§ 2.40 p.m.
§ LORD SIMON OF WYTHENSHAWE rose to draw attention to the danger of an increase in the number of Powers who own or manufacture nuclear weapons, and to urge Her Majesty's Government to negotiate with the leading non-nuclear Powers with the aim of securing their agreement to renounce the manufacture, ownership and use of nuclear weapons and as part of the negotiation to offer ourselves similarly to renounce any such weapons, and to endeavour to persuade the United States and the U.S.S.R. jointly to sponsor a world-wide system of inspection under the auspices of U.N. to enforce effectively any such agreement which may be arrived at; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, on the last occasion when I had the privilege of opening a debate in this House my Motion dealt with the need for more education and research in science and technology. On that occasion both Her Majesty's Government and the Opposition were strongly in favour of my 72 Motion, and I remember with gratitude the welcome given to it by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and the noble Earl, Lord Home. It is a great regret to me that on this occasion Her Majesty's Government and the Opposition are, I am afraid, not in accord on my Motion. My excuse for having been encouraged in it is that the subject is one of such desperate importance, complexity and difficulty and is changing so rapidly, and I found so much support for the Motion I am moving, that after long and anxious thought I collected my courage and decided to put down this Motion. I hope noble Lords will bear with me.
§ My Motion is confined to a single object: to persuade Her Majesty's Government to take definite action, first, to stop the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries by ourselves offering to forgo, and abandon the use of, such weapons; and secondly, to persuade the United States of America and Russia to co-operate in helping the United Nations to control and enforce the necessary treaties. The proposal was first made by my noble friend Lord Russell, who is here to-day. It was made a year ago and it has never been discussed in Parliament. It has been discussed only very slightly in the Press.
§ My friends and I are aware that the carrying out of our proposal is likely to present very great difficulties. We are absolutely certain of one thing: that in the interests of the country and of the world the proposal ought to be fully discussed, and I very much hope that an effective beginning of such discussion will be made in your Lordships' House to-day. We hope that the debate will be on non-Party lines. My noble friend Lord Russell, in his recent book Commonsense and Nuclear Warfare, which I believe many Members have read, appears to us to set an admirable example of the way in which a subject of this magnitude and of this terror should be discussed.
§ My Lords, we all desire general disarmament. The reason for our proposal for a narrower piece of disarmament is that a programme for general disarmament is so appallingly slow. Philip Noel-Baker, in his admirable book The Arms Race, has described with great skill the whole process over the last twenty years—a deplorable history of endless negotiations without result. He is obviously 73 right in demanding a "grand design" for peace. Obviously, humanity will never be safe until war is abolished. But as an industrialist, rather than a politician—an industrialist and engineer—my whole instinct is to get something done before it is too late. It appears to me that there are two practical possibilities. The first is the abolition of test explosions. Your Lordships know that discussions on this subject have been going on for three or four months in Geneva, and we must hope and pray that they will be successful. This subject is not covered by my Motion to-day, but it has been discussed a great deal. The other possibility is to form a non-nuclear club to stop the spread of the bomb; and that, of course, is the single object of the Motion to-day.
§ Before coming to the actual Motion I should like, with your Lordships' permission, to say a few words on the damage that would be done by a global nuclear war. To serious students of defence it is a platitude to say that such a war would probably destroy civilisation, both in the West and in Russia. This crowded island, as the most important advance base for American bombers, would be in greater peril than any other part of the world. But while nearly everyone would accept this in words, I fear that few people really believe it in their bones. I am frankly shocked that so few people seem fully alive to the peril to mankind, and especially to Britain. Even a leading member of the Government has said quite recently, "I do not myself see much distinction between a global war with nuclear weapons and a global war fought with conventional weapons." That is quite certainly a mistaken view.
§ It is no doubt true that conventional weapons have had the most horrible consequences, as for instance in Hamburg and Tokyo in the last war; and conventional weapons might do more harm to us in a war now than was done then. But conventional weapons have not the effect of radiation; they are confined to damage by blast and fire. Professor Rotblat, a Vice-President of the Atomic Scientists' Association, estimates that if fifty 20-megaton H-bombs were dropped on this country not only would they kill about 25 million people immediately, but the radiation would kill the whole of the rest of the population, except perhaps a few in Northern Scotland, within one month. Scientists believe that radiation 74 on a sufficiently large scale in an H-bomb war might destroy the human race. I am sure the House will agree that in a democracy the people should realise their peril.
§ We are fortunate in having two distinguished scientists with us to-day who will be speaking. One is the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Orr, who has recently attended a most important international conference, known by the name of the "Pug-wash" Conference, in Austria. It was attended, I think, he will tell us, by sixty or seventy scientists, including Americans and a dozen Russians, and they came to very important unanimous conclusions. The other is my noble friend Lord Adrian, who is a high authority upon radiation. Those two noble Lords will this afternoon give the House the benefit of their knowledge and experience. I venture to hope that they will do something to bring home to the people of this country the reality of the desperate danger which threatens them.
§ I am sure—we are all sure—that the peoples and Governments of the two giants, America and Russia, are well aware of the disastrous possibilities if the deterrents of their opposite number were used. Most of their cities would he destroyed in a global war. We may, therefore, reasonably hope that "the great deterrent" will never be used. But the spread of H-bombs to countries other than those which now possess them is imminent, and will almost certainly, I think, be disastrous. It will clearly increase the danger of nuclear war, not only by the enhanced possibility of a misinterpreted accident, but also by making more probable the acquisition of this destructive power by some reckless or fanatical Government—possibly by some future Hitler. Nobody doubts that within the next five or ten years perhaps another ten countries will be able to make the hydrogen bomb. Nobdy doubts, I think, that they will do so unless some way is found to stop them. Even peaceful countries such as Sweden and Switzerland are already seriously considering the possibility themselves, and I think one can imagine the dangers if the Arab States and Israel both had the hydrogen bomb.
§ May I now just say, in the simplest possible form, what are the essential steps which we contemplate arising out of this Motion? Our suggestion is that Britain should attempt to form a non-nuclear 75 club of all the industrial nations except the two giants. The first thing would be to get the present non-nuclear Powers to sign a treaty not to own, manufacture or use nuclear weapons. The second would be, as part of that treaty and, of course, contingent on it, that Britain would cease to manufacture nuclear weapons, would never use them and would undertake to destroy her stocks. The third step would be an approach to United Nations, to ask them to take responsibility for inspection and enforcement. The fourth would be to urge the two giants jointly to give active help to United Nations and, also, to undertake not to give nuclear weapons to any other country. Those are the four steps which are essential to implement this Motion.
§ Now, my Lords, it is quite clear that this problem is so complex and so difficult, and that the position is changing so fast, that I cannot attempt more than a rough outline. I have had the privilege of discussing this matter with a number of Members of your Lordships' House who are to speak in this debate and who will supplement what I say; and I hope that together we shall make a pretty full case. Perhaps I may mention some of those who are going to speak. As regards the scientific aspect, I have already referred to the noble Lords, Lord Adrian and Lord Boyd-Orr. The moral aspects of the case (and, undoubtedly, the moral aspects are more serious than those which have ever yet been faced by humanity: especially, perhaps, for those of us who now have the hydrogen bomb) will be dealt with by the right reverend Prelates, the Lord Bishops of Chichester, Manchester, and Portsmouth. They, I hope, will help us towards moral leadership, as one hopes the scientists may help us towards intellectual leadership. Others who will speak on this matter are, of course, Lord Russell himself, who will speak early, Lord Huntingdon, and Lord Wilmot of Selmeston, who will, so to speak, wind up for those who share my point of view of this matter. It does not mean that all those noble Lords agree absolutely with everything, but they are in general agreement with the case as set forth. There will, of course, be a number of other speakers, official speakers and unofficial speakers, some of whom may be sympathetic towards our case, but 76 most of whom will probably not be sympathetic. So I have every hope that from the whole debate—which, as I have indicated, is the first that has taken place on this subject—a good deal of knowledge and wisdom may emerge.
What I have said so far is not, I hope, very controversial. I now come to the difficult part; that is, an endeavour to weigh the advantages of carrying out this resolution, on the one hand, and the dangers and the disadvantages to Britain, on the other. Our main aim in the Motion is, of course, to prevent an otherwise certain increase in the number of countries owning the hydrogen bomb, and therefore a major increase in the prospects of world disaster. Incidentally, we should in that way save large sums of money which could be spent on conventional weapons, on raising the standard of living in this country, on more scientific and technological research, and on helping underdeveloped countries. In this connection, may I read to your Lordships the last three or four lines of The Times leader of this morning on defence, which are as follows:
As long as there is no change in the priority so uncritically accorded to nuclear deterrence our defence policy will remain needlessly expensive and often irrelevant.
We can all draw our own conclusions from that comment.
§ The second big advantage is that this would be the first case in history of a great Power voluntarily abandoning the most dangerous and effective weapon in existence. This may fairly be called a great moral gesture. May I just say one word about the United States Alliance. This Motion is essentially a moderate proposal. Many would like to go much further, and in particular would like to refuse to allow the Americans to use Britain as an advance base for rockets and loaded planes. Such a step might, and no doubt would, remove any threat of attack from Russia, but it is not included in the Motion. There is nothing in the Motion to shake or weaken the American Alliance. On the contrary, our proposals would, I think, undoubtedly make the world safer for the United States, and, I venture to think, would be welcome there when they are discussed.
§ My Lords, the three Bishops will, I am sure, deal with the varied moral 77 aspects of our problem incomparably better than I could, and accordingly I leave those entirely to them. There is one aspect of this to which I, and many of us, attach great importance—that is, that the two giants should co-operate in the inspection and control of nuclear arms. I regard that as being of the utmost importance. There is no doubt that a major trouble in the negotiations for inspection for lest explosions is the great dislike which the Russians have of allowing foreigners on their soil to inspect what they are doing. They never have allowed it, and it is very uncertain whether they will in the future. That question does not arise, however, under our proposal. Under our proposal, there would be no inspection on the territory of the two giants. They would join with the United Nations to inspect the rest of the world.
§ It seems to me that this form of disarmament which we have proposed is the only one that is equally to the advantage of the United States and Russia. Their interests would be identical—namely, to stop any other country owning these terrible weapons. They would have a single overwhelming common interest; and it may be hoped that their joint responsibility with the United Nations for inspection and enforcement of treaties would gradually build up a habit of co-operation and of trusting one another, which should in time lead to better relations in wider fields.
§ Coming to the other side, it is not for me to set forth the disadvantages and the dangers. There is no doubt that many people are absolutely convinced that the possession of the nuclear deterrent by us is essential to our safety. One reason may well be those remarkable articles which appeared in The Times in October, when it was said that we could never be sure that the great American deterrent would always be used in defence of the territory of Britain. That is one reason. The other main reason is the reason, broadly, of prestige: that Britain has always been a great Power; that she has always had the best available weapons and, for the purpose of prestige, ought to continue in the same way; and that our influence in the world, and particularly with the United States, depends on our being well armed. Those are the arguments in that field. I have already admitted that there would obviously be very 78 great difficulties in getting all countries to sign a treaty of this sort, and it is commonly known that France and China would almost certainly be the most difficult countries to persuade to come in with us. That is a matter with which I do not propose to deal myself. It will, I hope, be dealt with by other speakers.
§ My Lords, I have tried to touch on an immense and very difficult field; to weigh the advantages and disadvantages, and to make it clear that in my view the advantages greatly outweigh the disadvantages. It seems to me most unlikely that a case would ever arise in which our bombs would be both militarily effective and politically appropriate. As we know, in the cases of Korea and Formosa, although the Americans could have won the war with these bombs, they never used them. Apart from stopping test explosions, we believe that the only important point on which agreement might be reached at an early date is our proposal for the prevention of the spread of the bomb. Only Britain can give an effective lead by offering ourselves to take a serious risk—or what many people regard as a serious risk—for the sake of world peace.
§ Finally, my Lords, I would say this. My friends and I are fully aware of, and, as I have said, greatly regret, the fact that the action we propose is contrary to the present policy of the Government and of the Opposition. Naturally, we hope that it will not long be so. We cannot be sure that it would prove possible to form a comprehensive non-nuclear club on the lines we have suggested. I hope that all noble Lords will agree that the subject is of sufficient importance to demand full discussion. In the past, high-level debates in your Lordships' House have often contributed much to clarifying complicated issues. It is our fervent hope that to-day's debate will mark an important beginning of a national study of this desperately urgent subject. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.1 p.m.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, before I turn to the Motion which the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, has moved, I must say to your Lordships that I find it extremely difficult in talking in a debate of this kind to forget Mr. Dulles, who constantly springs to our minds, because he has been 79 one of the leading figures in international affairs dealing with peace and war. He has been struck down by an illness at this most unhappy time for him; and although he is a figure of political controversy, nevertheless his heroic devotion to duty and his courage always excite our admiration. I hope that your Lordships will agree that we should send to him a message from this House for his full, speedy and complete recovery.
The noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, has been patient in waiting for this Parliamentary occasion. It was in December last that I asked him to postpone this Motion because the discussions at Geneva on the suspension of the tests of nuclear weapons were at that time in delicate balance. That they are still so is a measure of the obstinacy which surrounds these problems which are broadly contained in the word "disarmament". To-day the noble Lord has moved his Motion, I am sure to the complete acceptance of all noble Lords.
I should like to say a word at the beginning on one part of his speech, in which he spoke of the scale of the destruction of nuclear weapons. It is widely recognised and I believe understood that the casualties would be heavy—indeed, appalling; but from the nature of the noble Lord's Motion, which concentrates upon nuclear weapons, and nuclear weapons only, I think it is worth while to remind your Lordships that it is not only nuclear weapons that in these days can inflict these grievous wounds. Whereas no doubt nuclear weapons can achieve wholesale casualties in a number of days, we have not stood still since the V.1 and V.2 of the last war; and to-day what are called conventional weapons can possibly achieve over a few weeks what the nuclear weapons can inflict in a few days. For that reason the aims which all Parties and all Governments have sought over the years have been not to ban this weapon or that, but to try to achieve controlled disarmament over the whole range of weapons.
I think, too, that when we are considering the possible disasters which would follow a nuclear attack and the outbreak of a modern war, we should remember and give full weight to the 80 fact that we have lived with the nuclear deterrent, and yet over the last few years there has been peace. It may have been a precarious peace, but it has been peace. Nevertheless, the noble Lord is right to stress the dangers inherent in a nuclear attack, so incomprehensible that it is difficult to accept them as being real. He is right to do so because we must not sit down in a sort of paralysed complacency. We must act to try to prevent the catastrophe.
Although facing the facts, the unpleasant facts, is a healthy occupation, nevertheless the country is faced with a genuinely baffling situation. I can say that this country has a passionate desire for peace. The Foreign Secretary was right when he said at a recent public meeting that no country in the world has a greater vested interest in peace. Our life as a great commercial nation depends upon it. But we do not live in a political vacuum, and it is the political offensives of international Communism over the years that have placed us in a deadly dilemma. The dilemma is this: either we have to match Russia's strength with a comparable military effort and rely on the strength of ourselves and of our friends to deter aggression, and thereby run the risks which have been so vividly described by the noble Lord, or we have to let our guard fall and expose ourselves to the fate of Hungary and lose the liberties which we have won over the centuries.
There are some who genuinely feel in their hearts—I respect them although I do not agree with them—that we should submit in the faith that the seeds of liberty are so indestructible that they will shoot and fruit again, even though they may have to lie dormant under years of oppression. But there is no certainty, if we adopt the course of submission, that we of the free world should avoid destruction. Indeed, unless all other countries, including the United States of America, were to follow our renunciation, we might well become a Soviet rocket base from which international Communism would threaten those who had elected to remain free.
One must be humble in the face of these issues which defy the imagination. But I do not believe that the spirit of the British people, when they have weighed all the consequences and the sacrifices, would allow them to acquiesce in slavery 81 or to desert their friends. Nor, if I follow him correctly, does the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe. He seemed to me to accept the view, which he called widespread, that the only hope of avoiding destruction by war or domination by the Communists was to have equality of strength. Secondly, he accepted that if disarmament was to make a real contribution to peace, there must be international inspection.
I was interested to find that this view is apparently endorsed by the noble Earl, Lord Russell, on page 85 of his interesting book, Commonsense and Nuclear Warfare. I read the other day this:What I advocate is that methods should be sought of, first, lessening the East-West tension and then negotiating agreements on vexed questions on the basis of giving no net advantage to either side.Such negotiations, if they are to be satisfactory, must include the mutual renunciation of nuclear weapons with an adequate system of inspection.I am bound to admit that the noble Earl says other things in the rest of the book. In a most disarming way, the title of the last chapter is Inconsistency". But if I have rightly understood what the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, said and rightly interpreted what the noble Earl, Lord Russell, has written, then today it is interesting to see what the noble Lord who moved the Motion and his sponsors are asking us to do, or rather, what they are not asking us to do. They are not asking us to denounce the deterrent, because they leave it in the hands of the United States of America. They are not challenging the equal balance of arms, and they are not asking us to pronounce upon the morality of the nuclear bomb, because not only are they allowing the United States to keep it, but, if I understood the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, correctly, we in the United Kingdom should continue to provide the bases from which the United States deterrent would work. The proposal, and the only proposal which has been made by the noble Lord and those who support him to-day, is that nuclear weapons should be confined to the United States and the Soviet Union and that these two heavyweights alone should hold the ring for the rest of the world.
I suspected when I read the Motion—and I am bound to say my suspicions were confirmed as I listened to the noble Lord—that this, even in his own mind, 82 is very much a second best to controlled disarmament. It is a device; and there is no evidence which the noble Lord can offer that it would work. What he hopes is that we shall lessen the risk of nuclear war because others will deny themselves the right to manufacture the nuclear bomb; except that the United Kingdom, as I have said, would apparently shelter under the United States' nuclear umbrella—a not very heroic posture, perhaps, when other nations are to be left naked and exposed.
