HL Deb 12 March 1958 vol 208 cc86-154

2.37 p.m.

LORD HENDERSON rose to call attention to the international situation; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. I think noble Lords will be aware that in the past month there have been two days' debates on foreign affairs and on defence in another place, and last week, we had a two days' debate on defence in this House. These two subjects, as we all know, cannot be kept in watertight compartments, and in the world situation to-day one cannot discuss either without dealing to some extent with the other. There are many issues in the international situation to-day which are appropriate to this debate, but outstanding are the need to end the arms race, and the opportunity which is offered for a Summit conference to take at least initial action to that end. It is because I regard these, two matters of such overriding importance that I propose to confine what I have to say almost entirely to them.

In a recent interview with The Times Moscow correspondent, Mr. Khrushchev said that people are "fed up" with the cold war. That is one thing, at any rate, on which we can all agree with the Soviet leader. But there is something else which is equally true. People everywhere are deeply anxious and unsettled because of the shadow of a nuclear war and the mounting momentum of the arms race. The Russian success in launching their Sputnik made a far greater impact on their minds than Britain's Z.E.T.A. achievement, though the latter would be far more beneficial to mankind. It did so, I believe, not only because it was a very great scientific and technological achievement, but because it spotlighted in a spectacular manner the progress that is being made in the means of delivering the hydrogen bomb: first, the heavy bomber, now the intermediate range missile, and in the near future the intercontinental ballistic missile. The peoples know that the world is being brought ever closer to the press-button stage of potential self-destruction. But they do not see any parallel progress or, indeed, any progress at all with plans, measures or agreements that would remove or, at least, progressively reduce the threat which hangs over all of us. They see no evidence of progress towards a settlement of familiar long-standing problems which lie at the heart of the division between East and West and of the cold war itself.

Most of us accept the need for a deterrent in the present uneasy world situation, and have accepted the hydrogen bomb as the deterrent. But if it fails to deter, it fails in its peace purpose. If it is used, it will produce the very world tragedy it it intended to prevent. I submit, in all seriousness, to the House that, as both sides possess the nuclear deterrent and shrink, as they do, from using it as a weapon of mutual destruction, there is both reason and opportunity now for Governments and nations to agree to make a concerted effort to retrace their steps away from the brink of disaster. That, I suggest, is and must be the most urgent task of foreign policy and diplomatic effort to-day.

What is needed now is a new and genuine bid to break the arms race deadlock. This is surely the greatest common interest of both East and West. It may, as The Times asserted the other day, be absurd to suggest that all human life on earth could be wiped out by any man-made convulsion. That may be true, but none of us would like to see it put to the test. If there ever were an all-out nuclear war, it seems to me that the issue whether the free or the Communist way of life is the better one would become largely academic. Certainly civilisation as we know it to-day, after centuries of human effort, would collapse. That is why I am convinced that the struggle for civilised survival has to be waged now, not with weapons but by discussion and negotiation.

That is what public opinion is demanding and will go on demanding. I think it would be a mistake to believe that the attitude of public opinion as a whole is based on irrational emotionalism, but there is certainly a sense of frustration abroad. The mass of the people do not want this nation to contract out of the defence of the free world or to adopt unilateral nuclear disarmament. But they are deeply disturbed at the almost complete lack of agreed results after years of disarmament discussion. They are perplexed and irritated by what seems to them Western reluctance to go into a Summit conference. They want to see the Government give positive leadership in a new effort through a Summit conference to make progress towards controlled disarmament. I regard it as a good thing that public opinion is expressing itself strongly on this matter, and if it is properly understood by the Government it will be a source of strength to them and not an embarrassment.

The position of the Opposition has already been made clear. We want a Summit conference at an early date. We recognise the need for preparation through the normal diplomatic channels and a Foreign Ministers' meeting, but we do not want to see endless delays created by the latter getting itself bogged down in frustrating wrangles over what Mr. Dulles calls substantive matters. It has never been contemplated that the Summit conference should be in the nature of a world peace conference to deal with all the issues which divide East and West and to produce an all-in package agreement. Every one of us knows that if that were attempted in the present atmosphere of mutual distrust the result would be failure.

To those who have studied the two sets of proposals put forward by Russia and the United States it must be clear that both sides have included items which offer little hope of agreed solutions at the present time. But there is a good chance that if even a limited agreement comes out of the Summit conference, some of those problems would be found easier of later solution. It is not easy to understand, therefore, why there should be so much manœuvring before there can be a meeting of even the Foreign Ministers. Surely what the Summit conference needs is an agreed short list of heads of discussion which are capable of producing a limited first-stage agreement that will help to break the present log-jam and open the way to further negotiations and further agreements.

The composition of the conference should provide no serious problem: the principle of equality of representation for East and West with the addition of neutral representation is the right one. The Russian offer to have the conference in the United States should be accepted. It is important that the duration of the discussions should not be governed by United States constitutional requirements affecting the President, and it is also desirable, in view of his health, that President Eisenhower should be relieved of the physical strain that long-distance travel would entail. I should myself like to see the conference take place at the headquarters of the United Nations. Apart from the excellent conference facilities which would be available, there would be a psychological value in holding the conference at the headquarters of the world peace authority. At the present rate of progress the Foreign Ministers' meeting will not take place before Easter, but unless it is going to drag its feet it should be able to complete the preparatory work so as to enable the Summit conference to take place in May or June. That is what we on these Benches urge the Government to work for.

My Lords, the Leader of the Opposition in another place has made it clear, first, that we support N.A.T.O. and the Atlantic Alliance; secondly, that we do not believe in neutralism; and thirdly, that we do not favour unilateral disarmament. Throughout its history the Labour Movement has stood for, and worked for, internationally-controlled disarmament. That was its position before there were any nuclear weapons. This nation has had a bitter experience in two wars of the destructive power of conventional weapons. We have had experience of V-1s and V-2s; we have had experience of bombers with high explosive bombs which we are told are to-day five times more deadly; we have had experience of submarines sinking our ships and destroying their cargoes of food and materials. We know what conventional war can cost in human loss and material destruction. We cannot afford, therefore, to think that our nation would be secure if only we get rid of nuclear weapons.

The Opposition's policy to-day is balanced disarmament across the whole field of nuclear weapons and conventional armaments and forces. It is on this urgent issue that we want to see the emphasis of national leadership and effort laid. On this issue the Government will have the nation behind them. They will also have the wholehearted support of other Commonwealth nations. I can speak from personal knowledge of the Asian members of the Commonwealth which I had the privilege of visiting last autumn as a member of the British delegation to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in New Delhi. There can be no doubt that they share the deep desire of the British people to see the arms race ended and progress made with general disarmament.

I believe the Summit conference can get progress started on this urgent issue of balanced disarmament. Earlier in the year there was widespread hope that a limited agreement would be the outcome of the summer session of the Disarmament Sub-Committee. Unhappily, it became another case of hope deferred. Since then the West's draft limited agreement proposals have been endorsed by an overwhelming vote of the United Nations: but Russia has declared that she will take no further part in the Disarmament Sub-committee's work. The Summit conference can, in my view, bring about a resumption of discussions as a result of a combination of agreements, and it is of vital importance that it should do so. There should be agreement on the reconstitution of the Disarmament Commission and the Sub-committee.

It is no use expecting Russia to go on meeting four members of N.A.T.O. I cannot imagine the United States, for example, being prepared to enter a conference alone to negotiate with four Communist nations. I am not surprised that Russia refuses to continue one against four. What does surprise me is that she has not made objection long ago. It is only fair that this unbalance should be rectified. The Commission and the Sub-committee should be corn-posed of equal representation for East and West, with representation from the uncommitted nations. It is reasonable to expect that if this were agreed to it would break down some of the mistrust which has hampered efforts in the past and it would facilitate the resumption of negotiations, perhaps even with the West's draft limited plan as a basis of discussion.

The more favourable atmosphere needed to get the new disarmament effort would be greatly helped by two or three other decisions which the Summit Conference should succeed in taking, and I want to deal with them briefly. First, a non-aggression pact. The Prime Minister has already expressed a measure of approval for it, but in some Western quarters its reception has been distinctly cold. We are told that it would mean merely reaffirming obligations by which the nations are already bound by the provisions of the Charter. That is, of course, true. But if the pact would not involve new obligations, why should it be rejected when it is calculated to have a helpful psychological effect? To refuse it in these circumstances would merely feed distrust at a time when we want to create mutual confidence and relax tension. I could understand objection to a series of bilateral pacts, because, as we all remember, bilateral pacts were Hitler's divisive technique. But a multilateral pact between the members of N.A.T.O. as a group and the members of the Warsaw Pact as a group is surely something to which the West can agree. In our view, the proposed non-aggression pact should be accepted.

Secondly, there is the suspension of nuclear tests which the Russians proposed. I know that the West have themselves proposed a cessation of tests linked with the cut-off of the production of fissionable materials for weapons purposes. That is something we all want to see agreed. But the fact is that Russia is not prepared to go so far in a single step. But that is no reason for doing nothing at all. Mr. Khrushchev, in the interview with The Times to which I have already referred, pointed out that hydrogen bombs cannot be let off in secret; an explosion can always be detected. But, he added, Russia was still ready to have control posts in her territory. Mr. Bulganin has expressed the opinion that the ending of nuclear tests now might serve as a first step towards broader disarmament and an effective ultimate ban on nuclear weapons.

We regard the suspension of tests as valuable and necessary for itself; but it would also be a first step on the road to nuclear disarmament and would provide the first of a series of control systems that we all wish to see established. We on these Benches want to see the tests suspended, and we urge Her Majesty's Government to support this proposal at the conference and to set an example by suspending their own tests now. Here let me repeat that we do not believe that the immediate world situation is such as to make urgent the building of missile bases in this country. Our view is as stated by my noble leader in the defence debate—that their construction should not be undertaken at once but that action should be deferred until we see what results come out of the Summit conference.

The third point is the provision of safeguards against surprise attack. There is already agreement in principle between Russia and the East on aerial and ground inspection. Mr. Bulganin has proposed the drafting of an agreement. President Eisenhower has proposed a joint study through a technical group. I do not think it can be doubted that an agreement both on the areas to be inspected and on the means of verification would make an enormous contribution to the lessening of tension and the dispelling of distrust. We believe that real progress can be made in this matter at the Summit conference. Fourthly, there are the various proposals for easing the situation in Central Europe—proposals for a nuclear-free area, for disengagement and for the establishment of a system of inspection and control. This is, of course, a very difficult and complex problem. There are those who think it best to leave the situation as it is. There are others who say that any agreement which does not ensure the liberation of the captive States would be a betrayal of them. There are still others who are opposed to any agreement which does not provide for the reunification of Germany in freedom.

I have on several occasions expressed to your Lordships my conviction that so long as Soviet armed forces are in Eastern Germany, and so long as there is the possibility of a reunited Germany becoming a member of N.A.T.O., there is no hope of getting German reunification in freedom and no hope of the satellite States recovering their freedom and independence. If major political conditions are insisted on, I see little prospect of any kind of progress being made; and if nuclear weapons are given to Federal Germany then it seems to me that we shall wreck for a long time any possibility of negotiating any agreement that would provide for German reunification in freedom, bring liberation to the captive States and confirm the present Polish-German frontier. It would, in my opinion, be a grave error to treat the Rapacki Plan as a Soviet manœuvre instead of on its merits. I regard it as a genuine initiative on the part of the Polish Government. I believe, too, that there is strong and growing opposition in Western Germany to the equipping of their forces with tactical nuclear weapons and the erection of rocket bases on German territory.

To my mind, the very serious political and psychological consequences that would be involved if that part of N.A.T.O. policy were proceeded with call for immediate review of the decision to provide any kind of nuclear weapons for Federal Germany and for a careful reassessment of the practical value of the Rapacki Plan. We have, of course, as the leader of the Opposition said in another place, to maintain effective balance of security; but if this were assured would there not be advantage to both East and West, and to Central Europe itself, in having a nuclear-free zone and the beginning of disengagement, carrying with it a proper system of inspection andcontrol? As the Party to which we belong have suggested, it might be possible, as a minimum, to establish a pilot scheme of disarmament, covering conventional forces as well as nuclear weapons; and this might lead, in turn, to a permanent settlement of outstanding problems in that area.

There is a further point which may not come before the Summit conference but which certainly has an important bearing on disarmament. Noble Lords will have noted in the Defence White Paper (on page ob/ paragraph 7), the statement that In the next decade, the vast potential resources, of China will have to be reckoned with as an increasingly important element in the balance of power. It would have to be reckoned with even more seriously if Russia were to supply that country with nuclear arms. It is under the auspices of the United Nations that disarmament discussions are held, and if there is any agreement, even on limited proposals, that will include a ceiling to Communist China's conventional forces and armaments. Yet though Communist China will be expected to put herself within the framework of a disarmament scheme, she is still kept out of the United Nations. This seems to us a piece of political folly, and we urge Her Majesty's Government to free themselves from any further association with the delaying manœuvre of recent years and to support the entry of Communist China into membership of the United Nations. An important contribution to the easing of world tensions, to stabilising conditions in Asia and to advancing world disarmament could be made if the next Session of the United Nations decided to admit Communist China as a full member. We want Her Majesty's Government to use their vote to this end.

My Lords, the last matter I want to refer to is one that will. I hope, come before the Summit conference, and that is the Middle East. I shall be quite brief about it, because I am sure later speakers will deal with it more fully. Political developments have recently taken place in that area, but with what stability and permanence remains to be seen. There is the creation of the Arab Republic by the union of Egypt, Syria and the Yemen; then there is the federation of Iraq and Jordan under their Hashemite Kings. Saudi Arabia and Lebanon have so far not joined either new association. The achievement of greater Arab unity, whether by integration or federation, should strengthen the stability of the Arab world, provided the Arab people are allowed to settle down to a constructive, peaceful existence and eschew any further military adventures against the State of Israel. The Arabs are entitled to unite without interference; Israel is entitled to live without interference.

