§ 2.37 p.m.
§ Order of the Day read for the debate to be resumed on the Motion moved yesterday by Lord Mancroft: To resolve That this House approves the Report on Defence: Britain's Contribution to Peace and Security set out in Command Paper No. 363, and on the Amendment moved thereto by the Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough: to leave out all words after "House" and insert "declines to approve a defence policy which relies predominantly upon the threat of thermonuclear warfare, insists on the installation of strategic rocket bases in Britain before the projected summit talks, and fails to provide effectively for the defence requirements of Britain and the rest of the Commonwealth."
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS (THE EARL OF HOME)
My Lords, I do not think my noble friend, Lord Selkirk, will be very long. He was outside the Chamber a moment ago.
My Lords, as Hamlet does not appear to be present, would it not be possible for Polonius to carry on?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (THE EARL OF SELKIRK)
My Lords, I offer my profound apologies for not being aware that the Order had been read for the resumption of the debate.
We had a debate yesterday of a more far-reaching character than, I do not 1200 doubt, your Lordships' House has had for many years. I doubt whether any other subject has been discussed more frequently in your Lordships House since the time Lord Bryce describes of our early history, going back into "the shadowy regions of Teutonic antiquity." It has been frequently said before, and no doubt many people thought, that the problems they faced then were perhaps the greatest that this country had ever had to face, but I can assure your Lordships that to-day we certainly do not believe that the difficulties we face have ever been exceeded.
We are living in times of constant change—change political and change scientific. There are some eighty independent nations, all speaking with more or less strident voices of sovereign independence, many of them being armed with the most modern weapons and able to cause instability in almost any part of the world. Moreover, there is a never-ending development of scientific devices, both for offence and defence. These are very costly, and, perhaps fortunately, they take a long time to develop—at least eight years for any major new weapon to become operational. As my noble friend Lord Mancroft said, the spectrum of possible dangers is very great and their variation is becoming ever wider. We are very conscious of all this. There was one word in the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, yesterday, when he suggested that the Government were "complacent," which, I submit, is wholly out of place. Whatever criticism anyone can make of the White Paper on Defence, I do not think it could be called a complacent document. It might be said to be too stark, too frank, even too brutal, in its presentation of the situation, but I do not feel that it leaves anyone in doubt of the dangers as we see them.
What are these dangers? To put it quite shortly, it is because the Communist Revolution in Russia, instead of turning its energies to raising the standard of living of the people, has concentrated a totally disproportionate amount of its resources on the production of weapons of war whilst we in this country have devoted a large part of our resources to building up the Welfare State and to raising the standard of living, as well as to investment and defence. As was said in the economic 1201 debate a mouth or so ago, it may be that possibly this is too great a burden: it certainly is an extremely substantial one. Therefore, we have sought to restrict our expenditure on defence, and indeed to reduce it. This year the total amount of the Defence budget is similar to that of last year, but it also includes rises in costs, compensation for premature retirements and improved conditions of service. So that, in real terms, there is a reduction in the order of some £100 million.
May I put this in a different way? In 1950, we spent about 7 per cent, of the gross national income on defence; in 1952–53 that had risen to between 10¼ and 10½ per cent.; but by 1957 we had brought this down to about 8 per cent. It is difficult to make a comparison with before the war, but, so far as we are able to calculate, at that time it was roughly 2½ per cent. So I think it is clear that, compared with pre-war days, we are devoting a materially larger percentage to defence than we were at that time. If I may answer here a question asked by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, I would say that in 1951 we spent £1,123 million on defence. If we take account of the altered value of money, the defence budget to-day is rather larger than that: in fact, it is £1,135 million. I do not know whether noble Lords opposite are pressing us to increase our defence expenditure at the present time. They have not actually said so, but some of the things they have said would seem to lead us to that position.
I think the keynote of yesterday's debate was an almost universal desire, in the situation which confronts us, to come to some agreement on arms. We all know what has been done in this respect. My noble friend Lord Mancroft yesterday quoted the disarmament proposals which we had put before the United Nations, and which were accepted by everybody except the Soviet bloc. The noble Lord, Lord Wilmot of Selmeston, pressed hard for agreement on disarmament, but he did not present any alternative if the agreement failed. I would say this to the noble Lord. I do not think he is really in full agreement on all subjects with noble Lords who sit with him on that Bench, it is more difficult to reach international agreement than it is to reach agreement between individuals. I do not 1202 know whether the noble Lord thinks the sort of thing which he was held to represent twenty-five years ago, on the whole, served a useful purpose, but I think most people feel that we should have been much worse off in 1940 if the whole of the Labour Party had become completely infused with the ideas which he appeared to represent at a rather earlier date.
§ LORD WILMOT OF SELMESTON
My Lords, I do not like to do so, but perhaps I may interrupt the noble Earl. I do not know to what views he refers, but I never held pacifist views, and I was one of those who was bitterly angry at Mr. Baldwin's reference to this Fulham by-election to excuse his wicked neglect of the country's defences.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
I know the noble Lord says he does not represent pacifist views, and I am sure he is right. What I said was the views which were ascribed to him at the Fulham by-election, in which he was the successful candidate. I know they were not necessarily views that he expressed, but I think he would agree with me that there was a measure of emotion which carried the matter rather further than he intended it to go. Whatever else is true, we should not be put into a position where we are forced into agreement simply by threats. I do not think that is a basis on which we can proceed.
The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, quoted an interesting passage from Kissinger's book Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy. I should like to make a quotation from another book by the same author. In A World Restored—Problems of Peace 1812–1822, he writes:Whenever peace—conceived as the avoidance of war—has been the primary objective of a power or a group of Powers, the international system has been at the mercy of the most ruthless member of the international community. Whenever the international order has acknowledged that certain principles could not be compromised even for the sake of peace, stability based on an equilibrium of forces was at least conceivable.Those are hard words, but I think they are shrewd. The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, said last night that the nuclear bomb had ceased to be a deterrent and was now merely an instrument of retaliation. Personally, I think a deterrent simply means anything that deters. In my view, the united forces of the West 1203 in N.A.T.O. in fact do deter any country from seeking to disturb the equilibrium of the world. The Amendment itself suggests that we rely predominantly on the thermo-nuclear weapon. Again, I must say that I think far the most important thing is the existence of the united forces of N.A.T.O. If anything goes to weaken that, either in faith or in physical strength, then I think it is doing a serious injury. In my opinion, they constitute a deterrent in themselves, of which the thermo-nuclear weapon is a vital part.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, if the noble Earl will go back to the same book, he will find that Kissinger there demonstrates clearly that, having relied already so much on the thereto-nuclear deterrent, you have failed in consequence, because of the attitude of the members of N.A.T.O., to build-up the basic forces you require apart from nuclear weapons.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
On the other hand, I do not think Kissinger advocates a removal of the thereto-nuclear weapon. What he says is that we should follow out the consequences of the situation we are in. However, I shall have a word or two to say about that in a moment. I should like to know exactly what is the position of the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough. Is he really prepared to see a full-scale attack, either on the continent of Europe or at sea, and firmly announce that, whatever happens, lie does not intend to meet either with the assistance of thermo-nuclear weapons? I should have thought it was precisely the opposite view that was taken by his own Government when in power; and indeed, I thought the point of developing the atom bomb was to prevent anything of that sort taking place.
The noble Lord, Lord Salter, in an interesting speech yesterday, asked whether we would consider defining more carefully the circumstances in which we would use a nuclear bomb. What he said will, of course, be carefully examined, but I thought his points were substantially met by the extremely powerful speech that we heard from the noble Lord. Lord Coleraine. I believe that our major task to-day is not so much to conduct or limit a war by rules of any sort as to prevent it happening at all. The 1204 Government think that what is important is to make our position clear. But there is more to it than that, and I should like to quote words used by the noble Lord, Lord Strang, when he was speaking in your Lordships' House on March 17, 1955. He then said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 191, col. 1235]:It has often been said that if we had made our intentions plain in 1914 and in 1939 there would have been no war, I have always rather doubted the truth of this. In 1914, the Germans discounted what they derided as our contemptibly small army. In 1939, we did in fact make our intentions quite plain by concluding a mutual assistance Agreement with Poland. What was lacking on both occasions was not so much certainty of intention as the possession of adequate armed force to make our intervention effective.Later he went on to say:By bitter experience it seems that we have learned our lesson.I should also like to draw attention to what the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, who was then leading the Opposition, said later on in the same debate [OFFICIAT. REPORT, Vol. 191, col. 1245]:I agree with the noble Lord. Lord Strang, that it is completely impossible to try to set out a catalogue of cases in which we shall use the bomb. We cannot do anything of the sort. I think it would be very foolish to accept the proposition that we shall use the bomb only if the other side use it first, because that means that we have all the pressure of conventional weapons. We might have the Russians advancing towards the Channel ports, if they find that they can do that satisfactorily, and by our statement we should be precluded from using the bomb. It would be just as foolish not to use it in that case as it would be foolish not to use it in what I might describe as a frontier incident. We cannot conceivably put out a catalogue of cases in which we are or are not going to use the bomb.I do not know whether the Labour Party have moved from that position or whether they have not, but I do think they should make it clear if they have changed their approach.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER of HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, a great many of the general principles pronounced by the noble Lord, Lord Strang, and by my late colleague have been quite out-dated in the particular issue we are now on by the change in the situation of the Russians and what they possess. What I am saying to the House to-day, as I said yesterday, is that I am completely in favour of our not being without possession of the weapon or the bases. But I think it is folly to announce in advance, 1205 in present circumstances, what you intend to do in face of a conventional attack upon you when you know that by that very policy you are endangering maybe half the population of this country. I think you are not entitled to do it.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
My Lords, I can only say that I do not accept what I took to be perhaps the rhetorical question which the noble Lord, Lord Rea, put yesterday, that we should willingly sacrifice this country for a generation for the possibility of preserving the human race for 1,000 years. I do not think we are entitled to make that decision, either.
Perhaps I may turn now to another side, which I know the noble Lord has very much in mind; and it was emphasised by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, yesterday, as well as by other speakers, including, I think, my noble friend Lord Bridgeman. I refer to the importance of our Commonwealth communications and the maintenance of stability generally throughout the Commonwealth. I am very glad that that point has been clearly and forcibly emphasised by speakers in all parts of the House, because it is an absolutely integral part of our whole defence policy. I have no doubt at all that if there were erosion at the periphery it could do the utmost damage to this country, which depends more perhaps than any country in the world on stable conditions in order to conduct its economy and its trade and, indeed, on stable conditions to enable the natural evolution of Commonwealth countries to take place in a healthy manner. I think it is therefore important to remember the significance of our garrisons overseas, of our aircraft, of our ships on station, supported, as they are, by a strategic reserve which, with the Navy and the Air Force, can be brought in support of local forces. This assistance can be brought either by air or by sea.
I say straight away that I should be glad if Transport Command were bigger, but I can say, without going into great detail, that the weight it can lift to-day is about twice what it could lift in 1951. We know, too, that a substantial number of Britannias have been ordered, which will be of great assistance in increasing our mobility. In general terms our position in the Indian Ocean is not greatly dissimilar to what it was before. The 1206 Army and the Air force will be roughly on the same basis, including fighters and strike aircraft. If anything, the Navy will be slightly stronger, with the addition of an aircraft carrier and a commando carrier, which I was extremely glad to see was warmly welcomed on all sides of the House yesterday. Indeed, the two limited wars which we have had since the Second World War has shown the extremely valuable rôle of a carrier in maintaining stability.
The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, asked whether the Commonwealth countries have been consulted, and I think my best answer to him is this. He knows that the Minister of Defence went to Australia and New Zealand last autumn. He knows that the Prime Minister came back from a visit there only last month, and I can assure him that the whole range of defence problems was discussed at these meetings. I know that those countries were glad to note the strength of the Royal Navy which is going to be maintained there. Indeed, I think the same is true in regard to the strength of the Army and the Royal Air Force units.
May I say to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, who I know is always interested in this matter, that we are seeking to make these Colonies more self-supporting in defence matters. I wound only call attention. if I may, to the growth of the Royal Malayan Navy, the Nigerian Navy and the East African Navy, all of whom are gradually coming up and playing their part. In this sphere it is worth recalling, certainly in Naval matters, that the strength of our fellow members of the Commonwealth at sea is steadily growing, and has been over many years. I think that is important, for this reason. I believe that the real danger to-day—and here I think I am not so far from the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough—lies in miscalculation; not necessarily in a centralised position in Europe at all, but in a miscalculation which may arise or which may be invited by the appearance of local weakness. I am therefore extremely glad that the importance of this was brought out yesterday in our discussions, because it is part of our policy to maintain adequate conventional forces. I would ask the noble Viscount whether he thinks that we are in a position to maintain conventional forces of the same order as the 1207 U.S.S.R. I think he must consider very carefully what is involved here, both in regard to manpower and in regard to modern weapons. I can assure him they would be very costly indeed. This would be only one of the results, because even if we held the U.S.S.R. with conventional weapons, there would be nothing to stop them resorting subsequently to nuclear weapons. That is the problem, and I do not want him to evade it before the House to-day.
I should like to turn now to the ballistic missile. I must confess that I think that in this sphere the Amendment has considerably less substance. The purpose of these missiles is to vary the type of deterrent which can be used, and to provide something which we believe may be more effective and more permanent. Defence against them is more difficult, and they create uncertainty, both in the time and place of attack. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, speaking very strongly from the point of view of the Labour Party, said that it was fundamental that we should have complete mastery of these weapons. So we have, except in one contingency; and that is that we might want to use them and the Americans might not. But does the noble Lord really contemplate that as a likely contingency? The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, was concerned about who had control of the trigger. I can assure him that we have complete control of the trigger, just as he knows we have control in regard to American aircraft which may be used from this country. These bases will be British-operated and maintained.
The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, asked a number of questions, and I must tell him that there are matters here on which I do not want to be drawn into great detail. I will give him such information as I can, though I do not think his criticism of this Memorandum was entirely justified. It gives the position pretty clearly. The reason we are taking the missiles is that they are the only ones available at the present time. We know that the Russians are installing missiles at the present time. These missiles are a new generation; they are bound to have teething troubles in the course of their development, but we shall satisfy ourselves that before they are delivered they 1208 are an effective weapon. I can assure the noble Lord that the arrangements for taking decisions in regard to launching will be efficient and that they will be speedy.
The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, asked that the work on these sites should be deferred until after the Summit talks. Of course no-one knows when, or indeed if, these talks will take place; but if I can judge on what is stated in the newspapers, these missiles will certainly not be in position at the time when these talks take place. If these missiles are an important part, as we contend they are, of the deterrent, then I can see no particular point in delaying their development. Moreover, as I have said, the Russians are certainly not inhibited by any consideration of that kind—indeed, Mr. Khrushchev has said quite clearly that he believes in the ballistic missile as the weapon of the future. So, whatever his propaganda machine may say, I do not believe that our development of these missiles will make it any more difficult to reach a decision. It may even make it easier, because we shall be speaking from strength and shall be able to reach a decision more easily.
§ LORD WILMOT OF SELMESTON
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Earl at that point? He has made, it would seem, a most important statement. Does he mean that the erection of the missiles on the site will be delayed until after the Summit talks?
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
If the noble Lord can tell me if the Summit talks are going to take place and when the Summit talks are going to place, I might conceivably be able to answer the question. Within those limitations I cannot go further than I have.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, may I ask whether these missiles are likely to be erected, ready for training and action, by the end of this year?
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
I am afraid I am not prepared to answer that question. I am sorry, but I said before that I was not ready to be drawn into details. All I said was that so far as I understood from newspaper reports of when the Summit talks would take place, the missiles would in fact not be erected.
1209 I have tried to deal with the major points of the Amendment, but I should like to say a few words on the subject of Service personnel. I do not believe in the integration of the Services, though in their close co-ordination, certainly. The Services have great traditions and character, and if these are displaced something will disappear from our midst which will never come back. I think we should not forget that, notwithstanding missiles, nuclear power, radio and radar detection, there is still something which is more important than any of them, and that is the man who works the equipment. If we have a falling off in the quality of personnel, in the numbers, in their readiness to serve, no scientist's work will be of any value to us whatsoever. The White Paper gives a recognition of that; I am sorry it was not printed in bigger type but it is there none the less.