Before coming to a more detailed examination of his proposal I should like to mention one general reaction of my own as I listened to the noble Lord. If one comes to the noble Lord's conclusion, it seems to me that one would have to have absolute faith in two things: first, that Russia would never attack with conventional forces—that is asking a lot; and secondly, that the United States of America unaided can defend the free world everywhere—and that, I think, is an unfair thing to ask the United States to do. But in these grave matters one must not fall into rigid habits of thought, and therefore I should like to examine further the implications of the noble Lord's Motion, and particularly some military aspects as they affect the balance of power, which, as I understand it, the noble Lord and his sponsors agree must be preserved.
Russia geographically is in a most favourable position to move large forces to threaten many countries, and the proposal of the noble Lord, if I take Western Europe alone, would, it seems to me, create a serious unbalance between Russia and the West. The large majority of the ground forces of the N.A.T.O. command are not American. Those forces would be denied any nuclear equipment, while the 200 Russian divisions within a comparatively few hundred miles would have nuclear equipment as part of their normal armament. Then again, the Russian submarine fleet, with its many hundreds of submarines, must not be forgotten. Under the noble Lord's proposal, the Russian submarines would have nuclear atomic weapons, but the fleets of Western Europe would be denied them.
Further, the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, would apply inspection to the countries of Western Europe and, 83 as I understand it, to the satellites of Russia, but not to Russia herself. Therefore Russia would be completely informed of the defence preparations of Western Europe, whereas her own preparations would be a closed book to the rest of the world. That is true, too, of other areas. In Lord Russell's phrase the noble Lord's Motion as it applies to the strategic position in Western Europe would certainly give "a net advantage to the Communist side".
Then let me examine the question of the manufacture of fissile material. France has made it crystal clear that she is not prepared to renounce nuclear weapons and the manufacture of nuclear weapons unless there is general agreement on what is called the "cut-off"; that is, the control of the production of fissile material in all countries, including the Soviet Union. There is no reason to think that either France or China would be moved by example. Indeed, I do not know whether the noble Lord and the House are aware of it, but in the International Atomic Energy Agency's Statute we have had an experience which is not exactly encouraging. That Statute provides that the Agency should apply all safeguards, including inspection, so that material for peaceful purposes shall not be transferred for military use. A number of countries have persistently opposed action to put the Statute into effect so long as the nuclear Powers have not themselves accepted the "cut-off"; and India, in fact, when ratifying the Agreement, clearly and specifically said that to try to enforce the provision on other countries when the nuclear Powers were not willing to accept it would be what they call undesirable discrimination.
Then again, my Lords, all British Governments since the war have set store by Britain's possession of the deterrent, not only because it makes a significant contribution to common defence—and I would ask the noble Lord not to underrate the contribution which our deterrent can make in these years—but that it removes any danger that the Soviet Union may be tempted to invade Western Europe in the misguided belief that the United States of America, faced with the possibility of bombardment by intercontinental missiles, would shrink from saving countries which are distant from her.
84 Finally, we must remember that we are the centre of a Commonwealth of Nations and that many rely upon us for their defence. They are rich and tempting prizes to the Communists, and to abandon the deterrent, the only weapon with which we could come to their rescue and save their freedom, would seem to me to be impossible. Therefore, while I sympathise with the fears of the noble Lord that widespread ownership of nuclear weapons would increase the risk, I believe that the only step by which the noble Lord and this country can get what we want, which is a reduction of the risk, is by agreement on the "cut-off" of fissile material by all the nuclear Powers, including Russia and the United States of America. That must be in all our interests: it must be in the interests of the Russians, and we hope that they will recognise it. It is to that object that we wish to mobilise world opinion.
It should be possible at this moment, given good will on the part of the Soviet Union, to agree on a suspension of tests, which is the first objective which the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, wants to see. As he knows, the Russian and the Western experts have agreed on a practical control system, and the current difficulty, so far as I know, is this: that the Soviets so far insist that there must he unanimity between the three Governments before a complaint can be made of violation, and that there must be unanimity before any action can be taken to discover whether in fact a breach of the Convention has been made. This amounts to a veto, both in regard to complaints and in regard to investigation, and it would, if insisted upon, make control impossible. But we are persevering in the hope and belief that this is not the Russians' last word. So we will persevere, and so the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary will, no doubt, pursue this question when they go to Moscow.
The suspension of tests could lead to a start in controlled disarmament through the cut-off of fissile material. In some ways this would hit this country very severely, but we have accepted it because we fully understand the need to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and to reduce the stockpiles which exist. So I hope that noble Lords who sponsor this Motion and who are coming forward with this proposal to-day will also try to persuade 85 public opinion to use all its pressure to achieve the suspension of tests and to get the cut-off of fissile material agreed by all, because if we can get that, then we achieve what the noble Lord and his friends wish to see. While, therefore, I can accept the spirit and the objects of the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, I could not advise the House, for reasons which I have given, to endorse the means which he proposes.
For the last few minutes of what I have to say I should like to consider with your Lordships not whether the proposal is practicable—I have tried to deal with that—but whether it is possible for the United Kingdom to adopt the line which the noble Lord proposes. History through the centuries has been marked by the progressive development of invention and industrial techniques, and each one through the centuries has added to the power of man. Iron, gunpowder, steam, electricity, the atom, all sources of energy and power, have this in common with nature: that they have two aspects: one, a place in the economy of peace and human progress, and the other, one which can be turned to destruction. I do not believe that you can insulate invention or the sources of power from possible use in war. Medicine, the most humane of the sciences, can at once cure and kill. And if man believes that in these matters he can by-pass the choice between good and evil then he is really hoping for a vain thing.
The nuclear bomb, and, indeed, modern war, even with conventional weapons, face society to-day with the choice, and a choice more starkly real than we have known before. Wriggle as we may, we cannot avoid making it. Are we going to use this force, with all its bestial qualities, or are we going to seize the knowledge that we have in this nuclear age to open up infinite horizons of human progress? It is when mankind is at grips with this decision, when the issue at stake is the future of civilisation, that this Motion asks the United Kingdom to turn its back on reality, to step out of the arena, and to leave these great matters and these great decisions to others. Each must decide for himself, but when danger to human life is at its peak, and when we ill this country have done so much to promote the way of living in the world, 86 I do not believe that we can wash our hands of these matters and abdicate our responsibility. We must play our part in helping man to decide upon these great issues. If we stand aside and turn our backs on these matters and leave everything to the United States and the Soviet Union, I do not believe that we shall salve our consciences or we shall save our national soul, or that we shall gain peace.
This Motion—and the more I have analysed it the more this comes to me, although one must deal with these matters with all care and with all humility—is, I believe, one born of despair. I refuse to accept that. Because although the way may be rough and hard, I believe that there is a ray of hope, and that if this country and its friends continue to try to convince those who are still tempted in these days to aggression that there is no profit in war, and if we maintain the balance of power, and if we work unceasingly through the United Nations for disarmament, to which all, without exception, are pledged, then we may yet make progress towards peace. Because it is only when all the nations, including those who practise international Communism, renounce the evil of force that we can gain that confidence on which we can build a peace which is real.
§ 3.27 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I am quite sure that your Lordships will agree with me that we have just listened to a speech which makes us twice as hearty in welcoming back the noble Earl the Leader of the House to his post here to-day—a speech which, whatever our views may be about the subject that we have to discuss, will have commended itself to us as a model of its nature. The Motion introduced by my noble friend Lord Simon of Wythenshawe deals, as he claims, with a matter of the most urgent and important character. On that I do not think there will be any disagreement in any section of the House. If I may say so to my noble friend, as representing the official view of the Labour Party, we raise no objection at all to his having ventilated it in the manner in which he has done to-day. It is open to anybody who has a particular feeling and an aspect of conscience in this matter to ventilate in your Lordships' 87 House what is in his mind, and I believe that the House always gives such expressions a fair hearing. We are grateful to the noble Lord for the reasonable and restrained manner in which he has presented the heads of the case, leaving it to other speakers, as he has himself said, to fill in the details later in the debate.
I must say at once—and that is why I am intervening early—that so far as the Labour Opposition is concerned, we have to agree with the noble Earl the Leader of the House that it would not be possible for us to accept the Motion in the form in which it is drawn. There are, of course, certain matters upon which we have disagreed with Her Majesty's Government from time to time in the handling of some of those questions connected with the subject of the Motion which is on the Paper to-day. We have, for example, urged for a very considerable time that the urgent necessity was to try to start the progress towards disarmament—a controlled disarmament, as the noble Lord put it—including atomic and hydrogen weapons, by suspending the tests. It is perhaps a pity in relation to what is our ultimate effect upon the rest of the world, that that was not done by our country or by the United States, and that the more modern approach to it last year was left to the initiative of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, because that kind of failure to take advantage of the proper step at the right time inevitably has its effect upon world opinion.
It is urgent to make a start in these matters. We are all very glad that things have reached the stage described by the noble Earl the Leader of the House, in the discussions which are going on in Geneva, which are largely of a technical character but must inevitably, of course, bring in the question of proper controls at that stage. Of course, the matter is urgent because not only is it a question of leading into effective proposals for banning the weapon (and surely all of us must, in our hearts, desire to ban all these weapons as part of the general and controlled disarmament), but the dangers to the populations in areas where the test explosions are taking place are so threatening in their early effect that it is essential to bring about a suspension of tests.
88 When we consider not only the general medical evidence as to what has been the effect of tests in various parts of the world, such as the content of strontium in the human body, but that rather startling information for agriculturists and farmers printed in the Sunday Press last Sunday, about the extraordinary percentage of dangerous effect upon the wheat in Minnesota, it is surely a matter of urgency for the general interest of the whole race, quite apart from the dangers of war later on, that something should be done in connection with the suspension of tests; and from the point of view of my Party that is, of course, a matter of urgency. I fully appreciate what the noble Earl the Leader of the House has said with regard to the pointer which has been given to us as to the obstacles that arise even in that discussion at Geneva. I am glad to know, however, that he hopes—and I certainly hope with him—that further counsel may lead to a satisfactory conclusion of that position.
I should like to say to my noble friends, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe and Lord Russell, who have been so vitally interested in the preparation of this Motion, that although we cannot support the Motion as it stands on the Paper to-day, we have every possible sympathy with their general objective. If I understand the feeling and the mind of the country at large, I should say that the great majority of the population have just as strong feeling and engender within themselves almost as vivid a hope that something may be done which will ultimately bring about the banning of this weapon altogether. But the more we look at the method proposed in the noble Lord's Motion the more we feel that that falls short.
The policy of my Party to-day is something upon which we can speak with perfect confidence, because it was widely debated at the last Labour Party Annual Conference at Scarborough. We can therefore speak with all the authority of what was a most interesting and widespread debate; debated on not less than four separate resolutions, on the matter of foreign affairs and disarmament, and nuclear weapons in general. There is no doubt at all, from the very strong support given to the Party's reply to these resolutions, that the feeling of the Party is held among a great cross-section of the 89 public in the country. We have to remember, in the view of the Labour Party, that three great Powers to-day have nuclear weapons. If the race in the production of these weapons continues and spreads, then there is a terrible prospect before the world—on that point we fully agree with the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe.
I have already referred to the attempts that Labour made to try to get a much more early examination of the possibility of suspending tests as the first aim in the matter; but our ultimate aim in Labour policy is to rid the world of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, and I am sure that noble Lords in all parts of the House who have general interest in the effect of other inventions outside the atomic and the hydrogenic will feel with me that it is all weapons of mass destruction that we must get rid of, especially when we think of some of the terrible general aspects of science in other than nuclear directions. If we are going to be able to do that, then surely it is essential that it shall come in connection with and be part of the determination of mankind to have general disarmament as a whole.
This week-end I was glancing through Bacon's essay on goodness and good-naturedness. He says in about two or three lines that the desire for power in excess was responsible for the fall of the angels. I am looking at the Lord Bishops' Bench to see whether they agree with that. And Bacon goes on to say that the desire for knowledge in excess leads to the fall of man. I think of something which was referred to by both speakers this afternoon: the possibilities that have come with the increasing knowledge of man by discovery through invention, scientific experiment and the like. The great majority of all those discoveries could have been used entirely for the improvement of standards of living, of health, of intelligence, of mind and of spirit; and yet it is so much in excess in man to-day that it seems always to lead to his falling into the use of these benefits for the most evil and destructive purposes. It seemed to me, as I was looking it up over the week-end, that before we get where we want to get in this matter we must think of some of the points raised at the end of his speech by the noble Earl, the Leader of the 90 House, and we must get a very different moral and religious outlook in ourselves and the nation about the whole subject. The point made by my noble friend Lord Simon of Wythenshawe led me in that direction.
I do not propose to say anything more concerning the preliminary step, about which we are all very much in unity: that is, the suspension of the tests. I want to say a word or two about my Party's attitude to the kind of proposal made in the Motion that we are considering. What we want to do, and what we hope will happen if the Geneva Conference is successful, is to follow that Conference by negotiations for a general disarmament treaty—I hope that, if possible, that will be the next step after Geneva—which would embody the reduction of arms, manpower and military expenditure, the destruction—this is important—of all stocks of nuclear weapons, and the conversion to peaceful use of all stocks of fissile material. How to arrange for the desirable objective to which the noble Earl the Leader of the House referred upon the question of fissile material I am not quite sure to-day, but it is surely a matter upon which expert political and scientific advice could be got together and something effective accomplished.
Then we ought to go another step in connection with that objective. This seemed to be greatly welcomed at the Labour Party Conference. We think we ought to go on to abolish the means of delivery of nuclear weapons in any agreement that is arrived at on general disarmament; that we should be prepared to abolish all chemical and biological weapons for mass destruction, and provide safeguards against surprise attack. Such safeguards would in any case mean that there must be controls capable of enforcing the safeguards which are drawn up in the agreement. At our Conference those who favoured what is involved in the Motion on the Paper to-day, unilateral disarmament, suggested that we should act immediately in this matter. It involves making a preliminary offer in trying to set up this non-nuclear club. If that is not so, I hope that my noble friends will explain how far I am wrong. I know that at our Conference those who favoured unilateral disarmament seemed to think that our plan, as I 91 have outlined it to-day, on multilateral disarmament did not go far enough.
There is no issue between any sections of people about the horrible nature of the weapons, but you do not get rid of the horror by, as is proposed in this Motion, leaving all these weapons in the hands of the two biggest "chums" outside the club. If you start in that direction, I do not see that you have done anything to get rid of the continuing feeling of horror, danger and fear in the population. Nor can I get away from the feeling that if we were going to leave the future hopes for the peace of the world to be maintained under such conditions, it would look, as my Leader said to the Party Conference, as if we wanted to hide behind the Americans and their bomb for our security in the future. It seems to me that that is a difficult position for anyone to take up and it is one which the Executive of the Labour Party does not accept at all.
The kind of process which is suggested in the Motion seems to us, from our experience at the Party Conference, to assume that if we make this unilateral offer, then everybody else is most likely to agree. Of course, in order ultimately to be effective as a non-nuclear club without the two big "chums", the decision would still have to come about with the agreement of those two; otherwise a great many other things would come into being thereafter. Is there anybody who can imagine that, by the operation by a single Government of the sort of diplomacy that is suggested in this Motion, the most desirable results that they want would be achieved? It seemed to us as we discussed that—and my Leader put it very fairly to the Labour, Party Conference—that it is not to be assumed that that is likely to happen. What would be the effect on the United States of America supposing you have your non-nuclear club and something unexpected occurred? In my lifetime many unexpected things have arisen in regard to defence and aggression; one does not know what will happen. Do we then think that America should be left to undertake the defence of the freedom of the whole free world? That is what we have to face. Otherwise, we must accept the view that we are hiding 92 behind the American bomb. That has to be carefully kept in mind.
The position in regard to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, in which as your Lordships know I have always been very interested, is also exceedingly difficult. What would be the effect of this action upon the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation? Perhaps we shall hear more from our noble friends in the course of the debate as to what they think of the future of N.A.T.O. in the light of their proposals. I can see a number of possibilities. It might be that the proposal, if made to the United States of America and followed through by other countries as being in agreement with the suggestion contained in the Motion on the Order Paper, would lead to the United States withdrawing altogether from N.A.T.O. In the view of the Executive of the Labour Party and of the Leader of my Party, that would be a most disastrous threat to the peace of the world. That is something that must be taken into consideration.
It might be that demands will be made by less responsible people than my noble friends who have been speaking this afternoon that we should come out of N.A.T.O. altogether, as its position in the world is unsatisfactory. All I have to say is that if we were to come out of N.A.T.O. and N.A.T.O. were to continue, I do not see how British citizens generally would regard what I think is an immediate threat—namely, that the principal Power in Europe, in N.A.T.O., would, in the long run be Germany. That raises visions in one's mind which are not at all happy, in view of our past experiences. It means that whereas, from an outside point of view, one can sit down and write on a piece of paper what is desirable and what, philosophically, one thinks ought to be done as the next step, anyone who has to consider both the international politics and our own defence policy in the matter, would be right (as was the view at our Labour Party Conference), in saying that we could not commit ourselves on the question.
It may be that we are absolutely in favour of banning the bomb by universal agreement. It may be that some members of my Party think most strongly that we should unilaterally stop manufacturing 93 the bomb. But in the present circumstances of the discussions in the matter, whilst we press on towards the general objectives that I have mentioned and which have been clearly set out by the noble Earl the Leader of the House, I think it would be far wiser for my Party at any rate, to wait and see whether or not we are hound to go on with the manufacture of the bomb. That is the real position of the Labour Party. We do not want to manufacture these weapons, but we should not be left in the situation of being the only one outside the club. We have to keep in mind the interests of our general peace, being, as the noble Earl the Leader of the House has described our country, the centre of a great Commonwealth. I wish I could be more favourable from the general point of view of the objectives of my noble friends with regard to the bomb. I very much welcome the way in which they have presented their case to the House, but I must inform them that, in all the circumstances, I could not possibly ask my colleagues to assent to the Motion.
