§ 3.8 p.m.
§ Debate resumed (according to Order), on the Motion moved yesterday by Lord Henderson: That there be laid before the House Papers relating to the international situation.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I rise to continue the debate, which was opened yesterday, in an able, skilful and interesting manner, by my noble friend Lord Henderson. As he rightly said, this debate is really a continuation of the two days' debate that we had on defence, and many of the speeches made in this debate could equally well have been made in the Defence debate and vice versa. The problem which we are all facing and trying to solve is how we can prevent the world catastrophe which confronts us and threatens the end of all civilisation and of everything we hold dear. It is no exaggeration to say that 156 the arms race, and particularly the introduction and spread of the nuclear weapon to the nations, threatens just that. Is there any hope for the world? Fortunately, it is still not too late to take action for a return to sanity and survival. The opportunity presents itself with the offer of the Soviet Union to enter into top-level talks with ourselves and other members of N.A.T.O. And much of yesterday's debate was taken up, as will be to-day's with considering how we can bring about these talks with reasonable hope of success.
The proposal was first made last December. I believe that the Prime Minister is sincerely anxious to proceed with these talks, as is the noble Earl, Lord Home, who spoke yesterday, and that they are perfectly sincere in their desire to get on with these talks as quickly as possible. But they seem to be little nearer to a meeting. No agreement has been made about the date, the composition of those taking part, the agenda, or even about the place of meeting, although it is now likely that, if we do have a meeting, it will be held in Washington. If there is any hope of success, there must be an equal readiness on both sides to carry out the discussions with sincerity and reasonableness. Having read Marshal Bulganin's long and somewhat repetitive letters, I am bound to say that to my mind (though I know that here many will not agree with me) they indicate a complete sincerity in the desire of the Russians to arrive at an understanding. I do not say that that has always been the case, but I believe that it is the case to-day, as represented by the views expressed in these letters.
The principles which are set out are not, on the face of them, principles that we could reject out of hand. I will return to these principles later in my speech: all I say here is that they seem to constitute a basis for discussion, certainly in the field of disarmament. It is to be regretted, therefore, that yesterday some noble Lords were exceedingly grudging in their approach to these talks, as are many people outside. The noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, was somewhat grudging and sceptical about the value of the talks. My noble friend Lord Winster was even more so—indeed, he took the view that it was useless to have talks, because (he said) the word of the 157 Russians could not be trusted. And the noble Lord, Lord Strang, took almost the same view. They all referred, as is understandable, to the difficulty of negotiating with the Russians; and they rather implied that it was a waste of time, and possibly even dangerous. I would say to my noble friend Lord Winster that he will remember that Mr. Selwyn Lloyd, who has had some experience of dealing with the Russians, took the view quite recently that he had never known a case where the Russians had broken their word.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, I did refer yesterday to what Mr. Selwyn Lloyd had said, but he omitted to quote any one of those agreements which he said the Russians would keep if it were sufficiently pointed and narrow. If my noble friend Lord Silkin would quote one of those instances it would be very helpful to us in arriving at a conclusion in this matter.
§ LORD SILKIN
I fully understand; and of course my noble friend is entitled to take the view that the Russians are lot to be trusted and that no agreement with them is worth the paper it is written on. But if that is so, it is pointless to think about entering into discussions at all. These discussions are going to take place (if they do take place) on the assumption that if an agreement is reached with the Russians it will be kept. I was saying that all noble Lords who questioned the value of top-level discussions referred to the difficulty of negotiations with the Russians in the past; and no doubt the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, and the noble Lord, Lord Strang, have had unfortunate experiences.
§ LORD STRANG
My Lords, that is not what I said. I said that in 1944 and 1945 we did successfully negotiate with the Russians, but by a different method.
§ LORD SILKIN
I am evidently getting into some difficulty with noble Lords; had better leave them alone.
We know that in more recent times the Russians put forward disarmament proposals which they knew, or ought to have known, were unacceptable to us, because they were unreasonable and, if we had accepted them, would have put 158 us in a far less favourable position than we were at the time they were put forward. But have we ourselves not made mistakes in the course of our negotiations? Have we tried to put ourselves in the position of Russia, and to understand her? I would submit that anyone who embarks on a course of negotiations with somebody else, if he is going to be successful, must try to put himself in the position of the other party and understand what his reaction might be to anything Put forward. That seems to me an elementary process in the course of negotiations.
The lack of knowledge and understanding of the respective outlook and ways of life of East and West have resulted in mutual suspicion, mistrust and fear, with a consequent piling up of defensive and offensive weapons. That, of course, applies to both sides. I do not think the Russians have been any more successful in understanding us and our outlook than we have been in understanding theirs. These mutual suspicions and so on have added to the mutual fear, and have induced each side to try to become stronger than the other. Hence we have talked about "negotiating from strength", which the Russians have understood to mean that we would negotiate only when we were stronger than they were. They could quite well take the same view. The result has been that little negotiation has, in fact, taken place.
For too long we have refused to recognise Russia as a great Power who might have legitimate interests in certain parts of the world in which we have had, in the past, the sole interest—for instance, in the Near and Middle East. I do not think we could hope to keep Russia out of her sphere of interest in those areas any longer. We have tried to prevent Russia from taking part in affairs in this area because we fear her influence. We have put forward proposals, and are still doing so, regarding the unification of Germany and the right of the Germans to determine their own foreign policy, which means their right to joint N.A.T.O. That may appear reasonable and democratic to us, but to the Russians it is merely the certainty of adding strength to the West; the fear that Germany will become a member of N.A.T.O., and the fear that the Germans might at the same 159 time take aggressive action to restore their lost territories and change the Oder-Neisse line frontier.
I would ask noble Lords this question. Suppose the position were reversed and that the result of free elections in Germany was to produce a Communist majority—it is not likely, we know, but suppose it were so. Suppose that they would desire to join the Warsaw Pact? Should we be so enthusiastic in calling for German freedom and the right of self-determination? I doubt it very much. I submit that Russia is quite entitled to have her fears, and that it is irrational of us to expect Russia to agree, in present circumstances and without any safeguards as to the future conduct of Germany, to a reunification of Germany and freedom to join N.A.T.O.
We have failed to distinguish between the spread of Communism by peaceful means and persuasion, and its spread by military aggression. We have assumed in all cases that it was the intention of the Soviet Union to spread its ideas by violence. With great respect, I thought the noble and learned Viscount himself fell into that error when he spoke in Northampton the other day, as reported in the London Times. He talked of Russia spreading Communism by military force. If he is going to correct me I shall accept his correction, as I have been corrected several times before. We have not had the advantage of the most obvious weapon, that of ideas, and in the long run you can only counter bad ideas by good ones. Here I should like to quote, as I did the other day from Mr. Kennan, who is a mine of ideas on this subject. He said:One of the most puzzling phenomena of this post-war era has been the unshakable conviction of so many people that the obvious answer to the growth of Communist influence is a military alliance or a military gesture.Of course, it is nothing of the kind. You can never beat an idea by force.
May not we and our allies have contributed to some extent to the long story of misunderstanding and frustration by own our methods of negotiation? Is all the blame on the Russian side? I believe that the delay in agreeing upon the Summit talks is largely due to the fact that there is no agreement between ourselves and Russia as to the real purpose of these proposed conversations. 160 Perhaps there is not even complete agreement between different members of Her Majesty's Government, as evidenced by some of the speeches that have been made. The Russians take the view that these Summit talks are exploratory; they are ice-breaking; they are the beginning of the discussions, not the end. Others think that discussions are useless unless there is substantial agreement in advance, not only on what is to be discussed but on the substance of the conversations.
This is borne out by the account of the talks at Manila between the three Foreign Ministers, Mr. Dulles, Mr. Selwyn Lloyd and Mr. Pineau as reported in to-day's Daily Telegraph. This is a quotation:The Foreign Ministers … decided to work together for a Summit conference provided that Russia could offer some guarantee that such talks would be fruitful.How on earth can Russia provide guarantees that the talks will be fruitful? After all, it depends to some extent upon us, America, France, Italy, and all the other countries who are going to be present. How can Russia guarantee any more than we can, that the talks will be fruitful? Then the Foreign Ministers said that Summit talks could not be started until there was a reasonable assurance of "serious discussions of serious matters." There again, if we expect all these assurances in advance, can we ever expect to get these talks at all? The Ministers went on to say that the three subjects for discussion are disarmament, inspection zones and the reunification of Germany. If that is so, then what is the need for a meeting of Foreign Secretaries in advance of the talks? If that is their view of the subjects for discussion—and I would not disagree with them—surely these talks could begin with very little formality and little waste of time.
I submit that there is already a sufficient identity of aims to justify the hope that if neither side adopts a rigid attitude—and I was delighted to hear the noble Earl, Lord Home, say on a number of occasions yesterday that he hoped we should not adopt a rigid attitude; and I am sure that, so far as he is concerned, that would be true—some agreement is perfectly possible. But is this view held generally? If there is already this identity of aim, how much more preparation is really needed? It would be quite 161 enough to justify the Summit conference if we got sufficient agreement to continue, with the hope of success, a discussion on disarmament alone. I think that that in itself would be worth having a Summit conference for. If any further preparation is needed I suggest that it would be simple to add further items to the agenda for discussion.
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but I want to understand him quite clearly. When he talks about agreement, does he mean an agreement in definite set terms, or does he mean mere vague generalities?
§ LORD SILKIN
I am going to elaborate that point, but I meant that there is sufficient identity of aims to justify talks.
I have made an analysis of some of Marshal Bulganin's proposals and those which the noble Earl, Lord Home, put before us last night—I hope the House will forgive me, but I think the results are worth quoting. I do not know whether the noble Earl and Marshal Bulganin have been getting together, but it struck me as remarkable that many of the proposals set out in the Bulganin letter of January 8, 1958, are similar to those which the noble Earl put before us yesterday as items for discussion. I do not for a moment suggest that they are in complete agreement on these matters, but all we are talking about here is what we should discuss at the conference.
Marshal Bulganin's first point is the immediate ending of hydrogen and atomic weapon tests over a period of two to three years and the exchanging of views on certain other aspects of the disarmament problem. The noble Earl's first point was suspension of tests which need not be delayed until practical effect is given to all the disarmament measures outlined by him. I respectfully suggest that those two statements constitute a basis for discussion. The second of Marshal Bulganin's proposals is the banning of atomic and hydrogen weapons, which, he says, would not require complicated measures of control. The noble Earl wants a halt, under international supervision, to the use of new fissile materials for weapons as from an agreed date. He also wants a reduction of existing stocks of nuclear material and its transfer to peaceful uses. Bulganin puts forward very much the same proposal.
162 When it comes to other matters apart from disarmament, I suggest that there is sufficient common ground there, if not to arrive at a complete agreement at any rate to form a basis for useful discussions with reasonable hope of success. Mr. Bulganin suggests an atom-free zone in Central Europe—what is broadly known to-day as the Rapacki Plan. The noble Earl says that we will go further and that we should be prepared to discuss disengagement. That is a stage beyond an atom-free zone—it would involve establishing an area free from all armies and so on; free from conventional arms as well as nuclear weapons. The proposal for disengagement is one which we on this side of the House, or most of us, favour very strongly, and I think it will be agreed that it is a subject which could be properly discussed.
