§ 3.2 p.m.
§ LORD HENDERSON rose to call attention to the international situation; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, in our recent Foreign Affairs debates, even when we have not been faced with an immediate, anxious crisis, there has not been a lack of urgent problems demanding Parliamentary consideration. The present occasion is not an exception. There are to-day pressing problems in Europe, in the Middle East, and in the Far East. I am not going either to enumerate all the issues, or to deal with them. I want to refer briefly to the European Common Market and the Free Trade Area, and to the Conference at Geneva on the ending of nuclear tests. Then I shall devote the main part of my remarks to the situation created by the Soviet Prime Minister's latest political offensive.
§ There is undoubtedly concern on both sides of the House—and, indeed, throughout the country—about the consequences to the European community of nations of the present dispute over the future trading relations in Europe. The prospect of a trade war between two groups of nations in Western Europe is a frightening one. That cannot do the economy of any of the countries any good: nor, indeed, the deeper interests of Western Europe. Though the basic issues are economic, we should be unwise if we were to underestimate the political significance of the position adopted by both sides to the dispute.
I believe that in this country we have failed over the past few years to realise fully the strong appeal which the political unity of Western Europe has among the 481 peoples of the Six Countries. Though that integration has, to begin with, been on economic lines, their aims are political, and we are now seeing the beginnings of a political federation of the six. In our negotiations with them we have too often failed to understand their political motives. But the six would be committing an act of great folly if they, for their part, were to fail to realise the political consequences of a trade war, which would be the inevitable result of their present "Little Europe" policy. Though it may lead to a harmonisation of their own economic and political institutions, if the consequence is a divided Western Europe, then it may have disastrous consequences for the Western world.
As the Manchester Guardian leading article on Tuesday said:
The French have been curiously insensitive to the emotional appeal made by the idea of a great Free Trade Area in Western Europe.
They must understand better than they seem to do at present the movement of public opinion that has come about in this country in favour of closer cooperation with the other countries in Europe. Their present negative and unco-operative attitude might set back this progress in public opinion to their own acute disadvantage and to the disadvantage of Europe as a whole. The Foreign Secretary used what I can only regard as grave words when he said in another place that he did not see
how the tradition of confident co-operation could survive intact in the military and political fields if it were to break down in the economic sphere.
§ My Lords, every effort must be made to avoid such a tragic development. From this side of the House we ask Her Majesty's Government to keep this matter urgently before their minds, and in particular to delay taking any retaliatory measures while the possibilities of compromise or agreement are still present. In the meantime, as I think most noble Lords will agree, it is extremely important that we should do everything we can to ensure that the negotiations continue through O.E.E.C., for there is a great danger that that organisation may be seriously weakened as a result of recent events. That would, I believe, have most unfortunate consequences for 482 the future economic development and co-operation of the European countries.
§ It is with great satisfaction and relief that we have read of the progress which has been made within the past week or so at the Geneva Conference on the Discontinuance of Nuclear Tests. Britain, America, and Russia have now agreed to the first four articles of a Treaty which we all hope will end for ever nuclear weapon tests and will pave the way towards agreement on real, comprehensive disarmament. We must, however, realise that there are still many controversial issues to be settled at Geneva. Although the composition of the control organisation has now been agreed, we still do not know whether the Russians are prepared to accept all the implications of an effective control system, which we, in common with Her Majesty's Government, have always felt to be an important part of the agreement.
§ We must also recognise that there remain uncertainties about the position of our own country and of the United States. Have we now agreed that the ending of tests shall be for all time, and not merely on a year-to-year basis? Have we also agreed that the signing of the Treaty and the implementation of the agreement will in no way be dependent on other agreements in the disarmament field? We on this side of the House believe most deeply that no obstacle must be put in the way by our side to prevent complete success in these negotiations. Public opinion in this country would, I believe, be shocked if an agreement were to be blocked as a result of a Western view that it was essential to continue tests in order to preserve the effectiveness of our defence system. I hope that Her Majesty's Government's position on these important issues may be made clear to-day.
§ Even if the present Agreement is signed by Britain, the United States and Russia, there still remain other countries with plans to join the nuclear club. Will France, for example, be prepared to sign an agreement? So far as China is concerned, though it is vital that she, too, should be committed to ending tests, is Mr. Dulles prepared to sit down with Mr. Chou-en-Lai to sign a treaty? If he is not and if there is no change in the United States Government's attitude towards recognition of the Peking Government, 483 that itself may be an obstacle to universal acceptance of an end to nuclear tests. I want to add that I was very glad that the two Western nations succeeded in persuading the Russians to agree to the treaty being open for signature by all nations. The greater the number of nations who sign, the better will be the prospects of checking an extension in production of nuclear weapons, and this may prove to be the first step towards an agreement by nuclear club members to stop their own production.
§ I come now to the problem uppermost in our minds. Mr. Khrushchev's new political initiative faces the Western Allies with an inescapable challenge. I have heard it suggested that as a matter of policy the Soviet Union would be content to have the status quo of East and West Berlin prolonged indefinitely. Whether that view is correct or not, the Russians have made it clear that they are not willing to prolong the status quo in Berlin, and that if they cannot get changes by agreement, the Soviet Government will make changes unilaterally. Mr. Khrushchev now knows that the Western Allies will not quit West Berlin at his behest and surrender its population of over two million souls to the tender mercies of the East German Communists. Both the Government and the Opposition in this country declared two weeks ago that the Soviet plan to make West Berlin a demilitarised free city was unacceptable. The West Berliners, in their recent free elections, decisively rejected it. They are the people most directly concerned and they will not give up their freedom or have it filched from them. And in Herr Brandt, the Socialist Lord Mayor, they have a leader who will not be intimidated by responsibility or demoralised by crisis.
§ From Paris this week the Foreign Secretaries have collectively made clear the determination of their Governments to maintain their position and rights with respect to Berlin, including the right of free access, and all the N.A.T.O. partners are in complete accord. Thus far there is firm Western unity in rejecting Mr. Khrushchev's plan for West Berlin. I do not believe that this unanimous Western negative will have surprised Mr. Khrushchev. He is a hard realist and he must have known in advance that he would not get away with it. I believe that the six months' time limit was 484 deliberately inserted with the object of getting talks going over a wider field. Therefore, it may be that a good opportunity has been presented for the West to make an initiative to get fruitful talks started on the future of Berlin and German unity.
The Potsdam Agreement provided that one of the purposes of the Council of Foreign Ministers was:
… the preparation of a peace settlement for Germany to be accepted by the Government of Germany when a Government adequate for the purpose is established.
That was the purpose in 1945. We are now at the threshold of 1959, but no progress has so far been made—at official level, at Foreign Ministers' meetings, or at Summit conferences—to bring about the political and economic unity of Germany under a Government "adequate for the purpose" of accepting a peace treaty. Divided Germany and divided Berlin remain what they have been for so long—the focal point of East-West dissensions and tensions.
§ We must recognise facts. It has long been obvious to all of us that German reunion cannot be achieved in any form so long as the Soviet Union, on the one hand, and the three Western Allies (with the Federal Chancellor in the background) on the other hand, stand pat on the positions they have taken up and on the proposals they have put forward in past negotiations. In the present state of mutual distrust and expanding nuclear armaments, as well as the sharpening political and economic competition in the neutral areas of the world, neither side seems to be ready to make any really effective concession in the interests of German reunion, from fear of upsetting the present defence balance. But, as the Soviet Prime Minister's political offensive is intended to show, that does not mean that the present situation will be left static. It would be folly, I submit, to regard as a bluff his statement that in the absence at the end of six months of an agreement with East Germany guaranteeing communications between West Berlin and the outside world the Soviet Union will hand over to the East German Government full sovereignty over land, air and sea approaches to West Berlin, and that thereafter there will be no further contacts between the Soviet and Western representatives on the subject of Berlin. In the circumstances which he 485 indicates, Mr. Khrushchev will do just what he says he will do in this matter. To do otherwise would be to accept a serious diplomatic and political defeat.
§ Nor can the Western Powers prevent him from doing it. Of course, it is true also that Mr. Khrushchev, in his turn, cannot end the joint responsibility for Berlin by unilateral decision. If the three Western Allies cannot compel Soviet Russia to continue to maintain her rights and fulfil her responsibilities in Berlin, Soviet Russia cannot compel the three Western Allies to discontinue maintaining their rights and fulfilling their responsibilities. But if the Soviet Government do hand over to the East German Government power over the land, sea and air approaches to West Berlin, it is almost certain that before very long interferences will take place and the three Western Allies may have to face up to the tricky practical problem of how to ensure that their communications are kept open. Obviously they will have to decide on an effective common-sense solution, and they may have posed to them the question of whether they are going to deal with the East German officials as agents acting for Soviet Union rights in Berlin or as the representatives of the de facto authority in East Germany through or over whose territory the lines of communication run. This is the sort of problem that will require co-ordination of policy and action by the three Western Allies.
There is, I think, general agreement that the reply to Soviet Russia cannot be left at a firm negative about Berlin. Public opinion throughout the Western world, including the United States, is expecting a constructive line to be taken. This view was well-expressed by the Economist when it urged that the Western refusal must be accompanied by an "until" or an "unless". They must add to it their own proposals for a practical agreement on German unity. Perhaps the Foreign Secretary was thinking along somewhat similar lines when he stated in another place [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 596 (No. 28), col. 1380]:
… we believe that the time has come, after due consultation with our Allies, to have a full discussion with the Soviet Union about the problems of Germany and European security.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd did not say whether what he was contemplating was a meeting of Foreign Ministers or another Summit
Conference. If business is to be done with Mr. Khrushchev, the best way to do it is face to face. I hope therefore that the Prime Minister will stand firm for an early Summit meeting.
§ What the Foreign Secretary termed as "due consultation with our Allies" has been taking place in Paris this week. Unfortunately, apart from the decision on Berlin, we have little knowledge of what has been decided and the final communiqué has yet to be issued. Nevertheless, I hope that the noble Marquess the Foreign Under-Secretary, who is to be the first Government speaker in this debate, will be reasonably or even cautiously indiscreet and tell us a little more than we have been allowed to know so far. What is the outcome of these consultations? There was unanimity about Berlin. Is there unanimity about entering into real discussions with Russia on the wider issue? Is there unanimity about constructive proposals to be submitted? The N.A.T.O. Council statement told us nothing on these points; and we know that the Federal German Chancellor holds very strong views against wider discussions. All the statement said was that the Berlin question can be settled only in the framework of an agreement with the U.S.S.R. on Germany as a whole, and that the Western Allies are prepared to discuss this problem, as well as those of European security and disarmament. That sort of statement may mean much or little. It certainly does not indicate, let alone disclose, what the Western Allies have in mind and what are their intentions.
§ What is urgently needed is to get agreement on measures that will reduce the causes of tension in the danger area of Central Europe. Although Her Majesty's Government have continued to oppose proposals for some sort of neutral zone in Central Europe, in spite of the fact that it was Sir Anthony Eden who first put forward the idea, it is at least encouraging to find that in his speech in another place the Foreign Secretary accepted the principle of a neutral zone when he suggested that Eastern Germany should be made a sort of buffer State between Poland and the rest of Europe. We are glad that the Foreign Secretary has been converted to a principle which we have been urging for a long time. But for the Government to repeat that the first steps towards German unity must 487 be free elections, and that a unified Germany must be permitted to join N.A.T.O., is surely futile.
§ Fundamental differences have developed within East and West Germany over the past decade, and they cannot be ignored. These differences are not only political, but social and economic as well. Western Germany is a partner in the European Common Market, which begins to function on January 1 next, and in other West European economic institutions. East Germany, on the other hand, is tied up with the Soviet Union's economic arrangements with all her satellites. It is clearly impossible to end, or amend, or disrupt, these separate economic relationships and commitments by an arbitrary decision. Moreover, while it is undoubtedly true that the vast majority of the East German population desire to return to a united Germany, it is probably equally true that they do not want capitalist ownership and private landlordism to return to East Germany. These are important matters that will have to be taken into full account. It is, of course, for the great Powers to decide the question of a Peace Treaty, and thereby the role a united Germany is to play in Europe; but it is surely for the Germans themselves to work out the best steps that can be taken towards true unity. It may be necessary to consider some sort of federal structure as a stepping-stone towards full German union. If we insist on going the whole way at one step, we shall be doomed to failure.
§ As I have said, it is useless to go on thinking that the Russians will agree to a united Germany joining N.A.T.O. The Government have on several occasions publicly approved the principle stated by the Labour Party and the Trades Union Congress in their statement of policy for disengagement in Europe: that the balance of military security in Europe must not be disturbed to the disadvantage of either. No doubt the Russians think in similar terms. What we must work for is a wide area of disengagement in which the Russian forces will be required to withdraw from East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, in return for the withdrawal of foreign forces from West Germany. To achieve that object as part of a European security system 488 will take long negotiations. But a first stage along the road might be found in the establishment of a nuclear-free area, with a limitation of conventional forces, both subject to international control. Such a semi-demilitarised zone in central Europe is what the revised Rapacki Plan is designed to achieve. Something along these lines, whether it is by the Rapacki Plan or by an alternative plan, is necessary if we are to make progress towards a worthwhile agreement with Russia. If, at the same time, the Prime Minister's proposal for a non-aggression pact between the Warsaw Pact members and the N.A.T.O. members, which has again been urged by Russia, could be concluded, another important step for peace would have been taken.
Finally, none of us can be unaware of the growing fears and opposition which the arming of the Federal German Forces in N.A.T.O. with nuclear weapons is arousing throughout all the countries of Central Europe, and far beyond that area. Can it be doubted that if this policy is persisted in the result will be a hardening of the present uneasy situation, and an increase of tension? Noble Lords may have read some views recently expressed by Mr. George Kennan, the former United States Ambassador to Moscow, which were quoted in the Manchester Guardian of yesterday. It is Mr. Kennan's opinion that if a new German army became dependent upon atomic weapons, the Russian Government would have no choice except to keep its own atomic armed forces in the positions they occupy to-day.
The atomic armament of Western Germany,
is, in fact, the enemy of real progress in the matter of reunification.