§ 3.51 p.m.
My Lords, I feel quite sure that I am not alone in wishing to thank the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, for producing for your Lordships' discussion an extremely thoughtful and most interesting Motion. I should like also to thank the noble Earl the Leader of the House: (and, like the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, I welcome him back with great pleasure after his most valuable and successful tour) for his reasoned and very fair speech. In putting the other side he has given those of us who are inclined to see considerable substance in the noble Lord's Motion a good deal to think about, so I feel that at the end of to-day's debate we need not necessarily have cone to any conclusion.
I suggest that there are few subjects outside religion and philosophy which merit, even demand, a totally objective approach by the individual conscience. The Motion before the House to-day, however, involves a problem such as the human race has never, until recently had to face. In making our decision on the implications of this underlying problem we must realise that with dread, hut, I hope, with integrity, every one of us 94 is asked to formulate an individual opinion upon the choice of the means of trying to save mankind and civilisation from extinction: the extinction of all that is behind us in evolution and in culture, which has upheld human hopes and faith, and the extinction of everything that future human generations might enjoy out of our build-up of thousands, if not millions, of years.
In such a matter, which basically is of dimensions almost beyond human conception, I suggest that it would be a sign of hopelessness and moral irresponsibility to bring it within the disputation of, say, one religion or another, one race or another, or one political Party or another. Each of our three main political Parties has tentatively approached this subject. Each has formulated some line of thought, as the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough has just indicated in the case of his own Party. Each is genuinely anxious for a solution; but none, I believe, has laid clown that this or that line of procedure is exclusively right. There are many people in every Party who without political disloyalty, reserve judgment on the various leads which have been given; and I would say here that my inclination to support this Motion in no way involves or binds other members of the Party which I have the honour to lead in this House. I go further. I do not press Her Majesty's Government to undertake the action proposed in this Motion; but I do earnestly ask them to give it most careful, detailed and, if I may say so, broad-minded consideration.
We start with the accepted premise that nuclear hydrogen warfare is damnable in every sense, and that every responsible person wishes that nuclear discovery had no bearing whatever on the destruction of human life. Although, in that aspect, it cannot be abolished, it must be limited and controlled to a degree where somehow it ceases to be a menace to the whole of mankind. The second premise, I believe, is that the United States of America and Soviet Russia are so dominant in wealth, in manpower and in further potential production of nuclear weapons that, with the possible exception, in the future, of China, no other nation has any serious standing in this new and totally powerful development. That is a hard and very disagreeable fact to swallow: that Great Britain is no longer able 95 to take the position of a leading and benevolent military Power, as in the past. Pax Britannica through the centuries has been a matter of oustanding credit to this nation and of great value to the whole world.
We look back to Drake, Nelson, Wellington and, finally, Churchill with the greatest pride and admiration; but the circumstances in which they wielded British military might have gone for ever. And we have the difficulty that there are still with us some who, perhaps without great clarity of vision, feel that this change in our British position is somehow shameful and cannot be accepted. My Lords, it is not shameful; and it must be accepted, because we are now in an international age. But at least we have the solace of knowing that no single country now can exist alone, not even America or Russia, however self-sufficient they may seem to be at present; and that after those two giant Powers, as they were called by the noble Lord. Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, the outstanding force, both militarily and, I believe, morally, is acknowledged to be Great Britain and the Commonwealth, as the noble Leader of the House has indicated.
In our geographical position in this island, we are becoming no more than a forward base of one or other of the two great contestants if war should break out. We are within short range and have no hinterland. Even if we possessed the same quantity of nuclear armament as America or Russia, we should still be wiped out at the very beginning of hostilities; for in nuclear war, as we know, there is no defence: there is only attack. It is argued that our contribution to the Western nuclear armoury is a matter of importance and prestige—a view which we must understand and with which some of us sympathise—but I believe that our effective contribution is comparatively so very small that it is not at all important; and since it is not of importance, the matter of so-called "prestige" most regrettably becomes irrelevant.
Why, then, should we attract an onslaught against this undefendable Island by the provocative possession of a virtually useless contribution to American nuclear arms? It seems to me that that would be the very reverse of 96 a deterrent. In order to make any contribution which would be more than a token contribution we should have to spend on our nuclear development programme a sum enormously in excess of to-day's expenditure; yet to-day's defence expenditure already strains the economy of the nation almost to breaking point. It is quite impossible and self-deceiving to run alongside America and Russia, and pretend that we have anything like competitive or equal resources in wealth, manpower or reserves; indeed, if such pretence is kept up it will soon lead this country into bankruptcy without the advent of war at all.
Are we then to do nothing, to take the defeatist line, to abandon all effort, all help to the Western cause, and stand aside in the cowardly hope that by righteous non-participation we may somehow be able to save our skins? I totally rebut that line of argument. We have a great tradition, a tradition of leadership, not only on the battlefield but in culture, in commerce, in enlightenment and progress. Apart from our quite necessary (as I believe) contribution to conventional forces—because, after all, this Motion refers solely to nuclear power—I believe it is in those pacific fields alone that there lie ahead of us our duty, our responsibility and, indeed, our future. And it is in those fields that a revived and prosperous Britain, spending her resources on humanity and the future, rather than on the problematical postponement of death, destruction and extinction, can help to support and build up the moral and material prosperity of the free world, whose military guardianship in the nuclear field—and I underline the word "nuclear"—should be left in the powerful hands of America, for the reasons given in this Motion. In this way, far more than in any other, can we contribute materially and effectively to the championship of the Western World and America against the dark forces which seem to threaten us to-day.
If, however, the hydrogen bomb is to be allowed to fall into the hands of nations other than America and Russia, then indeed the outlook to me seems to be quite terrifying. One act of nationalistic irresponsibility, one accident, one individual maniac, may put an end to us all. The only sanction by which possession of the hydrogen bomb can be denied 97 to those who have not yet got it is world opinion, enforced by international treaty. Is it likely that such a plan can be achieved in the world as it is to-day? Can France, Germany, Japan, China and all the small upsurging countries of seething nationalism be expected to renounce this powerful and horrible weapon? I suggest that the answer is that if Great Britain would make the supremely fine gesture which is envisaged in the Motion before us to-day, such a thing could well be achieved. To abolish this devilish thing altogether is at present quite impossible. But, my Lords, to relieve the minds and spirits of all mankind, by bringing about its limitation in the meantime to only two nations—nations who themselves may later find a way to banish it—would seem to me to be possibly the greatest and best and the most noble action of any first-class Power at any time in the history of the world.
§ 4.2 p.m.
My Lords, we have heard some very powerful arguments from the noble Earl and the noble Viscount against proposals which are not before the House. I will try to support my noble friend Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, and I should like to say a little about what our proposals are not. The fate of Hungary was mentioned, and it was suggested, though not said, that something in our Motion would make us more likely to suffer the fate of Hungary. I cannot see that there is anything in our Motion to make that more likely than it would otherwise be. It was said also that the Commonwealth relies upon us for defence. Well, I am sorry to say I must hope that it does not, because it is quite clear (it became clear even in the last war) that we alone are not able to defend the Commonwealth, and I do not think that the Commonwealth is unaware of that fact. I do not think that it looks to us alone for its defence, and I very much doubt whether our possession of the H-bomb in any way increases our capacity for defending the Commonwealth.
The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, spoke as if we were proposing a unilateral renunciation of possession of the bomb. That is no part of the Motion which my noble friend Lord Simon of Wythenshawe has intro- 98 duced. His proposal is that we should offer to renounce it in conjunction with all the Powers other than the United States and the U.S.S.R., if they are willing to join in that renunciation. There is no suggestion in his Motion of a unilateral renunciation of the bomb by us. As to the suggestion that if this Motion were to become the policy of Her Majesty's Government the net result would be to put more power in the hands of Germany—a suggestion which was made—I cannot see how that would work. It is part of our proposal that Germany should renounce nuclear weapons, and I cannot see how that is going to give more power to Germany than if Germany has nuclear weapons, which she undoubtedly will have unless some such policy as this can be carried out. So I think we must consider that that argument is not really one that is germane to what we are proposing.
I should like to say a little about the larger context in which I see this Motion. I regard it as a first move, and I hope a practicable move, in a long campaign. The long campaign is one to ensure the continued existence of the human race. That is the goal. And I have said over and over again, although I do not seem to be noticed when I say that it is not enough to ban nuclear weapons. If you ban nuclear weapons completely, and even destroy all the existing stocks, they will be manufactured again if war breaks out. The thing you have to do is to ban war, and the problem is, how are you to get the peoples of the world into a mood in which they can really ban war? I think that this is a first move which might do something towards making the nations a little less unwilling to take the steps that are necessary.
I find that whenever one speaks about moves intended to prevent world war one is told, "Yes, I am entirely in agreement with your ultimate goal; we all are; but whatever method you suggest for taking the first step towards that goal we shall oppose." Now, that is a little tiresome. I do not feel that I can acquiesce in being told, "Not this step; not that one; not the other," and then being told something that would be lovely if it were practicable, but which is quite impracticable and is advocated because it is impracticable. When I am told at the same time that the ultimate goal is furthered it does not seem to me to "go".
99 I find also that there is a feeling—so far as I am concerned, an entirely unjustified one—that in the opposition to war there is something that is Left-wing or pro-Russian. Now that is not in my feeling at all. I am concerned with man—man as man, whether Russian or Chinese or American or British or French or German. Man as man has a certain allegiance which I think we owe him, and we ought to be sorry to see the likelihood of this species ceasing to exist. And it is from that point of view, and not from a point of view which is pro-Russian, pro-Socialist or pro anything else, but simply pro-human, that I view this whole campaign.
There is, I think, a certain tendency to underestimate the evils that would result from a really serious nuclear war, and I would say just a few words about that. I will not admit that I am lacking in patriotism, because I should like to think that there would still be Britons alive at the end of the present century. I do not consider that that wish is unpatriotic; and yet a great many people seem to think it is. I cannot agree with that. I think that, unless something rather drastic is done, it is at least as likely as not that no Britons will be alive at the end of the present century.
Take, for instance, the official statistics that have been issued by the Federal Civil Defence Association in America, which is a body having official support. They went into the question of what would be the result of one day's bombing of the United States by nuclear weapons. They concluded that at the end of the first day there would be 36 million dead and 57 million injured, and at the end of the sixtieth day there would be 72 million dead and 21 million injured—and they were thinking only of the more or less direct results. They did not go into the question of the casualties through fall-out, which would undoubtedly be very great. Neither did they consider the complete dislocation that there would be. It would be an almost complete impossibility to feed the big cities, and there would almost certainly be epidemics caused by the upset in the sanitary arrangements. All that, they did not consider. So I think one must say that the destruction from one day's bombing of the United States would be such as no sane man would face.
100 And it was some time ago that that estimate was made since when Charles Wilson, the Secretary of Defence, has pointed out:Our capability"—that is, the United States' capability—of inflicting this devastation is not static. It is improving, and will continue to improve".I hope your Lordships will notice the use of the word "improve". You cannot really expect, therefore, that anything of value will survive if nuclear war takes place, and you cannot reasonably expect that any serious war will not be nuclear. It is pretty certain that it will be, even if all stocks of nuclear weapons have been destroyed and there has been universal agreement against nuclear war.
It seems to me that in this situation we want a different kind of outlook from that which we have had hitherto. We have thought of nuclear weapons as the possession of the West and as the possession of the East; and as causing the West to be a threat to the East and the East to be a threat to the West. That is not the sensible way to look at it. Nuclear weapons are a threat to mankind, and against this threat to mankind, mankind ought to unite. They would unite if it were the Black Death: they would unite to take sanitary measures to prevent the spread of that appalling evil. That is the kind of way in which nuclear weapons must be viewed. They must be viewed as a common peril to mankind against which mankind should unite.
I should like to see this view prevail in East and West alike. It seems to me that the position is analogous to that which one might imagine if two sailors on a ship were quarrelling over a sixpence which each said the other had stolen when, just at that moment, the ship ran on a rock and was going to sink in five minutes. The sailors would obviously forget the sixpence and help to man the lifeboats. That is really the position that mankind is in at the present day. We are in the position that the ship may sink, and it is not worth while to think about our quarrels hitherto.
To come more to the detail of this Motion, I do not know whether it is now possible to get other nations to give up the H-bomb, even if we are willing to do so. I do not know about the practicability. But I do say that, if it is not 101 practicable, the dangers of an H-bomb war are very much increased. I say, also, that this is not a proposal which in any way affects the balance of power. I hope your Lordships will notice that we are suggesting that China also should renounce nuclear weapons. China is certainly potentially the most powerful State in the world, and may well be actually the most powerful State within fifty years, so that any renunciation by China is a very important gain to our side.
There are, broadly, three reasons why the spread of H-bombs to other countries is so very undesirable. The first is that it very much increases the risk of what I may call an accidental war—a war, that is to say, which is not intended but which arises through a misinterpretation of an incident. That is a very real danger, especially in view of instant retaliation. The second, which is perhaps the most weighty, is that it very much increases the risk of H-bombs being in the hands of some quite irresponsible Government. We cannot say that no Governments are irresponsible. We had a terrible experience not so long ago of a Government which would indubitably, I think, have destroyed the human race sooner than submit, if it had known how to—and we cannot be at all sure that we shall not get such Governments again, somewhere. That is a very strong argument indeed. The third is that the more Powers there are that have these weapons, the more difficult it is to negotiate an agreement for their ultimate renunciation.
One point that the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, made is, I think, a very important one, and that is that his proposal does not require that the Russians 'should be inspected. They have a kind of phobia about inspection which I very much regret, and if we can find a measure, whether satisfactory altogether or not, which moves in our direction without coming up against this Russian prejudice against inspection, then that, I think, is an important merit of the suggestion that Lord Simon of Wythenshawe has put forward.
I should like to say in conclusion, my Lords, that I feel the need for a really rather difficult effort of imagination in the extraordinary situation that the world is now in. It has never been in the situation before where it was in the power of evil men to destroy the whole world. 102 That is the situation now, and it will be even more so in the future. Supposing there were a war to-morrow, I think some people would survive. I think there would still be survivors in Australia and New Zealand, and in Argentine and Chile; but, if we may judge by the experience of the two world wars that we have lived through, the moment the war was over they would set to work to prepare for the next. That is what people do. And the next war would be more scientific and therefore more destructive, and there is very little hope that mankind would emerge. If it were not destroyed in this next world war, it would he in the next but one. We must work towards some system which will prevent war. It requires a different imagination, a different outlook and a different way of viewing all the affairs of man from any that has been in the world before. I believe that war began in Egypt somewhere about 4,000 B.C. and has gone on ever since, and we have got used to it. We have to get non-used to it, and that is not an easy effort. But we have to make the effort; and those of us who cannot make that effort are contributing their little bit towards the extinction of the species.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ LORD STRANG
My Lords, we are much indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, for introducing this Motion. It gives us an opportunity to debate one of the most pressing problems of our time, and one which weighs heavily on the minds of all of us. It has also brought us one of those rare speeches from the noble Earl, Lord Russell, to which it is so fascinating for us to listen.
Before I address myself to the more limited terms of the noble Lord's Motion, I should like to go back a bit and look at this problem in its broader context. Whether or not we agree with the specific proposal which has been made by the noble Lord, we can all share the spirit of deep humanity which has prompted his initiative. I start with three propositions about the present situation. First, it is now within the power of man to destroy the whole, or almost the whole, of the human race. Secondly, mankind is devoting a considerable proportion of its resources to the production of nuclear 103 weapons and the mechanism for their delivery—and this at the time when, for want of those resources, a good part of the human race is chronically undernourished. That, I think, is the tragic dilemma in which mankind finds itself to-day.
And it is a real dilemma, because (and this is my third proposition) the world being what it is to-day—the noble Earl, Lord Russell, rightly regrets what it is to-day—responsible Governments regard it as their plain and inescapable duty, in the absence of comprehensive and effective disarmament agreement, to provide themselves, so far as they can, with the most modern weapons of defence. That, in the world as it is to-day, is why we have provided ourselves with the thermo-nuclear bomb; and I think rightly so. That is why, to take two examples only, France and China will also provide themselves with the bomb, if and when they are in a position to do so. I do not think that we have any right to suggest to them what we think they ought to do in a matter which they regard as vital to their security, so long as the Americans and Russians both have the bomb. And I suggest that it would take more than inducement or persuasion from ourselves alone to deter them from that course.
That, in general, is the position of the world; and your Lordships may say, as the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, does, that it is a desperate position. Without in any way underestimating the risks of our situation, I want to make one or two points on the other side. The thermo-nuclear bomb, like other devices, conventional or otherwise, for the slaughter of human beings, is an evil thing, and it is evil in an especial degree. But, as has been said,There is some soul of goodness in things evil,Would men observingly distil it out.On the other side, there are one or two points to be made. The first is this—and it is a point that has been made already by the noble Earl the Leader of the House, in a speech which, if I may be permitted to say so, was of quite outstanding quality. It was under the impulse of war or under the impulse of the preparation for or against war, that the atomic and thermo-nuclear bombs were produced. But side by side with 104 these weapons of war has come a means of applying nuclear fission, and, we hope, nuclear fusion, to peaceful purposes. This is one of the great ages in the history of mankind. Never have men shown such power of creative scientific imagination. They are meeting a challenge of good as well as of evil, and if we look far enough ahead, we may foresee the time when, thanks to the original stimulus given by these weapons of war, there may be power enough available to serve the needs of the whole human race.