It may be too much to expect a comprehensive agreement on the Middle East to come out of the Summit conference; but is it too much to expect, as a minimum, first, agreement to guarantee the existing armistice frontiers against forcible change; and secondly, agreement for international control of the import of arms into the area, through the United Nations, and third agreement to keep it as a nuclear-free zone? If we seek to relax tensions and stop the arms race between the great Powers, surely we ought not to be encouraging an arms race in the Middle East by competing in the supply of arms to that area. We believe that agreement on these lines would help to bring more settled conditions of peace to the Middle East, and we urge the Government to do their utmost to get such an agreement.

I think it would be a fruitful Summit conference if such results as I have mentioned could be obtained. It may he said that they do not go far enough; but to expect more would, I think, be unrealistic. They would at any rate represent a first definite stage, and a valuable one. I know the view is held that Russia is not to be trusted. As to that, I would only say that the Foreign Secretary himself has recently said that he thinks Russia will keep agreements provided they are sufficiently practical and clear cut. It is that sort of agreement which we hope to see achieved. We believe that if the representatives at the Summit conference will genuinely co-operate they will get agreements that all will have a common interest and purpose in keeping, and thereby take a worthwhile first step towards ending the cold war, reversing the arms race and opening up what we all hope will be a new era of world confidence and peaceful co-operation. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

3.16 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, speaks in these debates on foreign affairs with a wide knowledge and a sincere constancy of purpose, because his aim during the years in which we have heard him with such pleasure has been to find ways and means of easing the political tensions which afflict international relations, and to bring nations to co-operate so that they may settle their differences within the framework of the United Nations Organisation and according to its rules. In that, my Lords, he speaks for all of us; and the pursuit of peace through the Charter of the United Nations is the declared policy of Her Majesty's Government.

To-day he has named a number of political problems which must be solved before we can say that peace is on the way—disputes which over the years have hardened into rigidity: East and West Germany and the possible reunification of that country; the Israel-Arab relations in the Middle East, which are, of course, the foundation of all the tension and trouble in that area; China's future place among the nations; and the problem of refugees in various parts of the world, which leads to so much unsettlement and distress. These political problems must be solved before peace can be said to be secured. But if the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has concluded (and I think he did in his speech this afternoon) that in the present situation the best chance of progress is to deal with the main physical symptom of unrest rather than with the different political causes, namely, with armaments rather than with some of the more difficult and controversial and stubborn political problems, I would not quarrel with him. Whatever the machinery, whether it be through a Summit conference or whether it be after a Summit conference, through the United Nations, I would agree with him that the best way to reduce tensions in the world to-day is by way of disarmament.

I do not know whether the people of this country realise how comprehensive a. disarmament plan, supported by this Government (and. I take it, by all of us in this House), is ready to be put into operation. The headlines are always ready to feature the abolition of the tests of the nuclear bomb. It is suggested almost that that is the only candidate for consideration and the main contribution which could be made to peace. But, of course, the abolition of tests by itself would do nothing to end the nuclear arms race, and nothing to reduce the danger of wholesale destruction. In fact, apart from any small psychological effect that might be gained, what it would mean would be this: that the country which has the best bomb now could go on multiplying the number of these bombs and that that country in fact would have a permanent advantage. What we want, surely, is a plan which will go much further, namely, a plan which will give a sense of security which is real and not a fake, and which will give the world a sense of release from fear. I believe that we have it.

The disarmament plan which, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said, might well be a basis for discussion, and I would hope a basis for agreement, is based on three essentials: first of all, balanced disarmament—and by that I mean that there must be increased security for all countries and diminution of security for none. That is important, because one might easily have a plan which resulted in the diminution of security for one country or another. Secondly, the plan should be one which is all-controllable by international machinery; and thirdly, it should embrace both the nuclear and the conventional forces. In our defence debate last week I thought that in our revulsion against nuclear destruction, we almost got to the point when we began to look upon what we call conventional war as almost comparable to a friendly game of "Ping-pong". It is nothing of the sort. The noble Lord has referred to the V.1s and V.2s and the devastation which they caused. If we are to eliminate fear, we must eliminate some of these conventional weapons as well as the latest nuclear discoveries.

I should like to turn from the general principles underlying the plan we propose in order to focus the attention of your Lordships on its main practical features. First of all, there is the suspension of tests, which need not be delayed until practical effect is given to all the disarmament measures which I shall outline later. We are ready to agree to the suspension of tests when a disarmament agreement is ratified covering the points which I shall enumerate now. We are ready to agree to a halt under international supervision to the use of new fissile material for weapons, which could operate from an agreed date. I ask your Lordships to note the effect of this. It would not only be a check to the growth of existing stockpiles—and I say this in particular to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, who intervened in the defence debate on this point—but, most important, it would prevent any other country from starting a new stockpile at all. These two points, therefore—the suspension of tests upon the ratification of a wider agreement and the halt to the use of new fissile material —would seem to be strongly in the interests both of the free nations and of the Soviet Union.

Thirdly, we are ready to agree to a reduction of existing nuclear stocks and the transfer of existing stocks of material, whether they are now in bombs or stockpiled, to peaceful uses. Again, we are ready to agree to a study of measures to ensure the control of outer space, so that it should not be used for military purposes, and we are willing to agree on ceilings which can be applied to personnel of the armed forces. Finally, and again most important—I was particularly glad that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, laid stress on this we are willing to lay our country completely open to international inspection. It could make all the difference to the possibilities of getting a disarmament agreement if Russia could agree to that.

I have listed this disarmament plan which we have put forward because people are always asking the question: "Why do we not make a unilateral gesture of disarmament?" I think that the question which might more profitably be asked is "Why has Russia so far 'stymied' a comprehensive plan which could give instant relief to the world, and to which fifty-seven nations altogether subscribe?" I think that the organisers of the Gallup Polls and the Defeat for Socialism Group (that is not quite right; I was allowing my mind to travel forward to the result rather than to dwell on the accuracy of the title) and, indeed, anyone who studies these matters, will have to admit that in the matter of disarmament it is not the West and the Free World who are dragging their feet.

I hope that, whatever the past may have held, a scheme like this will appeal to the leaders of the Soviet Union. Because we have got to a point where nuclear armaments, and indeed conventional armaments, are too dangerous for the nations to continue to build them up as they are doing. I hope that our own people in this country will make them selves familiar with this plan. I hope that they will adopt this plan. For years the United Kingdom has taken a positive lead, first of all within the League of Nations, and now through the United Nations Organisation; and I say, beyond doubt, that this plan which I have outlined to-day has within it the seeds and prospects of peace. The Government will push it so far as they possibly can in order to obtain agreement on comprehensive disarmament.

Another aspect of disarmament which is apt to hit the headlines and which was mentioned by the noble Lord just now is that of disengagement in Europe. A variety of schemes have been advanced, some in the context of a reunited Germany and some proposed to be put into operation while retaining the present political status quo. I do not think that it is possible to say to-day whether there is a worthwhile scheme which can be found, but the test of any scheme must be whether it leads to more confidence and more security. While it is a great mistake to take up rigid attitudes, and while I agree with the noble Lord that every plan must be discussed on its merits and on its merits alone, nevertheless we could get into a situation where, in order to try to get a temporary psychological effect, we achieve in fact the exact opposite, and a loss of security and confidence. We have to be very careful not to do that. Without taking up rigid attitudes, which I deplore, nevertheless I should have thought that there were certain features of any scheme to which we ought to give serious attention. First of all, it should include the right of Germany to unite and have free elections; secondly, the right of the Germans to decide their own foreign policy and their own alliances; and thirdly, absolute guarantees that if Russia evacuates Eastern Germany and the satellite countries, that evacuation will be permanent.

I think that we should remember that it is the first duty of a British Foreign Secretary and of British foreign policy to devise security for this country. We have spent many years since the war building up N.A.T.O., a system of defence in depth—defence which is all too shallow, but still it is defence in depth. It would be the highest irresponsibility to adopt a scheme now which would positively prevent Germany, if she wished to, from contributing to the collective security of Western Europe. Indeed, again, to leave a vacuum by the withdrawal of American shield forces from Western Europe, without anything to put in its place, would be the most dangerous policy of all. Public memory is very short, but surely not so short as to forget the lesson of Hungary, only eighteen months old, where Russia re-invaded a country; and secondly, how less than twenty years ago the possession of the Channel ports by an enemy nearly brought us to our knees. The system of collective defence which we have built in Western Europe is, let us remember, an essential for the security of the United Kingdom. So it may be that there is a plan, or perhaps a pilot plan, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, suggested; but the test must be a genuine addition to confidence and security.

Then the noble Lord added that he would hope that there might be a nonaggression pact. If we can get some arrangements on disarmament or some helpful and practical conclusions out of a Summit conference, as the Prime Minister has said, that might be a spur to further peaceful endeavour. So far as the Summit talks are concerned, the Prime Minister has made it clear that if there are to be Summit talks—and we think there would be an advantage in them—then certainly the United Kingdom wishes them to succeed; and it is because we wish them to succeed that we have been insistent that there should be sensible preparation. After ten years of cold war we must be realistic. We cannot expect that just because a certain number of leaders arrive at the Summit, the Summit will at that moment be bathed in the rosy-fingered dawn of universal good will. Certain subjects are too stubborn for that.

What is needed—and, if I may and if I took them down correctly, I will use the noble Lord's own words—is preparation with a will to find "an agreed short list of subjects"—a list on which there would be a good chance of limited but significant agreement. I think the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, put it as well as it could be put. That is the reason why we have insisted upon preparation and why we should hope that preparation will lead to a conference that will succeed. Therefore, although the Opposition may be impatient for a Summit conference, nevertheless I find between us practically no fundamental difference at all. The Opposition believe in N.A.T.O.; the Opposition do not believe in unilateral disarmament; they do believe in the deterrent; they wish to see tension lessened by a Summit conference, or a series of Summit conferences if it is necessary, and the pattern should work that way. That, too, is our feeling on this side of the House. So in foreign policy—and this is a great strength to the country at this time—I think there is very little divergence between the Opposition and Her Majesty's Government.

I have selected to-day in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, the central theme of his speech—disarmament—because the arms race in this nuclear age is the supreme folly of the twentieth century and we must escape from its toils. The noble Lord referred to the Commonwealth, and indeed we think of the Commonwealth to-day, with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting in Delhi and the Prime Minister's successful tour of the Commonwealth still in the forefront of our minds. I think we all know, in our hearts, and we profoundly trust that it is true, that in the end of the days the evils in the world and the totalitarian tendencies of the world will be conquered not by arms but by example; by a demonstration of a better way of life, a vision held out to people not enjoying it now.

Within the Commonwealth we have repudiated force between the Commonwealth countries and we have decided deliberately to settle our differences round the table. The Prime Minister and his hosts, as he toured the Commonwealth, I think revealed something more of our achievement. We have demonstrated that there is a working democracy which suits free peoples of different races and kinds; we have broken through the barriers of colour which threatened to divide the world; we have harnessed and we have mellowed nationalism into constructive partnership between nations of different cultures, traditions and religions. It can be done: we can make a better world if the nations will meet together and talk together. When the world, as it does to-day, cries aloud for development, progress and peace, then Britain and her friends have a powerful part to play; and Her Majesty's Government will do everything they can to assist the people to win this supreme prize.

House adjourned during pleasure, and resumed by the Lord Chancellor.

3.37 p.m.


My Lords, I have listened with the closest attention to the important speeches which have been made by the noble Lord who moved the Motion, Lord Henderson, and by the noble Earl, Lord Home, the Leader of the House. For my part, I welcome the measure of agreement which those speeches have shown on some of the terrific problems that face us to-day, and I hope they are but a step towards the universal peace which we all desire. In saying that, I have a measure of disappointment, in that the noble Earl found himself unable to answer one suggestion put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. The noble Lord referred to the fact that China was still kept out of the United Nations and urged that Her Majesty's Government should use their vote at the next meeting of the United Nations to support the entry of China into that organisation. I desire to support that plea, and I very much hope that Her Majesty's Government will see their way to carry out the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson.

It may be helpful, in view of the problems that now face us in respect of this particular issue, to see how it arose that China did not enter the United Nations. In the year 1949 the Mao Tse-tung Government had established itself in Peking and the Chiang Kai-shek Government had established itself on the Island of Formosa. By 1950, we had recognised the Mao Tse-tung Government, and it was no secret that the United States were preparing the way for early recognition of that Government. Indeed, statements were made in January of that year by President Truman and the Secretary of State. Mr. Dean Acheson, declaring that if the Peking Government took possession of Formosa the United States would not intervene, for all the Allies were agreed that, by the terms of the surrender imposed on Japan, Formosa had become once more a province of China. It was at that stage that the gaunt spectre of McCarthyism strode across the scene. If McCarthy had arisen in this country we know full well that he would have received short shrift. But the spectre of the Senator in America was to grip the United States in a paralysis of fear, with the result that the witch hunt compelled President Truman, a few months later, to abandon the policy to which he had given expression earlier in the year and to adopt instead a policy that the real Government of China was not the Government in control of China on the mainland but the refugee Government on Formosa.