We have sought in a material way to show that the work of the soldiers, sailors and airmen is important and that the State is prepared to pay for it. I believe it is very important to recognise that on their ability and willingness to serve defends the security of this country and, indeed, of our Allies. It is the public recognition of the importance of their task and the knowledge that they are going to be looked after which, more than anything else, will ensure our getting recruits and that the men who will come forward will be of the calibre required. In reply to the noble Lord, Lord Stratheden and Campbell, I would say that resettlement is proceeding and the committees to which he referred yesterday have already been set up.
My Lords, I will end by saying this. I very much hope that the Labour Party will not exaggerate the difference between the policy of the White Paper and what they are themselves doing. The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, who is certainly a robust defender of this country, said quite clearly yesterday that he never wanted to see this country in a position in which she was not in possession of weapons equal with those of other countries. He reminded us, quite rightly, of the part he had played in the development of the atom bomb, the foundation of N.A.T.O.—and N.A.T.O. is working well. The stories of the Continental alliances, the inner stories, as we know to-day, from the time of Marlborough have never been 1210 without friction; but N.A.T.O. is working remarkably well, particularly at Service level. I am not quite clear whether the noble Viscount says that because the Russians have the hydrogen bomb the position has been altered. If we had been able or decided to lake a firmer line against Hitler in the Rhineland or Mussolini in Abyssinia, history might well have been altered.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear!
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
It is easy to say that now; the great thing is not to make a second mistake. Let us not forget that these events took place after a period when pacificism was running very high in this country. I think the noble Lord. Lord Coleraine, is right: whether from cold intellect or emotion, there is something similar happening at the present time, and I very much hope that the Labour Party, by taking a position which I am bound to say I think is rather equivocal, is not seeking to draw under its broad wings those varied and somewhat discordant elements.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: No, no.
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
I hope not; I am saying that frankly. We were told yesterday, and quite rightly, that we cannot contract out of danger. Neutralist countries have tried to do that and we do not think it is very wise. The firmer this country can stand, the more sure I am that the tremendous efforts which the Prime Minister is making now to get the major parties in the world together will be successful, and we shall be able to take the first step towards an agreement which will at once relieve tension and take a step towards disarmament.
§ 3.8 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, we have had an interesting summary from the noble Earl who has just spoken, but I think his speech draws attention very clearly to the fact that the Government do not understand the views of many noble Lords on this side of the House and, indeed, of some noble Lords on all sides of the House. He has postulated a set of circumstances with which to some extent we agree hut which by no means cover the whole field. Let us take the first point he made, the point that Russia was actuated by an ideological principle which assumed that 1211 the capitalist countries would go to war with her, and that in due course that was bound to come about. To a certain extent that may be true, but what is the result to-day, looking at it from Russia's point of view? We heard the noble Lord, Lord Teynham, for example, say in this House yesterday that right from Norway, in the North, to North Africa, in the South, there was a whole ring of stations from which atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs, and in due course rockets, could be launched, and that any of the main centres in Russia were in very serious jeopardy. No doubt the Russians would think the same thing; they have that point, too, very clearly. It is not only Lord Teynham who has thought that; the Russians have thought it, too.
Looking at it again, as I think we must, from their point of view, quite apart from any ideological views they may have, there is the very real danger that in a war they would be under grave risk from a very wide range of these rocket sites or bomber bases. Therefore I am perfectly certain that they are actuated largely by fear, as, to a large extent, are the nations of the West. While we are talking about defence, we must, I think, realise the whole time that the great danger in our midst to-day is fear. If we can eradicate fear from the two opposing camps, as it were, then we shall have gone a long way to deal with the problems of defence which we are considering to-day. We shall never get disarmament, of course, until statesmanship (for this is a field in which statesmanship has to play its part) reduces the fear that is at present in both camps, the one and the other.
Secondly, the noble Earl challenged us, as the noble Earl, Lord Home, did yesterday when he challenged my noble Leader with the question: "What would you do? Would you spend more money on defence?" My Lords, that is not really the point at issue. If it is necessary to spend more money on defence, then we must spend more money on defence. The point is that the country must be defended. Our disagreement, if you like, with the White Paper is that it does not deal adequately with the defence of the country. If the Government were to say to us: "Would you rather have the same rate of taxation, or even a little 1212 more, or live in a concentration camp?" what would be our answer? It is no real answer to what we are saying for the Government to say: "Would you spend any more on defence?" First of all, we want to see whether we are already adequately making provision for defence and we must spend what is necessary for that purpose; secondly, we want to see whether the money that has been spent, and is being spent, is being spent to the right advantage. Of that we are not at all sure.
Let us pass to the problem from the nuclear point of view. From what the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, has just said, one would imagine that we were the only country which had to defend itself against the Russian threat. But we are, in fact. one of fourteen countries in N.A.T.O., and we have spent on our forces far more, in proportion, than these other countries have done; in fact, we have spent double what they have spent, having regard to our population. Therefore, the Government must not think of us as being the only people who have to spend money on the nuclear deterrent. Fourteen countries contribute to N.A.T.O. The United States is maintaining these great nuclear stations and spending a lot of money on research and development; and so will France and other countries. You cannot stop there. Therefore, you must bear that in mind. We cannot look at this problem purely as if it were only ourselves who had to deal with the nuclear side.
Since 1945 to the end of this year we have spent £ 14,500 million on defence; and I must say that if we look at some of the recent achievements, particularly at Suez, one begins to wonder where the money has gone to. It certainly does not seem to have been spent on the Fleet and in the air and on the ground. Our forces have been run down, or will soon be run down, to a stage at which, as I shall show in a moment, they will be wholly inadequate for our defence purposes. Our Amendment expresses our fears over Government policy, and it does so particularly because we feel most strongly that undue reliance on thermo-nuclear weapons will not protect and will not provide for the effective defence of this country and the Commonwealth.
In paragraph 12 of the White Paper (Cmd. 363) we have the Government's 1213 view on this whole question of nuclear defence. As my noble Leader pointed out, quite rightly, there is nothing new in it This was announced, I think, by the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, two years ago, and it has since been repeated by others. The fundamental theory underlying this policy must be seen within the scope of N.A.T.O. and not of the wider world situation. It was a N.A.T.O. policy. We must remember that N.A.T.O.—I have the Treaty here—deals only with Europe.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
With great respect—I am going to speak almost immediately after the noble Lord—I should like to remind the noble Lord of this fact. He says that it was purely Lord Montgomery of Alamein and N.A.T.O., but the White Paper which I introduced in 1955 represented the considered view of the whole Commonwealth and, for the first time, based quite firmly the whole strategy of the Commonwealth on thereto-nuclear weapons.
§ LORD OGMORE
I think Lord Montgomery of Alamein spoke in 1954, but no doubt the noble Earl will be able to make his point when he comes to speak. The fact is that, whoever said it first, this policy was a N.A.T.O. policy and had nothing to do with the other parts of the world. In fact, there are many parts of the world, as my noble Leader said quite rightly, where one would be very unpopular if one threatened nuclear warfare. He said, only too truly, that they have never forgotten the 'fact that the first atomic bomb was launched on a nation. Rightly or wrongly, that is the fact. That being so, in this policy, which was a N.A.T.O. policy, enunciated first by the heads of N.A.T.O., the military side is relevant within the scope of N.A.T.O. but bears no relevance to the wider scope of the British Commonwealth.
Some of us were present at the N.A.T.O. Parliament this year—we went from your Lordships' House and from another place to the Conference of all the countries which form part of N.A.T.O. We were not at all satisfied with the policy at N.A.T.O. We were not at all satisfied that it had sufficient political basis upon which to build a military edifice and we said so. I cannot quote what we said, but we provided a-pretty full report which I suppose 1214 has gone the way of all other reports sent to all the countries forming part of. N.A.T.O. and has been pigeon-holed by all of them. If so, it is a pity, because we had the benefit of hearing all the Chiefs of Staff and the commanders of N.A.T.O. Forces, as well as many other people, before we gave our opinion on this and other matters affecting the position of N.A.T.O. But I can assure your Lordships that the N.A.T.O. Powers and military commanders look at the matter, closely but narrowly, from the N.A.T.O. point of view—that is to say, the defence of Europe, which means Western Europe and North America: they do not look at it from our point of view, which must be much wider.
My noble friend has said that it is absurd and dangerous to threaten to meet any major attack with the nuclear deterrent. I should have thought that was an obvious statement, and I was surprised that it has been regarded by noble Lords opposite with any disagreement. I should have thought that in warfare or potential warfare it is highly dangerous to give away your intentions. I have always been taught that surprise is one of the main ingredients in warfare, that from all points of view it is highly undesirable to tell the potential enemy what you are going to do. Besides that, it might have a very unfortunate effect on him, because he will say "If they are going to use a nuclear deterrent on me, I may as well use it. I must use it. They have warned me that they may use it in any major threat. I must use it". And in that event we shall be plunged into the very predicament that we hope may never arise.
When we are talking about nuclear weapons—and of course we now know that the ordinary ground forces are being armed with the atomic warhead—it is just as well to realise what this means. A Nagasaki or Hiroshima atomic bomb was 20 kilotons. That is the size of the warhead now being supplied to the army in the field. That is equal to 4,000 World War II "blockbusters". The new atomic bombs are 500 kilotons each, and the 5-megaton hydrogen bombs are each equal to one million World War II "blockbusters". So when we are talking about hydrogen and atomic bombs let us remember that one 5-megaton hydrogen bomb, equal, as I say, to one million World War II "blockbusters", detonated 1215 over London, would destroy the city over a radius of seven miles and render the rest of it helpless; while twenty to thirty 5-megaton bombs would destroy the war-making capacity of the United Kingdom. It is therefore no wonder that anything we can do to avoid the risk of nuclear warfare should be done, and that is why we object to this statement in the Paper.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, it is very important to get this right and to get clear what the Opposition really mean, for this is the essential feature of our debate. They say that we should have all these weapons (as I understand from the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough) weapon for weapon, to match the Russians. The only difference between us, I think, is that we have said that in the event of a major conventional attack—let us say to dominate Europe—that would have to be met by the nuclear deterrent, while the noble Viscount takes a different view. Is that the only difference between the Parties?—because if so we seem very close together. That is something we ought to know.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, we say that it may be necessary to use the nuclear deterrent, for the reasons I have given, but that it is highly dangerous to tell the world that we may have to use the nuclear deterrent even where no such weapons are used against us. Surely from points of view, psychological and military, it is a most unfortunate statement to put out to the world.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, it is a vitally important difference. From the time we started to make the atomic bomb we intended that, if necessary, it should be used, for one does not make a bomb or any other weapon if one believes that it is never to be used. But from our point of view it is primarily a deterrent, and the deterrent factor in it is destroyed if a statement is made such as that made by Her Majesty's Government in paragraph 5. In other words, it may become an incitement, and not a deterrent. After all, we are dealing with psychological matters and I should have thought this was a very proper standpoint to take.
§ LORD OGMORE
It will not be a deterrent if it induces the other side to use the weapon first. That is the danger, and I cannot understand how Her Majesty's Government cannot see it. If a statement induces the other side to use this weapon first, in a devastating attack upon us, for fear that we might use it against them even though they use only conventional weapons, then the deterrent is a deterrent no longer, but an incitement. Our need is for a highly trained, well-armed, compact and fast-moving force to deal with threats, either to the United Kingdom or to the rest of the Commonwealth, in circumstances where the nuclear deterrent does not necessarily apply. We need these forces in addition to the nuclear deterrent. We also need forces capable of giving aid to the civil power. We need those, first, because of our world-wide commitments; secondly, because of our commitments under S.E.A.T.O. and the Baghdad Pact, none of which has received any great notice as yet from spokesmen of Her Majesty's Government; thirdly, because without them we are virtually disarmed except in the case of a major conflict; and fourthly, because without sufficient conventional forces we cannot carry out our duties.
The noble Earl, Lord Home, has to-day raised the question of the word "major". He says that a major threat will be dealt with in this way. That is a matter of terminology, but it is no good the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister saying, as he did the other night: "'Major' means major." That does not carry us very far, for there are so many stages—minor, medium and so on—in this matter, which involves life or death for all of us. We were told yesterday that some journalist from America has said that we are all defeatists or cowards—I forget the actual words. That is all nonsense. This country will defend itself, just as it always has. The spirit of the country is as good as it ever was; but we want to be quite sure that we have the kind of forces we need and that Her Majesty's Government do not plunge us into war, fare without the need for so doing.
1217 In dealing with conventional forces let me turn for a moment to Russia. Apart from vast land forces—over 200 divisions—she has a growing fleet of submarines, 23 "Sverdlov" class cruisers, a large number of destroyers and an air arm of 3,500 aircraft. She has a first-class air force of about 20,000 aircraft, and in this air force she has a two-year re-equipment programme; and during the next two years a number of new aircraft will come into service. There are a new day interceptor, a new all-weather fighter and a new trans-sonic attack bomber—all of the highest class. As an example, the Back-fin, which will be coming into service in the not-too-distant future (it is now in the pre-production stage), is a light bomber which will attain a speed of 990 m.p.h. at 36,000 feet. Why is Russia putting all this effort into conventional forces if they are not necessary and if only nuclear forces are of any worth in the world to-day?
I will give your Lordships the views of Russia on this point, as I believe that when we are talking of Russia it is important to know what the Russians are thinking. I quote from the General Military Review, which is published in German, French and English and is a kind of digest of the point of view of the Russians:In technical work and in the use of weapons and equipment Soviet commanders must exalt the rôle of the man. In the press button war waged by the capitalist countries, the soldier is a mere machine, but Marxism-Leninism teaches that the importance of the man himself increases with the complexity of the techniques.Military operations are conditioned by the necessity for mobility of the troops facing highly destructive weapons and for dispersed deployments, both on wide fronts and at great depth. This concept of combat is related to the hard blow operations of 1943—with rapid concentrations on main axes, followed by disperals to avoid destruction.The effect of surprise will be facilitated by the employment of atomic weapons, which can deliver blows of great effect in the combat zone as well as in the rear. The organisation of the forces is still based on their respective armament and equipment, and is therefore variable and proportionate. The atomic weapon should be neither overestimated nor underestimated. The morale of the population must be prepared to fax the danger to which they may be exposed on that score. It is also an additional weapon against the enemy. In all other points, conventional methods remain in effect.That is the view of the Russians. In other words, they do not take the view taken by Her Majesty's Government.
1218 In the air we have to face the disappearance, to all intents and purposes, in about ten years' time of the manned bomber and the manned fighter. As a consequence, with one exception, plans for supersonic bombers and supersonic fighters have been abandoned. The only ewe lamb left is the English Electric P.1 supersonic fighter. As a further consequence, the amount of Government research into, and development of, supersonic aircraft will be much reduced, if not, in the latter case, abandoned altogether. This has, of course, an important bearing on civil aviation.
On sea, we have heard of the effect of the reductions from the First Lord. I myself cannot understand why ships and submarines are not far better launching platforms than land bases. One never knows where ships and submarines are, but one does know and can plot a land base. But the Admiralty do not seem to take that point of view. Their duty, as always, is to protect the sea lanes to this country; and the Russians have pointed out the grave risk to the sea lanes in the case of war. East of Suez, where we have vast responsibilities, there is almost a ghost fleet—hardly a fleet at all. When we think of one squadron based at Singapore and covering the vast area from Yokohama to Basra it is really ludicrous. I myself feel that the Fleet cannot possibly be expected to carry out its duties in that area.
As to the Fleet Air Arm, there have been delays and muddles, largely due, I am told, to the fact that their aircraft are expected to do almost everything, although in the air one aircraft can as a rule perform only one task. On land our forces are to be reduced to 165,000. We on this side a year ago warned the Government that they would be lucky if they got half that number by voluntary recruitment. The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, and I were chided by Lord Mancroft for saying this—it was thought to be defeatist or some such thing; and it was rather significant that he went off that same night and made a speech at a public meeting at which he said exactly the same thing. Evidently we had one recruit for our views. Only large-scale unemployment, in my view, will solve the Government's problem so far as voluntary forces are concerned, and it is more than doubtful whether they will get the forces they 1219 require, particularly in the case of a professional voluntary Army. It seems that we shall have to see in time whether some form of compulsory service will not have to be recommenced.