This view, which is widely shared, should not be rejected as of little account. If the West is simply going to stand rigidly on its old positions, then it seems to me that the problem of German reunification might just as well be put in cold storage, and our hopes for a European security system will again have to be deferred.
§ I sincerely hope, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government have concerted with their Allies and partners a new constructive approach which takes account of all the realities of the present European situation, and that when the Western 489 Allies begin new negotiations with Russia they will be able to put forward constructive proposals which will contribute fruitful results for a Central European settlement. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.32 p.m.
My Lords, I think all noble Lords in this House will join in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, once again for bringing this end-of-term Motion before the House. I do not know wk ether he has any pedagogic background, but it seems to me rather like summing up what has been happening during the term and writing a report on the pupil—the pupil in this case, of course, being the master.
There is one particular quality about foreign affairs debates; that is that they are always inappropriate or awkward, either because the situation is so delicate that it is better not to embark upon a debate or, on the other hand, it is so indelicate, if I may use the word, that it would do no good to talk about it. I think the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has ranged quite widely on the subjects which come under this heading to-day, and, like him, I am not going to spread my wings out to the Far East or other parts of the globe other than the places he has mentioned. I do not propose to keep your Lordships for more than a few moments.
The two points about which I should like to say a few words are our position in Germany since the recent action of Mr. Khrushchev, and the position of France. The juridical position of the Powers in Germany is, I think, perfectly clear. The four Powers exist there by arrangements of the European Advisory Commissions of 1945 and 1944, both, I believe ratified by the four great Powers. Therefore, each of us has a perfect right and authority to be where we are. But treaties become obsolete, and I would urge Her Majesty's Government to remember this fact. They must be adapted and realigned. This sort of thing cannot possibly be done unilaterally, as is proposed, rather brutally, in this case. We, unfortunately—I may say "unfortunately" not too seriously—have to consider both our Allies and our consciences, whereas those working on the other side have neither of those impediments.
490 It seems to me that the short-term danger, particularly in regard to Germany, is that Soviet Russia, the Communist force, is really seeking to undermine economic confidence in that part of the world. I think your Lordships will agree that the spirit of the people of West Berlin, who have been through pretty difficult times in the past, is not one that is likely to be intimidated by the sort of treatment that is being handed out to them now and they will not be tempted to withdraw either investment, capital, or any of their influence which is so much needed in West Berlin to keep things going in a satisfactory way. That is the short-term danger, although there is this awkward period of six months put before us, which I have no doubt will be utilised in some quarters to show that the offer is made generously on the other side of the Iron Curtain, and that we are the people who are havering, whereas the real truth is exactly the opposite. We want to see Germany happy and prosperous, and the plan put forward by the Communists is certainly not going to achieve that.
The long-term difficulty, it seems to me, is perhaps due to the line of thought taken up by Her Majesty's present Government and the United States Defence Department—what one might call the Maginot Line of thought, rather unyielding, and taking the view that what has been decided cannot be departed from. I suggest that a dynamic new approach to the whole question of the reunification of Germany is essential, and we should not be afraid of taking the diplomatic offensive much more than we have done in the past. I suggest that during this awkward time ahead of us probably the best course we can take is to try to interest the thoughts and feelings of the soft under-belly of the Soviet, the Satellite States. I would suggest (and I feel sure that it can be done, through our information services, meagre as they are) that we start our friendly attack in this way by trying to put information and truth before them, through Hungary and East Germany, and, I think, particularly Poland, for I find it quite impossible to believe that a country which is 60 per cent. Roman Catholic in population can really be "sold down the river" to the Communist ideology.
May I turn for one moment to France? We are delighted to hear this morning 491 that the news is so much better, and that the tension between our two countries has eased. To me it seems highly regrettable that there should be tension in that sense, and such great tension. We must have our differences with our partners and friends, even with France, but geographically, culturally, and sentimentally France is the nearest and, to many of us, the dearest of our friends. In her particular position to-day, when she has just gone through not a mere General Election but the birth of the great new Fifth Republic, she naturally feels rather sensitive. If I may so so, I disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, when he said that France was insensitive. She can be difficult and obdurate, and when it is a question of prestige perhaps nobody is more difficult than the French.
I feel that we ought to look at this matter with great sympathy. It is over-sensitivity at the moment that makes France take, in many ways, the line she is taking. She cannot be quite sure where this new rebirth of France is going to lead, but she does not want the rest of the world to think that she is not in a state of complete confidence that all will go well. I would therefore ask the Government to remember that the French are most sensitive, tentative and uncertain. In our relations with France, above all countries, I suggest that there is no room for tension. On the eve of this Recess, I shall wish Her Majesty's Government, in foreign affairs at least, a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE)
My Lords, at the very outset of my remarks, I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, how much I appreciate the tone that he has set for this debate. Throughout his remarks one could detect his earnest desire that nothing that he said should in any way contribute to any tensions which may at the moment exist. Indeed, the closing remarks of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, gave us exactly the same cue. I will endeavour during the course of my observations to maintain the same tone, and I hope that the example set by the noble Lord the mover of this Motion will be followed by other 492 noble Lords who are to speak this afternoon.
First of all I should like to make a few general observations on the subject of foreign affairs before embarking upon certain particular aspects which I propose to treat, some of which have already been discussed so ably and in such a balanced way, if I may be permitted to say so without being impertinent, by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. I should like your Lordships, if you will, to consider everything that we are going to discuss this afternoon within the context of the idea of interdependence. I believe that unless we direct our minds in that way there is a risk of losing balance. In the Commonwealth sphere we have an ever-growing sense of interdependence. We have the meetings of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers and recently we have had the Montreal economic conference. When we consider our great Ally the United States of America, here again it seems to me there is an ever-increasing sense of interdependence. This, I think, has been tremendously added to by the close mutual esteem between our Prime Minister and the President of the United States.
When we come to Europe, there, too, is a tremendous complex of interdependent and interlocking organisations: N.A.T.O., which of course includes the United States of America and brings American troops on to the Continent; W.E.U.; O.E.E.C., our association with the European Coal and Steel Community, the Council of Europe and so on. Only yesterday I was for a few hours in Paris where I was attending a meeting of Western European Union. If I may say so to your Lordships, it was brought tremendously home to me by this short experience—one which I have often had before as a delegate to the Western European Union—that there was this sense of interlocking interests, this sense that no move can be made without, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said, concerting it with our Allies and associates. So in everything that we consider to-day I hope that that thought will always run through our ideas and the suggestions that noble Lords may wish to put forward.
Now I should like to turn at once to the question of Berlin, which has been dealt with already by both previous speakers. As all your Lordships know, discussions have been taking place 493 between the four Foreign Ministers and in the North Atlantic Council to consider what steps should be taken in reply to the Note of Mr. Khrushchev of November 27. I am quite certain that your Lordships in every part of the House must have wholeheartedly approved the unequivocal reaffirmation by the three Western Powers of their determination to maintain their position in Berlin and their right of free access to the city. This stand, as your Lordships all know, has the full support of all the Governments of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
We have now to consider the reply to the Soviet Note. Perhaps I might just remind your Lordships of the facts about the position in Berlin which have to be taken into account in the consideration of the joint reply that we shall be sending to the Soviet Note. First, our right to be in Berlin derives from the unconditional surrender of Germany in 1945, and the assumption then by the four Powers of supreme authority. Secondly quadripartite agreements were concluded at that time defining the sectors into which Berlin was to be divided. These agreements were subordinate to the basic right of occupation. Thirdly, there is the allied right of access to Berlin, which is inherent in the right of the occupation of the city. As the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has pointed out to us already, none of the four Powers which is a party to the quadripartite agreements of 1945 has the right unilaterally to repudiate them, but of course any of those four Powers is entitled to express its view on the situation. So much for the juridical position.
There is also a moral obligation. In conjunction with the Governments of the United States and of France we have repeatedly affirmed our determination to defend West Berlin against any attack. The Russian proposal that West Berlin should be turned into a "demilitarised free city" would mean the abandonment by the three Western Powers of all the rights that they at present have. West Berlin is already in many respects a free city, and your Lordships will remember the action that had to be taken by the Western Powers to maintain that freedom in 1948 and 1949; I refer, of course, to the air-lift. Can anyone seriously believe that a Berlin surrounded on all sides by 494 Communist-controlled territory could remain a free city for very long?
While we are all agreed that the Soviet proposal is wholly unacceptable, this does not mean that we can be content to sit back and make no contribution towards the solution of the German problem. This has never been our position. The problem of Berlin, a divided city in a divided country, must certainly be solved—on this point, at least, we can agree with Mr. Khrushchev. But the right solution for this problem is that Berlin should be restored as the capital of a re-unified Germany; in other words, the Berlin problem is part of the whole German problem and can only be solved together with it.
As your Lordships will remember, the Western Powers have frequently put forward proposals on the German problem based on the right of the German people freely to choose their own Government. These proposals were most recently reiterated in a Note to the Soviet Government of September 30, which, after describing the Western proposals, went on to say—and I quote, just to remind your Lordships:Her Majesty's Government are ready at any time to enter into discussions with the Soviet Government on the basis of these proposals, or of any other proposals genuinely designed to ensure the re-unification of Germany in freedom, in any appropriate form.…Similar Notes were sent by the French and the United States Governments, and this remains our position to-day. As your Lordships know, a further Note has been received from the Soviet Government. It arrived on the eve of the N.A.T.O. Conference in Paris, and it makes proposals for a non-aggression treaty, a de-nuclearised zone, force reductions in Europe and a settlement of the Berlin problem. None of these proposals is new. The Note suggests that they can best be discussed at a Summit Conference. As your Lordships are aware, preparations for such a Conference were made in Moscow between the Western Ambassadors and the Soviet Government earlier this year, but they were broken off after the Soviet Government's continued failure even to reply to the agenda proposed by the Western Powers on May 28. If this latest Note means a willingness to resume preparations for a Conference we, for our part, 495 welcome it. It is difficult, however, in view of the timing of the content of the Note, not to consider the possibility of its being a propagandist exercise. None the less, if it can be a means to progress, we welcome this further approach.
Now for the subjects that would have to be discussed. First of all, the reunification of Germany. As the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has said in his speech to-day, the Soviet Government may fear that a reunited Germany, free to choose her own foreign policy might prejudice Soviet security. We are ready to agree on security arrangements for Europe and have already put forward proposals with a view to mitigating this anxiety of the Soviet Government. These proposals, briefly, are: if a united Germany chose to join N.A.T.O. and as a result Soviet forces had to withdraw from the Eastern Zone, the Allied Powers would give an undertaking to take no military advantage from this withdrawal. This, in fact, would mean an undertaking that N.A.T.O. forces would not be brought 200 miles closer to the borders of the Soviet Union. We should seek to agree security arrangements guarding against the risk of surprise attack in Europe, and we should further wish to see a system of ground control and air inspection. I shall refer shortly to the Geneva conference on surprise attack. The third proposal might be the introduction of the limitation of forces and armaments within an agreed area in central Europe, which would include the reunited Germany. Any agreement reached would have to be carried through under international control.
It is the view of Her Majesty's Government that proposals along the lines I have outlined to your Lordships might well form the basis for European security arrangements. As your Lordships know, European security proposals have also been put forward from the Communist side, most of which involve, in some form or other, "disengagement". Of these, the Rapacki Plan has, I think, been the most widely discussed. The original Rapacki Plan, put forward in October, 1957, has now been revised, but so far we know of its content only from a Press report from Warsaw which came out on November 4. We are still awaiting the details. So far as we know at present, the two main differences in the revised proposals 496 are that, instead of denuclearisation taking place as a single step, it is now to come about gradually in two stages, the first stage involving a standstill on nuclear weapons in the area, and the second being their withdrawal from the area. The second difference is that agreed reductions of conventional forces would take place at the same time as the withdrawal of the nuclear weapons.
I am afraid that a great deal of what I am saying may not be new to your Lordships, but I hope that I shall be forgiven for refreshing your memories. It seems clear that in these changes Mr. Rapacki has attempted to meet some of the objections to his earlier proposals which were rejected by the Western countries. We must be grateful for that. None the less, these proposals still appear to contain some of the fundamental objections which we had against the original proposals. Clearly, no conclusion can be reached on these proposals until they have been put forward officially and in detail by the Polish Government.
The criteria by which such proposals as the Rapacki Plan might be judged remain the same. First, would the proposal change the balance of military security to the disadvantage of either side? Second, would the proposals be consistent with the retention of N.A.T.O., including, of course, the presence of United States Forces on the Continent? There is also the vital question of the relationship between measures to promote European security and the solution of political problems, of which, of course, the principal one is the division of Germany.
I am in wholehearted agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Henderson—and I think the noble Lord, Lord Rea, reechoed this view that we must not take too rigid an attitude. On the other hand—and this seems to me to be a fundamental principle—we cannot accept negotiations under duress, under threats, or, indeed, under time limits. Nor can we accept any arbitrary interference with our clearly defined rights. I do not believe that we can budge one inch from these principles. But we must, as we undertook to do in the N.A.T.O. Heads of Government Conference a year ago, be ready to examine any proposals, from whatever source they may come, and to judge them on their merits.
497 As the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has alluded to the Conferences in Geneva I should like to say a few words on them. Since my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary spoke in another place on December 4 some progress has been made at the Conference on Nuclear Tests. In the first place, agreement has been reached on the first four draft Articles of a Treaty. If I may enlarge a little on what the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said, these deal with the obligations to prohibit tests and to co-operate with an international control system, with the principal components of such a system, and with the composition of a Control Commission. In the second place, there has been a thoroughly informative exchange of views upon the whole question of control.
I do not want to raise hopes unduly. This step forward has been achieved, as your Lordships know, only after long and arduous negotiations, and it is the belief of Her Majesty's Government that further long and arduous negotiations lie ahead. Progress has been made, however, and I believe we can be thankful for that. As the Conference has been conducted as a negotiation and not a public debate it has not been possible to apprise your Lordships, as it has been going on, of each advance, step by step.
