§ 3.3 p.m.
§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved on Tuesday by Earl Waldegrave—namely, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as followeth:
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, we on this side of the House, in common with noble Lords opposite, welcome the references in the gracious Speech to the Commonwealth and also those references that were made in Her Majesty's Speech on Prorogation. The Commonwealth is vitally important, and yet, somehow or other, in this House and in another place it seems seldom to be debated—our last debate was on November 30, 1955. Since then a number of important events have taken place, particularly the events in Suez, the Prime Ministers' and the Finance Ministers' meetings, and the granting of independence or self-government to a number of formerly non-self-governing territories.
As to Suez, I may say this from some personal experience. In common with other Members of your Lordships' House I had the opportunity recently of visiting territories in the Far East, and I found that there had been a considerable impact, in Commonwealth territories as well as others, of the Suez crisis. The effects of dealing with the situation on the lines of 1857 instead of 1957 were, of course, felt, and our own position and that of some of the other countries, particularly India, had been economically worsened as a result of Suez. But, on top of that, there has undoubtedly been—it is no good disguising the fact—the political consequence: namely, that for the time being, I hope not permanently, our moral stature has been lowered in the eyes of many countries, including some Commonwealth countries, and our position as wise and experienced leaders of world 129 and of Commonwealth opinion has been affected.
We were glad that the meeting of the Prime Ministers took place in London and we are particularly glad that the meeting of the Finance Ministers took place in Canada. We think it important that occasionally meetings of this nature should take place in Commonwealth centres other than London. To exchange views on matters of common concern it is essential to have these meetings, although, of course, we who are not at them are not much wiser as to what takes place there, since the reports that are transmitted to us are vague and in rather hazy language. Still, we cannot expect very much more and, in fact, we do not expect it.
As to independence, there are two countries which have achieved independence since we last debated this subject. The first is Ghana. We hope that the teething troubles through which Ghana is obviously going will not be of long standing, and that she will settle down as a Parliamentary democracy on the lines of the Mother of Parliaments. We must have patience. One cannot expect her people to evolve in a matter of a few years the same sort of tradition that we have evolved through the centuries. But there is no doubt that, partly through their own fault, they have had a bad Press. In this connection I was interested to see a report in the Sunday Times on Sunday last by Mr. Russell Howe, which puts the whole picture, I think, in much clearer perspective and deals with it in a much more balanced way, giving us some idea of the problems that the Government have to face.
In this regard should like to congratulate my late noble friend Lord Listowel—I say "late" because he is no longer one of us, so to speak, on these Benches, as he is now Governor-General Designate of Ghana. I am sure that all noble Lords will desire to join me in wishing him a happy and successful period of office. We on these Benches can only say that we shall miss him very much. He was a great help to us. We are a gallant but dwindling band of brothers, and we cannot afford to lose any active people such as Lord Listowel.
As to Malaya, the second independent country, the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, the noble Earl, Lord 130 Perth, and myself, had the honour and the pleasure of being present at the very moving and impressive ceremonies that took place at Kuala Lumpur when independence was proclaimed. I think that of all the ceremonies which impressed me—I cannot speak for the other noble Lords—the most impressive was the installation of His Majesty, the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, the King of Malaya. Kings are not very common these days, and I imagine that elected Kings are almost unique. But here, showing the elasticity of the Commonwealth, we have now an elected King in the Commonwealth as well as a non-elected Queen, the Queen of Tonga.
For those interested in constitutional problems there is yet another interesting facet of the Commonwealth constitutional practice. So far as concerns regalia and the dress of his officers, the ceremony of the installation of His Majesty was based on that used in the old Kingdom of Malacca, which was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1511. So to Malays, at all events, and to many Malayans also, this was in a sense a harking back to their ancient kingdom which was first destroyed when the Europeans came to Malaya. They have a great many problems in Malaya, of course, and one arose immediately upon independence—the question of the Defence Treaty. Here the Chief Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman took a very firm stand: he refused in any way to alter the arrangements he had made with Her Majesty's Government and showed himself a resolute leader; for in spite of all the criticism, when the matter came to be debated in the Legislative Council there was not a single vote against it. That shows not only the resoluteness of the Prime Minister but also the fact that Her Majesty's Government are building upon a firm basis in their friendship and treaty with Malaya.
Countries which have achieved self-government, or some measure of it, include, first of all, Nigeria. And here again there is an interesting experiment, because two of the Regions, the Eastern and Western, now have regional self-government. In other words, they manage their own affairs with a British Governor, who is a constitutional monarch, so to speak. The Northern Region has not got full self-government and will not have it for a year or two; nor has the Central Federal Government. 131 There is thus this interesting variation of constitutional practice: that two of the three Regions have self-government, whereas neither the third Region nor the Central Government has self-government. We wish it well. No doubt there will be difficulties, but I do not think they will in any way impede the progress of the two self-governing Regions, of the non-self-governing Region or of the Centre in their march towards independence.
There is a point which I should like to raise because we have never had such a case before: it is entirely novel. Who is looking after United Kingdom interests in the Eastern and Western Regions of Nigeria? If there were complete independence for the Centre we should, of course, have a High Commissioner in Lagos, appointed on the recommendation of the noble Earl, Lord Home, and a Deputy High Commissioner in every one of the Regions. The Colonial Office still have influence there, of course, and appoint the Governor-General at the Centre. But so far as I am aware, no one is specifically looking after United Kingdom interests. Perhaps the noble Earl, when he comes to speak, would enlighten us on this question.
Then there is the Federation of the West Indies. I think that perhaps it is wrongly named and should be called the Federation of the Caribbean, but its title was altered during the progress of the Bill through Parliament. This Federation consists of a number of islands, large and small, but neither of the mainland territories, either in Central America or South America, has joined. We should like to ask whether there is a possibility of their joining, because there would be a great if of strength to the Federation f they were to join, and I should have thought that it would be of considerable importance to those territories themselves. We wish them well, as we wish the Governor-General, who is also a Member of your Lordships' House. In the third territory achieving self-government, Singapore, Her Majesty's Government have agreed with the Singapore Government to grant full internal self-government while the United Kingdom will have responsibility for defence and external affairs. All these developments show what an expanding Commonwealth we have and how elastic it is. 132 Whatever the customers want we try to suit them; and that is as it should be.
What of the future? So far as constitutional developments are concerned, there are, as your Lordships know, three classes of colonial territory. The first consists of those territories which can stand on their own feet—and there are not many of those left, if any. The second class consists of those territories which cannot stand on their own feet but which could amalgamate or combine with other neighbouring territories to form a federation or union, and thus be enabled to play their part in the modern world. The third class of territory is one with which we have had most difficulty; that is the territory, usually a small island lost in the vastness of the Pacific or Indian Ocean, which has not, and never will have, the economic or other potentialities to enable it to stand on its own feet.
During the last six or seven years I have raised this problem on frequent occasions in your Lordships' House and made suggestions on how it can be solved. I am glad to say that the Labour Party has now enunciated its policy with regard to the third class of territory in one of its political pamphlets entitled Labour's Colonial Policy, Three, Smaller Territories. On page 25 the pamphlet says this:For those small territories which do not achieve representation in a sovereign parliament either by integration with the United Kingdom or another Commonwealth state, or by federation, or by secession, the Labour Party propose the new constitutional status of Dominion. Such territories will be free to sign treaties or make other arrangements with a Member of the Commonwealth regulating such issues as bases, and conceding to a Commonwealth state control of foreign policy and defence.As Your Lordships will see, that is much what is now happening in Singapore, and it may be that the pattern will be followed elsewhere. I am glad that the Labour Party has put forward a proposal of that kind, because whether or not it is the right proposal—and I believe there is a great deal to be said for it—it is at least a proposal, and the first one ever put forward by any political Party to deal with this particular problem.
Then we come to the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The Constitution here comes up for review in 1960, and there is a considerable fear on these Benches—and not only on these Benches, but in other parts of the country as well— 133 that when the Government in this country, which ever Government it may be in 1960, comes to deal with the problem it will find that it has been manœuvred into a position where it is committed to courses with which it might not agree, courses which would prevent the Africans from taking that part in the government of the Federation which we should desire. These are not vain fears. They are fears based on a certain amount of practical experience, and those fears have been increased by the recent action of the noble Earl, Lord Home, the Secretary of State, in rejecting the request by the African Affairs Board to reserve the Federal Bill, on the grounds that it is a differentiating measure. The African Affairs Board thought that it differentiated between African and European, to the disadvantage of the African. The noble Earl, Lord Home, has refused to accede to the request of the African Affairs Board, who, after all, are there to represent and to safeguard African opinion, and we should like to know why he has done so. The Draft Order is now on the Table of this House and we understand that there is another Bill—an Electoral Bill—which will also be coming forward and which may affect in a disadvantageous way the African population. I do not say that it will, because I do not yet know its terms, and we have not heard what view the African Affairs Baird take of it. However, there are these fears, and if there is nothing in them I think they should be exploded. At all events, we should like to hear from the noble Earl on that question to-day.
Now I come to the economic development of the Commonwealth. We should like to know what is likely to be the effect on the Commonwealth of the Free Trade Area in Europe, as a complement to the European Economic Community to be set up under the Treaty of Rome, and also what effect our participation in such a Free Trade Area is likely to have upon the other parts of the Commonwealth. This matter is of first importance. At the Prime Ministers' meeting it was decided that there should be an examination of the proposal by experts, and I should like to know whether there has been such an examination, and, if so, what the result has been. During the Recess the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a Free Trade offer to Canada. There were those cynical spirits who said 134 that the offer was made with an eye to Brighton rather than to Ottawa. Whether this was so or not, it seems to have caused some embarrassment to the Canadians who have not as yet accepted it or made any comment upon it. That is another matter upon which, in dealing with the Commonwealth, we must have some information.
We welcome the decision to hold the Commonwealth Trade and Economic Conference in Canada next spring. We welcome the fact that it is to be held in Canada. We are anxious to know what the Prime Minister meant in another place on Tuesday when he spoke of N.A.T.O. and the nations of the free world making an even more significant contribution of their national sovereignty to the common cause than hitherto. We were anxious because we were not quite sure what effect the surrender of sovereignty would have on our Commonwealth partners, and I think we should be told. According to the Daily Telegraph this morning, it appears that the Prime Minister meant nothing at all by it; that it was only words; sounds signifying nothing, just put in to enliven the debate. If this is so, and it is said by a most prominent Conservative paper, again we should be told, because these matters cannot be left just as sounds; they have serious implications for us and our Commonwealth partners.
I should like to say this on the economic question: Britain's position economically vis-à-vis the rest of the Commonwealth has changed materially in the last few years. Traditionally, as your Lordships know, the United Kingdom supplied the capital and finished goods, and the rest of the Commonwealth supplied the raw materials and the food. This is no longer the case. We can no longer here supply adequate capital. Yesterday the noble Lord, Lord Brand, gave figures to support this view. Investment by the United Kingdom in the sterling area over the last three years has amounted to only £150 million a year, which is not a large amount for over 500 million people. In Canada the figure has been £30 million a year. The difficulty of borrowing money, as the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, pointed out yeseterday, has meant that India is in a very difficult position indeed. I was in Calcutta about three weeks ago, and one found there that the Indian Government 135 has had to restrict almost all consumer goods coming in, or at least a very large range of consumer goods, and has since also had to restrict capital goods. We do not know what the effect on the Indian economy is likely to be, but certainly the effect on the British merchant is going to be very severe. Many of those firms whose traditional market is in India will be put in great difficulties. Nor can the United Kingdom offer an adequate market for raw materials and food from the Commonwealth, at any rate to the same extent as she did years ago.
In addition to these factors, the Commonwealth countries all desire to develop their own industries. Many Commonwealth countries are affected, because while prices of raw materials in the last few years have been declining, the prices of finished goods have been increasing at the same time—indeed, they increased by 4 per cent. last year. So the unfortunate Commonwealth under-developed countries are in the position that the goods they supply are steadily going down in value while the finished goods from the developed nations are constantly going up in price, as the noble Lord, Lord Brand, pointed out in his speech yesterday.
There is another factor which not only affects these under-developed countries physically and materially but also annoys them very much; that is, that the developed countries are constantly, by artificial means, often by subsidy, evolving substitutes for the raw materials which they produce. Rubber is a case in point. They say, "If you will not buy our rubber, if you make artificial products and reduce the price, what is our position? What can we do?" Of course, a country which produces raw materials cannot change or vary its products to suit the market anything like so easily as a country which produces finished articles. It takes years. So by this policy—and it is not only we who are implicated; all the developed nations are—we shall force many of these countries on to the bread line, and I cannot think that is a happy state of affairs or the right policy to pursue.
As customers, these countries tend, when they become independent, to accelerate the pace of economic development. They tend to recruit experts from abroad, from foreign countries, and not necessarily from the United Kingdom, 136 and to order goods from foreign countries because they need quick delivery. Often as a result the United Kingdom loses trade, and for this reason I think it was absolute folly on our part to prohibit the Colonial Development Corporation from participating in these countries in any way except as agents. So far as the Labour Party is concerned we have come out categorically. On this point the Labour Party has said:In office it will take steps to change the Corporation's constitution to enable it to become the main instrument of public investment in colonial under-developed areas. It will also create an instrument available to the emerging territories of the Commonwealth who still need capital and practical assistance during the early years of their independence and will equip it with adequate finance and powers for its rôle.I must warn your Lordships that, unless something of that kind is done, the tendency which undoubtedly exists in these countries, to get foreign experts, will mean that we shall lose a lot of trade. In the past, the fact that our experts were there meant that a large number of our goods went out. In future, unless something is done, that will no longer be the case.