These forces were tested at the time of the Suez adventure, and the result was unhappy and might have been disastrous. There was obviously a lack of a clear plan and, above all, of carrier aircraft. The lack of carrier aircraft and the insufficient airlift was a result of the Government's policy. It is no good the Government coming and putting the position of these things before us, when in quite a number of cases we can show that it is their fault that we are in this position. In spite of our protests on this side for years past, the Government have bolstered up the charter companies and have not created their own transport aircraft and fleets of aircraft until very recently. These obsolescent aircraft, slowly chugging their way across the oceans and the continents, are not in any way capable of providing the airlift even for one brigade, let alone for two or for a division, as may be necessary. It may be an exaggeration to say that some of these aircraft can carry only one soldier and one boiled egg, but they have neither the range nor the carrying capacity to meet the needs of the Army.
Lately, partly due to our pressure, the Royal Air Force have purchased or ordered in addition to the older and slower Hastings and Beverley aircraft, twenty long-range passenger-freight Britannias for Transport Command, which also has a Comet II jet transport squadron. If this policy is right to-day, why was it not right years ago when we urged that it be pursued? It is only since Suez that the Government have begun to see the light in this respect. I welcome these developments and should like to see them extended. It is only by having a sufficient supply of powerful, long-range aircraft that you can transport your small but efficient Army to the scenes where they are required. We must, I think, be able to lift two brigades. If we cannot do that we are inefficient.
The Commonwealth forces depend on ours. In Asia, Africa and the West Indies—in every case we are their backbone. The noble Earl to-day spoke about colonial forces, but in fact they are 1220 tiny, and without us they would not be able to defend their own countries. The new Malayan Government made an agreement with us and took a great risk with their own people in doing so. They had to persuade their own people that it was right to enter into this defence treaty. They depend upon conventional forces, and it is absolutely necessary that we have the right number of conventional forces to come to their assistance if required. The Commonwealth strategic reserve, which is in part based in Malaya, also needs conventional forces, and so do the new members of the Commonwealth. Very soon Nigeria will be an independent member, and statesmen in Nigeria are already thinking along lines of a possible defence treaty. That, of course, will be a treaty in connection with which conventional forces are necessary.
Before I conclude there is one question on paragraph 29 of the White Paper which I should like to ask the Government. I ask it not in any rhetorical sense but because I want the information, as I think many others want this information. We have spent hundreds of millions of pounds, and are still spending hundreds of millions of pounds, on nuclear weapons, bombs and so on. For how much longer do the Government think it will be necessary to go on spending this money? I am not talking for the moment about rockets but about the warhead, the bombs and such very expensive things. In other words, when will the time come when we can say that we have spent all the money that we need to spend, that we have all these things, and that we do not need to spend more? If a three-inch shell will do the job, why bother to spend a lot more money on making a fifteen-inch shell? Is there a time in the future when we shall not have to spend more money on development—when we have a five-megaton bomb that is so devastating that one cannot see the need for a ten-megaton bomb?
With reference to the Summit talks, I think that these are so important that the Government should do everything in their power to create the right atmosphere; and that is why we come to the second point in our Amendment. We feel that it is provocative to have these bases at this moment. It is very important that we should get the right atmosphere at these talks, if they come off, 1221 or that the right atmosphere should be created to induce them to take place. I feel that the United States are missing a great opportunity in this matter, and I will tell your Lordships why. I had some opportunity recently of hearing the views of some of the youth in Russia, and particularly of the intelligentsia. They are in many cases very attracted to the present leadership of one country; and strangely enough—perhaps it is not really strange—that country is the United States. The reason why they are attracted is that the youth in Russia have been brought up under a materialistic philosophy. Spiritual matters, religion and such things, have not entered greatly into their lives. If you were brought up under a materialistic philosophy and had been taught to admire material progress, where would you go to see materialism in that sense at its greatest? You would go to the United States. Therefore, the youth in Russia is very much attracted to life in the United States and to the technical achievements of the United States.
I wonder why the United States Government, instead of hedging as to whether there shall be a Foreign Secretaries' meeting before the talks, or whether they shall have this or that on the agenda, do not arrange for a series of youth festivals in the United States and invite youth from behind the Iron Curtain to go there and to meet the democratic youth of America and from Britain and so forth, as Russia herself has done. The Moscow Youth Festival was a great success. Why should there not be the same sort of thing in America? Why can it not be done here, for that matter? It is only by getting people to meet other people who have other ways, especially young people who are not always impressed by the views and methods of we older people, that I believe we shall be able to dispel this miasma of fear which is creeping all over the world.
In conclusion, we on this side say that there should be a balance between nuclear and conventional weapons and that the Government are not keeping this balance, with consequential danger to our commitments in areas other than those of N.A.T.O. I ask your Lordships to support the Amendment. Noble Lords on the other side have often said that defence should be above Party. If they mean it, this is the time to show it.
§ 3.41 p.m.
My Lords, already we have had a long and interesting debate, and only six weeks ago we had an equally interesting debate on the same subject. The only events of importance that have happened in the last six weeks are the publication of the White Paper on Defence which we are particularly discussing to-day, and the agreement with the United States on rocket bases in this country. This latter tends to show, I think only too clearly, our increasing reliance on the United States in matters of defence, and that we are becoming more and more a frontier post of that country. To put it bluntly, we are a target for their protection. To defend the West—and that is part of our duty—we have to be in that position to a certain extent, but not in the way we have allowed it to increase over the last few years. We have done far more than support N.A.T.O. to the extent that we should do.
I do not think there is any doubt that within the next few years both Russia and America will have found the weapon with which they will be able to hit each other without interfering with anything in between, and we and the other European countries shall no longer be the first line of defence—in fact, we shall not even be priority targets. Until that position comes to pass, however, I think we must not shirk admitting what is our present position—that is, a completely dependent defence part of the United States of America; and in that direction we have gone much too far already. If we cannot lead another armaments race (and I think we all should be thankful that we cannot be in that position), then let us at least attempt to lead the disarmament talks.
As a first step, I think we should ask whether we should allow these rocket bases in this country just before there is a real possibility of Summit talks. The noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, has been asked about that matter this afternoon, and from his answers it is perfectly clear that priority is being given to the rocket bases. However long they may take to be produced, they come first and the Summit talks come second. If, by any chance, the Summit talks take place in June or July, then they would come first; but that would be purely a matter 1223 of luck. We feel that we should put the Summit talks first and hold up these bases until after those talks have been held.
At the same time, I think that we should consider whether this country should continue with making our own future rockets. I think that with the nuclear power we already have, to give up the rocket programme is no suggestion whatever of weakness, nor is it any suggestion that we do not realise to the full that in talks with Russia on any subject, about disarmament, nuclear weapons or anything else, we have to speak from a position of strength. But in this country there must be a limit both to the amount we can spend on defence and to the distance we are prepared to go at our own risk to protect our Allies.
The struggle is between the nuclear power of Russia and America, and though we have to defend our own country and our Commonwealth and do our duty to N.A.T.O., it is not necessary, in doing it, to join in the nuclear arms race. I feel that we must realise that before it is too late. I should like this country to set an example, not of producing our own nuclear weapons—not at this moment, at any rate, at least until the Summit talks have taken place—but of turning our brains, of which we have a great number, and our money, of which we still have a little left, in leading the world in peaceful nuclear enterprises. Otherwise every country is going to try to find this nuclear deterrent. Some of them will find it, and the more who find it the greater the danger of another war which will mean the total destruction of humanity.
In actual fact this is not unilateral disarmament. We still hold the key by our knowledge of nuclear weapons. We still have a large stockpile. But, at least, we are putting forward something constructive that may bring back sanity to a world that is rapidly going completely insane. I know it is perfectly true to say that the only real protection that the West has at the moment against a conventional attack by Russia which may spread right through Europe is the nuclear weapon. But if the nuclear weapon really has the devastating effect we are told it has, we must already 1224 have an ample deterrent which, if released, could deal with any military objective throughout the whole of Russia. If we read paragraphs 30 and 31 of the White Paper I think we find that that is made quite clear.
At the end of the last world war one atom bomb was dropped on one town in Japan, and the result horrified the world. A few years later we produced a hydrogen bomb, and we were then told clearly that, given a prevailing wind from the right direction, six or so of those bombs, dropped in the right positions in this country, would destroy most of our main cities and a great proportion of our population. Since that day the strength of the bombs has increased until we are told that the biggest have a power equal to one million times the power of the ordinary bomb used in the last war, and that our stocks have grown. If we look at paragraph 29 of the White Paper we see that… Britain is now making an increasingly significant contribution to the Western nuclear deterrent. She has a substantial and growing stockpile of kiloton weapons …At the end of the paragraph we see that… British megaton bombs are now in production and deliveries to the Royal Air Force have begun.Either the danger of these weapons has been exaggerated or we have sufficient in this country already to provide a completely adequate deterrent, at least for the time being.
Though I hope that we shall call a halt to the further manufacture of nuclear weapons, if we are going to compete, for goodness sake let us get the best. Everything we have read—although I know we cannot always believe what we read—seems to indicate that the American rockets are not only unsatisfactory but almost obsolescent already. We have confirmed that ourselves by saying that we are not going to make these warheads but are concentrating on a more up-to-date variety. Yet we are prepared to spend £10 million (I know that £10 million is nothing these days) in getting these bases ready and sending our troops to America for training. The whole position seems to me to be getting completely out of proportion, and unless we call a halt, no one else will.
Even now, in paragraph 33 of the Defence White Paper, we admit that we 1225 cannot defend ourselves against a nuclear attack. The foreword, which is in italics on the front page and has already been quoted, is in very fine words, but it is difficult to reconcile them with paragraph 33 of the Report. From what I have said from time to time on Defence, on the Territorial Army and the Army, it can be seen that no one is keener than I am that we should cut out conscription at the earliest possible date. But if we are going to do so, we must give a clearer picture to the Forces of what their job is going to be, and some hope, at least, that there is going to be a defence against nuclear attack.
So far as the White Paper itself is concerned, I do not want to go over all the points we raised six weeks ago. I should, however, like to reiterate what I said then, which was so ably said again yesterday by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Carlisle: that surely defence and foreign policy are now above politics, and unless we in this country can get together as reasonable human beings, how on earth can we imagine that we can get agreement with people who do not even think as we do?
There are one or two points in the White Paper on which I should like to comment. I am pleased that in paragraph 3 the Government have made clear that, great though the achievement of the launching of the Russian satellites is in the scientific sphere, it does not alter the balance of military power and we do not have to worry about it at the present time. After the news this morning of the American satellite, perhaps that is even more a good thing than it was before. Paragraph 4 of the White Paper, if one studies it, presents really a terrifying thought. But at least it suggests that the overall superiority of the West is increasing. If that is the case, surely this is the time to go all out to tackle the question of disarmament. The power of this country and its Commonwealth is still greater than I think many of us realise. If we take the lead now towards peace, it may make the whole difference.
I am delighted to see how much of the White Paper deals with disarmament—the general desire of the West; we all desire disarmament—and the attempts that have already been made to achieve it. I hope that we can turn the failures of the past into the successes of the future 1226 by fully supporting the possible Summit talks, and I hope that we shall not haggle too much about what we want before they take place. The basis of peace, however, is not just an agreement on disarmament: it is a genuine belief in a rule of international law. If there were that rule of international law, then the threat of a world war would disappear. This basis of peace could still be the Atlantic Charter, which Russia herself endorsed in 1941. Why do we not start at least, with the simple question to the Russians: "Are you still in agreement with what you said then?" This, I know. is more of a foreign affairs question than one of defence, but it is so tied up with defence that I think it should be mentioned, and I feel we should encourage it as much as we can. Little is said this year about the Commonwealth, although paragraph 42 mentions certain small points. Perhaps it is too soon after the Prime Minister's tour to go more fully into the matter, but I hope that in future we shall really gain by the benefit of this much closer liaison.
I was interested to read the paragraphs relating to the Navy, and I am glad that so much importance is given to them. But it is a very small Navy. Can it really tackle the work that we expect it to do? I must say I am amazed at the detailed information that is given, not only regarding our policy but as to the number of ships and where they are going to be. Is there no secrecy about these things? Or is there a certain amount of bluff in all of them? We heard the statement of policy from the U.S.S.R., but one cannot genuinely believe that they tell us everything like that. However, if this is really all we have, and this is where they are going to be, then we are very much weaker than most of us realised. However, we can raise this matter again in the debates on the Estimates later on, and perhaps that is the right place for it.
The real tragedy of this White Paper is in paragraph 78. When we look at the Defence Estimates we find they still amount to more than £1,400 million, roughly the same as last year. We are told that we are spending 8 per cent. on defence, which is less than it was seven years ago but is three and a half times what it was before the war; and, if my memory is right, the cost of the First 1227 World War was the horrifying amount of £1 million a day. However much the pound has devalued since 1918, it has not devalued as much as that; and we are now, in peace time, spending much more per day than we did during the First World War. We just cannot afford to do it. And what are we getting for it? We are all horrified at the amount of nuclear weapons we have to produce, but we are told that their cost is only 20 per cent. of the whole amount. That means to say that for the rest of defence it is £1,100 million a year. I cannot see that we are getting anything like the true value for that amount of money. But, again, we can look into this matter in more detail on the Estimates.
We must stop this terrific rush to destruction. Those of us from these Benches, and others, who appeal for this are not pacifists; we will do all we can to defend this country and to defend the Commonwealth. But, as I have attempted to point out, we do not believe that this is the way to do it, but rather that this is the way to financial ruin and self-destruction.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, I would wish to give more than the tacit tribute of a vote in support of this White Paper, if we have to divide, which I wish we had not, first of all because I support it sincerely, and because my belief in it has not been shaken at all by what I have heard—and I have listened to the whole of this debate—or by what I have read in the debates in another place. But I have also a personal reason why I would wish for a moment or two to support this particular White Paper, because it is three years ago, almost to a day, that I had the honour of introducing in this House the White Paper of 1955 which set out the new strategic policy—which did not come from N.A.T.O. at all—based entirely on the thermo-nuclear deterrent. This White Paper is, indeed, as I am sure my noble friend Lord Man-croft would agree the lineal and logical successor of that policy.
I think it is worth while reminding ourselves to-day that when we produced that new policy based on the thermo-nuclear deterrent we were not presenting to Parliament merely the considered judgment of the then Government and their 1228 advisers, but were presenting the considered strategic policy of the whole of the Commonwealth countries who were associated together in defence. I should like to remind your Lordships that at the Conference—and of all the Imperial Commonwealth Conferences in which I have taken part I cannot remember one which was more important and more fruitful in results—which preceded the White Paper of 1955, all the Commonwealth Governments who were associated together in defence record their judgment in these terms:The Commonwealth Conference has recognised that the advent of thermo-nuclear weapons involves fundamental changes in the strategic approach to defence problems.They went on to declare that they wereagreed that their defence policies should be founded on the principle that world war can be prevented if the free democracies are resolved to maintain in readiness forces sufficiently strong to deter any potential aggressor.That was the deterrent side. As in to-day's White Paper, there was another side to the Commonwealth shield, and all the Commonwealth statesmen stated:It is the aim of the Commonwealth countries to work for a disarmament agreement which includes forces and weapons of all kinds and is both comprehensive and effective.Going back again to the debate of three years ago, as the moral issue of the nuclear deterrent is raised again, and raised very vocally, I would remind the House of some words spoken by one who will always be remembered in this House with reverent affection, Dr. Garbett, the late Archbishop of York. He said [OFFICIAL REPORT, VOL 191, col. 1148]:… the mere fact that a peace-loving nation like our own possesses these bombs may prevent the bomb from ever being used for fear of the retaliation which would follow. I am greatly impressed by this argument … certainly at the moment the possession of the bomb seems to be the one possibility of preserving peace in the years immediately ahead. If so it would be madness to close the door to this possibility.He also spoke of unilateral action, a unilateral disclaimer, of the use of the bomb, and he said (col. 1147):If sermons were preached from every pulpit during the rest of the year against the manufacture and use of these bombs, and if Members in every constituency were given a mandate to vote for the abolition of the use of nuclear weapons, the Communist States would continue on their chosen path, regardless of remonstrances and reckless of human life.1229 I must say that that statement, coming from that source, seems to me to be both Christianity and common sense.
