord making a most moving peroration in respect of Hungary and he said [OFFICIAL. REPORT, Vol, 204, col. 754.] If it proves that these very brave men in Hungary have stimulated us into a more self-sacrificing way of life they will not have died in vain. I must wonder what hope we have that the noble Lord's words will be widely and permanently taken to heart in the world as we know it to-day.

To me, the most piercing words in that debate were spoken by my noble friend Lord Birdwood, who has already left the Chamber. He was the mover of the debate, and was winding up. The words slipped away almost as an oratorical phrase. They were not reported in any paper that I read, but in fact could be taken, I feel, as a lesson by the whole of Parliament and by the whole of the United Nations organisation. They are fully applicable at this hour tonight. My noble friend said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 204, col. 759]: I realise that many of us have missed our trains and meals, but let us keep things in proportion. While we have done that, probably somebody has been condemned to death for nothing at all in Hungary. Knowing my noble friend as I do, I know also that it was not an oratorical phrase. I am bound to ask how many Hungarians, condemned to death by the time the United Nations meets to discuss and admire their immortal sacrifice, will understand the reason for this delay. I am bound to ask, also, how many in the Parliament of this country, how many delegates of the United Nations, have the humanity of thought—and the courage to express it—of my noble friend? Because unless there is a preponderance of such men; unless they speak up soon; unless the United Nations organisation can re-acquire the reputation it won in Korea; unless it can become the effective forum of nations which my noble friend Lord De La Warr desires; and unless the considerable defects mentioned in the noble Earl's Motion can be removed; unless it can be revived to be the living organism which the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, imagines it to be, instead of the dying organism which it is in fact, then that whole organisation might just as well dissolve itself placidly and apologetically with the smallest delay, to make way for a more realistic and less hastily devised instrument, which would, by the nature and practice of civilised man to-day, come into existence.

My Lords, one of the principles that is taught to a young soldier is never to reinforce a failure. Your Lordships are free to dismiss my words to-night as the simple opinion of a simple soldier of the United Nations. But it is we who believe most deeply in the United Nations who are most deeply disillusioned by its record of failure in the past few years. It is a life-saving operation which is required, and it is in the hope of that operation that I support the motion of my noble friend Lord De La Warr to-night.

8.1 p.m.


My Lords, I am greatly obliged to the generosity of Lord Silkin who has allowed me two or three minutes to intervene in the debate. I think the feeling that many people have is that we have been discussing the matter from a European point of view or an Anglo-American point of view, and that we have left an enormous gap, not altogether untouched—indeed, very ably touched on in the impressive speech of my noble Leader Lord Attlee—in the case of Asia, India, China and South-East Asia. As it happened, I spent the spring in those areas and, of course, one gets a sort of third dimension by travel. You can hear about it and you can read about it, but if you visit it you can see the true perspective. The future great power is going to be in the East. When you get, say, from Saigon to Prague 1,000 million people consolidated in one land mass, all organised together; and when you think that the great bulk, 600 million, or perhaps 630 million, of them, are excluded entirely from this organisation, then you begin to wonder whether it is possible that the benefits we hoped for can be achieved.

Now I am not blaming the Government at all. We know very well that the reason China is not in the United Nations is because America will not have it. That is the reason, and it may be a valid reason for the Government to use to defend themselves. Many people feel that to quarrel with the United States is a mistake and we must pay this enormous price.

But I must point out very briefly (because I must not abuse the kindness of Lord Silkin) one or two things which are ineluctable factors. The first thing you have is this enormous mass. I was amazed to find in Peking that one could telephone to Albania, say, more cheaply than to West Berlin because there was a sort of beneficial rate for the people in the "club". That was only a small example. Then I remember in Warsaw a lady showing me a lovely silk dress. I said, "Where did you get that?" and she said it came from China. I was on the airport at Prague the other evening, and they pointed out an enormous machine, a modern turbo-jet, and I was told, "If you get into that machine you can have breakfast in Peking." When we are shutting our eyes to these things, it is time somebody raised his voice.