The sequel to this was that by 1950 Korea had been divided into two at the 38th Parallel: North Korea, under the auspices of the Soviet Government; and South Korea, under the United Nations. In the middle of that year the North Koreans—whether urged on by Moscow or not is immaterial—crossed the 38th Parallel, invaded South Korea, and very nearly reached the Port of Pusan which, incidentally, would have formed a most admirable naval base for the Soviet Government, perennially looking forward to the possession of a warm-water port in those regions. When it became apparent, in the autumn of 1950, that General MacArthur, commanding the United Nations Forces, had it in his mind to cross the 38th Parallel and to attack, or at any rate to threaten, the Yalu and the Chinese power stations on the Yalu, Peking sent out a warning through the Indian Ambassador in Peking to Delhi, which was passed through London and reached Washington, that if General MacArthur advanced beyond the 38th Parallel and threatened the Yalu and Manchuria, Peking would in self-defence have to take steps—such steps being to cross the Yalu into North Korea in order to defend her vital territories.

After General MacArthur advanced, and the Chinese crossed the Yalu, it is interesting to remember what was said on that particular incident by responsible persons in responsible newspapers in this country. The Times, in a leading article on August 18, 1951, said that the Chinese crossing of the Yalu was in great part actuated by anxiety over the approach of a powerful foreign army to the Manchurian frontier. The Hong Kong correspondent of The Times said on December 15, 1951, that the first motive of the Chinese advance was the defence of the Chinese frontier. Notwithstanding those facts, an American resolution to brand China as an aggressor in Korea was moved in the General Assembly of the United Nations on January 20, 1951. And although it was common knowledge at the time, and freely admitted by responsible sections of the American Press and in Great Britain, that the United Kingdom. Canada and France were doing their best to persuade the United States to be more moderate, that resolution was passed.

At that time, my great friend the late Lord Perth, a distinguished diplomat, who adorned this House for many years, as many noble Lords know, sitting on the Bench below me, at once denounced as a grave blunder the resolution branding China as an aggressor—an opinion which was also held by the distinguished Indian lawyer Sir Benegal Rau. They also pointed out—and it is pertinent to the request made by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson—that China, having been branded as an aggressor, had every right, under the terms of the Charter, to be accorded a seat in the United Nations; yet this was denied her. She is still entitled to that seat, and there is every good reason, therefore, why the Government should at the next meeting of the United Nations support, or indeed move, a resolution in favour of the admission of China to the place in the United Nations to which she is entitled.

Now I come to another part of the short speech I propose to make to-day on the question of China. It is a question that I have, I am afraid, raised in this House on innumerable occasions, but I cannot omit it to-day. And the noble Earl, Lord Gosford, I feel sure, is expecting me to refer to it. It was in May, 1951, that the United Nations imposed the embargo on the export of strategic goods to China. The nations who were then, and still are, responsible for the imposition and the continuation of the embargo, were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States though the last-named, I may say, does no export trade at all with China.

The first thing I should like to say concerns the general position of international trade to-day. There are certain things which stand out as clear as crystal, namely, that it is going to be more difficult to find markets, more difficult to sell and more difficult to make a working profit. Those facts are supported, and the necessities for increasing our export trade are supported, by a statement made by the President of the Board of Trade, Sir David Eccles, when he said recently: The first relaxations should be concentrated on strengthening our power to earn more abroad. Professor F. W. Paish, in an article in the current District Bank Review, said: The quickest way of checking the rise in unemployment would probably be to try to re-expand export demand. Those are self-evident facts, my Lords.

I desire to draw the attention of the House to the fact that to-day China is trading freely, in the strategic goods which we have denied her, with the Soviet bloc, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Roumania, Poland and Bulgaria, and also with the non-"COCOM" countries (and the House by this time will be aware of what is meant by "COCOM": the Consultative Group sitting in Paris), Sweden, Switzerland, and Jugoslavia. In other words, China is to-day largely side-tracking the embargo which was imposed in relation to the war in Korea and any possible effects of the embargo. And she is doing so, of course, to the immense benefit of the economies of the countries I have just named, who are some of our principal competitors in world markets, and to the loss and serious future detriment of the British economy and of British industrialists—and may I say that the British economy finds itself differentiated from other economies, and particularly that of the United States.

It was not long ago (I think it was early in 1956) that a prominent member of the Government, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, reminded the country that the British economy to-day is a very delicate engine, depending, after the frightful losses of two wars, on slender resources. My comment on that statement is that the economies of the United States and of Britain are not at all comparable. The United States exported at that date 4.3 per cent, of its gross domestic products, whilst the United Kingdom exported 17 per cent. What does that mean? It means this: that if America dropped 4.3 per cent. of her exports it would cause hardly a ripple on the surface of her economy, whereas the 17 per cent, represents our life-blood. For that reason every possible effort should be made to increase it; and de facto any increase in trade with China would have the effect of helping our economy.

I am sorry to see in some quarters a tendency to play down the potentialities of the China market. The first thing I have to say on that matter is that it is detrimental to the British industrialists who are doing all they can to get into the China market. The second thing I have to say is that it is not helpful to Her Majesty's Government, who are doing everything they can in very difficult circumstances (as they showed fast year when, by their efforts, they were responsible for reducing the China embargo to the level of the Russian embargo), that individuals in this country should be playing down the potentialities of the China market.

On that point I would just like, not at length, to make a few quotations from a journal called Far East Trade. It is not political in any sense; it is not conducted on ideological ideas. These are interviews with United Kingdom business-men recently back from China. The March, 1958, issue of Far East Trade reports as follows: For Western exporters some markets are unlimited". I quote here from the remarks of Mr. W. J. Ruston, Sales Director of J. Stone & Company (Deptford) Limited. He says: Certainly, one of the things that I would say China particularly needs is electrification. He goes on to say: I feel, however, there is a very genuine interest in China in air-conditioning equipment for railways, and, I am sure, refrigeration equipment for the conveyance of perishable foodstuffs". Then he is asked this question: Do you feel that China offers a good market for engineering products? His answer is: There is little doubt that the Chinese are short of all types of power equipment". But they are not able at the present moment to obtain all types of power equipment from this country as a result of the China embargo. Then he goes on to say: I would express myself as optimistic that there will be a developing business for British industry with China, though we have a sorry history behind us, a lot of which was our own fault, particularly the unfortunate matter of the embargo. The next interview is with Mr. Harold Spencer, of Crompton Parkinson, Limited, who went to China first in 1953. He said: I am sure we have many real friends there". He was asked the question: Did you gather that they are open to the sale of complete industrial plants? He answered: Yes, they are, quite definitely. In fact, the China National Technical Import and Export Corporation has the import—and the export—of complete plants as one of its functions. Then he says: The hydro-electric programme is stupendous.… They have a very ambitious power programme". He is asked: What do you think is essential electrical machinery which Britain could export to China for electrical development? His answer is: I think the whole range of electrical equipment could be exported". The next businessman is Mr. J. W. D. Ewart, the Managing Director of M. D. Ewart & Company, Limited.

He says: I have visited China five times since I first went there with the Trade Mission in the autumn of 1954, and I am certain that this regular personal contact with the China National Corporations in Peking and the other main Chinese cities has been of great assistance in increasing our trade". He is asked Do you find the embargo relaxations have had a good effect on trade with China?", to which he replied: Naturally the relaxations have had a good effect, as we can now export a wide range of products which were previously embargoed, and some of these are of regular interest to the Chinese buying corporations. The relaxations to which he referred were those brought about by the action of the Government last May, and not only were they most helpful to British industry but British industry looks to further relaxations arising out of the talks which are at the present moment going on in Paris.

That leads me to my last point. It is common knowledge and no secret that every one of our allies in "COCOM", with the exception of the United States, has seen the light and desires to scale down the so-called strategic embargo—I describe it as "so-called"—to the lowest possible limit and to see the end of the embargo altogether. But it is common knowledge, too, that the American representative on "COCOM" does not see it in the same light. On that point, I should like to quote some letters. I feel sure that Her Majesty's Government and the President of the Board of Trade are aware of the fact that a change is coming over the United States' attitude in this matter, particularly among business firms and generally throughout the country.

Two weeks ago I received a letter from a prominent publicist in the United States who said: Someone sent me a cutting of your letter to the Observer which was printed on January 26"— that, I may say, was a letter in which I pointed to the folly of keeping China out of any general peace discussions. As the noble Earl, Lord Home, said, these discussions must come at a later date, and you cannot keep China, with its population of 600 million beings, out of the orbit of world peace discussions. This American gentleman continues: I have recently travelled through China and I want to tell you how fully I agree with what you say. To leave out the largest and the most dynamic Asian nation from international discussions is wholly daft. I am giving a good many lectures in this country to university and other audiences on this question of the U.S. China policy. I am astonished at the very widespread interest on the part of the public—they are far ahead of the officials in Washington. Then I had another letter from another prominent person in the United States, who says: I think your point of view on China is gaining ground over here. I saw some pictures taken by an Englishman on a trip to China which is just completed and they were most interesting, showing extraordinary changes and advances which in ten years seem to promise far more rapid achievements even than the Soviet Union has made in its forty years since the Revolution. Once this is really understood your point of view may be easier to accept. The interesting thing about that letter is that it is news in the United States. Such has been the clamping down by the State Department, which even refused visas for American journalists who wished to go to China, that things which our business men who have been to China time and again in the last six or seven years all know and which we in this country all know, are news to the citizens of the United States. But I think we must be thankful that news of that nature is now beginning to percolate through, in part by reason of the efforts of Her Majesty's Government to scale down the embargo. And so the bringing to an end altogether of that embargo will become easier and easier as the days go by.

4.6 p.m.


My Lords I do not propose to follow the noble Viscount into the detailed disquisition that he has just given us upon China trade. I am not competent to do so. I have risen to go back to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and to the speech of the noble Earl the Leader of the House, Lord Home. I am most profoundly aware of the feeling in this country upon the question of disarmament. I yield to nobody in my desire to see a greater feeling of security in Europe and the world. When I see to-day in the newspapers that a nuclear bomb has been dropped by mistake in the United States; when I remember that a fortnight ago a sergeant in the Royal Air Force was convicted of driving a car whilst under the influence of drink—and this apparently was a sergeant whose duty it was to carry H-bombs about the country; and when I see a further incident like the incident of Sakiet, on the Tunis frontier, which shows how easy it is for an irresponsible action of that kind to lead in the present state of the world, to a terrible catastrophe, then I say, with as great strength as anybody in the country, that the present position is intolerable and that, somehow or other, by a Summit conference. by discussions or by a series of discussions, this state of affairs must be brought to an end.

But when I say that, I do not wish it to appear that the task is an easy one. It seemed to me, even in the moderately worded speech of Lord Henderson, that he seemed to assume too much that it was for us to do this, that or the other. I am afraid that, while there is every willingness on our side to see action taken, the real trouble is not on our side but on the side of the Soviet.


If I may, with respect, interrupt the noble Viscount—


I should prefer to develop my own argument. I do not want to take up time.


I think the matter might get out of hand. After all, the noble Viscount has been Secretary of State for Air, and I think he should not say that the sergeant (I believe he was, in fact, a corporal)—


I cannot hear what the noble Lord says.


I think the noble Viscount should not say that the man who he suggested carried H-bombs round the country, was a sergeant. First of all, I believe that he was a corporal; and, after all, the noble Viscount has been Secretary of State for Air. I think the man was a corporal, and I think his only duty was to tow an H-bomb from a bomb dump to an aeroplane.


My Lords, whether that be so or not, I do not in the least withdraw from what I have said—that when things of that kind happen, day after day, and week after week, to put it at the lowest, it is a very uncomfortable world; and to put it at its highest, it is an intolerable situation. I was diverted by the noble Lord's intervention from continuing my argument that the task was not an easy one and that, somehow or other, we have to convince the Soviet representatives.

I know that it is tempting for an old politician like myself to go back to the past, to be very reminiscent and to give the impression that things happened better in the years that have gone by. I have no such wish, but I do desire to make this single observation. In the years between the two wars I was engaged almost continuously, as a Service Minister and in other Departments, upon discussions of disarmament. I am not assigning blame or praise to anyone, but I state categorically that the one lesson that has remained in my mind was the uselessness, and indeed the danger, of unilateral action.

Unilateral action taken particularly by the British Government and the United States Government in the 1920s had exactly the opposite effect to what its supporters desired. Hitler, instead of regarding what were called "gestures" as moves towards peace, regarded them merely as evidences of our military weakness. I cannot help saying that a great many of the features that I observe today remind me ominously of the state of affairs in the 1920s and the 1930s—the same questionnaires, the same mass meetings and the same pressure groups. They make me very nervous, not so much about the policy of Her Majesty's Government—because I agree with that entirely—but because they may well give to the Soviet the impression that we are a divided country.

Further, whilst I do not wish to throw any cold water upon Ambassadors' conferences or Summit meetings, as things are now I cannot help asking myself this question: Do the Soviet really desire an agreement? I ask that question not because I am attempting to disparage the possibilities of the discussions, but because I have studied with great interest and in great detail what happened in the Disarmament Conference of the United Nations. The noble Earl the Leader of the House alluded to the disarmament plan that emerged from those discussions. I am glad that he did. It seems to me that a great many people are approaching this question as if we were beginning with a clean sheet. Nothing of the kind! These disarmament discussions began as long ago as 1946. They have been continued for eleven or twelve years, and at almost every stage, without exception, when the Western Powers have made proposals for a comprehensive plan and a balanced system of disarmament by stages the Soviet Government have gone back to the tradition of Molotov and said "No".

I will not weary the House with all the details, but I have here a complete history of these discussions; how they started in 1946 with two Committees, one to deal with atomic energy, the other to deal with conventional armaments. The Russians did not like the two Committees so the Western Powers agreed that they should be made into one. That having been done, time after time the Russian representative said. "No, this is not what we want."