A number of variants of this proposal have been discussed. There is the proposal put forward by Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick, the former Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office, in last Sunday's Sunday Times, in which he suggests as an area of disengagement a strip across Central Europe 100 miles wide. If we could not get the whole thing, that would be something to get on with. It would be well worth while to have the two forces, East and West, separated, if only by 100 miles. Mr. Bulganin puts forward the proposal for a non-aggression treaty, and the Prime Minister has put forward exactly the same thing. Mr. Bulganin puts forward the proposal for a reduction of troops in Germany, and suggestions for guarding against surprise attack and control—and these are things which of course we should be very happy to discuss.
I stress the almost complete agreement on nuclear weapons, because, after all, nuclear weapons are of a different nature entirely from the conventional arms that we have known in past wars. But I agree that conventional arms can be very deadly. I very much agree with the noble Earl that a war based on conventional arms is, and has always been, no game of ping-pong, as he said. I am at this moment (this will interest the noble Viscount) re-reading War and Peace. It is a much bigger proposition than the noble Viscount thought; there are sixteen hundred pages rather than eight hundred, but at any rate I am well on the way. I have gone past the battle of Borodino, the battle that was fought in front of 163 Smolensk and was really the battle that decided the fate of Moscow. According to Tolstoy, 40,000 Russians lost their lives in that one battle. I believe that was as deadly a battle as any fought in the First or the Second World War. So even a conventional war can be a very deadly thing. Nevertheless, we must recognise that nuclear war introduces an entirely new phase of deadliness which is capable of destroying a whole nation and of creating biological and all sorts of other complications which a normal war does not.
From what I have said, it looks as if talks on disarmament might not be without hope. I admit that we have been near agreement before but each side has put forward proposals which it has subsequently withdrawn; that has happened both with us and with the other side. Nevertheless, in view of what I have described as this substantial identity of aims there is reason to hope that something can be done. Might we not therefore try to agree upon nuclear disarmament first, provisionally, as suggested, for a period of, say, two or three years, with the idea that we could then discuss conventional disarmament and arrive at an agreement upon what was described by my noble friend Lord Henderson and the noble Earl, the Leader of the House, as "balanced disarmament proposals"?
There are one or two other matters I want to discuss very briefly. The Bulganin proposals deal with other matters that might usefully form the subject of conversations. One is trade. It is a fact that we are buying from the Russians in value about twice as much as they are buying from us. The fact is that there are so many things on our prohibited list which we are not able to export to them that we are getting into a situation in which we are taking a large amount of goods from them which one day we shall have to pay for. I should have thought that there was considerable scope for looking at the list again and having discussions about it. I imagine that the result of a release of tension would be that a good many articles could usefully be taken out of the prohibited list.
Then we could have cultural and scientific exchanges. The days have long since gone when the only point of cultural and scientific exchanges was that 164 we could give them information but they could not give any to us. To-day it can be done on a mutually helpful basis. Furthermore, we could discuss economic aid in the underdeveloped areas. We should all agree that it is wrong that this aid should be used as a political weapon, either as an antidote to Communism or as an antidote to so-called imperialism. Surely aid should be given on its merits and there should be no competition between East and West for the giving of aid. It should be given without strings, and it would be exceedingly helpful if we could arrive at some agreement with Russia for the provision of aid where it is really needed. I have no doubt at all that it would have a considerable influence in pacification of many of the troubled areas.
I would say one word about the Middle East. The preservation of peace in the Middle East depends very much on our arriving at some understanding with the Soviet Union. They are, no doubt with some justification, accused of stirring up trouble in the Middle East. I believe they are struggling to create a sphere of influence for themselves which, as a great Power, they are perfectly entitled to have. But the fact is that there is a danger in the Middle East, and if it turns out that Russia takes one side and we take another there is considerable risk of a flare up there which might have world-wide consequences. I should like to ask the noble Earl, Lord Gosford, who is going to reply, to deal with the question of the Arab-Israel trouble. There was some talk about this in the Foreign Affairs debate in another place, and I do not think it was entirely cleared up—at any rate, not to the satisfaction of my friends.
There was a discussion about the Eden proposal: that his view was—I hope I am putting it correctly—that there ought to be some compromise between the 1947 frontiers and the armistice frontiers. I gathered that it was the view of the Foreign Secretary that there should be give and take on those frontiers. I take that to mean, as it can only mean, that if there is to be a compromise between the two there must be some surrender of territory by Israel on the basis of its present frontiers without any quid pro quo in the form of territory. They might get a quid pro quo in some other form, but not in the form of territory—all the 165 surrender of territory would be on the part of Israel. If that is the intention, then I submit that it is quite unrealistic to expect that Israel or any other nation would begin negotiations on the basis that it must surrender some part of its territory. I should be grateful if the noble Earl would kindly clarify this matter. If we could arrive at a sensible formula for a settlement of these problems we could, with the help of Russia, arrive at some agreement; of that I have no doubt.
Now I should like to make a few general observations about the kind of conference which I visualise. I am sure that we must get away from the atmosphere which the Prime Minister described as the atmosphere of the Geneva Conference—these large rooms with large tables, everybody making speeches at one another, and the Press waiting outside or listening through the keyhole and making daily reports about what has taken place. I think that sort of formality is hopeless. Everyone, quite naturally, talks for effect and with one eye on what is going to appear in the world Press the following day. My noble friend suggested the possibility of using the United Nations building. I am afraid that that is the one respect in which I did not altogether see eye to eye with him. I would much rather have this conference in a hotel room or in some quite informal surroundings; the more informality there is about it the better. I would have no publicity and no daily Press reports. I do not think there should be too many taking part—four or five a side, and possibly one or two uncommitted nations. I should not have more than a team of eleven altogether; I think that should be the maximum. I think the venue of Washington is quite acceptable. It is certainly acceptable to the Russians and it would be acceptable to everybody else.
Finally, I was greatly encouraged by the concluding remarks in the noble Earl's speech. I have already touched on the idea he expressed and which I want to reiterate: that in the end the evils in 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 who are not enjoying it now, Surely that is something all of us can agree upon. The noble Earl tried very hard to select the items upon 166 which we were in agreement, but we can all definitely and enthusiastically agree upon that. This gives us solid ground for hope in the future of the world. I greatly hope that we shall soon have these discussions, and I, for one, am optimistic that they will have good results.
§ 3.45 p.m.
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF GOSFORD)
My Lords, we have listened to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, giving us his views on Summit talks in his usual penetrating style, and in much of what he has said I would go along with him. But as my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor will himself be dealing with the subject of the Summit conference, I do not propose to follow Lord Silkin's main line of thought, though I will say a few words about it at the end of my speech. I only hope that the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, is right when he says that the Russians are approaching more nearly to the disarmament proposals put forward by us in 1957. I have my doubts.
Yesterday many of your Lordships dwelt on the subject of disengagement. The noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, said that the Government had set their face against existing plans for disengagement. I should like to make it clear that Her Majesty's Government are far from being opposed to disengagement as such—in fact, Sir Anthony Eden put forward a proposal for disengagement as long ago as 1955, and indeed, later that year, the Western Powers offered the Russians a Treaty of Assurance. Both these offers were in fact rejected by the Russians. What we are against is the existing plans to the extent that none of the plans advocated so far fulfil the conditions which we consider essential. This matter I will develop later. As the noble Lord, Lord Strang, said in his cogent speech yesterday, a neutral belt, without disarmament, would be putting the cart before the horse. It must be remembered that the Government of the day are responsible for the safety of this country, and cannot, as an Opposition can, accept a plan or an idea at its face value.
In examining schemes for disengagement we have to consider the probable 167 military and political effect, the circumstances in which disengagement will take place and the reason why disengagement is advocated. One common reason often given in the West is that the presence of large opposing forces of East and West, facing each other in close proximity across the Iron Curtain, is in itself dangerous. It is argued that by separating these forces the dangers would be reduced. But again I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Strang, that the existence of clearly defined lines would seem to be a safeguard against war by miscalculation; for each side knows that if it commits an act of aggression across the dividing line it would be running the risk of war. By separating the forces a vacuum would be created, and a considerable problem of preventing encroachment would arise. Without a solution of the political problems involved the dangers would, to my mind, be increased rather than decreased.
Another most important reason advocated for disengagement is that it might secure the withdrawal altogether of Soviet forces from Eastern Europe, which would result in the removal of Soviet domination from the satellite countries. Of course we want to see that withdrawal and those countries left free to determine their own future, and we hope that this will come in time. I agree that all these are good reasons for disengagement. We certainly cannot afford to ignore the dangers which might arise from the present situation in Europe. But are these dangers likely to be avoided by existing schemes for disengagement? Are such schemes likely to result in greater freedom for the satellite peoples?
It is surely clear that Soviet domination of Eastern Europe depends on the continued presence there of the Soviet Army. We have no reason to believe that they are likely to relinquish that domination; otherwise, as my noble Leader asked yesterday: "Why Hungary?" The Russians are as aware as we are of the effect that the withdrawal of that army would have on their political control in Eastern Europe. What, then, are the chances of such a withdrawal, in the present circumstances?
It is true that the Russians have put forward certain suggestions for further withdrawals of forces in Europe, but these would involve the complete disrup 168 tion of N.A.T.O. by the return of all N.A.T.O. forces to their own countries, and in particular in the departure of United States forces across the Atlantic; while the Russians themselves would merely withdraw to their own Western frontiers. This naïve offer was made in a television interview which Mr. Khrushchev gave in May last year to the United States. He said:Why could not the United States and other countries withdraw their troops from West Germany and from the Western countries—that is to say, from France, Italy, Turkey, Greece and from other places where your troops are stationed and of which I do not know? We on the other hand could withdraw our forces from Eastern Germany, Poland, Hungary and Rumania. We do not have troops in other countries.Mr. Khrushchev must have known that this offer would be wholly unacceptable to the West. But for the nuclear deterrent, Western as well as Eastern Europe would be at the mercy of the Soviet Army, which is obviously why the Russians are now pressing for its abolition.
This brings me to the other main proposal which has been put forward by the Soviet side and to which several noble Lords referred in their speeches yesterday—the Rapacki plan for a nuclear-free zone in Europe. I would remind your Lordships that this plan does not suggest the withdrawal of conventional forces but wishes to exclude nuclear weapons from an area in Central Europe. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, asked that we should not regard this plan simply as a Soviet manœuvre. We certainly shall not do that, but, from past experience, we should ask ourselves why this Polish initiative has received such strong Russian support. We should be failing in our duty as a Government if we were not to examine very carefully the political and military implications of the plan. My noble friend Lord Selkirk made some reference to these in a debate in your Lordships House on January 22, since when some further details of the proposals have been received from the Polish Government.
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Earl? Do I understand that if a proposal is sound on its merits it is to be rejected because Soviet Russia may be in favour of it?
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
My Lords, certainly the noble Lord is putting into 169 my mouth words which I did not utter. I should like to develop my argument, if I may. As I said earlier, no Government with any responsibility can take any plan at its face value. They must look into all aspects of it. I have certainly gone no further than that. We are still continuing our examination of the Rapacki plan with the further details which we have now received. We are examining the plan with our Allies to see whether there are in it any elements which might form the basis of a possible alternative proposal; but although these further details fill in some of the gaps in the original proposal they do little to remove the basic objections to the scheme.
The first of those objections is that the removal of nuclear weapons would leave N.A.T.O.'s conventional forces at great numerical disadvantage. The second is that the Polish proposals contribute nothing to a solution of the German problem. Far from helping to relieve this continuing source of tension and provide new hope of the eventual removal of Soviet domination from Eastern Europe, the plan might tend to harden the status quo. In fact one may readily assume tits to be the principal reason for Soviet support for the plan, since the recognition of the political status quo in Europe—and thus of their continued grip on the satellites—is a major aim of their policy. It is this aim which several of your Lordships who spoke in yesterday's debate rightly urged Her Majesty's Government to resist.