My Lords, I visited three Commonwealth countries and two non-Commonwealth countries, and I was very glad to find that the Colombo Plan is doing useful work, especially in Burma. Of course, there are a number of other agencies. But it is a mistake to tie up these plans and to have too many strings attached to them. For instance, one loan being made by the United States to one country has two strings. The first is that the Government must approve any projects (which is fair enough, I suppose), and the other is that no Socialist projects may be embarked upon with any of the funds. That, I feel. is very damaging, first because it is very difficult to say what is Socialist and what is not in that sense. Construction of a bridge may be regarded as a Socialist project in some quarters, as there is no profit in it, while in other quarters it may not. To tie political strings to a grant of aid is a bad thing to do.
We are glad to see in Command Paper 237, paragraphs 52 to 58, the amount of attention which is paid to nuclear science and Commonwealth co-operation. That Command Paper was published by Her Majesty's Government in July. It is 137 entitled The United Kingdom Rôle in Commonwealth Development. We are glad that the Government are stressing the importance of such matters, but we feel that at this stage in the development of under-developed territories in the Commonwealth and elsewhere, long-term contracts., bulk purchase and reserve funds to cushion industries against violent fluctuations still have their part to play. We are sorry that Her Majesty's Government do not attach the same importance to that as we do. A case in point is that of Ghana and the cocoa industry there. In the years towards the end of the war and after the war, when we were in office, if there had not been a considerable Cocoa Reserve Fund built up—it was a very big one—the cocoa industry and perhaps the Government would be in great difficulties in Ghana to-day. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and this shows what a considerable aid such a reserve fund can be.
Now I come to machinery. The Commonwealth is a changing, developing, expanding organism. There are new nations in it. The number of nations now is eleven. It has a population of over 500 million, and it consists of Asians, Africans, Europeans and Americans. There are conferences, committees and other associations which impinge upon it but there is no machinery of any kind. In Command Paper 237, paragraphs 59 to 62, your Lordships will find how the thing works in practice. Co-ordination, so far as it exists, is a function of the Commonwealth Relations Office. And may I say, here and now, that my experience of that Office and its staff leads me to say that it cannot possibly be praised too highly. It is a very efficient, a first-class, Department. But the staff are home civil servants and, naturally, their task is to represent the United Kingdom Government abroad and to see that the United Kingdom Government at home realise the needs and the views of the Commonwealth Governments. They are not a central organisation, and I am wondering whether this is enough. It probably was enough thirty, forty, or fifty years ago, but in this Sputnik age, an age of tremendous speed of movement, can the Commonwealth any longer go on without any central organisation at all? I know that there are strong views on this question, and there have been in the past, 138 on the part of Commonwealth Governments. I am sure we should be interested to know whether there has been any change in this respect; whether we are coming any nearer to having a central organisation.
I will not say anything about defence because I note that we are to have a separate Defence debate, and, no doubt, in that debate expression will be given to the views and needs of the Commonwealth. As I have said, this is a changing, expanding, living Commonwealth. Her Majesty the Queen is the Head of it as well as the Head of some of the constituent parts. She is the Head and the symbol. I think this was well brought out by the words of Her Majesty in this House on Tuesday, when she spoke of the fact that she had opened Parliament in Canada only three weeks ago and was opening Parliament here that day. She told us that she brought from the New World a message of firm fellowship and the assurance of a common faith. Those were comforting and encouraging words, and we all appreciated them.
In conclusion, I should like to say that in my experience these newly independent countries of the Commonwealth look at things in a completely new way, and I think we must try to see things through their eyes. The Commonwealth is now largely Asian. Very soon the African members will about equal in numbers those of European stock. In my recent visit I noticed a tendency in some quarters—not necessarily in British quarters; in other quarters—to look at Eastern things (the same is true of African affairs) through Western eyes. This will not do. We must try to look at these problems and these questions through their eyes, and if we do so we shall see a very different picture. We need a new approach, not only by the Government but by the industrial and commercial firms who operate in these countries. I am sure that if we try to see things through their eyes then the Commonwealth will continue as a strong and stable force for peace in this troubled world.
§ 3.36 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, in rising to participate in this debate on the programme of Her Majesty's Government, as described in the gracious Speech, I propose to confine myself to a few 139 reflections on that section which expresses the belief of Her Majesty's Government in responsible self-government by free peoples. Before going on to say the few things which I want to say, however, I should like to join with the noble Lord who has just sat down in offering congratulations to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, upon his appointment as Governor-General of Ghana. The fairness of mind and the unfailing courtesy which so characterise the noble Earl will be invaluable to him and to the people of Ghana in his new post, and we look forward to his having a very successful term of office there.
The policy of continuing to promote the economic and constitutional development of the territories overseas which are in their care is one which has, in general terms, received the approval, I think, of every Party in this country. Where we do differ at times is over the pace at which certain developments should proceed, and I must say that I was glad to hear at the end of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, an entreaty that we should try to look at these circumstances in the world to-day not solely through our own eyes but through Asian and African eyes. But, without wishing to be controversial, I should have said that that was precisely the failing in the past of the Party opposite; they have so often looked at these questions with purely Western eyes, and they often made pronouncements, in all sincerity, about affairs in these countries, which apparently assumed that they were dealing with Asiatic or African Englishmen who thought and felt as we do. In my opinion there is no surer way of making mistakes than to adopt that attitude. Therefore, I heartily endorse the noble Lord's entreaty. People should try to look at these questions which arise through the eyes of the Asiatic or the African or, as the case may be, of the West Indian.
With regard to economic and constitutional development, I should like to say that a full appreciation of the complete interdependence of economic and political development and the fact that political development can mean practicaly nothing without parallel economic development has been, in spite of its present recognition, very slow in gaining full recognition in this country. There are still people who seem to hold that political freedom 140 itself, with a new Constitution and with the constitutional trappings of Western democracy, has an intrinsic merit per se. I hold a very different view from that. I feel that this is perhaps not the time to go into details of this matter and I emphasise it only in order to state what I think is the omission. in referring to the constitutional and economic development, of the third factor, which is the most important of all—that is, the spirit that nourishes and keeps it whole, the driving force of faith and public service and loyalty to a country.
We have scattered over the earth to-day a number of nascent nations which are really the creation of our sometimes rather thoughtless divisions of territories in the past. We have already had some striking lessons and in my opinion we are going to have many more yet. I shall refer to this briefly later, and at this point I want only to say that the results of independence are likely to differ very widely in the countries concerned. One ought not to be surprised at that, nor should one wish it to be otherwise. One has no right to expect that the nascent nations of the Commonwealth would be merely the passive recipients of our alien civilisation. Their own background, their own traditions, their own culture, modified, it is true, by whatever may be of permanent value in Western teaching, will produce unpredictable results, but certainly not carbon copies of the European.
To turn again to the gracious Speech, one finds that legislation is to be introduced concerning the future Constitution of Singapore. The mainland Federation of Malaya became independent a few months ago and, as with all countries now gaining a new independence, it faces the future with many vital problems unsolved. One of the questions which a not too remote future must answer is that of the artificial separation of the Federation and Singapore. To look at only one aspect, the Federation will need in future all the business ability, all the wisdom and knowledge of technique of administration, as well as of business, which the Chinese citizens of Singapore might help to supply. I appreciate that the statesmanship of Tungku Abdul Rahman and his colleagues, Malay, Chinese and Indian, inspires the hope of success in welding together in that country a new nation, while in Singapore the courage and sense 141 of responsibility of the Chief Minister, Lim Yew Hock, cannot but excite one's admiration.
To think of only one of the many problems that face these two countries, the rate of population increase in the Federation is 3 per cent. per annum and 3½ per cent. in Singapore. I know that Malaya is a relatively large country—52,500 square miles—whereas Singapore is only 217 square miles and in the Federation there are roughly about 6 million people and in Singapore 1¼ million; but think alone of the appalling problem of education in a country like that, where 50 per cent. of the population will be under 21 years of age. That is, indeed, a problem in expense and in every other aspect of education. But the future depends upon a proper solution to that problem. In addition, we have two Malayan Governments sharing a single economy closely and inevitably unified by the interlocking of trade and finance. I suggest that it needs an effective focus of thinking for the Malayan economy as a whole, a centre in which the Federation and Singapore can be brought together in relation to the many issues of economic policy which go far beyond mere monetary questions. Incidentally, that is why the International Bank Mission, when it went recently to Singapore and Malaya, advocated the early formation of a Central Bank: not, perhaps, that the time was really ripe for it, but that there was an urgent need for some central body which could do the thinking of the country as a whole.
Having served in all the Malayan Stales as well as in Singapore, and having spent twenty-five years of my life in that country', I naturally feel strongly about these questions, and I am very anxious that the future of Malaya should be as happy as things used to be in the early days before the war and before the serpent of racial distinctions entered into what was then almost the Garden of Eden.
I note in passing the statement in the gracious Speech that the closer association of Malta with the United Kingdom is to receive further consideration, though some of the proposals which were made in the past I view without any enthusiasm. Perhaps I may be allowed to say that complete integration and representation in the House of Commons, as well as the guaranteed equality of 142 standard of living, would seem to me to be too high a price to pay and certainly too much to ask the British taxpayer to afford. I suggest that we cannot afford to start, least of all now, a system of imperial "poor relief." It might well be that some representation in your Lordships' House would give the opportunity, if one were required for the voice of such territories to be heard in Parliament.
Passing on again, I believe that we all want and seek a just and enduring solution of the problems of Cyprus, in conformity, as the gracious Speech says, with the interests of the local communities and with those of this country and of our allies, to which I would add that in that category surely Turkey occupies a prominent place. May I take this opportunity of expressing a deep admiration for the ability, the patience and the courage of the retiring Governor, Sir John Harding, during his successful two years of office? If the time has come to go hack to the civil administration of a territory to which a distinguished soldier had to be called in order to remedy—I had nearly said "the mess" and I suppose that I should be right in using that word—the confusion into which it had been allowed to fall under civilian control, I would suggest, with humility, that there could be no better choice than Sir Hugh Foot, whose personal qualities, background, experience and training seems almost to have been designed to tit him especially for the extremely difficult post to which he has now been called. With respect, I would congratulate the Government on their choice.
I note with pleasure, too, the welcome given to the proposal to hold a Commonwealth Trade and Economic Conference in 1958. There are many ways, as we have often debated in this House, in which the mutual interest of members of the Commonwealth could be fostered economically, and especially the economic interest of the United Kingdom and other members of the Commonwealth. Also it seems to me particularly desirable that countries newly independent should find ready facilities in the Commonwealth club which they have joined.
In conclusion, my Lords, I would emphasise the point that I made a little earlier. The results of independence are indeed unpredictable, but at least we should recognise that the pattern must differ widely in different parts of the 143 world. The idea of a growing group of tidy democracies working on the lines evolved in this country by centuries of experience and adjustment is, I submit, just a dream or a delusion. Whether it be Malaya, the West Indies, Nigeria, Ghana or the Central African Federation, there are bound to be wide differences in the political and other spheres in their development. It is a cliché almost to say that democracy is a set of values and that institutions are only a means of safeguarding them if the will to do so and the understanding is present as a motive power in the life of the people of the country.
The idea that independence will be the fount of everything that is good is, it seems to me, dangerously prevalent. On our side, in this country, it seems to me unwise, as well as being unfair, to voice criticism too readily. One has often had occasion to deplore interference by individuals or associations in this country with the politics of dependent territories which are moving towards self-government. So I suggest that we should withhold facile criticism when the initial stages of independence seem to fall short of expectations which never had much basis in supporting facts. This, I know, is not the occasion to go into detail, but I ask, what do you expect when countries such as some of those that have been mentioned attain to independence? The civilisation of a people is not the work of a day or of a generation. It is, surely, a fruit that takes time to ripen. So hasty criticism based on disappointment is as unjust, I suggest, as expectations based on ignorance are unjustifiable. The misfortune of emergent countries and of some that have already emerged is too much attention by too ignorant opinion in this country.
In one final word I should like to take this opportunity of congratulating the noble Earl the Leader of the House on his recent visit to the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. His sympathetic understanding of the inter-racial problems, his firm belief in the aims and objects of the Federation and his lucid and firmly objective approach in speeches made there have no doubt had all the necessary publicity out there; but I hope that those speeches will be given adequate publicity in this country. I feel that the 144 progress that has already been made in racial relations in the Federation is grossly undervalued in this country. It is very real, and, over a period of years, most remarkable. As your Lordships know, you cannot hurry too much in these matters. In any matters of human relations at all hurry is a mistake, but especially in these delicate racial human relations it is a disaster.