The boycott measures we are using against China are ridiculous. I can give you an example. I was in hospital in Peking and I had to have antibiotics. It was a wonderful hospital, beautifully run, and they said, "You will be all right because it is a Rockefeller hospital." They said, "The Korean war drugs were stopped because they would go to the army." And they laughed and said, "Of course they all went to the army. We made a drug industry ourselves, and the antibiotics you are having are coming from all-Chinese sources." Well, that is a small illustration of the futility of the boycott.

Now take three simple examples of what we are suffering ourselves. One of the strangest things that I found was the utter indifference of China to what we thought. I fancied they might be wondering when we were going to relent and take them in; but not at all. They are going their own way and they are utterly indifferent whether we recognise them or not, because they are in a great mass which sooner or later they will dominate. Do not think, either, that by pleasing the Chinese you are going to seduce them from their friendship with Russia; they are much too dependent for the moment on the industrial resources of Russia.

When you are told (and this I have from highly qualified authority) that 12 million to 15 million people are added every year to the Chinese population you realise you will want a lot of atom bombs to keep level with that. I was talking to a Chinese farmer, and I asked him, "How much land do you farm?" He said, "1,200 acres." I am not a farmer, but I was told that about twenty men could run such a farm in England, but this man had 1,600 labourers. Well, that is manpower, and it will take the place of a good many tractors. This kind of thing is going on the whole time and we are just ignoring it. The people are contented and resilient; the machine so far is working well, and land reforms are going forward; but still we do not recognise it. It is exactly like a Chinese play: when a man draws a black veil over his face he is not on the stage any more. You can either recognise China and bring her into the United Nations and deal with her, or you cannot recognise her. If you do not recognise her, you get let in for those very ramshackle defence organisations called S.E.A.T.O. and the Baghdad Pact. One wonders whether it is worth being in, it provokes so much trouble to our friends.

That brings me to my final point. The great moral position we gained in the world by the liberation of India is being thrown away. India is not in S.E.A.T.O.—there is nobody in S.E.A.T.O. that matters except the Western Powers whom the Chinese think of as organised for a new Boxer expedition. The real power is China, India, Burma, Indonesia and the rest. None of those people is going to touch a policy of hostility to China; you would not get even one single vote against China throughout Asia. These are points I am sure the noble Earl who is going to speak later will remember. This is not an attack on the Government; it is an attempt to state obvious and indisputable facts in the hope that somehow, at some time, they will be recognised for our benefit and for the benefit of the world.

8.10 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure noble Lords in all parts of the House will agree with me that it was worth while making room for my noble friend Lord Stansgate. He always brings to the House a refreshing point of view, and on this occasion many of us will agree with a great deal of what he said. Now I want to come back to the debate, and at the end of sixteen speeches it would be very surprising if I had anything fresh to say. The best I can do is to summarise what has been said and see how far we are in agreement. Starting with a somewhat unpromising series of Motions which seemed to have little connection one with the other, we have had a very interesting and well worth while debate. The Motions all related to the United Nations, but, except for that, they seemed to be wholly unrelated. Nevertheless, a number of common themes seem to have evolved. I think that nearly every speaker expressed disappointment at the ineffectiveness of the United Nations. Some went as far as to say almost that it was not worth while any longer. Some had hopes about it. Some wanted to strengthen the United Nations and put forward suggestions as to how it could be done Some wanted to give it "teeth". But everybody, I think, recognised that it was not working in the way in which it had originally been hoped that it would.

There is, of course, a considerable measure of disillusionment about what has happened in the United Nations. The view I want to express is that it is not the United Nations that is at fault. After all, the United Nations, as has been truly said—and I think my noble friend Lord Attlee has already said it in this debate—represents the sum of its members. It cannot be better than the composition of its own members. The United Nations could work perfectly if its members wanted it to work, and, in my view, no amount of tinkering with the machinery or the procedure will make it work any better so long as there is the division of the world into two almost equal, conflicting ideologies. This was something that was not foreseen at the time of the creation of the United Nations. Perhaps it should have been. Perhaps my noble friend ought to have foreseen much more than he did that these conflicting ideologies would grow. That is, of course, wisdom after the event, and we can all be wise to-day. But at the time it was not foreseen. We were still fighting a war; we were fighting together on the whole as comrades working for a common cause, and we believed that we were creating an organisation where we could all work together for the benefit of the world as a whole.