On the other Conference at Geneva—that on surprise attack—I am afraid that the news is not good. Things have not gone well and the Conference is likely to have to adjourn. The reason for this is that the Eastern delegates have attempted to transform what is, in fact, a technical conference into a political one. They have refused to follow the approach which was so successful at the Geneva Conference of experts on nuclear tests and I am unable to report to your Lordships that there has been any progress at all there.
I have already spoken at great length, but I crave your Lordships' indulgence for a little longer, as I should like, before I resume my seat, to make a few observations on the Free Trade Area. This subject has already been touched on, and both the previous speakers have set a tone which I feel we must all try to follow. Perhaps I may be allowed to run through the story up to date, because I believe that that may be helpful to your Lordships. The meeting of the 498 O.E.E.C. Council at the beginning of this week was one of the greatest importance to the future of economic co-operation and, indeed, of political unity, in Western Europe. The six countries of the European Common Market stated their readiness to take certain steps to reduce tariff and quota discrimination which otherwise would result on January 1 of next year. these steps would not, however, totally have eliminated discrimination. At the same time France, who in common with other members of the O.E.E.C. is under certain obligations with regard to the liberalisation of trade, would have continued in default of those obligations while introducing discrimination in favour of her five Rome Treaty partners.
Her Majesty's Government have for a long time recognised that the Rome Treaty could be a force for unifying and strengthening Western Europe and the whole of the free world, provided that some means could be found to avoid consequent economic discrimination; and, as your Lordships know, with this in mind, we made our proposal for a Free Trade Area designed to maintain multilateral co-operation among the seventeen O.E.E.C. countries. It is probably unnecessary for me to remind your Lordships that we have for ten years been gradually building up this multilateral arrangement through the O.E.E.C., and it has been extremely successful. Unfortunately, the basis on which our proposals were made, and discussed for so long in Paris was rejected by the French Government on November 14.
When the six countries subsequently came forward with proposals which, while certainly diminishing discrimination, none the less maintained a substantial degree of it after the end of this year, Her Majesty's Government made a further proposal in a last-minute effort to avoid discrimination. On Monday last my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade proposed in Paris that, rather than allow discrimination, the six Rome Treaty countries should extend all their quotas, on a multilateral basis, to all O.E.E.C. countries; and that we should make a corresponding extension of our quotas for the benefit of all members of the Organisation. This offer—and I want to give as much emphasis as I can to this point—was welcomed by many of the countries represented at the meeting 499 but was not immediately acceptable to all. As we all know, the meeting of the O.E.E.C. Council has been adjourned until January 15, and we must hope that, with further consideration, our ideas may be accepted.
The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, referred to the need to avoid retaliatory action—a trade war—in the face of discrimination by the six Rome Treaty countries. We have no such intention, but we must make it clear that if countries, while nominally adhering to the principles of the O.E.E.C. and the trade liberalisation code, in fact persist in discrimination, we and others similarly affected are bound to study the means which are open to us to defend our interests.
At the same time, I should like to make it clear that there is no question whatsoever of our seeking to force any of our friends in O.E.E.C. to negotiate under a threat. In order to make this especially clear, we undertook in Paris that, pending consideration of our new proposal on January 15, we would take no defensive action whatsoever. I have no doubt that full and sympathetic consideration will be given to the further proposals we have made. They seem to us to be the only way, in the short time available, of avoiding serious discrimination. We believe that, as the noble Lord said, if things go wrong it would lead to a division in O.E.E.C.; and that might jeopardise the whole of the multilateral economic structure in Western Europe on which the strength of all our countries has been built up during these last ten years. It is idle to pretend that there would not be political consequences from such a misfortune.
It is not the intention of Her Majesty's Government to take part in a witch hunt. We realise how difficult this negotiation is; and the difficulties are realised, I am quite certain, on the Continent of Europe as well. I hope that when we go away for the Recess we shall all carry in our minds a determination that, somehow or other, we will maintain our patience and contrive to see that this important measure for the future, not just of Europe or of this country but of the whole free world, is brought successfully to a conclusion.
§ 4.12 p.m.
§ LORD STRANG
My Lords, if I am not mistaken, this is the first occasion on which the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, has replied for the Government in a debate on foreign affairs in your Lordships' House since he was appointed to his present office. I should like, if I can do so without impertinence, to congratulate him. I am sure your Lordships would all be with me in that. He has given us a most careful and informative survey. One need say no more, I think, than that he is carrying on a great family tradition which has become a part of our history.
From time to time we have these debates on foreign affairs; but we have to admit, I think, that there is a certain sameness about them. Sometimes we have our eyes chiefly on the Far East, sometimes on the Middle East and sometimes, as to-day, chiefly on Europe; but the debates are all conducted against the same background and they all fall into a common pattern. It is only when something uncharacteristic happens and there is some, shall I say, almost inexplicable aberration from normal British policy, such as the Anglo-French operation at Port Said, that our debates move into the region of acute controversy. But there is nothing uncharacteristic about the situation we are debating to-day.
Behind the day-to-day developments which so often puzzle us there are certain basic factors which do not change or which change only very slowly, if at all. These are the permanent or, at any rate, the enduring factors which every Foreign Secretary has to keep in mind as he frames his policy from day to day. I propose in a very few words to start by looking at some of these enduring factors.
The present debate is chiefly about Europe, but I hope I may be excused if I take a somewhat wider view. The world is one, and Europe cannot properly be understood in isolation. The first factor I want to glance at is the problem of world population. The present population of the world is about 2,500 million. It has taken 200,000 years to reach that figure; it would take only about another fifty years to double it. Nothing like this has happened in the world before. Between a half and two-thirds of the world's population live in the Far East and in South and South-East Asia, chiefly in China and India.
501 The second factor is the gap between the standard of living of the so-called more advanced peoples, the so-called white peoples, and that of the far more numerous so-called under-developed peoples who live in various parts of the world. As your Lordships will remember, Mr. Nehru drew attention to this gap, very rightly, and to its grave political implications in his opening speech at the meeting of the International Bank and Monetary Fund at New Delhi. And it seems to be true that, in spite of some spectacular figures reported from China, the gap seems to be widening rather than closing. The average national income per head in the United States in 1956 was about £700; in Egypt, it was about £35, and in India it was less—that is one-third to a half of the cost of a television set. Our own country is a forest of television aerials. By contrast let us note that the majority of the members of the human race are chronically under-nourished.
I come now to the third factor. In this situation it is not surprising that the peoples of Asia and Africa are on the move. There is in these two Continents a passionate urge for independence, in fact as well as in name; a passionate urge also for the industrialisation of their countries. They know that they must industrialise or continue to starve. They can get help only from the advanced countries, whether they are capitalist or Communist. Their choice between the two will not normally or always depend on political affiliation so much as on a desperate need for survival. They will take help wherever they can get it, provided it does riot compromise their sovereignty and independence, of which they are understandably, if excessively, jealous.
In face of all these factors, what ought the advanced countries to do? On the political side they can promote—they should promote—self-government, and, where this is feasible, independence. Our own achievement in this field is one which history will applaud. A further first step along this road has been reported to your Lordships to-day. But it is not enough to promote independence. Independence must be respected in deed as well as in word. New nations are rightly sensitive about this, and experience seems to show that newly independent countries develop 502 an independent point of view. They are not so ready to follow anybody's lead, whether that lead is given in London or in Washington, in Moscow or in Cairo.
On the economic side also the advanced countries must help. I would not myself overstress their moral obligation to do this. The over-population and poverty of the under-developed countries is not, I think, a result of the so-called evils of imperialism; it is, indeed, more often the result of the benefits which the Colonial Powers have conferred in the matters of health and hygiene. But it is certainly in the interests of the advanced countries to alleviate the lot of these fellow human beings. And it is not only a matter of self-interest; it is a matter of common humanity as well. Of course, as we know. there are a multiplicity of agencies—national and international—which are devoting themselves to this task, quite inadequately still, but with genuine good will. Much has been done, but more—very much more—requires still to be done.
I have spoken so far about some of the factors affecting the under-developed countries; but, side by side with these factors, there are two factors affecting the more advanced countries themselves, whether these are capitalist or Communist. These are only too familiar to us, but familiarity ought not to render them any the less disturbing. They are, first, the great political and ideological cleavage; and, second, the nuclear stalemate, so to call it. These two factors, and the tensions which have given rise to them, stand squarely in the way of any really effective tackling of the vast human problem which afflicts the less advanced peoples. They obstruct progress by perpetuating political conflict and by drawing off material resources that could be put to more fruitful use. On the one hand, there are the under-developed countries crying out for assistance; on the other, there are the advanced countries using up their substance in pursuing a deep-seated conflict which divides them.
That is the grim human tragedy in which we are all involved. But, my Lords, it is no use pretending that these two situations do not both exist. There is no getting away from them. They cannot be conjured away by a mere wave of the wand. This deep-seated world conflict is not, I think, to be solved by any short cut or "open Sesame", like what 503 is sometimes called "disengagement", even as that word has been defined and limited by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. On this point I feel bound to differ somewhat from him, and to agree rather with what the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, said. It seems to me that the Geneva negotiations about the discontinuance of nuclear tests were, on the whole, a better approach. Those negotiations have been, and are being, conducted, I think, in the right way—not in public; not at a very high level; not at the Summit; and, happily (and perhaps because of those reasons), with a not inconsiderable measure of success.
May I return now for a moment to the great cleavage? Quemoy and Berlin are two of the latest episodes in this unceasing conflict arising from the great divide. The two operations follow the same kind of pattern. Quemoy was an attempt, by limited military action, to achieve political results. It was an attempt to break the morale of the Chinese Nationalists and to bring them to accommodation with the mainland. It was an attempt to create differences between the Chinese Nationalists and the Americans, and between the Americans and their European allies. It was an attempt to constrain the Americans to modify their policy. And let us note, my Lords, that these attempts have not succeeded so far. That seems to me to be a very notable point.
Now Berlin. The Berlin operation is an attempt, by threat of action in six months' time, to break the morale of the Berliners; to disturb their relations with Bonn and with the Western Powers; to strengthen the East German régime; to weaken the resolution of Dr. Adenauer's Government and to disturb its relations with the Western Powers; and, finally, to create uncertainty and differences among the Western Powers themselves. In both cases the Communists are probing at a vulnerable spot.
Now, if I might return to Quemoy for one moment, it is easy to criticise American policy. We have most of us been doing it. We think we know what the Americans ought to do: recognise the plain fact of the existence of the Communist Chinese Government; admit the right of that Government to occupy China's seat on the Security Council; withdraw support from Chiang Kai-shek 504 in the off-shore islands, and so on. But in all this it seems to me that the important thing to remember is the part which the United States sees herself as playing in the world to-day, both in Europe and in Asia. If we believe, as the Americans believe (and I think rightly), that the Communist Powers are implacably hostile to the Western world, that they will do their utmost by all means short of war—and, if need be, by force of arms—to break down the Western world in their own good time, then we can surely see the terrible responsibility which falls upon the United States.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
But would the noble Lord suggest that we should adopt the American policy towards China?
§ LORD STRANG
I have not said that, and I am not going to say it. That is not my view. I am saying that we should understand why the Americans take the view they do. I am speaking at the moment of the responsibility which lies upon them. It is nothing less than almost the sole responsibility for the freedom of the free world and of the United States itself. We ourselves, here in this country, cannot feel that responsibility in the same degree. We no longer have the predominant strength which brings so great a responsibility with it. At the back of our minds there is always the comforting thought that in the last resort, there, behind us, are the Americans. But behind the Americans there is nothing. They are themselves the last resort. They are glad to have allies; but if they fail, everything else fails. So, rightly or wrongly, those who direct American policy feel that they must stand against the spread of Communist domination everywhere, whether by Russia or by China.
From this point of view, South and South-East Asia, with their teeming millions and their large Chinese population, are particularly vulnerable to the impact of Communist China—I am giving the American view now, not my own. Rightly or wrongly, the Americans believe that any increase in the political prestige of Communist China would dangerously reinforce their influence in those regions. Rightly or wrongly, the Americans believe that any military advance by Communist China beyond her own shores might in the same way lead 505 the South-East Asian peoples to believe that the Communist cause was decisively on the upgrade. They think that this might, in time, tip the balance among the still uncommitted countries and lead to more accessions to the Communist camp. They may be right or they may be wrong, but let us try to understand why they feel as they do. Their view cannot be the same as ours—but let us not be too sure that they are entirely wrong. When you have yielded a position, you have lost it. The consequences can be incalculable and the world may never be the same again, as we learned at Munich.
That kind of argument about Quemoy is, in essentials, not so very different from the argument we ourselves are using about Berlin, with this difference: that in Berlin we are on far stronger juridical ground—not that the Russians will pay much attention to that. Happily, the three Western Powers, and indeed the whole of N.A.T.O., are at one on the policy in regard to Berlin. But, to go on to another point, the unity of the West is gravely threatened by the present tendencies in French policy, both in O.E.E.C., as regards the Common Market and the Free Trade Area, and in N.A.T.O., as regards the setting up of a three-Power inner group, the integration of air forces, the control of missile bases arid the custody of stocks of nuclear warheads. I think we have to face the fact that France's key strategic position and her great skill in diplomacy give her ample scope to cause a great deal of trouble if she should choose to do so.
My Lords, just as I think we should try to understand American policies, even though we may disagree with them, so we ought to have patience and forbearance in the face of these French policies, even though they may seem to us to be gravely damaging to Western solidarity. Here I am in complete agreement with what was so well said by the noble Lord, Lord Rea. It is not easy for us to realise fully the terrible strain through which France has been passing: the ruinous drain of the Algerian campaign and the effect of the near-revolutionary constitutional crisis. As we all know, consciousness of weakness and over-sensitiveness (I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Rea) makes for intransigent attitudes 506 and strongly assertive nationalisitic policies. In the light of that fact, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. suggested, our first task should be to try to restore the unity of the West, if we can. Reason and good will must be made, if possible, to prevail. If we act in that spirit, we shall recognise that retaliation or reprisals or counter-action should be the last, not the first, resort among Allies; and, as I understand it, that is also the view of Her Majesty's Government, as explained to your Lordships to-day by the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne.