Eventually, year after year—for, as I have said, these discussions went on for years—the French and the Canadian representatives put forward a complete programme. I feel that it is worth describing that programme to the House, because I hope that it is going to be the basis of our discussions in the talks that are to take place. The programme provided for, first, the suspension of nuclear tests as soon as the agreement entered into force; secondly, for reduction of armed forces and armaments, with ceilings, in the first stage, of 2½ million men for the United States and Soviet Russia and 750,000 men for the United Kingdom and France. Next, they provided for a halt, under international control, to the use of newly produced fissile material for weapons; next, for a progressive reduction of existing military nuclear stocks by transfer to non-weapons useage; next, for a study of measures to ensure that outer space is used only for peaceful purposes and a series of anti-surprise attack measures— ground inspection posts and so on. Lastly, there was a statement that the Western Powers are ready to embody in any agreement an undertaking that nuclear weapons will never be used except in self-defence—their present policy. The whole plan was to provide that all disarmament measures will be subject to effective verification and control.

There, my Lords, is a complete plan of balanced disarmament, carefully worked out year after year, and agreed to, in the end, by fifty-six members of United Nations, against nine who opposed it. Surely there is there not only a scheme for the future conferences, but a plan that is backed by the great majority of the countries of the world. What happened? When this plan was introduced, the Soviet representatives said that it was unacceptable and walked out. How very like the action of Hitler in 1934, which I remember so well!



How like the action when the Germans walked out of the Disarmament Conference at Geneva! I have stated those facts not in the least because I despair of what is going to happen, but because I am quite certain that the only way to reach an agreement with such grim materialists as the representatives of the Soviet is to stick to the facts and to insist upon a comprehensive disarmament agreement, and an agreement that is balanced and which goes by stages.

Having said these words of caution, I should not like it to be thought that I am attempting in any way to imply that an agreement is impossible. I do see signs (perhaps they are slight signs) of a lifting of the Iron Curtain. There is what has happened in Poland. There have been other signs. There have been signs in the last few days. Even to-day, seemingly so, Khrushchev is prepared to move slightly forward from the rigid position that he took up in the past.

In another direction, I myself have had what seemed to me to be a piece of evidence in these last few weeks in the shape of a very remarkable Russian book which I have just read. It is a book by the greatest of Russian poets, Pasternak, which has just been published in Milan. It is a book of immense length. It is on the scale of Tolstoy's War and Peace, and I would say that in many parts it comes up even to the standard of Tolstoy's War and Peace. I am immensely impressed by this large volume (it has some 800 pages), filled with brilliant attacks, not upon Communism but upon totalitarianism. So far as I am concerned, I have always drawn a distinction between the two. More than that, it is the book of a poet, written in a brilliant style, and it is obviously the book of a devout religious believer. At the end of it, for instance, there is a series of religious poems written by this poet. There may be nothing to conclude from a single book of this kind, but it does show me, at any rate, that there is some movement going on beneath the heavy weight of the Soviet machine; and so far as I am concerned I shall cling to any evidences of that kind which show me that there is some change taking place behind the Iron Curtain.

In the meanwhile, I suggest to the Government that they should go into these talks with a full measure of good will, but also with a great measure of caution. They should stick to their plan, this comprehensive plan, to which I have already drawn attention. The importance of the plan, to me, is that it is not a British plan, it is not an American plan and it is not even a Commonwealth plan; it is a United Nations plan, with the great majority of the countries of the United Nations behind it. Let them stick to that plan and, I would suggest, add to it an item for the agenda of disengagement, or de-militarisation, or whatever term you may give it. If they will do that I think that the Government have a programme upon which they can base a solid position. They will have behind them, so far as I can judge from the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, to-day, the great majority of the people in the country, for it seemed to me that upon the lines I have described to the House there should be no difference of principle whatever between the two Parties.

If at the end of this speech I may make one suggestion to the noble Earl the Leader of the House, it is this. Now that there is so very little difference between the two Front Benches, following the suggestion that the Prime Minister made in the other place yesterday, I would ask him to encourage personal talks between the Leaders of the Opposition and the Government. I do not suggest that a bipartisan policy is possible—I do not believe that it is—but I have seen in my own experience in the past several occasions upon which such talks have been really valuable. I am so anxious that we should succeed in these conferences, but I believe that we shall succeed only if we can give the Russians the firm impression that, first of all, we have a comprehensive programme that we are determined to stick to and, secondly, we have a united country behind us here.


My Lords, before the noble Viscount sits down, may I raise one point, just for clarification? I assume that the plan to which the noble Viscount referred is, in fact, the same plan which the noble Leader of the House spoke of. I am not quite clear whether there are two plans or whether there is only one.


I think it is the same.


I was not clear. I thank the noble Viscount very much.


It is the United Nations plan which we have accepted.


indicated assent.

4.28 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Viscount who has just spoken said something about a tendency on the part of old men to go back into the past. I remember that the late Lord Norwich wrote a book entitled Old Men Forget. I think it is very fortunate that elder statesmen of the first rank do not forget, but remember the experiences which they have gleaned, and give us in such a debate as this the benefit of their great knowledge gathered from that experience. I thought that my noble friend Lord Henderson made a most able and effective speech, and I hope he will allow me to say that it reminded me of the spirit and sincerity which animated his father in all that he undertook. We can agree, of course, with the noble Lord about the folly, the madness, of the arms race, and especially of nuclear weapons. But I think the noble Lord will agree with me that it is not the Government of this country, whichever Party may be forming that Government, which blocks the way to the aims which he has in mind. It is not the love of armaments but the uncertainty about being able to trust Russia which hampers us. After all, we have to remember that in that respect the first duty of any Government, of any Party, is the one they owe to the security of our people. I am sure that it is that fact which animates the Government's attitude towards these questions of disarmament.

Our first concern at present is with the Summit talks. To my mind, if they come off, they will represent a certain success for Russian propaganda. For the Bulganin correspondence has really consisted of propaganda, and of propaganda which has had a certain success amongst ill-informed public opinion. I recognise the position of the Prime Minister and, of course, I cannot oppose a Summit meeting, even though I may have little faith in it. My view is: if anything does emerge from a Summit meeting, will it be worth the paper it is written on? Will Russia keep to any agreement which emerges? My second thought is that if a Summit meeting fails, then Russian propaganda will certainly seek to throw upon the West the onus of that failure. I feel that that is something which the West has to consider above all in going into Summit talks—how to handle them so that we cannot bear the blame of failure if, unfortunately, failure there be.

I should like to look at the record of Russia in regard to such meetings in another direction than that touched upon by the noble Viscount. Since the final years of World War II, there have been many meetings between Western and Russian Ministers. There have been three Summit meetings; there has been a whole Series of Foreign Ministers' meetings, and there have been hundreds of discussions between Government representatives. Where have all these meetings got us? In 1941, Russia adhered to the Atlantic Charter, which renounced territorial aggrandisement and affirmed the right of nations to choose their own systems of government. Since then, Russia has never ceased to show the utmost contempt for these principles. In 1943, at Teheran, Russia adhered to an Agreement which the other Powers had made with Persia, by which all foreign troops were to leave Persia at the conclusion of the war; and she emphasised this undertaking by signing the United Nations Charter in 1945. At the end of 1945, Russia armed the Persian Communists and incited revolt against the Persian Central Government, though it is true that Persia took Russia before the United Nations and that, as a result of their appeal, Russia had to withdraw.

Then in 1943 Russia subscribed to the independence of Korea. Her Foreign Minister agreed with Britain and America in 1945 to establish a Commission which had as its purpose to prepare for "the national independence of Korea". The Soviet representatives on the Commission refused to recognise any Korean groups not under Russian control and prevented elections under United Nations auspices from taking place in any parts of Korea which were occupied by Russian forces. Later, Russia armed North Korea and took part in the invasion of South Korea. The Foreign Ministers' Moscow meeting in 1947 agreed on the release of all prisoners by 1947. In 1957, ten years later, Bonn had no information about over 87,000 prisoners of war and over 16,000 German civilians. A similar story can be told about the Italian prisoners of war.

Now for the three Summit meetings. At Yalta, in 1945, it was agreed to set up Interim government authorities of all democratic elements in the population and pledged to the earliest establishment, through free elections, of Governments responsive to the will of the people. The Russian idea of implementing this undertaking was to begin instituting Communist control in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Roumania. Let me take Roumania as an example of what happened. The Russian occupation forces overthrew the broad-based Government existing in Roumania and installed a Communist régime in its place. The non-Communist political leaders were arrested and all independent political expression was censored. That is their idea of agreeing to "free elections of Governments responsive to the will of the people." And the same story could be told of the other countries which Russia "liberated".

At Potsdam, also in 1945, Russia undertook not to drain the economic resources of the Soviet Zone of Germany. Yet she proceeded to do so ruthlessly. Another promise to permit free political expression in the Soviet Zone worked out as the institution of totalitarian Soviet rule. At Potsdam, also, the three Powers agreed that after the war the Japanese military forces should be allowed to return to their homes. Russia said that it would do this "true to its obligations as an ally"—but thousands of Japanese prisoners are still detained.

At the Geneva Summit meeting, in 1955, Russia agreed: that the settlement of the German question and the reunification of Germany by means of free elections shall be carried out in conformity with the national interests of the German people. Only a few months later, Mr. Molotov said: The plan of all German elections ignores the conditions actually existing in Germany, and that free elections might jeopardise Communist interests … to which we could not agree. Mr. Khrushchev added, for good measure, that there was no real possibility of reuniting these two German States. Later he declared: We have no wish to discuss the German question with anyone. The classic case of Russian bad faith is that of the Baltic States. Lenin declared that the self-determination of nations was a basic principle of Soviet policy, and by the treaties concluded in 1920 Russia recognised the freedom and independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as being, in the Russian words, "voluntarily and for ever." In 1933, she went on to sign a convention with the three States defining aggression, which said: No political, military, economic or other consideration may serve as an excuse for aggression. In 1939, Mr. Molotov affirmed that the Soviet Union stood for the exact and honest fulfilment of the Agreements. He said that talk of the sovietisation of the Baltic States was "foolish talk"; and in April, 1940, he solemnly repeated the pledge.

Two months later, the States were given ultimatums, with a time limit of a few hours, which allowed for no conversations or discussions of any sort. The States were occupied by overwhelming Soviet forces; their Governments were forced to resign; and, after elections in which only Communists were allowed to stand, Communist Governments were set up. This was represented as "the will of the people". But the Baltic States were completely sovietised to the tune of arrests, executions and deportations; and the deportations were carried out with the utmost brutality. Innocent men, women and children, to the tune of 135,000, were deported and sent to distant parts of Russia; and, most brutal of all, families were broken up and the members of the families sent to different destinations. Then there were more deportations later on when the farmers rebelled against collectivisation.

Need we be surprised, my Lords, that now and again Russia copies Hitler's candour? We should be no more deceived by Russian candour than by Hitler's—although, unfortunately, we were deceived quite often by Hitler's candour. Let it be remembered that Lenin said of promises that they were like pie-crust, made to be broken". And Khrushchev said in 1955: We have never renounced and never will renounce our political line charted for us by Lenin. That is why we tell the political gentlemen who expect the Soviet Government to change its political programme: 'Wait for pigs to fly'. I am compelled to think that the Foreign Secretary, Mr. Selwyn Lloyd, cannot have studied closely the history which I have briefly recounted, because The Times reported him at the beginning of this month as saying that he thought it incorrect to say that the Russians would not keep agreements. He said: I think they will keep agreements provided they are sufficiently precise and clear cut. Therefore, I think we must be willing to negotiate with them. To suggest that we should negotiate with them is all very well, but, in the face of their absolute contempt and disregard for their pledged word over and over again, I could not go along with the Foreign Secretary in saying that I think they will keep any agreements that may be reached at the Summit meeting. I sincerely hope that they will; but the record makes it difficult to believe it.

We can certainly agree with Mr. Dulles in asking that the Summit meeting be not a spectacle but an occasion for meaningful decisions. I think there should be certain conditions about this Summit meeting. I feel that what we want are private meetings between the heads of State and not the propaganda orations of Geneva. I think that the number taking part should be small, and that social functions should be very few indeed. Then I think that the agenda should be to the point and of workable length, and the spurious atmosphere of good will which marked particularly the Geneva meeting should be avoided at all costs. I hope we have learned that lesson. I trust that the West will agree to nothing which kills hope in the occupied countries; and the absence of any reference to them by the West would surely go largely towards killing hope there. I hope there will be no listening to any talk of the dismemberment of N.A.T.O. These two things together would, I fear, mean that Eastern Europe would be permanently lost to the West. We cannot afford in anything we may say or do at the meeting to accept the status quo. That would have a most disastrous effect upon people who, in spite of Hungary, still look with hope to the West. On this account, there is ground for wanting to discuss German unification, which might, if left out, be regarded as a hopeless matter. That would be a shocking mistake.

I come now to this point. Are we convinced that Russia really wants a meeting? Or is it her aim, by asking for a meeting, to put the West in the position of rejecting a Summit meeting? Is she hoping, perhaps, that Mr. Dulles may influence matters in that direction? My hope is that by what has transpired in the Russian Press, Russia has aroused expectation of a meeting amongst her own people, and she may therefore want a meeting for fear of disturbing public opinion in Russia if there is not one.

As regards Labour views, which have been so adequately expressed by my noble friend Lord Henderson, I am not disposed to agree about stopping aircraft patrolling with the hydrogen bomb on board, because I remember that when we were in considerable difficulties in Suez—perhaps due to our own fault—Mr. Khrushchev seized that moment to threaten us with a rocket attack. I do not think Mr. Khrushchev can complain if that threat has made us feel that instant alert is necessary. I am doubtful of the advisability at this moment of a mass disarmament campaign; and, of course, as my noble friend said, unilateral disarmament is an absurdity. But I think there is something to be said for the proposal of the Opposition that, pending the Summit meeting and its conclusion, there should be a suspension of nuclear tests and of the preparation of the new missile bases. I say that because I think that if the conference fails, or does not succeed in pleasing the Russians, Russia, with her Asiatic quickness for propaganda, may well say that the West were never sincere about the meeting, because while they were making eloquent speeches about peace they were taking warlike steps by going on with nuclear tests and the preparation of missile bases. After all, no great length of time is involved. I think, for that reason, that these are two things where the Government might well agree with the Russian view.