Other plans have been mentioned by your Lordships. The noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, quoted a proposal made at a conference of Parliamentarians of Western countries. My preliminary reactions to that are much the same as those of the noble Lord. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has referred to an article by Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick in the Sunday Times. Her Majesty's Government are always ready to examine new suggestions. We fully realise the need to take positive steps to relieve the tension which exists in the world to-day and to remove the intolerable burden of increasing armaments, but your Lordships cannot expect me to put forward here any definite plan until we have the full agreement of our own Allies.
170 I would repeat that I do not think the question of disengagement can be separated from the military and political conditions in which it takes place, and we consider that there are certain criteria against which any scheme should be judged. In the first place, the scheme should not have the effect of increasing the risk of war by miscalculation; secondly, it must not result in the serious weakening of the defensive strength of the West; and finally, we should not ignore the danger of leaving unresolved the major political problems affecting European security.
Now I will turn to another part of the world—China. In the speech in which he opened the debate yesterday, the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said that the representative of the Chinese People's Republic should be seated in the United Nations; and the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, who also spoke on this subject, urged that Her Majesty's Government should take steps at the next session of the General Assembly to obtain the admittance of the representative of the Government of China. But, my Lords, it must be borne in mind that over half the countries, which are now members of the United Nations, are opposed at the present time to any change in the representation of China. The Chinese Government's intervention in the Korean hostilities, and her unwillingness over the years to contemplate a settlement of the Korean question on the basis approved by the United Nations, have no doubt influenced the views of members of the United Nations. Her Majesty's Government, however, welcome the recent announcement that the Chinese propose to withdraw their forces from Korea, and we continue to hope that a satisfactory settlement of this problem may be achieved. But the fact remains that to press at this moment the question of seating the representatives of the Chinese People's Republic at the United Nations would arouse bitter controversy. It would not contribute towards a solution of the dispute over Chinese representation.
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Earl again? Is it not a fact that Britain, France and America assisted in creating Federal Germany, with an independent Government, four years after the last war? Is it not a fact that Japan, which was 171 responsible for the surprise attack upon Pearl Harbour, is already a member of the United Nations and, I think, at this moment is a member of the Security Council? And is it not true that the Korean war has been over for five, six or seven years? How long do we have to wait before we bring nations back into the comity of nations? One can understand the special feelings of America, but when the noble Earl says that the bulk of the nations would be incensed at the idea of bringing China into the United Nations, I very much doubt whether he is speaking according to the facts.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear!
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
My Lords, I think that what the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has forgotten in making comparisons with the position before the war is the fact that China is already represented in the United Nations.
§ LORD HENDERSON
I think it is about time that Governments began to drop the argument that China is now in the United Nations.
My Lords, will the noble Earl forgive me for interrupting? Is it not the fact that Her Majesty's Government have recognised as the Government of China the Chinese People's Republic in Peking, and therefore there cannot be another China so far as the Government are concerned?
§ A NOBLE LORD: It is so.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
But Her Majesty's Government have thought that it would be in the general interest at this moment to avoid any further and unnecessary controversy in the United Nations when there are many problems—I will not say more important but possibly more explosive—already exercising that body.
§ LORD WILMOT OF SELMESTON
My Lords, may I interrupt? Am I to understand the noble Earl to be saying that Her Majesty's Government propose 172 to persist in recognising the Formosa Government at the United Nations and the Peking Government by the accrediting of a British Ambassador?
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
We have not accredited an Ambassador to Peking. But it is not our position alone, and, as I have already said, we feel that if this subject is brought up at this time it will cause unnecessary repercussions when what is essential in this world is a reduction of tension, and not an increase.
The noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, yesterday mentioned the subject of East-West trade—indeed, I should have been most surprised if he had not done so. As your Lordships know, we have already abolished the China differential, and discussions have recently begun with our allies of the Paris Group in "COCOM" to prepare the ground for a general revision of the strategic controls on East-West trade and of the international embargo lists, in order to bring them up to date. The various members of "COCOM" all have views to express, and detailed discussions are necessary. I regret to say that there has as yet been no outcome from these discussions. But, in spite of the strategic controls, trade between the West and the Sino-Soviet bloc has continued to increase in recent years. Her Majesty's Government are fully alive to the desirability from the commercial point of view, of increasing East-West trade, but there are other aspects which must be taken into account.
The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, asked me to make a few remarks about Sir Anthony Eden's Guildhall speech. I think that I should do best to start by quoting from the speech itself, because there seems to be much misunderstanding of it—I do not say that the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, is guilty of this on the contrary but many people are, largely due to their not having read the speech. I quote:The position is that the Arabs on the one side take their stand on the 1947, and other United Nations resolutions—that is where they are. They said they would be willing to open discussions with Israel from that basis. The Israelis, on the other side, found themselves on the later Armistice Agreement of 1949 and on the present territories which they occupy.Between these two positions there is, of course a wide gap: but is it so wide that no negotiation is possible to bridge it? It is not right. I agree, that United Nations resolutions should be ignored; but, equally, can it be 173 maintained that the United Nations resolutions on Palestine can now be put into operation just as they stand?The stark truth is that if these nations want to win a peace, which is in both their interests and to which we want to help them, they must make some compromise between these two positions.Her Majesty's Government have always refused to put any gloss on these words, and we will not dictate to either side what concessions should be made. There are several elements in any settlement of this problem—frontiers, the Jordan waters, refugees and so on. It would be wrong for me to express a view on what the exact terms should be. The main point is that it must be a matter for negotiation and that there must be a compromise. I hope that that makes Her Majesty's Government's position a I little clearer.
The noble Lord, Lord Hastings, spoke of the need to strengthen our information services in the Horn of Africa in order to counter Egyptian propaganda in that area. The information services in that area, including broadcasting, have been, and are continuing to be, expanded. It would take up too much of your Lordships' time if I were to go into the details now, but I will gladly furnish the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, with the information for which he asked. While on the subject of broadcasting I would say that I also agree with the noble Lord. Lord St. Oswald, about the importance of B.B.C. broadcasting to the Soviet bloc.
Finally, the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, raised the question of languages in which the decisions reached at a Summit conference should be recorded. I understand his concern that no misunderstanding should arise from ambiguities in translation, but for many years it has been customary for international agreements to be made in more than one language, and I am afraid there is no going back on that.
With your Lordships' permission, I will say on the Summit talks a few words which my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack will develop on a larger scale later, but it may be helpful to noble Lords who are to follow me if I make a few remarks on the technicalities as the Government see them. Many people in this country—but I am glad to see that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson is not one of them—seem to think that if only the heads of the leading 174 Governments of the world could get together round a table and talk to one another, it would result in the finding of some solution to the major problems outstanding between them. Obviously there is a certain element of truth in this, and I agree that major decisions can be made only at the highest level. But from past experience—at Geneva in 1955, for instance, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Winster, mentioned yesterday, at Yalta and Potsdam—we know that although some progress may have been made and decisions taken in principle, when we came subsequently to work out the solutions in greater detail at the Foreign Ministers' conference, we found that the Russians and the West were unable to agree on the implementation of the decisions, since the Russian delegation draw a different inference from ours from the decisions that had been taken at the previous conference.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
I do not think so entirely, but I will not go into details, because I think that my speech has already been too long.
Obviously, we must avoid that this time and must avoid it by going about it in a different way. We must prepare the ground beforehand. As many of your Lordships have said, we must not only have a preparatory conference which roust cover all aspects and not be limited only to questions relating to the organisational side of the preparation of the meeting at the Summit, as suggested by the Soviet Government; we must draw up an agenda of the matters in order of priority, which both sides agree should be discussed. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin agrees with me on that. We must analyse the positions of both sides on various subjects, with the object of narrowing points of difference to where we can agree that any particular subject holds the greatest prospect of success. The Summit meeting must hold out some prospect of success, in however limited a field; because, as the Prime Minister said,Positive disillusionment is more dangerous than the preservation of even the most tenuous expectations.We have hopes that the Russian Government are beginning to exile round to our point of view. They have accepted 175 the proposal that a beginning should be made in a meeting of Foreign Ministers and apparently the view that the Foreign Ministers' talk should be supplemented by discussions through diplomatic channels. As your Lordships well know, both methods are acceptable to Her Majesty's Government.
The next question is: What should the Summit conference talk about? The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, mentioned some items to-day as did my noble Leader yesterday. To my mind, this is essentially a matter which must be decided in advance of any conference and one which it would be the business of preparatory talks to decide. As President Eisenhower said,I want really decent preparation that would appeal to reasonable men.The Russians have suggested a long list of subjects which they think might be suitable for inclusion. President Eisenhower has also suggested certain items for the agenda with which we are in agreement.
Many of these suggestions are likely to raise highly controversial questions—it would be surprising if that were not so. Therefore, in deciding upon an agenda there are two important things to keep in mind. In the first place, it must not be a one-sided agenda. We cannot accept the view that just because one side dislikes some suggestions put forward by the other, these suggestions should therefore be excluded from discussion. For this reason I think it is a mistake to take up any rigid position in advance. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, was in agreement with this view.
We must concentrate on selecting what is of major importance and dealing first with those items on which there seems to be most prospect of agreement, however limited the result that may be reached. The most promising field and the most important is, perhaps, as the Prime Minister has said, that of disarmament in the widest sense. We are anxious to get down to preparatory talks as soon as practicable, but it is no good doing this until we have reached agreement on the basis on which these talks should take place. There are still some points on which the Soviet position is not satisfactory. For example, we are not ready to admit the Soviet right to 176 exclude in advance of the preparatory conference any item from the agenda; that is, a Soviet veto on what should be discussed. Nor can we go into the preparatory talks with any misunderstanding about their purpose, which must be fully to prepare the ground on the subjects it is proposed that the heads of Governments should subsequently discuss. Of course, we do not ask or expect that agreement on the solution of these problems should be reached at this stage. I repeat, we want a Summit conference, but we want it to be successful.
May I say one final word? If the free world is to remain free, and if other countries now under foreign domination are ever to recover their freedom, we must always remember that we are up against a country which has produced the world's best chess players. We must act accordingly and must not give away our best pieces before the game starts.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, I should like to add my expression of gratitude to those which have been made to my noble friend Lord Henderson for having given us the opportunity, during this two days' debate, of discussing the general international situation at the present time. It is something like two years since we last had this opportunity, also as the result of a Motion introduced by Lord Henderson, although during that period we have had debates on specific topics in relation to foreign affairs. I took the trouble to look up the OFFICIAL REPORT of the last general discussion and found that on that occasion we held a sort of inquest on the failure of the, Geneva Conference. The approaching high level talks have been the very heart of our discussion during the two last days, and it seems not unreasonable to look back to 1955 to see where we went wrong so that we may perhaps do rather better on this occasion. I think that it was the general view of your Lordships then that the failure was due to the deterioration in the situation as the conference went on.
In the debate, several noble Lords, and particularly, I think, those whose experience had lain in the Foreign Office, rather took the view that that sort of thing was inevitable if one went into these Summit talks. I myself—with, I think, all other noble Lords who have 177 spoken from these Benches—am a strong believer in these talks. I do not think the present situation can be handled on traditional lines; that is, by the conventional diplomatic methods. But I am more concerned with the really difficult problem of making the talks effective. They mark only the first milestone on a long and I am afraid, rather tortuous road. In those circumstances, Ce n'est pas le premier pas qui coûte, as Hilaire Belloc demonstrated to us long ago, at the beginning of one of his best books. I think we have to be reconciled to a long period of hard negotiation. I do not think that Summit talks in the summer will by any means solve even the most pressing of these problems; and I was encouraged by the statement of the noble Earl the Leader of the House, that there might have to be a series of Summit talks, because I think we must be ready for a lot of negotiating at the highest level.