§ 4.34 p.m.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, more than once in our debates I have had either the good fortune or the ill luck, as the case may be, to follow my noble friend Lord Strang. It is good fortune, in that I agree heartily with nearly everything he has said; on the other hand, I feel that it is a little hard on me, in that he has said, so much more clearly and with so much greater authority, what I had intended to say. I am sure that the value of a debate of this kind does not lie in trying to instruct the Government on the immediate issues of foreign policy: I am sure that the Government cannot expect some flash of enlightenment to come from our discussion here. I think that the real value is that they enable us to stand back, as my noble friend Lord Strang did, free from the hustings, the newspaper headlines, the Press conferences and all the apparatus of what is thought to be public self-enlightment, and have a look at what the noble Lord rightly called "the grim human tragedy" by which we are surrounded.
I do not want to follow the noble Lord over the whole width of the field which he covered with such remarkable conciseness. I will confine myself to some reflections upon the narrower part of the field of our relations and the relations of the free world with Soviet Russia and the Communist world. The noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, in what I am sure we all recognised to be a powerful speech, expressed the hope that the debate would follow the tone set by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and I hope that I shall do nothing to disobey the injunction of the noble Marquess. At the same time, whilst I approve of the tone of the noble Lord and the thought he has given to these grave matters, I should be less 507 than frank if I were to say that I agreed with everything he said, or even, in general, with his approach.
Looking back on the forty years or so during which I have been more or less conscious politically, and especially conscious of the international aspects of politics—as we have all been because they have been forced upon us to such an extent—I am conscious, more than of anything else, of the extent to which we all seem to become the prisoners of words and allow phrases to master our judgment and shield us from reality. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, will forgive me if I say that the phrase "a constructive solution" is one that we ought to regard with a good deal of scepticism, because a constructive solution usually turns out to be an impracticable one. I think (and I will try to develop the argument in a moment or two) that the solutions which the noble Lord propounded, constructive as they are, are not practicable.
There is one phrase, more than any other, that seems to echo like a theme song through any public discussion of these matters, whether in debate in Parliament or at a public meeting, or in the Press; that is the phrase, "relaxation of tension". We repeat it until it has a kind of mesmeric effect and we come to believe that to relax international tension is the primary object of foreign policy. It is not. Tension is not the cause of international disorder, it is the result of international disorder. It is a symptom; and although we can treat symptoms, and perhaps get rid of them, the disorder, the disease, continues unchecked.
It is not as if there were great crowds thronging Red Square and clamouring for war, or thronging Times Square, Trafalgar Square or the Place de la Concorde clamouring for war. That kind of thing happened in 1914, but it is not happening in 1958. Nobody is clamouring for war; everybody is shrinking from war. If there is a high degree of international tension in the world to-day—as there is—it does not derive from hysteria, but from a well-grounded fear of Russian aggression. The real danger in which we stand, as it seems to me, is not that if we do not relax tension we shall have war; it is that if we are too eager to relax tension we shall relax our guard as well. It seems to me that there is a genuine con- 508 fusion in our mind about what we describe as tension. There may be the tension of hysteria, but there is also that form of tension which is, in fact, a perfectly natural defence mechanism; and I am sure that if there had not been that tension in Europe over the past ten years Europe would already have been overwhelmed by Communist forces.
The same confusion of mind, I feel, tends to colour our whole attitude to the Soviet Union and to Soviet policy. So far as one can be certain of anything which must finally be a matter of subjective judgment, I am certain that the Soviet Union does not want a major war, and that it is not going to blunder into a major war, even by accident. I am equally certain that the present leaders of the Soviet Union are the implacable enemies of this country and of what this country stands for. It is an enmity which does not derive from passion, but from calculation—or miscalculation, if you like. They are our enemies. They are determined to subjugate mankind not by war, but by subversion; by exciting fear in one country and exacerbating jealousy in another; and by preying upon the minds and nerves of well-intentioned people all over the world. I believe that we all know that to be true. Yet in part of our minds we maintain the pretence that it is a question only of misunderstanding, and that if people can be brought round the conference table those misunderstandings will disappear. That is the reason, of course, why from time to time there comes this demand, like a rash on the skin, for a Summit Conference. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said that he hoped the Russian Prime Minister's ultimatum would be used to get talks started about the re-unification of Germany. I cannot help feeling that that is a completely unreal hope. The Soviet Union cannot afford to let East Germany go; and we cannot afford to hand over Western Germany to a Communist Eastern Germany.
The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said that he hoped we should get worth-while agreement with Russia. We have had agreements with Russia before. They have never been worth while, because they have not been kept, and I cannot see why any new agreement should be kept now. There is no doubt some value in a Summit Conference as an exercise in propaganda, or for purposes of self-education in the 509 facts of life. But it seems to me, in the light of the record which we can read for ten and fifteen years past, to be both fantastic and almost pathetic to believe that if we get the Russians round the conference table we shall be able to negotiate a solution with them.
I know that many of your Lordships—perhaps most of your Lordships—will not agree with what I am saying, and I know that I can be taunted with despair and hopelessness. I may be asked: "If you will not negotiate with the Russians, what is your solution?" It seems to me, from my experience of life, that every now and again in one's own life one does come up against a problem to which there is no immediate or direct solution: one just has to hang on and be as steadfast as one can, and work one's way round it and through it, in the belief that, if one is steadfast, if one does not get rattled and does not get in a panic, a solution will be worked out in the end. I believe that that is the position so far as the international situation is concerned.
It would be very nice to negotiate with the Russians and to come to some agreement with them. But the important thing now is not for us to come to an agreement with the Russians, but for us to come to an agreement among ourselves. The danger that we stand in does not come immediately from the monolithic power of the Communist world, but from the divisions of the free world. Her Majesty's Government have done, and are doing, a great deal to heal those divisions. But it is not something that can be done by Governments alone: it is something that has to be done by politicians, however obscure, by writers in the Press, and by anyone whose views are listened to, in however small a way, anywhere. That is why I was so glad that the noble Lord, Lord Strang replied that we should the Americans, with which many of us have disagreed in the past. The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, became indignant at what Lord Strang was saying, but Lord Strang replied: that we should understand why the Americans take the point of view they do. In my view, it is essential that we should understand why the Americans take the point of view they do; and I feel that we ought to be very glad that they do take it.
The noble Lord, Lord Strang, described our situation as a grim human tragedy. And so it is. None of us could have 510 believed, thirteen years ago, that the world would be in the position it is in to-day. I do not think anyone knows what is the real cause of war. Some people say that poverty is the cause, and some say that an armaments race is the cause. I believe that those are shallow judgments, and that the real causes lie far deeper. I think that one possible explanation of modern war is that there is some process working deep down in the sub-conscious of history, so to speak, which is shaping, hammering and bludgeoning the international society into a new form more fitted for the conditions of a modern world. That is a fanciful explanation, but in this sense, at any rate, it is a true one: that that is what has been happening as a result of the past two wars. It seems to me that our purpose is to ensure, so far as we can, that we carry through the process of a reformation of the international society before we are overtaken by war, and that we carry it through in peace, and by agreement and understanding with our friends and Allies.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, the noble Lord who has just spoken reminded us when he started that it has been his fate sometimes, or his fortune, to follow the noble Lord, Lord Strang. I am afraid that I, too, have to claim that kind of defence, in that I think this is the third occasion on which it has been my fate to follow the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine. I wish that I could roam over the international scene with that broad wisdom that he has displayed. For myself, so much which is of interest to me has already been said that I think I can only cross the i's and dot the t's of some of the aspects in the European situation which have already been put to the House.
If I may say so, the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has raised this debate at an opportune moment, and not necessarily opportune for the normal reasons which one associates with this kind of occasion. It may be old-fashioned these days to take comfort in the reflection of the Christian world standing together in face of a challenge, just as we disperse to celebrate Christmas and all that it stands for, but it seems to me significant that, through the controversy which surrounds the problem of Berlin, Christian Europe 511 has in these last few days drawn closer and that we enter on a six months' period which Mr. Khrushchev has benevolently given us at a moment when we should wish peace certainly to all men of good will. It is because we surely find it impossible to interpret into the Soviet motives and their moves anything in the nature of an unqualified good will of simplicity and purity that we have to direct our particular message to-day to those 2¼ million Berliners isolated as a symbol of our freedom. If we could reach the Soviet people the perspective might be of a different nature. But we cannot, and, as I see it, alas! good will as between ourselves and the men in the Kremlin, as a matter of deep and spiritual content, must remain a kind of distant and illusive El Dorado.
As I said, I am going to confine my remarks to Europe, and I think it is interesting to note that the first hint of what was intended in relation to Berlin came on November 10, on an occasion when Mr. Khrushchev was speaking in Moscow, when he was welcoming his friend Mr. Gomulka from Poland. It was then made clear that there would be a coming hand-over of East Berlin to the East German Government, and Mr. Khrushchev added, for good measure, that Russia and the States of the Warsaw Pact would fulfil their obligations to East Germany if any provocation came from the West as the result of the handing over of the control powers by Russia to Eastern Germany. That was two weeks before the flood of contentious prose was loosed on us on November 27. But it raises the question as to what the real motive and objective is behind this move. With some idea of the motive in the background, it will be easier for this House, Parliament and the country outside to give Her Majesty's Government their complete support, which they must have if they are to deal with these difficult months ahead of political manœuvre and negotiation with the Soviet.
It is with that in mind that I offer my own interpretation of some of the Soviet intentions. First, I think we have to appreciate the nature of the East German Government to-day. I returned from Berlin the other day convinced that in Eastern Germany there is to-day a dictatorship which represents a synthesis of 512 all that was evil and brutal in Nazism and all that remains evil and brutal in Communism. The result has been a tyranny as oppressive and loathsome as human ingenuity could possibly devise. Ulbricht, to my mind, is the modern heir of Stalin long before any candidate in the Kremlin. One motive of Soviet policy is surely to prop up an Eastern German Government which can continue to exist only through the physical presence of the Soviet Army on its soil, and the mere removal of a few troops out of Berlin will not make the slightest difference. Twenty-two Soviet divisions—the latest official figure quoted by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation—are sufficient to ensure that Ulbricht and his comrades will continue.
I would draw attention to one headache that Ulbricht has to face, and that is the 500 refugees who pass through Berlin every day, averaging over the last nine years 4,000 a week—I believe the two-millionth refugee was counted last October—the greatest example, I believe, of a refugee migration in the whole of history. With the zonal frontier completely closed, Berlin, of course, is the only safety valve, and with control of Berlin that last escape is blocked. That, surely, is a motive of Ulbricht. The noble Marquess reminded us that we need not doubt that when Western troops are withdrawn it will be only too easy to stage a situation by which the East Germans could take over the whole of the city.
Perhaps I may quote one example of what might happen. One point in Mr. Khrushchev's statement of October 27 was that some sort of arrangements would be necessary to ensure the unhindered communication between the free city of West Berlin and the outside world. Those arrangements would have to be negotiated between the free city and the Eastern German Government. But he added that West Berlin would have to give a clear commitment that it would not allow hostile, subversive activity against the German Democratic Republic to be carried out on its territory. It is very easy to imagine how a normal resentment at a deliberate act of the East German Government could be used as the pretext to turn the so-called free city into a slave city at a moment's notice. I suggest that Ulbricht himself may well 513 have taken the initiative in this matter and put pressure on to Moscow in order to be able to present a situation by which the West, and particularly the Western German Government, would be forced to deal with his officials and so to recognise his Government as the de jure Government of Eastern Germany. If the West were forced to leave Berlin, or if, alternatively, they could stay only on Eastern German sufferance, then what a shot in the arm it would be for a tottering and, as I believe, a very frightened Government!
But, my Lords, there is another and perhaps more profound reason why, as I see it, we have to remain in Berlin. If I may, I will employ a rather hypothetical kind of situation. I submit that had we had but one battalion in Budapest in November, 1956, there would have been an alibi which would have justified a move into Hungary which might have saved Hungary. That position would have been known; it would have been known to the Soviet; and my own doubt is that the Soviet in those circumstances could or would have moved their tanks on the Hungarians. The point I want to make is that one company on the ground, armed with only rifles, is sufficient to connote that he who attacks it commits aggression and has to answer for it to a world audience.
May I further develop a hypothetical situation in the present case? Suppose that the six months go by and that nothing really happens; and suppose that the Soviet are able to carry through their intentions. Suppose then that a convoy of supplies for troops in Western Berlin is held up and behind the hold up are Eastern German troops in the background. What happens? Is that convoy then meekly to go back along the road to Helmstadt, to the zonal frontier? Some of your Lordships, I think, might say, "Yes, that is an incident and an incident has a habit of growing into something much larger." I say this and I say it in some sense of considered responsibility: if we are always to avoid an incident it might lead to the minor military brawl which in turn could lead to a local action which in turn could spread to a small war which might finally end up in the hypothetical big war—if that is always to be our attitude in these 514 situations so deftly staged by the Communists, we might just as well hand over the world to the Communists to-morrow.
Then there is the human side of this Berlin problem. I do not think we have ever seen the full text of these 24,000 words, but the The Times gave a summary, presumably high-lighting the main points. Was it not incredible that from beginning to end of that statement there was not one word mentioned of the wishes of the 2¼ million West Berliners in regard to their own future? If these great issues of the future of Germany, the future of Europe, and the future of the free world were not linked to Berlin, there would still be that one element of the human side, the fate of the Western Berliners; and that, I suggest, is the fundamental reason why we have to remain in Berlin. The will of the Berliners has been put very aptly indeed by their spokesman, and anyone who has had the privilege of meeting and talking with Burgomaster Willi Brandt will realise the depth of the Berlin feeling on this subject.
Here I would take the opportunity to comment on one aspect of German affairs which might at first be regarded as outside our competence. I hope that our friends in Germany will not take what I say amiss, if I say that some of us have been disturbed recently by certain signals that all did not go quite according to plan as between the Chancellor, Dr. Adenaur, and Herr Brandt. It would be an impertinence, of course, for us in any way to suggest what should or should not be done in regard to the internal German political situation. At home, as we know, we have had our examples of the exploitation of international politics by Government or Opposition—and I make no particular charge against any particular Government or any particular Opposition. But I think we can say that if Berlin were ever to become the focus of a controversy as between the Christian and the Social Democratic Parties it would be a very sad day, not only far Germany but for the free world. We can hope that the great Chancellor, to whom Europe certainly owes much of its concept of political unity and purpose to-day, will appreciate the psychological significance of forgetting Party politics in so far as Berlin and its leader are concerned.