As to American opinion (and by that I do not mean Mr. Dulles's opinion, but public opinion in America), I do not think it is very enthusiastic about a Summit meeting. So far as I can gather and follow American public opinion, people in America believe that any meeting with Russia in one area will only encourage her to break out in another and so give America another line to defend. Of course, American distrust of Russia was greatly increased by Russia's gratuitous incursion into the Middle East with the main purpose of fomenting Arab-Israeli enmity and challenging American and British influence, such as it is (the Eisenhower doctrine is pretty dead by now, I think), in that area.

America also sees clearly that Russia has developed a potential veto on oil deliveries by infiltrating on the oil lines of communication. She has cultivated friendship with Egypt, which controls the Suez Canal. She has cultivated friendship with Syria, which controls the pipeline from Iraq, and with the Yemen, which is on the flank of Saudi-Arabia. It seems to me that while Russia talks about an arms embargo, she is silent on the things that really matter in the Middle East—guaranteed frontiers, the Arab refugees, Israeli security and the economic development of the Middle East. Those are the things that really matter in the Middle East, but we have heard not one word from Russia about them.

The American people are behind Mr. Dulles when he says that "matters of substance" must be discussed by Ministers, and that Russian conditions might make "a hoax and a fraud" of the meeting. The Times rightly says that there should be a prospect that the meeting will come to an agreement on something. What is that something to be? Perhaps our best hope is that East and West may be able to hatch up an agreement out of the fact that the arms race is ruinous to both sides. The Russian people cannot indefinitely be kept without the good things they increasingly know that other nations enjoy, and the West will not always be kept out of more of those good things which they at present enjoy. Out of those facts there may come the possibility of some agreement upon disarmament; and surely our Service cuts, which we have been hearing so much about, are evidence of our good will in this matter.

But the trouble remains. It is this distrust of Russia. And the history of Russia is a history of all other countries entertaining the same distrust of her that we feel to-day. That has been a universal feeling in the history of Russia, and I think it is illustrated by an anecdote told by that great statesman Metternich, who was peculiarly imbued with a sense of distrust of Russia. One day his Foreign Secretary came in to him and told him that the Russian Foreign Secretary had died. Metternich fell into deep thought for some minutes, and then said, "I wonder what he's up to now?"

4.54 p.m.


My Lords, this debate has been opened by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, in a speech which was marked by the clarity and moderation and, if I may say so, good sense which we are accustomed to expect from him. He has performed what seems to me to be the true function of an Opposition. He has not just nagged at the Government. He has told them, as clearly as he can, what he thinks they ought to do, and he has enumerated, in a concrete way, the topics upon which he thinks they ought to try to seek an agreement with the Russians. Though I would not myself go with him all along the line of that list, I think it is a reasonable list to which the Government would be wise to give some thought.

I do not propose to discuss the prospects of the proposed Summit conference, but rather to take up briefly another topic which has engaged public attention a good deal of late and has been discussed rather widely—namely, the topic of what has come to be called "disengagement." Disengagement has become a kind of vogue word, and the thing itself is looked upon as a kind of panacea—something that will make everything all right. In the 1930s we used to talk in the same kind of way about "a general settlement," and we thought we could secure peace by satisfying German grievances. We found that all we did in the end was to stimulate Germany's demands. So, too, the word "appeasement," when it was first used, was a respectable word—it meant what we now mean by "relaxation of tension" or something of that kind. But it got into bad ways, and the danger is that "disengagement" and "relaxation of tension" will also get into bad ways. They are all the more likely to do so if they are allowed to develop in the rather alarming climate of defeatism in certain sections of our public opinion to which the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, drew attention in a striking way in his speech in the defence debate last week, and to which the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, has also referred to-day. These seemingly innocent conceptions may tend in fact to turn into something else—to turn into something like surrender. Disengagement, like appeasement, is tempting but dangerous.

Let us look at some of the temptations which are now being held out to us. I will start with Mr. George Kennan. The temptation which Mr. Kennan offers us seems to me rather a dangerous one—I say dangerous because Mr. Kennan himself is a man of wide knowledge, of ripe experience, of great ability and of high moral stature. It is dangerous also because so many of the things which he said in the Reith Lectures were justly and wisely said. I would agree with him when he maintains that our policy and our strategy ought to be reviewed now in the light of the revolution in military science; or when he urges that the danger we face is not merely, or even primarily, a military danger; or when he argues that we do not need to pile up more and newer nuclear weapons—enough, he says, is plenty; or when he pleads for the use of the diplomatic channel as against the Summit conferences; or, finally, when he suggests that we do not need to worry too much if the Russians do offer economic aid to uncommitted countries. All this, to my mind, is very salutary.

But Lord Acton once said: With all great men we do well to ascertain low-water mark, that praise and admiration may not be carried too far. It would not, therefore, be unfair to some extent to judge the Reith Lectures by their least tenable proposition. And this is, surely, the suggestion that the American and British armed forces could be withdrawn from Continental Europe, and that France and Germany and the other N.A.T.O. countries need possess for their defence against the Soviet Union nothing more than para-military forces of a territorial, militia type on the Swiss model. These forces would form the core of a nationally organised civilian resistance movement, and it is upon this that reliance would be placed in case of need.

It is all the more surprising to find a scheme of this kind coming from Mr. Kennan, for no one has a more clear-sighted view of the nature and objectives of the Soviet régime. He says: We have learned to expect at their hands an unremitting effort to undermine our world position, to disrupt our relations with those who have formerly been our friends, to destroy our confidence in ourselves and the confidence of others in us, to reduce us, in short, to a state of isolation, helplessness and impotence in the affairs of the world. Your Lordships will have noticed the words, "destroy our confidence in ourselves". That is, I think we must all agree, the great danger, and that is why I find this part of Mr. Kennan's thesis so disturbing. Let us never forget that the Russian purpose is to heighten the apprehension of war, to suggest that it can be abated only be negotiation; to play on the fears and test the nerves of Western Governments and peoples by an alternation of intimidation and smooth words; to bring the Western Governments to negotiate in the hope that, under popular pressure, they will make wide concessions for the sake of agreement or, alternatively, will return empty-handed to meet their disillusioned and resentful peoples.

Another temptation offered to us is the idea of a so-called neutral belt. This plan has been elaborated in some detail by some of its advocates. It is a kind of blueprint of a progressive long-term programme of political action in Europe to be agreed upon by the Western Powers and the Russians. There are a number of variants of the proposal, but the essence of it is that American, British, French and other N.A.T.O. forces should be withdrawn from Western Germany and from the Western sectors of Berlin, and Soviet forces from Eastern Germany, Poland and Hungary. All these States would have conventional forces but no nuclear weapons. These States, together with Czechoslovakia, would be neutralised, and their neutrality would be guaranteed by the Western Powers and by the Soviet Union.

Now, my Lords, the success of this plan is postulated upon some important assumptions, assumptions which I think are important because of their possible implications. In the first place, although, according to one version of this plan, foreign forces would be withdrawn from Germany while Germany was still divided, the whole plan would be contingent upon an agreement reached in advance of the way in which Germany was eventually to be united. It assumes, that is to say, the solution of a problem that has baffled us all these ten years, and which is still as far as ever from being solved. Western policy has so far been consistently based on free elections in Germany and freedom for a unified German Government to settle its own foreign alignment. The question that suggests itself, therefore, is this: is it suggested that we should now break away from our Allies on one or other, or both, of those points and give way to the Russians? Are we to accept the Russian thesis and press the Bonn Government to negotiate with Eastern Germany? I may say that I was glad to note that the noble Earl the Leader of the House said that on those points the Government still maintained their former attitude.

Then, again, the plan assumes the agreement of the Bonn Government to the Oder-Western Neisse frontier of Poland. We all remember that at Pots-dam in 1945 the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and the late Ernest Bevin declined—I am sure rightly—to commit themselves to this line. What they said was, "This must wait and be settled finally at the Peace Conference, and only at the Peace Conference". So again the question arises: is it proposed that we should now try to impose on Western Germany acceptance of this line?

Finally, the plan assumes that the Russians would be likely to accept it. That must obviously be a matter of speculation, but there are two points, I think, to bear in mind. The first is that, from their public statements, it is fair to conclude that in return for the withdrawal from Eastern Germany, Poland, Hungary and perhaps Roumania, the Russians would require the evacuation of all foreign forces not merely from Western Germany but from all the N.A.T.O. countries, including, perhaps, the United Kingdom. That is what they have said. And they would require, in addition, the liquidation of all American bases in Europe, North Africa and perhaps elsewhere. Their statements have been obscure and vague, but that is the only meaning I can attach to them. Is it now proposed that the Western Powers should agree to this kind of thing.

There is a second point. From Russian statements about maintenance of the status quo in Eastern Germany and in Eastern Europe generally, it looks as though the Soviet Government would also make some kind of reservation about the perpetuation of the present régimes in satellite countries. Is it now suggested that we should acquiesce in this? I hope not. I hope that we shall say and do nothing that will tend to perpetuate the captivity of the captive States. I am glad to note that the noble Earl the Leader of the House has said that any evacuation of the Russians from Eastern European States should be permanent. I am sure that is right.

It seems to me, in the light of all that I have said, that disengagement in any large sense, as contemplated in plans of this kind, would not be practicable so long as the present cleavage in the world continues. It would also, I think, be dangerous. I would go so far as to say that even if we could agree to measures of disengagement, such, for example, as the withdrawal of forces, we should tend to multiply rather than reduce the causes of disturbance both within Germany and in the satellite States; because, as things now are, both sides know that any deliberate move across the dividing line would be fraught with the gravest risk—one need not put it higher than that. But to withdraw foreign troops from Germany before Germany is united would be, so far from reducing tension, to create the conditions for German civil strife. What is more, if British, French and American forces were withdrawn from the Western sectors of Berlin this would leave the population of Western Berlin and their democratic régime at the mercy of the East German Government. I do not think that is something which we should want to see. In either of those events, it seems to me, the risk of a clash between the great Powers of East and West would be substantially increased.

As the noble Earl the Leader of the House has said, the test of the value of any scheme of disengagement must be: would it or would it not make for peace and stability? It does seem to me to be true that to think that we could reduce tension by establishing a neutral belt of this kind would be to put the cart before the horse. If we could get a comprehensive, adequately supervised disarmament agreement, of the kind which the Western Powers have put forward and which is endorsed by such a large majority of the United Nations, for the removal of nuclear weapons from our armouries, and for the drastic limitation of conventional weapons, then I think the idea of a neutral belt would be a practical proposition. But otherwise, I do not think it would be so.

It may well now be asked what policy I think we should follow. First, I think we should avoid two mistakes. It would be an error, I think, to imagine that the great world cleavage can be resolved by a kind of bargain with the Russians, over Germany or anything else, or that tension can be relieved by some bold diplomatic stroke or gamble. It would also, I think, be an error to try to snatch at a solution by aiming at disengagement in Central Europe before it is reasonably safe to do so.

The right course, it seems to me, is to get our policy and strategy into line with each other in the face of the revolution in military science—and that is no easy matter; also, while holding our main position so long as need be, to carry on a patient, unremitting search for specific practical and effective agreements. Indeed, I think that, without waiting for agreements, which may be long in coming, we should take any action we safely can to show that we wish to work in a practical way to improve the world situation. I believe that this cautious, patient and steadfast line is the best line for us to-day, because I am persuaded that the solution of the great world-cleavage is a longer-term problem than we like to think, and that it is not to be conjured away or even much mitigated by short cuts, or eased by concessions.

It may be that the Russians will challenge us and face us with the choice of humiliation or war. If that is their intention—I do not think it is—there is no shift on our part, other than the maintenance of the nuclear deterrent and their fear that we might employ it, that will deter them. If they do not challenge us—and I myself do not think they will—that is so much gained. Meanwhile, I do not see why we should not talk, and talk as much as possible, to the Russians. I have never understood why it should be thought to be a matter of particular note for an Ambassador to talk to a member of the Soviet Government. We need not be afraid even of Summit conferences, if people want them, so long as the people do not pursuade themselves that in this way all our difficulties are going to be smoothed away at one stroke.

I believe that this great gap is unbridgeable at present, and I think it would be hazardous to try to bridge it by offering prodigal concessions. But if we keep on the alert and keep a look-out for possible subjects of agreement, however modest, that will be so much to the good. I do not see why we should not discuss world problems with the Soviet Government—the Soviet Union is a world Power and is as much entitled to have world interests as the United States and ourselves. By "world problems", I mean not only European problems but problems of the Middle East and the Far East. In 1944 and 1945 we and the Americans, and later the French, carried out unobtrusive talks with the Russians at ambassadorial level in the European Advisory Commission in London. We sat, on and off, for eighteen months. We held 125 meetings and we produced a dozen draft agreements for the approval of our Governments, dealing with the surrender terms for Germany and the arrangements for the occupation and control of Germany and Austria. Those agreements were all accepted by all the Governments, and they were all put into effect. That shows what can be done. I agree that it would be much more difficult to do it to-day, but the precedent is there.

My Lords, if war can be avoided—and I am pretty sure that it can—time will do its work. The Soviet Union, like other States, is subject to change. There are already manifest evidences of stresses and strains within the régime, and cracks and fissures among the captive nations. I do not believe that the spirit of human liberty, even in the Soviet Union, is dead. We may have to wait a long time for the change to come; but until it does come we have to show that we are ready to defend ourselves on all fronts—political, economic and military. And, even more important, we have to show that in the long run our own system of society, being essentially founded on the freedom of the human spirit, is more durable than theirs and will outlast it.