I would remind the House also that three years ago that White Paper, based on the twin shield of the deterrent and disarmament, was unanimously approved in this House. Surely, both the propositions which the Commonwealth then supported, and which we know from the Prime Minister since he returned from his tour they support equally to-day, are equally true and compelling now: the need for the deterrent, which must be an effective deterrent, and the earnest desire for disarmament which, in the words of the Commonwealth Ministers, must be disarmament comprehensive and effective. Surely that is abundantly true. The deterrent and disarmament hang together. If we were to agree to nuclear disarmament without complementary and effective reduction of conventional forces and arms, we should be inviting aggression and certain disaster, just as surely as if we were to go in for the unilateral banning of the bomb.
It seems to me, if I may say so without offence, that there are a great many woolly advocates in the "Ban the bomb" school. But the ablest of the advocates in that school is as clear as he is sincere—I refer to the noble Earl, Lord Russell. In an interview about a fortnight ago in the New York Herald Tribune, Lord Russell was asked this straight question:What if the Soviet Government cannot be induced to agree to controlled nuclear disarmament?His answer was equally straight and clear. He said:Then I personally am for unilateral nuclear disarmament. It is a bitter choice. I have thought much about it, and I do not think I deceive myself about its nature. Unilateral disarmament is likely to mean for a while Communist domination of this world of ours.Surely Lord Russell is entirely right in that: it would mean Communist domination of, at any rate, the whole of Europe, including this kingdom of ours. Communist domination is the inescapable alternative to the maintenance of a deterrent until we can get comprehensive and effective disarmament.
On these fundamental issues I do not think, from what I have heard said in this debate, that there is really any difference between most of us. There is the 1230 odd argument, which I cannot understand, that we must have the deterrent, but that it is very dangerous, wrong or unwise to say that, even in the case of a major attack which would overwhelm us and which, as Lord Russell himself says, would mean, unless it was held back, the complete Communist domination of Europe, we should use it. I am bound to say that if we did not say that in that event we should use the bomb we should be taking a frightful risk, and we should be acting dishonestly as well as unwisely.
I repeat, on the fundamental issues it seems to me that there is not a great difference between the Government and the leaders, at any rate, of the Labour Party. There is the suggestion at the end of the Amendment about our not having big enough forces. That is rather like what happens when you Petition the House of Lords: at the end of the Petition you put in, "your Petitioners will ever humbly pray". I wonder whether, if the present Opposition do get into office, they will be found spending the extra £1,000 million on the Navy, Army and Air Force, in addition to the billion they have promised to spend on social services. So I do not think there is very much in that part of the Amendment. There is this question about whether it is wise to say that we should use the deterrent in the last resort. That is not a difference of principle at all. I will come in a moment to the very limited and narrow dispute, as I see it, about the missile bases.
I find it more difficult, after listening to both noble Lords who have spoken from the Liberal Benches, to understand where the Liberals stand on this matter. The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, who is always interesting and has a reputation in these defence matters, told us that he thought we were relying too much on the United States; that we ought not to be taking these missiles from them. But in the Rochdale by-election, where some success was attained by the agreeable Liberal candidate and his even more agreeable wife, I understand the line was, "We cannot abolish the bomb". I think they said: "We cannot abolish the bomb; but do not let us make it. Let us shelter behind the United States". There is a certain discrepancy there. I am not complaining, because, after all, 1231 uniformity is the last infirmity I should attribute to the noble minds of the Liberal Party.
My Lords, of course Liberals have more than one mind; thank goodness they have! But what I was trying to point out this afternoon is that we already have in our possession nuclear weapons which are a complete deterrent to Russia at this particular time. It is like the 3-inch shell being good enough—why have the 15-inch shell? We have the 3-inch shell which is quite good enough. To go on relying on the United States after this is quite unnecessary to keep our deterrent power.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
I am very much interested in the noble Lord's intervention. I am greatly interested, and I am sure the Admirals of the Fleet and the Marshals of the Air Force and the Field-Marshals on the Cross-Benches will be equally interested, in the assertion that a 3-inch shell and a 15-inch shell are equally good. I am not going into the logistics of it, but at any rate that shows what an extraordinary diversity there is in the Liberal ranks. But it all makes for good fun in that Party, and the more the merrier! Of course we are all for disarmament; we are all in favour of disarmament. But it is no good getting up with a sort of parrot cry, saying, "I am in favour of disarmament". One might just as well get up and say, "I am in favour of fine weather". Of course we are all in favour of fine weather; the question is; what effective steps are we going to take to get it?
I hope that we can go forward as a united country over disarmament. I very much appreciate what has been said from that side of the House, not least from the noble Lord, Lord Wilmot of Selmeston, that we must argue from strength; it is no good arguing from weakness. I believe that we are a great deal nearer together than a number of people would have us believe. I do not think it is honourable or honest, or wise, to say. "I am going to shelter entirely behind the United States". After all, we and the United States are allies and partners, and we should not be playing our rightful part as partners if we neglected or refused to make the most vital weapon of all. Nor could we reasonably claim that say in the making 1232 of policy which is our duty and our right. Certainly the attitude that we could leave it all to the armaments of the United States cannot lie in the mouth of those who say at the same time that in matters of foreign policy we are too much tied to the United States. By all means let us have the maximum co-operation with the United States, in research and in manufacture and everything else. The extent of that co-operation must rest largely with the United States Administration and Congress. But surety we are more likely to get that maximum cooperation from the United States if we are playing our own part in the making of these nuclear weapons and if we are using the genius of our scientists, which is so enormously appreciated throughout the world.
My Lords, there remains the much narrower issue of the guided missiles and the missile bases. I think it is generally accepted that bombers will be superseded by guided missiles. If that is so, then nobody doubts—and I do not think anybody has really doubted it in this debate—that we must have the missiles; and if we must have the missiles, obviously we must have the bases—some of them shore bases; some of them, as soon as possible, on ships. I am not the least competent to express a—worth-while opinion about this guided missile known as "Thor". I rather wonder whether some of the vocal critics who have been saying that it is no good are any better qualified than I am. I would only venture to submit to your Lordships, as an old Defence Minister, three considerations. I believe that nobody except the Government and their advisers, with all the knowledge they have, though they cannot disclose it to us fully or share it with us completely, are the only people who can form an authoritative judgment.
The second proposition I would put has really been answered, I am glad to say, by the First Lord, Lord Selkirk, in his speech to-day. I was going to say that I assume the Government will not take delivery of this weapon until they are satisfied that it will do its job; and the First Lord of the Admiralty has given us that assurance in his opening speech. But by "do its job" I do not mean that it cannot be improved—always there is evolution in these things. The 1233 later Marks of the Hurricanes and Spitfires, with the cannon gun and so on, were, of course, an improvement on the earlier ones; but we should have been in a sad way if we had not ordered the Spitfires and Hurricanes that won the 13attle of Britain. But I would add this: research must issue in production. The Government of the day must take the responsibility for deciding when they will go into production, and what weapon they make or accept from their Allies. But there is always this danger: that if you wait too long, the better may prove to be the enemy of the good and you may be caught without any effective missile at all.
The only real difference seems to me to be, ought we to set up these bases before we have had the Summit talks? Honestly, I wonder whether anyone, in his heart, believes that it will make the faintest difference to the attitude of the Russians whether we make these bases or not. I think that if we refrain we might easily do ourselves damage in the eyes of the Russians and, not improbably, also in the eyes of our American and our N.A.T.O. Allies. After all, we have been told by both sides in this debate that the Russians have said they are going ahead to the full with all their own rockets and guided missiles, and in the last month they have carried out two of the biggest nuclear tests that have ever taken place in the world. I venture to suggest—I do not believe that if this is fairly considered there would be a great difference, even on this very narrow issue—that the Government ought to be guided by simple economic considerations in this matter and that they should have the bases ready to receive the missiles when they are satisfied that those missiles are efficient and are going to be delivered. I suggest that the timing should be governed by that.
My Lords, I want, in a sentence or two only, to refer to two detailed matters in the White Paper. One is the question of our troops in Germany. I think something should be said about that. I believe my noble friend Lord Bridgeman said a word about it last night, and perhaps it is easier that it should be said by somebody who is not a member of the Government. Our troops are not in Germany for any convenience of our own; we should much rather have them somewhere else. They are there in the interests of N.A.T.O. and 1234 of Germany. I think it would be a great pity if Germany did not understand the strength of feeling in this country. We are stretching ourselves to the limit of our resources; the same certainly cannot be said of Germany. The Germans have spent nothing like the amount we have spent. Under the noble Earl's Administration there was an enormous expenditure, with no corresponding response at all from them, either then or since. This coming year, according to an article I. read in the Daily Telegraph, the Defence budget in Germany, which is much lower than our Defence budget, is to be still further reduced by £167 million. That is not fair or reasonable. Surely it is in the interests of the whole alliance—the whole of N.A.T.O., the Grand Alliance—and not least of Germany, that a prosperous Germany should make a more equitable contribution to international security.
§ LORD SALTER
My Lords, would my noble friend allow me to suggest to him that he might make one addition to his remarks about the position of our troops in Germany?—namely, that we are not really asking for the cost of those troops, but to be relieved of the extent of the weight upon our Exchequer of mark expenditure. The mark is almost embarrassingly strong and the pound has been in such grave danger recently. I think that that greatly adds to the strength of our case.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
I am much obliged to my noble friend, who made a most interesting contribution to our debate yesterday. That certainly is true. We are prepared to carry the whole of the normal sterling cost of our troops; it is only this excess expenditure, which has to be discharged in marks, a great deal of it on labour and things which they used to find for us, which we are asking should be paid. I am greatly obliged to my noble friend. I am sure that this is an issue on which he and I are expressing what is not only the view held throughout this House, but a view held throughout this country.
The only other point I wanted to mention was that I welcome most sincerely the proposal to maintain what is called a balanced all-purpose Fleet based on Singapore. We cannot do everything, but this new mobile force and the aircraft carrier which can carry a 1235 commando force is a most interesting development, and I am sure that that will strengthen S.E.A.T.O. It will strengthen security in that area and I believe it will be a great encouragement to Australia and New Zealand to make their contributions to the Forces and the strategic reserve, for which I started the negotiations and which my noble friend the Leader of the House finalised when he was there.
My Lords, I would say only this in conclusion. I have dealt with some controversial matters, but, I hope that the House will agree, not in a controversial manner. I would echo what my noble friend Lord Coleraine said yesterday. I hope that we need not divide. But if we must divide, let it be understood that we divide on what is really, as I think I have shown, a very narrow issue. The field of unity of purpose and, indeed, of method, is far wider than the relatively narrow area of dissent. I think that that has been confirmed in almost every speech that has been made from the other side of the House. Last night the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and I had a brief interchange on the failure of Party leaders to meet together on questions of defence in the past. I admit it; I regret it. I do not know which side was more to blame. But let us say, looking back over the years, that we may have been more to blame. I am not concerned to apportion praise or blame in this matter—indeed, I do not think there is any praise to be apportioned. But I regret it, and I think the noble Earl now shares that regret. To-day, he and I are old men standing on the sidelines. Can we not both do our best to bring closer together in these great and vital matters those who bear the responsibility and those who hope to take on that responsibility in the "things that belong unto our peace"?
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF HUNTINGDON
My Lords, it is a sombre picture that we have received while listening to this debate. I should like to say at once that I am speaking for myself and that what I say in no wise commits my Front Bench to my suggestions. Though it was a sombre picture, I thought there was one line of hope in the speech of the right 1236 reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Carlisle, which much impressed me. He said that we should devote more time and thought to studying the causes of war. I believe that if we followed that line we might reach more fruitful results.
I have often been puzzled by the tremendous hostility in the world to-day, because, if one looks over the history of the vast wars and the vast hostilities between nations, one nearly always finds that, combined with a certain amount of ideological hostility, there were very good material reasons for it—whether dynastic ambition, or markets, or raw materials. Even the religious wars—some of the bitterest we have known—usually had, as well as the ideological factor, some material cause. In the Crusades, which were concerned with liberating Jerusalem from the infidel, the Crusaders had their eye on the lucrative spice trade and on loot—and perhaps wished to get away from some of the monotony of their home life.
The puzzling thing to-day is that there is no really material rivalry between the United States of America and the Soviet Union. In a very robust speech, the noble Lord. Lord Mancroft, said yesterday that Russia could be assured that we did not covet one acre of her territory, or words to that effect. I believe Russia would say the same. We no more want a part of Siberia than they want a piece of the Isle of Wight. That is not the cause of the quarrel between us. I have asked myself what is the basic cause which makes for this terrible hostility between the United States and the Soviet Union. I believe the cause is ideological and that this clash of motives and ideas is to do with the American concept of life. Those in the United States implicitly believe in individualism, in the individual having free play to make his way in the world. They have a very sincere regard for success, which is almost worshipped—and success as judged by material wellbeing and money standards. That is intrinsically part of American thought and of their way of life.
The Russians, on the other hand, have completely different standards; they believe in the suppression of the individual and his complete submission to the State; and they believe that the level of the material standard of life should be raised by planning, which means, in the Russian 1237 sense, a very rigorous and ruthless dictatorship. I believe that the real basis of controversy in the world to-day is the fear of the Americans that the Russian way of life is threatening theirs; that if once the idea spread that money success is not the right aim and that material well-being could be produced by different ways, Communism would spread in the United States and the very basis of their life would be threatened.
The Russians are equally frightened that if once the idea of freedom of the individual and liberty, which is a very prevailing and catching complaint, should come to Russia, then, in turn, their whole basis of dictatorship would be threatened. That is the real basis of the conflict; but unfortunately it has a long history. Within those great and obvious antagonisms, the Americans see that the Russians have tried to start world revolution, have tried subversion in every country and have tried to work up Communist Parties to subvert Governments. They have seen them walk in and make the satellites theirs and back up various national movements against American interests. All these things have rightly been looked upon as acts of hostility.
But we must not forget, on the other side, that the Russians look back to the time when many nations invaded their country after the 1914 war, to try to upset the Revolutionary Government. They remember the cordon sanitaire, as it was called, which not only tried to starve Russia into submission but even prevented medical supplies from going into Russia when typhus was raging there. They also take note of some of the very bellicose speeches of American admirals and statesmen. They know that millions of dollars are being spent in the satellite countries, stirring up propaganda and trying to get the satellites to revolt. They see acts of hostility on the other side. Therefore we get these two big Powers, with no reason for fighting each other and knowing that war will be utterly disastrous, yet deadly hostile to each other. I agree with my noble friend Lord Ogmore that fear is the basis of the whole trouble; and I submit that if we are to make any progress, on disarmament talks or anything else, the problem we have to tackle is this mutual fear.
The position which has emerged from all this is a most unfortunate one for 1238 this country. Very naturally, because we sympathise more with the American way of life, we are in the American alliance. But we have also been manœuvred into being the forward bastion, the forward point of attack, so far as Russia is concerned. We now have bases for American airmen and their atom bombs, and apparently we are about to have missile bases for more American atomic bombs; and, of course, we are developing our own nuclear weapons. The net result of that must be that in the event of any real clash between those two big groups—America and Russia—the first target to be hit, the first target on which every concentration of atomic bombs from Russia will be made, is this country. The Russians would be insane if that were not so, for if we are the spearhead, the nearest point from which to launch an attack, then obviously we must be the first nation to be blotted out; and, as has been said by many speakers, the effects, against which there is no defence, would be utterly disastrous.
I believe it was the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, who quoted that twenty hydrogen bombs would destroy half the population of this country. Once we get destruction on that scale, there is no looking after the wounded, the dismembered, or the burned. It is utter destruction. And even if there should be some survivors among the Welsh hills or in the Highlands, they, in turn, would be frightened of producing monster-children, misshapen Calibans picking over contaminated rubble. There is no doubt of what will happen to this country should such a major attack be launched upon us, and there is the fearsome and frightening thought which the White. Paper on Defence underlines only too clearly in paragraph 15. It says:There always remains the possibility that this may arise through unforeseen circumstances or miscalculations.In other words this major attack upon us may be nothing to do with what we have done, may not arise from a direct threat by Russia on us, but through some clash up in the Arctic, some miscalculation or incident in the East or even through some local commander making a mistake and thinking something has gone wrong, so that the Russians., believing the "balloon has gone up," feel 1239 that England must be eliminated. That is a very unhappy situation to be in.
What advantages do we get for having made ourselves the future bastion of attack? It is not defence, for the Americans are not going to defend us; they cannot. Nothing can defend us against such an attack, and the White Paper makes very clear that practically all that can be done is to try to preserve the deterrent. In other words, it gives us the doubtful satisfaction that if we are wiped out, a good many Russians will be wiped out, too.