515 I suggested that the Soviet move was to build up a very unhappy Eastern German Government. Recognition and not reunification has been the aim, and, indeed, I suspect that the Eastern German Government fears reunification. If so, we have, I think, equally to assume that the Soviet design has been to detach Eastern Germany from the West, which of course would constitute a betrayal of the wish, as I see it, of some 17 million Eastern Germans. In effecting that detachment the Soviet are faced with one treat difficulty—it, may be they have overcome it. I refer to the traditional hatred of Poles for all Germans, whether they come from East or West. My noble friend Lord St. Oswald has, I believe, made some study of this aspect of European affairs, and I shall listen to what he has to say, if he touches on it, with very great interest. For myself I would only remind your Lordships again that the first hint of this Berlin move purposely came when the Polish leader was in Moscow; that by guaranteeing the Oder-Neisse line Khrushchev has been able to effect a facade of official reconciliation between Eastern Germans and Poles; that the Communist creed is to-day the cement that holds the whole thing together, and that, whatever the move on the stage before the audience may be, behind the scenes Khrushchev does all in his power, and will continue to do all in his power, to perpetuate the collective hatred of Eastern German and Polish leadership towards Western Germany.
Into that pattern of Soviet policy how convenient it is to present this Western German rearmament problem as a menace of the return of the days of Hitler! This is, perhaps, the one point on which I would join issue with the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. How easy it is to play up these old hatreds, and, indeed, to sow the seeds of doubt in the West, as I think came out in our debate to-day! How easy to elaborate with relish the danger to ourselves! Certain sections of the Beaverbrook Press "fell for" that one quite a time ago, and presumably one section of the community who were thoroughly delighted were the men in the Kremlin.
If this general picture is correct (and here I entirely agree with the noble Lord), it represents not so much an Iron Curtain 516 as a situation comparable perhaps to a sound barrier—and to break through a sound barrier you have to go just a little faster. In other words, we have to introduce an element of flexibility. I think the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, endorsed that view. The notable emergence of Western Germany as a loyal and integral component of Western Europe has in itself imposed some degree of rigidity on our thinking, and I would only advocate that in these coming months, before Khrushchev makes his move and sets about implementing his plans, we approach the future of Germany in as flexible a mind as possible, always with the protection of certain cherished principles.
If I may give an example, suppose that Chancellor Adenauer were suddenly to go over the heads of the East German Government (which, in any case, he does not recognise) and negotiate—or attempt to do so—direct with the Poles. The experts may say that that is a fantastic suggestion; but without that type of "rabbit out of the hat," as I see it, Germany will in fact remain divided until the end of time. Since this division of Germany surely reflects the deep chasm of rival systems in eternal rivalry in the globe, is it not legitimate to regard the unification of Germany as the goal to be achieved, if necessary through putting behind us certain set assumptions from which we have argued in the past? Of the many possibilities within this flexible approach, as to Berlin itself we had the other day Herr Brandt's extremely interesting suggestion that perhaps an international corridor, representing extraterritorial status, could be guaranteed by the four great Powers to Berlin.
But as to the wider problem of German re-unification, I would submit that we have to consider adjustments which concern the method. In November, 1955, at Geneva, the Western Foreign Ministers placed on record that the reunification of Germany was to be achieved through free elections. I stand open to correction, but I think that this was recently confirmed and stands to-day as policy. But in a Note to the Soviet Government on November 17 Dr. Adenauer went so far as to concede that the presence of representatives of both the Eastern and Western German Governments could be countenanced within 517 a Four-Power Commission to discuss the future; and a legitimate interpretation made at the time was that the status of a re-unified Germany could be then worked out before and not after the elections. Quite obviously, a Peace Treaty would have to be negotiated with an all-German Government, freely elected, but an intermediate stage which Lord Henderson mentioned was recognised. Linked with that concept, of course, to my mind, is that for some time there will be a confederation of the two Germanies, and we may have to accept as unrealistic, though indeed perfectly logical, the concept of reunification as the result of free elections.
If I could translate into a policy adjustments such as a united Germany which was free of either N.A.T.O. or Warsaw, I would suggest that we should go to the limits of political compromise with any Soviet objection which can he regarded as legitimate. In that long-drawn-out process of negotiation and compromise I suggest that it is important that we should pass to the initiative. It is not good for public morale always to have to know that the West seems to be busy answering the first move from the other side. That may not, in fact, be the case, but it is the way things appear. I will say no more, except to repeat what has become a very thinly-worn principle—namely, that the justice of the cause of the free world will avail us nothing unless it is known to be just to a watching world.
Mr. Khrushchev's recent exercise in misrepresentation—I do not think anybody noticed this—closed with an accurate quotation of "parch shila," the five principles which were regarded as necessary for international conduct, which Mr. Chou en-Lai put to Mr. Nehru, I think, in 1955, and which were subsequently advertised all over the Far East as the recipe for Utopia. The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, told us a few days ago that the United States knew nothing about China. At that time I wanted to draw his attention to a point about China on which Mr. Nehru was always emphatic—namely, that, in return, China knows nothing whatsoever, not only about the United States but about the world outside its own frontiers. My belief is that if we are to win this battle of political chess in Europe, then simul- 518 taneously we have somehow to effect the free passage of information across the harriers. Some of us—the noble Viscount opposite perhaps—are in a more favourable position to help in this matter than others. Over the entrance to the B.B.C. is written the wordsNation shall speak unto nation.How on earth is this nation to speak to the people of the Soviet when the only newspaper allowed within the Soviet for public consumption is the Daily Worker? That rather tedious old gentleman, Aristotle, told us that man is a political animal. My point—and it is my last—is that we should balance all political negotiation with an insistence on parallel discussions of these other matters which concern man as an animal that is not wholly political.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF HUNTINGDON
My Lords, in the rather gloomy situation on to which we look out there seems to be one hopeful sign on which I should like to congratulate Her Majesty's Government: that is, the negotiations at Geneva. I believe that we on this side and, I should imagine, the whole House, have been glad to hear that some progress has been made towards a Treaty for banning nuclear tests; and I should like to add that I hope that, however the negotiations progress—and the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, seemed to envisage that they would be long and arduous—we shall do out best to get this ban into effect, even if the Treaty is not 100 per cent. what we, on our side, should like.
But that is not really what I wish to talk about this evening. I wish to try to take your Lordships' attention further afield, away from the problem of Germany which—quite rightly—has excited so many people to-day, into the more distant country of China which, in my view, ultimately will be as important or even more important to the Western world than this problem of Germany and Russia. In the summer of 1957 I was fortunate enough to travel in a delegation through a large part of China and I was immensely impressed by certain things. I do not know the population of China—I doubt whether the Chinese Government themselves know—but I believe it is something over 600 million. Looking at different provinces and parts of the 519 country one sees an amazingly industrious and, on the whole, intelligent people, showing great ingenuity, working tremendously hard and using all their resources as far as they possibly can under an efficient system of organisation the like of which, I suppose, China has never known until now.
Before I went to China I remember hearing criticisms that China would never produce steel or, at least, that it would be a long time before she could compete with other nations in steel output; but she has started to produce steel in small quantities, almost within local villages. In one case, when they ran out of metal while erecting a building they improvised by using bamboo to make a reinforced concrete, more temporary than our kind—but effective. That is the way in which the Chinese go about using what resources they have.
In agriculture they are hard-pressed to produce the food necessary for the population, and I have never seen land so intensively cultivated. All the little rice fields are beautifully planted and tended and even the boundaries are carefully planted with wheat or rice. Not an inch of land is wasted. It seems to me that a population so many of whom are skilful and hard-working and controlled under one Government and one organisation, means that in a very few years' time that country will certainly control all Asia and may have a big say in the politics of the world.
What should be our policy towards this country? It seems to me that there are three possible lines which we could take. The first would be the mediæval one of saying, "Let us wipe out this nation before they get too powerful". Manifestly that is impossible in the present day. Even if we had the means, public opinion would not allow it. The second possibility is the Grand Alliance; that is what we are trying to do: to build up with America and the Western nations against a future China and Russia. But I should like to point out to your Lordships that this policy has been a manifest failure so far. Its effects have been to forge a very unnatural alliance between the Soviet Union and the Chinese people through the cutting of supplies to China of things which they need. so that they are thrown into the 520 arms of Russia—the only nation who can give them supplies. Instead of benefiting by a certain amount of trade that we could have with China, the trade goes through unorthodox underground, black-market channels where this country gets no benefit, and without really affecting the blockade. That seems to me a most stupid way of carrying on our policy.
The third possible alternative is that we should try to establish friendly relations with that great country. We have often heard, and perhaps Her Majesty's Government may tell us, that the great obstacle to this course is the United States of America. We all know that the United States invested a lot of money in China. They backed the "wrong horse" and there is a great deal of bitterness on the subject; but I should have thought that in this particular case we could have gone our own way a little and at any rate started better relations to try to ease what is a very difficult international situation.
Your Lordships may ask: what could we immediately do if the policy were to be friendly to China rather than to preserve an atmosphere of hostility? I would suggest four possible steps which might be taken. The first would seem a very simple one but I believe it might have far-reaching effects. We could send an Ambassador to China and ask the Chinese to send an Ambassador here. Although this may not seem very much, one must remember that China is still suffering from centuries of being the under-dog, being almost kicked around by the technically advanced Western Powers. She is now a great nation standing on her own feet, but she wants to have that fact recognised; and I believe that if we sent an Ambassador to her that would please her and satisfy that demand, and ease negotiations to a great extent.
The second and the obvious thing to do is either to rescind altogether or at least mitigate this ridiculous trade embargo. I do not want to worry your Lordships with this question, for it has been raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, many times and we all know the pros and cons, but it is a tremendous source of friction between our two countries and seems to do little in stopping China from getting war supplies. We are losing the potentiality of very great trade. My third point—and I think 521 this is one of the most important—is that we should at last come out in support of China's demand to belong to the United Nations and to have a seat on the Security Council. No-one can logically defend for one moment the fact that in the world to-day China should be debarred from this council of the nations and that this all-important seat should be filled by the very unimportant Government of Chiang Kai-shek in Formosa. Logically this state of affairs is absolutely indefensible and obviously the only reason why we do not support China is that we wish to please the United States of America. There again I believe we could take a little initiative of our own.
The last point is a much more difficult one, and here I believe we might come to the help of America. I believe that the United States Government are in a very difficult position over Formosa and what are called the off-shore islands near China. I believe that their wiser statesmen recognise that they are in a difficult position. I do not myself consider that Formosa is a problem, for it is one which will solve itself. I believe that that is the Chinese view. From what I have gathered in talking to Chinamen through interpreters, their view is that we are all mortal and that Chiang Kai-shek cannot live for ever; and afterwards the problem will solve itself and in some way Formosa will return to China. Whether that happens or not, that seems to be the belief; and as long as that is the belief it is no longer a burning or difficult problem.
But what is a problem is these off-shore islands. It is exactly as if the Soviet Union had somehow during the war got hold of the Hebrides and landed a vast force on them, fortified them and occasionally threatened to invade us from them; occasionally subjecting our Highland districts to bombardments and air raids. What should we have felt about it? China feels exactly the same. If you look at the map it is easy to see that these islands are not essential to the defence of Formosa; they can be used only to harry the mainland and shipping and as a possible base for invasion.
I appreciate that the Americans are in a difficult position. They realise that the only thing that prevents those islands from being taken back by China is the American Fleet, and they feel that it would be a great loss of face if they 522 handed those islands back. That is where I think Her Majesty's Government could play a useful part, for I believe some useful face-saving formula could be worked out, by which, in exchange for something else, those islands could be given hack to China and this immense irritation would be finally stopped and brought to an end. I believe that the dangerous situation is this. What is obviously stopping the Chinese Government from attacking the islands is the danger of American counter-attack. But if the moment comes when the Chinese think they can bring off that attack, when the United States' attention is diverted elsewhere or some other dangerous situation is going on, and they think it presents a chance to get the islands, they will certainly try to get them; and that would create a very dangerous situation indeed.
I do not want to detain your Lordships any longer, but I beg Her Majesty's Government to re-think about their policy on China. Our present attitude has brought a most unfortunate, disastrous and dangerous situation; and I beg of them to try to find a new, more liberal and enlightened policy.
§ 5.33 p.m.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, I open my remarks to-day on what I realise is an ill-favoured note; with a painfully obvious conclusion drawn from a painfully ugly premise. If the nations of the West are to divide themselves through selfish and petty motives, in an age of danger such as this, then Western civilisation will surely deserve to die; or at least that is the verdict that it will earn from future historians.
It seems at once inconceivable that N.A.T.O. should endanger itself in this way, and yet undeniable that it is so endangered. In the past six months there have been depressing examples: threats amounting to mild blackmail by the Icelandic Government over fishing rights; by the Greek Government over Cyprus; by France over her own selected status among nations; and the other day by Germany in what seemed to me a most unfortunate speech by Dr. Adenauer. It it not very often that I see eye to eye with Mr. Bevan, but his impression of that speech, as described in another place, coincided very much with my own. It seemed to declare that Dr. Adenauer was interested only in reunification on his own 523 terms and thought it a bad time to discuss a peace treaty because Germany still had not enough weight to throw about in discussion, but would have more in a year or two. It was not encouraging for those, like myself, who now hope to see Germany play a more constructive part in Europe than over past eras.
Since this debate has revolved to a large extent around the crisis of Berlin, I have entered it to make some observations of my own, on the periphery of that crisis, and to focus especially on one undeniable triumph of Mr. Khrushchev's diplomacy, which was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood. He has enabled Mr. Gomulka to align himself more closely with the Kremlin than he would have dared to do two months ago, more closely than the Polish people would have tolerated. And this really remarkable stroke has been achieved quite simply by the Soviet Government guaranteeing the Western frontier of Poland, and at the same time pointing out, as the Russian leaders are able to do, that the West refuses even recognition of that frontier.