What has happened in the Federation, if it is fairly looked at over, say. the past ten or even twenty years, is that there has been immense progress in the direction that we all desire; and it is surely one of the attributes of a good Government that it should refuse to jeopardise a work which is going on so well, carried on by extremely distinguished and capable men who see clearly the way ahead and who themselves have had the experience of being citizens in that country. Surely we ought to allow them, on the record which we can examine, to proceed with a policy in which we all believe, and not to wreck it by undue haste or by listening to aspiring politicians in Africa who want the power before there are people capable of using it in the proper way. In fact, I think the words of the poet, that are so well known (and in conclusion I would quote them) would apply very much to racial relations in Rhodesia:For while the tired waves vainly breakingSeem here no painful inch to gain.Far back through creeks and inlets makingComes silent, flooding in, the main.
§ 3.59 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, I understand it has been arranged that foreign questions should be discussed in this debate, and the fact that the Whips have put down my name at this point indicates, I imagine, that we have moved from the Commonwealth into the new realm of the foreign field.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, in case it may be more convenient to the noble Viscount to speak later, may I say that I do not think that we have moved out of the Commonwealth field. There are one or two more speakers on that subject and I am going to wind up that section of the debate. It might be more convenient for the noble Viscount to speak later.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
No; I would rather speak at this point. I am always grateful for the courtesy of the 145 noble Earl and of the Whips, but my questions do not touch the Commonwealth at all. I am surprised at the calm in this House and the apparent indifference to events which are happening in the world and which, I suppose, are the most shattering that human memory can recall. There is, first of all the fact that the sky is now peopled by two, and possibly later will be by more. Russian meteors which have been propelled into outer space and are constantly passing over our country and other countries. Presumably when they get bigger they will have an apparatus which will permit them to photograph and do whatever they like. That is the first thing. It is certainly very startling.
The second thing is that the Soviet representatives have declared their determination to abandon the disarmament discussions. I am not quite clear what the position is. I read to-day the Report of U.N.O., and, so far as I can make out, the Sub-Commission is to be reappointed, but the Russian representative has already announced that he is not going to participate unless there is a change. I hope that there will be a change. I hope the Government have thought of some way. Even young men can remember when the Germans abandoned the United Nations, and I myself heard on a rainy night Mussolini declare in the Piazza Venezia that Italy was going to abandon it, too.
The third thing is the speech of Mr. Khrushchev, in which he invited us to come to some discussions. As against that there are the important interview between the Prime Minister and the President of the United States and the further discussions which are to take place, not, apparently, in London, but in Paris at the meeting of N.A.T.O. I think your Lordships will agree that these are events the like of which we have not seen in our time. I do not wish to criticise. Certainly "Party" seems an absolutely ridiculous term at a moment like this.
I wish to ask questions, and I think they should be considered and answered, not necessarily by the noble Earl at once, but as soon as possible. Some of them will touch the disarmament question and can be answered at once, but some will certainly call for a more detailed reply. I understand that the purpose or the result of Mr. Macmillan's visit to New 146 York was to consolidate the Anglo-American Alliance against International Communism, and that one of the results is that we and the United States stand together to combat everywhere and always international Communism. That was stated very plainly in Mr. Macmillan's further speech in which he said "it never presented such a great danger." It may be that that is quite a good policy, but if we are going to enter into it in this outright close-knit "band of brothers" way, I think we really should know what exactly we mean, first of all, by international Communism and, secondly, what would be the price we should pay for a world military alliance to combat it. I will ask some of those questions in a moment.
In return for this undertaking we were to have access to the scientific secrets of the State Department, which were being withheld from us under the McMahon Act. My first comment is: Has it been observed that the question of the McMahon Act is a very lively Party political issue in the United States, and the heavy defeat which the Republicans suffered, I think, only yesterday, can be attributed in part to the supposition that the President had promised to give away some secrets which many Congressmen regard as extremely valuable. Therefore the first question I would ask the Government is this: To what degree are they able to say that valuable scientific secrets will be given to us in return for this undertaking to enter into an all-out war against international Communism? The McMahon Act is very strict, and its control of opinion in the United States is also very strict. Scientists do not like police control, and Mr. Kefauver, in a speech only two days ago, asked whether there was to be some relaxation of this control which—I will not say paralysed, because that is too strong a term, but has very much weakened the contribution which American scientists can make to this matter and in all other ways.
If you go to Bonn you will find that Dr. Adenauer is faced with the same difficulty. German scientists say that they will not work under such conditions, and they put some demands—I do not know whether they will be acceded to or not—about nuclear power. The two objections are, first, that a scientist is a man who 147 will not be controlled, because he cannot be a good scientist unless he has a free mind; and the second is that the scientist does not like to be put to a job which he believes would be disastrous for mankind.
This is a matter for America. We have comparative freedom here. The Times encouraged me when it reported the Privy Counsellors' meeting under the heading, "Not Far Enough". We know that the other day, in the case of Mr. Lang, we definitely preferred security to ability. He was sacked because there was an off-chance, as some thought, that there would be a security weakness. The question here is this. First of all, what secrets do we get? And then: Has the Prime Minister given the President of the United States any assurance at all in reference to security arrangements in this country? Has he directly or indirectly suggested that we shall tighten up (as it is called) our security arrangements? That question is susceptible of a clear answer, and I hope that at some time the noble Earl will be able to give it to me. As a matter of fact I raised this question prematurely some days ago.
The second point is this—I will take the military side first, and then I will come to the economic side. When you are going to make an all-out war on international Communism, which the Prime Minister said has never been such a dangerous force as it is to-day, what are your targets and what are your methods? I will take first the African question—and the Prime Minister mentioned Africa in his speech. He said that Communism will spread from Europe to Asia, and that from Asia it will reach Africa. Military arrangements already exist among the Western Powers and the Colonial Powers, whoever they are, and also quite possibly with the Dominion Powers—I do not know—for the military control of Africa in case this menace reaches it. But if you are fighting international Communism, what is your position in reference to Dr. Strijdom and the South African Government? "International Communism" in South Africa means that you wish to worship with a black, or wish to be in a trade union with him; or, in fact, that you are revolted at the idea of Apartheid. If you do that you are a "Communist." I am not saying that the Government would 148 associate themselves with this policy, but how are you going to have a world-wide campaign against what you have imagined to be international Communism without defining quite clearly to the South African Government, whose co-operation you require, your attitude towards their conception of what is international Communism?
Now I come to another area, also in an amateur military way. What is going to be your attitude towards the string of defences which Mr. Dulles has drawn out in Asia against the supposed military menace from China? If your Lordships would just let your minds go over the map, you will find that there is Mr. Syngman Rhee, fully supported by the United States but not in any association with us; there are the Philippines with their understandings; there is General Chiang Kai-shek with an ageing army, fully supported by the Americans but with whom we have no military commitments. Then, to come to the S.E.A.T.O. countries, they, with the exception of Pakistan, which is some distance away, and Siam, consist exclusively of Western Powers. India, Burma, Ceylon, Indonesia and, I think I am right in saying, Malaya, are not in the S.E.A.T.O. arrangements.
In this military design which has been prepared, what is the place that we assign to ourselves? When Mr. Dulles has his string of defences against this impending attack by the Chinese, what is our part? Because so far it has been extremely well devised that we have not got our foot in the trap at all, or at least only in a secondary and indirect way. We are not committed outside S.E.A.T.O.; we are not committed to anything that Chiang Kai-shek, Syngman Rhee or others may do. I think, therefore, that it would be a good thing if the Government could explain clearly what their intentions are in that area.
I would remind your Lordships that our Commonwealth is the greatest Asian Power. The Indian Republic next to China is the most powerful country in Asia. What relation has this scheme to the Indian Republic? Have they been consulted at all before the Prime Minister of this country committed us, and presumably as many members of the Commonwealth as he could get, to this all-out war against Communism? I think really we should be informed on that point. I 149 have been for the last few years, like many of your Lordships, wandering about in Asia, and I think everyone who has been there—Lord Ogmore said the same thing—will agree that the one thing in the Asian mind to-day is a hatred of the idea of renewed Western control. That is quite understandable. If you read the history of the 19th century you will find that it was a century of brigandage and marauding. This has produced very deep feeling in their minds.
If you want modern illustrations, small ones, take the two cases of South Vietnam and Laos. In the past few days Laos has made arrangements with Pather Lao, thereby flouting the American policy of excluding what they consider to be the Communist neighbours of the country whose total budget they support; and Dr. Diem, a fine and energetic man completely in accord with American opinion, has found it necessary or wise to pay a visit to Dehli, thereby showing that he will not be put in the S.E.A.T.O. class but desires to have relations, at least, with the Bandung area as well.
If it is really true that we are indulging in more than words, and if we are really going to plan a world defence—I am not speaking about offence—against international Communism, is it possible that you can proceed without admitting the People's Republic of China, at any rate to consultations? And yet The Times, whose article this morning I thought in many ways quite admirable, says:Whilst the United States is reeling under the blow of the satellites, you cannot expect them to sit down at the table with China.So Mr. Khrushchev's satellite has evidently sealed the fate of China so far as co-operation with the rest of the world is concerned. If you are going to envisage a world scheme, it is a disastrous omission that China should not be brought into some kind of consultation.
The other side is to say, "Well, there will not be a war." Let us hope not. If there will not be a war, one would hope that the Budgets would reflect that fact in some way. They do not. Our present economic troubles are entirely due to the vast expenditure on defence. But suppose it is going to be an economic war. I should like to ask the noble Earl when he replies whether he accepts Mr. Khrushchev's extremely buoyant figures of the development of the Soviet economy. 150 He said that since 1913 production has increased thirty-three times. There is one thing about Russian speakers: they often tell you, in quite a candid way, the truth. I do not remember their saying that they would do a thing which they did not do. It may be a wrong thing to do, but usually what they say is accurate. What are you going to do about that?
Is it your view—and this is what fear—that you will divide the world economically into two parts, and that it will be a Communist half working on a Communist economy and a capitalist half working on a capitalist economy? Sometimes one thinks that that is so. When you see the persistence in the trade boycott on China which the Government are doing their best to overcome, I sometimes feel that behind Strasbourg, the Council of Europe, the European Free Trade Area and so forth, apart from the advantages (which I, as an old Liberal free trader, fully appreciate) of a wide tariff area, the driving force is the desire to organise an economic Western world against the Communist world to the East. I think that one economic world is the only world you can possibly have.
There is another question which I put, without offence. We are to organise the world against international Communism. Do we associate ourselves wholly, I do not say with the Catholic Church, but with the Vatican State in this matter, because they are the most prominent advocates of this total war against Communism? That I think is a question that certainly should be answered. It is not a vague question; it is a very real question. It touches the frontiers, for example, of Poland and in the past it touched very much Yugoslavia. If you mean economic measures, what means are you going to adopt for the purpose of breaking down this Communist bloc which is such a danger? Are you going to adopt the propaganda method? Are you going to subsidise the balloons? Are you going to support an association like the Association of Captive European Nations, expatriates, good men, but who have lost power and influence in their own countries? It may be a good thing to do, but one wants to know whether that is being done and whether we are, directly or indirectly in any way being associated 151 with the wireless propaganda against them.
I feel very strongly great sympathy with those people in Budapest who rose, at danger to their lives and sometimes the sacrifice of their lives, to uphold a cause; but what was the cause? If noble Lords think that the insurgents in Budapest and Poznan and elsewhere were there in order to get capitalism back into their countries, they make a very great mistake. The Times said in a leading article two days ago, "What they want is more freedom and more Socialism." Can we put that safely to President Eisenhower: that we are going to support a course which will produce more Socialism in Central Europe? The thing we quarrel with—at least, the thing I quarrel with—is what appears in Mr. Khrushchev's speech, the denunciation of any other form of Socialism except one-Party Socialism. That is what I quarrel with, but I am not at all sure that that view would commend itself widely in Congress.
Finally, as to this conference The Times says:It is not one to cause fright.That is a very piano remark to make about a conference. The most significant thing to me was President Eisenhower's reference in his broadcast to "the enemy". Speaking about the McMahon Act, he said:The reason why we had the McMahon Act was because we thought we had a monopoly. We know now that the information is in possession of the enemy"—Note "the enemy". I say you are getting into a very dangerous position which might explode at any time with these weapons which would be utterly beyond control.
It is suggested in The Times that the meeting should be postponed, first, to prepare the ground, and secondly, until the American satellites have gone up. Are we going to wait until the American satellites have gone up? What answer are we going to give to Mr. Khrushchev? I do not know. I am speaking entirely for myself, but is it not possible that we should devise something which, at the sacrifice of such things as the boycott of China and other things, would make possible some understanding?
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords, I intervene in this debate for one purpose only—to pick out a single sentence in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and to comment very briefly upon it, and at the same time to emphasise in a certain measure the closing remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Milverton. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, asked questions about the situation in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and expressed some misgiving as to whether Her Majesty's Government might not be manœuvred into a position from which they will be unable to retreat at the time of the revision of the Constitution in 1960.
This is not the occasion to debate the Constitution (Amendment) Bill which has been passed by the Federal Parliament, having received the requisite two-thirds majority, not only of that Parliament but also of all three territorial Governments. Nor is it the time to go into detail into the objections made against that Bill by the African Affairs Board—still less to discuss the proposed Electoral Amendment Bill. That Bill, it should be emphasised, has not yet even come before the Federal Parliament, and we have no means of telling, when it does come before that Parliament, in what form it will finally be passed, or whether it will, in fact, receive the necessary two-thirds majority.