This has turned out to be an illusion. We have to-day what the noble Lord, Lord Strang, referred to as the polarisation of the two sections, the Soviet Union and its satellites, and the United States of America. I rather got the impression from the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Strang, that he had at the back of his mind that this polarisation was somehow the fault of the United Nations Organisation or that in some way that organisation was responsible for it or for accentuating it. The noble Lord shakes his head in disagreement. I am delighted to see it. The fact is, of course, that this polarisation would have existed whether there had been a United Nations Organisation or not. Without the United Nations Organisation, it might well have come about that there would have been armed conflict between the two sides. The opportunity of exercising moderating influences at the United Nations Assembly and at the Security Council. and the opportunities for meeting which have taken place from time to time, have prevented it.

But, although these conflicting ideologies exist to-day and may exist for a long time to come, one day we shall have to learn to live together in spite of these conflicting ideologies. Or it may be that there will be changes on one side or the other—we hope, of course, in the Communist ideology. But let us remember, as the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, has just reminded us, that there is an enormous mass of population representing—I do not know whether this is exactly right, but roughly—half the population of the world, who support an ideology which is either Communist or near-Communist. We cannot go on for ever merely with the deterrent that either of us can use nuclear weapons against the other, and in that way preserve the peace. At some time in the future—and I hope sooner rather than later—we must make up our minds that we have to live together, and accept the fact that there is this enormous conflict in the world, whether we like it or not.

There has been some talk of the United Nations having two standards, one for the Soviet Union and Hungary and the other so far as we were concerned at Suez. That, again, is utterly untrue. The United Nations Organisation has condemned both in equally clear terms. It condemned ourselves and France because of our action at Suez; it condemned the Soviet Union because of its action in Hungary. The difference between the two is that we accepted the view of the United Nations and the Soviet Union did not.

Before noble Lords on the other side express too great self-satisfaction about that, I should like to remind them of some of the facts. We accepted it, but I would remind noble Lords that we accepted it in spite of the fact that a great many of their own supporters were opposed to our accepting the views of the United Nations. A great many of them thought that we ought to have gone on, stayed on in Egypt and seen the job through. The noble Earl who is going to reply cannot possibly deny that a great many of his supporters took that view. Moreover, when we had to make up our minds whether we were going to leave Egypt, we had to face the fact that we had the United States, the majority of the Dominions and a very big section of public opinion in this country against us. Whether it was out of respect for the views of the United Nations, whether it was out of respect for other matters or whether it was a combination of both, I do not know, but it was not a clear-cut decision; it was not solely because of our respect for the United Nations that we did it. Other factors were involved. Therefore, to say that there are two standards adopted by the United Nations is utterly wrong. The circumstances were different. On the one hand we did, for whatever reasons may have existed, leave Egypt. On the other hand, the Russians did not leave Hungary. But, if we had remained on, the United Nations would have been perfectly helpless to do anything about it, just as they have been helpless to do anything about Hungary.


Surely the phrase is not "two standards adopted" but "two standards accepted". I think there is an important difference there.


Frankly, I do not see the difference in the concept. There was a suggestion in the debate that somehow the two sides were being treated rather differently by the United Nations; that we have been treated much worse by the United Nations than the Soviet Union have been. But, as I say, that is not the fact. If we had remained on, the United Nations would have been just as helpless, so far as we were concerned, as they were with Hungary.

It has been said by the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, that the United Nations is on trial. I wonder what he means by that. Does he mean that, unless the United Nations can do better than it has done in the past, we shall have to take action by leaving it? I wish he had been a little more explicit. It is not the United Nations that is on trial, but the members of the United Nations. As I said earlier, and as has been said by many others, the United Nations can work quite well if the members want it to work. One of the ways in which the United Nations can be made to work is as the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, said, by giving it "teeth." I do not think he used that expression to-day, but I have heard him use it on a previous occasion, and it is a common method of expression.