Here is an issue that unites all Poles: the Communists and anti-Communists, the Church and the Government, the exiles and the régime. Personally I find it very moving when an exile points out with indignation that on the B.E.A. map of Europe, which is issued to air travellers, the Eastern part of Poland is described as Russian and the Western Zone merely as "Polish Administered Territory". I find it moving because those who feel that indignation and express it—or have done to me—and who would be killed or imprisoned were they to return to their land to-day, are still roused by indignities to their land which they cannot revisit. It can be taken as quite certain that those in control in Poland to-day and those living under them feel no less strongly on that question.
My Lords, this trump card cannot be left in the Russians' hands if we fancy our chances in the cold war. It cannot be left as a permanent question mark over that part of Europe. I have heard the contention that it was never meant as a permanent frontier by the Powers at Potsdam. But that is not borne out by the account in Sir Winston Churchill's Memoirs. He says, in fact: 524We had agreed at Yalta that Russia should advance her Western frontier into Poland as far as the Curzon line."We", of course, did not include the Poles themselves. He continued:We had always recognised that Poland in her turn should receive substantial accessions of German territory.It may be true, and in that case should be conceded, that the extent of the territory occupied in the event by Poland was not fully agreed at Potsdam and final adjustments were left to the peace-treaty conference. But I submit, in all fairness, that in leaving it like that, the negotiators of Potsdam did not foresee that thirteen years later there would still be no peace treaty and hardly a visible prospect of a peace treaty. In those intervening years the mass transfer of populations has continued, to the end which I will briefly describe. And in doing so I must declare my own frank impression that the present German insistence on the return of those territories is not firmly or reasonably based, and that by withdrawing her claim the new Germany could subscribe immeasurably to the stability and confidence of Europe, with no comparable sacrifice.
By the Yalta agreement Poland lost to Russia rather more than half her existing territory, about 200,000 square kilometers. On a map which I consulted yesterday in the Library of this House that territory is marked as "Accepted into the U.S.S.R. in 1940", which struck me as rather worse than a mere euphemism for national rape. The new Western Zone made over in compensation has an area of about half that. It is that territory which is at present in dispute as a result of Germany's claims to recover it. It has a population of just under 8 million people. Of these 8 million, under 1 million are former German subjects; and of those barely 100,000 are of German racial origin. The vast majority are of Polish blood and speech, although they were formerly living as German subjects. There is much to be said topographically for the present frontier. It is the shortest obtainable border between Poland and Germany, with a length of 250 miles against the pre-war border of 1,200 miles. One end rests on the sea, the other on the Riesen Gebirge, the mountain range which makes the frontier with Czechoslovakia. This is a de facto frontier, and has been so for thirteen years, and I 525 submit that the reasons for making it de jure outweigh any reasons against.
One ostensible reason was offered to me yesterday. It could not be right or wise, I was told, to agree on a frontier to the benefit of an enemy at the cost of an ally. My Lords, I must confess that I had to count ten rather slowly before answering that argument on the spot. My feelings are rather better under control now. But I am still appalled by the theory that because the Poles are behind the Iron Curtain, where we left them, they must be regarded as our enemies. If, in the course of thirteen years, we have come to look upon Germany as our ally against Poland, it would, to my mind, be the most cynical and inhuman attitude ever adopted. It would ensure, as nothing else would, that they became our enemies. I hope I can take it that such is not the attitude of the Government. It is not too much to say that, among the satellite peoples of Eastern and Central Europe, the whole trustworthiness of the West is judged mainly on our behaviour to Poland, to whom we owe so much, and for whose present tragic predicament we bear at least a share of undischarged responsibility.
I have stated my conviction before that we must not ignore the existence of 100 million potential friends at present behind the enemy's line, in the satellite nations. We must not break faith with them and so break their courage. It is hard to give them much courage. To put forward a comprehensive disengagement plan would, I have always thought, be one method. Disengagement has been mentioned in this debate by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, with more confidence than it normally inspires these days. I am told that in the next issue of Foreign Affairs, the American Quarterly, there is an article by Professor Kennan entitled "Disengagement—revisited", describing a very fleeting and downhearted visit to his old love.
A year ago I expressed some grief, which I still feel, that most of my noble friends on this side of the House—and, indeed, those in my Party with whom I am normally in the closest harmony—seemed reluctant to look at the possible virtues of disengagement—only at its admitted dangers and difficulties. To-day I 526 am, if anything, more depressed to see that members of the Party opposite, who were once strong for comprehensive disengagement, are tending to support a lesser and totally inadequate—and, to my mind, truly dangerous—plan. I am afraid I must go on record as saying that in my view—and this is one of the relatively rare disagreements that I have with the noble Lord, Lord Henderson—the invention best designed and best guaranteed to torpedo the Gaitskell Plan is the Rapacki Plan.
My Lords, I began by referring to the inner dangers, as I conceived them, afflicting N.A.T.O. to-day. They must, and they will, be overcome: I only hope in time, because there is challenging work to be done. Sir Anthony Eden, in his statement the other day, expressed the need for a re-shaping of N.A.T.O., and an extending of its scope. I think it was vitally necessary to put that need into words. I recall that when I was talking to Dr. Carlo Schmidt in Bonn some months ago, he compared the present situation in Europe to that of Europe under the Roman Empire at the time of the Punic Wars. Now, as then, our whole Continent is in danger of being outflanked along the North African coast. Areas far outside the accepted N.A.T.O. Command are of direct importance, and essential, to its task. At the moment, responsibility for those areas has to be shouldered by Great Britain, America and France. I am certain that we should feel at least moral reinforcement were N.A.T.O. empowered to act over a wider field.
So long as the responsibility remains our own, I hope we shall continue to discharge it decisively, without fear or fumbling. There is an unpleasant rumour in the air that we can expect some official softening in the coming weeks towards Nasser. This rumour was reported and pilloried in the Yorkshire Post of this morning, in a leader which referred to those who argue that "Nasser could be our best friend in the Middle East" and should be wooed to that end. Not only do I agree with the Yorkshire Post that this is a "pitiable, dishonourable, and cowardly fallacy", but I am positive that were we to embark upon such an undignified courtship it would be generally deplored and condemned in the country—and I hope I can say by both Parties. Clearly, to conclude negotiations on British property, 527 to restore trade links and diplomatic representation is in our interest as well as Egypt's, and we must encourage it. But not if it is done at the cost of climbing down ignominiously to the upstart dictator who was, not so long ago, compared by the Leader of the Opposition to Hitler and Mussolini. To do so would not only affront the people of this country: it would dismay, perhaps critically, the tried friends we have in the Middle East. It is by fortifying their confidence in us that we can play our essential part in that area, as elsewhere. If my noble friend and Leader felt it possible to declare this rumour as empty of fact as I take it to be, he would destroy it before it could be heard in the country as a whole during the weeks of the Recess.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ LORD ABERDARE
My Lords, there are many gloomy aspects of the international situation, but I should like to mention first some of the rosier sides. There are three grounds that I see for a certain amount of restrained optimism. The first is that since the conclusion of the last war we have successfully—and, so far, peacefully—survived a number of different crises in Europe, in the Middle East, and in the Far East, which have been provoked by the Communist Powers. Communism, like a restless sea, seems to me to be continually trying to expand its shores. Where it finds itself up against the rocks, it is thrown back: where it finds shifting sands, it seeps in and erodes the land. Our rocks are our great defensive alliances, and so far they have stood firm.
The second ground for some optimism is the fact that we are now making more use of the United Nations machinery. I know that the original success of the United Nations in Korea was perhaps a fortunate one, being due to the absence of Russia from the Security Council, but in recent months we have seen the machinery of the United Nations used to arrive at peaceful solutions of Middle Eastern crises. The third ground for optimism (and I think that this was mentioned at the start of Lord Huntingdon's speech: he also saw it as a rosy side) was the fact that the Russians and ourselves, and the Americans, are hopefully 528 beginning to arrive at some form of agreement on the cessation of nuclear tests.
Now, my Lords, I believe in the old and well-established military dictum of reinforcing success, and I believe that for these reasons we should press on in our policies, and that where we have already achieved success we should seek for further success. On the first point—our defensive alliances; and most particularly, the greatest of them all, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation—as I see the world situation, neither side, East nor West, wishes to precipitate a war; but if there is to be a change in the status quo, both sides want to gain something from it. It would suit the Western Powers well to have free elections in East Germany, or in any of the satellite countries, for such elections would almost undoubtedly result in a Communist defeat. It would suit Russia well if West Germany were to be disarmed and neutralised, because this would be a severe blow to N.A.T.O. and might well result in the withdrawal of American forces from Europe. Herein, as has already been mentioned on many occasions, lies the danger of such plans as the Rapacki Plan.
The neutralisation of East Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia would have no effect on the ruthless Communist dictatorships under which they suffer. The neutralisation of West Germany, however, would result in the withdrawal of West German resources from N.A.T.O. and upset the delicate military balance that exists at present; it would create what has been sometimes called a vacuum, but which I should regard as a lake of troubled waters, in Central Europe, in which the Communists would be only too eager to fish.
As things stand at the present time, the forces of West and East are in contact with one another along the whole line of the Iron Curtain, and the Russians know that any forward move will result in war. That situation has produced stability in Europe for the last twelve years, and in that period there have been no serious frontier incidents. Once those forces are no longer in contact but are separated by a neutral zone, the way will be clear for any amount of intrigue and subversive activity, such as the Communists like to practise, and there might 529 well arise accidents or miscalculations by one side or the other which would provoke a major war. I believe that a disarmament agreement between East and West should precede any such scheme as the Rapacki Plan or any of its various modifications.
With regard to the present Russian proposals in Berlin, I think that all noble Lords have welcomed the full agreement in the North Atlantic Council that we must stand by West Berlin. It seems to me quite understandable that the Russians should wish to bring this question of West Berlin into the open at the present moment. It gives them a chance of switching their diplomatic offensive back to Europe. After all, West Berlin is a shop window for the West in the heart of the East. Communism can be safely kept in being only by ruthless repression and falsification of the way of life of the Western world; and from that point of view West Berlin, as a shop window of the West, is a menace. N.A.T.O. has achieved a real success in stabilising the situation in Europe. It can contribute even more to the cause of peace if it develops its activities. The Western Powers who constitute N.A.T.O. have world-wide responsibilities, and if these are to be properly discharged there must be mutual co-operation and co-ordination of policies, for which N.A.T.O. provides an excellent and proved medium. In the North Atlantic Council we have the one permanent organisation for ensuring co-operation between the Western Powers. Even at some sacrifice of sovereignty, I believe that we should seek to develop unity of purpose and policy on a world-wide basis.
I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to the declaration of the Fourth Annual Assembly of the Atlantic Treaty Association, held at Boston last September. It is an admirable document and well worth reading, for it expresses, I believe, the desires of the people of the North Atlantic countries about what their Alliance should stand for. I should like to quote just one sentence of the resolution.We strongly urge, therefore, that member Governments improve and implement further through the North Atlantic Council the process tending towards greater unity of policy both within and outside the N.A.T.O. alliance.In view of the terms of this resolution, it is intensely disturbing that one 530 of the major Powers of N.A.T.O. our old Ally, France, should seemingly be growing increasingly jealous of her national rights, and I trust that in the spirit of tolerance foreshadowed by the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, the N.A.T.O. Allies will be able to overcome any of those injured feelings and agree on full co-operation.
The second favourable point I mentioned was the development of the United Nations. There are two ways in which I think we should seek to expand and improve the workings of the United Nations. On the first, I agree wholeheartedly with what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, on the subject of Communist China. I believe that we should admit Communist China to the United Nations. I fully appreciate, as was pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Strang, that there is a need for us to understand the point of view of our American Allies on this point. All I am asking is that we should at least do our best to persuade them of the long-term interests of us all in having China a part of the United Nations.
My third ground for mild optimism is the success, so far, of the Conference on the Abolition of Nuclear Tests. This is clearly one of the most vital conferences ever to have been held. I agree with much of what the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, said about negotiations with Russia, but I would go further. I believe that there are certain points on which we can negotiate with them, if we negotiate from a position of strength and on subjects where our interests coincide. And I believe that our interests and the interests of the whole world coincide on this question of the cessation of atomic tests. It is vital that this Conference should succeed if we are not going to see the world gradually fall into a state of chaos, with any number of smaller nations in possession of this bomb, and the possibility that it may be used in minor conflicts, which might lead to a world war. I hope and believe that the Russians realise this as much as we do and that there are solid grounds for hope in the success of this Conference.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords, it was the noble Lord, Lord Strang, who said that our debates on foreign affairs took 531 on a certain pattern and that he found a certain sameness in our discussions. I take it from that remark, and from the theme which he developed subsequently, of the global nature of our problems, that he has not changed his views on disengagement in Germany which he aired in your Lordships' House nine months ago, in the debate which was almost entirely concerned with that subject. The debate to-day has also been concerned to a considerable extent with the position in Germany. I feel that our position has moved to a certain extent and has made some advance.
I should like to make a few comments on one or two remarks which have been made by noble Lords in that regard. Although we have been talking about Berlin specifically, we are also fundamentally concerned with the re-unification of Germany. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, pointed out that it was the opinion of his Party that it is futile for the Government to believe that a united Germany must be free to join N.A.T.O., because Russia could never permit such a thing. But I thought it encouraging when the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, gave us in some detail an account of the sort of basis on which Her Majesty's Government were trying to negotiate.
The noble Marquess said that we should be willing, if a unified Germany chose to join N.A.T.O., to guarantee not to advance N.A.T.O. forces beyond where they are at present towards the Polish border; and we should also agree to control and inspection and to eventual limitation of armaments and forces. It is interesting to know that that is definitely in the mind of the Government. In spite of that, however, I still think that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, will stick to his previous opinion; and he will do so because he pointed out, I believe rightly, that Germany is now fundamentally divided economically, politically and militarily, and that that position cannot be changed by the stroke of a pen.