5.15 p.m.


My Lords, in that earlier Defence debate that we had, at the end of January, the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk said that there had been no Soviet advance in Europe since the time when N.A.T.O. was formed, that their tendency had been to change the emphasis from the military to the economic and the political, and more and more to go outside Europe rather than to attempt to advance in Europe. He added that probably we could say that that is the measure of our success.

While agreeing with that statement, I think we must also be ready to recognise that not only has there been a tendency for the Soviet Union to go outside Europe, but that she has in fact succeeded in going outside Europe and, to a large measure, in out-flanking us, to our great embarrassment, in the Middle East, and with the intention, with her ally (if that is what we can call her), Egypt, of out-flanking us in North Africa and East Africa. That is a matter to which I should like to return at the end of my speech. But as a general comment on that situation, I would say just this. If our foreign policy were limited to blocking eternally the Soviet Union in Europe, then in the Middle East, then in North Africa, then in the Far East and then in any other places she chose of her own volition to go to; and if our policy were always a policy of containment as originated in the United States of America some years ago, and quite properly and inevitably originated at that time, without any hope of our ever making an advance anywhere in the political sense, or even in a military sense—by which I mean military disarmament, not aggression—if there were never any hope of our being active in that sense, then that would be no foreign policy at all.

My Lords, I think we have heard sufficient to-day and in our debate of last week on defence to be convinced that Her Majesty's Government have the policy of a positive pursuit of peace—to repeat the phrase which was coined last week by the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Carlisle. It seems to me that Her Majesty's Government have, in fact, come quite a long way since a similar debate on international affairs in another place a month ago. In that debate there was a speech by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs which, in relation to the question of disengagement in Europe, seemed to me rather extraordinary. The argument was that it would be more dangerous to bring about a situation whereby Russian troops withdrew from Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary than it would be if they were to remain there; because if they withdrew the Governments of those countries would overthrow their Communist rulers and the Russian forces would be obliged to return, with the result that the Western Allies would be put in the position of having either to do something about it or to give away the whole thing, so to speak, and sit still and do nothing.

I think that considerations of that sort must be put up by our advisers in the Foreign Office and taken into full account, but I do not think that they can be put forward as though they were the policy of Her Majesty's Government—they are such a negation of the positive pursuit of peace, and ill accord with the moral basis of our foreign policy to which attention was also drawn by the right reverend Prelate last week. I am happy to say that they were also com pletely contradicted by the noble Earl the Leader of the House himself, in that most inspiring speech of his last week, in which, amongst other things, he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 207, col. 1276]: 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. I put it to your Lordships that any decision which would result in the withdrawal of the Russian troops from those countries cannot possibly be a wrong decision.


My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for what he has said, but I must not appear to contradict what is said by the Minister of State in another place. And I think that if the noble Lord will look at the two speeches he will find that, whereas the emphasis was slightly different, nevertheless my right honourable friend did make the point which has been made to-day—my noble friend Lord Strang made it insistently—that we might have in Central Europe an area where disengagement would be positively disadvantageous to peace and collective security.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl the Leader of the House for his explanation, and I do not want to create any difficulties within the Department. It was simply that was rather critical of the impression which that speech had given, and I would say how glad we all were to hear what the noble Leader of the House said last week to dispel that impression.

The policy of disengagement has been so thoroughly and so expertly dealt with by the noble Lord, Lord Strang, that I hardly venture to speak upon the subject. I would, however, just point to what I see as the only difference that has arisen between the two major Parties—namely this question of the reunification of Germany. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, pointed out that Eastern Germany would never be permitted to become part of N.A.T.O., and there would be no prospect of agreement on the withdrawal of Russian troops from the satellite countries, if we on our side were to insist on the reunification of East and West Germany with freedom for them to choose allegiance to N.A.T.O. The noble Lord, Lord Strang, has postulated that it would be highly dangerous to withdraw foreign forces from both parts of Germany before reunification; and Her Majesty's Government have made it quite plain, to-day, last month and in the correspondence between the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister and Mr. Bulganin, that they insist on this reunification.

On that problem I would put only one point for the consideration of your Lordships. If there were to be a neutral zone in Europe and a reunited Germany, with the withdrawal of foreign troops from Eastern countries as well as Western Germany, under suitable guarantees, are we really quite convinced that that would be in the security of Europe or of our other Western Allies—or of Russia herself? Are we quite sure that a reunified Germany, left to herself, is not going to follow the same path that was followed between the wars? The noble Earl the Leader of the House spoke of the public memory being short in relation to Hungary, but I hope that our own memories are not so short that we cannot remember how Germany succeeded in rearming fully and quelling the whole of Europe, in spite of guarantees, treaties about boundaries and armaments and every kind of thing. I believe that if we are to insist on the reunification of Germany we must bear in mind the possibility that Germany is far safer within the orbit of N.A.T.O. than left outside of it.

Coming briefly to the Summit conference, I want only to take up a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Winster, who spoke of the propaganda value that this conference may have, and, indeed, is already having, for the Soviet Union. I believe that now the situation has been reached where Her Majesty's Government must have a Summit conference, and that the previous objection to it—namely, that it would be useless to have a conference which did not achieve any concrete result—is no longer valid; because public opinion in this country in particular, and perhaps in Europe as a whole, has reached such a stage that it would be more dangerous, not only for Her Majesty's Government but for the Leaders of the Opposition as well, if the Summit conference did not take place. For it is only by having a Summit conference and, in the event of no concrete agreement being reached, of making the most of the propaganda value on our side, that we can allay the suspicion and frustration felt in this country—a feeling which can be put into its proper perspective only if we meet the Russians and prove to everybody that we are in the right and they are in the wrong. Surely it is not beyond the ingenuity of the combined propaganda and information services of the N.A.T.O. Powers to put over that propaganda sufficiently well so as to defeat the Russians at their own game.

At the beginning of my speech I mentioned the fact that the Russians had broken out in the Middle East, and I will go on to relate that to my words a moment ago about propaganda. I must draw to your Lordships' attention the Asian-African conference which took place in Cairo last December. As a result of that conference there are increased radio broadcasts from Cairo—"The Voice of Free Africa," "The Voice of Free Algeria" and "The Voice of the Arabs"; and a series of committees has been set up, of which Asians, Arabs and Russians are secretaries, under the general direction of an Egyptian general secretary, with the express intention of "chasing from Africa," in their own words, "the British oppressors." That is a situation which we shall ignore at our peril.

I believe it was the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, who referred to China as being a crucial quarter of the globe in the next decade. I do not know about that, but I am quite sure that East Africa and the Horn of Africa, which have been and are to be subjected to a virulent campaign from Cairo, are going to be a crucial area in the next decade. What was formerly Italian Somaliland (Somalia as it is now) has by the will of the United Nations to be made indepedent in 1960. That country is perhaps one of the least qualified of all African countries to stand on its own feet. That will divide Kenya, with its troubles on the one hand, and, on the other, will isolate British Somaliland, faced, as it is already, with a Yemen now united with Egypt and Syria. I feel sure that in that part of the world we shall have a struggle upon our hands, and we should do well to prepare for that in the fields of propaganda and information, subjects which were brought into the Defence debate by the noble Lord, Lord Wilmot of Selmeston, and the noble Earl, Lord Attlee. I feel that I cannot emphasise too much the necessity for that in that area of the world.

In the White Paper on Overseas Information Services last year we were told of some general improvements which were to be brought about, and last month the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in another place said that appointments had been made to new information posts in East Africa. I was in Kenya and Tanganyika right up to the end of October, and in spite of the good work being done by the local information services of the Colonial Governments and of the British Council I was very struck by the fact that at that time there were no British information services at all in this crucial area. Perhaps by the end of the debate the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor will we able to tell us what particular appointments have been made in that area, and where.

Although we welcome the fact that the Arabic broadcasts have been increased from 4½ to 9½ hours daily (I think that is so), and that there are increases in Hausa, Swahili and Somali broadcasts, the fact that only 11½ hours out of 604 hours of weekly B.B.C. services were devoted to the Colonies shows there is great scope for improvement. I suggest that, whereas it may be all very well to have these information services co-ordinated, as they have been to great advantage at the centre in this country, there is a case to create a specific regional Organisation in that area. That case is admitted in principle by this White Paper on the Overseas Information Services, which in paragraph 4 of the preamble states: While stability and continuity of effort are essential, our effort must be able to react swiftly to a changing situation with a flexibility which permits, as the need may arise, a switch of emphasis from one area to another. While the sympathy of the influential few must always be sought, it is no less important, in many cases, to seek to enlist the good will of the general population. I believe that we require a regionally coordinated organisation in East Africa to cover also the Horn of Africa and the Sudan—that area in general—to safeguard our position; and that we should set up something on the lines of a Psychological Warfare Branch to counteract the influence of the Arab, Asian and African committees, situated at Cairo.

I had the interesting experience of serving in the Psychological Warfare Branch in the last eighteen months of the war. I ended up in Trieste, which was one of the "hot spots" of Europe, and I can only say that never before or since have I so nearly con-le to impersonating one of the characters in one of the more imaginative novels of E. Phillips Oppenheim. I am aware of the activities of that organisation, both its "above board" ones and its rather more underhand ones. I am only suggesting that we should set up the "above board" ones in East Africa. We have such advantages on our side. We have such a wonderful story to tell. It should be so easy to overcome the purely nationalist and Communist propaganda to which those unstable territories are subjected. We have the story of the Commonwealth. I need not set it out again, because the noble Earl the Leader of the House has already done that so well this afternoon. If only we can tell that story about freedom and justice and the growth of political democracy, not only in Asia but also in West Africa too, surely we can overcome our difficulties -in that area. I would seriously put it to Her Majesty's Government that they might consider this particular problem as a vital part of foreign policy which finds its suitable place in this debate this afternoon.

5.35 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, said that the present situation was intolerable, and I do not think that I am really differing from him very much when I appeal to the experience of most of your Lordships and say that we sometimes find ourselves in situations that seem to us intolerable, but by sitting tight and bearing them we come out better than we thought we should. The situation to-day is very similar to one that I remember some time ago, during the tenure of the Socialist Government. Noble Lords opposite will remember the Conference of London. They will remember how for months the newspapers were announcing this Conference of the "Big Five". For weeks beforehand they were telling us what was going to take place at the Conference and what was going to be decided. Then the delegates met, and everybody was silent in awe while the delegates sat down and spent nine days in disputing on the meaning of the first item on the agenda. Then they realised they would get nowhere and they separated.

I think I can claim (and I believe noble Lords opposite will agree with me) that although we had many foreign affairs debates at that time nobody, certainly nobody in this House, made any political propaganda of them. We all sympathised with the Government in their natural disappointment, but realised that nothing else could have come out of it. I think we realised that the Conference, as it took place, was rather different from the conferences in the old days. In the old days there would have been correspondence at quite a low level, there would have been negotiations between all the parties as to the agenda and the precise meaning of the agenda. There would have been agreement upon that. Then, at a much higher level probably, there would have been clarity as to what was actually going to be agreed at the conference; because international agreements are agreements in very set terms. They are rather like an uneasy marriage. As soon as the bond is tied the parties strain at the bond to see how far they can make it go. And that is the nature of international agreements, as we all know. They have to be made in very precise terms.

That leads me to ask one question of Her Majesty's Government: what is going to be the dominant language of this Summit conference? In the old days the language used to be French, because it was felt that French was the most precise of all European languages and it was impossible to twist the meaning of any phrase into something else. We are told that, because America is going to be with us in the conference, the language ought to be English. Well, I think there is often a great difference in meaning between "American English" and "English English". A man who does not know French is not worth calling a diplomat, and I still think the language ought to be French.

Surely the people who are going to take part in the Summit conference must have a fairly precise idea of where they are likely to come out before they go into it. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, spoke about a non-aggression pact. A non-aggression pact sounds all right as a phrase, but it must be put in very precise terms. Centuries ago the poet Æsop gave us a definition of an aggression. You will find it in the fable of The Wolf and the Lamb, and it is not very much to our comfort to-day. I do not think that we have made much progress since.


My Lords, will the noble Lord remind the House of the definition?


It was contained in the fable of The Wolf and the Lamb. The wolf met a lamb at the pool and accused it of polluting the water. The lamb said, "How can I be doing that? I am drinking below you. You are upstream from me." The wolf said, "If you didn't then your mother did, and it was an insult, and I am going to revenge it on you." And that is often a good definition of modern aggression.


I thank the noble Lord.


I merely mentioned that to show the difficulty of these conferences. And there is this to be said: if we are going to have the heads of States meeting in a conference, we want a success, or at least, if possible, a show of success; and that is much more likely to be achieved if the high-contracting parties are not themselves doing the bickering and then sending possible agreements to their experts downstairs to hammer out. I am very much afraid of this Summit conference because, if nothing is done, though I do not think it will make any real alteration to the international situation, it will seem to set back the position, just as the London Conference seemed to set it back, although in fact it did not make a great deal of difference to the events that followed. I am entirely on the side of the noble Lord, Lord Strang. If the noble Lord, Lord Winster, is correct, there is really nothing to be done. If we are dealing with somebody who cannot possibly keep a bargain, what is the use of making a bargain for him to break? In the old days, before the Revolution, the Russians had a very high reputation for keeping international agreements, and I think that the Foreign Secretary is right when he said that if we do get agreement on any definite articles, they will probably be kept.