I wonder whether he really means that? Giving the United Nations "teeth" would mean giving it the power to act, possibly against the views of its member nations in certain circumstances. Would it not mean, in other words. the surrender of a certain amount of sovereignty on the part of the various member nations? Are we ready to sacrifice that amount of sovereignty? Is the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, ready for us to make a sacrifice of a certain amount of sovereignty, in order that the United Nations should have "teeth"? Speaking for myself, I unhesitantly say, Yes. I think the time will come—it has got to come—when the member nations will have to make sacrifices of sovereignty in order that the United Nations shall work. Indeed, if one talks sincerely about disarmament, one must have in mind the possibility of surrendering one's own sovereignty in order that some supranational authority should be able to take command, should it be necessary; and of course, the same applies to a permanent International Force.

The setting up of a permanent international force must involve the sacrifice of a certain amount of sovereignty on the part of the member nations. I was delighted to find that the idea had such a favourable reception in this House. Like my noble friend Lord Attlee, I was a member of the New Commonwealth Organisation, founded by the late Lord Davies before the war. I think I was a vice-chairman or a vice-president, or something of that sort—at any rate, I took an active part in its work at that time. One of its main tenets was the setting up of an International Court of Justice, and an International Police Force to enforce the decisions of the International Court. We are moving along in that direction now. We already have in existence, by general agreement, some form of international force, although it is not permanent and not wholly international. It consists really of a number of separate national forces. But the acceptance of the idea of a permanent International Force is most gratifying, and I was greatly impressed to hear from the noble Lord, Lord McNair, that this could be secured under the terms of the present Charter. All that is required once more is that there should be general agreement among the member nations.

There has been some talk about reform of the Charter. I agree entirely with what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Gosford, on that subject. I think that one could conceive a great many respects in which the Charter could be improved; but merely to say "reform of the Charter" does not mean anything until you begin to show in what respect you want to reform it. Then the trouble begins. At the present time there is not even complete agreement that it should be reformed at all. We are a long way from agreeing upon the respects in which it should be reformed. As I have said all along, it is not so much the machinery that needs improving; it is the desire, the will, to agree.

I was glad that nobody went quite the whole way of suggesting that we ought to leave the United Nations—though one or two noble Lords went pretty near it; and one or two gave us an ultimatum that unless the United Nations mended its ways we should have to leave it. But nobody actually stated that we ought to leave it straight away; on the contrary, a number of noble Lords, including the noble Lords, Lord Strang and Lord Boyd-Orr, pointed out the valuable work which is being done by the United Nations from the social and economic point of view. It is well worth remembering that from that point of view alone, if from no other, the United Nations has been well worth while.

But I believe that, apart even from those advantages, we ought to do everything we can to preserve the United Nations, even if we cannot do better than we are doing now, because it provides us with a world platform, with the possibility of creating world opinion and, we hope, of exerting an influence even in those quarters where it can be least expected. I know that some noble Lords are cynical about the possibility of influencing world opinion or of influencing those with whom we are at the moment in ideological conflict. It is interesting to note that it is not among the oldest of us that this cynicism exists: it exists equally among the younger people. None the less, I believe that we can actually see the influence of world opinion already; we can see it operating—slowly, if you like, but it is operating. It has operated in Poland; it has operated in Hungary. The noble Lord may pour scorn upon what has happened there; it has not been successful. But, quite obviously, opinion is moving there. It has been suppressed but it is moving. It has moved in East Germany, in Yugoslavia, and, I believe, even in the Soviet Union; and I feel that a great deal of the credit for that is due to the operation of the United Nations organisation.

There is another factor. The manning of the United Nations organisation by the separate nations means that a considerable number of foreign nationals meet together in New York at the different committees, and they are bound to have some influence on one another. They go back to their own countries and talk, and that must make an impression. Perhaps the process will take a long time, but that is infinitely better than for these various countries to remain in isolation, without the opportunity for their nationals to meet at all.