What then is going to be done? What can be done? There seem to be only two alternatives. One is this idea of disengagement, with the complete area of Germany and Central Europe free from troops. But we came up against this difficulty in our last debate: what 532 is then going to happen to N.A.T.O.? Will the Western Powers be secure? The second consideration, which has been dismissed and discounted by the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, is: would Germany, reunified, be safe to leave alone? Would she not again create the same situation that she created twenty years ago? I must confess that I am not one of those who was entirely convinced by the argument of the noble Lord that we do not have to worry about that prospect.
The only, other alternative seems to be something along the lines mentioned, I think, by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, in terms of a federal union and even the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, referred to some sort of confederation. The noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, said that the Government were not going to be rigid, but would be flexible. I wonder whether they might examine the possibility of such a confederation? Whether Western Germany would still be part of N.A.T.O. or not, and whether Eastern Germany would be completely independent or not, I do not know—those are details to be worked out. But I feel that possibly Her Majesty's Government have made too much of a fetish of the complete, comprehensive re-unification of Germany, however desirable in theory that might appear to be. After all, following the First World War the map of Europe was completely re-made: Austria and Hungary were divided: Yugoslavia arose out of Bosnia, Herzogovina and Croatia, I believe; and Czechoslovakia had never been heard of; there were radical alterations to the frontiers of Eastern Europe. In the light of those historical events, I rather wonder whether this re-unification of Germany exactly as it was before is a binding necessity for the peace of the world, which is, after all, the first consideration for all of us.
I thought that the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, developed very well his argument about the plight of Poland, which has constantly had its boundaries altered. Are we not to consider the security of Poland, as well as the re-unification of Germany? As the noble Lord rightly pointed out, Poland has never been an enemy, and she finds herself on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain by misfortune; in fact, we went to Poland's rescue, and that was the beginning of the last war.
533 I now turn for a moment to France. I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Rea, spoke as he did, because I, too, think that France is our nearest Ally, not only physically, but spiritually speaking. We know that ultimately we depend on the United States of America, and that we share a common language with them. Nevertheless, I believe that we are more essentially part of Europe, and that in our way of life, our culture and our whole attitude and outlook we are nearer to the Continent of Europe than we are to the United States of America. I was delighted, as I am sure all noble Lords were, to hear the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, say that we were very mindful of that situation, and that there was no question of our taking any retaliatory action in the economic sense—only the necessary minimum action to defend ourselves, if it came to the last resort.
The noble Lord, Lord Strang, put his finger on the military aspect of our relationship with France in N.A.T.O., and there is a point which I think arises there, in that the French, apart from wishing to be taken into the inner circles of higher direction and major policy, have now asked us to consider that her forces in North Africa should be considered as a contribution to the forces of N.A.T.O. There are a number of distinguished people who have recently been advocating the extension of N.A.T.O. beyond the limited boundaries of Europe, and it seems to me quite obvious that North Africa is an essential flank and that the French forces are protecting that flank—though whether we entirely approve of the way they are doing it is a different matter. I should have thought that there might be the possibility there of agreeing to the French proposal.
On the other hand, if we do agree, the interesting prospect will arise that we and the Americans may be able to demand a reciprocal say in the policy and use of French forces in North Africa if the French are to take part in the higher policy over the general strategy of N.A.T.O. I do not think that either prospect would be a bad thing. I hope that the noble Earl the Leader of the House, when he comes to reply, may be able to give some views on that matter, although it may be too soon for him to do so.
Finally, my Lords, I want to break new ground on one thing, and that is a 534 matter of defence. In the past, we have found it difficult to keep defence subjects out of foreign policy, and therefore I do not think I need apologise for mentioning the subject this evening. It is a fact that the re-unification of Germany depends largely on the position of Germany within N.A.T.O. and upon the weapons which Germany is to have at her disposal. That is a matter of defence. It is also a matter of defence policy that France is now questioning in rather awkward manner the desirability of having rocket bases and other things on her soil, where she is in a most vulnerable position in the central strategic position of Western defence. We are affected in the same manner. So defence cannot be kept out of this question, because N.A.T.O. is bound up with defence and the political future of Europe is also bound up with defence. I think it would be right to say that in the past foreign policy has dictated defence policy; but I am not sure that we have not got ourselves into the position nowadays that defence policy is dictating foreign policy.
In that connection, I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to a remarkable book which has just been written by General James Gavin, former chief of research and development in the United States Army, entitled War and Peace in the Space Age. This General says that the Americans have got rather badly behind in the space war; that they have concentrated on hydrogen bombs only, and that, in so far as intercontinental ballistic missiles of 5,000-mile range are concerned, the Russians are ahead even there. In the future, whoever controls space can control the peace of the world. Arguing from that premise the General comes to the conclusion that the nuclear war is something that will probably never happen. The space war or the space peace, if we should like to call it that, is the thing of the future, and coupled with that there will be mobile tactical forces on the ground for controlling limited wars. That is a subject which we have discussed in the past, but not for a long time, and I feel that possibly it is time there should be a reconsideration of our defence policy; because if any alterations were made it would make a considerable impact on our foreign policy and on what it might subsequently be possible to arrange in Europe.
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ LORD PETHICK-LAWRENCE
My Lords, it is not often that your Lordships find yourselves in the position of continuing a debate when our honourable friends at the other end of the passage have long since gone home. Seeing that the hour is moving on, I shall not detain your Lordships for long in winding up the debate from this side of the House.
It has been an interesting day, and a number of most important speeches have been made. If I may sum up what I consider one of the most valuable features in this debate, it is that there is a national viewpoint of foreign affairs, and though we on this side of the House sometimes differ acutely and bitterly from noble Lords on the other side, yet there is a national outlook which, for the most part, and particularly to-day, transcends our differences. On one of the earliest occasions that I went abroad with a delegation from this country of all Parties I attended some meetings. I sat through a number of speeches from foreigners, and I began to disagree more and more with what was being said. When one of my colleagues, who was a political opponent of mine, got up to speak. I found that he expressed exactly my views with regard to everything that had been said by the members of the foreign delegations. I believe that something like that is the experience of nearly everyone who goes abroad with members of a different Party, whether to our Colonies, to Commonwealth countries or to foreign countries. We find that points on which we agree are far greater in number, and often more important, than those on which we may be moderately, or even violently, opposed.
We are indebted to my noble friend Lord Henderson, not only for introducing and bringing this Motion forward, but for the able way in which he put his case, which I think is the case of the whole country. With all respect to the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, I think he rather misjudged my noble friend on one matter. He took exception to his use of the words, "the relaxation of tension." Of course, what my noble friend meant was that the policies which had been pursued and the agreements which had been reached were such as to reduce tension. He did not suggest that the relaxation of tension was an object in itself, but that what had been done, in so far as it had relieved the tension, had in consequence relieved the 536 likelihood of war. That, I think, was a misunderstanding on the part of the noble Lord.
I come now to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Strang. Personally, I feel a great deal of agreement with that speech. It is quite right that we should understand the motives of the United States and sympathise with them, to a certain extent, and also with regard to France. He would probably agree with me that that does not mean that we have to put our own light under a bushel and hide it. The fact that we can understand the views of these other countries is all the more reason why we are able to put our case efficiently and strongly without giving offence—because that, of course, is the whole essence of what we should do in so many of these international matters. And in this respect our long experience as a foreign Power has made us particularly suitable and strong.
With regard to China—and by that I mean Red China—I agree entirely with my noble friend Lord Huntingdon. I think he put the case conclusively when he pointed out that, however much we understand the American position, we disagree with it not because we disagree with our American friends as to the merits of Communism, but because we take the view that the policies the Americans are pursuing with regard to Red China will drive China into the arms of Russia, thereby making her Communism not only more determined but stronger and more efficient. We believe that there is a much better way of dealing with China, and I am happy to think that that view is shared to a large extent by the members of Her Majesty's Government.
I come now to say a few words about the Common Market. First and foremost, the Common Market principle is a great deal more than an economic question. It is more even than a political question. It is to a large extent part of a great movement for reversing the discords which have bedevilled Europe for a thousand years. The whole history of the last thousand years in Europe has been one of turmoil, hostility, bloodshed, destruction and disaster, mainly because of the hostile attitude of France and Germany. We in this country have been dragged into wars in which millions of our young men have been destroyed. I believe that, lying behind all this economic business of a Common Market, is a 537 desire of the French and the Germans to come together and stop this disaster that has been the ruin of Europe for a thousand years.
I am perfectly certain that it is in the greatest interest of this country—as, indeed, it is of all others, but especially of this country—that the union of the Western part of Europe should come about. That does not mean that we want to see six countries isolated from the eleven other countries of Western Europe—quite the contrary. The only criticism that I have of the Government is that they were too slow in realising that they must be in this movement for union. But, of course, we must recognise that our interests with our vast Commonwealth are somewhat different from the interests of the land-locked countries, some of whom form a part of this Common Market. Our interests are different and our problems are different, and therefore it is not an easy task to fit in our ideas with those of the French, the Germans and the Benelux countries. That is no reason, however, why we should not make some arrangements.
I wonder sometimes whether perhaps we started with too insular a view. I believe that there was a time when we were trying to get a great deal and give very little. I think Her Majesty's Government have probably learned that lesson and realised that we must go a good long way to make concessions if we are to make a success of it and get benefits from the six countries forming the Common Market. If we do not do that we are bound to suffer. There are, of course, one or two vital points of disagreement. The Government probably know much more about it than I do, but it seems to me that one must recognise that the French, who are a high tariff country, have considerable difficulty in stomaching the idea of goods coming in from some of the low-wage countries in the British Commonwealth; lowering their barriers by the Free Trade area will admit goods from these low paid areas to compete against them. I think we have got to meet their difficulties on that question and a great many others.
There is another point which is rarely realised. This Common Market involves not merely economics but finance; the whole financial issues and currency have 538 all come into this problem, and the French will have considerable difficulty, with their rather unstable financial currency problems, in bringing into their midst a country like ours which has a very strong financial position. All these problems must be faced. Somehow or other we must face up to the realities, as the noble Lord, Lord Strang said, in order to understand the French point of view; and we must contrive to meet the position and reach a solution. I hope, and believe, that the Government will make every effort to find some solution that really will work.
I fully agree also with what has been said about retaliation. Of course we must negotiate from strength. We must see some way in which, if all negotiation were to break down, we could carry on our economic life. But what we have to avoid is any suggestion of aggressive retaliation, because that is fatal, as the noble Earl, Lord Home (or it may have been the noble Marquess), said earlier in our debates on another subject. We cannot possibly agree to be driven by threats or by an ultimatum; so, quite clearly, in this matter we must negotiate from strength, yet with every desire to meet those with whom we are negotiating.
I come, my Lords, to the question of East Germany. There I entirely support what was said by my noble friend Lord Henderson earlier in the evening. We have got to face facts; we have got to be prepared to find a set-up which will really have some chance of being negotiated. It is no good our standing absolutely pat. We must be prepared to move—not to give way on this question of leaving Berlin: of course I am not suggesting that for a single moment; but we must see some form of way through the difficulties which confront us at the present time.
I recognise in Dr. Adenauer a man who has been very useful—a very able man, a man who has given us great help in times gone by. He has been a very good ally. But sometimes I think he is becoming a little too rigid, and his views about East Germany seem sometimes to be rather difficult. I believe that he himself is negotiating with East Germany on economic matters, and lie must be prepared for us to negotiate with East Germany on political issues as well. I do not think we must stand on any 539 punctilio with regard to recognition. I think that, when the time comes, we must put all that aside and deal with the matter. After all, while Dr. Adenauer is a very great man, I think he has not been altogether successful in his election in West Berlin. Even at the best he is getting on in years. We must be prepared to face the situation ourselves. Here again (and this is a point to which the noble Lord, Lord Strang, drew our attention), while we understand Dr. Adenauer's difficulties, and sympathise with his point of view, nevertheless we have to take our own line; we have to go forward. It is only in that way that we can reach some satisfactory outcome of the difficulties in that country. I think that, in doing that, we shall probably find that we shall receive support from the man who has just won the election in Berlin, Herr Brandt. I think we shall find in him a useful ally in our negotiations with the people on the other side.
My Lords, I do not want to take up much more of your time, but I want to say this in conclusion. The old world that we knew has gone. I was brought up, and a good many of your Lordships were brought up, at the time of the Concert of Europe, when a few countries in Europe seemed to be rulers of the whole world. Those days have gone for ever. Most of the individual countries in the United Nations—I think it is 67, or it may be a few more—are very small fry in the world as a whole. The world now consists of great blocs. There is the United States, there is Soviet Russia; there is China; there is the British Commonwealth; there is Western Europe; and there is perhaps coming to be a Latin-America. Those are great blocs, and those countries, in the last resort, have to decide the fate of the world.
We cannot be ostrich-like and put our heads in the sand and pretend that China does not exist and is not a great Power. We cannot pretend that Russia is not a great Power; she has got to be dealt with. We may not like their economic set-up; we may not like their political set-up. But there is no doubt that dictators of that kind do succeed, if they are clever, in creating a vast economic power. We are realising to-day that the power of Russia is economic power, which shows itself in preparations for war 540 and in industrial advance, which is very great. I think that what my noble friend Lord Huntingdon said is probably true: that the potentialities in China are great also. The only way we shall get on in the world is by negotiating with those Powers. We cannot defeat them, and we must negotiate with them. And it is because I believe, from the speech made by the noble Marquess earlier, that the Government recognise that we must negotiate with those Powers, difficult as it may be, uncertain as may be the result, that I think and hope that peace can be found, and that this country of ours will play a leading part in preserving civilisation for the world and for humanity as a whole.
§ 6.30 p.m.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Rea, speaking early in the debate, said that foreign affairs debates were never opportune and that the situation was always delicate. That has always been true. Yet in my fairly long experience foreign affairs debates have regularly taken place. Certainly no one can do anything but congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, both on the timing of his debate which has allowed us to discuss in particular the European problem, and the manner in which he has presented his case to us as he sees it. A debate which has been opened by him and closed by the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, will always be a distinguished debate, because the noble Lord. Lord Pethick-Lawrence, speaks to us with great experience, and all that he says always earns our attention and our respect.