And there is a second benefit, which derives from the absolute character of the weapon itself. We have reached, we are told, what is called a nuclear stalemate. The result is a balance of impotence, an equality of incapacity. So long as there is a real stalemate—and that does not necessarily mean parity or the piling up of more than enough weapons—neither side can attack the other without inviting destruction. Victory is impossible. That means that, so long as a stalemate exists, the chance of a deliberately engaged all-out nuclear war is very small indeed—one might almost say negligible. It is thus the stalemate itself which is the best guarantee of freedom from world-wide nuclear war.
But I think that it is possible to take the argument a little further than this. I know that it is argued that the existence of a nuclear stalemate makes minor, or even major, conventional war more likely since, when it comes to the point, no one is going to invite destruction by retaliating with strategic nuclear against a conventional attack, however heavily mounted. In reason and in logic, there is a great deal in this, but in practical politics there is, I think, somewhat less in it. There is, I would suggest, much to be said for the view that the consequences of nuclear hostilities are so terrible that Governments will be more cautious than ever about starting off even a conventional war. You can never tell where it is going to end. You may start with conventional weapons and go on to tactical nuclear weapons, and end up with the catastrophe of strategic nuclear warfare.
Certainly, in support of this view it is fair to observe how circumspect, on the whole. Governments have been since nuclear weapons came on to the scene. The record of recent history is at least encouraging. The Korean war was not 105 even an all-out conventional war, and it was not fought to a finish. There was a tacit agreement not to let it go too far. The same was true of the war in Indo-China. The Suez operation, ill-advised as it was, was narrowly circumscribed in scope and very quickly called off. Indeed, l suspect that one of the reasons why it created such an outcry, particularly in the United States, was that it was feared that it might touch off a nuclear war. Let us note that the Quemoy operations and the movements to the Lebanon and Jordan were conducted with the very minimum of provocation. So I think that there is good hope that under what I might call the balanced tension of the nuclear stalemate, war may be avoided, whether nuclear war or major conventional war.
If this is so, however, one thing is essential. So long as we have nuclear weapons the nuclear stalemate must be maintained. If the balance were to tip decisively on one side, that side might think it could blot out the other completely without fear of retaliation. So the stalemate, as long as we have the bomb at all, is essential; and, in my view, the British possession of the bomb is an important element in the stalemate. That means, I think, two things. There are two components of the stalemate. One is military, the other psychological. One of them is scientific and technological skill, and the other is public morale. Therefore Western scientists must be enabled to keep up with the Russians. And, no less important the Western public must be strengthened against all the assaults of one kind of another which the Russians are directing against their minds. Anything that hampers or discourages our scientists, anything that tends to induce either panic or despair, irresolution or faint-heartedness, in the public mind is therefore an attack upon one of the two supports of the nuclear stalemate and, consequently, a direct service to the adversary.
That, my Lords, is the complaint I make against these deceptive short cuts to peace with which the public are in danger of being beguiled: elaborate blueprints for disengagement, bold initiatives, flexible approaches, Summit Conferences for their own sake, all the gibes at "frozen immobility"—all these are signposts to the slippery slope. That is the 106 disadvantage I see also in the current campaign for unilateral nuclear disarmament. If the Western peoples once lose their nerve, their world may come down in ruin.
If I may turn now to the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, I would briefly summarise my views as follows. First, I do not think that it would be consistent with the inescapable duty of self-defence for our Government to contemplate the unilateral renunciation of any weapon of war possessed by any other Powers which it is within our scientific capacity and our material resources to produce. According to the proposal, we are, I think, to be the only Power at present possessing the bomb which is to renounce it. The noble Earl, Lord Russell, has challenged the use of the word "unilateral". I think that could fairly be described as unilateral renunciation.
Secondly, I do not think that we ought to contemplate a course which, if put into action, would weaken the Western component of the stalemate and leave the whole burden to the Americans and which would strike at the whole basis of N.A.T.O. Thirdly, it cannot be expected that other Powers, like, for example. France and China, would be willing, on a mere offer by the United Kingdom, to renounce their right to arm themselves to the best of their ability. Fourthly, to renounce our own possession of the nuclear weapon would not in itself lessen the risk of our becoming the victim of a nuclear attack, so long as there were in our territory nuclear weapons for use, with our consent, by the United States. To that extent, I think that some part of the noble Lord's argument rather falls to the ground. Fifthly, it is difficult to see how an undertaking by us neither to manufacture nor to possess nuclear weapons could be enforced by joint American-Soviet or United Nations inspection if there were still at the same time on our territory nuclear weapons available for use by the United States. It is also, to say the least, over-optimistic to think that the Chinese People's Government would consent to the conduct of foreign inspection on their territory, even under United Nations auspices, seeing what we know about the attitude to such inspection of the Soviet Government themselves.
107 Finally, my Lords, I am not entirely convinced (though I do not suppose many of your Lordships will agree with me here) that a mere increase in the number of States possessing nuclear weapons would necessarily increase the danger of war. I admit that one could think of special cases and special circumstances where the risk might well be greater; and the noble Earl, Lord Russell, has made this point with great force. But, to take one example, I do not think that the risk of war was increased when we joined the ranks and made a third of the nuclear Powers. And I very much doubt whether the risk would be greater in the case of those States who are now at the head of the nuclear queue. There is, at least, it seems to me, a possibility that an increase in the number might, on the contrary, in spite of all expectation, broaden the basis of that stability which may well be an unexpected consequence of the establishment of the nuclear stalemate. So long as men have to live with the bomb, the extension of the balance of terror might well be a very salutary thing for humanity. It might well, for one thing, put an effective damper on the popular mass war hysteria which has been a predisposing cause of many wars in the past. If there are bombs about, the masses are not going to clamour for war as readily as they used to do in the past.
In conclusion, I would say that I believe that the best approach is not through partial schemes, however attractive they may be in theory, like that put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe. The best ground from which to start is the negotiations for the abandonment of nuclear tests now going on in Geneva. If agreement among the three nuclear Powers could be reached, this would provide a good basis for an approach by them to the non-nuclear Powers, particularly those at the head of the queue. But this, as has been said by the noble Earl the Leader of the House, must be based on the cut-off of fissile material. A joint approach by the three Powers would be much more powerful than a self-denying approach by one Power only. The best hope, in the end, is still a comprehensive, adequately controlled system of disarmament, covering both nuclear and conventional weapons. But that, of course, must be a very long business. Meantime, let us hope that the 108 balance of terror will hold the peace during the present period of risk. And if express agreements are difficult to reach, then let us hope that tacit agreements between the two sides will come into being, as they have done in the past, and that tension will gradually relax of itself. As Arthur Koestler said the other day:The issue is no longer between Left and Right but between relative freedom and absolute tyranny. The most humanity can hope for is to play for time, for a stalemate of power, until ideas go in another direction and a mutation of interests occur.It has happened before—when it seemed as if the world must become Catholic or Protestant, and at another time Christian or Moslem. It went neither, for the question turned from religion to economics.If sufficient time is given, people may find new idea-toys to play with—and the big mushroom may never go up.Those, my Lords, are my sentiments also.
§ House adjourned during pleasure and resumed by The LORD CHANCELLOR.
§ 4.40 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF MANCHESTER
My Lords, I rise to support the Motion before the House, and I should like to comment upon the speeches which have preceded my own, all of which, I think your Lordships will agree, have been illuminating and persuasive, particularly, perhaps, that of the noble Earl the Leader of the House. He almost persuaded me on a number of points, but not quite. But time is passing, and, in any case, as the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, has indicated, I am hoping to confine my remarks to the moral aspect of the question which we are considering—an aspect with which hitherto the debate has not on the whole dealt.
I believe that a good case can be made for this Motion on political, strategic and scientific grounds, but there are other speakers far more competent in those realms to deal with those issues. But we should all, I am sure, agree that this Motion raises grave moral issues. In considering them, however, we are met at the outset with one particular difficulty: this question of nuclear warfare is one which raises considerable emotion. The hydrogen bomb dilates the imagination, neurotics are attracted to the subject like bees to the honey pot, and when that happens sober men put on their hats and go home. Nevertheless. I am 109 convinced that we must, as a nation, face the issues frankly and fearlessly, quietly and soberly, and, as has been remarked in this debate already, imaginatively. This weapon which we are considering is not, I believe, really a weapon of war but a new and horrible disease comparable, as the noble Earl, Lord Russell, referred to it, to the plague. I believe that the vast majority of people in this country are unaware of this fact. They still seem to think, through lack of imagination, that another war which is nuclear will be somewhat the same kind of thing, only a little bit bigger, than previous wars in which conventional weapons have been used.
In dealing with the moral considerations raised by this great problem, I should not wish it to be thought that the Bishops, particularly this one, have a corner in moral questions. I think it will be an ill day for England when the politician concerns himself only with politics, the soldier only with war, the scientist only with science, and the moralist only with morals. Moral issues concern everyone, and when they cease to concern a man he becomes less than a man. Perhaps it is true to say that what those of us who try to be moralists need is to have our feet firmly planted on the ground. And would it also be true to say that the strategists and others need to take their eyes occasionally off their feet? I hope that this debate may have just that result.
Now to come to the point with which I wish to deal. The question which we must, I believe, first of all ask is this: in the midst of all the complicated issues which are involved in this question—issues which are religious, political, moral, scientific, psychological and military—can we fasten upon one where the moral aspect of the problem is most obviously evident? I believe we can, and I believe that that issue is not the possession of nuclear weapons, not the testing of nuclear weapons, but the actual use of nuclear weapons. My own conviction is that the use of nuclear weapons, or other weapons of similar indiscriminate effect and destructive power, is, in all circumstances, morally indefensible.
I wish to go on quite briefly to state the reasons upon which I base that conviction. First of all, the morality of an action cannot be considered without con- 110 sidering the effects of the action. If using a hammer hard on the heads of our friends gave them a pleasurable sensation, there would be much to be said for carrying hammers around with us. But using a hammer has not that effect. Now look at the effects of nuclear warfare. First of all, we note that it is virtually completely indiscriminate. In the last war, when we heard of civilians being machine-gunned on the roads of France by German planes we were horrified. But here is a weapon which virtually destroys every human being and all vestige of life in fifty square miles of country. There are those who say, as was often said in the last war, that you should limit the use of weapons to military objectives. Can anyone tell me of any military objective which is fifty squares miles in extent? It is indiscriminate in its effect.
Secondly, it is persistent. Although we are encouraged to think that Civil Defence can be of some use, I think we all know in our heart of hearts that were total nuclear war to break out, in point of fact there could be no rescue operation. Areas hit by nuclear weapons would have to be sealed off, and sealed off not for a few days but probably for many years. Thirdly, when we look at the effects, think of its genetic effect. It seems likely that the genetic effects of the radiation would produce, in generations yet unborn, mental deficiency and perhaps even monsters in children. I do not think it is possible to conceive of effects more deleterious, more terrible and more irremediable than those which I have mentioned. It has always been recognised that the means used in war should be limited to the attainment of the object. In personal conduct we observe this rule. If our small boy breaks windows we do not break both his arms, although it would be a very effective way of preventing his doing that in future. Time was when in this country we cut off the hands of thieves. To-day, we should regard such action as being less than human.
Nuclear warfare is warfare unlimited except, it seems, in one respect, and that is that the people who would he safest if this tragedy happened would be not women and children, not our hearths and homes, but military and missile personnel. The use of these weapons does not, it 111 seems to me, defend man's hearth and home. That has been agreed in the Government's views on the matter. Its use does not defend a way of life; indeed, rather it is a way of death. By using these weapons we do, in a more terrible way than before, "shut the gates of mercy on mankind".
To-day, the very end one has in mind becomes utterly corrupted by the means which we employ. Is it not true that the moral sensitiveness of many of us has become blunted through years of war? Total war has come to mean total licence; everything may be justified in the national interest. But, when that doctrine is put forward, I ask, how do we draw a distinction between that and the Communist doctrine that all moral values are relative to the Party's needs and the Party's demands? The use of nuclear weapons is, it seems to me, a dark path which leads to the creation of the robot and the corruption of humanity, and finally, in Professor Lewis's phrase, to the annihilation of the spirit of man.
Thirdly, we judge the morality of an action intuitively by our instinctive reaction to it when we ponder it in all its aspects. One must, of course, be careful in applying this test. To eat a dead rat is repulsive and repugnant, but no one would claim that it was wrong. To use torture is repulsive and repugnant, and we feel that about it, but it is wrong and we know it is wrong and we know that nothing whatsoever can justify it. So I believe it is, too, with these nuclear weapons, and in particular with the hydrogen bomb. Even if its use will bring advantage, which it will not, even if its use might save lives, which it will obviously not, it is wrong, and we should take the position, I believe, that we have no lot or part in this thing. At this point we say, let God defend the right!
Everyone feels this revulsion for the hydrogen bomb, and I believe that this revulsion is not emotional only, although of course it is that; it is ethical and rational. Here is something which pollutes the world: it pollutes the air, it pollutes the pastures, it pollutes the waters, it gets even into people's bones. The noble Earl, Lord Russell, who is not given to using religious terminology, speaks in his book, which has already 112 been quoted, of those who make use of such methods of warfare as guilty of a certain kind of impiety, and I wonder whether one is wrong in thinking that those who use these weapons are, in a very real sense, guilty of blasphemy, an offence not simply against man but against God Himself. So on grounds of its effects, on grounds of its unlimited nature, on grounds of the natural revulsion which we all feel to this weapon, I should judge its use to be in every circumstance wrong.
But, of course, I know quite well that one might reply, "Christian opinion is divided. You are only one. What right have you to put your opinion against those of other Christians who are wiser and better men than yourself?"; and that, indeed, is precisely what the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, did when I raised this matter last year in the debate on the Air Estimates. He quoted Archbishop Garbett. But in the quotation which he gave from Archbishop Garbett in his last speech in this House on this subject, the Archbishop was not speaking of the use of nuclear weapons; he was speaking of their possession, and he used the term "their possession" carefully safeguarding it and qualifying it by the phrase "their possession at this moment". Two years have passed since that moment. May we not say that prior to 1834 there was a great division among Christians over the question of slavery as an institution? One may recall the famous letter written by the Bishop of London to the Southern planters in America in 1727, in which he made the claim that the Christian faith and religion was perfectly compatible with the institution of slavery. I should not wish to claim a deeper moral insight than any of my brethren here, but I think it is right to claim that the Divine Spirit sometimes uses even fools to see further than the wise; there is the famous passage in the Old Testament where the prophet was put on the right road by the humble ass.
In conclusion, I believe that once this nation is seized of the utter gravity of the situation in which we find ourselves, once this nation is convinced that the use of these weapons is wrong, once people see that we cannot pray with sincerity "Lead us not into temptation", and yet go on to continue to possess this weapon—once people see these things, 113 then there will be generated in this country the will and the dynamic to get rid of these weapons once and for all. I make no appeal to national self-interest, although I believe that what we are proposing would be greatly in the national interest. I make no appeal to higher standards of living, although I believe it would be greatly to our economic advantage. I make simply the moral appeal, saying that the use of these weapons is wrong.
If that is so, and if I have carried any of your Lordships along with me in this matter, what we need then above all things is a policy of the next step. One of the disquieting and discomforting things about disarmament conferences, almost without exception, is the fact that they have been like cricket matches, with the non-playing captains in the pavilion, with the players on the pitch all instructed nit to make runs and not to get out. Nothing happens; no progress is made. What we want, then, is a beginning. The question has been mentioned as to whether the abolition of tests might not be a beginning. Well and good. But so far we seem to have made little progress in that direction. What the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, suggests, and what the noble Earl, Lord Russell, has pleaded for, is that we should take the first step along, a long road. I believe that the Motion before us is a promising and helpful next step. It points to a road which, if followed patiently and with determination, will lead us to the place where we all of course want to be. I support this Motion, and I hope that this debate will have the effect of stimulating and informing public opinion, and perhaps, too, of moving Her Majesty's Government to press on with even greater urgency to solve the greatest problem of our time.
§ 4.59 p.m.
§ LORD ADRIAN
My Lords, I am not sure that there are any scientific considerations which should be brought to your notice, for we are all agreed that it would be easy to destroy the world with nuclear weapons. What we have to consider is the practical steps to prevent our doing so. One obvious step is to limit the number of nations which have it in their power to start a war. If an agreement could be reached at Geneva to stop 114 testing bombs, we should have some assurance that other Powers would not begin to develop them. But if that agreement is not reached fairly soon, then I think that other nations will surely join in the race; and in the present temper of the world it may well become a matter of national prestige to have these weapons and the power of threatening to use them—a very considerable power!
If nuclear bombs become one of the symbols of national independence no one, I think, can doubt that the danger of a general war will be far greater. If we can prevent this happening, by denying ourselves the right to use nuclear weapons, we shall deserve the thanks of the world; and I hope that we shall not reject the idea because it would hurt our pride. Whether it could be done without also breaking our agreements is a matter for debate. But although our nuclear weapons may be well designed and, no doubt, powerful, it is hard for those of us who are not instructed in these matters to believe that they would make much difference in a large-scale nuclear war, and certainly they cannot be a very serious element in the balance of power.
We all hope that the agreement to stop tests will discourage other nations from making bombs; but an agreement over tests may easily rouse false hopes unless it is the prelude to further agreements. It would be a sad mistake to suppose that stopping tests is going to remove all danger of a nuclear war. Even if all the bombs were destroyed, the knowledge of how to make them would remain; the ingredients for them would be there; and they would, of course, be made and tested in war time. God forbid that we have another large-scale war of any kind, even if it is limited to conventional weapons! And even if a war began with that limitation it is difficult to believe that it would not end with megaton hydrogen bombs and radio-active clouds.
Few of us know any of the details of our own armaments, but there is a great deal of published information about the capabilities of nuclear weapons. The noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, is surely right in saying that we refuse to let ourselves think what would happen if they were to be employed on a large scale. We are not used to thinking very much about our own disappearance from the scene: we cannot prevent it, and 115 there is not much point in dwelling on it. But we can at least try to prevent the disappearance of the civilised world, and we must force ourselves to think of it as something that is not inevitable but is very likely to happen.