My purpose in rising this afternoon is merely to express a devout hope that when these subjects do come before your Lordships' House we shall bring to bear upon them an approach as nearly non-partisan as we can achieve, for at this moment the development in the Federation is at a most delicate stage in all spheres—political, economic and social. I could hope for nothing better than that our approach to these matters shall be that of the Parliamentary delegation which has so recently returned from the Federation, and which I had the pleasure of listening to when it made its verbal report last evening. I hope Parliament, in both Houses, will be able to agree substantially with that report, and to bring to bear upon this subject an equal statesmanship and fairmindedness.
My Lords, I believe that there are two reasons why we should take this essentially non-partisan view about the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland 153 —reasons which, I believe, leave all of us in this country heavily in the debt of all the inhabitants of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The first reason (this is a somewhat delicate subject, and I hope that no noble Lord will take any offence at my remarks, for I shall not be expressing my own opinion but merely reporting what I believe to be the facts from my experience gained within the Federation) is that opinions have, unfortunately, grown up within the Federation which are universally held, and perhaps more especially among the Africans, that one of the major Parties in England is pro-African and anti-European, and that the other major Party, while not essentially pro-European, is, nevertheless, anti-African.
I do not intend to analyse or to comment upon those opinions: I will merely bring them to the attention of your Lordships' House and suggest, very respectfully, that those opinions could not be so widely held in the Central African Federation if there were not some justification for them. I believe that that situation has improved considerably recently and, that, thanks to the efforts of both Parties in the past year, it has dawned upon the inhabitants of the Federation that there is, after all, not so much difference in the views of the two major political Parties in this country. I only hope that, when we come to discuss such matters as the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, nothing will be done to cause the inhabitants of the Federation to reverse the more favourable opinions they are now beginning to hold.
The second reason why I believe this country and this Parliament are in the debt of the Federation is that at the beginning of Federation itself the people out there believed that both the Labour and Conservative Parties were responsible for the creation of Federation. I think that none of us can very well deny that, although at the last moment the Party opposite expressed its disapproval of the actual act of federation. Nevertheless, both Parties did at that time pledge themselves, once the Fderation was created, to do their best to support it and back it up. Yet that is precisely what this country and, I regret to say, this Parliament have not done; and it is very badly felt by all the inhabitants of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Perhaps I should explain 154 my remark about this country not having supported the Federation as might have been expected.
Noble Lords opposite will remember that their Secretary of State for the Colonies gave a directive which prevented the administrators on the spot from "putting over" Federation, as it were: they were allowed only to explain it. But not to tell the African—who had hitherto always depended upon the advice of the provincial commissioner or the district commissioner—and not to be able to get any information from those people as to whether Federation was in fact a good thing for the African, did immense damage at the outset of the Federation. I have no wish to make a Party point of this, and I hasten to add that I believe members of the Conservative Party on this side must carry their share of the blame; for that directive was not changed after their coming into power until, I believe I can say quite definitely, the present Secretary of State, my right honourable friend Mr. Lennox Boyd, went out there only a year ago. So that for the first two years there was no real follow-up from this country in support of the Federation. That has been a great disadvantage to the people out there, and they have felt it very badly. For those two reasons I would urge your Lordships, when these matters come up: let us combine our experience, knowledge and wisdom in order that we may help the Federation and all its inhabitants to solve their problems in the way we would wish to see them solved, in a helpful and non-critical spirit.
§ 4.33 p.m.
My Lords, following upon what the noble Lord, Lord Hastings has just said, in asking for a non-partisan approach to the problems of the Federation, a non-partisan approach I can confidently assure him of, speaking for myself and I believe my noble friends—on one condition. It is a condition which I feel noble Lords on the other side should find no more difficult to satisfy than we on this side; that is, that any solution, any plans for the Federation and Nyasaland should be essentially democratic plans plans for the fuller development of the Federation and Nyasaland along democratic lines. If it is the case, as the noble Lord says, that in the Federation one Party here is 155 regarded as pro-African and the other as pro-European, I can only deplore it. We on this side are not pro-African or pro-European: we are in favour of the fullest possible development of the Federation along democratic lines.
We are opposed, however, to all tendencies to enforce politics and programmes which tend to prevent the democratic representation of all the peoples in the Federation. I was a little mystified by part of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Milverton. He is such a clear speaker that I was surprised I should be so mystified, but he seemed to have a curious antipathy to the little Island of Malta. He spoke most fluently and, it seemed to me quite rightly, along the lines that I, with your Lordships' permission, intend to develop a little later, about the assistance which should be given amongst the members of the Commonwealth to other members of the Commonwealth requiring assistance. But that assistance he appears to wish to deny to Malta, for which a scheme that seemed to me particularly ingenious has been evolved, one which I believe will not cost the people of this country more than it will bring them back in friendship and co-operation in Malta.
The history of Man is the story of his triumph over nature. For thousands of years Man has struggled with the forces of nature; and slowly, very slowly, the battle has been won. It has not yet been completely won, but in recent years the speed of the conquest of natural forces has been redoubled to such effect that I suggest, as the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate has already mentioned, we have now arrived at a point where we are moving into a completely new era, an era which has been high-lighted for us all by the recent Russian-launched satellites. In this era we have to learn a great many new things. It is not enough to cling to the old assumptions, the old bases and the old hypotheses from which we began our thinking. These hypotheses have now become invalid and we must learn new bases for our thoughts and new realities. I would suggest to your Lordships that the first of those realities is that to-day nationalism is an anachronism. We are moving into a new era and these processes of change are generally painful. In the past—for example, in the Middle 156 Ages when the feudal system was disintegrating—what was happening was not appreciated by the people of that time; and much suffering and hardship were caused by their failure to understand what was occurring around them. To-day, we are in a position where we can understand, if we will, what is happening; and I suggest to your Lordships that just as in feudal days men had to learn—and they learned the hard way—to readjust their loyalties, so we to-day must learn to readjust our loyalties.
I do not suggest that we should love our own country less, but we must learn that our country is only part of a world. The men of the later Middle Ages were able to learn this lesson slowly, with suffering perhaps, but without catastrophe. To-day, if we do not learn our lesson we shall not have time to learn it the hard way, for, I suggest, disaster will be the result of a failure to learn and to appreciate what is happening in the world around us. The inevitable result of a major war in the world to-day would be the end of our civilisation, probably the end of mankind. We in this House are properly concerned primarily with the fortunes and the progress of our own British people in this country, but I believe it is our duty to make them aware of the new circumstances and the new conditions in which we and they are living, and in which our children—if we survive—will have to live. We cannot be purely selfish. Selfishness is a policy of self-destruction. We have to play our part in the creation of a world community.
I desire to submit to your Lordships to-day, and to Her Majesty's Government, two proposals. First, nationalism is no longer a feasible faith. It is worse: not only is it irrevelant, it is dangerous. We must recognise that we, the British people, can no longer have an independent British policy. There are in, the world to-day only two Powers capable of independence, Russia and the United States of America; and if they, suffering as they do from rivalry and fear of one another, were to exercise that independence, then I believe that the human race would come to an end. We therefore have a duty to perform, if in any way we can, to prevent this rivalry from growing fiercer, harder and finally totally self-destructive. It seems to me inevitable 157 that the ultimate end of British policy must be integration into a wider, indeed into a world, community. Clearly that cannot happen to-morrow, but there are steps which I suggest the British Government can take to help that process. We are already members of a Commonwealth. I welcome the Commonwealth Conference which was announced in the gracious Speech. I hope that Her Majesty's Government, when they attend this Conference, will not take too narrow a view of the trade and economic steps which they propose to discuss.
My Lords, we have in the last ten years built up in this country what is called a Welfare State. I believe that it is our function, and in the long run our interest, to build up in the Commonwealth a Welfare Commonwealth. Our Commonwealth, inhabited as it is by peoples of all races, colours and religions, can, I suggest, play a great part in forwarding the creation of a true world community. But it can be done only if we are prepared to make considerable sacrifices ourselves; to accustom our people, hiding nothing from them, to the idea that these sacrifices are their duty. I believe that our people have a high sense of duty and a great generosity—so much so that such a teaching will be, if properly explained, acceptable to them, and in the long run will provide us with firm friends all over the world, good customers and additional producers to improve the world's resources. These are, I suggest, if expressed with an eloquence which, alas! I have not got, truly exciting ideas, ideas in which we could carry not only the population of this country but also all the other members of the Commonwealth with us.
This is the point I desire most particularly to make. At this Conference which is called in Canada, I suggest that Her Majesty's Government should put it to the other rich members of the Commonwealth that they, too, have a duty towards those members who are poor. I believe that help to India is not merely a duty on our part, not merely a means of making a new customer, a new producer in Asia; it is, I think, probably the only guarantee of democracy in Asia. If the world is to continue to be divided into the rich and the poor, the developed and the under-developed, divisions which too closely follow those of race and colour, 158 we may find—indeed, we shall find—that, having failed in our mission, we have lost the Commonwealth. I hope, therefore, that at this Conference, the announcement of which I welcome, Her Majesty's Government will put forward a policy for Commonwealth development, a policy aiming eventually at a world community.
§ 4.47 p.m.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, I think the House will give a general welcome to the turn which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, gave to this debate when he concentrated his attention on those aspects of the gracious Speech which referred to the progress and the practice of our Commonwealth association, and when he urged us, quite properly, in this House to try to see things through the eyes of the people who live in Africa or in Asia. That is what I, personally, in the last two and a hall' years have tried to do, and, like him, I have spent a lot of time away from my desk in Whitehall trying to become acquainted with the affairs of the different Commonwealth countries on the spot, because the problems when seen from Australia or Africa or India look rather different from the problems when seen from London. And I think it is well, too, that perhaps this debate should merge into one on some of the wider questions which were raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, and the noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, who has just spoken. I say that because British foreign policy is to maintain and cultivate peaceful relations with all who will live in friendship with us. But traditionally the two main foundations of our foreign policy are intimate and constructive co-operation with the Commonwealth of Nations, and collaboration with the United States of America which, in its latest version, is called inter-dependence.
The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate—if he will allow me I will leave his questions to be answered by my noble friend who is going to answer the debate—asked, really, for a definition of what inter-dependence might mean, and of the sort of action which might follow from the Prime Minister's Joint Declaration with President Eisenhower. I should have thought that the Declaration aimed, for instance, at constructive action first in the field of the regional pacts, the military pacts, so that security might be even better organised than it is at present 159 for the members of the free world; and secondly, so that the wealth we command—and, after all, we command considerable wealth in the world—may be used to better advantage than it is at present, with a particular eye, of course, on the need of the under-developed countries and of those poorer areas which are so liable to be tempted into the Communist camp by the advances of international Communism.
I would also invite your Lordships' attention to the nature of the Joint Declaration by the President and the Prime Minister, because it specifically recognised that the invigoration and unity of the free world which we seek is not just a matter for the United Kingdom and the United States of America. There was reference to the intimate and unbreakable ties which each has with other countries. Of course our ties with the Commonwealth are intimate and unbreakable. So I take it that the task ahead of this country and the United States, and of the countries of the Commonwealth which are our comrades in this matter, is to see that both our military and our economic resources should be used to the best advantage.
The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, recalled the nature, the character and the variety of the Commonwealth, which is that of an association of equals bent upon constructive co-operation between its members. There is no overlord, no compulsion to join, no restraint upon leaving. Yet this apparently loose association has a positive value, and that, as the noble Lord reminded us, has been well illustrated this year when two nations geographically so far apart, so different in origin and tradition, have joined the Commonwealth—that is, Malaya and Ghana. I should like to take up the point made so well by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, and indeed by Lord Ogmore as well, that there is no absolute political pattern in the Commonwealth and that we should not expect one. Our political institutions in this country, it is true, have been widely adopted in the Commonwealth. But the pattern will not be exact, and when one sees a new Government, as there is in Ghana, dealing with new problems, I think that they should have our full understanding in these early days of their independence. 160 I am sure they realise to the full that if there is criticism in this country it is only because we are so anxious to see them play their full and responsible part in world affairs. So this has been an auspicious year in that Ghana and Malaya have joined our number. And the Commonwealth can, I feel, without doubt stand on its own virtues and its own values before the world. But I think it might be well, from time to time, to remember the contrast with the only other large political system in the world which, at best, offers a negative co-existence.
Lord Ogmore focused particular attention on the possibilities for increasing wealth and standards of living throughout the Commonwealth by making the most of our Commonwealth resources which are so widespread and so various. In this task the United Kingdom necessarily must bear the principal part. We have, of course, been entirely responsible for development within our Colonial Empire and we have, as I shall show in a moment, contributed very largely to the development of the independent Commonwealth countries. We want to do better, but I hope that in our anxiety to do more we shall not belittle what we have already done. I think it may interest your Lordships to learn that the latest figures which I have show that in the ten years from 1946 to 1955 some 70 per cent. of the external capital invested in the sterling Commonwealth came from the United Kingdom, 15 per cent. from the United States of America, 10 per cent. from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and 5 per cent. from elsewhere. So far as we can judge, these percentages are being maintained and the rate of investment in the Commonwealth from this country at the moment is running at something like £200 million a year.