It is natural and proper in the circumstances of to-day that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, should have focused our attention on the political, military and economic problems of Europe, because at this moment they are prominent in the front of the world stage. I shall return to Lord Henderson's assessment of the situation, but at this moment I should rather like to give your Lordships one or two thoughts which occurred to me when the noble Lord, Lord Strang, did us the great service of putting the European scene into perspective in its world setting. He enabled us to see the picture as a whole, and he directed our thoughts to the backcloth—I think he called them the "enduring factors"—against which the regional events are 541 taking place. For example, he instanced the increase in world population—increasing at a rapid rate which literally raises the problem of survival for hundreds of millions in Asia over the next few generations. Then he drew our attention to the yawning gap in material progress, and therefore in living standards, between those countries which are industrialised and advanced and those countries which are under-developed. Of course, there are perfectly natural historical reasons for that. Nevertheless, that gap is a fact, and poverty on that scale will breed discontent. He gave us the illustration of the average income of an American as £700 a year and the average income of an Indian as something over £20.
It was just those facts which led the Montreal Conference, where the Commonwealth sat in full session and debate, to realise that these problems, if the world was to see stability in the future, must he tackled on a world scale. Therefore the decision was taken deliberately at Montreal that the industrialised countries of the Commonwealth should stretch their resources in manpower and money to the limit to try to make some impact on this problem of the under-developed countries; and that commodity stabilisation schemes should be worked out so as to try to enable countries which live on the income from one or two basic commodities to enjoy more regular incomes.
This appreciation of the problem, which Lord Strang has laid before us to-day, is not, of course, shared only by the Commonwealth countries who agreed among themselves to take action, but also by the United States of America in the willingness that she has shown to increase the range of credit which she is putting at the disposal of the International Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and by the operations of the United States on an enormous scale through the various international agencies. Of course, if Russia would join in these commodity arrangements with a will to work them, nothing could be better, and at Montreal the Commonwealth as a whole expressed the desire to see Russia in these schemes. And if Russia could divorce capital investments from political ends, then nothing would do more to help the world to make more rapid progress and impact on these social and economic problems 542 which literally involve the survival of millions. It is, therefore, within the Commonwealth, in conjunction with the United States of America, that the first example has been set in stretching our resources to the limit to help these countries with basic developments as the prelude to industrial expansion and better living standards.
The noble Lord, Lord Strang, then mentioned independence, and rightly said that Great Britain had given a lead in granting independence to her colonial possessions—and the process, of course, continues. In its extreme manifestation, independence can be divisive, if it takes the form of extreme national diversification of world society. But again the Commonwealth is setting an example, because each of its members has and enjoys its own patriotism. There is no doubt, of course, that independence in its early days is trumpeted and glamourised; but all I can say is that within the councils of the Commonwealth, as I have seen them, either at Montreal or in the Prime Ministers' Conferences, the limitations of independence are recognised, and the interdependence of the various units of the Commonwealth has been accepted as the political and economic policy for the future. Within that association, at least, within the world scene of which Lord Strang was talking, we are seeking to set an example, not by just recognising peace for the purposes of propaganda but by practising it in constructive partnership.
The third feature which dominates the scene, particularly in Europe and in the West, as it seemed to me as I heard Lord Strang making his points, is the moral and ethical division of the world into two ways of life. That has been the background to our debate. On the one hand, there is the way of life in Europe, which has its roots largely in the Christian religion, in Mediterranean culture, in French, Roman and English law; and on the other that way of life which stems from Marx as it has been interpreted and practised by Russia through international Communism. Ideological conflicts need not lead to war, and I trust and believe that this division will not lead to war. But force is within the rules and the articles of the Communist faith, and in those articles and rules it is named as a legitimate instrument of national ends.
That brings me to the point which was made by my noble friend Lord Coleraine, 543 because it is the fact that force is a legitimate instrument within those rules that compels those who believe in the other way of life to maintain a balance of power. Therefore, when either Lord St. Oswald or Lord Hastings asked, "Which comes first: the strategy or the political philosophy?", I would say that I think the political philosophy is inducing the present day strategy, because as the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, pointed out, there is a well-grounded fear in the world which produces the military balance and the nuclear stalemate which we have reached to-day.
I was glad that my noble friend Lord Strang and others, in surveying the world scene, recalled the services of the United States to the cause of peace and world stability; they are too often neglected and forgotten. But where would the free world be to-day if it was not for the massive, generous and decisive aid which the United States has given? I asked for a list of the various headings under which the United States operates. It is a long list, covering some sheets of paper, beginning with Marshall Aid, continuing with the aid which is given to the Indian sub-continent and other undeveloped countries, through to the sharing of atomic secrets. These are and have been deliberate acts of external policy which I myself believe have saved the nations of the West from destruction and given vital assistance to the uncommitted countries of the world; indeed, I can scarcely think of an area in the world in which economic and political stability do not depend on the willingness of the United States to commit aid.
We may not always agree with the actions of the United States—the noble Lord, Lord Strang, did not ask us to do so—and they will not always agree with ours, but I believe that at this point of time each of us now realises that on our unshakable alliance the peace of the world depends, and we must not allow ourselves to be divided. In saying that, I am thinking in particular of the security of Europe and the Atlantic Community; and therefore I come back to the point on which the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, particularly focused his remarks. The noble Lord, appreciating and realising as he does to the full the importance of Europe in the world scene, is rightly seeking ways and means to increase the 544 political and economic cohesion of Europe, as was the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence. It is just because we place on the political and economic cohesion of Europe as high a value as do noble Lords opposite that we have strained ourselves to the limit, in manpower and finance, to strengthen the sinews of N.A.T.O., on the one hand, and, on the other, have sought to broaden the Common Market which might so easily become a dividing tendency in Europe, into a Free Trade Area which could lead to European economic unity.
It has been clear to us all the time that, should Europe split itself into economic fragments, it would lose much of its political influence, and its military strength would be sadly impaired; and therefore the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, need have no fears. Paris has given everybody time for second thoughts. Our concern is to get an arrangement in which there is no discrimination and to proceed from there, if we can, to the organisation of a wider area of freer trade in Europe. The noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, was right. The wars in Europe in this century have spread their waves far beyond the borders of Europe and have, for instance, affected the whole of the Commonwealth. One of the great attractions of the Free Trade Area for Commonwealth Governments was that it would lead to the political stability of Europe—and we still hope that we may be able to achieve an agreement.
We have held, too (and I believe that this was also the point of view held by many noble Lords opposite), that Europe could not be stable until there was a united Germany. We have been ready, as my noble friend Lord Lansdowne has said this afternoon, to accept a scheme for the re-unification of Germany, if it can be agreed, and, as part of that scheme, to give to Russia guarantees which would make her own territory secure from any possible future German attack. We quite understand, of course, that that is Russia's legitimate desire, and we believe that an agreement which led to the unification of Germany and the security of Russia would give confidence everywhere in the Western World.
We are ready to go a very long way in discussions and are not by any means rigid. May I remind noble Lords of the 545 words used by my noble friend earlier this afternoon? He said that we have put certain proposals forward andare ready at any time to enter into discussion with the Soviet Union on the basis of these proposals or any other proposals genuinely designed to ensure the reunification of Germany in freedom and in appropriate form.Those words cannot be said to be rigid, and I believe that they indicate our genuine desire to find a solution for this problem of Central Europe. But, of course, those advances towards Russia have been met by a move not placed in the context of a reunified Germany, but on the contrary, starkly isolated from it. I mean the latest Russian proposal about Berlin.
I need not delay your Lordships on this particular subject for it has been debated, and debated again to-day; but let me apply the test which the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, himself said should be applied. Supposing this Russian proposal was accepted, would it impair the balance of power in Europe? No one can have any doubts that it would, in fact, be handing 2¼ million free people over to the Soviet Zone, because no one believes that Western Berlin could survive surrounded by the apparatus of the Communist State. I believe I can say, therefore, that the House certainly endorses the findings of the N.A.T.O. Council which rejected Russia's contention that, if she repudiates her share of the quadrilateral arrangement, her partners are thereby deprived of their rights. That is really an untenable position; and on that we are all agreed. Our hope, therefore, must be that in the next few weeks or months this narrow, unacceptable proposal will be widened into one in which the whole future of Germany and the security of that part of Europe can be discussed.
Again, there was the greatest difficulty in discussing plans for disengagement, and for this very reason we have never been able to discuss them in the context of a united Germany. I was asked by one noble Lord, in effect, this question: if the plan of Sir Anthony Eden was put forward in good faith, why cannot we proceed on that basis now? The answer is that the plan was to accompany the reunification of Germany and was in that context. Again, the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, threw out the suggestion that 546 there might be some kind of federation, but in his mind it was federation leading to the eventual reunification of Germany. A somewhat similar proposal was put forward by the East German Government, but there was no hint that it was put forward with a view to the reunification of Germany, and it is perfectly possible that federation instead of leading to reunification may simply lead to recognition of two Governments and a permanent freezing of the situation. That is the difficulty that we have to consider. But we have never said that we should not discuss this or any other plan. Indeed we will consider them all.
Having said that, I think Lord Henderson's tests must again be applied to schemes of disengagement of this kind. So far we have not received the full text of the second Rapacki Plan and therefore I do not know and cannot judge whether it will form a basis for negotiation. But, so far, I am bound to say that although I have examined a number of these plans with every sympathy and every desire to see a result, I cannot say that I have found one which is not open to one or two of the following objections. First, it would result in the creation of a neutral area which is a temptation to subversion and indirect aggression, an area in which one does not know what is going on and in which a coup may take place before it can be arrested. That may bring you straight up against the wall you want to avoid. Secondly, it would produce a situation in which Russia's 210 divisions and the 70 satellite divisions would have a great advantage, because they have much the greater freedom of deployment, naturally, in Europe. And thirdly, it would lead to a situation inconsistent with the retention of N.A.T.O. and therefore the presence of the United States in Europe.
I do not say that a scheme cannot be found; but I do say that if we are to agree to a scheme we must do it in the knowledge that it passes the tests which the noble Lord himself has laid down. It is because of the peculiar difficulty of transforming these paper plans of disengagement into fact, without a kind of emotional spillover, that I myself have always thought the most practical way of making progress is through measures of partial disarmament under international control. Our hope, therefore, has been 547 that the two technical Conferences—the first on the suspension of tests and the second on measures against surprise attack—would point the way to future disarmament. Indeed, the present political conference on nuclear tests, as your Lordships have heard this afternoon, does give us a glimmer of hope. It will clearly be a long road before we can get agreement; but, nevertheless, it is one on which we are encouraged to persevere and we shall do so. I will not say more on that matter, except to express my conviction that if we could get a breakthrough of this nuclear barrier, and an agreed system of inspection, it would lift a great burden of anxiety and apprehension from men's minds, the Russians not excepted, and the way would be opened to further action on controlled limitation of arms. The balance of power would remain, but the dangers of the present situation would be substantially reduced—I must avoid the words "reduction of tension" of which I was warned by my noble friend.
Therefore I would conclude by restating certain propositions on which our foreign policy rests in general and in relation to Europe in particular. I need not repeat, of course, that the whole foundation of our foreign policy rests on the alliances within the Commonwealth and with the United States and our friends in the different regional pacts. But, my Lords, we seek, if I may put it this way, the security of Europe and we realise that, as part of this, Russian security must be guaranteed. Neither we nor our allies in N.A.T.O. wish any military gain from the reunification of Germany. We wish to establish machinery to reduce the danger of surprise attack, which we sincerely believe would be of advantage to Russia as well as to ourselves. We desire to reach agreement about the ending of nuclear tests and about a system of international inspection and control. We believe these would be an impulse to further measures of disarmament; and of course we would always be ready to extend disarmament by agreement with the Russians in the appropriate forum.
Therefore I think I can respond to the noble Lords who have spoken opposite, and to those noble Lords who have contributed from behind me, that we are seized of the urgency of these problems, not only because of the risk of the balance of power in the nuclear age, but because 548 of the waste involved in tying up all this wealth when the world is crying aloud, as the noble Lord, Lord Strang, has told us, for development and expansion, and when the benefits which technology and science have brought us are tantalisingly within the reach of all if the money could be found. If these problems could be solved then the battle of the ideologies would swing on the judgment of the people as to which of the two great world systems offered them the truest principles of living and the fairest prospects of material progress.
It is tempting, in a season of good will and peace, to enlarge upon that, and even to visualise something like it taking place. We will pursue it—we must pursue it—with energy and patience for the sake of our children's future and civilisation. But there is not a noble Lord in this House who would not qualify that by saying that we must not yield to the temptation to buy temporary relief; that when we find a settlement it must be a true settlement, embodying the values we believe to be essential for civilisation. So, my Lords, I hope that we may find, when we return in a New Year, that, as the result of the patience and understanding which the West will show, it may indeed turn out to be a happier New Year than we have known for some time. One dare not express too confident hopes, but the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and the whole House may certainly be assured that the Government will work to the ends which the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, has said are common to all political Parties in this country.
§ 6.54 p.m.
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, I am going to ask leave to withdraw the Motion. I think that I may keep tension a little lower in the House if I do not attempt to make another speech. I am very grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in the debate; even, I might add, to the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, for his rather friendly criticism of my indulgence in, shall I say, compressed phrases. I suppose that if I used the term "constructive approach" I should have in mind what I think is the right thing to do; and I am quite sure that if the Government were defending themselves and saying they were making a constructive approach they would have in mind what they thought was the right 549 thing to do. However, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in the debate.
I must confess that I was a little doubtful about the actual timing of the debate. This is the second time it has fallen on this particular day, the day on which we adjourn for the Christmas Recess; and I have the unusual honour of having kept your Lordships' House in session on two occasions after the right honourable and honourable Members of another place have dispersed for the Christmas Recess. Having said that, my 550 Lords, I should like just to add one point, of a personal character. Having initiated the debate, I should like to offer to the noble Marquess, the Foreign Under-Secretary, my congratulations on the very successful first defence of his Government that he has made from the Front Bench as Under-Secretary. With those few words, I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.
§ House adjourned at three minutes before seven o'clock.