I am afraid that scientists have disagreed so heatedly about the amount of harm caused by bomb tests that some of your Lordships may hesitate to trust thorn when they do all agree that the real thing can destroy half the world. Optimists may remember the start of the last war, when the estimate of bomb casualties in London was never realised. They may feel that the effects of nuclear bombs are overrated in the same way; that, at the worst, a few big cities would be wiped out and the surrounding country made dangerous to live in. That was what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and it was bad enough. Unfortunately, there is no doubt at all about the immensely greater power of the hydrogen bomb. The uranium bomb of Hiroshima killed about 100,000 people, and the hydrogen bomb can be made to give an explosion one thousand times as powerful as that. A few dropped in London would certainly kill a million people then and there. It is much more difficult to estimate the after-effects from the radio-active products of the explosion, because they would depend on the nature of the bomb. In the early days, atomic bombs were all of the fission type. They produced radio-active particles, and a series of such bomb explosions would soon have led to widespread radio-activity which would have killed a vast number of people, but killed them more slowly. Nowadays, there are the far more powerful hydrogen bombs in which the energy comes from the fusion of small atoms instead of from the fission of large ones. I think there may be relatively little production of radio-active products. They can be clean bombs, giving only about 3 or 4 per cent. of the radio-active contamination produced by a dirty bomb, called a fission bomb, of the same power.
There was a short time after the hydrogen bomb was introduced when the prospect seemed just a little brighter. We had to face being blown up much more completely by much more powerful bombs, but we did not have to face the prospect of being poisoned afterwards by the radio-activity. There was also the 116 possible advantage that these relatively clean bombs might be used to win a war quickly by destroying the enemy's power to retaliate: an attack upon airfields and launching sites might settle the issue without the need for massive destruction and radio-active clouds. Now, however, I am afraid, the prospect is bleaker than ever. The change from bombers to rockets has made it highly probable, though not yet an established fact, that launching sites will soon be deep underground: they will be so well hidden and protected that they will become scarcely worth attacking. They will be ready, at a moment's notice, to fire rockets propelled by solid fuel. When that is so, the only way of conducting a war will be to leave the launching sites alone and try to reach a conclusion by destroying cities and killing as many people as possible.
If both sides have the power to do this, it may be that neither of them will use it—that the deterrent strategy will be justified. But if the threat of retaliation is not enough to deter, then there will be little reason to use these relatively clean bombs. It is a simple matter to increase their power by adding a coating of material that can undergo fission, like Uranium 238. This can double the force of the explosion, at relatively small expense, and it brings back radio-active contamination as an acute danger.
A deliberate policy of killing by radio-active contamination may be unlikely, because it would be difficult to limit its effect. But the radio-chemist can now offer a wider variety of radio-active elements, with active lives ranging from one-thousandth of a second to thousands of years. Strontium 90 and Carbon 14 are the ones most to be feared. They are active for long periods, and are formed in any fission explosion. They would be carried round the world, to fall on both sides, so that they would not be deliberately used; but in fact the fall-out in the region of the explosion could be made to contain more or less lethal material according to the design of the bomb. We can only suppose that it would be made to contain as much as possible.
The attacker would scarcely hesitate because there was some risk of contaminating his own countrymen. In war time he and his countrymen would certainly accept a much greater risk than 117 that, unless they were a great deal more far-sighted than most of us. I suppose that the world would have the best chance of survival if one side or the other could be destroyed rapidly and completely. Our experience of two wars is against rapid decisions but this would be a kind of war about which we know nothing. If it were not won quickly, all we could be sure of is that the combatants would become more and more concerned to destroy one another, whatever might happen to the rest of the world. They might try bombs coated with cobalt, which can contaminate very large areas; and no doubt there are still better materials which could be used as a last resort.
My Lords, I am sorry to paint such a gloomy picture, one which assumes that mankind can behave in such a lunatic manner, but I believe that something of this kind ought to be the background to our debate. We want to emphasise the danger of allowing such a war to start and the importance of preventing an increase in the number of Powers that are capable of starting it. The three existing nuclear Powers, of course, are well aware of this risk, and an agreement to stop tests, if it goes on to lead to other agreements, may well be enough to prevent. I hope that it will. But there is a danger which is growing rapidly. There is a chance that we can put an end to that danger, by action on the lines of this Motion, and f hope that if the attempt to reach agreement to stop tests is a failure this line will be followed up. If there are nuclear bombs ready in every country, I believe that the picture which we can paint now will soon become a reality.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, at the outset of his speech, said that there was little that a scientist could add to the picture as we know it because, whatever difference of opinion there might be among scientists abut radio-active fall-out, they were agreed that nuclear war would mean the destruction of half the world. I do not think there is one of your Lordships who would dissent from that proposition. Nor do I think any one of your Lordships, or any sensible man anywhere, can really dissent from the analysis of the present situation given by the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, the noble Earl, Lord Russell, the right reverend Prelate 118 the Lord Bishop of Manchester, and others. I certainly would not dissent from that analysis. What I dissent from is the conclusion.
I listened very attentively to the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Manchester and it seemed to me that he was under some illusion about this debate and about the current of opinion in this House. The question that we are trying to decide this afternoon is not whether the bomb is something we should like to use or whether we regard it with revulsion or not—for, of course, we do regard it with revulsion. The question is not whether or not it is morally wrong to use the bomb. I believe, and I think most noble Lords will agree, that it is morally wrong to use it. The question we have to decide is whether the acceptance of this Motion and the acceptance by Her Majesty's Government of the policy adumbrated by this Motion is going to make the outbreak of nuclear war less likely or more likely. I believe that if Her Majesty's Government were to adopt the policy which the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, recommends, we should not be averting nuclear war but making it even more likely. I believe that that policy, at best, would be entirely ineffective and, at worst, would be extremely dangerous.
The noble Lord, Lord Adrian, said that we must not reject the idea because of any pride. The noble Lord, Lord Rea, made much the same observation when he was speaking: that we must not reject it because of national prestige. I reject it myself not for considerations of national pride or national prestige but because of what I believe the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Manchester, if he were here, would agree is a moral reason.
The policy which the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, recommends, though it is buttressed by argument, is based in fear, and those whose actions are dictated by fear are always worsted, and have always been worsted, by those who are prepared to live with danger. That is not just rhetoric. I am sure that that is a fact which is shown by all history, and particularly perhaps by the history of our own time. What, after all, does this Motion propose—this Motion which was described by the noble Lord, Lord Rea, as a "supremely fine gesture"? 119 Surely, what the Motion is proposing is simply that we should send out a kind of S.O.S., not so much to save our souls as to save our skins, to all those who are frightened as we are, inviting them to contract out of danger and, in so doing, to contract out of responsibility for averting danger.
France and China have been specifically mentioned as the two countries which it is especially important to get into the non-nuclear club; but can any noble Lord really believe that France to-day is going to respond to that kind of appeal? This is 1959, not 1940. We are not dealing with Marshal Petain; we are dealing with General de Gaulle, President of the French Republic. I cannot believe that France to-day, led by General de Gaulle, and the people whom he represents, would accept this gesture at all. Nor can I see, my Lords, that it would have very much appeal to the People's Republic of China, unless it were to increase their determination to gain possession of a weapon of which even the political effect was so tremendous.
But the noble Lord says (and I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, supported him) that even if the attempt should fail, it is still worth making it; a very great deal would be gained; nothing would be lost. I am not at all sure of either of those propositions. I do not think much would be gained; I do think that a very great deal would be lost. For, my Lords, there surely is one thing that is clear about the present situation, as my noble friend Lord Strang pointed out, and that is that we are in a position of nuclear stalemate, and as long as the stalemate lasts there is very little chance of major war, because no nation dare risk war. In other words, the nuclear weapon is still a deterrent. Two or three years ago we thought it was a deterrent against Russian aggression. That is slightly changed with the conditions of stalemate. It is no longer simply a deterrent against Russian aggression; it is a deterrent against war itself, and it will continue to be a deterrent for just as long as the stalemate lasts.
As my noble friend Lord Strang has already pointed out, the stalemate will last until one of two things has happened: until one side has gained a definite physical superiority or until one 120 side has gained a definite moral superiority. And I have very little doubt in my own mind that the great, the immediate, danger is that one side should gain a moral superiority and that it should not be our side. The noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, says, I think, that his policy gives a moral lead; and other noble Lords who have supported him take the same view. I do not think it does. On the contrary, I believe that it constitutes a moral surrender. It is never very easy, my Lords, to fathom the mind of a dictator; he is fairly careful that people should not fathom it. But surely there is one thing that is clear about Mr. Khrushchev's intention, and that is that he is determined to frighten the Western Alliance into disruption and, by playing upon our fears of the hydrogen bomb, to frighten this country out of the Western Alliance. There is not a statement that he makes whether it is to a Party gathering in Moscow, whether it is to American reporters, whether it is in a letter to the President of the United States, that he does not bring out this point: "Look what is going to happen to Britain! And don't they know it!" If Her Majesty's Government were to adopt this policy, they would. I believe be playing right into Mr. Khrushchev's hands. That is one effect that this Motion would have if its policy were adopted by Her Majesty's Government.
But there is, too, the effect on the Western Alliance. I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, that if we adopted this policy it might mean the withdrawal of the United States from N.A.T.O., for, after all, what is it that we should be saying to the Americans? We should be saying to them, "We are with you to the end—well, not to the end. We are not with you to the last ditch, but to the last ditch but one or two, and we are inviting others of our friends to take the same stand." What we should be saying to them is, "We hope very much that no bombs will fall on you; we hope it very much indeed. We are determined that none shall fall on us. Subject to that, you can count on us." What sort of an alliance, I ask myself, is that?
And, of course, in the end the bombs would fall on us, because it seems to me to be an extraordinary and almost a fantastic part of the proposals of the 121 noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, as I understand them, that while he says there should be no bombs for Britain, Britain shall remain as a bomb base, a base for bombs. We may be a sitting target now; I daresay we are; but that would make this country an inviting, even a demanding, target. And, having stripped ourselves of all deterrent power, why in the world should we expect the Americans to use theirs for our protection? If I were Mr. Khrushchev, what I should be inclined to do would be to obliterate the base here, in the belief that the Americans might well be affected by the same fears as we had been and would not retaliate on behalf of the people who, at any rate, had tried to contract out of a common danger.
I have another rooted objection to this Motion and it is this. It seems to me that a Motion of this kind, all kinds of dramatic attacks upon the nuclear weapon, all kinds of rather absurd exhibitions in protest against rocket bases and so on—all that they do is to deflect our attention from what is the real problem. I listened fascinated, as I am sure all your Lordships must have done, to the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Russell. I agreed with very little of it, but with one part of it I did agree: when he said, not in effect but in words, that the real problem is not how to ban the bomb but how to ban war. I am sure that that is the real problem and that all this insistence on the dangers and the horrors of the bomb is deflecting our eyes from the real problem.
My Lords, armaments, whether they be the hydrogen bomb or the tank or gunpowder or the bow and arrow, are not the cause of war. Armaments are not the cause; they are surely the expression of two factors. They are the expression of scientific and technical development, and they are the expression of that passion for power to which the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, referred early in the debate—the passion which brought the downfall of the angels; the passion of men for domination over one another. It seems to me that what we have got to do is to set our attention more on the cause.
I agree with something else that Lord Russell said—I cannot remember whether he said it to-day, or whether it was in the booklet which he so kindly caused to 122 be sent to me—that there is nothing in the idea of the nation State as such that is natural to man. The nation State has been a certain stage in the evolution of society. It will be superseded—peace-fully, one may hope—by a further step in evolution. However, I am quite certain that the nation State and the hydrogen bomb cannot exist in the same world, and that we have to evolve a new form of international society that will take account of new conditions. As conditions are to-day, we cannot do it for the world. Any idea of world government is out of the question because of the attitude of the Soviet Union and, I suppose, of China; but surely we can begin organising it where our influence exists. Since the war we have done a great deal in smoothing off the rough edges of nationalism, and in abrogating the more absurd extremes of national sovereignty. I am sure that we have got to do more, and that that is where the solution to the problem of nuclear warfare really lies; not in passionate or spectacular demonstrations against the bomb.
My Lords, I think that this Motion really seeks to dodge the issue and to put the bomb away in some cupboard where we shall not see it. I think we have to recognise this fact: that we have eaten of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and now we have to live with it. We cannot surreptitiously throw the core away into a ditch and then slip back into some little private Eden of our own. We have got to live with it; we have got to control it; we have got to master it. But I am sure that in this case the shortest way home may be the longest way round, and that the kind of policy which this Motion advocates will not lead us to our destination but, indeed, may well lead us to disaster.
§ 5.34 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF HUNTINGDON
My Lords, I think that all of us in this Chamber would agree that the Motion we are now discussing is perhaps the most serious that this House has ever discussed, in that it affects not only our lives—the lives of the people in this country—but also those of peoples throughout the world. I remember a long time ago reading a fictional story in which an astronomer suddenly discovered that this world was going to collide with a planet and that the inevitable result 123 would be total destruction. I remember the atmosphere created and the atttiude of the public who could not face up to the reality of this. At first, the astronomer was discredited, and when he could not be discredited any more the people put it out of their minds and went on with their daily lives because they could not bear the thought; it was too terrible. I rather think, my Lords, that that is the position in this country to-day: that people cannot face up to the reality of what Lord Adrian has so clearly put before us. But I wonder whether, if some emergency did arise, there would not be a very speedy turn-about, and a panic of fear, when people really appreciated the menace of this bomb.
I think that in this House we all agree on the dangerous situation and the fact which has come out that nowadays in warfare attack has all the advantage over defence. In fact, as I believe the noble Lord, Lord Rea, and others have said, there is no defence. Civil Defence is really useless. We should all be crawling about, looking after what is left. There is no way in which the population can be evacuated, the wounded looked after, or even the food or water supplies kept going. It is a possibility of utter disaster.
However, my Lords, there are brighter sides to this subject. One bright side, which has also been emphasised during the debate, is the stalemate between the two giants, as the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, has said: the stalemate between the United States and the U.S.S.R. They are undoubtedly the biggest, greatest, and most powerful nations, and they are each so frightened of retaliation that I am convinced that neither would deliberately start a nuclear war. But the other side of that, which was also stressed by the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, and others, is the real danger of accident; and that seems to me the greatest danger of all that we are facing. After all, human beings are fallible. We now have machines flying around all the time, with bombs in them and with a very elaborate system to prevent accidents from happening. There is a system to prevent somebody from getting a wrong signal, and so forth. But systems do break down. Human beings are fallible, and accidents do happen. There are mechanical breakdowns There 124 may be some quite extraordinary thing which might start off one of these bombs; it may fall on a city; in the panic that ensues it is assumed that an attack has been made by the other side, and the war has started. That sounds very wild and extravagant, but I do not think it is. I think it is one of the greatest dangers that we face.
That is why I support wholeheartedly this Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe: because it appreciates how widely this particular danger will be extended if other countries succeed in getting the bomb—not only France, Communist China, and Western Germany, but later on countries such as Switzerland, which is already considering arming its forces with nuclear weapons, and Sweden, which is debating the subject at the present time; then Egypt, Israel and the Arab States, and goodness knows how far it will go. This danger of accident will be multiplied a hundredfold. I cannot agree with the noble Lord who thinks that there will be safeguards. I think that the chances of this weapon falling into irresponsible hands—into the hands of a fanatic, or of some officer who goes crazy and stupidly lets it off by mistake and starts a whole chain of disaster—will be intensified a hundredfold. That is the great merit of this Motion: it is the only suggestion that I have heard put forward so far which helps to guard against that overwhelming danger.
We all agree that if we could stop the tests that would be a magnificent step forward, and we give all our support to Her Majesty's Government and hope that they will be successful; but it does not look very hopeful, at the moment. Even if tests were stopped, the agreement does not include any nations except the Big Three. We must take some other steps if we are going to prevent this dangerous chain of circumstances from arising. The noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, and other noble Lords said that they did not think it was likely that, to begin with, either China or France would accept the restrictions placed on their making the bomb. I agree, up to a point. If the Government approached those Powers and said, "You see the danger of the bomb spreading. We think you ought to stop making it, but of course, we must keep the bomb because we are a big nation," obviously such steps would be doomed to failure. But if we made the 125 supreme gesture and said to them, "We have this terrible weapon, but we are willing to give it up if we can get agreement, because that would benefit the world," I wonder whether we should still find that France and China and other nations, like Denmark, would be reluctant. I have a strong feeling that a lot of pressure, or might I say persuasion, might be put on China by Russia, who would be only too glad to limit the spread of the bomb, and probably a lot of persuasion might be put by the United States on France.
The great beauty of this Motion, if I may put it in that way, is that if we fail we are no worse off. If the other nations refuse to accept, we have not thrown away the bomb. I am sure that no one who has supported the Motion up to now—and I want to make this clear—advocates unilateral disarmament, giving up the bomb and then saying, "We have done a magnificent thing; will you follow?". All we are asking is that this should be a bargaining point, by saying that we should be willing to give up our bomb provided we got the main industrial nations to agree. Not only do we lose nothing, because if they do not agree we are exactly where we were, but we are immeasurably better off for having made this fine moral gesture, one which would have an extraordinary effect throughout the Middle East and the Far East. We have not always enough imagination to realise what a gesture such as that would mean in the Arab countries, in India and in other countries. It would show that we are no longer taking the old imperialist line, but a line against aggression, for the benefit, for once, of humanity.
Economically, we cannot afford to go on with this missile race. If we try to keep up with, or even tag behind, America and Russia, we shall soon find ourselves completely bankrupt. These weapons are becoming more and more expensive; they are becoming more lavish and there are more and more of them. Instead of spending millions on new weapons and on research, if we used that money for making our conventional forces bettor and more efficient, and even bigger, and for helping the poorer countries of Asia, that would be a much surer way of combating Communism than having the bomb, and the money would be infinitely better spent.