Moreover, all the various meetings that are taking place, of sportsmen, scouts, and scientists, and various conferences, are all playing their part in helping to create a world opinion. Unlike the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, I believe that that is going to have an influence on world affairs. and that the United Nations is helping. It will take time, but as my noble friend Lord Attlee said, we have had war for a very long time, and we must be patient. I hope that the effect of this debate will be that we shall not minimise the value of the United Nations and the work that that organisation is doing, even while realising its defects. We must take a balanced view of the United Nations, and anyone who does that will, I believe, come to the conclusion that the work is well worth while; that it is worth preserving, and that there is hope in the world so long as nations can meet and talk on this common platform.

8.33 p.m.


My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has said we are deeply indebted to three of my noble friends who have put down their Motions on the Paper to-day and for the debate which has been the result of those Motions. A large number of noble Lords have spoken with great knowledge and authority; and if I may borrow the ball and return it to the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, we view with great respect what is said by those who speak from the opposite Benches, and the only thing wrong with them is that they are the wrong political colour.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, I thought that this would be an extremely difficult debate to wind up, but, curiously, as we have proceeded we have found that there is a significant identity of approach to the problem and to the conclusions to which noble Lords in all parts of the House have come. The debate has been enlivened by a robust contribution from the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, the only one in this House who can claim to be a strictly international body in the physical sense. I had the unusual experience too, of agreeing with practically everything that was said by the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate.

Since 1914 when, as we all so vividly remember, the Kaiser tore treaties into scraps of paper, and thus destroyed the only existing basis for international confidence, all the countries of the world have been groping their way towards some international system which would maintain international law and justice and guarantee security against agression. The League of Nations was the first experiment on a world scale, and as the concentrations of power in the twentieth century have become more dangerous, and as subversion has become an instrument of national policy, the need for some such organisation has become even more urgent. Of course, no international organisation, neither the League of Nations nor the United Nations (and this has been said many times in this debate in one way or another) had, or has, any existence apart from the countries which compose it. I think it was the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, who said that it is the sum of its partners. One has to expect that the facts of the world will be faithfully reflected in whatever international organisation there is, and that will be true of the principles which the international organisation proclaims and the procedures of co-operation which it can adopt.

I believe that that was illustrated in the framing of the Charter at San Francisco. Hitler's aggressions were then fresh in the minds of all the countries, and there was not much difficulty in framing principles which were high-minded and, indeed, impeccable. But when the rules of procedure to be included in the Charter came to be worked out, the facts of the world situation had to be strictly recognised. The noble and learned Lord, Lord McNair, is right. The Veto (as we loosely call it) in the Security Council was deliberately embodied as one of the main elements of this structure. I shall return to the significance of the Veto in a few moments. I believe that all the framers of the Charter realised at that time that this involved a departure from the ideal, but nevertheless they included that—even though a United Nations organisation could not be ideally perfect—because a world organisation, even an imperfect one, was in the interests of all.

It has been made quite clear from the start by successive Britain Governments that a world organisation of this kind is a British interest—perhaps more of an interest for Britain than for many other countries in the world, because no country is more vulnerable, and none has more to gain from collective security or from the rule of peace and law in the world. So the universal mood during these last few years has been not to scrap the United Nations but to improve it, and that was, as lately as a few weeks ago, the finding of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers when they met together. It has certainly been the theme of the debate in this House to-day, for all of us have insisted that a world organisation of the kind of the United Nations is anyhow a British and a world interest.

The purpose of this debate, as I understand it from the Motions moved with such skill by the noble Lords concerned, has been to analyse the reasons which, in practice, prevent the United Nations from fulfilling the obligations made upon it by the Charter, and, if possible, to suggest remedies. I feel we must confess that the debate has been more successful in analysing the defects than in suggesting the remedies. Nevertheless, attention has usefully been concentrated on the two main aspects of this question—first, upon the Charter itself. That is right, for if the principles and the main controls are wrong, then the whole machine may get out of gear, and there is no doubt that the principles of the Charter should, from time to time, be put to the most stringent test.