Many statements have been made to the effect that the failure in 1955 was entirely due to the Russians. Of course, we in the West always say that everything that goes wrong is entirely due to the Russians; dogmatic assertions of this kind, founded on very little evidence, are always produced to support this sort of view. My own opinion was, as I said in the debate at that time, and still is, that the Western Powers were just as much responsible as the Russians for what happened on that occasion. The truth of the matter is that after the somewhat vague preliminaries had been agreed to, when they came to the hammering out, neither side was prepared to give away enough for a settlement to be reached. That is what we have to be careful to avoid on this occasion. If one goes back and looks at the transaction in detail, I think the Russians did offer more concessions than were offered from the West. But, as always when the Russians make concessions, it was regarded as a deep Machiavellian plot on their part: we were reminded that they were the world's best chess players, and that diplomacy is a form of chess; that if they make concessions, they cannot be trusted, and if they refuse to make concessions then it is just Russian obduracy. So one makes no progress with either line; and the situation remains very much where it was.
This is the terrible thing about all this business that has been going on for the 178 last ten years. I must say that the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Gosford, filled me with a good deal of despair, because he just turned on the gramophone record which I have been hearing in this House ever since I came here. Mr. Khrushchev, in his really remarkable and, in my view, most valuable talk with The Times correspondent, which was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, at the beginning of his speech, put his finger on what seems to me to be the whole cause of bedevilment between East and West when he referred to the lack of trust which each side has of the other; and that lack of trust has been only too evident in the speeches made both in this debate and in the Defence debate last week.
Mr. Khrushchev brought his exceedingly able survey of the situation to an end with the plea that we should "start a trend to greater trust". I think that statesmen on both sides and all over the world might well take that piece of advice to heart. In my view, the Summit talks will succeed only if we can start that trend to greater trust before they take place. There must be trust on both sides, of course—and Mr. Khrushchev admitted quite candidly that the trust and confidence is needed on both sides.
How can one build up this trust which is so essential if one is continually black-guarding the other side? I feel that we in the West should be absolutely ashamed of the unrestrained way in which we have continuously hurled epithets at the Russian Government and the Russian leaders. I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, an eminent Peer on the other side of the House, emphasised this point in his speech in the debate last week. He used the expressive word, with which I am not very familiar, "yow-yowing" at each other; and he asked that this, at any rate might be discontinued.
Almost contemporaneously with Lord Teviot's appeal to the statesmen of the West, Mr. Dulles was describing the Russian proposals in respect of the Summit conference with the words "hoax" and "fraud". Sometimes, when I think of Mr. Dulles and the harm he has done to world peace, I feel tempted to abandon my own plea for moderation in the use of language. Mr. Dulles is a lawyer. When I was a young lawyer it was impressed upon me that it was a sin against 179 the light to plead fraud against the other side without strong evidence in support of that view. Certainly if one's instructions are to negotiate a friendly settlement, it is the last charge that any sensible lawyer or any statesman ought to make. I sometimes doubt whether Mr. Dulles really wants a settlement. The noble Viscount, Lord Templewood, yesterday asked whether the Russians want a settlement. As he was saying that, I thought to myself: "I wonder whether Mr. Dulles does". There may be statesmen in America who do want a settlement; and no doubt the President does. But I have my doubts about Mr. Dulles.
The fact is that when Mr. Dulles uses this strong language he is talking as a politician. Unfortunately, invective is the handiest weapon in the politician's armoury. It is like strong drink: it warms the cockles of one's heart; it is pretty easy to take to; it raises the spirits of one's own side and makes the other side angry, so that they may lose their temper and it is easier to score points against them. But, of course, it never does any real good in this world. The sooner we realise that, the better. Sir Winston Churchill himself is a master of this art, and he has used it more than once, and most effectively, against the Russian leaders. I remember that in my speech in the 1955 debate I quoted some examples of his attacks on revered Russian leaders like Lenin and other stalwarts of the Revolution. And the Russians, for their part, have been just as bad, or worse. There is a certain Churchillian air in Mr. Khrushchev's own capacity for invective. I wish that the statesmen on both sides would learn to keep their tongues under control. I must say that, on the whole, I think the Russians have of recent months been doing so. Speeches have been much more moderate in tone, and I have been glad indeed that the language of our own Prime Minister in respect of these matters has been completely courteous during all the recent exchanges.
So I join with the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, in entering a plea that we should try to build up a better atmosphere in the period before the negotiations start, and I suggest that one of our main methods of doing so should be by refraining from invective. Invective, certainly the most effective invective, usually 180 springs from hate; and that is an even more serious thing, because hate is one of the wickedest things in the world, and at the present time there is altogether too much hatred about in the world. We magnify the differences between ourselves and the Russians—differences which spring from Communism—just as they magnify the differences between capitalism and their own way of life. And yet life in Russia and life in England are something like 90 or even 95 per cent. the same.
We should do much better to concentrate on the similarities between our two ways of life, instead of continually concentrating on our differences. We share what is largely a common culture. A great deal of what all Englishmen and all Russians feel is the most valuable part of life comes from a common heritage. Even the ethical strain which is such an obvious feature in, at any rate, theoretical Communism is very largely the Christian ethic; and those who feel, as I do, that the ethical side of Christianity is more valuable than its theological side, should feel that there is quite a substantial basis on which we can look at things more or less eye to eye. If only we appreciated this, would it not help us a good deal to stop hating each other and getting to understand and even to love each other?
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but can he give any example of this "yow-yowing" invective against the Russians on the part of any member of Her Majesty's Government, or do his remarks apply solely to Mr. Dulles and our American Allies?
§ LORD CHORLEY
I said that I was glad that our own Prime Minister had been exceedingly courteous, and I think that applies to the Foreign Secretary also. I have not the actual chapter and verse, but I have over the last years seen violent attacks, perhaps more in the Conservative Press than from, at any rate, leading Conservative politicians. It is not only a question of the leading statesmen being careful; it is also a question of the Press and everybody else trying to be careful, particularly at the present time, to build up an atmosphere of good will in regard to these matters. I am sure that the Russians themselves are trying to do it. Everybody who has been to Russia 181 recently has found an extraordinarily friendly atmosphere on the part of the people there. But all over the place in this country there are still pockets of hatred and Organisations exist, financed a good deal from the United States, which seem to have no other purpose than to keep one constantly supplied with all sorts of tendentious information about the U.S.S.R. It is almost always quite undocumented, and it arrives, at any rate in my house, by almost every post. I do my best to look at a certain amount of it. It comes in pamphlets, leaflets, periodicals and in all sorts of ways.
It is impossible to study our own Press without getting the impression that it is, on the whole, impregnated with an anti-Russian feeling—a feeling which I regard as most unfortunate, and I think it would be a good thing if we could break it down. So I am in entire agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, in his desire to obtain an atmosphere of good will, and with his view that one of the methods of doing so is to try to cultivate a more reasonable approach and get rid of this feeling of hatred. This atmosphere of hatred and distrust was only too evident, I thought, last week in our own Defence debate. For many speakers it was obviously quite axiomatic that it was only the fear of nuclear deterrents which prevented a large-scale invasion of Western Europe by the forces of the U.S.S.R. It is here, of course, that we come up against that element of fear which has frequently been mentioned as being one of the main reasons for maintaining this atmosphere between East and West.
My Lords, I do not believe for one moment that the Russian leaders have any such objective in mind at all. I am sure that they are much more concerned with building up their own industrial strength, in providing for their own people a standard of life which has been beyond their grasp until very recently. Indeed. if we are to fear, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Salter, in his interesting analysis of the situation, that the real ground for fear is that there might he an economic onslaught from the U.S.S.R., something which may well take place unless we can get on to more comfortable terms of greater trust and confidence with them. The great progress they have made in the last years 182 in the industrial field has been so outstanding that I feel they are not far away from being able to conduct against us an economic warfare which we should find it exceedingly difficult to stand up to. I believe that the Russian leaders are anxious to obtain better conditions of life for people all over the world; and if only we could come to reasonable arrangements with them, that might be done on a co-operative basis. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Salter, was right when he said that, if matters are conducted on the basis of economic warfare, the situation in a short time will be almost as difficult, and in some ways almost as disastrous, as the military impasse which we have reached at the present time.
Again, one of the difficulties which always stands in the way of coming to any sort of arrangement is the theory that "you just cannot trust the Russians," which has been evident in quite a number of the speeches made in this debate and which is usually put forward without any sort of evidence in support of it. I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Winster, who took this line strongly, did in fact mention various treaties which the Russians had broken, and in particular he said the outstanding case was that of the Baltic States. No doubt there is a strong case there—it all occurred a long time ago. The noble Lord did not point out that this happened at the time when Russia and Germany were jockeying for position in the greatest war that the world has ever seen, and that it was as a result of that that the Russians took over the Baltic States before the Germans took them over. That, surely, in the circumstances of that time, was a not altogether unreasonable action on their part.
Surely, we have to deal with the situation in 1958, and not to be continually harping back to old, forgotten, far-off things. The question is whether our recent experience has been that the Russians always break their word, and so far as I can see no instances have been brought forward of any recent actions of that kind. Apart from those difficulties of the war years, it was always the view in the years before the war that in regard to agreements the Russians were just as trustworthy as anybody else, and perhaps even more trustworthy. I have heard that stated by eminent British statesmen, not only in 183 the Labour Party but in the Conservative Party, on more than one occasion. I was particularly glad that Mr. Selwyn Lloyd went out of his way recently to reaffirm that view. I am sure that the Russians do not break their word any more often than other people. There is no country in the world which has not broken treaties before now. It is perfectly easy for Russians, French and Germans and other people to study the history of this country and point to occasions when treaties have been broken by this country also. We cannot have trust and confidence if we continually hark back to occasions of that kind and emphasise the fact that we cannot trust the people with whom we are negotiating. If we are quite satisfied we cannot trust them, it is dishonest to bargain with them at all.
THE EARL OF GOSFORD
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? I do not think it is quite so much a question of mistrusting them as the fact that we realise what their motives are. They are expressing their motives almost daily—what they intend to do. We do not distrust them, but we know exactly what it is they are going to do.
§ LORD CHORLEY
Their motives are exactly the same as ours; their motives are to do the best they can for themselves. What we have to do is to draw a middle line in which each side will gain something and give something up. So long as you take the view that you are 100 per cent. right and the other side 100 per cent. wrong, you will not get anywhere. We have to get ourselves out of that sort of outlook if the Summit talks are to be a success.
My Lords, there are a number of points I should have liked to refer to, but this debate has gone on a long time and other noble Lords wish to speak. I am particularly anxious to say something about the Middle East, which has not been talked about very much. It was a matter to which I addressed a good deal of my speech on the last occasion. I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, emphasised the fact that the Russian interests in the Middle East are just as great as ours or any other country's. In 1955 I urged the Government to try to come to some sort 184 of arrangement, to enter into negotiations with the Russians in order that a modus vivendi might be reached in regard to the Middle East. It was obviously showing signs at that time of becoming a particularly acute area of discord. As far as I know, no serious efforts have been made.