126 When I saw this Motion, it struck me as surprising that any noble Lord would be against it, because we lose nothing by it and stand to gain a great deal. I have tried to examine the possible arguments on the other side. One, which has not been made so far in this debate, is that if we give up these bombs we shall no longer have any influence on the policy of the United States. Frankly, I should have thought that the adventure of Suez would have cured us of any illusions about having any influence on United States policy if they do not wish us to have any. It is also argued that we should not be pulling our weight but should be sheltering under the umbrella of America, if we gave up our bombs. That seems to me to be a complete misunderstanding of the functioning of an alliance. It is merely a distribution or dividing up of responsibility. During the last war certain weapons were made in America and others in this country—for instance, fighter machines were made here, because they could not be flown over easily, and bombers in America. Surely in N.A.T.O. there also could be a division of labour whereby we built up ground forces and made our conventional weapons more efficient, leaving the great deterrent to the United States to keep and prevent Russia from using her nuclear weapons. Of course, we could do that only if we had not any bombs ourselves.
The last objection of which I can think, which again has not been heard so far in this debate, is that if we had this agreement, what would happen supposing America then refused to come to our help? If, after all, America were not to employ her deterrent for the defence of the N.A.T.O. countries, what then? We should have no bombs at all and should be in a very difficult position. I thought that I would look at the North Atlantic Treaty, which governs this matter, to see the exact terms of our alliance, and I must confess that there is a certain ambiguity in the wording of Article 5, the appropriate Article. If your Lordships will forgive me, I will quote it, because I think it is relevant. Referring to the N.A.T.O. Powers who signed the Treaty, it says:The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all; and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of 127 them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.The words that strike me as operative are "it deems necessary". I should be grateful if the noble Earl who is going to reply for the Government would say whether, in their opinion, this does in fact oblige the members of N.A.T.O. to defend each other when attacked. For example, if our forces in Germany or Europe were attacked by the Soviet or the Soviet made an attack on this country, would America be bound forthwith with all her forces to repel that attack and launch her bombs against the U.S.S.R.? If that is not the case and she is not bound to do so, then it follows that we are not bound to help other nations in N.A.T.O., and the whole thing collapses to the ground. I do not believe that that is the case, and I hope that the spokesman of the Government will reinforce this view by saying that under the terms of this agreement the United States are bound to come to our aid and that we are bound to go to the aid of any of the other countries should there be an attack, in which case it seems to me that it would be better to leave this deterrent so that the two big giants are sterilised as far as nuclear war is concerned, and concentrate as much as we can on making our conventional weapons.
That, I am told, is the way in which military thinking is now going in the United States: that where they used to believe that the press-button warfare, as they call it, was all powerful and that any nation which possessed these bombs could do anything it liked, they have now come to realise that you must always have conventional forces as well for smaller conflicts and to keep the peace in various parts of the world. If this is the case, I think we ought to be able to rely on this deterrent of the United States, and we can then use our resources in this country for far better purposes.
The real question of this debate can be put into one sentence: should we really feel safer in this country, more prepared and happier in every respect, 128 with none of our big nuclear bombs and with none of the other nations having them except the United States and Russia; or should we feel safer with our few nuclear bombs and practically a dozen other countries having them, too? For myself, I should feel far safer with the giant alliance of N.A.T.O., pledged to help each other, with the two giants having their nuclear weapons and the rest of the world not having this terrible menace. I think it is rarely that one finds moral right and self-interest coinciding. In this case we do. I would urge Her Majesty's Government to follow a policy which is both morally right and in our own self-interest.
§ 5.52 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF PORTSMOUTH
My Lords, it is sometimes suggested that a rational way of arranging one's correspondence is to sort it out into four trays labelled "In", "Out", "Pending" and "Too difficult". In the realm of international and political questions—and, indeed, in the sphere of moral problems—the subject raised by the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, would surely be assigned by most people to the "Too difficult" tray. I feel a real measure of diffidence in being so rash or so presumptuous as to speak in this debate. I am all too conscious of the liability of adding to, rather than helping to dissipate, the fog created during the past year or so by the volumes of words and views which have been spoken and written and published on this subject, charged as they so often are with passionate fervour and conviction or, according to the way one looks at it, with deep-seated prejudice: and this is an issue of quite incalculable importance to the human race. But there is always the danger of burying the contents of the "Too difficult" tray, perhaps in the over-optimistic hope that neglected correspondence will in time answer itself—or more likely, out of an almost defeatist attitude about ability ever to cope with it.
The issue of nuclear weapons is not far below the surface of most people's minds. It is one about which there is grave anxiety and great perplexity, and one on which the public conscience is, rightly, very sensitive. There are two distinct though related problems on which this concern is felt: first, the prevention of 129 war—an issue which has exercised the minds and consciences of men all through history, and by far the most important problem, as the noble Earl, Lord Russell, and the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, have emphasised; and second, if war should occur, the nature of the weapons and the methods which could be employed in waging it. The conscience of civilised nations was once sufficiently strong to get some restriction by international agreement as to what weapons and methods were tolerable; there were limits which even in war time could not be overstepped. Gradually, the terms and force of such conventions have been eroded and whittled away. Such restraints and limits to the cruelty or the indiscriminate effects as remain are now due more, I suppose, to the fear of reciprocal retaliation than to a respect for moral sanctions.
There have always been a minority who have taken the extreme pacifist position: that in no circumstances is it ever right to defend or to promote one's cause by methods which include killing one's adversary. Against this is the view, more widely held, which I share, that warfare can be morally justified, but only in certain circumstances and only if certain conditions are fulfilled: for instance, in defence against blatant aggression or to remove some intolerable injustice, it being understood that the scale and the degree of destruction must be the minimum required to secure the end in view. Warfare which goes beyond these limits is to be condemned, not because death is the worst thing that can befall a man—it is not; not for those whose belief stretches beyond this world—but because the infliction of wanton cruelty or the indiscriminate taking of life violates the essence of what is properly meant by "humanity" and degrades the perpetrator.
The moral sanction against certain methods in warfare or certain types of weapons ever being used is not that of fear, which is in itself an evil thing. The moral sanction is a positive one—namely, the absolute necessity under God of respecting the sanctity of human life. The evidence seems to me quite inescapable that the use of those nuclear weapons which cause vast indiscriminate destruction at the time of their use, and afterwards, along with other indiscriminate weapons, is utterly repulsive to man's 130 moral sense. But to say this does not in itself solve the problem. The practical issue remains: How is it possible to prevent the use of the nuclear weapons which do in fact at present exist—and their use not simply by ourselves but also by any other Power?
If an unexploded mine is washed up and liable to blow the neighbourhood to smithereens, it is not enough to say that the mine should never have been made; nor is it even enough to be sufficiently brave and willing to try to render the mine safe. Detailed knowledge of how the detonator mechanism works is also required, and even then there is the risk that in the process of trying to do the job the mine may be touched off. Nevertheless, the situation is so precarious, so long as the mine is on your doorstep, that you feel in duty bound, not only for your own interest but in the interests of your neighbours, to try to render it safe; and you will be the more inclined to do so if you have reason to fear that mischievous or inquisitive persons may start meddling with it.
The application of that analogy to the present position of nuclear armaments hardly needs explanation, but the analogy does not cover one further, much more baffling and more crucial aspect of nuclear armaments—namely, that of deterrence. The force of the argument, "Don't do that or else …" is familiar enough, and sometimes a necessary expedient. The argument that the greater the force and the more horrible the deterrent, the more effective, will be its power to deter, is perfectly logical. But can an absolute reliance be set on deterrence? Does it sufficiently take into account the extent to which the noblest instincts of men will risk the direst penalties, and the vilest passions in men be inflamed to use them? Does it allow for the extent to which men or nations, when driven into the corner, will go to extremes of provocation or of taking chances? And is fear ultimately the best and most reliable safeguard for peace? These are some of the questions which are tormenting the minds of so many people.
Quite apart from these questions, the practical efficacy of deterrents to deter and prevent warfare would seem to be weakened by the new factors to which the first sentence of the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, 131 specifically refers—namely, the prospects of an increase in the number of Powers which may own or manufacture nuclear weapons, for, as has already been pointed out by several of your Lordships, this situation must surely increase the liability of the accidental or irresponsible use of nuclear weapons; and it also greatly increases the already grave difficulties of control.
There is another analogy which seemed to me to fit the present situation; that of a skier who, as a beginner, finds himself rapidly going out of control on a downhill slope which seems to go on for ever. There are three things he can do. The first is, out of sheer funk, to panic; and that is the quickest way to disaster. Secondly, he can be so paralysed or so irresolute that he just goes on, with ever-increasing speed; and every second that he continues makes it far less likely that he will be able to turn and stop in safety. Or, thirdly, he can take his courage in both hands and use the skill, energy and balance necessary to turn, which, incidentally, means leaning in a direction opposite to that which he feels to be in accordance with his natural instincts for safety. The present state and momentum of the arms race are, in essence, very much like that, except that, unlike ski-ing, the process is not accompanied by any compensating feelings of exhilaration.
One is forced to the conclusion that, bad though the predicament is at present, it is almost certain to get worse unless courageous and deliberate steps are taken. Such a conclusion would appear to be borne out by two factors, in particular, in addition to those that have been mentioned. The first is simply stated in the Report of the National Planning Association's Special Project Committee, published in Washington in May, 1958, entitled, 1970 without Arms Control, in these words:It is a disturbing fact that while weapons grow increasingly effective, they also tend to outgrow previous control possibilities.The control problem will obviously increase in complexity and magnitude as the number of nations manufacturing nuclear weapons and possessing them increases. Secondly, with a larger number of nations possessing these weapons, the possibility of new international alignments cannot altogether be ignored. Tension could easily become multilateral 132 rather than, as is chiefly the case at present, bilateral; and, should that happen, the difficulties of securing stability, agreement or control would obviously be very much greater.
But if the slope is leading downhill, how to turn, or at least prevent the speed increasing—that is the problem. The noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, has presented one solution, one formula. I am instinctively attracted to his formula, in so far as it involves the acceptance of sacrifices as an inducement for other nations to do the same. That would seem to be introducing a refreshingly new approach to this problem. If I may refer to my analogy of the skier, the noble Lord's solution involves the principle that to turn the corner you must lean outwards. But whether this may be a case of leaning out too far, or of the turn being too sharp, or whether there is an alternative and better way, of securing not only these initial steps but also further steps than those which the noble Lord envisaged, I do not feel competent to judge, lacking, as I do, the expert knowledge to assess the full consequences and implications of the proposed or alternative courses of action. I am reminded of words which were spoken, I think in this House, by the late Dr. William Temple when he was Archbishop of Canterbury. He said:The responsibility for judging what is practicable at any given moment in this sinful world belongs to statesmen and politicians, not to ecclesiastics as such.I am also reminded that the art of politics is sometimes described as the art of the possible.
The questions raised in this debate are clearly, as I suggested in the beginning of my speech, questions of extreme difficulty, not only because they are in themselves complex, but because it is far from easy to obtain the necessary facts upon which sound, responsible judgment can alone be based. Countless men and women are perplexed and uneasy, and looking for a lead, a soundly-based moral lead, over the nuclear question. But a moral lead, if it is not based upon actual facts or applied to the realities of the situation, can do more harm than good. The fallout from misinformed opinion causes widespread contamination; and one can so easily be misled. The distinction made between the larger hydrogen bombs and the so-called tactical atomic weapons 133 may lull people into the belief that the latter are no more damaging than the old-fashioned Howitzer shell, when in fact I understand that they include weapons more terrible in their effects than those which fell upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
It was a matter of surprise to me, when studying the question, to be informed that the ordinary scale of yield classification of these bombs—so many kilotons or megatons—need have no bearing on the contamination effect. And to speak of any nuclear bombs as "clean" will leave quite a false impression on the mind of the uninitiated. In fact, the generic term "nuclear weapons" would appear to cover a multitude of sins, for these weapons are of widely differing kinds and degrees in the type and indiscriminate nature of the damage which they cause. The line of demarcation between some of these nuclear weapons and so-called conventional weapons would appear to be far from distinct.
Or, again, for those who, like myself, imagine that general multilateral disarmament by controlled stages is the cause round which our moral forces should be mobilised, it is a sobering lesson to discover some of the technical difficulties of securing any adequate system of inspection, and of obtaining conditions which would not be completely jeopardised by opportunist infringements. Yet I still believe that this aim of a multilateral treaty, involving nuclear and conventional weapons, promoted in successive controlled stages, of which the suspension of nuclear tests would seem to be the first, and with security ultimately dependent, however improbable it sounds, on some form of an internationally sponsored force, is the most practical and the most realistic means of ensuring the safety of mankind. The difficulties are indeed formidable, but I cannot see the alternative, and I have yet to hear an informed refutation of the general thesis argued in the right honourable Philip Noel-Baker's book, The Arms Race. But to secure further real progress in this direction (and I know that I shall be expressing the view of all your Lordships in saying that one can most profoundly hope that success will, in fact, be achieved in the present negotiations in Geneva on the suspension of nuclear 134 tests) one of the most essential conditions is a wider appreciation of the facts of the situation.
Some of the facts about defence and nuclear weapons cannot be made available, for reasons of security; and some of the facts are difficult for any layman to understand. But if the nation is to have an informed mind and conscience on these matters it is of great importance that as much factual information as can be forthcoming should be made available, both from official and from independent sources. The work of the National Planning Association in the United States, which produced that lucid pamphlet, 1970 Without Arms Control, to which I have already referred, and the recent establishment in this country of the Institute of Strategic Studies are greatly to be welcomed as instances of what I have in mind.
I should also like to refer to one further source from which we badly need as much information and help as can be given on this subject, namely, from scientists—information such as we have had the good fortune to be given this afternoon by the noble Lord, Lord Adrian. It is said that scientists cannot be held morally responsible for the way in which the knowledge, resources and power which they have placed within man's reach are used; and in general I am sure that is true. Nevertheless, scientists stand in a very special position of responsibility. Like the dispensing chemist, they know when to label the bottle "Poison—not for internal use", even though, when once they have done this, they cannot possibly prevent anyone from swallowing the contents.
But the dispensing chemist, quite apart from legal requirements, will naturally be concerned, and rightly so, to prevent the misuse of poisons or prevent them from getting into the wrong hands. It is not, of course, nearly such a simple matter in the case of nuclear weapons, but it is all to the good that scientists have recently shown an increasing concern at the way in which their knowledge, particularly in the field of nuclear research, is being used. The three so-called Pugwash Conferences are an illustration of how scientists from either side of the Iron Curtain can reach a measure of agreement in discussing the social, moral and political implications of their 135 work. Furthermore, scientists with different national allegiances easily find a common basis of understanding and co-operation in the pursuit of their studies and researches—as, for instance, in the remarkable co-operative investigations of the International Geophysical Year. The good will of scientists and the making available of their knowledge is a quite indispensable factor, both for enlightening public opinion and for providing the necessary technical information which is an essential requirement in every move towards halting the progress of the arms race or securing steps in actual disarmament.
But, my Lords, the two basic aims, although they need separate consideration, must surely go together: that of preventing war itself, not as a sentimental dream but taking into full account the cynical designs of evil men; and that of removing the most fearful possibilities of indiscriminate destruction, capable, as it would seem, of destroying the human race. Both aims require constructive policies in the positive service of peace. Both aims require a persistent effort in the direction of disarmament. Both aims will be practically assisted by all forms of co-operation across existing frontiers of the cold war wherever there is a genuine basis of common interest, including the building up of international legislation and administration in matters which will advance the general wellbeing of mankind. And both aims will be served by bringing to the light of day the true facts of our present predicament. If the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, has, in my humble judgment, done one most necessary service in initiating this debate today, it is chiefly, I believe, that of bringing into the open the supreme urgency of this issue. For time is short.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, the right reverend Prelate who has just spoken has reminded us that this particular matter comes out of the tray marked "Too difficult"; and that is most certainly where I myself should look for it. But he has also done something else for me—he has removed the doubt, as I see it, which has surrounded this debate as to what represents a monopoly of what has been called the moral appeal. We have heard the words "moral appeal," 136 "right" and "wrong" used. The difficulty of a person such as myself is to decide what is right and what is wrong.
If I come to certain conclusions which in one respect conflict with the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, it is because, after deep thought, I come to those conclusions on moral premises. With some of the implications of the noble Lord's Motion I have the greatest sympathy. To deter others from arming before they have started to do so; to deter them from manufacturing these weapons; to strive for a truly effective international system of inspection under the United Nations—those are entirely constructive proposals. It is only when the noble Lord moves away from that on to the heart and core of this one matter of our own renunciation that I find that I have to resist him. Whatever may have been said to deny that the renunciation is not unilateral I cannot help thinking that that, in effect, is what the Motion would amount to—a unilateral renunciation.
The noble Lord himself mentioned the fact that his Motion does not refer specifically to testing. I take it from that that he would agree that it is rather absurd to make a nuclear bomb and not discover whether it will go off. Yet it is this matter of testing, to which the right reverend Prelate who has just spoken has referred, the whole argument surrounding the issues at Geneva—inspection teams, control posts and an effective international commission—that is, to my mind, of paramount importance. Because if it were possible to establish an effective international control by which an explosion would be immediately detected, by which the world would immediately know who the guilty party was, and by which, allowing for a time lag, the guilty party would have to face the world, then, as I see it, the guilty party would, sooner or later, have to cease manufacture. In other words, the effective testing and setting up of effective machinery to control becomes also the effective limitation and control of the eventual manufacture.
I admit that there is one argument (to which I think the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon referred) which has great appeal for me—namely, the undoubted and profound effect that a renunciation from this country would have on what we know as the uncommitted world. That, 137 I think, is something far more than a mere propaganda point; undoubtedly, it would be an advance for that area of the world which regards itself as free.