Secondly, attention has been concentrated upon the very relevant question of the procedures which have been evolved since the Charter was framed, an aspect raised particularly by my noble friend Lord Glyn. I cannot help agreeing with him that procedures in this matter are very important in an organisation of this kind. He hesitated to draw the analogy with Parliament, and I hesitate, too, because the United Nations is not a World Parliament; but, nevertheless, I think the illustration is a good one. Parliament is designed to sustain democracy, and it could not be done without the most elaborate and balanced machinery, and without the most elaborate and balanced machinery clearly understood by those who participate in Parliamentary proceedings the whole purposes of democracy could be defeated. I think it was the Prime Minister of Ceylon who, during the Suez Crisis, complained that the proceedings of the Assembly were conducted at such speed that he did not know himself, and had no communication, as to what the debate was about therefore he was unable to instruct his delegate to the United Nations what line to take on behalf of his country. I will return in a moment to some of those difficulties of procedure mentioned by the noble Lord. Lord Glyn.

But, in general, it seems to me that the debate has revealed the same sense of frustration that the purposes of the Charter have been baulked which has clearly been in the minds of the members of the United Nations. The framers of the Charter were realists. In the then state of the world, they realised that the Security Council must contain the great Powers. They had the means to keep the peace and therefore the largest share in the responsibility for doing so. They included what is known as the Veto because the limit on international action clearly had to be set short of interference with the national sovereignty of the different countries. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Strang, that as a piece of international machinery the Security Council could have worked if it had been worked and used with discretion. But in fact the Security Council has been used really as an instrument of Russian policy to stifle joint action by the great Powers and to prevent collective help coming to the victims of a lawbreaker. Lord Dundee very pertinently pointed particularly to the Middle East as the latest field of Russia's operations

I do not want to dwell on that particular aspect of this question. but it seems to me that there have been two consequences from Russia's use of the Security Council—or abuse of the Security Council. The first is that as security could not be guaranteed to the members of the United Nations by all the great Powers, therefore the members were forced to the alternative provided for in the Charter—collective defence pacts. When Russia or some of the uncommitted countries criticise these collective defence pacts amongst friends it is worth remembering that the emphasis has fallen there only because these nations could not get what was truly collective security from the United Nations. Russia made collaboration by the great Powers to keep the peace impossible.

The second consequence—it has been pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord McNair, and many other noble Lords in the debate to-day—was that, thwarted and baulked in the Security Council, the nations tried to find a way whereby the Assembly could assert the authority the Security Council failed to achieve. The "Uniting for Peace" procedure was, in effect, an expedient to reassert the principles of the Charter through a change of the machinery within the United Nations. This has, as the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, pointed out (and indeed this was one of the purposes of two of the Motions) raised the whole question of the relationship between the Security Council and the Assembly. There may be much to be said for the mobilisation of world opinion through the Assembly. It has a latent strength and a moral force which has to be reckoned with It has to be reckoned with by those who respect international law and it may even pierce the armour of those who flout it.

But the new composition of the Assembly and the new activities it is assuming, it seems to me, need to be clarified. Legally, on paper, there is no change in respect of the functions of the Security Council and the Assembly. I think the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, speaking of the Assembly, said, "Does it very much matter if their function is limited to recommendation?" Well, just let me list, if I may, some of the questions which immediately leap to the eye and which have come to the public eye because of the increased activities of the Assembly in the last few months. First of all, there is the size of the Assembly, increased from sixty to eighty-one in less than two years. Then there is the voting system, which gives power without responsibility to some of the smaller countries. There is the tendency to bloc voting. There is the lack of rules controlling the speed of discussion and voting. Then there are things like the tendency to put executive responsibility on to the shoulders of the Secretary-General. There is the possibility of the establishment of a permanent international force growing out of the force at present in the Middle East. I am not judging; I am not saying whether the additional power on the shoulders of the Secretary-General is a good thing or not.

I am not raising the question of the double standard—whether the Assembly applied one standard in the case of Hungary and another in the case of Egypt, so that the law-abiding suffer and the law-breaking profit. But I think these questions which I have listed, and some others noble Lords have listed. require clarification, because, although I agree with Lord Silkin—and perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, overstates it when he says these are a danger to peace—nevertheless muddles of procedure of this kind may be dangerous. But if there is to be clarification, probably my noble friends Lord Glyn and Lord De La Warr Would agree that the reform of the United Nations machinery should be approached with great caution and care. Indeed, is it possible? To take only one illustration, which I think was touched upon by the noble Lord, Lord Winster, supposing we wanted to change the voting system, it cannot be done without the assent of all the permanent members of the Security Council—and of course Russia is a member.