What I am afraid of is that if the Summit conference should fail, it would be a great shock to this country; and in this severe disappointment we shall need the services of the Opposition as much as those of members of the Government to make the people realise that failure could not really be helped. I appeal to the Opposition: let us both get together. I welcome the Prime Minister's suggestion about taking the Opposition into his confidence over foreign affairs. Before our generation, in the bad old Victorian days, the Leader of the Opposition was nearly always well acquainted with the foreign policy of the Government, and foreign affairs debates were not much countenanced in either House and took place on rather measured lines. I think that it would be very much to the interests of the country if that were the rule in future.

5.43 p.m.


My Lords, after the debate on defence last week, it is to be expected that we shall be mainly concerned in this debate with our immediate political anxieties, in the Middle Easy, North Africa and elsewhere, and the issues of policy raised by them, and, above all, of course, with the question of the Summit conference, the conditions on which it should be summoned, the kind of agenda it should have and the results we may hope from it. But I think it is desirable to look a little further ahead, beyond the time of the Summit conference itself. As we listened to the noble Earl. the Leader of the House, to-day. I am sure all of us ardently hoped that some time the kind of disarmament plan which he outlined might secure agreement. But many of us, when we listened to his description of Her Majesty's policy in respect of Germany, must have asked ourselves whether there is any real chance of such a policy being accepted and agreed at a Summit conference this summer, and whether it would not be better, so far as it might depend upon us, to postpone the question of Germany until a later date.

I think, with the noble Lord, Lord Strang, that it is desirable to look at the international situation in a broader and longer perspective than that of our immediate problems and anxieties, to look to the other side of the Summit conference. This is desirable partly that we may be better prepared to pick up from wherever the conference may end and partly to do what we can to safeguard ourselves against the possibly dangerous mood of disillusionment which may result from a negative conference or one with very limited success. We must remember that in this period the difficulties of obtaining substantial success in such a conference are particularly great because the tension between East and West is increased by the present feverish competition to overcome any inequality in the race for more and more dangerous bombs and more and more effective means of delivering them, and if possible to achieve an actual superiority. That is a situation in which far-reaching agreements are perhaps less possible than they may be at a later date.

We are entering—indeed we have already entered—a long and dangerous tunnel of which we cannot assess the length and through which it may be difficult to choose a path. I think we should do well to ask ourselves whether it is possible to discern any light, even though dim and distant, at the end of the tunnel. I think we can, and that it is also possible to foresee successive stages of advance towards a more secure world, which, though each of them is necessarily doubtful, are not any of them beyond a reasonable hope. If we can do that—and I think that we can—we get two advantages. We may gain both courage for what must be the very anxious and perilous time immediately ahead of us, and perhaps also some guidance as to the steps we should choose through this long and perilous passage.

As we all know, we are now under the twin menace and shelter of a weapon by which both the Western and the Communist world can be destroyed. No one of us can tell certainly whether in the years immediately ahead the mutual deterrent will suffice to prevent war or whether an insane desire to forestall the other side, a mistaken bluff, an attempt at an aggression which it is hoped will be only local but may lead to global war, or an accident, or personal madness or folly, may plunge us all into destruction. I think that in this period the danger of such an accidental or semi-accidental great war is much greater than that of a deliberate intention to resort to such a war.

In my view the risk of an intentional and deliberate resort to major war is substantially reduced by one fact, on which I think too little emphasis is usually laid. The rulers of Russia, however much they may have departed from Marxian or even Lenin's doctrine, to all appearance sincerely believe in one part of that doctrine—namely, that our system, which they call the capitalist system, is destined ultimately to perish of its own internal weaknesses and that all they need do is by skilful policy to try to accelerate the process. They will be less inclined to take deliberately the hideous gamble of an all-out war because they are themselves assured of an ultimate Communist victory.

And their disinclination will be increased by what from every other point of view we all so deeply regret—the Russians' recent successes in the non-Communist and uncommitted areas, and also the visible strains they see in the Western Alliance through conflicts between its member countries and differences of public opinion in each. A country, like Russia, which is convinced of ultimate success and is encouraged by recent developments to hope that progress towards it may be rapid, even if that hope is a complete illusion, is unlikely to embark deliberately on the ultimate gamble. The other risks, of course, remain. But at least it is not unreasonable to hope that in the years immediately ahead a conflagration may be prevented by what the Defence White Paper calls "the balancing fears of mutual annihilation." Let us suppose so, and let us try to foresee the next stage.

As I have said, now and in the immediate future the tension and the risk are both increased by the feverish competition between West and East to achieve superiority in the hydrogen bomb and in the means of delivering it. That, however, is not likely to last very long. The time will certainly come when it will be evident to both sides, beyond hope or illusion, that each can destroy the other and will certainly do so if either starts Each will then perhaps realise that "enough is enough."

That is what I call the second stage, in which we may expect two results of that realisation. First, it will be useless to go on with increasingly expensive experiments as at present and to add expensively to the stocks, then already sufficient, of atomic weapons and equipment. There will then be a substantial relief of the burden of armaments on the economies of both sides and with it, perhaps, some change in the psychology of East as well as West which will somewhat strengthen the forces that make for transforming our conflict into a less dangerous form. A second result may then follow. The conditions may become more favourable then than they are now for a conference designed to achieve phased and controlled reductions of armaments, each phase preserving the balance of power but at a lower level. If that proves possible the visibly beneficial results of the relief of armaments expenditure and reduced tension will, I suggest, prepare the way for the third stage of progress.

This next and third stage, if we reach it, will be one in which as available economic resources on both sides increase, the cold war will more and more take the form of economic competition. This economic rivalry will at first be bitter and dangerous. We shall both bid for the uncommitted areas, and some methods adopted by one side will be bitterly resented by the other. Yes, but these same methods may well become increasingly unattractive to those countries whose favours are sought, sensitively jealous as they are of any impairment of their national independence. We in the West could perhaps, under these conditions, take much of the venom out of the economic conflict by publicly proposing, as the Economist suggested some weeks ago, to channel economic aid to underdeveloped countries through an international institution—for example, a strengthened organ of the United Nations—of which both the West and Russia are members and to which they would be invited to make equal contributions. If this were accepted, the economic competition would take a less dangerous form; and if it were rejected, the West, in having made it, would at least have secured an advantage in the picture of itself presented to the hesitant countries or sections of its own public opinion. Combined economic assistance of this kind would not, of course, preclude other forms of economic competition, but it would reduce its dangers and add to its benefits.

In the next, the fourth, stage of advance, the still continuing rivalry of the two systems would even begin to bring some positive benefits. The possibility of war, though not eliminated, would be receding to the background; so would the more provocative forms of attempted aggression without war. Each system would then contend for the favour of the hesitant or "floating" adherent by "making the best of itself" in both senses of that phrase; that is, in developing what is best in its own system and showing its best aspect to others. In East and West there would be an inducement to eliminate what is worst and most disliked in its own system by those who are in the other system or in neither. And each would, in its contacts with other countries, have an inducement to present its best aspect and not its worst.

The effect on the psychology of the Communist world would be salutary; and so far as the West is concerned I need not remind your Lordships of the weaknesses which the Communist looks to as confirming the Marxian prophecy. The rulers of Russia will now be watching with anxious—perhaps I should say eager—interest to see how the West, led by America, will deal with the menace of a possible depression. There are too, as we know, social evils in our Western system which are widely proclaimed by our rivals, and it is not a bad thing that we should have an extra inducement to remove them. Even more is this true of the aspect which we show to the outer world. In our methods of negotiation, in the form in which economic aid takes, in the picture we present of our own civilisation and culture, it will be increasingly necessary, and profitable, to adjust our action to the psychology of those with whom we are dealing.

I will take two in themselves trivial instances of cultural contacts. I did not think it a good presentation of the West when I was in Iraq, a Moslem country, that the stricter Moslems, who retain a tradition of greater reticence in all that concerns sex than we do, upon whom the cohesion of a weakened society largely depends, should be affronted by posters advertising some of Hollywood's worst films. I did not think it a good thing—though it is less important because it reflects a more distant past and not the present—that when our best actors and producers took our greatest dramatist across the Iron Curtain they should choose, of all his plays to represent him and the West, such a play as Titus Andronicus. These are, as I have said, trivial in themselves, but they are small examples of a myriad that could be given which in total are far from trivial.

In this fourth stage, if we can reach it, the competition of the rival systems would begin to have advantages analogous to those of the competition of political Parties within a free country, or of rival industries in a system of free enterprise. Just as in contending for the favour of an electorate, Left and Right Parties are each induced to emulate the other in what is best and most attractive in its programme—and, incidentally, to reduce their differences by the elimination of what is worst or less desired by those whose support they seek—so it may be with the rivalry of the free and the Communist systems.

In such a competition, with the menace of war receding as that of civil war has receded in free countries, I have faith in the success of what is best in our own system. If it is purged of its defects and its weaknesses, its promise of personal freedom and equal justice will increasingly appeal to many of those in both East and West for whom the Communist system has hitherto had some attraction. In the Communist and satellite countries there are already signs, usually latent but occasionally visible, and likely to increase, that much of what the free world has to offer will have an appeal. It is for us in the West to ensure that the Marxian doctrine that our system will be destroyed by its intrinsic defects is mistaken. It will, I believe, in the end prove to be an illusion, though, as I have suggested, it may none the less be an illusion which will have served a useful purpose during the present period of greatest peril.

Your Lordships may consider that, in suggesting this prospect, I am unduly optimistic. I do not think so. I do not prophesy that this will be how events will develop. I do not assert with any certainty that it is more probable than a devastating war in the first stage or than an arrest or reversal of the advance I have suggested at one or other of the later stages. I claim only that there is a reasonable possibility of such an advance by stages, and that by setting it as an ultimate goal, by making it an objective of policy from the first, we can help to make it more than a possibility. In any case, it is, I suggest, true that the first period in which we now are is the most dangerous, and that each further stage of advance, if we survive the first, will become less difficult than the preceding one, and that progress in each stage of the advance will generate impelling forces which will aid and accelerate advance to the next stage.

In one respect, indeed, my conditional optimism is less than will be suggested to many, especially those who do not note the careful reservation of the opening words, by the sentence in the Defence Paper to which I have already referred. That says: There is no military reason why a world conflagration should not be prevented for another generation or more through the balancing fears of mutual annihilation. I do not myself believe, if such respite as may now be given is not used in the years immediately ahead to convert the conflict of West and East into a less dangerous form, that the mutual deterrent of the ultimate weapon is likely to give us peace for as long as a generation. But if war is, in fact, now averted, and if progress along such lines as I have suggested is made, the time will come when the world—the whole world—will see a brighter vision of the future and find in it a compelling motive for its action.

We shall all then realise more clearly than we do now that the scientific inventions which now put us in such mortal danger have also inestimable benefits to offer us. They can give to mankind what earlier generations have never had and could not even imagine. They can provide the physical power and resources which will enable mankind as never before in history to attain new peaks of happiness, achievement and self-development, spreading more widely and more equally over all regions and all races, and offering permanently to thousands of millions what has hitherto been no more than the precarious privilege of a few minorities.

6.5 p.m.


My Lords, it was said more than once during the debate of last week that defence and foreign policy are to-day virtually inseparable, and certainly my own mind has carried forward to this debate what seemed to me three great speeches on foreign affairs made in our debate of last week. I am thinking of the speeches of my noble friend Lord Swinton, the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and my noble friend the Leader. I mention them in the order of delivery of their speeches, and not so much in the order of the importance, which I may give them.

Perhaps the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, will allow me to elaborate on the wish he expressed, that more importance and more funds should be given to legitimate propaganda behind the Iron Curtain. It has long seemed to me that a great deal of the care, the experience and the patience which goes into the forming of our foreign policy, and into proposals which grow from it, are squandered if the full terms and intentions of that policy can reach only a cynical clique of leaders in some other countries. That, I think, is very apt to happen; Reading the noble Earl's speech. I found a suggestion that he would like to see all the funds at present earmarked for launching sites diverted at once to propaganda. If that was his intention, I am afraid that I can make no attempt to keep up with him on that first exuberant lap. But if, as I feel, he saw it as an end to aim at, to coincide with an effective programme of world disarmament, then I am with him all the way.

I also think that an effort to expand considerably in this direction should be made at once, and I am drawn to this method not mainly, I think, because a large part of my life has been spent as a professional writer, as a newspaperman, but because I have lately seen at first hand how rewarding even a restricted effort in this direction can be to-day. The voice of the B.B.C. behind the Iron Curtain commands great respect. The measure of that respect may be given by the fact that in some countries there is a penalty of twenty-five years in prison for anyone caught listening to the B.B.C. foreign broadcasts. And still the people listen! In one country, the B.B.C. service is sent out nightly on six wavelengths, five of which each night are jammed, and the sixth kept open for official monitoring. The people of that country have become remarkably adroit in twirling the knobs in such a way as to find the single open wavelength with the minimum of time. Once the message has been received by the courageous and skilful few scattered through the territory, the bush telegraph does the rest. So, adapting the familiar military maxim, I share the view with the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, that funds spent on propaganda are seldom wasted. I sincerely believe that with this propaganda we could reach the Russian people. It is clear beyond question that we could reach the satellite peoples to greater effect than we do to-day. But inspired propaganda can be generated only by inspired policies, and from the point of view of 110 million captive people and potential friends behind the Iron Curtain, in the satellite countries, there is little at the moment in our declared policy that they can find inspiring.

I am not pressing disengagement today, as I have done before. I am not pressing it, although I still subscribe to that argument, despite the ruthless dissection which it received this afternoon at the hands of the noble Lord, Lord Strang. From what I understand, the Government has not so much set its face against disengagement as such, but is opposed to any plans for disengagement so far put forward. I hope that that may include the very bad Rapacki Plan, and that in default of any disengagement plan of our own we shall not find ourselves discussing at the Summit disengagement on the basis of the Rapacki Plan. Here, I know, I differ from the noble Lord, Lord Henderson—something which I hope he will agree is a reasonably rare occurrence in this particular sphere. I disagree with him because I think the Rapacki Plan is a Russian manœuvre and bears the distinct stamp of origin of a Russian manœuvre.