Mr. Bulganin, in the spring of last year, addressed a Note to our Government in which he made various proposals, and in the forefront of that Note was the question of discussions about the Middle East. Mr. Bulganin pointed out that this is a vital area from the point of view of the U.S.S.R. It has been so ever since Russia has had a foreign policy. It is much nearer to them than it is to our country and very much nearer to them than to the United States of America, and surely they are interested in what is going on there. As a result of our failure to accept Mr. Bulganin's proposals—because, so far as I know, there has been no sort of attempt to take him up and have discussions on these matters—the situation has obviously gone from bad to worse. I understand that this subject is going to be at the forefront of the agenda for the Summit talks, and obviously it should be so. I hope that it will be so, and that we shall in fact enter into serious negotiations, because the situation will go from bad to a great deal worse, and may do so quite quickly, if something is not done to come to some sort of arrangement with the Russians about the position there.
I will not say any more about these individual matters. I should like to close my speech by returning to the question of confidence and trust, which seems to me to underlie the whole problem. It is obvious to me that if we in this country could be satisfied that there was a real thaw, a genuine liberation from the authoritarian position taken up under the Stalin régime, we should be much more ready to make concessions to the Russians. I feel quite confident that there has been a genuine thaw, though I agree with what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, in his speech in the Defence debate, that the very real differences between our national outlook and theirs have to be taken into account. The whole history of Russia shows as great a concentration upon discipline as our history shows a concentration upon 185 liberty. The Russians succeeded in throwing off Tartar domination inch by inch, foot by foot, only by their strong self-discipline; and that has stamped their whole character. We must take into account that there is an authoritarianism there which does not appeal to us, but we have to make allowances for it.
I was glad to find that the noble Viscount. Lord Templewood, in his interesting speech—I did not agree with a great deal of it but I found it interesting—recognised that there are certain signs of relaxation in Russia at the present time. I agree, there is much greater readiness to give the Russian people access to Western literature, Western newspapers, even political speeches, than was evident a year or two ago. It was most encouraging to notice that President Eisenhower's recent statement was published in full in Pravda so that the Russians could read what he stated. There has also been an increasing tendency not only to welcome foreigners to Russia, because that has been so for some years, but to deal with them with art altogether new frankness, and even intimacy.
During the recent Youth Festival, which was very much deplored in orthodox quarters in this country, hundreds of foreign youths visiting Moscow were received into the houses of Russian people or terms of real intimacy. I have met a number of English youths who spent time in the houses of the Russian people. I see one noble Lord on the Front Bench opposite smiling, but that was really an extraordinarily important event in the history of Anglo-Russian relations, because until last year it was not possible, and it does, in my view, mark important progress. Numerous pen clubs have recently been established between English schools and Russian schools. The children are corresponding with each other, Very large numbers of Russian children learn English; I think it is the foreign language they study more than any other. There is no mistaking, in my view, the intense longing for peace which pervades the whole of Russia, as indeed it pervades the whole world. People will come up to you in Moscow when they see you are a foreigner, and if they have got a few words of English they will tell you that they hope you are for peace, because peace is essential.
186 This is no doubt partly due to the fact that the Russians had perhaps a more ghastly time than any other of the invaded countries of Europe, a terrible experience at the hands of the Germans. I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, reminded us in his speech yesterday of what Europe owes to German militarism. I think that this profound, intense and almost hysterical, desire for peace which one meets in Russia is also due to the fact that the Russians themselves are now feeling that, given a period of peace, they are on the verge of attaining a reasonable standard of living; that at last that is within their grasp. Fate has been very hard to the Russian people since in August, 1914, the first of the Great World Wars started. They have had little in the way of the good things of this world, and I think. that they now begin to see that as a result of the iron discipline which they have imposed upon themselves—because they have imposed it upon themselves; the leaders could not have done it without the Russian people themselves feeling it was essential if they were to make progress—they are within sight of Jerusalem, as it were, provided they can have peace. And I believe that the men in the Kremlin realise that their people have got to have peace.
In Mr. Khrushchev's interview with The Times' correspondent the number of occasions on which mention was made of the wastefulness of spending all these resources on building up armaments instead of putting them into industrial production was obvious and significant. He finished up—and I should like to quote the actual words which he used—by saying:If we could start a trend to greater trust, then we would increase the possibility of reducing arms unilaterally.The Times' correspondent said that this was a significant statement. I think it was, although in the West its significance has perhaps been overlooked. If the Russians could feel greater confidence in the West, they themselves would be prepared to start a unilateral disarmament. Is not that a significant thing? If we can get this feeling of greater confidence and trust, then I think the Summit talks will be a success. Surely it is not beyond the scope of Western statesmanship to see that that is made possible.
§ 4.52 p.m.
My Lords, the noble Lord who has just resumed his seat most courteously informed me a minute or two ago that he was compelled to leave the Chamber almost immediately for an important meeting. But I hope to be able to detain him for just two or three minutes to congratulate him on what seems to me to be perhaps a change of attitude on his part; for three weeks ago I tried to convince him that this was the year 1958 and that there was nothing to be gained by old hatreds and old dislikes and enmities. At the time I was referring to the question of our relationship with Spain. I was unable to convince the noble Lord at the time, but now he seems to be prepared to be magnanimous in the matter of what the Russians have or have not done twenty years ago or thereabouts. I hope that he will be able to extend this magnanimous frame of mind even a little further. I am sure he will not mind my saying that before he has, unfortunately, to leave the Chamber.
Now perhaps I might revert to what I had originally intended to say to your Lordships. This has been a long debate and it is inevitable that during the course of it the question of the exploration of avenues and the advisability or otherwise of leaving stones unturned is bound to arise. Pious hopes are expressed—though, so far as I am aware, no hope is any the worse for being pious: rather the reverse. Nevertheless, perhaps I may at this point introduce one or two concrete proposals founded on facts, as indeed other speeches have been, only perhaps less obviously so than those which I shall try to put to your Lordships.
The two questions which have emerged more than any others are the subjects of disengagement and the Rapacki Plan, neither of which do I propose to mention, since they have been ventilated at considerable length. As regards Summit meetings, I do not know who invented the expression "Summit", but I imagine that it was probably a newspaperman, and I must say that I think he did a grave disservice. It leads the people in every country to expect so much. Yet, after all, what is it. It is a meeting of "statesmen," if they are on your own side: of "politicians" if they are on the other side. They are doing their best, but the phrase "Summit meeting" is such a 188 sensational title that results are expected which are not always forthcoming.
I believe, and I think the noble Lord, Lord Winster, hinted at it yesterday, as did Lord Strang in his excellent speech, that more frequent meetings at perhaps a rather lower level and at different levels, if held more often and perhaps even informally or semi-informally, would produce, in the end, a better result. I am aware that U.N.O. exists for this purpose to some extent, though not entirely, because there are so many members of U.N.O. I have never attended a session, but it must be very difficult to get anything agreed at all where there are so many people concerned. But informal meetings at ministerial level, or even junior ministerial level, held two, three or four times a year, and between three or four or five or six countries who wish to discuss certain matters, and not "boosted up" into a world-wide sensation, would, I believe, like water dropping on a stone, produce in the long run more co-operation between the countries and perhaps smooth out some of our difficulties.
Before I leave that point I should like to recall that immediately after the war, in 1945, I found myself in Berlin a good deal, being then a member of the Control Commission. Lord Strang (Sir William Strang, as he then was) was the Political Adviser to the Commander-in-Chief—I think he will remember those days. In Berlin there were quadripartite meetings between ourselves, the Russians, the Americans and the French. They were held every fortnight and carried a long agenda. I do not say that we always got through the agenda, or always agreed on everything; but a certain amount of the agenda was agreed, and that which was not agreed was put off until the next fortnightly meeting. We worried away at the problem, and really things did not work out too badly. I think that is the way to set about these problems; and my own view is that although the Summit meeting is going to take place, so far as I know—and I cannot see any harm coming out of it—to some extent I deplore the expression "Summit"; I believe that people expect too much from it.
My Lords, I will leave that matter and move on to the two concrete proposals which I should like to make to Her 189 Majesty's Government. One I shall cut short, since the noble Earl, Lord Gosford, has already dealt with it in his speech. I shall, however, refer to it to some extent, because I hope to be able to put into his mind a little doubt—perhaps one exists already, and I shall reinforce it.
My first proposal, which, surprisingly in my view, has not been mentioned at all in this debate, concerns M. Gaillard's plan for a West Mediterranean Alliance, or an Alliance of West Mediterranean countries. I think this proposal is only about a week (or even less) old. The countries concerned are this, country, France, Italy, Tunisia (a new Mediterranean country) and Spain. The danger of this Communist leap-frogging technique, as well as the [...] which they employ in various countries, may well be happening in the Mediterranean so far as Algeria is concerned. I cannot prove that, but I think it is a distinct possibility, if not a probability. We have seen the leapfrogging technique used in Syria: there the Northern Tier has to some extent been leap-frogged. I shall come to that in a moment. Perhaps it is employed in Indonesia, in the leap-frogging of S.E.A.T.O., though there again S.E.A.T.O. has not got a "wall" in the way of the Northern Tier or the N.A.T.O. soi-distant wall. Nevertheless, S.E.A.T.O. is a defensive organisation, and the events in Indonesia at the moment look to me rather like the same technique again.
But to revert to the Mediterranean for a moment, among the countries of the West I can think of only two (noble Lords may think of others) where Communism has made no progress at all. In Italy and France, Communism has made great progress. It has made some progress in Belgium and Holland. All these countries have flourishing Communist organisations. The only two countries where it has made no progress whatever, and where Communism is virtually non-existent, are the Republics of Spain and of Ireland—and neither country is a member of N.A.T.O.
Before I leave that matter I would say this. Having three weeks ago been under extremely heavy fire from noble Lords on my left when I tried to enlist sympathy—not entirely without success, I am glad to be able to inform your Lordships—on the subject of Spain, I was rather gratified to see in the leading 190 article in the Daily Telegraph on Monday last, referring to the new relationship between the Mediterranean nations, the following words:The economic, cultural and strategic links are obvious to all but the bitterest nationalists "—and I would add the words "or isolationalists"—Could not Spain too be welcomed as a partner in the common Western defence of the region, thus healing a twenty-year old breach?If the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, when he comes to reply, could make a passing reference to that point I should be most grateful.
But in order to avoid any suspicion that I am either a Fascist or a neo-Fascist, or any of the terms which are inclined to attach to one when one mentions the question of Spain in a good light, I shall switch to the Far East, thereby perhaps incurring suspicion of being a neo-Communist or "fellow-traveller". Actually, as a good Liberal, I like the middle of the road—which I believe to be the right place to travel—rather than the verges. "Leap-frogging", which I have already mentioned, leads me to the situation in Indonesia. It is a little early to talk too much about that. It is confused and potentially very dangerous from the S.E.A.T.O. point of view. We must remember that, it we except the Seventh United States Fleet., S.E.A.T.O. has not "teeth" in it (to use a popular expression) in the way that N.A.T.O. has. Nevertheless, it is a defensive organisation, and when the events which have taken place lately in that part of the world are looked at in relation to the whole picture in the Far East one cannot help feeling some alarm.