May I take one particular example to which one or two noble Lords have referred? Returns show that 83 per cent. of all foreign private investment in India is United Kingdom investment, and a great deal of that is investment in manufacturing enterprise. That is not only a measure of the stake which we have in the future of India but I believe it is an indication of the faith which we have in India's future, despite the difficulties from which she is suffering, for the moment, 161 through her development plans outrunning her resources in foreign exchange. Your Lordships may be interested to recall that in our White Paper on Commonwealth Development and Finance we paid a good deal of attention to local development and finance corporations and the part they might play in development in the different Commonwealth countries. There is a striking example in India, where British money, Indian money, American money and money from the International Bank in fact supports one of these corporations. I think it is a promising development which might be reproduced with advantage elsewhere.
Then I would turn to Africa, where I have lately been and about which one or two noble Lords have spoken to-day. It is undeniable that but for British capital and British enterprise those countries would still be in a primitive and undeveloped state. Certainly we should try to do more. But when Lord Ogmore asks me whether we cannot set up some new kind of machinery which will enable us to do more (I will say a little more about that in a moment) I would say that the vital thing to do before we can do more in the way of development in the Commonwealth is to earn more on our balance of payments and to save more in this country, because funds invested abroad must rest on earnings and new savings.
If we have played a significant rôle in the investment in the Commonwealth, our rôle in commerce is significant also. I should like to tell the House how much of the exports of the different Commonwealth countries we in this country take. We take 17 per cent. of Canada's exports, 32 per cent. of Australia's, 65 per cent. of New Zealand's. 30 per cent. of India's, 16 per cent. of Pakistan's and 29 per cent. of Ceylon's. Again we must try to do better. That is why we cordially welcomed—and I join with the noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, in this—the Canadian proposal that there should be a Commonwealth Trade Conference which can explore all the possibilities for increasing both the scope of capital development and the exchange of goods. These figures, both of capital investment and of the exports which we take from the Commonwealth countries and they from us, because many of them are our best markets, underline what my noble friend Lord 162 Salter and other noble Lords said yesterday about the concern of these countries in the sterling area in the value of the pound. When we are considering our own financial situation, we must not lose sight of the fact that the value of the pound is just as important to our Commonwealth colleagues as it is to ourselves.
Can we improve our performance in development by any additional machinery? So far as development is concerned, that was examined closely in the summer of this year and various proposals were put forward which I put before all Commonwealth Governments well before the Prime Ministers' Conference, so that the Prime Ministers came to the task of studying the question of whether there should be any additional central machinery fully informed of the views which had been put forward and canvassed. In the result, however, they found it difficult to adopt any formal centralising machinery. They preferred to see what could be made of the Commonwealth Economic Committee, and action in that respect is being taken in that the Committee is examining how it can be more useful. It may well be that as a result of the reorganisation of the Committee, it will be able to bring and keep before the world and the world investor a full picture of all the resources of the Commonwealth countries, how they are being exploited and what the future possibilities may be. We very much hope that something will come out of this examination of whether the Commonwealth Economic Committee could not take On a more dynamic rôle.
In the general field of consultation there is the machinery of the Commonwealth Relations Office, to which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, paid a generous tribute. We now have Commonwealth Prime Ministers' meetings at fairly regular intervals, and every year there are meetings of the Finance Ministers, which are timed to take place after the meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank. A regular pattern is emerging. Lately there has been an increase in the number of visits from Commonwealth countries to this country to discuss trade matters. In the last few weeks we have had the Birla Mission from India and in the next few weeks we are going to have a Canadian trade mission coming to this country. So, when we look at the whole economic picture, I 163 think we can conclude that there is widespread activity and that this Commonwealth Trade Conference, when it takes place at Ottowa, will give us a great opportunity to see how we can increase this activity to the advantage of every member of the Commonwealth.
Perhaps I may turn for one moment to another question which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore—that is, the question of the position of the Central African Federation and, in particular, the question of the Constitution Amendment Bill and the proposal of the Federal Government to make alterations in the franchise. I do not think that in a general debate of this kind I can deal with this matter in detail—that may be possible on another occasion—but there are one or two things that I should like to say. My noble friend Lord Hastings, who makes such valuable contributions to our debates, said two things which ought to be said over and over again. In Central Africa each race, European and African, is essential to the other, and without co-operation and partnership between them there can be no long-term future for that country. So a partnership has to be worked out. The other thing which the noble Lord said and which is extremely sensible, if I may say so, is that the Central African Federation should be left alone as much as possible for the next two or three years to work out their own salvation. At the present time there is far too much political controversy in the air to be healthy.
On the question of the Constitution Amendment Bill, I may say that I went out to Africa because I was anxious to establish to my absolute satisfaction that the Bill and the franchise proposals would be a significant advance on anything which has gone before and a benefit to the African. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, when he comes to study these questions more closely, will find that in fact there are very substantial advantages. That the Federal House should be enlarged is necessary for the efficient conduct of business, and in the enlarged House, where there will be twelve elected Africans—twice as many as before—Africans will have an increased opportunity for gaining political experience, and there will be a greater interplay of European and African ideas in the Federal Parliament. Taken together with 164 the proposals for the franchise, this is a significant move away from purely racial representation in the Assembly, and that must be a good thing.
The African who qualifies for the general roll has a vote equal in value to that of a European. That, too, must be a good thing. And as a result of the proposals which the Federal Government have put forward that the income qualification on the special roll should be £150 plus literacy, the wife having a vote on her husband's income, a great many Africans will come on to the special roll for the first time. Again for the first time British Protected persons are admitted to the franchise; all of which means a large increase in the number of African voters. So, without at this stage going into the many details I should have had to go into if I were dealing with the complicated subject in full, I must say that, taking these two proposals together, I have been completely convinced that they represent a significant advance for the African on anything that has gone before. I should like to say to my noble friend, Lord Milverton, that I am most grateful to him for his flattering references to my speeches out there. One seldom has one's speeches praised in public life, so I must express the hope that my noble friend will often speak before me in debates which may come at other times in this House.
In this immensely varied Commonwealth with most important countries in every continent in the world, we cannot all think alike on political problems, but what we do is to recognise our interdependence, and in that way we are already an example to the world. It is our constant effort to arrive at the greatest measure of common purpose and to translate it into common action; and for this Government's part we accept the obligation to play our full part in this Commonwealth association, and our financial and economic policies in particular are designed so as to enable us to do so.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ EARL ATTLEE
My Lords, there is not very much in the gracious Speech on the subject of foreign affairs, but I think what there is is encouraging. It is interesting to note that the United Nations has returned to the gracious Speech. That and the Prime Minister's declaration of 165 the re-affirmation of the inter-dependence of the countries of the free world seems to mark the disappearance of the Suez policy and the idea of "go it alone." That is most satisfactory, though we still have to deal with the results of that unfortunate policy. Personally, I have always considered that the inter-dependence of the free world was self-obvious; I never thought it needed reaffirmation. In fact, as I understand it, this Government are prepared to return to the policy pursued by the Labour Government and also by the Government of Sir Winston Churchill. But there is not much said in the gracious Speech with regard to policy, beyond that reference to the United Nations. We have indeed had the Prime Minister's visit, but that again does not, in my view, take us much further. Meanwhile, we have had events that are causing very different repercussions in various countries.
We have these Russian satellites circling the globe. This has caused a good deal of disturbance in the minds of the people of the United States, as they are linking it with the possibility of war. It is characteristic of our country that almost entire interest is centred on the welfare of the dog. They must find it very difficult in other countries to understand the curious mentality in this country. Anyone you talk to will ask you about the dog. As a matter of fact, the clog is no worse off than the members of other satellite countries. It cannot escape, it: is true; but it is being fed and kept alive, and it has the possibility of survival. That must be some encouragement to the members of the other satellites. I do not know why Russia wants more satellites; I should have thought that she had enough already.
There are certain lessons to be learned. The present Government "went it alone", and that is also true of the United States. To my mind, the biggest shock to the people of the United States has been to find that they have fallen behind the Russians in technical achievement, when they thought the Russians were so backward. And as one can see from Mr. Khrushchev's speech, the Russians are chortling over this. That is largely the fault of the people of the United States. I well recall going there in 1945 to endeavour to get full co-operation. I was well met by President Truman, but Con 166 gress, in its wisdom or unwisdom, passed the McMahon Act, which has hampered development among the free peoples. As a matter of fact, the achievements during the war which resulted in the atomic bomb and the rest were not the achievements of one country but the result of interaction of able minds from the Commonwealth, from this country and from the United States. It would be all to the good if the United States, too, realised this inter-dependence of the free peoples, and that it is not well to "go it alone".
I think a further lesson to be learned is that there is need for much more cooperation if we are to get that kind of defence of our values alluded to in the gracious Speech. After all, the big contest in the world is the contest between rival ideologies, and it is difficult where you cannot get co-operation as to the methods to be pursued. The fact is that in technical achievement, for the time being at any rate, the Russians are ahead. But I do not think that that should mean we have to spend immense sums of money in trying to pile up masses or armaments; indeed. I think one of the lessons to be learned is that a great deal of our expenditure on armaments is probably entirely futile at the present time. That brings me to the matter of Defence, which one can hardly keep out of foreign affairs. I do not propose to go into detail, but this subject is entirely left out of the gracious Speech. I could not help thinking, when the noble Earl the Leader of the House was speaking about what could be done for the less developed nations, and talked of the need for more production and all the rest of it, that there is also the need to produce the right things; and that if money wasted on armaments could be used for the uplift of the under-developed nations we should probably be striking a greater blow against the Communist danger than we could in any other way.
I suggest that we should try to discuss again with our American friends—I have no doubt that it has been done often—their policy with regard to China. I remember that we discussed it there in 1950, and we had to agree to differ. But surely, after all these years, there should be some realisation that this policy of having nothing to do with China has merely thrust China more and more into the arms of the U.S.S.R. I believe that, if they look back, our friends over the 167 water will realise that in some of these matters there is a greater store of knowledge in this country than there is in their own, particularly in dealing with matters relating to Asia and Africa, where our American friends are newcomers, and about which, as is so often shown in your Lordships' House, there is a great deal of knowledge in this country.
To my mind, the essential thing to-day in this contest in the world is to see what is going to happen in the great masses of people who are at present balanced between freedom and tyranny. We have our outposts of freedom which we have planted throughout Asia and Africa. I welcome what has been done by this Government in increasing in a practical form the strength given, both in Africa and Asia, to our ideas of freedom and self-government. One has to remember that the sentiment of anti-colonialism is still enormously strong both in Asia and in Africa, and that does not beat merely upon us. I am afraid the French action, both in Asia and Africa, is a fairly heavy handicap to the democracies.
There is also a good deal of suspicion of American dollar imperialism. We have to remember that there are certain other weights around our neck, even in the Commonwealth, not least of which is the Government of South Africa. It is a little difficult to go into the battle with some of those handicaps. But I think we sometimes handicap ourselves. I should like to see a great deal more activity in our information services, and in such activities as those of the British Council, which has done an immense amount of work. About a year ago I was in India and Pakistan, and I was absolutely shocked at the wretched little sums allowed for our activities in those countries. Yet that is where, over the years, so many of the ideas we prize have been planted. We should not allow them to wither away from lack of attention, nor assume that everything will always go on as it was before.
I suggest, therefore, that while we must do what we can in defence, we need to revise, in concert with our friends both in the Commonwealth and in the other free nations, the whole scale of our armaments. We want to consider warfare on the ideological plane, and how far we are effective and co-ordinated, 168 because it is there that the real battle is being fought out for the minds of men. I do not know whether something can now be done to try to get a settlement in the disturbed areas, such as the Middle East. Mr. Menzies threw out a suggestion that there might be talks. Maybe it is quite hopeless to have top-level talks with the Soviet just now, but I think it is useless to belong to a United Nations and then suggest that one of the great Powers has no interest in a particular part of the world. What has to be realised is that we are all interested in every part of the world, and particularly the Middle East, where there is so much combustible material. We have had a grave setback in the past year, and it will take a great deal of repairing. At the present moment, things are a little better, but one cannot ignore the fact that probably over the whole of Asia and Africa Russian technical achievements, with their satellites, will give an enormous impression of power. Some minds are more susceptible to demonstrations of power than to demonstrations of good will.
To return to what I said first, I am pleased to see that once again we recognise the importance of the United Nations. N.A.T.O. or S.E.A.T.O. were never substitutes for the United Nations. They were only supports within the framework of the United Nations, and, difficult as it may be, we must not lose faith in the hope that, somehow or other, we are going to get a world more united instead of a world destroyed.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, the gracious Speech begins, and it also ends, by speaking about the Queen's visit to Canada and the United States. The Queen herself, by this visit, has done more than has ever been done by any other person to strengthen the unity of sentiment and purpose among the free peoples which is referred to in the gracious Speech. In doing so, she has also strengthened the affection in which she is held by her own people. But this unity of purpose, which is undoubtedly strong, has been sadly frustrated—I hope it may not always continue to be—by the most lamentable disunity in foreign policy, particularly between Great Britain and the United States. I think we all felt that the official statement about the 169 Prime Minister's visit to Washington—the Declaration of Common Purpose, as it is called—was very much confined to generalities, which is, perhaps, all we ought to expect at the moment. We do not yet know what is to be discussed at the meeting in Paris next month between the heads of the North Atlantic Treaty Governments, which will be attended by the President of the United States.