My Lords, I think the only hope in these really dreadful circumstances is some agreement between the great Powers—some disarmament agreement and some political agreement. I wish, as was done between Portugal and Spain, that some line could be drawn dividing the world into halves or any proposal you like, if we can get some disengagement and some agreement. But surely the worst thing we can do, if we want an agreement, is to add to the fear which is the basic cause of the trouble. What I submit is that if we have our atom bombs, which we are making ourselves, if we allow American planes here which could launch atomic bombs on Leningrad and Moscow, and if, on top of that, we have the proposed missile bases, surely we do the worst possible thing for getting agreement at any disarmament talks. In that way we are adding to the fear in Russia instead of taking it away.
Suppose we heard on the eve of some peace discussions that the Russians had managed to get an agreement and persuaded Norway and Denmark to allow them to establish a whole series of bases on which they were putting up weapons which were directed at London, Birmingham and Cardiff, would the reaction of this country be, "Good heavens! This is dreadful! We must agree to some accommodation; we must agree to what the Russians say"? Surely the reverse would be true. We should say, "This is a terrible danger. We will mobilise every reserve we have got in the country and we will be as tough as we can be to resist this dreadful blackmail and threat". And this is the sort of attitude the Russians would have. Why should we be different from the Russians? We always seem to think that we react in 1240 one way and our opponents in a quite different way. I beg your Lordships to think over this matter and to consider it very much before we go ahead with these missile bases.
Where I go ahead of the official leaders of my Party is that I would not only not have these bases, but I would do away with our manufacture of the nuclear weapon; I would try to arrange for the American pilots with their atom bombs to go home to America, and I would concentrate on conventional weapons. I am quite aware that there might be objections to that policy—three very valid objections, which I should like very shortly to deal with. The first has been mentioned several times. We have heard the phrase about "not sheltering under the American umbrella". It has been suggested that if we are not going to make nuclear weapons that is a cowardly action, because then we shall depend upon this large American umbrella to shelter us. But if I understand it aright, sheltering under the umbrella means depending on the fact that America has a much bigger force and power than we have. If that is the case, what have we been doing in the last few years? Of course we have been sheltering under the American umbrella. Our forces do not come anywhere near those of the United States. Not only have we been sheltering, but we are bound to shelter, so long as we remain members of the American alliance. Whether we make nuclear bombs or produce only our own conventional weapons, we still remain under that umbrella; and it may be very fortunate that we do.
But there are much more powerful arguments, and the biggest, and the one which we should really consider, is this. If we do away with these nuclear weapons and the missile bases, might not the Russians walk across Europe and invade us? That is the real fear at the back of everyone's mind: if we do not have the latest atomic weapon, will the Russians not walk across Europe and shall we not be put under Russian domination? I suggest, my Lords, that it is a risk—it would be stupid to pretend it was not—but I think it is an extremely unlikely risk, for these reasons. Russia herself is having a great deal of difficulty, as we all know, with her own satellites—Poland, Hungary and the 1241 other countries—which are causing a great deal of trouble for the Russian Government. It seems to me very strange if, on top of those difficulties, Russia should launch an all-out offensive to conquer other countries which will give them more difficulties—there is certainly very little Communist sympathy in this country for them.
Secondly, if we rely on the deterrent, then the American umbrella remains. The Russians know that if they assaulted Europe they would still get the retaliation from the United States. And the third objection, that the United States might withdraw from Europe and from the Alliance because we were not making enough nuclear bombs or any nuclear bombs, is, I think, unrealistic to the last extent. The United States are much too frightened of Russia and much too appreciative of the value of the alliance with this country and the rest of Europe to throw that alliance away. After all, our ground forces, our Navy and Air Force are not inconsiderable. And if those forces are added to the forces of the N.A.T.O. countries the total becomes a very large striking force indeed. In fact the Americans are not too keen to send their own forces abroad and will be very grateful if there are other forces to help them in various places all over the world. I put that forward as an argument that should riot be taken too lightly.
But there is a much bigger reason behind my suggestion to your Lordships that we should hesitate over the manufacture of the nuclear bomb. It seems to me—though I do not know whether this House would agree—that by far the greatest danger, a danger even greater than this possible conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union, is the danger that in a short time innumerable small nations will also have the bomb. France, as we have heard, is already on the way to making it. If France has it, then Western Germany will probably insist on having it too; and then Egypt, Israel, China and all the world will have these bombs. How long then shall we be able to keep peace and avoid the devastation of nuclear war? I suggest that this is the one possible moment when we might stop that development, and I think this country is the only one which might, through N.A.T.O., make an agreement with other countries that if 1242 we renounce the bomb they will renounce it also. If we could get that agreement, the gain would be so immense that I should have thought that any minor risk, or even a major risk, would have been well worth taking.
I am afraid there is one other point that comes into this problem, and that is this unfortunate question (if you look at it that way) of national prestige. It is very difficult for us, who have been one of the greatest nations, if not the greatest nation, in the world, to realise that we are no longer so. We cannot really pretend that we are as powerful as the Soviet Union or the United States. We are not in that category. But it is very difficult to realise, as it is for a woman who has been a reigning beauty and has had all men at her feet and who suddenly grows old and ands that she is no longer given the same attention. It is very difficult for statesmen who have been brought up on a history of the past glories of a country that can dictate to people what their policies should be, to realise that they can only use reasonable arguments and diplomacy. I think that that is one of the reasons why we want to keep on with this "nuclear club" and vie with America in making these bombs; it is in order to pose as one of the three great Powers of the world. I am afraid we must reconcile ourselves to the fact that we are no longer so; and I suggest that if we go on trying to compete on that scale, not only will it be economically disastrous but it may lead the world nearer to the great catastrophe we all wish to avoid.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ LORD GLYN
My Lords, I want to say a word in support of what my noble friend Lord Swinton said about the position of Germany, our obligations there and the great contribution we have made. There is one matter that I wish had been mentioned in the White Paper—I refer to our policy in regard to the enormous base at Antwerp, which is now in process of being dismantled. The base covers an area of six square miles. It was agreed with the Belgian Government that, if and when the time should come that there should be a reduction, all the buildings should revert to the Belgian Government. The base is now found to be too large for the requirements of the British Army on the Rhine, 1243 and over the next twelve to eighteen months 1,800 Belgian workpeople are to be discharged. This is one example of the enormous contribution this country has made to schemes put forward by N.A.T.O., which we ought to bear in mind. In addition, we have to remember the reaction of the Federal German Government and the position we shall be in if we go on repeating the mistakes that have been made. If we add them up, in the last six years we have spent over£50 million and have nothing to show for it all. I quote that example because it seems to me that we have reached the stage when we must pay attention to the plan and general organisation we need to meet the new situation.
One of the most surprising things about this debate to me is that some speakers seem to welcome what are called "conventional" weapons. They are horrible things, and though one compares them with more horrible weapons one still has to remember that there is quite enough evil in the world of conventional weapons to defeat this country unless we are strong. It seems to me that if we get that matter in proportion, if we realise how conventional weapons can be supported, if and when necessary, by the deterrent of the hydrogen bomb, we can get a clearer picture.
I do not want to detain the House long, but I want to emphasise this fact: if we are to have global war, surely we must have global command. People talk about N.A.T.O. as if N.A.T.O. governs the global situation. It does not do so at all. The range of the new weapons is far beyond the present limits of N.A.T.O. administration, and if we are to have this missile range of 1,500 to 2,000 or 2,500 miles, surely that stretches the limit of responsibility and command. So far as I can see, there is nothing in the White Paper to show that we appreciate that the advent of these odious weapons necessitates a complete change in our outlook and in the administration and command of the organisations that we have set up, with so much trouble—organisations like N.A.T.O. and S.E.A.T.O.
One thing which matters more than anything else is to have a realistic idea of what we have to do and who is going to be in command. If we have a man in 1244 command who is jittery and jumpy, the damage may be done; and then it may be too late. Who will be to blame if we do not face this problem now and recognise that we have this new situation, one which involves a complete reconstruction of our thought and of command through, out the world? The noble and gallant Field-Marshal, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, delivered a speech at the Royal United Service Institution two years ago in which he pointed out that we were still lagging behind the capacity of the new weapons that were being created and that there were great blank spaces in the world which must be filled by some commanding authority, if we were going to maintain a situation of security. That lecture, I think, had a great effect on Service thought and opinion. It has not, I believe, been mentioned in this debate, but few people are so competent to deal with this matter as the noble and gallant Field-Marshal. I think that it would be just as well if we were to remember the points he brought out.
There is another matter that I must mention. Paragraph 23 of the White Paper says that this is one indivisible problem and that all concerned ought to bend all their energies in co-operating to find a solution. It is very well set out. There is one great gap in all our thought and work in connection with defence—a gap which makes some of us rather sad; that is, the lack of co-operation between this country and the United States in the field of scientific research. It is time to speak quite frankly about this matter. So long as the McMahon Act remains on the American Statute Book, it will hold back the real defence that can be organised by the freedom-loving nations of the world. Why is it, if they are our Allies, that the United States will not agree to a complete withdrawal of the terms of the McMahon Act? They cannot point to anything we have not done as good allies and comrades in the free world. We must remember that the Act had its origin in the affair of Dr. Fuchs—not the Antarctic Dr. Fuchs, but the other—and at that time, for security reasons, the McMahon Act was passed through Congress.
I believe that British science and scientific endeavour are certainly equal to those of the United States; indeed, I believe that they are better. We do not 1245 spend so much but we achieve better results. We have only to look at Z.E.T.A—and that is only the beginning. Why is it that between Allies and friends there should not be complete co-operation, a co-operation which would save hundreds of thousands of pounds and shorten the length of research very considerably? I believe that until the McMahon Act is rescinded, we shall not make the progress that we can make; and, what is more, we shall not restore the prestige and position that our scientists have earned. I am satisfied that, from the practical point of view, there is no reason whatever why the McMahon Act should continue to thwart the co-operation that should exist between friends. I believe that there are a large number of Members of Congress who feel just as strongly about this matter as I do and who would like to see an end of the McMahon Act. But for some reason we do not put it forward as something which should be essential. I should have liked to see the definite statement made to the American Government: "No military bases until you repeal the McMahon Act". As the United States want the missile bases so much for their own defence I think they would probably agree to repeal the McMahon Act.
My Lords, I have emphasised that point because I think it is hound up with the question of the reorganisation of the defence of the free world and fitting the commands to the ranges of these new weapons. Unless that is done, and the Command is unified on a global basis, it will never be possible for us to compete with Russia, or to assist any other country which requires the support of this country in standing up for the freedom of the world. Our great asset now is not finance but the ability to lead the world in those fine things that have made this country the great country it is. It is only because we faced facts and were net afraid to deal with them that we achieved our greatness in the past. I believe that it is not too late now for us to put forward those same ideas, with the same frankness, and get better results.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ LORD SHERWOOD
My Lords, it is by courtesy of the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, that I intervene at this moment. 1246 I had not meant to speak in this debate, but there is one reason why I want to speak. It is a most extraordinary thing in a debate on a White Paper like this, to find that not one single Peer known for his military or martial valour is contributing. In saying that, I leave out the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, who sits by his own right. Before the war we always had the figure, gaunt though it was, of Lord Trenchard to put his case. In this debate we have not had a single contribution from any of the great soldiers, airmen or naval commanders. After all, we are discussing defence.
I have taken part, both here and in another place, in a minor way, in many of these debates on defence, and I think that this Report is a very weak Paper among the many I have seen. However, I enjoyed its opening linesThe world to-day is poised between the hope of total peace and the fear of total war.When have we ever had the hope of total peace? Never. And never shall we get it. Nor have we a right to expect it, if we believe in standing up for right against wrong. There are certain questions which only the use of arms can determine. Let us never be frightened of that fact. Under this White Paper we have to weigh up who are going to be our friends and who are going to be our enemies. Before the war one was never allowed to refer to "enemies" I remember being corrected for saying that Germany was the enemy we were arming against, and being told that it was wrong to say that Germany was the force against us. But here we all seem to be in line against Russia.
I rather welcomed the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, in which he asked: "Why must you single out one country, and say to her: 'Now we are all going to attack you'? "Every act that is done from the point of defence is really based on attack on Russia; and there is no such thing as defence unless it is based on attack. So remember that, when you are talking of defence, what you really mean is attack. I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, that the Americans are the worst possible judges of Russia. They have never known them. We have lived with them for years, and we know their weaknesses and their strength. But we also know (and of this I had active proof during the war) that, 1247 when it comes to conventional weapons in Russia, they are nothing like so strong as the White Paper makes them out to be. What kept Russia going in the last war was the material strength of America and England; otherwise Russia was going to make peace. Do not think for a moment that Russia is going to use conventional methods to wage a major war. She will start where she is strongest, and that is on a nuclear war. She is not going to take the risk—which we know only too well she cannot take—with conventional weapons, because she is unable to produce to the extent America can, and has not our ingenuity.
I should like to say to the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, who always has a friendly gibe at the Liberals, that of course I am giving a different view from anyone else who speaks from this Bench—that is inevitable if one is a Liberal. But I do feel, with those who sit on the Labour Benches, that, so far as the hydrogen bomb is concerned, it is no good thinking we can stop it. Here I part company with the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon. It is like a two-decker bus rushing down the road. There are only two things you can do with a two-decker bus: if you are the driver, you can direct it; or, if you are a policeman, you can hold out your hand and divert it into someone else's path. Personally, I think we ought to direct it; I do not think diversion will help very much. And here we must have equal power with the United States of America. To leave the decision to use nuclear power entirely in the hands of the United States will not, I think, satisfy the people of this country, because we shall be the sufferers. But no one is going to be the real sufferer, except the world as a whole. I say that, if you use nuclear power, it is not suicide you are entering; it is unicide. You are all going into it. It is the end of everything if you once start it.
We heard last night an impressive speech from the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Carlisle, who made a great appeal that we should try to stop war, rather than try to stop the use of nuclear weapons. He also made the appeal that we should get together on the question of armaments, and on how we should rearm this country. This matter has been talked over for years. There is, of course, a place, which was 1248 set up in the early days of this century, where people of various Parties can meet to discuss armaments. But the difficulty is that the sole responsibility for the defence of this country, which cannot be divorced from foreign politics, remains with the Government of the day. In my view, the power which decides foreign politics should not also decide what our armaments should be. Therefore, it is almost impossible to suppose that we can unite on that strength. I said that I would not talk for long; nor will I. The noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, read us yesterday a rather sharp lecture; and he spoke in a gloomy voice which comes, no doubt, from his great ancestry in Scotland and the gloom which settles on them all with the fear that the wrath of God will descend on them. But, after all, God is man. Man has control of these things, and it is up to us, as men, to control them.
§ 5.11 p.m.
My Lords, first I must apologise for not having been in the House yesterday to listen to the beginning of this debate; I was unavoidably out of London. I rise now to say only a word in support of Her Majesty's Government. Surely, this is an occasion when the Government should be congratulated, not only on an extremely able White Paper but also on the clear and concise way in which they have explained a complicated and difficult policy to the country and to Parliament during the debate in another place and in your Lordships' House, in the course of what will be four days. I have read the debate in another place which took place last week and I have read the speeches which were made in your Lordships' House yesterday. And, having listened to all the speeches made this afternoon, I must say that the confusion of thought and the woolliness of argument used by most of the critics of the Government has served, so far as I am concerned, only to emphasise the clarity of thought and logic displayed by the Minister of Defence and his colleagues.
I do not wish to follow noble Lords into the arguments about details of strategy and armament, which have been debated thoroughly by those far more competent to do so than myself. But I think towards the close of this debate it should be emphasised that the most encouraging aspect of all these discussions, 1249 both in your Lordships' House and elsewhere, has been the large measure of agreement which has disclosed itself between the two major Parties in the State. I hope that this immensely important fact will be clearly and properly reported and represented to the public, and that the issues will not be confused by the fact that the Opposition are to force their Amendment to a Division this evening.