I believe that the spotlight now is on somewhere which, to my surprise, was mentioned only once in yesterday's debate—Manila, in the Philippines, where the Foreign Secretaries of this country, France and the United States, now are. Some of your Lordships may have heard Mr. Harold Wilson's broadcast on the B.B.C. the night before last. He had recently had a meeting with Prime Minister Chou En-lai in Peking, and it may be of interest to your Lordships that only eighteen months ago in Peking, and no doubt in the same room, several Members of Parliament, including myself, had a similar meeting. We raised precisely the same points as Mr. Wilson is 191 reported to have raised and obtained precisely the same replies—which shows that Chou En-lai is taking a certain line and sticking to it, so that at least we know where we are. I will not enlarge on the first of the points which Mr. Wilson discussed with him since it was mentioned in some detail yesterday by my noble friend Lord Elibank. He is a great expert on these matters and I am not, and I therefore leave your Lordships to read Hansard and see what impression his speech made upon you. I should, however, like to add to what he said three small points which will, I believe, interest the House.
The first is that a trade agreement with Western Germany (which has nothing at all to do with the embargo) for an exchange of goods to the value of £20 million has just been made. Secondly, 30,000 tons of rubber from Ceylon have recently been ordered in return for rice; and a point which I found rather surprising—China is now the second largest supplier, of goods to Ceylon, after the United States. The third point is that the Chinese recently purchased 10,000 tons of wheat from Canada and paid for it in cash.
My noble friend Lord Elibank went over the events which led up to the present United States dilemma in Taiwan—or Formosa as it is more generally known. He did it much better than I could ever do and I shall not do so again. but when I use the word "dilemma" I use it advisedly because I believe that that in fact is what it is—that it is becoming a grave embarrassment to the United States; and personally I cannot see what they are going to do about it. Luckily it is their problem and not immediately ours, though possibly the eventual demise of Marshal Chiang Kai-shek may solve the problem for them. He is not a young man and perhaps on his demise they will be able to enter into some other arrangement with his successor which would save their face—and modern diplomacy seems nowadays to consist very largely of face-saving.
Chou En-lai told us, when we raised the question of whether there would be an amnesty for Chiang's troops, men or followers if they came home, that he could give no answer. He said that it was a Chinese matter and that he was 192 taking no advice from anybody on the subject; and I am sure that he feels the same to-day. Taiwan is, of course, incontestably Chinese. I will not keep your Lordships much longer, but there is then the situation throughout the off-shore islands—I do not refer to the Pescadores, which are some way away from the mainlands, but to islands like Quemoy, just a few miles off the mainland, at present occupied by American and Chiang forces. The Chinese could take it tomorrow if they wanted—there is no question about that. What would happen then? Would the United States refer the matter to the Council of the United Nations, or would they, in the ungrammatical parlance of the day, "go it alone"? I do not think there can be much doubt about what would happen; and then perhaps we should be able to recall the days of Suez when we had to put up with so much abuse from the other side of the Atlantic.
I mention these matters merely because I feel that the United States has got herself into an awkward position there. When I discussed this whole matter with an American friend of mine, a senior diplomat who is well-informed as to what is going on in the State Department (I will say no more because your Lordships might be able to identify him and I do not want that to happen), I asked him, "Why are you so determined to keep China out of the United Nations?" He said "We do not wish to confer respectability on them." I said, "But you have an Embassy in Moscow. Do you wish to confer respectability on Communist Russia?" He said, "No, but that is rather different. They fought with us in the war, and you must remember that thousands of G.I.s were killed in Korea by Communist troops." I reminded him that hundreds of thousands of British troops had been killed by the Germans, but that we had nevertheless agreed to bring Western Germany into the comity of nations as an ally.
Finally, my Lords, I do not believe that there is any real case for keeping China out of U.N.O. I rather doubt whether the noble Earl who spoke for the Government a few moments ago really thinks so. He said that half the members of U.N.O. would oppose it; and the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, took him up on that, and seemed inclined 193 to doubt it. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. I think it is a matter which has been allowed to run along and no one will take the lead. Let us hear the British Lion on this subject for a change. The things that go on nowadays, the things that are said to us by Nasser and people of that type, are quite extraordinary. I am reminded of the early days of the last war, when Sir Winston Churchill said, "What kind of people do they think we are?"
Things are moving fast in the Far East. It is not so long, a week or two, since Chou En-lai announced the withdrawal of Chinese troops from North Korea. They were so-called "volunteer" troops; but whether they were volunteer troops or not, they were withdrawn. Now the United States have announced the withdrawal of their forces from Japan—a very interesting development, my Lords, with endless implications, I should have thought. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will keep not only abreast of these matters but ahead of them. They are significant developments. Should we always wait until things reach a certain point and then catch up with them, or should we try to get ahead and produce a State of affairs which we want? Let us be realistic. We can all say we want peace. We have all said it; and of course we all do want peace. The point is, how to get it.
§ 5.13 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, any country which is deeply divided on its foreign policy is always in danger of defeat; and if the foreign policy of Great Britain is uncertain, if it is likely to change completely every three or four years, then we shall gain neither the respect of our enemies nor the confidence of our Allies and friends. Therefore I think we ought to examine any real or apparent differences in foreign policy between the Parties, not with the purpose of attacking each other but with the purpose of trying to ascertain whether we can reconcile those differences.
I think that a great many of your Lordships have listened, as I have done, to most of the debates on foreign policy and defence which have taken place in the other House since last December. I thought that the Party Leaders there did not seem at all anxious to magnify the 194 differences between them but rather to find, if they could, some common ground of agreement. The Labour leaders on the Front Bench, I think on at least two occasions, indicated, or so it seemed to me, that they would not have divided the House if only the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary had both made exactly the same speech. Whether that is a good reason for challenging a Division or not I should not like to say, but at least it seems to suggest that differences on foreign policy between the Parties are not hopelessly irreconcilable. Until fairly lately we did have a bipartisan foreign policy, except for a few fellow travellers; but now, in the last six months or so, it looks as if the fellow travellers have attracted a very large number of immigrants on to their bandwagon; and at the same time there have developed certain differences between the official Parties which I hope are not fundamental but which must be candidly examined if we want to remove them.
It used to be agreed, I think, by all the North Atlantic Powers, and by the leading Parties in this country—and it was certainly always recognised by the commanders of the N.A.T.O. Forces in Europe—that if Russia were to launch a major attack with conventional forces we should then use the nuclear deterrent, whether Russia used it or not. Now the Labour Party seem to be inclined to the view—I do not know whether they are irrevocably committed to it or not—that if we say this too plainly we might incite some aggressive Russian Government to start a major war by a surprise all-out nuclear attack before they had even begun to mobilise their Army; and we should, therefore, now reverse our former declaration and say we are not going to use the nuclear deterrent against attack, and that we are not going to use the nuclear weapon unless Russia uses it first. I am not going to criticise that argument now. I only want, very humbly and respectfully, to appeal to the Party opposite to take a little time to clarify their attitude, and to consider whether they really think it is likely that Russia would start a surprise nuclear attack on the West unless the Russian General Staff were convinced that they could knock out all the nuclear bases of America and her allies in time to prevent an equally destructive retaliation.
195 Mr. Strachey, in the last debate on this subject in the other House, gave a careful analysis of an imaginary attack by Russian forces against Germany, which he divided into three stages, showing what we should do or should not do about nuclear weapons at each stage. The first stage, he supposed, was an attack against the garrison of Berlin by only a few Russian divisions, which he said should be resisted by the weapons the garrison had. In the second stage he imagined, in which he said the Russians would raise the stakes, Russia would attack with a larger number of divisions but with tactical, not strategic, weapons, and he said we should then reply with tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. The third stage was that of the use by Russia of strategic thermo-nuclear weapons, to which he thought we ought to respond. But Mr. Strachey did not tell us what his Party thinks we ought to do if Russia were to begin by saying, "We are not going to use any nuclear weapons at all," and were then to deploy a large-scale attack against Germany with all the hideously destructive weapons which are now politely described as "conventional". as if conventional war were going to be a kind of stately eighteenth-century minuet while nuclear war was a kind of vulgar rock 'n' roll.
I am not going to pursue that point in a controversial way, but I would suggest to the Labour Party that they should consider what we would actually do if there were this conventional attack and if Russia were to undertake not to use nuclear weapons; and that they should also consider the necessity, which would seem to many people to follow, that for the next four or five years the North Atlantic Powers should devote themselves to obtaining 200 military divisions and 20,000 aircraft in order to be able to match Russian forces on the ground. I hope that we shall get some greater clarity from the Party opposite on these issues.
But, of course, there is a far greater and more unbridgeable cleavage now between the Government and the official Opposition, on the one hand, and, on the other, a very considerable section of the Labour Party, backed by a considerable section of the Press, which has lent itself to the public agitation in favour of renouncing thermo-nuclear weapons 196 altogether. Do not let anybody imagine that this agitation is not going to be prolonged and active or that it will not have a very wide appeal to a public which, I think, has never been so well instructed as it ought to have been, either by the Government or by the Press, about the nature of the problem which we are all facing at the present time.
The argument for renouncing the use of the bomb (I hope I am putting it fairly) is that the consequences of thermonuclear warfare may be irrevocable, whereas the consequences of surrender to Communism would not be irrevocable. It is bound, therefore, to appeal to a large number of people who are not interested in politics and want only to be allowed to live in peace: "If we surrendered to Communism to-morrow, perhaps I might get a job as an agricultural commissar with a much larger income than I have now. I might enjoy a great deal of physical comfort and my wife and children might be spared from destruction".
I think the real answer is that even if the intellectual proposition of surrender to Communism is better than the nuclear deterrent, even if that proposition were true, in practice very few people are going to act on it. Whatever some individuals may think or say, the great majority of free men will prefer death to slavery, as so many of them have done in Hungary. I think that if we were to surrender to Communism, there would not even be world peace under the Communist ægis. Perhaps there would be a hundred years of war by unarmed men against tyranny. I think we have a great responsibility in trying to educate public opinion on this matter.
There were two speeches made in our debate yesterday, which, if I may be allowed to say so, were of exceptional value—those by the noble Lord, Lord Winster, and my noble friend Lord Strang. Both of them were criticised mildly by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, who opened the debate to-day, on the ground that they seemed to hold out no hope of our ever being able to have any kind of agreement with Russia. It did not seem to me that either of the speeches led to that conclusion. What I thought they advocated, very effectively, was the virtue of patience; and patience, is of superlative importance at the present 197 time. If we get nothing out of a Summit conference this year, it is going to be very hard to go on year after year living under this thermo-nuclear threat, which may go on for a very long time. We shall never persuade the Russians to make any concession on moral grounds; we shall persuade them to make a concession only if they are convinced that it is in their own interest to do so. That may take a long time, but we must never give up hope of its happening.
The campaign in this country for the abolition of nuclear weapons seems to show that the lessons of appeasement before the war have been forgotten by a great many old men and never learned by a great many young ones. But if we have a new generation here which may not be so well instructed in the lessons of the past as it ought to be, there is also a new generation growing up in Russia which may not be indoctrinated with the ideas of the original founders of Communism; and the ordinary, common people of Russia, like the ordinary, common people here, want to live in peace. We must never abandon the hope of breaking down the cultural and political barriers of the Iron Curtain.
I see that there is a society in Twickenham called the Twickenham Society for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, which wrote a letter the other day to Mr. Khrushchev about it. Mr. Khrushchev evidently thought it worth while to reply—he is getting rather good at writing letters now. The reply was published in the Press about a fortnight ago. It said, very plainly, that if there was any more nonsense of this kind, the Russian H-bomb would exterminate the entire population of Twickenham, including the members of the Society for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. What we want to see is a Society for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons in Brest-Litovsk, in Omsk, and in Tomsk. We want to see them all writing letters to Mr. Macmillan, and we want to see Mr. Macmillan's replies. At the present time I am afraid that there is no Society for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons in Tomsk, and, if there were, they would not be allowed to write a letter even to the superintendent of the concentration camp in which they would all be shut up. But we must never give up hope of making contact with the 198 people of Russia, and we must exercise the virtue of patience.