There are also certain practical considerations to which the noble Earl referred which, if I may, I would simplify. It is said, for example, that though we might conceivably drop a bomb on a great Power which previously had dropped one on us, we should not drop the bomb on the same Power merely because it had dropped one on an ally of ours—on a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation; and, similarly, that unless United States territory had been directly attacked, we could not depend upon the United States to come to our assistance, to drop a bomb on our behalf or to threaten to drop a bomb. To that extent it can be said that the deterrent has ceased to deter.
My views cut into this forceful argument for one reason. Whilst I recognise situations in which we should refrain from using the bomb, supposing that we had it in association with our Allies—situations in Europe—it seems to me that there could also be a crisis in which every factor would demand a complete identity of view and interest as between ourselves and the United States. In other words, there is a certain kind of international crisis in which it is impossible to contemplate that we and the United States should be divided; we should have to stand or fall together. It is for that one occasion that I could not subscribe to a unilateral renunciation, not necessarily of the use of the bomb, but of the right and the ability to threaten, because it is always the doubt that constitutes the strength in our position.
The effects of renunciation might indeed be immediate, but in my view they would be somewhat superficial; they leave certain very profound questions unanswered. The noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, put the question in one form; the noble Earl who spoke for the Government put it in another form. If I may again put it in my own form it is this: Are we, as a great Power, ready to say now that in a hypothetical world war over the whole issue of rival ideologies we are neutral? Are we prepared to say to the United States, in effect: "We disapprove of your manufacture of the big bomb, but in a world conflagration in 138 which maybe millions will die, where the issue would be between Communism and freedom, we shall require your protection though we are not prepared beforehand to declare our hand"?
Noble Lords have said that if ever it came to that, if we came in in the beginning on this issue and war enveloped us all, then there would be nothing left to rescue. Each one of us has to answer this question in his own way. I in no way quarrel with those who would disagree with me, but I say, in all sincerity, that I would rather contemplate a world in which there was nothing left to rescue than live on in a world which had been absorbed into a system of life which I abhor, achieved through the preservation of an utter travesty of peace. I do not wish to continue to live on in such a world; I would sooner be destroyed. Noble Lords may say that that is all too tragic, too melodramatic. But those who support the renunciation of the bomb have also used the language of melodrama and tragedy. I shall return to their view in a moment. But having indicated the depth to which we might sink, I submit that others, like myself, still believe in the efficacy of the deterrent—imperfect as the philosophy of fear may be—and have faith that this thing will never happen.
At the recent congress in London of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Mr. J. B. Priestley, speaking of the attitude of Her Majesty's Government, said:So long as they know there is a strong public opinion against nuclear war, they will not dare to start such a war.It would seem that Mr. Priestley was unaware that time and again the Government of the day have said that they will not drop the first bomb; that they will not drop the first missile. And when they say that I, for one, believe them. Our case could be put in this way: that, knowing that we shall not drop the first bomb but might conceivably drop the second one, someone else will not start the process. Noble Lords may ridicule that as the philosophy of fear, but the fact is, as I think the noble Earl, Lord Home, stated, that it has worked up till now, and I see no reason whatsoever why it should not continue to work.
My Lords, I return always to the conclusion that it is far better to remove 139 the causes of fear than to concentrate on the symptoms. At that same European Congress held recently in London, the noble Earl, Lord Russell, said that our main difficulty was one of ideological intolerance. With great respect, I would submit that democracy to-day is in grave danger through its constant understanding of and resort to the process of tolerance: an understanding which lays itself open to the attack of a system which countenances no tolerance whatsoever—indeed, I think I am right in saying that the word "tolerance" has disappeared even from their dictionary. When, therefore, we turn to the attitude of this other side, what is it that we find? I know only one test of their sincerity, and that is to ask them to accept exactly the same imposition in regard to testing and control and inspection as we are ready to-morrow to accept ourselves. If they do not accept that, who, in the light of international experience, can say that he trusts the Soviet?
We have produced a plan, a fair and a reasonable plan, of inspection teams and experts of nationals other than the host country, the host country being allowed as many observers on its own territory as it cares to nominate. The Soviet say "No". They say that the teams must comprise nationals of the country itself. We, with the United Nations experience in mind, wish to remove the veto from an international control commission; the Soviet wish to retain it. There are two approaches—one, surely beyond dispute, effective and just, and the other illogical and therefore, to my mind, completely ineffective; and no amount of attempting to understand, to "get inside" the Soviet mind, as it has been said, alters that position.
I can see one loophole and it is this: could not this controlling machinery be taken right out of the hands of the three great nuclear Powers and placed in the hands of some of those smaller nations which are either too small or too un-ambitious to influence power politics and which yet still command the confidence of the world? I am hoping that when the noble Earl, Lord Russell, at the recent London Congress spoke of an "international authority" and a "conciliation" body outside the United Nations not subject to the Veto, that was the kind of 140 thing he may have had in mind. That would certainly be something that it would be very difficult for the Soviet to refuse, and I should be happy to hear from Her Majesty's Government that it is the kind of proposal they would wish further to examine.
I find one feature of our situation very discouraging and disturbing; that is, that when these worthy men and women marched to Swaffham or Aldermaston they never seemed to analyse beneath the surface. They never looked behind the launching site for the reasons behind the erection of that site. They seemed to be mesmerised by the visible symptom and to forget the cause. For them it seems enough to "sign on the dotted line" and to seek not how to ban the bomb but just to ban it—because banning the bomb and banning tests are really one and the same thing. If saying "Ban the bomb" meant anything, why not go further and say "Ban war"? If the one is effective, so would the other be.
It is because the noble Earl, Lord Russell, usually goes far beyond the comfort of mere slogans that I studied his recent statement at the London Congress with great care. How true it is, as he said, that many millions all over the world, in millions of modest homes, simply long for freedom from this fear, freedom, too, from restrictions which Governments impose upon them. They want to meet each other as man to man. It is only when the noble Earl, Lord Russell, passes on from that approach and suggests that we should refrain from imputing bad motives to other Governments that I have to part company with him. It seems to me that at some point we have to make up our minds over this issue as between ourselves and the Soviet as to what is right and what is wrong, and that the individual who fails to do so is seeking the easy way out.
If in honesty we could conclude that the Soviet approach which would refuse a normal control derives from a desire to hide something and thereby to retain the ability to apply a form of international blackmail, I believe it is then our duty to go on demonstrating our deep suspicion. They can remove that suspicion tomorrow, if they care to do so, and some of your Lordships who may be closer to them and able to influence them as 141 I can never hope to do would be making a very great contribution to narrowing the gap as between Her Majesty's Government and the Kremlin if you could use your influence in that direction. Finally, I would put my own approach to the case by a formal declaration. The day Mr. Hugh Brock, the Reverend Michael Scott, Miss Arrowsmith and others are prepared to march, not to Swaffham but to both Downing Street and the Soviet Embassy and say, not "Stop the tests" but "Allow effective evidence to be produced that you have stopped the tests", I for one, will follow them anywhere they care to lead.
§ 6.35 p.m.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, this debate was predicted fifty-five years ago in a book by Mr. G. K. Chesterton which contained these words on an early page:The way the prophets of the twentieth century went to work was this. They took something or other that was certainly going on in their time, and then said that it would go on more and more until something extraordinary happened.In this connection he decribed a game indulged in from its beginning by the human race and known in Shropshire as "Cheat the Prophet". The players listen carefully and respectfully to all that the clever men have to say about what is to happen in the next generation. The players then wait until all the clever men are dead, bury them nicely and go and do something else. And they have never, from the beginning of the world, done what the wise men have seen to be inevitable.
I do not believe that our particular nation and our particular wise men are any exception to this rule. One of them, back in 1946, said that there was a 50–50 chance of avoiding war, and that in eight years' time every nation in the world would have atom bombs. A year later he saw the complete breakdown of the structure of human society, with more people dying of starvation in the following twelve months than were killed in any one year of the war. Arriving back in Southampton on the "Queen Mary" in May, 1948, he gave his "last warning to the world" that the whole human race was rumbling to destruction. That particular sage is now the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Orr, and I feel sure, though I hope mistakenly, that he will to-night give us further, perhaps more drastic, prognosti- 142 cations. If I may suggest it without effrontery, they might be more convincing if the noble Lord waited for some of the others to catch up with him first.
I believe that a nation's pessimists have their part to play, and to-day some of them have put down and supported a Motion, based on the gloomiest possible view of the human race, its capabilities and concern for its own future. When I first read it, especially the proposal to renounce the deterrent unilaterally, I was struck by three things. I will name them in ascending order of importance as I see them. And I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Strang, that to split hairs over the word "unilateral" is really not necessary and does not get us anywhere. If the word "unidirectional" is preferable we can use that.
The first thing that struck me was: what would renunciation entail physically? There are the obvious things: destruction of stockpiles, launching sites, manufacturing plants and fissile material. But would it not also entail inspection, and the right of Russian inspection teams to tour Britain with a right to look into every establishment connected, even vaguely, even allegedly, with nuclear research and development of any kind? It may be said that these would be United Nations teams but we may be sure that the Russians would insist on having their representatives among them. If any Government in this country, happily inconceivable at this moment, were to approve such a strange bargain, can we suppose that the people as a whole would stand for it? The pilgrimages from and to Swaffham would be brittle skeletons of the march to Downing Street if any Prime Minister dared to contemplate such transparent folly.
Secondly, the agreement visualised would require a very high level of spiritual integrity from a Power which is based proudly, vigorously and ruthlessly on materialism. This can, of course, be a matter of opinion, but I believe it would be far too much to expect of any foreseeable Government of Soviet Russia. Whatever they might sign, they could not and would not regard as binding, in the event, a paper agreement which could force them to accept defeat, when the physical means of victory were within their hands without the risk of retaliation. 143 And even if, as we hope, some modus vivendi with Russia emerges eventually from the coming visit of the Prime Minister to Moscow, I cannot see this basic characteristic of Communism changing sufficiently.
They have already declared themselves ready to initiate nuclear war against a conventional threat. "Rockets on London" was the specific promise at the time of Suez on November 6, 1956, when there was no question whatever of our resorting to nuclear weapons. If they were ready then to use nuclear weapons, how much readier would they be to use them again if some initiative of theirs were halted at a future date—how much readier unless we have the means of striking back. To believe that under such conditions a piece of paper would provide the effective deterrent, requires the political innocence of a scientist or a Liberal!
No! Under the plan envisaged we should still be thrown back upon the physical deterrent, which would be in the hands of the Americans alone. That leads me to my third reflection. To carry out this project would be to scrap the whole defensive system of the free world as it is at present devised. In this system America is the major provider and the major benefactor. The bases made available throughout the world for the United States rocket sites and aerodromes are needed if she is to play the generous part she has accepted in her defence and ours. I wish my noble friend Lord Rea were in the Chamber, because I must take him up on one point that he raised. I think myself that to describe our contribution as virtually useless is quite mistaken. In fact, when the noble Lord, Lord Rea, and myself were in Washington together I had an interview with General Nathaniel Twining, head of the Pentagon, in the Pentagon, and he gave me a very opposite statement to that.
If the rest of the free world evicts, as it were, every American force, every American unit, from every base outside America, at the behest of this group of noble Lords, that amounts to eliminating half of America's present strategic advantage in our common defence, withholding the whole of our contribution, and still asking her to come to our help if we get into trouble, at the cost of her 144 own nuclear ruin. That is surely the most unbusinesslike proposition ever thought up and a complete betrayal of every agreement reached since 1940 by both British Governments which have been in power. That sort of betrayal is not for us. But I hope, all the same, that I do not sound resentful of this Motion, except in one implication which I will touch on in a moment.
What diverts me here is to see how reactionary the men of science can be and, at the same time, how totally unconscious of history. Sir Winston Churchill in his History of the English Speaking Peoples describes the advent of the Iron Age and its effect on the people of these Islands, among others. He says:At this point the march of invention brought a new factor upon the scene. Iron was dug and forged. Men armed with iron entered Britain from the Continent and killed the men of bronze. It cannot be doubted that for smashing skulls, whether long-headed or round, iron is best.My Lords, what is involved today is different and more dangerous only in degree to that smashing of skulls. To retard ourselves artificially from entering the nuclear age, defensively as well as industrially, is to invite intimidation and enslavement by one of the nuclear Powers, which need not be named. If we had not advanced into the Iron Age we could not have advanced beyond it on our own initiative. And the saddening fact is that if we want to advance into the nuclear age and beyond we shall have to defend our advance by possession of nuclear weapons—by possession, not use, and not by nuclear war; and possession only as long as other weapons of mass destruction remain in existence.
Here is the implication contained in this Motion with which I quarrel. I agree that it has not been pressed by any speech supporting the Motion, but it is general to this point of view. My Lords, there can be few things that I know more about than or as much about as the noble Lords who have moved and supported this Motion; but one thing I do know as much about is war, at least at first-hand. I think I must know nearly as much as most of them about it. I carefully except in this statement the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Orr, whose valour in World War I was noted and known by all. In the same measure, I dare swear that I hate war as much as anyone, as any of them possibly can.
145 If only they could get it into their rightly-celebrated heads that when we speak of a deterrent we mean a deterrent, a means of preventing the war we know and abominate, I think we might stop talking at cross purposes in this debate and begin to get somewhere further. Perhaps the words we use are too simple for them; when we say we want to stop war, "stop" does not perhaps reach them. I have found a word which might suit them better and make our point plainer: dehortation—the dehortative. I wonder whether that helps them in any way; I hope it may. But up to the present, at least, their supporters persist with a charming simplicity in ascribing some blood-lust to us all. In their brilliant and sometimes peculiar minds they see us as being ruled by some mad appetite for battle—a battle in which, so far from seeing the whites of your enemies eyes, you are lucky if you see him as a blip on a radar screen; an appetite, in fact, for being blown into small pieces with our families. I think I can speak for all my noble friends on this side, and even for noble Lords on the other side who oppose this Motion, in telling this group of noble and superstitious Lords that we are not like that at all, and they are labouring under the, purest superstition if they think we are.
The noble Earl, Lord Russell, has already published some of his views expressed this afternoon under the title of Commonsense and Nuclear Warfare. I do not suppose that if I were writing a book on the need for the deterrent I could think of an apter or neater title for it than that. It assumes, I take it, that common sense and nuclear warfare are incompatible; and that is exactly the assumption on which the doctrine of deterrence is based. If the effect of the hydrogen bomb is as terrible as some noble Lords say—and we accept that it is, and so do the Russians—then the certainty of a counterblow gives the more valid protection against nuclear war.
To my mind, as an ordinary extrovert who badly wants to go on living, there is something a little irritating, though not offensive, in the bland assumption among our aristocrats of intellect that humanity can be trusted only to blow itself up if it gets the kit into its hands. There is also a misleading theory, widely held, that all wars are started through an arms race, a 146 race started by such bloodthirsty leaders, for instance, as the late Mr. Neville Chamberlain. But memory need not be cast back very far to recall that the last war began because one set of Powers was racing towards full armament and the other set racing to disarmament. We are being invited to repeat that mistake, which might have cost the whole world its freedom, and could again.
This is a dangerous world we live in, and we never need doubt it. But we cannot survive by hamstringing the American contribution to our defence and still calling upon the Americans to protect us. And when we are weighing one danger against another, let us be quite clear in our mind what giving in to Russia would mean. Some of us have not a notion. I have here an article written a year ago by a fellow Yorkshireman, Mr. J. B. Priestley, who has already been quoted by my noble friend Lord Birdwood. I believe that in one sentence there is the key to all the artless thinking that has sponsored this debate:The Red Army will move to fill a vacuum or to support a Communist uprising, in a neighbouring country, but that, in my opinion, is all.All, my Lords, mark you—all! I wonder, has he any idea, any conception, any mental picture whatever, of what happens when the Red Army move in "to fill a vacuum." Here is a book, my Lords, published this month, as it happens, but one of many available. It is written by an ordinary, unpolitical woman, whose country became "a vacuum." It is called Paying Guest in Siberia, and it does not make comfortable reading. But it does make essential reading for those who are ready to contemplate a Russian invasion. Because, without the deterrent, nothing is more certain than this: that the countries of Europe will become a series of "vacuums" one after another. There will be one token Communist rising after another, with the Red Army coming in to support them, until our own Island is consumed.
My Lords, what I am saying now I believe with all my heart. If I made an answer to the right reverend Prelates who have spoken in favour of the Motion, it would be this: we owe it not only to ourselves, to the West or to the free world to remain in freedom—at tremendous cost, if necessary. We owe it to those many millions now in bondage, 147 whose one hope is that, finally, by dreary and painful stages it may be, freedom will spread across the rest of the world and will become the legacy of the whole human race, and that it will not be submerged and overcome by the uncertainty or faint hearts of its present guardians. To that end I ask the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, to withdraw the touchingly innocent but quite impractical Motion at present standing in his name.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ LORD WISE
My Lords, I do not propose to follow the noble Lord in his remarks, and so that the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Orr, may deliver to your Lordships the reply which he is waiting to make I do not propose to detain the House very long. First of all, I wish to say to the noble Earl the Leader of the House that I thought he dealt with the Motion with moderation and quietness and without malice or antagonism; and, if I may say so, I thought he did very well. He gave me one cue, which I was able to take, and that was that we should not sit down with complacency. That has brought me to my feet this evening, because I have a point of view which I wish to put to the House, and I should certainly not be justified, I think, in sitting still without saying anything about it.
Now, according to a report a few days ago, the Minister of Labour said in a speech at the week-end that we had to try every single door, because in time one of them might open. It seems to me that, since 1945, we have spent several years in the corridors outside many doors, with very little courage to attempt to turn the handle of any one of them to ascertain what good fortune might be found when we entered the room: but I am encouraged that we have at Geneva apparently entered one of the side doors, and I hope that success and good fortune will be our reward. This lack of courage is, I feel, a great pity, as I am sure that if the East had not been so suspicious of the West, and the West of the East, we might have met together before now in a common room and be much closer to a solution of our difficulties than is still the case.