Before I sit down, I should like to add one point to the many issues which have been raised during the course of this defence debate, which has necessarily touched upon many subjects. Opening the debate in another place, the Minister of Defence used these words [OFFICIAL REPORT. Commons, Vol. 583 (No. 61), col. 383]:…the only ultimately satisfactory solution to the problem of defence is to make it superfluous.That is not only the only possible object of defence policy; it is surely the only possible object of all our policy. And disarming alone can never achieve this; we must remove the very causes of mistrust and conflict which divide the world. We believe that the Russians are largely to blame for the situation in the world to-day, both because of what they have said and because of what they have done. But, faced as we are with the fear of almost total annihilation, if we are to break the deadlock we must constantly re-examine our own policies. We must always be looking for some kernel of sincerity in what the Russians say to us.
We in the West have an immense responsibility because of our great power and the leadership which we offer to the rest of the world. We must for ever be considering whether we are really exercising that material power and the moral power of leadership wisely and successfully. We must ask ourselves this question—and this is the only point which I should like to leave with your Lordships—in order to achieve world peace, and a lasting peace, and to avoid nuclear war, are we really prepared to sacrifice our own national and selfish interests? A distinguished Bishop, speaking in Washington only about a week ago, said that it was calculated that a third of the world go to bed hungry, and that half the population of the world who live in Asia enjoy only 11 per cent. of the world's income. Unless we are prepared to make sacrifices and re-think our 1250 own policies in order to rid ourselves of any conception of superiority or right to riches in a world which is poor, we shall never create the trust and respect which will make defence superfluous. If we fail, the consequences hardly bear thinking about.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, British defence policy cannot be discussed in isolation, and I do not think anyone ought to resent the fact that the defence of the free world primarily depends on the physical power of the United States of America. The United States itself grew up and developed in the nineteenth century under the protection of the British Navy, and although there may not have been a great many Americans who would have liked to acknowledge this at the time, there are quite a number of them who do acknowledge it now. Since then, the balance of world power has shifted away from Great Britain, largely because we used up most of our strength and resources in bearing the main brunt of two world wars long before the Americans ever came in.
There is nothing derogatory now in recognising that our freedom depends upon America and that British defence policy must be closely related to that of America. America, Britain and France between them have a larger population than Russia, with greater industrial resources and skill. If the leading N.A.T.O. powers had the will to do so, they could maintain larger and stronger conventional forces than the Russians But the people of America and the other Western democracies, too, have preferred to enjoy a higher standard of life and to rely for their protection on the nuclear deterrent, which is much less expensive than the maintenance of 20,000 military aircraft, 500 submarines and the many hundreds of Army divisions—the White Paper mentions 200 in the West, but there are a great many more elsewhere—which Russia now maintains. Russia is now the greatest military Power the world has ever known. She is also the greatest militaristic Power the world has ever known.
If our hopes of world disarmament are ever to be fulfilled, one of the obstacles which will have to be overcome is the huge vested interest in militarism which has been established in Russia. 1251 Even if the rulers of Russia were to be convinced that it would be to the advantage of their country to disarm, the Russian dictatorship, which used to be described in the time of the Czars as a despotism tempered by assassination, and has now become a despotism tempered by liquidation, might have a great deal more to fear from its own Army than from the Russian workers and peasants who are toiling to support it. Whether Western refusal to compete with Russian power in conventional arms and Western reliance on the deterrent is a wise policy may indeed be open to argument, but it is most certainly the fact, and it is not a new fact at all. Western Europe was saved after the war from Russian conquest only by American possession of nuclear power.
The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, last night put forward what I thought was the most completely untenable proposition, that a deterrent ceases to be a deterrent when it is possessed by both sides. I should have thought that that was precisely the opposite of the truth. If it is possessed by both sides, it then becomes a two-way deterrent instead of a one-way deterrent. That was the moral excuse which was offered by the Communist scientific traitors who revealed nuclear secrets to Russia. It was a greater and more sincere lover of peace than any Communist traitor, Nobel, who once said, I believe, that he wished mankind could discover a new weapon of such terribly destructive power that war would become unthinkable. I think perhaps if the hydrogen bomb had been discovered in Nobel's day it might have led more quickly than seems likely now to an organised system of world peace, because even the most unscrupulous and aggressive Governments of that time had at least some rudimentary regard for human beings.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, might I say that I am listening with very great interest, but, in fairness to my noble friend Lord Nathan, I think it is true to say that the great majority of the population of the United States of America take the view that he formed after his American contacts, as he said last night, and not the view expressed by the noble Earl.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I cannot see that a deterrent is less a deterrent when possessed by more than one person; it seems to me more a deterrent than before. Of course, if the Western Powers had ever wished to attack Russia they would undoubtedly have done so when they had the bomb and Russia did not. I have no doubt that this White Paper may be right in saying, as some noble Lords have said, that Russia is suspicious, deeply suspicious, of Western intentions. Despotism, the exercise of despotic power, always breeds suspicion in the minds of despots. But, my Lords, we should be hopelessly unrealistic if we did not recognise that the obstacle, the only real obstacle, to organised world peace under the United Nations is Russian militarism.
When America had the monopoly of the atomic bomb, the Americans did not seek to make the hydrogen bomb until 1950, and the reason they did so then was that the American Government received information not only that Russia was on the point of producing their own atomic bomb but that Russian scientists had already made far greater progress than anybody else in the preparatory steps towards the production of the immeasurably more destructive hydrogen bomb. Therefore, President Truman publicly announced that America would try to make the bomb as quickly as possible, and Sir Winston Churchill, who was then Leader of the Opposition here, immediately proposed that we should try to arrange a Summit conference with the rulers of Russia in the hope of saving the world from hydrogen war. It so happened that President Truman's announcement was made on the eve of a British General Election, and Sir Winston Churchill's reaction to it, his proposal that we should work for a Summit conference, was condemned very widely by a great many of his political opponents as an election stunt. I do not think it was an election stunt. I would certainly not accuse anybody now of trying to make an election stunt out of the hydrogen bomb. I would only say that when you are confronted with a problem which creates in the minds of all decent people the deep horror and revulsion which is aroused by the idea of nuclear war, you cannot always expect that the wisdom of all politicians should be stronger than the emotions of all electors.
1253 But the Western Governments, both in America and here, have never relaxed their endeavours to achieve world disarmament, and the reason why they have failed, in my view, is simply this: that Russia holds, or thinks she holds, all the best cards in her hand. The Russians know that they have overwhelming superiority on the ground, in the air, and under the sea, though not on the surface. They know that the Western Powers will never use nuclear weapons against Russia unless Russia makes some open attack with Russian forces—do not worry for the moment whether it is called black or grey, but some attack with Russian forces against some ally of America. The Russians expect or hope that in three years' time from now, in 1961, when their inter-continental missiles, armed with hydrogen bombs, which they are now busily testing and exploding, have come into full production, and when the construction of the launching bases which they are now building is complete, they will then have superiority both in nuclear and in conventional weapons. If they are hoping and expecting this, why, from their point of view, should they make any concession to the cause of peace, and why should they not continue to use every international conference, or every proposal for an international conference, as they have invariably done until now, as a convenient method of adding to the weakness and the internal divisions and the mental confusion of those whom they hope to destroy?
Three years ago the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, used a simile which has often been quoted because it is such a good one. He said that if he were confronted by a champion heavyweight boxer, both of them having pistols, and if he were to promise that he would not fire his pistol first, the boxer would say: "Splendid," put his pistol down and "knock the noble Earl for six" with his fists. I am sure that if the noble Earl were ever actually to find himself in a situation of that kind he would behave with great courage and great dignity. But think how delighted the pugilist would be if the noble Earl were surrounded by a great crowd of political demonstrators, Party newspapers and even colleagues who were continually shouting in his ear, "You cannot be deader than dead. Make some gesture. Put your pistol down for a few minutes. 1254 Take out the cartridges, or anyhow do something to show the other man that you do not really want to shoot him. If he does sock you in the jaw for six, might that not be better than a bullet through the heart? "My Lords, I think the noble Earl would then need not only courage but enough dialectical ingenuity to convince, simultaneously, his enemy in front and his friends behind that he was doing the right thing and that his opinions were worthy of respect.
I think that the Governments of America and Great Britain, if they go into a Summit conference this summer, will need a good deal of ingenuity as well as a great deal of courage. We all know what we should like to get out of a Summit conference, and we all know what will have to emerge from some Summit conference if the cold war is ever to come to an end and if the world is ever to know peace. We shall have to get international agreement on a plan for phased disarmament in all kinds of weapons similar to that which was so overwhelmingly approved a few months ago by the United Nations. We shall also have to get some agreement which will involve the liberation of those four countries which were mentioned by Mr. Gaitskell in another place the other day, when he put forward his proposal about disengagement—East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.
The reason why those particular countries are so important is that they are inhabited by people who have inherited a far higher human culture and civilisation than their oppressors, and they cannot indefinitely endure the torture of living in the "Animal Farm" Many of them, in Hungary and elsewhere, feel that they are "deader than dead". Many of them feel that destruction by a hydrogen bomb is far better than the living death of being tortured for ever in this "Animal Farm"; and, so long as they continue to be enslaved there will always be the danger of a popular insurrection, on an even greater scale than the Hungarian Revolt, which might inevitably lead to a world war. Even if the West were willing to sacrifice all these people in the hope of gaining a little more peace for ourselves, the sacrifice would be a vain one: it would not achieve its purpose.
1255 However impracticable any of these proposals may seem at the moment, I believe that there is no harm in putting them on the agenda of a Summit conference to show the world how important they are, because we can never have peace until these countries are liberated. The Prime Minister has expressed the view that the best hope of getting anything now at this conference is the possibility of some slight beginning towards disarmament. What hopes have we of persuading the greatest military giant of all time that it is in his interest to lay down his arms? In my own view, the best hope would be to convince Russia that she is not likely to gain nuclear superiority either in 1961 or at any future time.
Mr. Aneurin Bevan said last October that when he became Foreign Secretary he did not want to have to go naked into an international conference, and everybody thought he was talking about the hydrogen bomb. He has since explained that he was referring to some other article of clothing, which no one has yet been able to identify. But consider the nudity, not of Mr. Bevan but of the present American and British Governments when they go into this Summit conference, if they do, next summer. So far as conventional forces are concerned, they will not have even the conventional fig-leaf which they might offer to discard in return for some other advantage. They will be as naked as Adam and Eve were before they made themselves aprons; and if they cannot equip themselves with a nuclear ceinture de fer, or some kind of chastity belt, they will certainly not come home with any creditable record behind them.
Many noble Lords have raised the question of the possibility of other countries having these nuclear weapons. Nuclear knowledge is spreading so rapidly, and we are told that the bomb is becoming easier to make, that I do not think we can by ourselves stop that happening. If it should happen, I believe that it might be more embarrassing to the Russians than to the free world. The Russians want nuclear superiority for themselves. They do not want any other countries to have the bomb, and they certainly do not want nuclear weapons to be possessed by their principal ally, China. There may not be any McMahon 1256 Act in Russia, but the reluctance of Russia to share atomic secrets with China is much greater than that of America to share theirs with us. Possession of nuclear weapons by other countries can be prevented only by a world international agreement—not by individual British action—to which Russia would have to be a party. I do not think that will worry the Russians at this moment, when they are still hoping to obtain decisive nuclear superiority for themselves; and I believe that the first condition for any progress towards disarmament is to remove that expectation of nuclear superiority from the minds of the rulers of Russia. In my submission, all these suggestions—though I know that they are put forward in good faith—that we should unilaterally suspend nuclear tests or postpone the construction of launching bases are a grave disservice to the cause of peace.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ LORD HANKEY
My Lords, I was impelled to take part in this debate only by the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Carlisle which has been constantly quoted throughout the debate. He insisted most strongly on the importance of national unity. I believe, with my noble friend Lord Swinton, that unity is possible on this subject in regard to our aims, and that it is infinitely desirable. One of the methods which the right reverend Prelate suggested was that the heads should get together—in effect, that there should be a Summit conference here before there is a Summit conference elsewhere on an international level. He mentioned also (it was this that drew my attention) the experience long ago in that respect of the Committee of Imperial Defence. I wanted to say just a word or two about that. I have refreshed my memory on the subject since yesterday, and I find that the Party conferences between leaders of the Parties were far more numerous than I had thought when he first mentioned the subject.
I myself was in that organisation for thirty years, from 1908 to 1938, and under a great many Prime Ministers. Most of those Prime Ministers did have consultations over a very wide range of subjects, including the actual defence preparations and the right policy for defence in 1914, the year in which the 1257 First World War broke out, and also, in later years, on questions of defence and disarmament. Though they were not such formidable matters as those we are discussing tonight, they were sufficiently formidable. But there is just one note of caution. No one but the Prime Minister of the day and the Leaders of the Party or Parties with whom it is proposed to confer can say whether these meetings are desirable. As I know from my own experience, it is sometimes very inconvenient to Leaders of Oppositions to have a great deal of secret information which they cannot communicate to their colleagues. I feel, however, that this is the kind of time when such conferences might be useful and expedient.
That is an almost trifling matter compared with the tremendous issues that your Lordships have been discussing, with so much eloquence and wisdom, throughout these two days. There has cropped up subject after subject with which in the course of my long lifetime I have been closely concerned. I cannot speak of all of them, and I shall pick out just one or two. There is the question of the deterrent, which crops up all the time. I may be very stupid, but I am never quite sure what the atomic weapon is going to deter. I believe the intention is that it should eventually deter the use of the hydrogen bomb—deter both the enemy and ourselves from using it. That is a doctrine of fear. It is also supposed to deter Russia from using against us her vast superiority in conventional armaments.
Many speakers have said that the deterrent must be efficient, but there is one element in the efficiency which I believe nobody has mentioned but which has to be taken into careful consideration. That is the decision to loose off these weapons. This is not like putting into force conventional weapons. It is a matter of life and death, and one which might be a matter of minutes or seconds. In the last resort it probably would be a matter of hours, but perhaps not much more than that. I do not want to press an inconvenient question upon the authorities, but I hope they are quite sure that we can get the rapid decision that is essential. For my part, I do not see how the second grade of rocket that we are to have can be efficient if we have not the rocket heads. Fixing of things of this kind is a slow business.
1258 I feel that if we are not to have the rocket heads a dreadful responsibility is being put upon everyone; and the Americans, good people as they are, splendid fighters, generous to a fault, have a weakness; and that is in the power of decision. It is a constitutional weakness—we all know of it. It took President Wilson a long time—nearly three years—to come into World War I; and even President Roosevelt found it very difficult to come into World War II. It took over two years. They ran out of the Peace Conference after their President had been the driving force, and they left the League of Nations. In the case of Suez (about which I do not want to say very much) they were very slow in taking a decision, and then took what was, from our point of view, the wrong one. Are we sufficiently sure that we shall get rocket heads in time to use the weapon, if it conies to that?
The second point is the deterrent against the conventional form of armaments. I am somewhat dubious about that, too. Several of my fellow Peers have spoken of this deterrent. They have had doubts about it and have given reasons why the Russians might not want to use conventional force. I have another reason—that it is contrary to heir fundamental policy. Why do I say that? Some years ago I made a very exhaustive study of a 642-page book which I even took the trouble to index, Stalin's Problems of Leninism. That lays out the policy which the Soviet have already pursued for forty years. If your Lordships will permit me, I will read only a line or two. It envisagesan entire historic epoch replete with civil wars and external conflicts, with persistent organisational work and economic reconstitution, with victories and defeatsand as Karl Marx put it:fifteen, twenty-five or fifty years of civil wars and international conflicts.That was the Soviet policy laid down very long ago in speeches reproduced in this book and constantly repeated.
That is not a policy of over-running countries; it is not a policy of using the atomic bomb against countries, or much less the hydrogen bomb, because it destroys the resources, human and material, of those countries. I do not think, therefore, that the hydrogen bomb is so good for them. If they did use 1259 that form of attack, or either form of attack, against their neighbours they would be destroying the resources they themselves want to get and exploit by means of a dictatorship of the proletariat. And if we were to oppose their advance by shooting atomic bombs at them we should be destroying our own friends. Just imagine their marching through Germany and attacking through Germany, and our having to shoot these bombs at them because they were practically the only weapon we had got left! That is why we could not possibly have used the atomic bomb as a deterrent in the case of Hungary. If we had used it there, we should have killed more of our friends than of our enemies; and if we had used it on their lines of communication through all the border countries—Poland, Czechoslovakia and so on—we should have been destroying many of our friends.