We must not be disheartened or yield to despair if we do not get what we want this year. Above all, do not let anybody think that peace depends on our getting something now, this year, and that the whole future of the world depends on our success this year. Patience is what we want in this matter, and, what I think is even more important, we must warn people now that impatience and emotionalism might be the very thing which will bring the world to the supreme disaster.
§ 5.28 p.m.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
My Lords, I should like to follow the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, in trying to put the Summit conference in its proper perspective, and I hope that your Lordships will allow me to go back about eighteen months in order to do so. I am sure that putting it in its proper perspective will tend to destroy the exaggeration which so many people, in this country and in the rest of the free world, have put upon it. I believe that that exaggeration can be extremely dangerous.
I should like to view the proposal for the conference not as an isolated incident, but as a perfectly logical link in the series of Soviet actions over the last eighteen months. I am not doubting necessarily that it is a perfectly sincere suggestion, but I am saying that it is a carefully calculated move. The Hungarian incident of eighteen months ago was one of the worst setbacks international Communism has ever suffered—as indeed the Hungarian official Press has since admitted. It was therefore afterwards of the greatest possible importance to rebuild the Communists' reputation; and they set about doing it by two means. First of all, they started a propaganda campaign particularly directed towards the uncommitted areas of the world. At first this campaign made no pretence of the facts of the Hungarian revolution, but after a while it was suggested gradually that this revolution was the work of imperialist elements in Hungary, and the idea was eventually put about, very broadly, that in fact Hungary had been attacked by the "imperialists" and had been rescued only by the selfless intervention of Soviet forces.
199 This propaganda campaign had considerable effect—and I will give one example of the effect it had upon the Hungarian diplomatic offensive in that area. Hungarian exhibitions were opened in Damascus and Cairo and did extremely well. Hungarian trade agreements have been signed as recently as December and January with Morocco and Tunisia. The Sudan is trading very widely with Hungary. Economic information offices have been set up in Tunis and Casablanca—all this done by the Kadar régime, the very régime that was so roundly condemned by the United Nations Report, and, moreover, at a time when Hungary's economy is perilously close to ruin and can little afford to trade abroad. That was one of the methods by which the Soviet attempted to rebuild their reputation.
The other method was by the Sputniks. These were built and launched in the middle of an acute shortage in Russia of basic consumer goods, such as food, clothing and housing. In addition, they appear to have been purely incidental to the general development of the intercontinental ballistic missiles, in spite of the amount of money which they cost. It is therefore hard to avoid the conclusion that so much money could have been spent only for prestige and propaganda purposes. In my opinion, the propaganda effect was intended to produce two results. It was to produce a new sensation which would take precedence in the public memory, short as it is, over the Hungarian revolution, and also to give a powerful demonstration of the advantages of a Communist society and organisation which could thus be shown to have built up in forty years what was at the beginning of that time largely an agrarian society into one that could be in the forefront of the most advanced scientific developments. Most of these messages were intended mainly for the uncommitted nations of the world in Africa and Asia, because the Soviets could foresee that the impact of the Sputnik on the West would be very different; and accordingly they launched against the West a much different sort of campaign: they intensified their peace offensive. The result of the Sputniks was, of course, an enormous closing of the ranks in the N.A.T.O. countries and a tremendous urge for unity. The Soviets 200 do not like Western unity. A disunited Europe and a disunited free world has many policies and many plans to put forward to confront the one unified colossus of Soviet strategy; whereas a united Europe and a united free world can put forward one plan and, by the fact of its unity, give more strength to that plan. Faced with this situation, as I have said, they put forward a peace offensive, and I would submit that the suggestion for a Summit conference is only one step in this peace offensive. As the noble Lord, Lord Strang, said, they took to smooth words instead of intimidation. From the Soviet point of view this was a calculated move, because there are three posible things that could happen as a result of the Summit conference.
First, the conference may succeed. It may succeed in reaching some concrete and mutually agreeable results—as, indeed, I sincerely hope it will. If, however, it should result in some measure of agreement on disarmament, and in a cessation of the arms race, we must be careful of two dangers resulting from the fact that there has been agreement. First of all, the reduction of tension which such an agreement will produce will tend to make us in the West think that we have no longer such a vital interest in keeping unified and together. There will be a relaxation of tension, and our eyes may well be blinded to other things that are going on behind our backs while we are not looking. Also in the uncommitted areas the Soviets, having been the instigators of a successful conference, will be able to make the best of that fact; they will be able to use it to give great emphasis to their campaign setting themselves up as the champions of peace throughout the world. Our attitude, therefore, if we are successful, must be to remember that the danger is not past merely because we get agreement at this Summit conference or at subsequent Summit conferences. It is not past while international Communism still exists.
Secondly, if the conference fails the Soviets will be able to use this failure to their advantage also. It will be made out by their propaganda machine that they have put forward constructive suggestions for peace and that it is the responsibility and fault of the West that these have come to nothing; in fact the old position in which it was the West who produced the good ideas and Mr. 201 Molotov who always said, "No", will be reversed. This result would have a world-wide psychological effect. The uncommitted nations would be wide open to that sort of suggestion, while even in the West people in our own countries would be inclined to feel disillusionment and resentment at the Governments which had failed at the conference. Moreover, Communism would gain in the event of such a failure, which is a possibility. We should therefore have to stress the sincerity and the depth of our will to succeed, which was so vividly shown yesterday by the noble Earl the Leader of the House. We should also have to take into consideration the whole background of the conference which I am trying to explain to your Lordships as I see it, and we should also have to explain to the world that it was the unreasonableness of the Soviets, as against our reasonable suggestions, which contributed to failure, and not the other way round.
But even if no conference ever took place, the Soviets would still stand to gain. There was at one stage, after the suggestion for a conference was put forward in December, an appearance of a grave danger that in this country there might be internal disunity about our attitude to this conference and to what should be done about it: when it should be held, and what should be discussed. I hope that that is no longer so—and this debate seems to have borne out, to some degree, that hope. But, in addition, we have still to see that the Western Powers are not at sixes and sevens among themselves about the conference. If they are, and if they remain at sixes and sevens, the unity in the West which was the result of the Sputniks will have disappeared; and in my opinion that is exactly what the Soviets are aiming at.
I have spoken of a possible failure, but it is not for lack of confidence in our sincerity and our will to succeed. I am indeed hopeful of success. Mr. Bulganin, in his letter of January 8, said that he wished to discuss subjects and questions which were capable of a possible agreement. That is also, of course, the view of Her Majesty's Government, and that is why they are so keen on adequate preparation. But I believe most profoundly that we cannot expect any concessions from the Communists which are not in accord with their ideology or their particular method of putting over 202 the ideology which is, for the time being, in practice. No agreement, however specific and definite, will be made by them unless it fits in with their Communist plans, nor will it be kept unless it continues so to fit in. It is only the most dangerous sort of wishful thinking to suppose that there has been any sort of change in the basic Marxist-Leninist doctrine of eventual Communist world domination.
That this is so is borne out by two most important doctrinaire publications which have recently come out from behind the Iron Curtain. The first is the declaration by the Chinese Communist Party in December, 1956, about the true Communist who, they say, is one who tries to seize power over all the world and who fights for a Communist Revolution on a world-wide scale. That statement was confirmed by the Twelve-Power Communist Declaration of November 22 last. It is no use trying to avoid this fact. It has been declared all along, and it should be the primary consideration in any discussion with the Soviets.
But world domination can be achieved in many different ways. The noble Lord, Lord Salter, spoke of the economic competition, and set out some proposals to deal with it. Another way, which is classical to Communism, is that of war. But here, I believe, Communist policy has undergone a change. The possibility of coming to power by other than peaceful and Parliamentary means has now been relegated to the background and put on the shelf, as again the Declaration of November 22 will show. This may be due to several factors, one being that which the noble Lord, Lord Salter, suggested, that in fact they still believe that the Western Powers will destroy themselves, given time. It may also be the result of the fact that the peoples of the Iron Curtain countries, like the peoples of free countries, are now frightened at the prospect of total annihilation by nuclear warfare. The peoples behind the Iron Curtain are no longer as docile as they used to be. It may be, therefore, that the Soviet leaders would be prepared to pacify their own people and to bring about some sort of agreement on disarmament, particularly as no longer are arms and war the chief method which they are intending to use in furtherance of their final aim of world domination.
203 I am therefore delighted that Her Majesty's Government are thinking in terms of these subjects for discussion at the Summit conference. I think there is quite a chance that the ideological situation is such in Russia that Her Majesty's Government may succeed. But if we do achieve success in this field, it must not be a signal for general relaxation. For just as the Soviets have shown that war is no longer their main method of expansion, they have also shown us what is their main method of expansion. Reduced to its essentials, the November 22 Declaration amounts to the following statement: that the Communist leaders are no longer counting on the support of the workers of the highly developed countries in Western Europe towards their revolution.
They are therefore developing a different campaign altogether. They are making an appeal to thinking persons throughout the world by setting themselves up as champions of peace. This is the aim of the peace offensive of which I have spoken. The more people they can persuade to think that their ideals are solely peace and peaceful co-existence, the fewer people will be frightened by the awareness of the fact that their basic aim of world domination is still unchanged. The idea that the Russian leaders are innocent has already lead to disasters, as the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, said, at Yalta, Teheran, and the conferences in the war, and it must not happen again. It is to the highest degree dangerous that people in this country and in other free States should get into their heads that necessarily the Russians are innocent.
The other line that the Soviets are now using is an intention to win over the undeveloped and uncommitted countries by propaganda, economic aid, and, if necessary, by subversion. These are the countries which have still a choice of whether they will go East or go West. I therefore support, very strongly, and am delighted to hear from the noble Earl, Lord Gosford, of the importance that Her Majesty's Government are putting upon, propaganda in those parts. I am also inspired by the portrayal of the Commonwealth which the noble Earl who leads the House gave us yesterday as an example to the uncommitted nations. I believe that we must miss no 204 chance of broadcasting our achievements in the Commonwealth, in Asia and in Africa, as demonstrations of the good that may come from co-operation and partnership with the West. We offer real freedom and real progress. We do not make spectacular, scientific demonstrations at the cost of the standard of living of the people whom we serve.
I think that what we must do, if we achieve success in a Summit conference or in a series of Summit conferences, is to realise that our real danger is no longer in Europe but that it is in Asia, in Africa and in the Middle East. It is in those parts of the world that we must counter Soviet propaganda with our own propaganda, point by point specifically, and, if we can, we must forestall it. For it is possible in advance to tell what line they are going to take. I believe that it is only counter-attack in this form and in those threatened areas that will stop the spread of international Communism.
§ 5.47 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, my noble friend (Lord Colville of Culross), who has just resumed his seat has made, I think, one of the best speeches in what I may call a four days' debate, and I think the House greatly enjoyed it.
It is fifteen months since I have intervened in a debate on foreign affairs, and in those fifteen months I do not think that the difficulties and dangers of our position have grown less; and the House was, I think, quite right to devote these four days to these great topics. In the debate last week my noble friend Lord Coleraine expressed very much what I thought and think, as did also my noble friends Lord Dundee and Lord Swinton. The House was, I think, delighted in all quarters by the brilliant and moving speech of my noble friend the Leader of the House. I hope I may also be allowed to mention one speech from the Benches opposite which I, at any rate, very much enjoyed, and that was the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, who by his tenure of great office and long experience in peace and in war always commands our attention and respect.