The Prime Minister said in another place on Tuesday that this might be a turning point in history, and he also said that we must be prepared for some sacrifice of sovereignty in the common cause, which I hope we are. But he added that the journey might be a long one. While I hope the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, was not right in suggesting that those words were absolutely meaningless, I am not at all sure that the leaders of the free world have a sufficient sense of urgency now that they are beginning to talk about what ought to have been done long ago. The American Secretary of State, Mr. Dulles, is reported in the Press as having said to a meeting of American journalists at the beginning of this week that N.A.T.O. could get on perfectly well with a combined military policy but without a combined foreign policy. This statement, as I read it in the Press, was quoted without its context, and therefore hope that Mt. Dulles may have said something to qualify that statement because if that were all that the American Government had to say now, after everything that has happened in the last twelve months, then the outlook for the free world would be a very unhappy one.
The litter incoherence of Western diplomacy, the divisions and disagreements, and all the quarrels and incredible muddles which have characterised Western foreign policy have been a far greater handicap to freedom and a far greater gain to Communism than all the Russian progress in nuclear power and space navigation. And, of course, Communism has taken full advantage of those divisions. Ever since the war Western diplomacy has been almost continuously in retreat. We have lost a great part of the world to Communism, and we have gained nothing from it. A Communist dictatorship has some obvious and inevitable advantages in foreign policy over a 170 free democracy. They have docile subjects they have a controlled Press, and they have obedient allies who have the example of Hungary to show them what will happen if they are disobedient and so the rulers of Russia are able to make very long-term plans for the domination of the world, and to pursue those plans with complete consistency, with utter ruthlessness, with no regard for any moral principle and without the necessity of justifying what they are doing to large numbers of electors. I think, my Lords, that if we want to see a foreign policy for the free world which will. be capable of holding its own against Communist foreign policy we must co-ordinate our diplomatic activities in the same manner as we have already co-ordinated our military activities under N.A.T.O.
I think we have also to keep public opinion in the free world properly informed about what is going on. In my submission, the public on both sides of the Atlantic have not been sufficiently well informed, either by their Governments or by their Press, about what is really happening in the world to-day. When the last Russian hydrogen bomb was exploded in the early part of this year at an immense altitude, far higher than anything which had so far been reached by the West, it was obvious, or it ought to have been obvious, that Russian ability to carry out certain operations in the stratosphere or in space was temporarily in advance of American ability to do so. But little was said about it. The American public insisted on continuing to believe that their own scientists must be ahead of the Russians. Now the Russians are launching this carefully timed and spectacular series of satellites which the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, has so well described, and perhaps in a few days there will be another vehicle on its way to the moon, inhabited not by a dog but perhaps by some ex-Communist leader who has been promoted to a higher sphere of activity. The result is that the American public have suddenly become bitterly critical of their own Government, which they feel has misled them.
The same kind of thing happened in regard to Russian policy in the Middle East, which is at the present time, I think we all agree, the prime danger to peace. Russian plans in the Middle East have been maturing for many years, but until 171 comparatively lately neither public opinion nor the Press in the free countries took the slightest interest in them. It was not until several days after the invasion of Suez had begun that the British Government suddenly began to put the right emphasis on Russian preparation, which was already at an advanced stage. In my submission, the Government ought to have done this long before. As it was, most people in Canada and the United States, and about half the people in Great Britain. received the impression that this was a kind of afterthought on the part of the British Government, a kind of belated excuse which the Government had suddenly invented to justify an action which would otherwise have been unjustifiable. British policy failed because uninstructed public opinion in the Free World was overwhelmingly mobilised against it.
Since then, America has tried to fill what is called the vacuum, and they have made a great many mistakes, which I do not propose to mention this evening, because I think the Americans are sometimes perhaps a little quicker than we are to learn from their own mistakes. I think it would be better if we were to begin by trying to agree on a united British policy in the Middle East. The British Labour Party have declared that the question can be solved only by negotiation with Russia, and that is surely a question which must depend on your analysis of Russian intentions. If you think that Russia is only trying to be a nuisance, that she is merely using Arab-Israeli hatred as a means of embarrassing the West and increasing her own prestige, if you think she might be willing to stop making mischief perhaps in return for some concession elsewhere, then it is obviously a sensible proposition that you should try to negotiate.
On the other hand, if you think that the primary objective of Russian policy at the present time is to create local war in the Middle East, in which all the out-of-date Arab Governments would be swept away and replaced by revolutionary Governments who would be willing to ride on the Communist band-wagon, and to put the oil supplies of Western Europe at the mercy of Communist policy, and if you think that this Russian objective of creating war is now being given priority over every other Russian objective, both 172 in Europe and in Asia, then you are bound to ask: would it really be useful to invite Russia to a peace conference whose only purpose could be to frustrate this fundamental aim of Russian policy? I do not want to be dogmatic about it, but before we invite Russia to a conference would it not be a good thing to have a conference among ourselves, perhaps between the leaders of the British political Parties, at which the Government might be asked to disclose all their intelligence information, both political and military, the secrecy of which was not absolutely necessary for security reasons, so that we might work out a united foreign policy which might be based not on some entertaining conversation between Aneurin Bevan and Mr. Khrushchev but on the real facts of the situation?
Whatever Britain may do, and whatever America may do, I believe that the Russian Government will now exploit to the utmost the temporary advantage in propaganda and in prestige which they have gained by the satellites. Every Communist agent in the Middle East will busily spread the idea, which will be willingly accepted by a great many Arabs, that Russia is bound to become the master of the world because she is able to deliver hydrogen bombs from an altitude which is beyond the range of Western defence. I think that the Russian Government will try now to force the issue and to gain total victory in the Middle East before America has had time to show that American capacity to navigate space and build inter-continental missiles can equal, or outstrip, the capacity of Russia. Power in Russia is now held by a few men who are playing a very dangerous game indeed. It is dangerous to the Free World and probably even more dangerous to themselves. I think they are trying to create a local war in the Middle East. I do not think they want a world war, but neither did Hitler in 1939 and neither did the Kaiser in 1914.
What seems to my mind to be the most dangerous feature of the situation is that the present rulers of Russia always mistake divisions and disagreements among the Western Powers for weakness of purpose. They do not understand that in this politically divided Free World the love of freedom, both here and in America, is strong enough to make us 173 prefer the prospect of a new world which has been half obliterated by nuclear war and in which a small remnant of free men might begin one day to build again, to the other kind of free world in which we might all go on living as slaves of a Communist tyranny.
If the rulers of Russia can be made to understand this fully, there will not be a world war, and we may then be able to preserve both our freedom and our civilisation. I doubt whether they will be brought to understanding by an unending succession of international conferences which are plainly designed for no other reason than to convince the neutral world that our own intentions are peaceful and without the slightest hope of achieving any practical measure of agreement, or at least of achieving any measure of agreement which has the slightest chance of being honoured by Russia. This new offer made yesterday by Mr. Khrushchev to have a general conference on co-existence and disarmament is an offer which might be considered after, but not before, the free nations have made up their minds to agree with each other. The first step must be that the N.A.T.O. Conference in Paris next week should really do something to translate this unity of sentiment and of purpose which exists now into a much more practical unity of foreign policy.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, I should first like to say, as a student of international affairs, how fortunate I think we on this side are to be able to enlist the help and interest of the noble Viscount who spoke on foreign affairs in reply to the gracious Speech on Tuesday. He has supported me in the past, and I feel that we shall all look forward to the stimulation of a fresh mind brought to bear on the ever-changing panorama of international affairs.
Before I make my contribution to-day, I should like, in all humility, shortly to take up in a general sense the challenge which the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, gave to us on this side. He posed so many questions for us that one could not attempt to answer them in detail. But, as it seems to me, in a general sense, there is a vital difference that divides us. As I understand it, he said that in rela 174 tion to such an organisation as the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation, Her Majesty's Government should explain what their intentions are; and. as I understood him, he went on to suggest that because we have been unable to enlist the support of nations such as Indonesia, India, Burma and others, we should therefore refrain from encouraging those Powers who were of a like mind with us. In a general sense, I would meet that kind of challenge by suggesting that the vital difference between us is this: that the realist who attributes value to such a thing as the North Atlantic Treaty, the South-East Asia Treaty or the Baghdad Pact does not count that value only by the ability to set up a "thus far, no further" line in a military sense. The fact is that when you put your signature to these Pacts, you make a declaration of faith on behalf of your people which is, in my view, of far more value than the actual military ability to oppose force in the physical sense.
It is sometimes said of the gracious Speech that what is left unsaid is of more portent than that which is included, and I think the present occasion is no exception. Before I come to what I regard as the gaps in the gracious Speech, I should like to add my own footnote on the single sentence devoted to Cyprus. Is it that we sense some note of pessimism in the contention that Her Majesty's Governmentwill continue to seek a just and enduring solution…in conformity both with the interests of the local communities and with those of this country and our Allies."?It seems that we are setting ourselves the task of satisfying everyone; and one doubts very much whether that is possible.
This is not the time to go over old ground and to review the Radcliffe recommendations or the positions that both sides have now taken up. Let us just hold to the simple elements of the situation—a Greek-speaking Cypriot majority and a Turkish minority. Obviously, for that reason, the situation cannot be confined to the island. On the contrary, it becomes of intense emotional interest for the two Mediterranean Powers concerned. May I offer what I regard as an analogy? Alas! for the last nine years the Kashmir problem has been regarded not so much as a matter of concern for the Kashmiris, for Kashmir 175 and the people who live there, but as a matter of interest for the two great neighbours, India and Pakistan. So far as one can judge, it will continue to be viewed in that light. Could we not in the same way give the Cyprus problem a new look, and concentrate now in presenting it not so much as a matter for the island to settle, but as a matter for Greece and Turkey to settle between them? Sometimes, when we are bogged down in these international situations a change, merely for the sake of a change, restores flexibility.
But there is another reason, as I see it, more obscure, and perhaps a bit more profound, for this reorientation—I say this in contradiction of all my own instincts and all my own inclinations. In a changing world, a world in which overnight the eyes of some eighty-one nations can be focused on to Cyprus or on to any other situation, the days are past when we can, or should, attempt to go on shouldering alone this burden of solving the riddle of Cyprus. I should be most unhappy if that view could be interpreted as any recommendation for British authority to retreat before terrorism in the face of E.O.K.A. blackmail. I doubt not that the people of the island would be far happier, and, in time, far more capable of managing their own affairs, if over a period of years we could isolate them from the contaminating contact of the world outside and, in a way of which we have some experience, could hand over to them an agreed Constitution for them to operate, at least with initial success. But can any of your Lordships assure me that it is possible now effectively to isolate Cyprus, to insulate it from the influence of the world outside? The mere circumstance by which, seemingly at will, the whole matter can be debated before the United Nations, gives the lie to such a suggestion. Cyprus will remain subject to international scrutiny and interference, and nothing that we can do will make any difference.
Strategically, it does not seem to me so difficult to pass from saying "We want Cyprus as a base" to saying "We want a base in Cyprus"—and, indeed, we do want a base, surely, in association with the Baghdad Pact commitment. But our difficulty occurs when we come to the political picture. It is not assisted, if I 176 may say so, by certain members of the Opposition Party, who promise self-determination when speaking in their constituencies because they happen to have a considerable number of Greek-speaking Cypriot waiters there. I sometimes reflect that they are lucky not to have some Turkish waiters. I ask them this question: is self-determination to be applied to the Greek-Cypriot element, to the Turkish element or to the island as a whole—and I ask them to puzzle it out if they can. I shall be very interested to know the answer.
I suggest that in these new conditions, when this country meets unjustly the odium and abuse of whole blocs of nations, it is only fair to ourselves to set this problem where it belongs, as a challenge between Greece and Turkey. In all humility and in a spirit of inquiry I would submit that possibly the familiar procedure might be considered by which a Commission of three nations is set up—a Turkish nominee, a Greek nominee and an international nominee, with the prospect of arbitration accepted if that Commission fails. It is a familiar procedure, and personally I should prefer that kind of small forum rather than a large forum such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation might present. It may fail; but it it fails let failure then be placed where it belongs. I am aware that Her Majesty's Government have already tried out in London a Greco-Turkish Conference, which failed. Therefore I say that if there is to be another failure, let it be placed not at our doorstep but with those who claim that this problem is their affair. If it succeeds, well, there is a saying that one can do a lot of good if one does not mind who gets the credit. It seems to me that only in this way will Greece ever realise that, to use a cliché, this is not "just another case of obstinate British colonialism."
The last message which Sir John Harding gave to the islanders before he left was to the effect that if they could put their jealousies and recriminations behind them they would recognise that their real enemy was international Communism; and with that always in the background may I conclude with a few comments on the international scene. The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate was attracted by the sentence in the gracious Speech which referred to strengthening 177 the United Nations. For some time I have felt, and I have said in this House, that we now have to decide whether to break or to make the United Nations. As I see it, the way to make it, if it is ever to measure up to our hopes of 1946, is to saturate it with all our problems in the belief that if the philosophy of experience means anything at all, then in time the United Nations must learn.