I will not take that point any further, except to say that the effect of it on my own mind is that I am less alarmed than some people appear to be. I think we have a little more time to play with, which may be useful. I am not saying that we have not to supply this deterrent, for, as I understand it, we are committed to it up to the neck, and I think we have got to go on with it. But to my mind the whole business is a paradox, that we should have to be devoting such an enormous amount of our resources, and of our potential antagonist's resources, to this kind of warfare.
My Lords, I suggest that our aim should be to get rid of it. You will probably tell me that that cannot be done: it is not possible. Well, I want to put a precedent in which, as in all these things, I was involved "up to my neck." It is that at the Washington Conference, 1921–22, we banned poison gases, and that question went on to Geneva, where they also banned bacteriological warfare—two horrible and gruesome weapons, but not nearly so horrible and gruesome as these bombs. I am sure I shall be told that I am living in a fool's paradise if I think it would come off—but I think it might. The strange thing is that we never abolished the production of those weapons, the use of which was banned, and at the beginning of World War II 1260 as everybody knows, most nations had in their lockers poison gases more horrible than existed previously but they never used them throughout the war, not even when driven to the extremities of danger and despair. We never used them; the French never used them, although they might have done; and the Germans never used them. I only suggest that that proposition is one that ought to be studied.
§ 5.56 p.m.
§ LORD TEVIOT
My Lords, some of your Lordships will know that yesterday I did my best, through the powers-that-be, to prevent this debate from taking place at all. I was very apprehensive that something might be said during the debate which would stir up feeling in Russia. I have listened, with the exception of the latter part of yesterday, through the debate of yesterday and to-day; and quite a number of noble Lords (I am not going to mention who they are) have made certain statements and remarks, and have given certain opinions, at which I am afraid the Russians will take what I might call umbrage. The principal reasons why I thought that this debate was inopportune were, first of all, that the whole subject had already been debated in another place, which was quite enough. Secondly, after many arguments on the subject of having a Foreign Ministers' Conference prior to the Summit conference, the Russians, having said "No" for many a day, had suddenly said "Yes, we will support this idea now." And I was frightened that something might be said in this debate which would cause them to change that decision at which they had arrived. I hope that it will not be so.
My Lords, all this bickering that goes on between the noble Lords opposite and the noble Lords on this side of the House shows a spirit that we must try to drown out altogether. It is the same in the world. Take this bickering with Russia: we have gone on for years, "Yow-yow-ing" at each other, and nothing happens: we never get anywhere in that spirit at all. I entirely agree with what the Prime Minister said only a day or two ago, that we cannot go on like this. I think the spirit in which nations go on bickering and "Yow-yow-ing" at each other creates a very dangerous situation 1261 and a very dangerous attitude of mind. And so my Lords, I feel that we must be very careful, not only in Parliament but also in the various other institutions where men of great eloquence get up and speak, that we do not say something which may be detrimental to our future with Russia.
There is no doubt in my view that our best defence is to get on what I will call "friendly speaking terms" with Russia. We need not talk about atomic weapons and we need not talk about hydrogen bombs. If we get into a really friendly atmosphere with Russia, that will provide our greatest chance of having a sound defence so that we need not be afraid of the future. That is our greatest chance of having a real and sound defence.
We all know that, like a great many other people, the Russians are tough and very rough. We have to deal with this type of people in all walks of life. But I should like to see us not always so much on the defensive with them. We meet Mr. Khrushchev, and at dinner he makes a terrific speech, not very complimentary to us. Then we go on the defensive, to prove that what he said is in many respects not true. Why should we not take a lead, not in being abusive but in trying to put up problems to the Russians in such an atmosphere as to lead them to be more friendly in regard to us? We may do it, but if it is done, we never hear about it.
It is no use the Russians swanking about their weapons and their strength and our retaliating, in the sort of debate we have had in the last two days, by saying how strong we are in this and that; that we have equality in this and that; and that we should do this or that because we are so strong. We shall never get anywhere like that, and I hope that we shall realise the fact. Both of us are terrified about using these weapons, because we know what the results would be. I feel that if we only could get at the Russians with ideas of this sort, they would respond—I do not see how they could very well refuse. After all, in regard to this argument about whether, in certain hypothetical situations, we should use the hydrogen bomb, we do not know what position might suddenly arise, or whether we would use it or not. I think that gets us nowhere at all. I should like to cut out that talk altogether. 1262 Let us make every possible effort to get them round the table and use every endeavour to get them to agree to something that we feel is going to help towards the future peace of the world and to bring about better conditions for our people. If we could do that—and I do not believe it is impossible—we should find that the effect on the world and on our position in the world would be very great.
Several noble Lords have mentioned unity. I am going to make the strongest possible appeal that, instead of our getting further apart in our views in your Lordships' House, as a result of these last two days, we should try to get more unity on all these vital questions, which are questions of life and death for our children and the future of the world. My noble friend Lord Swinton made a strong appeal that there should be no Division tonight, and I believe that if we could only get through this debate without a Division it would impress the Russians a great deal. They would feel that, after all, we are a united nation on the subject of trying to become more friendly with them, and that would help the, general situation.
We could get at them in another way. If we could get them round the table we could say, "Well now, look here; how much are you spending on all this? We are spending so much. Just imagine what we could do to benefit the people of both our countries if we could get really down to disarmament." That is the sort of thing I have in mind. I believe it is worth saying, but nobody has yet said it in this debate. Though I have a great admiration for my noble friend Lord Dundee, I do not agree with some of his views with regard to the mentality of the Russians. I feel that we have to take a different line in our approach to them than we have done in the past. I believe that if we did that, if we cut out all this talk about war, war methods and war weapons, and tried to get down to a really friendly attitude about getting together on our social and political needs, we should see a far better position than we are in to-day.
§ 6.7 p.m.
§ EARL ATTLEE
My Lords, I have a great deal of sympathy with the sentiments expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Teviot. He reminded me of my old 1263 friend, George Lansbury, and the way he used to express his views of what we all want. The difficulty always was how to get down to practical problems. At this late stage in the debate, it would ill become me to try to cover a wide field. I shall try not to indulge in too much vain repetition of the points that have already been made.
The first point I should like to make is with regard to the question of national unity, which has cropped up once or twice. There have been suggestions, for instance, that there should be full discussions between the Government and the Opposition. I have had experience of that. It works all right so long as our main lines of policy are the same. But that has not always happened. Just think of how embarrassing it would have been both for the Government and the Opposition if, sixteen or seventeen months ago, our representatives had been sitting in committee with the Government discussing defence and the question of Suez had cropped up. Either the Government would have had to say, "Go out; we are going to do something you would not like", or the Opposition would have had to walk out—or else the Opposition would have had to know and been bound to secrecy. The only point is that if that had been the case, it might have stopped the whole thing. But that is the difficulty about cooperation on defence. Before we can get that kind of co-operation, we must be in agreement.
The next point I should like to make is in regard to the launching sites for rockets. I must say that I am rather disturbed about this matter. Whenever we put up a launching site, we also put up a target. It is not always advisable to have a launching site and a target in the same place. Let me give a parallel from the Second World War. In the Battle of Britain, the Germans first of all tried to wipe out our Air Force. The targets were comparatively small, and I have been told that if they had persisted in that, we might have been in great difficulties. As a matter of fact, they went off and bombed London. That gave us time to recover on our fighting stations. But suppose our fighting stations had been in London, then they would have had the double objective and 1264 they could have killed our fighting stations and our capital.
Now look at this position. We are proposing to have these weapons, and the object of them is presumably to put the fear of retaliation into the Russians so that they will not attack. Therefore they ought to be remote from any major target. But if, as a matter of fact, they can attack and knock out our retaliation and the whole of this Island at the same time, then it is easy for them. I am convinced that any launching sites of this kind ought to be in remote places where a single megaton bomb cannot knock out the launching site and a quarter of the population, too. Better still, I think they ought to be at sea, on moving targets. Your Lordships will remember that when the Germans attacked us with flying bombs they first put up fixed launching sites all along the North West coast of France, and we knocked them out. Thereupon they ceased to have fixed sites, and had mobile sites. In the same way here, on a different scale, if you want these weapons, they ought to be on mobile sites.
I am not at all sure about these rockets. I think we are going to spend a lot of money on them, but apparently they are obsolescent, they are untried and they are very delicate instruments. I should have thought that they were not worth while, with the limited amount of money we have. I would suggest, as at present advised—and we have heard nothing to the contrary—that they are a doubtful, possibly faulty, instrument, put in the wrong place.
I should now like to deal with the matter of collaboration with the United States. I am not sure that the Sputnik has not been rather a blessing. The Americans were rather apt to think that they were fairly well away. They were almost as "cocky" as we were in the days of Palmerston, when we had the English Channel and could send our Fleet anywhere and were quite happy about the situation. The Americans thought that they had the Atlantic; but they have not got it now, although it may, be useful. I hope that they realise now how fruitful the collaboration of British and American brains was in science during the war. The Americans are, if you like, better at "know-how" and at mass production; but I think we are their 1265 equal, if not possibly better than they are, at invention. Let us hope now that this has taught their senators wisdom, and perhaps we can get rid of the McMahon Act. Without the McMahon Act, if they had carried on the kind of collaboration which we had already arranged with the Administration in 1945, it may well be that we should have been well ahead in these matters.
The next point I want to deal with was dealt with also by the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, who has so much experience in these matters: that is, this conception of the tactical atomic weapon, which I gather is capable of producing something of the size of a Hiroshima explosion. I would ask, where are you going to use this? Suppose we are going to stop conventional forces advancing from Russia across the Continent of Europe, are the Germans going to use Hiroshima bombs to stop the Russians and destroy a great deal of their country? Do the Poles want to do it? Would any one of us want to do it? The fact is that as soon as you have got a nuclear weapon in conventional arms, you are already in a nuclear war. It seems to me that you cannot make a division between nuclear shelling and nuclear bombs, however delivered; that is one definite form of warfare. The trouble is its immense destructiveness. The only division you can have, it seems to me, is between these major weapons and the kind of weapons you need for a small Commonwealth police force to deal with small disturbances. Therefore I cannot understand the conception of some kind of a war in which apparently we are going to try to hold up land forces, and the rest, by a series of nuclear explosions, which I gather you put behind them in order to stop them from getting reinforcements; and then they put them behind you, and both forces will join together to bury each other in the midst of nuclear explosions.
We still talk of defence, and are rather inclined to think in old-fashioned terms of defence; but there is no defence today. All we have is the possibility of stopping, things because of the danger of a counter attack. But the object of war is to break the will of your opponent. Our object to-day should be to break the will to war of everybody. Here I think we are apt to think that by piling up fear on fear we shall attain our 1266 purpose. Bargaining strength is one thing; but to think that you must constantly increase your strength in order to be stronger in bargaining gets you nowhere.
Surely we ought to be considering other methods rather than spending this money on these launching sites. I should far rather see it spent on legitimate propaganda of all kinds. We are carrying out little propaganda to-day, because we have a kind of idea that as Russia is a monolithic State, the people there are monolithic, too. I think that that has become less true than ever. To my mind, there was a time when there was little susceptibility to possibilities of change in Russia, but I think everything to-day shows that, with increased prosperity and with increased education, there are possibilities of change, and that is where we should be working.
I thought the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, was quite right in saying that we should seek contact wherever possible. There are people who are afraid of contact: they seem to fear that they will be corrupted by it. It reminds me of when I was young in our movement, and people said: "Is it not a terrible thing, you mixing with these Tories? They will corrupt you." I said: "I have sufficient confidence in myself to think that I shall corrupt them"—and I did corrupt quite a number of them. I have sufficient confidence in our democratic system to believe that the more contact we can have with the Communists, the better. Everything shows that, particularly on the periphery, the satellite countries, there is this readiness for change.
People are apt to deplore the fact that there is a great deal of anxiety about nuclear warfare in this country. I do not deplore it; I want it extended. I want to see it in Germany, in Poland and in Russia. I want to see a realisation throughout the world of what faces us unless we have some common sense. We do not want the multiplication of fear; we want the creation of good will.
We have had rather a gloomy debate, because so many people have envisaged disaster. I think it is worth while considering that there have been periods in the world in which mutual destruction seemed to be the rule. Three hundred and thirty years ago we had the Peace of Westphalia, after the Thirty Years War 1267 in Germany, in which a totalitarian religion and an imperialism eventually settled down to a "live and let live" which lasted for some years. I have no doubt there was hardship in the application of the doctrine of the religion of the State and the ruler, but at least it saved Europe after thirty years of turmoil. It is quite true to-day that there is an ideological State and an imperious State in Russia. But it is possible that the Russian people may be quite as tired of strife as were the Imperialists, the Catholics, the Lutherans and the rest in Central Europe 330 years ago. So do not let us close on a pessimistic note, but have hope.
§ 6.21 p.m.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, the House is always very ready to listen and to learn from the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, because after his great experience in public life in this country, and as a member of the War Cabinet in which he served with such distinction, his views on tactics and strategy in war and, indeed, his wider views on world affairs are of great value to us. He has expressed to-day certain opinions about the launching sites for missiles: about how we should spend a greater proportion of our national wealth on propaganda and economic aid, and again how we should seek by every means in our power to make closer contacts with the Russian people. In those matters he is pushing at an open door so far as this side of the House and the Government are concerned. He has said that perhaps we exchange philosophy and perhaps we corrupt each other. Talking in terms of "inter-corruption," if I may put it that way, at least he has absorbed some of our philosophy, in that I remember that we have at least persuaded him of the virtues of the Second Chamber in which this debate is taking place to-day.
Defence and foreign policy are inseparable, and your Lordships have found that you could scarcely avoid trespass on to the field of foreign affairs. But your poaching has been on a modest scale and so will mine be, because your Lordships could scarcely bear to listen to the foreign affairs debate next week and hear a speech from me twice in eight days in identical terms. But the fact 1268 that there is overlapping leads me to deal in a sentence with one of the features of foreign affairs and defence which was first of all mentioned by my noble friend, Lord Aberdare—who made such a thoughtful and penetrating maiden speech yesterday—and which was repeated by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, to-day, when they indicated the importance of our alliances as indeed the foundation of Britain's foreign policy and Britain's defence. I can at any rate report to your Lordships that our alliances are intact and strong, and that the plan of the White Paper of 1957, of which this year's Paper is a progress report, contains the United Kingdom's contribution to collective defence as it is organised in N.A.T.O. and in the other regional pacts which are connected parts of the global strategy of the free nations. In view of one or two things which have been said earlier in the debate, let me emphasise that that strategy is accepted by members of the Commonwealth who are our associates in these regional pacts, and at all stages the Commonwealth countries concerned have been taken fully into our confidence in the planning of our defence programmes.
I need not defend N.A.T.O. The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, in our earlier defence debate this year was eloquent in his justification of this sustained effort at collective defence. In view of what I am going to say later, I should like here to quote what was said about N.A.T.O. by the late Mr. Ernest Bevin in 1949 [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons. Vol. 464, col. 2016]. He said:I would emphasise, therefore, that the real purpose of this pact is to act as a deterrent. Its object is to make aggression appear too risky to those who are making the calculations, for they must realise before they start their nefarious game that defeat is their certain end.N.A.T.O.'s purpose, then as now, was to prevent the potential aggressor from attacking the West and destroying the civilisation and way of life to which it sets so much value. This purpose could be achieved then, as now, only if N.A.T.O. was equipped with the proper weapons.
There is something which might lead to a division and weakness in N.A.T.O. Attention was called to it by my noble friend Lord Bridgeman and one or two other noble Lords. It is the cost to this country of keeping our troops in 1269 Germany. We are pledged, and we desire, to pay a fair share of the costs of the N.A.T.O. organisation. The sum of£56 million a year is a large one, but the real burden and practical hardship was illustrated by the intervention of my noble friend, Lord Salter, when he said that it is not so much the£56 million that matters to this country, but the fact that this has to be paid across the exchanges in Deutschmarks, and that that sum amounts to somewhere between one-fifth and one-sixth of our total hard-earned annual surplus. We wish to play our full part and take our full share. Matters are under discussion now, and our desire is for a settlement, and quickly.
As the complexity of weapons and military machines increases, the expense becomes astronomical. If as a result of our adding to our military strength in this country Britain were to go bankrupt, that would be no contribution to collective security, to the Commonwealth or to our friends. The Minister of Defence, therefore, has sought to make stringent economies in our military expenditure in order to keep the total bill within the nation's resources—it represents now about 8 per cent. of the gross national product—but, while limiting it, to retain for this country two essential things, namely, the ability to mount a nuclear deterrent, and conventional forces equipped with those modern weapons which are most effective to meet the obligations which we have undertaken to our friends and allies in the regional pacts of which we are members.