For this reason, the more I look at the actual reform of the Charter or the procedure of the United Nations, the more I am forced to the conclusion, which I think was also that of Lord McNair, Lord Dundee and Lord Silkin—and I think also Lord Jowitt and a good many other noble Lords—that the defects in the machinery of the United Nations are really the direct by-products of Soviet obstruction. Until there is a change of heart on the part of the Soviet Union, we shall continue to be frustrated in our attempts to make the machinery of the United Nations more effective.

My Lords, it has been recognised in this debate—and of course it is true—that the United Nations performs the most valuable work in the field the noble Lord. Lord Boyd-Orr referred to—the solid social advance; and he rather advanced the thesis that if we could concentrate more on economic collaboration through the United Nations. we should have a better chance of securing world peace and of getting away from our political difficulties. We are making modest beginnings—for instance, the International Bank for Reconstruction; and I would agree with the noble Lord that there is a great deal that can profitably be done on the economic side. Even on the political side there is some credit that we can reasonably mark to the United Nations. In the field of world security, war has not, in fact, broken out. I rather agree with the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt (I believe I am right in attributing it to him) that that was due more to fear of the deterrert than to the positive acts of the Security Council. Nevertheless, perhaps discussion in the United Nations has contributed to a slight lessening of tension and prevented a world war. Local situations have arisen in which there are acute political tensions. In fact, these have not—or, at least, only once lately—snapped. That, again, may be due to the moderating influence of the United Nations.

Again, a development of some significance, and a good deal of hope, has emerged in the fact that there is an International Police Force on the spot in the Middle East at the present time. My noble friend Lord Gosford, who addressed the House earlier, at a time when the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, was absent (I know that he was unable to be here), told your Lordships that the Foreign Secretary has expressed the hope that something permanent might develop out of this present United Nations Force. On the subject of a permanent Force, as indeed on everything else, agreement by the Powers has, of course, to be achieved. It would probably be a mistake to try to put forward at this stage any agreed plan.

The debate has revealed a number of differences of approach to this subject. The noble Lord, Lord McNair, argued for an individually recruited self-contained Force. The noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, suggested that nationally chosen contingents were the most effective way of building up an effective Force. Most noble Lords were doubtful, I think, as to how such a Force could operate if neither party to a dispute wanted it on their territory. These are questions which have been put forward, and which are probably best explored quietly, and with patience, behind the scenes in the United Nations. But we are in favour of the principle of an International Police Force—let there be no doubt about that.

Finally, I would say this. I think we are all agreed that there are imperfections, and we feel frustrated. But until there is a change of heart on the part of Russia, there is probably very little to be done in the way of effective alteration of the machinery; and until that change of heart comes about, trust in the United Nations can be only a part of a country's foreign policy. Peace will rest with those who wish to sustain law and order and who have a preponderance of the power; and security will lie in collective security arrangements between friends and, in fact, in the closest understanding between the United Kingdom and the United States of America. It may be that in the future we may be faced with a United Nations that has proved itself futile. In that case, all of us would have to review our national policies. But, meanwhile, as the noble Lords who put forward the Motions have stressed, and as the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has underlined, we must hope to live together in this world. So far as the United Kingdom Government are concerned, we will work loyally within the United Nations to create truly collective action, because we believe that that is the primary interest of the British people.

8.55 p.m.


My Lords, there is always a temptation, when exercising the right to reply to a debate on a Motion which one has moved, to remake one's speech into one that is just a little bit better. But it is now very late and I do not intend to fall into that error. May I just say that I think it has seemed to all of us that this has been a most useful and constructive debate. We have all tried to face honestly the difficulties and problems that confront us in regard to the United Nations. There have been a great number of criticisms, and some constructive proposals; and I think it is satisfactory to reflect also that there has been quite a bit of agreement. So perhaps I might just withdraw my Motion and, in doing so, thank those noble Lords, including the noble Earl, Lord Home, who has just spoken for the Government, for their co-operation and the contributions they have made. I now beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.