The noble Viscount referred in eloquent terms to the part which a strengthened United Nations could play if it could seize its chance as an international agency to promote peaceful co-operation between one nation and another in furtherance of scientific knowledge and, in particular, in the immediate situation that faces us and to which some of your Lordships have referred—the harnessing of space. I agree; but I would make a plea that this matter of the harnessing of space be put in its right proportion. A great Power, which has not yet given its people municipal sanitation, drainage, organised central heating and power, where to own a motor car and to have a second pair of shoes to wear in an overcrowded home is the exception, has won international applause and stolen the limelight by its ability to send a metal sphere with a little dog inside it hurtling round the world.
The United States' reaction is not so much one of respect, which we would all understand, but seems to be one of awe, alarm, and perhaps in certain cases even panic. I confess my own reaction is one of sorrow. On the Soviet claim to have benefited mankind I should have thought that the production of isotopes for medical research for the conquest of cancer and the application of atomic energy to produce power for the common man to use in his home, are objectives which would have a greater claim to have benefited men and women. We have surely seen enough to realise the mountain of misery that the Soviet Union have created, to note it and to appreciate that totalitarian leadership can direct spaceships and can still remain, at heart, barbarian.
I trust that if and when we progress to that stage when the United Nations or any other agency is able to persuade nations to co-operate for the advancement of science for the benefit of all mankind, we shall also, through that very 178 process, be able to presume a change of heart among those who launched their satellite—and, be it noted, in the same breath attempted to sabotage the whole concept of co-operation for international disarmament. I repeat: let us keep this matter in proportion and, in doing so, as the noble Earl who spoke before me suggested—and this is vital—let us see that our information services never cease in their task to keep that proportion before our people and the world outside, in the knowledge that we always seek to present only the truth.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, in winding up the debate from this side of the House I wish to express my disappointment at the procedure which has been adopted. In a short debate of this kind one is considerably handicapped by having the discussion virtually in two watertight compartments, dealing first with colonial affairs and then with foreign affairs, and by having to do so (for reasons which are well understood by many noble Lords in the House) under pressure of time. Nevertheless it is of great importance to have had these two discussions, although I should have preferred them to take place on two separate days.
A number of noble Lords have referred to the paragraph in the gracious Speech dealing with the United Nations:My Government will seek to strengthen the United Nations in the task of maintaining justice and peace throughout the world. They will pursue their endeavours to achieve an agreement on disarmament, mindful that, at this momentous time, the advance of science into the unknown should be inspired by the hopes, and not retarded by the fears, of mankind.These are worthy words, but somewhat vague, and I should like to put one or two questions to Her Majesty's Government in the hope that we may get some clarification as to what is meant by "strengthening the United Nations".
From time to time various members of the Government, and important members of the Government, have made statements relating to this question. For instance, at the Conservative Party Conference, at Brighton, last month Mr. Duncan Sandys made what as I regard as a most important, if not revolutionary, statement. He said:If once the great Powers could agree to disarm and to sot up a system of international control, we should have gone a good way 179 along the road, which I hope will lead us eventually to the establishment of a world authority with a world police force.The rest is well known; it received a great deal of publicity. He continued:You may think that is starry-eyed idealism. All I would say to you is that as Minister of Defence, with my feet fairly well on the ground, I believe that, in the long run, nothing short of that will really work.I want to refer to two other statements that have been made along the same lines by other important Ministers of the Crown. First, Mr. Macmillan, as far back as March, 1955, said:On the whole question of disarmament our purpose is simple and our record is clear. Genuine disarmament must be based on two simple but vital principles. It must be comprehensive and the control must provide effective international or, if we like, supra-national authority vested with real power. Honourable members may say that this is elevating the United Nations, or whatever may be the authority, into something like world government. Be it so, it is none the worse for that. In the long run, this is the only way out for mankind.Then the Foreign Secretary has made a similar statement. He made it in Delhi, on the radio, on March 3, 1956. He said:The cardinal point in British foreign policy is the belief that peace will not be permanently assured until there has been created a world instrument endowed with the necessary authority to maintain the rule of law. Our hope is that the United Nations should develop into such an instrument.Then, only yesterday, in another place, the Prime Minister made a statement as to the vital importance for various members of the United Nations to surrender a certain amount of sovereignty.
All these statements by leading members of the Government over a number of years seem to me to have some pattern. Either the Government is serious in these statements and really believe in the setting up of a supra-national authority vested with powers, an international police force, and so on, or these phrases are empty words and mean nothing. I personally hope very much that they have a significance, and I should like to have the assurance of the noble Earl that they do mean something and that the Government is really committed to do what its various spokesmen have said.
But if they are committed, if they really mean that, what are they doing to bring these things about? It is true that these 180 statements are generally qualified by the fact that the proposals may take some time to mature and they are not immediate proposals; but nothing becomes practicable until a start is made. I would suggest to the Government that if they really mean these words then there is a practical way of making a start, and that is to put these proposals before the United Nations and to try to get them accepted by as many countries as possible. They cannot be carried into effect without amendment of the Charter. But it so happens that the question of the amendment of the Charter is now a practicable one. A committee has been set up to consider amendment of the Charter and what amendments would be desirable, and if the Government are serious in these various statements that have been made we should do cur best to press forward with the amendment of the Charter along lines which will make it practicable to carry out these various proposals. I believe it is only by strengthening the United Nations, by giving it teeth, as has often been said, and by establishing a rule of law and the power to enforce law, that we can really in the long run achieve this.
Disarmament is, of course, a very big step in that direction, but until there is the means of enforcing disarmament internationally there is always the danger that, after disarmament, one nation will be in the position to break away. And so I should be grateful if the noble Earl who is going to reply could make a statement as to what the Government have really had in mind over the two and a half or three years during which these various statements have been made. I have given him notice. I admit it was rather short notice (it was given only yesterday) and if he tells me he is not in a position to reply this evening I shall quite understand, but in that case I want to give him notice that I shall return to the attack at the earliest possible opportunity. I feel that this is a matter of such great importance that it is deserving of a definite and considered reply.
There are only one or two other things I want to say in view of the fact that all of us are looking at the clock. I would refer, first of all, to the speech which has just been made by Mr. Khrushchev and to what our attitude to it is going to be and our general attitude to the Soviet Union. There are two possibilities, and I think the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, put the 181 matter extremely well, if I may say so, and extremely fairly. It is believed either that there is some hope in negotiation or that the whole thing is to be cut out. If it is really believed that negotiation is pointless and the Soviet Union intends, whatever discussions take place, to spread Communism by force—and that is the assumption in the second case—then discussion and negotiation are really misleading and dangerous. As the noble Earl rightly said, the Labour Party believe at the present time that negotiations might prevail and, therefore, do not accept necessarily as a fact that the Communist countries intend Ito spread their ideas by force. That is not to say they do not intend to spread their ideas: but in a free world you are entitled to spread your ideas peacefully.
In my submission, the only way to counter the spreading of Communist ideas is by the production of better ideas from the free nations, certainly not by the show of greater force. We must counter Communist ideas, which to certain nations have some attraction, by better ideas. We have to show that freedom is better worth while than dictatorship and that under a free government it is possible to give to the peoples a higher standard of living than they get under Communism.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, I am much interested in the noble Lord's argument and I agree with it largely. The free world has to convert by example. But if the creed of international Communism includes the use of force, which it does, he would not, I take it, deprive us of our right to retaliate or wish to disarm us?
§ LORD SILKIN
I accept that entirely. I was not advocating the dispersing of N.A.T.O. or any other such instrument of security. I am grateful to the noble Earl for enabling me to make that clear.
The point I was dealing with was that of discussion and the kind of reply we should give to the suggestion of high-power talks. All I want to say is that we should not necessarily reject the idea of high-power talks. I very much agree with a statement in a leading article in The Times to-day to the effect that before we have those high-power talks we should clarify our own minds and ensure that those talks are related to the specific problems which we have to face at the moment—such as the Middle East, the 182 Arab-Israel problem, and so on. It would be useless to go into a conference merely to exchange ideas and to prepare a Note in general terms which intimated that we were all ardent advocates of peace without saying how we were going to bring it about. The point which II am really seeking to make is that if we want to combat Communism, which undoubtedly has established a firm hold in many of the uncommitted countries, the right way to do it is by establishing that our way of life is the better one, and that it is able to produce better conditions than obtain in Communist countries.
That brings me to the question of what attitude we should adopt to the Soviet Union. In the course of the discussion on Commonwealth affairs it was said—and this met with approval from both sides of the House; the noble Earl accepted it wholeheartedly—that we should try to view matters with the eyes of the people concerned and from the point of view of the Dominions. I want to say that in negotiations we must also do the same as regards those with whom we negotiate. Let us face the fact that the Soviet Union, China and other Communist countries do not see things from the same point of view as we do. Their ideas are totally different from ours. The Soviet Union is partly European and partly Asiatic. China is wholly Asiatic. There is the danger that when we come to discuss with them and to negotiate with them we may get impatient because they do not see things as we do and their method of negotiation is not the same as ours. Most of us have had some experience of the Oriental method of negotiation, which is a process of exhaustion: you go on and on until you wear out the other fellow and then he is in the mood to make the concessions which you are seeking. I think we have to understand that.
I do riot think—and I say this with all diffidence—that we have been particularly skilful in our negotiations with the Soviet Union over disarmament. We have spent months and months at this Disarmament Conference in London and the procedure has been virtually that four countries have got together every morning—I refer to the United States, Great Britain, France and Canada—to determine what attitude they would take up in the afternoon. Then in the afternoon the Soviet Union has been faced with a solid 183 bloc of these nations—very often one after the other putting up the same case. That is not negotiation. To me it is not surprising that the results have not been satisfactory. Furthermore, both sides have had the habit, once having put forward a proposal, of running away from it as soon as the other side is within sight of accepting some part of it, and putting up something else in its place. I am not saying which side is the worse. It is not at all surprising to me that the Soviet Union have said that they do not wish to negotiate under these conditions. Their alternative is even more unsatisfactory, for you cannot get negotiations in a Conference of something like eighty nations. If we are to proceed with the discussions on disarmament with the Soviet Union we must find another and a better way of carrying them on. I suggest to the Government that they might give serious consideration to devising an appropriate method.
I wish now to turn to another topic and to ask the noble Earl who is to reply on behalf of the Government a question as to what the Government have in mind regarding their attitude at the N.A.T.O. Conference next month in relation to the possibility of the production of atomic weapons by Western Germany. There have been hints and suggestions in the Press that Western Germany is to be asked to produce atomic weapons on behalf of N.A.T.O. That is not only distasteful to some sections of German opinion but, in my view, would be strongly resented by many of the N.A.T.O. countries, particularly as it would be contrary to the Treaty of 1954 under which Western Germany was prevented from making these weapons. I should be grateful if the noble Earl could make some statement as to what the attitude of the Government is going to be. Clearly we cannot commit N.A.T.O. as a whole, but we should at any rate have some opinion.
I am somewhat disturbed by this suggestion because there are signs of a revival on the part of the Germans of, shall I say, high-spirited or aggressive attitudes. For instance there was the abrupt termination of their recognition of Yugoslavia. Whatever may have been the justification or the pretext for it, it seems rather disturbing as an attitude between two countries. There was no 184 discussion whatever—just the abrupt termination of Western Germany's contact with Yugoslavia. On the question of Western Germany, I may say that there has also been a good deal of talk in Germany itself about their frontier with Poland—the Oder-Neisse line. It seems to me that after twelve years it is time some stability was established on that frontier.
As the noble Earl will know, Poland was given these former German territories provisionally, subject to frontier adjustments, as compensation for the territory which they were forced to surrender to the Russians, and they have used this territory in order to house the people who had to leave the former Polish territories at the instance of the Russians. To-day, these former German territories are occupied entirely by Polish people, and in my judgment (and I have seen these territories) they are exceedingly well developed; the people are all well established and the former German population have gone completely. To all this we were in agreement. We were accessories to the whole of the arrangements that were made in 1945–46. It is time that this question was settled once and for all, because in my view it is a running sore and a potential danger to the peace of Europe, even of the world.
The other, of course, is the Arab-Israel situation, for which somehow, in common with others, we have to find a solution. We have a great opportunity of giving a lead and of restoring our prestige and position in the world in dealing with these matters that I have outlined, and in particular in strengthening the United Nations. I would remind your Lordships that a short time ago a Committee of the United Nations Senate passed a resolution in favour of strengthening the United Nations on the lines I have just suggested, but so far this has not been accepted by Congress as a whole. I hope that we may have a satisfactory reply on these various points, and that Her Majesty's Government will not treat the words in the gracious Speech regarding the strengthening of the United Nations as a mere platitude. I hope that they are serious about this and that they have in their minds some definite method by which the United Nations may be strengthened. If they are in the position to do that, then I, for one, shall feel that 185 once more we shall find ourselves in the proud position of being able to give a lead to the world, as we have done in the past.
§ 6.24 p.m.
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF GOSFORD)
My Lords, we have reached the end of a debate which has covered an area as large as the world itself, and. as we have heard, well above it. I am sure your Lordships will not expect me to answer to-day in great detail all the questions that have been put, or even to answer them all. There will be other times when your Lordships will be able to discuss these subjects at greater length. To say the least, we are living in momentous times, but I do not think that we ought to allow the scientific happenings of the last few days to stampede us into taking or considering short cuts in problems which are proving somewhat intractable.