Earlier this month I attended a small conference at which there were present some Members of Parliament from this country and other Western European countries, as well as some exiled politicians from the satellites. At that conference a plan was put forward—a complete alternative to disengagement. I am far from being convinced of the value of this plan, but with your Lordships' leave I should like to put it forward now as one more contribution to thought on these very important problems. That plan was in the following terms: Under the ægis of U.N.O. troops composed of Russian, American, British and French soldiers under a single command should be sent for an agreed period into both Germanies and the satellite countries. The commander-in-chief would be chosen each month from a different national army. It would not be a question of every zone occupied by the forces of another country but of a joint presence whose sole purpose would be to ensure the neutrality of those countries and prevent any external aggression, any internal subversion and any action of the countries concerned amounting to a violation of their neutrality, which would be moreover guaranteed by the big Powers and secured by the presence of heir troops. With the exception of military matters, all interference of the U.N.O. forces with the politics of the neutralised countries would be forbidden. Free elections would be held in all the countries of Eastern and Central Europe, and the two newly-elected German Parliaments would decide about reunification. In this way the U.S.S.R. would be sure of being surrounded by neural countries from which she would have nothing to fear. The risk of 'fascist plots' in the satellite countries would be eliminated, Germany would be neutral and could be reunified. The peoples of Eastern Europe would regain their right of self-determination which was recognised by Stalin himself at Yalta. The West would be assured that a reunified Germany would not become Russia's satellite. The Americans would keep their European bases, with the exception of those in Western Germany. N.A.T.O. would be weakened by Germany's absence, but on the other hand its task would be made easier as U.N.O. troops would be keeping the peace in Central and Eastern Europe. I hope your Lordships will forgive me for reading that plan aloud. It is not mine and I thought it right to read it correctly. As your Lordships will see, it is conceived as the very opposite to the principle of disengagement. It might be called the principle of inter-engagement. To be frank, I see a great complexity of dangers arising from it—dangers and difficulties. But it is possible that wiser heads than mine might see the solution to those dangers and difficulties, and it is in that not very presumptuous spirit that I thought it worth putting forward this afternoon.

What I am most certain of is that we should find some means to show the enslaved peoples behind the Iron Curtain that we are still thinking of them and still striving for their freedom by any means short of war. At present their fear is that an opposite purpose or an opposite intention may occupy our minds. They fear that Summit talks may mean Russia demanding and receiving from the West a recognition of the status quo. They fear that the crime which Yalta became, through the trustfulness of the West, may be compounded at the new Summit meeting and their fate sealed for ever. For us to do so would be a covenant with death and an agreement with hell. I sincerely hope that my noble friend Lord Gosford or my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor may find it possible, in the course of to-morrow's debate, to declare that no such agreement and no such covenant will be made. If they can do so, it will bring great comfort to many millions of friends of ours behind the Iron Curtain.

I wonder if the truth upon which I am basing this appeal is fully recognised by noble Lords on either side of this House. Last month, in a private discussion with one of the noble Lords opposite, he expressed his doubt to me that the European satellite nations really felt themselves strongly to belong to the West. I hope I did not reveal at the time the full horror, the full shock of my response, because for anyone as high principled and as humane as I know the particular noble Lord to be, to hold that doubt was indeed very terrible to my mind.


May I interrupt the noble Lord? I thought the noble Lord might be referring to me, until he mentioned that the noble Lord in question was high principled and humane—then I thought it was someone quite different: it must be the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. But if, apart from that particular mistake in the application of words, he was referring to me, let me say that if I shocked him it was only through my clumsiness that he misunderstood my point of view.


I will not for one moment accept the noble Lord's denigration of the qualities I gave to him; but I accept very willingly that I misunderstood him. I have said that I hope an assurance can be given, because so long as Mr. Khrushchev continues to declare without contradiction from this country, that no problem of Eastern and Central Europe exists, so long will the agony and suspense among these people increase, and the time of a Summit conference will be for them a time of approaching and unbearable dread.

But as I make this plea I should like also to state my confidence that mankind will one day commend and be grateful for the determined and deliberate approach of Her Majesty's Government to Summit talks at this stage. It is one thing, and a very laudable thing, for Sir Edmund Hillary to say that he went to the summit "because it was there". But a British Prime Minister, however well it might fit his personality, cannot afford, to be so quixotic. The responsibilities for success or failure are far too grave and far-reaching to permit quixotic gestures for their own sake. There have been Summit talks within all our memories at Teheran, Yalta, Potsdam and Geneva. The record of their results does not encourage optimism among thoughtful men. It requires men of initial courage to draw any hope whatever from the prospects of this year. But that hope has been expressed by thoughtful men, and we should be thankful for it.

The American President who went to Yalta said this to his Moscow Ambassador, before the conference, in reference to Marshal Stalin: I think if I give him everything I possibly can and ask nothing from him in return—noblesse oblige—he will not try to annexe anything; he will work for the world of democracy and peace. A heavy price was paid for that belief. The heaviest part was not paid by us. We dare not, the world dare not, succumb to the temptation of such unguarded innocence again. But if courage and caution together, like Roland and Oliver, go forward in partnership to the parley, then we and the world dare hope at last for the eventual triumph of innocence.

6.21 p.m.


My Lords, foreign affairs can cover a wide field, but I doubt whether any nation in the history of the world has so completely dominated this field as does Soviet Russia to-day. Every speaker in a foreign affairs debate must of necessity return to the enigma of Russia as from Europe to the Far East the monstrous Punch and Judy show performs with the genie in the Kremlin pulling the puppet strings.

When a boy, the history of Soviet Russia fascinated me. Communism was definitely forbidden fruit and was therefore all the more enticing. I lost no time in reading Karl Marx and laying my hands on all the literature I was able to referring to the rise of the Bolshevics. One of the first things I discovered was that in no nation can the mass of the people be so far removed from their leaders. If we study the lives of the men who have ruled Russia for the last forty years, it is clearly impossible for us, living as we do in a free society, to credit that people of such ruthlessness exist. I have heard it said that when the late Mr. Neville Chamberlain was parleying with Hitler he found it difficult not to imagine that he was talking to a man who had the same standards of honour and decency as he himself had. I think we are all inclined to judge people as we judge ourselves.

Similarly, I think that when noble Lords opposite ask the Government not to allow the setting up of missile bases before the Summit conference they are making a mistake. They appear to show a complete lack of understanding of the Russian leaders' psychology. The latter would surely understand such a gesture as weakness and become even more intractable. These men rule by fear and, however disagreeable it may be to say so, fear is the only thing that they understand.

When we come to the Russian people it is a very different matter. Russia is not the happy country that large sections of the British people appear to think it is. Millions still work in forced labour camps and endure the most appalling conditions. Civil war often conies to areas of this vast country, as in the Ukraine and the Caucasus, and is stamped out with the most appalling ferocity. If Russia were the happy family that her propaganda would have us believe, surely she could have saved millions of roubles spent on this propaganda by long ago opening her frontiers and saying, "Come and see our earthly paradise." I believe that the greatest hope for the survival of the civilised world lies in the West's striving to make as much contact as possible with the ordinary Russian people—by trade, tourism, the arts, sport, and in fact by any means we can contact them.

To-day in Russia discontent is shown by a different class of people than before the war. Then, the peasants and the workers used sometimes to rise in protest at the sheer agony of the conditions they had to endure. However, post-war Russia has become an industrial nation of great magnitude with, accordingly, a large class of executives, technicians and intellectuals—a class created by the Soviet Government. It is this class which is showing discontent at their restrictions. This is the most important development. The Kremlin dare not liquidate this class; they would be wiping out the heart of the State. As yet the pressure exerted on the Soviet leaders is not very great, but all signs point to its increasing in tempo.

I do not think we should encourage the satellite States to rise against Russia unless we are prepared to go to their help. We do not wish to stand by and again witness the frightful butchery that occurred in Hungary. Personally, I believe we are far too frightened of Russia's conventional military strength. I know that 200 divisions sounds frightening; it is so astronomical. But would Russia dare use all of these divisions in an aggressive war in Europe? Is it not a fact that whenever Russia sends troops into Europe she contrives wherever possible to send in Mongolian and other Asiatic troops? I believe Russia is afraid that her European troops might desert when they saw the much higher standard of living of Western European workers.

Personally, I feel that we have more to fear from the cold war, for I believe that the Russians are just as frightened of a military war as the rest of the world. They would much prefer to conquer the world by propaganda and industrial supremacy. Surely if they were to engage in an aggressive war their forty years of intensive propaganda would go by default, since it would be opposite to their Communist teachings. Look how Russia's aggressive action in Hungary has lost her millions of sympathisers. The West has retreated, retreated and retreated. The danger is that Russia has now come to regard this as a Western habit. If the West intend to make a stand at any given point we should make it abundantly clear to Russia that we are not bluffing. Let them not make the mistake that Hitler made.

Before I conclude I should like to say a word about all those who have lately been so vocal in their opinion that Britain should ban the H-bomb. Surely these people must realise that no one would be happier than Her Majesty's Government—I presume—to ban the bomb, but that to do so without the taking of similar action by the United States and Russia would, first of all, be dishonourable, and, secondly, would be a deception on the public, by deluding the public into a greater sense of safety whereas in fact their dangers would have been enormously increased.

I read the other day that a certain well-known author had said that to use the bomb would degrade us. That is the first time I have ever heard that it is degrading to defend oneself. If we throw the H-bomb away we are, in fact, in deadly danger of degradation—degradation such as the poor people of Hungary have had to endure. I would remind all who hesitate on this question of the H-bomb—many of them young people—of the words of the noble Earl the Leader of the House in the defence debate, to the effect that there comes a time in one's life when to live would be infinitely worse than to die. Surely it is a decadent people who prefer slavery of body and soul rather than to risk their lives to live in freedom. It is said that a people get the Government they deserve. If ever the people of Britain become so mediocre through the Welfare State that they choose a Government who prefer comfort and temporary safety to honour and duty, the world need not mourn their demise. Such a people will be fit only for the slavery which will be their lot.

6.37 p.m.


My Lords, I shall be very short, for I know that the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, is keen to move the adjournment of the debate, but I must say that I find myself very disappointed by this debate. It seems to me that nothing has been said which we have not heard over and over again in the last few years—a great deal of it in the Defence debate which we had only a day or two ago. What we are really talking about all the time is: How are we to avoid self-destruction? I do not believe anything has been said to-day which is going to help us to that end. I believe that the suggestion of the right honourable gentle man the Prime Minister of a non-aggression pact is good, and I would support that: it is something of which the Russians can take hold.

It seems to me that we should talk to the Russians something like this: "We want to get nearer to you. We want to know what you want us to do." It appears that Mr. Khrushchev and others are always trying to get us to appreciate the fact that we are not complying with the highest standard of diplomatic activities. I should like to say to the Russians, "You have said many things lately. We have had debates in both our Houses on the subject of the troubles there are between yourselves and ourselves. Now will you come bang out into the open and say what you would like us to do?" I can see no harm in doing that. What I am anxious that we should do, if we can, is to stop these debates in which (I say this with the greatest respect) a great many things are said that would be far better left unsaid. We have been at it now for years, with no result at all.

My Lords, we might ask one or two questions, for instance, with regard to these bases—missile bases, rocket bases and so on—that are disturbing the minds of the Russians. I should like to know how many bases there are in Eastern Germany. Let us ask the Russians. Let us say, "Look here: we are perfectly willing to come out into the open and to discuss with you these questions on bases, but we must know what you have got. You will realise that we must know that before we can get down to deciding what we should do in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We do not know those circumstances; we have never been told." The Russians, as we know, have often told us that they are very keen on disarmament and peace. I want to say again that we are willing to help their desire in this direction if only they will tell us what they want us to do. I have already said that. But why should we not ask them? I think it would put them in a very awkward position if they refused to give us some sort of indication. There is no doubt about it, they are displeased with us. It appears they do not like the way we carry on. Let us say, as we would in any walk of life here, whether we were discussing business or the law or anything else, "This is my view, but what do you consider is the right way to proceed in regard to these difficulties that we are in?" I believe that if we were to do that we should create a new spirit in the manœuvring that is going on between ourselves and the Russians.

I have nearly finished my speech, because I want to see the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, on his feet. But I should like to refer to one thing the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, said. I entirely agree with him with regard to China, and with bringing her into N.A.T.O. and into every world-wide organisation. I also want Spain there. Those are the people whom we ought not to leave out. It has been said over and over again, and particularly just after the war, that we have no intention of interfering with the internal affairs of other nations. I say that we ought to concentrate on that aspect and keep on those lines.

I was greatly impressed by the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, from the Opposition side during the last debate. I felt he spoke well on the past history of the Russians, and that his demonstration of their difficulties in the past was very good. We must be lenient with them. They have their history, as we have ours, and I feel that we should take that fact into consideration much more than we do. None of the people in the world—in Russia, in Spain, in China—want war; they all want peace. They are all worried about that question, and I should like to see the whole of this subject dealt with very much on the lines of what I suggested in the last debate on defence. On Summit talks, as I said in the last debate, I believe that we should get the representatives round the table as soon as possible. This confused state of affairs is unhappy and dangerous, and I hope that we shall do everything we can to end it as soon as possible.


My Lords, I beg to move that the debate be now adjourned until three o'clock to-morrow.

Moved, That the debate be now adjourned.—(Lord Silkin.)

On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.

House adjourned at a quarter before seven o'clock.