If there were many speeches made with which I found myself in agreement, there were other things said by other speakers which seemed to me so utterly divorced from reality that I had repeatedly to ask myself whether they could really be saying the things I heard. Hansard proved 205 that they were. I have quoted before, and I quote again, a famous sentence of Bishop Butler, of the eighteenth century:Things and actions are what they are, and the consequences of them will be what they will be: why then should we desire to be deceived?My Lords, our first task is to discover the truth, however unpleasant the truth may be, and a great deal of the truth to-day is extremely unpleasant. I have no doubt that in what I am going to say the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, if lie were here, would accuse me of hatred of Russia. He would be quite wrong. I have no hatred either of Russian culture or of the Russian people or of such Russians as it has been my pleasure and good fortune to meet. It is not uninteresting to me that the last Russian with whom I spent some hours one evening in the 1930s was Professor Kapitza. I was visiting Cambridge, and I even had the interesting, though short, experience of playing chess against him. He was so much above any class that I had ever met in that game that that alone would have made the evening memorable. I also remember another evening about the same time, when I was visiting Trinity and spent some time with the great Lord Rutherford. I feel, as so many noble Lords feel, the irony that the work that those great scientists were engaged in should have produced the results which are so present to our minds to-day.
But if I have no hatred for the Russian people that does not mean that I have no hatred for the actions of the Russian Government. I think it is vital that we should examine carefully and sincerely what it is that the Russian Government has been doing and is doing. We should really drop the line of "Let's pretend—let's pretend that we do not know what the Communists are after". Nine years ago in another place, on March 23, 1949, I made a speech in which I examined some of the principles of Communism and its practices. I suggested then, and I believe it is still true, that there were three things to remember about the cold war. The first was that it was most definitely war; and there I could pray in aid numerous speeches of Mr. Bevin. Secondly, that it was by no means cold. Our planters who were being murdered in Malaya, the Greek peasants whose villages were being 206 burned and whose children were being taken into captivity, did not find it very cold. The third fact about the cold war which I mentioned was that at that time the West was clearly losing it. As a result of the creation and development of N.A.T.O. that last condition may be no longer true, though we must always be on our guard.
My Lords, Communist aims can be ascertained by two quite independent methods, and they give us an identical result. They can be ascertained by studying the sacred books of their secular religion, not books published in this country but books published in English in Moscow—Stalin's Problems of Leninism. We can discover also what their aims are by applying the well-known doctrine of the English Common Law, that men are presumed to intend the natural and probable consequences of their actions. If we examine what the Communists have been doing, and doing for years, throughout the world, we can find out what are their intentions; and both those methods—the method of studying their published works and the method of applying that doctrine of the English Common Law to what they have done—will lead us to the same result. To-day an enormous area of Europe, and country after country, has been enslaved. To describe the process a fantastic vocabulary has been invented. Enslavement is called "liberation"; "democratic election" is the term used to describe an election in which only Communists are allowed to stand. My Lords, the countries of Eastern Europe are not in this subjection because their peoples desire or have chosen the Communist way of life. They are in this position because they have been conquered by fraud and by force and are now forcibly held in subjection.
In the course of this debate some noble Lords, dwelling, as it appears to me, in Cloud-cuckoo land, have spoken as if Russia only sought peacefully to spread an economic and social doctrine, relying on peaceful persuasion. The Russian tanks that mowed down the unarmed men and women in the streets of Budapest were, so to speak, giving a lecture in economics such as might be given at the London School of Economics. I must quote, to show that I am not exaggerating, what some noble Lords have said 207 in the course of this debate—when I say "this debate" I mean the four days, two last week and two this. Apparently we need not fear at all that Russia would be guilty of warlike action. The Russians would never invade other countries. Why? Let us examine what the noble Earl, Lord Lucan said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 207 (No. 41), col. 1168];Surely to invade a country is not the way for them to get the good will of its inhabitants towards their own régime. People cannot be forced to think the same as the Russians do, or to adopt their political forms.As regards the last, cannot they? Is that not precisely what has happened? Is it supposed that Russia to-day enjoys the good will of the inhabitants of Poland or of Hungary or of Roumania or of Czechoslovakia?
The noble Lord, Lord Wilmot of Selmeston, said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 207 (No. 41), col. 1157]:Communism will come in as the companion of despair and distress by the back door. That is what has happened up to now.It is not. What has happened up to now is the use of force and fraud by Russia. If any noble Lord opposite doubts that, let him study the declaration of the National Council of Labour at the time of the coup d'étatin Czechoslovakia. There is one remark that I thought even more astonishing than those I have quoted, and that was from the noble Lord, Lord Rea, speaking from the Liberal Benches. He said—he made it clear that he regretted it—that we preferred to retain the nuclear weapon (now I quote his words) [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 207, (No. 41) col. 1114]:rather than take any risk of the temporary triumph of an ideology which we totally dislike for the period of perhaps a generation or so".My Lords, that almost defies comment. I wonder if the noble Lord, Lord Rea, whose humanity and high principles I have always recognised, has studied what happened to the Baltic States. I wonder if he has studied the elegant science of social engineering, under which you take every man and woman capable of leadership and kill them or deport them, and then, by that method, show your power to murder a whole nation. The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, said "Oh, yes, quite true about the Baltic States; but let bygones be bygones."
208 Yesterday the noble Lord, Lord Winster, made, I thought, a brave and reasoned speech in which he honestly went through the record of Russia in these matters. I shall not repeat his catalogue—noble Lords in all quarters would have no difficulty in adding to his list of crimes and breaches of agreement. But may I remind the House of two more examples with which I am certain that the noble Lord, Lord Winster, would agree? The first is one that I mentioned to the House when I spoke in December, 1956. As the immediate sequel to Yalta, the Russians obtained from us a list of the Polish underground leaders whom we thought most suitable candidates for the provisional Government mentioned in the Yalta Agreement. They invited sixteen of these men to Moscow, under promise of safety, and then flung them into prison. This they did, when the ink of the Agreement was scarcely dry, in March, 1945. They admitted that they had done this only in May, to our representatives at the San Francisco Conference. That example of Communist treachery was then fairly novel; it is now part of the grammar of their proceedings.
My Lords, I venture to give another example, one most relevant to the matters we are considering in the debate and the matters that will be considered at the Summit conference, when it takes place. We had an Anglo-Soviet Treaty of Alliance; it was entered into on May 26, 1942, and it was to run for twenty years. Article V of that Treaty said that the high contracting parties:will act in accordance with the two principles of not seeking territorial aggrandisement for themselves and of non-interference in the internal affairs of other States.My noble friend on the Woolsack and I remember many speeches in which the late Mr. Ernest Bevin gave us an account of the continuous subversion and interference in other countries which Russia was conducting. In his speech of September 15, 1948, Mr. Bevin mentioned that this habit of interference in the affairs of other countries was as old as Marxist-Leninist theory itself. He was quite right. But what I ask your Lordships to observe is that this conduct of Russia was a clear breach of an express term of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty of Alliance. Now there is again talk of a non-aggression pact with Russia. My 209 first observation on that is that we had one—we had the one I have mentioned. Russia continuously broke it from the beginning; and ultimately she repudiated or annulled it on May 7, 1955.
If it is suggested that we should now have another non-aggression pact with Russia, several questions appear to me to arise. The first is one that has worried the Prime Minister, and he mentions it in his letter answering Mr. Bulganin: how would the obligations of the pact differ from those that are already imposed by the Charter of the United Nations? May I ask this simple question: for what breaches of treaty or intransigence is Russia to be rewarded by a new treaty in place of that which she broke from the beginning and ultimately denounced? Is this a reward for walking out of the Disarmament Committee, or is it a reward for their treatment of Hungary? Lastly, could such a pact be drafted in such a way that we avoided any implication of condoning the continued subjection of the satellite States?
The question of the satellite States is really crucial. I do not believe that, in the long run, either peace or disarmament can be based on a denial of justice to millions, on the permanent deprivation of their freedom. In December, 1956, I ventured to remind your Lordships of the parable of the Good Samaritan. The priest, the Levite and the Good Samaritan came on the scene after the thieves had finished their horrible work. I ask you to consider what would have happened if they had come upon the scene while the thuggery was still proceeding. What would the Good Samaritan have done? I suggest that he would not have made a nonaggression pact or a treaty of friendship with the thugs.
My Lords, I have sketched the background against which we have to consider the problem of the deterrent and the Summit talks. On the deterrent, I am glad that there appears to be a great measure of agreement between the two Front Benches. It is agreed that we roust maintain the nuclear deterrent, though it does not seem quite so clearly to be agreed on the Benches opposite what it is sought to deter. We think that it should deter from all major wars—not only wars in which the hydrogen 210 bomb is used, but even a great war in which it was sought to overrun Europe without the use of any such bomb. I agree with the policy outlined in the White Paper. The hydrogen bomb is a deterrent. How does anybody imagine that the West has in fact had its way of life protected for many years? I dismiss the curious theory of the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, that it ceased to be a deterrent when both sides had it. The argument seems to be that, if only one side had it, the other side might be deterred, but that when everybody was in a position to kill everybody else, then war became so extraordinarily jolly that nobody would be deterred at all. The speech of the noble Lord, Lord Nathan, reminded me of the title of a book by the well-known Canadian humorist, Stephen Leacock: Moonbeams from the Larger Lunacy.
We are, therefore, quite right in agreeing that we must have the deterrent. But, of course, there is a further question. From the fact that we roust have the deterrent it does not necessarily follow that we must make it ourselves. Needless to say, if we believed that the whole idea of the nuclear deterrent was morally wrong, then quite clearly we could not honourably shelter behind a nuclear deterrent in the hands of America. But if we think that the nuclear deterrent is not morally wrong, there still remains the open question of whether we should make it ourselves. With the division of labour among the N.A.T.O. Allies that is an arguable matter. I myself heartily support the decision of Her Majesty's Government that it is right that we should make the deterrent ourselves. Let me give one reason, which I think has not been given in the course of this debate: can we be absolutely certain that the great American public will never be impressed by the argument by which, clearly, many of our own public are impressed, that it would be so terrible to use the nuclear deterrent that it is doubtful whether any Government would have the determination to do so? Are we quite certain that, if we had not the nuclear deterrent ourselves, the American public, or the American Government, might not come to the conclusion that we were expendable? I am not suggesting that they would, but I believe that we should not assume that an argument which has so much force in some quarters 211 here will always be disregarded over there.
If we are to have the deterrent, a third question arises: ought we to stop the British-based aircraft patrols? I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Winster, in his vigorous speech, thought his Party were wrong in wishing to stop these patrols; and I was glad to see the Manchester Guardian take the same line to-day. Let us examine what is the argument for stopping them. In order to avoid the risk of someone starting a nuclear war by accident, we are to make it much easier for an enemy to start such a war on purpose. We are to make a "Pearl Harbour" possible.
I come last to the Summit conference. I desire a Summit conference to take place on the conditions which have been given and made clear by speakers for Her Majesty's Government, and by the noble Lord, Lord Strang; but I am not in favour of such a conference if subjects are to be excluded merely because the Russians dislike their inclusion. I do not believe in talk for talk's sake. No doubt the Russians can be obstinate, but that is no reason for our abandoning our principles. When we talk about getting together with the Russians on the basis of "live and let live," it sounds excellent; but if we mean maintaining the political status quo, that is not to be described as a policy of "live and let live": it is a policy of "live and let die." I repeat what I said fifteen months ago—Europe cannot survive a second Yalta; nor, my Lords, would it deserve to.