Obviously, the first of these is the question of disarmament. Perhaps your Lordships will allow me to go over the ground that has been traversed in the past and bring the subject up to date with the resolution which was voted on only yesterday in the United Nations. I think that it is ridiculous, and I am sure that your Lordships will agree with me, for the Soviet Union to pretend that we are not interested in disarmament. We have everything to gain from it. The cost of arms and of our armed forces is back-breaking, and if we could relieve ourselves of any of that burden, no one would be happier than we should be. Our physical position in the world is a dangerous one, and, from the military point of view, one of the most vulnerable. For these two reasons alone, we are passionately desirous of obtaining some advance, however small, in the direction of world disarmament.
It is also fairly obvious, from their tactics in the disarmament talks, that the Soviet Union appear to want us to throw away all the antidote we possess at present, in the shape of the nuclear weapon, to their superiority in the conventional field, and that we should withdraw our troops from the Continent. They want the Americans to withdraw their troops back to America, while Russia would withdraw hers a few 186 hundred miles. And then what? The Russians could be back not only those few hundred miles but right to the Atlantic, long before the Americans or ourselves had a hope of reply. I do not think that the Sputnik affects this issue at all. Our deterrent, which has deterred Russia from pushing forward in the military sense with their goal of world Communist domination, a-matins, whatever we may think at the moment about the Sputnik.
Our ultimate aim remains a comprehensive disarmament plan, on the lines of the Anglo-French plan of 1954. This is not a practical proposition at the moment, and for the time being we have to content ourselves with a partial disarmament agreement for which we consider there need be no political pre-conditions. We are convinced that we must proceed with nuclear and conventional disarmamentconcurrently. We are not willing to weaken our nuclear deterrent without a corresponding advance in the conventional field. Moreover, I reject the implication that war with conventional weapons is somehow more bearable than war fought with nuclear weapons. In our proposals for partial disarmament agreement we have suggested the suspension of nuclear tests for a total of two years. But this in itself would not, strictly speaking, be a measure of disarmament: it must be reinforced by an inspection system and, above all, by a cessation of the production of fissile material for weapons purposes. We should be prepared to accept the proposals discussed in the Sub-Committee for the exchange of lists of weapons to be set aside under international control, possibly for future destruction.
Lastly, an essential element in a partial disarmament agreement is what is generally called "measures against a surprise attack." We consider that it would be possible to combine President Eisenhower's "open skies" plan with Marshal Bulganin's proposals for ground control, and we should be willing for the whole of this country to be covered by such a system. We cannot offer more than that.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
I am sorry to interrupt the noble Earl, but I did ask this question. Supposing the Russians refused to attend the Sub-Committee on Disarmament, what should we do?
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
If the noble Viscount will allow me, I am coming to that point, although I do not think I can give him a very satisfactory answer to-night. Before a partial disarmament agreement can be concluded there are many practical and technical questions to be decided. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary proposed in the Sub-Committee on July 17, and again at the General Assembly of the United Nations on September 24, that experts should meet to discuss these problems, even without further progress on the wider question upon which they have an important bearing.
I will not weary your Lordships with a lengthy rehearsal of all these practical problems, but they are problems which must be discussed and solved before we can get effectively under way. The Soviet Union have entirely refused to take part in this kind of essential preliminary technical discussion, which was without any political significance, and that refusal leads inevitably to the question whether they are not more interested in propaganda and bombast than in disarmament.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
I gave the dates. It was in the Sub-Committee on July 17 and at the General Assembly on September 24. Our proposals were endorsed yesterday by a two-thirds majority of the Political Committee of the United Nations General Assembly who have instructed the Disarmament Commission and its Sub-Committee to pursue them. The Soviet Union, no doubt foreseeing this vote, have said that they will refuse to take further part in the existing disarmament organs, and they proposed instead the establishment of an eighty-two member Commission in permanent session. This, I think your Lordships will agree, is a ridiculous suggestion, because a body of this size would be quite unsuited for continuous and detailed negotiations. All the members of the United Nations already have an opportunity of discussing disarmament, as they are now doing, for almost a month in every year. The Disarmament Commission and its Sub-Committee were originally established precisely because 188 of the need for a more restricted group if any progress was to be made.
Moreover, I do not think it can really be argued that failure to reach a disarmament agreement has been caused by faulty machinery. It is no use blinking the fact that the reason for this failure is due to a divergence of policy between the Soviet Union and the four Western Powers. We should therefore be very hesitant about changing the present machinery. If the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, will allow me to say so, I think he was somewhat unfair when he said that in the disarmament talks in the Sub-Committee we were apt to run away and put up new proposals at a moment's notice. I think I can truthfully say that the members of the Commission on our side certainly have worked long and patiently. But it is patently obvious to me that the Russians do not want a solution. Their aim is world Communism. If they wanted a solution, they could have had one or many lone before this. This, I am afraid, looks like a deadlock; and, as the noble Viscount. Lord Stansgate, has asked me: where do we go from here? Her Majesty's Government naturally hope that, in face of the overwhelming approval given to their policy yesterday by the Political Committee of the General Assembly, the Soviet Government will have second thoughts. Until there has been time for those second thoughts, I think it would be quite wrong for me to give any further answer to that question.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
Then it leaves open the question as to what we do if they persist in their refusal?
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
Exactly. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, posed the question of the German manufacture of nuclear and other weapons. Under the Paris Agreement, the Federal Republic of Germany renounced the manufacture of atomic, biological and chemical weapons. There is no provision for this renunciation to be changed. Germany also renounced the manufacture of long-range missiles, guided missiles, influence mines, warships and strategic bombers. But on the request of the Federal Republic and the recommendation of the Supreme Commander in Europe, after consultation with the N.A.T.O. Council, a two-thirds majority in the Western European Union Council may authorise the Federal Republic to manufacture these 189 latter weapons. As to Her Majesty's Government's attitude, I regret that I cannot give an answer to-night.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
The noble Earl cannot say that the Government will prevent it; they will not vote against it?
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
I am afraid that I cannot bind the Government in any way this evening, but the noble Viscount may rest assured that our attitude will be a progressive one.
§ LORD SILKIN
Before we leave that matter, I appreciate that the noble Earl may not be able to give an answer tonight, but does he mean that the Government would not wish to commit themselves at all until the N.A.T.O. Conference next month'? If I put a question to him in a week's time, does he think that he will be in a position to give an answer then?
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
I can only say that I myself cannot commit the Government to an answer to-night. I cannot promise the noble Lord that I shall be able to give him an answer in a week's lime, but if he cares to put down a Question, I will do my best.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
The answer to that is "naturally". As I have been replying to the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, perhaps he will allow me to cont Title to address my next few remarks to him.
He mentioned the subject of Laos. In Laos negotiations were resumed in September between the Government and the Communist rebels in the two northern provinces. There have been reports recently about an agreement which is supposed to have been signed between the two sides. There was even a Press story that the Communists were to be given the Ministries of Justice and the Interior. Her Majesty's Ambassador in Vientiane has been asked about these reports, and he has replied that there is no firm evidence that any agreement has been formally signed, or even finalised. It seems that negotiations are still proceeding on some important questions regarding the military and political reintegration of the country. I am sure that your Lordships will agree 190 that until we have some definite news, and until we have a published text, it would be most unwise to express any opinions or judgments on what has been going on in Laos.
I need not add that, as Co-Chairman of the Geneva Conference, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary continues to take a sympathetic interest in the welfare of the Laotians and in the independence and integrity of their country. The interest is symbolised by the presence there at this moment of a Member of your Lordships' House, the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, who is visiting Laos as a special representative of Her Majesty's Government, and who will attend Buddhist celebrations which are now taking place in the Laotian capital. Her Majesty's Government naturally welcome any steps which would ensure the stability, independence and reunification of Laos on the basis of the Geneva Agreements.
The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, also talked about China, and asked whether we would help to further China's admittance to the consultations of the world.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
The United Nations. Her Majesty's Government, of course, recognise the Government of the People's Republic of China as the Government of China. Many other countries, however, do not, and thus the question of China's representation in the United Nations is one on which members of the organisation are deeply divided. Her Majesty's Government feel that, in such circumstances, to press at the present time for China's admission would do more harm than good, and would not be in the best interests of the United Nations Organisation itself. It was for this reason that the United Kingdom again voted, at the start of the present session of the General Assembly, in favour of a further postponement of its consideration during this session.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, is it a fact that the Government have now stabilised the position of a permanent postponement of the admission of the People's Government of Peking to the United Nations?
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
My Lords, I think the noble Viscount is putting a meaning into my words which certainly was not there. The subject comes up periodically, and each time it conies up we must vote according to circumstances as we see them. The fact that up to date we have voted for a postponement does not mean that we shall continue to do so for ever. Why should it?
The noble Viscount also mentioned S.E.A.T.O. That is an Alliance of sovereign partners in exactly the same way as N.A.T.O. It is purely defensive, and it arose, as the noble Viscount said, from the mounting confidence of China's expansion. But it is not a question of domination by the Western members, and we are continually hoping that countries outside will join. Like N.A.T.O. and the Bagdad Pact, it is supported by Her Majesty's Government as an element of stability in that part of the world. Incidentally, the noble Viscount omitted to mention the Philippines, which play an important rôle in it.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
I beg the noble Viscount's pardon. The noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, who has already asked me to apologise to your Lordships that he cannot be here now, mentioned the subject of Cyprus and suggested that it should become an international problem. Cyprus is already an international problem between Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom, and not solely, as is sometimes suggested, a matter between Her Majesty's Government and Archbishop Makarios. We have worked, and we shall continue to work, for agreement between Turkey, Greece and ourselves. We should welcome the assistance of any allies; and their co-operation could be valuable, but at the appropriate time. For this reason we accepted Lord Ismay's personal offer of good offices last March. So, in fact, did the Turks, but the Greek Government turned it down. It is wrong, I think, to suggest that a solution could be imposed by some outside body. Feelings run high on both sides, and the consequences of any imposition at this stage would be very serious. Here I would join with the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, in congratulating Sir John Harding on the way that he has turned 192 chaos into order, and in wishing him a peaceful and well-deserved rest. I would also join in wishing Sir Hugh Foot every success in the task that lies before him.
The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, as did several other noble Lords, mentioned world government. Her Majesty's Government are fully in agreement with world government. We agree that this must be the goal, and that every step that is humanly possible must be taken to reach that goal. I can assure the noble Lord on this point. Surely, the Declaration of Common Purpose is a step in that direction. Surely, also, what stops us reaching that goal is the fact that the Soviet bloc would not agree to it unless it was a Communist-dominated goal. To use the United Nations machinery for world government is, again, obviously a goal but again the Soviet bloc would not agree to this unless the United Nations was Communist-dominated. Nevertheless, step by step we will try to strive towards that goal. The noble Earl, Lord Dundee, asked whether the Government would agree to having a conference between the Parties in which would be included all facts and intelligence which could be made available. I regret that I cannot answer the noble Earl now, though I shall hope to be able to give him an answer at a later stage.
I would join with the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, in the excellent speech which he made in seconding the humble Address and in expressing conviction of the essential inter-dependence of the free world and the fact that we are in truth members of one another. The Declaration of Common Purpose is part of it. We are certain that in mutual trust and willing co-operation lies our only hope of salvation. The idea of inter-dependence is not new. The baby "moon" or Sputnik, and, more recently, "Little Lemon." may have emphasised its importance but they did not start it. The tendency for members of the Free World to band together in self-defence has steadily increased ever since the Soviet Union made plain their aggressive intentions soon after the end of the Second World War. The interdependence which we recognise is not a narrow one based solely on Anglo-American partnership, important though we consider this to be. We wish it rather to 193 embrace all our friends and allies throughout the free world. It may one day, as I have already said, develop into world government. It is only by pooling all our resources, both human and material, that we can hope, without a serious lowering of our standards of living which would let Communism in at the back door, to withstand the despotism of the East. There is no doubt that the visit of the Prime Minister to the United States of America and the resultant Declaration of Common Purpose is a very large step in this direction, and may well he, as the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, pointed out, a turning point in history.
If Mr. Khrushchev's words in his latest speech do mean a change of heart and a turning aside from their previously avowed goal of Communism, Her Majesty's Government will be the first to applaud it. But deeds must match words. We have had far too many words in the past which have been almost immediately contradicted by deeds. Until we have some concrete evidence it will be very difficult indeed for us to believe in words and intentions, however much we may like to.
The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, asked me whether in connection with the Declaration I could say that valuable scientific secrets would be given to us by the Untied States in return for our agreement to an "all-out war against Com 194 munism". The statement of common purpose is not on a quid pro quo basis, as I think the noble Viscount implied. Both countries, recognising their interdependence, have decided to pool their resources as far as possible. Discussions are going on about the best way in which this can be done, but I cannot give any detailed information about the exchanges which are taking place. I realise the difficulties which are inherent in the McMahon Act, but your Lordships can be assured that our declaration is one of substance and not of mere words.
My Lords, there are many more points that I could mention, many more that I could bring up, but I can assure your Lordships that Her Majesty's Government are doing, and will do, all in their power to bring disarmament to a satisfactory conclusion, and if given any serious proof that the Soviet Union means what it says they are only too willing to go along with it in its declarations of peace.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Hall, I beg to move that the debate be now adjourned until Tuesday next.
§ Moved, That the debate be now adjourned until Tuesday next.—(The Earl of Lucan.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.
§ House adjourned at three minutes before seven o'clock.