As there has been so much discussion and so much emphasis on the nuclear component in our forces, I think it well to remind the House that, in terms of money, the nuclear deterrent takes 20 per cent. of our resources and the conventional element 80 per cent. But although the nuclear component takes much the lower percentage in terms of expenditure, this debate has been dominated by the overwhelming fact of nuclear power—the morality of its possession, its strategy and tactical uses, and the responsibilities of control. Therefore, my Lords, I would re-state, in a sentence, the justification for that nuclear component. It is that it is a deterrent; that it will prevent war and is aimed to convince the Russians that, however long they may sustain their threats and the tensions of the cold war, however vast 1270 may be their armaments ready mobilised for war, the penalty of starting a major war will be their own total destruction.
The right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Carlisle convinced the House yesterday, I think, when he reminded us that the object must be, in these modern days when destruction can be so widespread, to prevent any war from breaking out and that weapons are always of secondary importance to this. My noble friend Lord Coleraine, in one of his usual thoughtful speeches, said (if I remember his words aright), that the holding of the hydrogen bomb is a sanction against war breaking out. I could not follow, I am bound to confess, the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, when he said that the nuclear bomb ceased to be a deterrent because two people had it. I must say that I agreed with my noble friend Lord Dundee, who put the matter so well. Surely, if two sides are equally armed, the nuclear bomb can remain a deterrent. It may have been an absolute deterrent and now only a deterrent; but a deterrent it surely remains. Indeed, in so far as the Russians always used to plead that they were afraid of the West, it may be that they will have less to fear, now that there is parity in armaments.
I do not believe that many Members of your Lordships' House would question that if others have the nuclear weapon we should have it too, because if there were to be unilateral disarmament by this country we should deprive ourselves at one stroke of any ability to influence these great matters of war and peace which are the concern of ourselves and upon which so many lives depend. If we were to disarm ourselves unilaterally, and were not to manufacture or have the nuclear bomb; if, in this way, we were, so to speak, to opt out of contemporary history, I am convinced that there would be consternation among our Allies and friends.
§ LORD SILKIN
Does not the noble Earl agree that that same argument would apply to every other country? They could similarly argue that they ought to have the nuclear weapon. Is the noble Earl prepared to face up to that?
THE EARL OF HOME
I am coming to that at a later stage, when we come to disarmament.
1271 There is another reason why we should have—must have, as we think—the nuclear deterrent. We could not recommend our people to leave ourselves, by unilateral action, naked and open to Russian attack. All the way through history weakness has been irresistible to the tyrant; and to leave the heart of the Commonwealth and free world exposed and helpless would be, to us, unthinkable. Nor is it a very heroic posture—I do not put it higher than that—to shelter for ever under the strategic umbrella of the United States and to refuse our share of the cost, the discomfort, the risk and the responsibilities, being, as we are, one partner with them in the N.A.T.O. Alliance.
I cannot help thinking, too, that noble Lords opposite, if I may say so, have underrated the need for the deterrent to meet an attack by conventional forces which Russia has poised in overwhelming numbers. I wonder whether the country yet understands the threat to our security which is represented by 200 divisions on a war footing on the Western frontier of Russia and the Eastern frontier of Europe, as well as 500 submarines already produced and many hundreds more, no doubt, planned for production. Time and again in our history this country has had to resist two things by force of arms: one is the domination of Europe by a single Power and the other is the cutting of the lifelines of ourselves and of our friends. The noble Earl, Lord Lucan, and my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye said they did not believe that Russia meant to move her conventional forces further into Europe. But they did move them into Hungary, and in considerable numbers.
One or two noble Lords on the opposite side of the House said that the answer to this threat of Communist dictatorship was to develop economic aid to help Russia and her satellites economically. But, my Lords, economic aid did not stop Hitler. As the right reverend Prelate showed us yesterday, most pointedly, ambition and the desire to dominate cannot be eliminated when one is dealing with dictators. That is why in this White Paper we ask our people to sustain both nuclear and conventional forces and why, when disarmament negotiations start, we shall insist 1272 that nuclear and conventional disarmament shall go step by step together.
The burden of the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, as I understood it, was a complaint that we had issued, so to speak, a public warning to Russia that if she moved her conventional forces there was the danger, at any rate, that she would be met by the nuclear deterrent; and he thought it was unwise to say that. That is a matter of judgment. But may it not well be wise to warn Russia that if she covets Europe and sets in motion forces to dominate it, or if she sets out to strangle the lifelines of Britain and her friends, she risks inviting her own destruction? Of course it is a policy of risk, but this is a dangerous world. My noble friend Lord Swinton read to us a quotation from the late Archbishop of York in which he did not shirk the fact that if we are to win peace in this world we must take risks. Any other view is unrealistic. But I want to examine the risks which noble Lords opposite are willing to take, and which we are willing to take, to see where the difference lies. I am not searching for disunity; on the contrary, I am searching for points of agreement between the Parties, because this is a matter of national concern.
The Opposition, as I understand it—and they will interrupt me and say so if I am wrong—favour Britain's and N.A.T.O.'s possession of the nuclear deterrent. We agree. The Opposition say and declare that United Kingdom bombers and United States bombers can be based in the United Kingdom ready to deliver the bomb. We agree. The Opposition say that we should match every weapon that Russia has with a similar weapon of our own—with rockets, provided that those rockets are under our own control. We agree. The Opposition say that we should have conventional forces—indeed, they urge us to have more conventional forces than those we have provided for in this White Paper. The noble Viscount, I thought with a suggestive look towards the Government, said yesterday,Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.There is another quotation not far from that source which says,He is nearest to the gods whom reason, not passion, moves.1273 Under these four headings of principle noble Lords opposite and ourselves on this side of the House seem to have come to exactly the same conclusions. There seems in fact to be no difference in principle or in major practice between us at all. If I am over-zealous in trying to find agreement between us, noble Lords will correct me, and to make certain that I am not over-zealous I will say that there are two differences which have emerged between us, or rather two questions which the Opposition have raised with which I have no quarrel: first, is not the proportion of effort put into conventional arms too small compared to that put into the nuclear effort; secondly, in the area between an all-out nuclear war and a local engagement is there not advantage in making some declaration, or giving some definition, as to how you would meet a situation in what is for convenience called the grey area?
As to the proportions between the nuclear and the conventional forces, I have said that, expressed in terms of money, the nuclear is 20 per cent. and the conventional 80 per cent. But these percentages are not sacrosanct, and I should have thought that the sensible way was the way argued by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, when he said that interdependence in research, and indeed over the whole range of military affairs between ourselves and the United States was the way to proceed, and if, in these interdependence discussions, we could eliminate duplication and waste, then less could go into the nuclear deterrent and more into the conventional forces, if that is thought by the military experts to be right. But I must say to the Party opposite that if they wish to see more conventional forces, then they will have to cut something out of the nuclear programme or they will have to increase the defence budget. We have done our best to make the balance as fair and as good as we can make it in present circumstances; but, as I have said, there is nothing sacrosanct about the percentages.
The second difference of opinion, perhaps, and at any rate the second question which they raise, is, cannot we define more closely how we would meet aggression in what is known as the grey area? I do not quite know what is wanted here. What I am quite sure you cannot say to a potential aggressor is, "If you come 1274 fifty miles we will meet you with bullets, one hundred miles with high explosive, two hundred miles with armoured divisions, and three hundred miles with tactical atomic weapons". I think that would amount to a sort of "Grandmother's steps" of licensed aggression. The absurdity of that must be apparent. But the Russians have the atomic weapon, and so have we—tactical weapons as well as strategic. I think that if any ruling can be made to-day, we can express it only in this way: that in any given situation—of course, we cannot anticipate what the situation will be—we would use only the minimum of strength which was necessary to gain a decision in our favour.
My Lords, the only conclusion of any debate of this kind which takes place against the nuclear background is again, as the noble Earl indicated, that there is no real defence in these days; that all that we can do is to try to prevent war, That may be done by the nuclear deterrent, but the best way would be to do it by disarmament; it is the only policy which makes sense to the civilised world. We shall return to this matter in the foreign affairs debate and, I hope, to the plan which has been approved by 57 of the nations of the world; and I can give this pledge to the Opposition and to the House: that the Government will work for disarmament with all their power.
Meanwhile the question which is overriding all is the nature of our own defence and the defence of Europe in this nuclear age. The right reverend Prelate and one or two other noble Lords, including my noble friend Lord Teviot, made a plea that these matters should be taken out of Party politics because they are a national problem. I do not believe that you can take questions which raise great moral and ethical issues out of Party politics; it is not really practical. But this evening I have tried not to emphasise differences but to find unity. Of this I am sure: that in this matter we must eschew Party manoeuvre like the plague. There is a mood closely related to the Peace Ballot of some years ago, and I remember that vividly. I believe that that was the passport which allowed Hitler to believe in his own mind that this country could be conquered. If there is, as Lord Coleraine suggested, a panic—I am not sure that there is a panic yet, but it could easily degenerate 1275 into something like that—I remember that the panic of the 'thirties was fanned because even such a modest step as the order for the Spitfire was dubbed by the Opposition of the day as "warmongering". It would be to our eternal shame and confusion if we allowed such a situation to be repeated.
To-day, under the impact of the hydrogen bomb people are bewildered. The young put up a brave façade but they cannot conceal that their faith in the future and purpose of life is wavering. They do not know what to think, and, not knowing what to think, they do not know how to act. Such a crisis of soul and mind, questioning the very meaning of life, means that those in situations of responsibility, both in Government and in Opposition, have a duty to give the people a lead. Where lies our duty? Is there, as the noble Lord, Lord Rea, hinted in his speech yesterday, such a convulsion of values as a result of the advance and impact of the nuclear bomb that we have to re-think our whole historic attitude to opposition, to tyranny?
The noble Earl, Lord Russell, was quoted by the noble Earl as saying: Have we to give way to the Communists; and is there, to put it more crudely, any principle, even freedom and justice, which is worth the possible death of a whole nation? One can only attempt an answer to that after searching one's heart and conscience and in all humility. Because, let us face up to this crucial truth: the only alternative to standing up to tyranny and to these policies which we have debated throughout the length of these two days is to turn the other cheek to Communism, to submit to totalitarian government. I wonder whether we can help the people. That is why I am trying to speak in this way. To submit to totalitarian government is not to escape death for ourselves, or even for our children, or our grandchildren. Hungary found it better to fight with bare hands than to live tortured in body and soul under a totalitarian State.
Then, again, if we were ourselves to decide that such was the crisis of affairs that we should turn the other cheek, it is worth remembering that we are not in this world alone. I do not think it is arrogant to claim that Britain is one of the trustees of civilisation, that our constancy and our integrity in defence of 1276 spiritual and moral values has helped many peoples the world over, and civilisation along its hard and stony road. We must remember those in our Commonwealth, those who have climbed the ladder of history with us and the millions within the satellite countries whose trust we should betray if we took a wrong decision.
It may be that our brand of Parliamentary institutions, the brand and the interpretation of our democracy and our rule of law, is imperfect—although I believe we can claim that it has contributed much to world progress. It may be that much by which we set store to-day is ephemeral. In these matters we can speak only each for ourselves. When I begin to think in terms of surrendering and turning the other check, the point at which I stick finally, absolutely and with conviction, is at the point of justice; because a world without justice is a dead world, an animal world, a world in which the people would lose all faith in the purposes of Creation. And I believe an overwhelming majority of our people, old and young, after searching their hearts, will come to much the same conclusion and therefore will conclude that, however much a Communist or totalitarian system may suit the Russians, once we have known a free life we could never sit down under Communist rule.
If the people know our goal, if they know that our goal is to end the cold war and to live at peace, colloquially, as my noble friend said, to "get talking with the Russians"—and that is our goal—if they know that the way we are going to follow is the way of disarmament and that we wish to make that the main subject of the Summit conference; if they know that their leaders advise that we should take these deliberate risks and arm ourselves with nuclear weapons to prevent war, so as to save our children and grandchildren from a fate that is worse than death; or, as war and peace are not solely in our control, that if the deterrent should fail and if war should come, instantaneous retaliation can save millions of mankind who will sustain on earth the spiritual values which alone separate civilised men from the beasts—then the people will have courage and will be steadfast and will endure because they will have faith and hope once more.
1277 Although I fear that the noble Viscount and his friends are going to divide the House this evening and that nothing I have said will be able to stop them from doing so, nevertheless I believe that the disunity apparent in this debate is greater than the fundamental disunity between our Parties. If they have to divide, well, they must do so. But there would be much greater strength and example sent from this House if they were able to join with us in pursuing these great purposes which we hope will load our country to peace.
§ 6.56 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, of course one always desires to take notice of an appeal of the kind which has been made so eloquently by the noble Earl the Leader of the House. We have listened with very great care and attention, as I am sure he will admit, to what he has submitted. We like very much his attitude concerning the main themes on which we have been concerned in putting down our Amendment, But I must say that we intended to divide the House and we will divide upon this, because we are not
§ satisfied that we are not placing too much dependence on the deterrent, and we are not satisfied that at the present time our general defence, in relation to the Commonwealth, is at the state of breadth, depth and efficiency that it ought to be. I shall therefore ask my colleagues to divide with me.
§ LORD MATHERS
My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl whether there was not another word he might have said before he concluded:Then let us pray that come it mayAs come it will for a' that,That sense and worth o'er all the earthShall bear the gree and a' that.For a' that, and a' that,It's comin' yet for a' that.That man to man the world o'erShall brithers be for a' that.
§ LORD HADEN-GUEST
My Lords, I just want to say that I find myself in opposition to the rest of my colleagues on these Benches. I shall vote for the Resolution.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 25; Not-Contents, 94.1279
|Attlee, E.||Chorley, L.||Ogmore, L.|
|Huntingdon, E.||Citrine, L.||Pethick-Lawrence, L.|
|Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Greenhill, L.||Shepherd, L.[Teller.]|
|Henderson, L.||Silkin, L.|
|Addison, V.||Kershaw, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Alexander of Hillsborough, V.||Latham, L.||Williams, L.|
|Stansgate, V.||Mathers, L.||Wilmot of Selmeston, L|
|Milner of Leeds, L.||Winster, L.|
|Archibald, L.||Nathan, L.||Wise, L.|
|Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor.)||Swinton, E.||Auckland, L.|
|Buccleuch and Queensberry, D.||Bearsted, V.||Brand, L.|
|Bridgeman, V.||Chesham, L. [Teller.]|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Colville of Culross, V.||Coleraine, L.|
|Exeter, M.||Davidson, V.||Conesford, L.|
|Devonport, V.||Cornwallis, L.|
|Bathurst, E.||FitzAlan of Derwent, V.||Cottesloe, L.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Furness, V.||Croft, L.|
|Craven, E.||Gage, V.||Denham, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Goschen, V.||Derwent, L.|
|Dundee, E.||Long, V.||Dovercourt, L.|
|Gosford, E.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Dynevor, L.|
|Grey, E.||Mersey, V.||Freyberg, L.|
|Halifax, E.||Monckton of Brenchley, V.||Glyn, L.|
|Home, E.||Templewood, V.||Hacking, L.|
|Howe, E.||Haden-Guest, L.|
|Limerick, E.||Aberdare, L.||Hamilton of Dalzell, L|
|Malmesbury, E.||Addington, L.||Hampton, L.|
|Onslow, E. [Teller.]||Ailwyn, L.||Harris, L.|
|Perth, E.||Amherst of Hackney, L.||Hastings, L.|
|St. Aldwyn, E.||Ashton of Hyde, L.||Hawke, L.|
|Hayter, L.||Milverton, L.||Somers, L.|
|Howard of Glossop, L.||Newall, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Hylton, L.||Palmer, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L|
|Lloyd, L.||Raglan, L.||Stratheden and Campbell, L.|
|McCorquodale of Newton, L.||Rathcavan, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|Mancroft, L.||Remnant, L.||Templemore, L.|
|Melchett, L.||Rochester, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Merrivale, L.||St. Oswald, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Merthyr, L.||Saltoun, L.||Thurlow, L.|
|Mills, L.||Sandford, L.||Waleran, L.|
|Milne, L.||Savile, L.||Wolverton, L.|
On Question, Resolution agreed to.