I welcome the Motion mainly as opening up a discussion upon the most important topic of this age. It has taken 148 us over a wider field than was apparently contemplated by the mover of the Motion, and, so far as it goes, I am sure that in the country it will be thought to be some recognition of the terrific problems which confront us. It will be received and recognised as a trial discussion, or as a forerunner of further consideration, not only by Parliament but by the Government. It is a first move—and I think it is a move in the right direction. The time has arrived when the people of this country and of the world can no longer remain passive and wait for statesmen, who are becoming weary, to complete their manœuvres for commanding positions before commencing serious negotiations to ameliorate world-wide tension. One bright star has shown itself, and, so far as I know, it has not been mentioned this afternoon. This particular episode must, I should think, be very heartening to the proposer of this Motion. It has been reported during the last two or three days that Japan, with her knowledge and experience of the past devastation and suffering, has renounced all nuclear arms, even for defence, and will refuse the introduction of any kind of nuclear weapons into the country. If this is so, it is indeed good news. Japan has forestalled us in the lead towards universal peace, and once again the eyes of the world look with hope towards the East.
I want now to turn from the universal to the local aspect, and I think I am justified in so doing. Like some other noble Lords who sit in this House, I am an East-Anglian. I live in its heart and know its people—a sturdy, loyal, and lovable race. I am anxious that we should so remain. While recognising that in a global nuclear war (in which this country would inevitably become involved, according to present alliances and alignments of East and West Powers) we in Great Britain all live in areas which would be vulnerable and dangerous and which would eventually be destroyed, we in East-Anglia have been placed in a position of extreme danger. The noble Earl the Leader of the House spoke of a vested interest in peace which we all have. We on the East Coast think that we, indeed, have a vested interest in peace. As the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, said, we are a sitting target.
In a discussion of this sort, I feel I should be failing in my duty and in my 149 obligation to my country neighbours if I did not call the attention of the Government to the risk—and the ever increasing risk—which we run unless positive action is taken by those in charge of international and national affairs to endeavour to establish some international, acceptable system of controlling the manufacture and testing of nuclear weapons of destruction. If this is not done, the day of our doom steadily and assuredly creeps on. Silence will not help us. Someone has to speak, and speak in no uncertain voice, and I am glad that plain speaking has taken place in this House this afternoon and views have been expressed which are worth considering. "Defence" and "deterrent", as used in their present daily context, are words which should find no place in the languages of decent, Christian and civilised world and society. International trust, brotherhood and fellowship need not disappear if only the suspicious traits in the make-up and characters of the world's negotiators could be overcome. The noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, spoke of fear. At the moment there is no freedom from fear, and that freedom has been forgotten, nor can it be established while nations manufacture, stockpile and experiment with diabolical nuclear weapons of destruction.
The day of inter-continental rockets and other missiles has apparently arrived, and this indeed is a day of the greatest possible importance in the whole world. Immediate enemy action would not seek out the lands of Snowdonia, Dartmoor or the Highlands of Scotland, but the American bases of East Anglia, and unfortunately they grow in number. One accurately aimed bomb, or perhaps some other missile, on Scunthorpe or Swaffham, which has been mentioned once or twice during the afternoon, would wipe out most of the population of the towns and villages around us and inflict terrible suffering upon those who were left alive. And I am sure that that accuracy has now been acquired. The noble Earl, Lord Russell, suggested that we should not see out this century. If anything like that happened I am certain that this would be the case.
In our part of the world, as in others, we have beautiful old towns and villages, and I am not unmindful that in my own area we surround a Royal estate. Bombs 150 and rockets have no respect for persons; they would treat princes, peers and peasants alike. Neither age nor sex would secure relief from annihilation. A uniform would offer no protection. It would be an appalling tragedy for good, honest British citizens, their wives and their children. I may be told that counter-measures could be taken; but although our East Anglian skies might be full of intercepting, bomb-carrying or other aircraft, as they often are at present, all offensive enemy missiles could not be stopped. Some would be certain to get through. I want to say one word to our American friends. At the moment there are thousands of their men, women and children in our midst in Eastern counties. They could not be safeguarded. They would suffer as we should suffer. Our fate would also be theirs. I ask them to remember that fact in their diplomacy. Nor would they be safe in their own country, in these days of long-range missiles.
I hope I have said enough to persuade your Lordships of my acute anxiety for the welfare of the peoples of all nations and, in particular, of those I know so well in my own beautiful environment and of the strangers within our midst. Let me conclude with the hope that our Government will take courage and initiative and open the door that can lead to friendly and trusting negotiations and the settlement of the differences between East and West. If they did so, they would earn the blessing and gratitude of all mankind. Opportunity knocks but once. May it be seized by us before it is too late! I conclude by quoting the words of the noble Earl the Leader of the House, who said in the course of his speech that "We must act in order to prevent this catastrophe."
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ LORD BOYD-ORR
My Lords, so much has already been said in this debate, and the hour is late, that I shall be as brief as possible. I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, is aware of the revolutionary nature of this Motion which he has put to the House. What it means is that if nations which have not already got the hydrogen bomb would co-operate with us, we should be prepared to renounce the use of the hydrogen bomb. That means that we should be prepared to drop out 151 of the armaments race. And if we drop out, the logical result is that we should be prepared to drop out of N.A.T.O. and other defence pacts and try to assume the leadership of a world peace pact. That is pretty strong medicine for either of the great political Parties of this country to swallow.
I should like to examine the facts and see whether this Motion is as crazy as it would appear to some politicians. If the armaments race continues and ends in war, what will be the result? Fortunately, we now know, with greater accuracy than we did before, what the results would be. The noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, referred to the International Conference of Scientists, and I should like to say a word about that. It was a highly intelligent and, fortunately, wealthy American-born gentleman who called together scientists from all the leading countries of the world, including America, Russia and Red China, and asked them to come to Canada to confer together for a week and to make a report on what would be the result of a world war with nuclear weapons. The scientists met and reached agreement—as scientists do, because they regard the facts. They published a very sober, very cautious report.
Fortunately, a distinguished professor at Edinburgh University who was at the conference wrote some articles for the Scotsman, which is a very good paper for the objective study of international affairs. I thought that the articles were very sober, but after the articles had been read over by the editor or the sub-editor a paragraph about what it all amounted to was put at the top of one of the articles. This said that in the event of a world war probably 90 per cent. of the people in the Northern Hemisphere would be wiped out. Put that against the statement referred to by the noble Earl, Lord Russell, to-day: that on the first day of such a war 50 per cent. of all the people in America would be knocked out, either dead or injured. Such are the powers of destruction which modern science has given to mankind!
I think we concentrate too much on this hydrogen bomb in considering these great powers of science. There are other advantages of science which might well be given greater consideration. There is, 152 for example, medicine. Since the beginning of the present century medicine has advanced so much that it has added fifty years to the expectation of life of every child born in this country; and, further, it has added to the life of older people like myself. With the new study of genetics, by the end of the present century there will be as many centenarians living as there are octogenarians living to-day. Half of the people of the world are suffering from diseases which modern medicine could quickly cure. Then look at the question of food. We can now produce food in abundance, yet half the world is hungry because we have not yet a world-wide system that can organise the distribution of food in accordance with the needs of the different peoples. Or take industry. With automation and other modern developments, it is now possible to produce, with a twenty-hour week, the total of our present production.
Such is the world we could look forward to if the great powers of science were directed away from making such things as nuclear weapons and were applied to constructive things; and this would bring us nearer to what the noble Earl the Leader of the House described as "the infinite horizon of human progress". To reach a new and better world would mean treading a long and difficult road. The important thing is to take the first step; and obviously that first step is the matter of disarmament.
Here I should like to make a suggestion which I have been making for the last ten years. It would be too much to expect either side unilaterally to give up the hydrogen bomb. What we need is an equal, progressive and controlled disarmament. It is difficult to get agreement on inspection for nuclear bombs, and I would therefore suggest another method. Would it be possible for the Governments to agree to cut their military budgets by, say, 10 per cent., retaining half of this to relieve taxation and the other half to go to a world development authority? This would in the first year, such is the money spent on armaments, provide £2,000 million. In this we should get all the nations to co-operate, including Russia, Red China and America. That money could be controlled by businessmen, representing all areas of the world, and applied to the development of the 153 resources of the world for the elimination, first, of hunger, disease and poverty in the under-developed countries.
What would be the result? There would be such a demand that everything which the world could produce for the next twenty years would be absorbed; it would double and re-double world trade. I suggest that such a project would have in support of it an enormously powerful public opinion. If Russia would not agree to co-operate with us and all the other nations towards the elimination of hunger, disease and poverty in the world, she would be ostracised. But are we sure that Russia would not agree? If we made the offer and she disagreed, then we should have a strong, world-wide public opinion in our support. Why cannot we make that offer?
It is said that we must not lower our shield against a possible nuclear war begun by Russia; that so long as we have this stockpile of weapons, Russia has no wish to commit suicide. It may be said that with conventional weapons Russia might rush in and conquer Western Europe. But she has difficulty in holding down Hungary and Poland. How could she hope to hold down the whole of Western Europe for generations?
LORD ST. OSWALD
I do not agree with the noble Lord. Killing 22,000 people in the course of a month has been enough to hold down Hungary, and Russia would be prepared to kill 100,000, if it were necessary, to hold us down.
§ LORD BOYD-ORR
Even suppose Russia came in with conventional weapons and got control of Western Europe, which has known freedom for all these years, if she has difficulty in holding down Hungary and Poland, then she would find it almost impossible to hold down the whole of Europe. Russia, to my mind, is trying to get at us by a totally different method—namely, by the means of economic warfare; and it is that attack which I fear most. But it is possible that if Russia received such an offer from this country she might consider it. Red China, which I have visited, and which I hope to visit again in two months' time, might be glad to consider it, also.
Here we have these powers of modern science, and we continue the armaments race which ultimately ends in war. In 154 that way we are heading towards destruction. I feel that we should try to get the world to co-operate towards applying these new powers of modern science to create a new world, free from war, hunger and preventable disease. I think the Government might well consider this Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, and might also consider the small addendum that I put on to it. If they were to do so, it might be the destiny of this great country—a country which is the centre of the greatest and best Empire that ever was, and the centre of the great British Commonwealth, and which still has great prestige in the world—to give a lead in bringing about the new, wonderful world which modern science has made possible.
§ 7.18 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
My Lords, at this stage of the debate it might be thought proper if I confined my remarks to something much less than I originally intended; and I hope your Lordships will not fail to pardon me if, in the course of their coming after so many other speakers, I indulge in some repetition, though I trust that it will not be vain repetition. From time to time as the debate has ranged over so many different aspects, political, strategic and economic, we return to the moral aspect, sometimes, though not always, under the guidance of the Bishops' Bench. I will not say it is the still, small voice breaking out between the fire and the whirlwind, but at least it is that in the midst of the many different strata of this complex rock the moral issue is bound to recur at different levels.
I am concerned with this debate, and welcome it because I believe that it is welcomed by the world outside. There are many people who are searching their hearts about this issue. They are a prey to many pressures, sometimes emotional, sometimes political, not always thoughtful and true, which tempt them to run away from a subject of such complexity. Yet one of the features of the modern age is that the ordinary citizen shares in the responsibility for national policies, and most of all in war, in a way that he has never done before.
It was possible, until the beginning of this century, for a citizen, without any real disloyalty to his land, to reserve his 155 own judgment and even to dissociate himself from his country's policies, as happened for many citizens in the Boer War. But the advent of total war involves everyone, and thereby makes it necessary for every citizen to share not only in the risks of war, as he does, but also in its responsibilities. For this reason, the graver the aspect that war assumes, the more it is the duty of each citizen, so far as he can—and most of all in a free country—to exercise his own conscience upon the matters and policies to which he may commit himself. The greatest danger, surely, would be that, because of the complexity of this subject, free citizens would give up the burden of thought altogether and be led, either by popular clamour or by the line of least resistance. In no field of thought do we reach any unanimous conclusions in this issue.
I hope that I shall not be out of order in referring to the Conference of Bishops at Lambeth last summer, who spent some time, as your Lordships have done to-day, over this issue, drawing their own experience from five different continents and many different peoples whom they represented. While they shared with your Lordships, as one would expect, the same abhorence of these weapons of indiscriminate power, they could only call, as we are calling to-day, for renewed effort, through Governments, to reach such agreements as can bring those weapons into control and final abolition. But that Conference asked every individual person to search and study this problem himself, that he might bring an informed support to his own policies which his country might undertake.
The question on which this average citizen will exercise himself, if he is thoughtful, will not be whether war in any circumstances is unjustifiable. There are some, as have been mentioned, who in all honour can take that view; and for them there is no essential problem in nuclear warfare. Similarly, there is no problem for those who would argue, as the pacifist might, that there is no fundamental difference between the bow and arrow and the megaton bomb, since both are aimed at destruction in different degrees. You could either justify all war or condemn all war under that argument.
But for most people it is a question not of this or that, but of whether there 156 are limits which must be drawn in the waging of war. Theologians have exercised themselves about this matter for centuries. In the past they have reached certain combined and constant agreement about the factors in war which might be claimed to render it lawful or just. I will not detain or weary your Lordships with those factors, except to say that among them they always recognise that a war, to be lawful, not only should have a just and grave cause—that is the common test to which we put it in our own thinking—but should be proportioned to the evils that it will bring about; and it must have serious chances of success. In other words, they would claim that you can judge such actions, not by their cause only, but only by their expected consequences, near or remote.
So much for one aspect. Side by side with that, as your Lordships are aware, repeated efforts have been made by the nations to limit the conduct of war by international conventions. They would limit these not on any specific religious grounds, but on the moral grounds arising out of the nature of man and his rights. The killing of prisoners or the poisoning of wells has long been condemned. Poison gas and bacteriological warfare were condemned by the Treaty of Washington in 1922, and again by the Geneva Protocol. The treatment of prisoners, the general protection of civilians and of the populations of nations in conflict were the matter of the Geneva Convention of 1949. All this reveals something of the conscience of the civilised world. It recognises that there must be certain conflicts on certain dictates of humanity which must be respected. The concept of total warfare, without any limitations, is contrary to the true mind of men. Intrinsically, of course, we all agree with that view. It is a mark, is it not, of the moral deterioration in the modern situation that we are being bound to contemplate forms of warfare which would sweep all these considerations aside into an indiscriminate destruction, admittedly in the cause of defence.
We have heard movingly from the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, something of what defence may mean to a people exposed to ruthless neighbours. It is the nature of that defence which exercises so many of us, for it seems that defence involves not only ourselves, or even our possible opponents: it may also involve 157 neutrals. It may involve posterity; it may involve the whole conduct of civilised communities. As the noble Earl, Lord Russell, has said, mankind is in some way involved in all the action we might be taking, and all that seems implicit in nuclear attack on a large scale. I doubt whether many people who underwrite it have ever begun to realise quite what that might involve. For my own opinion, I feel bound to go with those of the conviction that the consequences of having these weapons of such indiscriminate destructive power are such that I cannot reconcile them with justice. I honour, though I cannot share, the view of those who say that this is an impracticable opinion; and although there will always be perhaps, at least in our age, a cleavage between those two views, while all abhor the weapons, yet surely there must be some meeting ground on which concerted action can be made.
I myself, like others, should welcome some direct step such as is envisaged in the noble Lord's Motion. I know that it is subject to much question and query as impracticable. I was moved, as others were, by the noble Earl the Leader of the House when he reminded us that this is not only a situation of gloom but a situation of hope. Perhaps it may be that in the present time a new world is being born and that we are sharing in bringing that conception to birth. If so, then it will be by an effort commensurate both with the dangers which the present situation reveals and with the new world which we wish to bring about. Nothing else will suffice in a world which comes at last to realise, as is indeed the fact, that it is indivisible both in war and in peace and can begin to live as such. May we ask those who plead for a more realistic approach to this new world what steps essential to the banning of war as a forerunner can be taken commensurate with that objective?
I will briefly cite three points. The first is this. I believe that the recurring thought of deterrents, while it extends some temporary relief, may yet also be something which poisons the atmosphere in which new understandings might be effected. Deterrents, of course, are not static things. What deters today will not deter tomorrow, if in the meantime the other person has reached the same level. Moreover, deterrents may be misleading; it is perfectly possible in this general 158 uneasy security which they have produced that the infiltration of Communist ideas goes on. You do not stop the thing wholly by stopping the outward violence. But perhaps more than that, the note of fear and the distrust which it is liable to engender does not itself lead to trust. You cannot move by a natural sequence from one to the other. Only by a greater sense of the solidarity of all countries involved in the same danger, and of the possibilities of which the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Orr, has reminded us, will they begin to look at it in a different way. The deterrent becomes a great note of prestige, even of threat. It may be undoing some of the work which we are trying to do.
Our situation is in part vitiated, is it not, by the fact that the struggle between East and West is an ideological struggle. It is one that involves ideas as well as power. There is nothing new in this; there have been ideological struggles in the past. These was, in the ancient world, the case of Athens and Sparta; two different ways of life, democracy and oligarchy, bleeding themselves to death in ideological struggles. The wars in Europe in the seventeenth century were not national so much as religious, and that led again to a note of bitterness which they might otherwise have escaped.
It is always the case that the struggle becomes more intense when some conflict of ideas comes into it. Yet the conflict of ideas is surely something that is natural and almost to be welcomed. If there were no ideas there would be no conflict between them, and it may be that we need this clash of warring ideas to bring new progress and new departures. The dangerous thing in the present situation is that the war of ideas, which inevitably will go on, is linked with violent actions; and so we are led to suppose that the only means by which we may defend those ideas for which we stand, the heritage of the free and democratic life—and the only way that can survive—is under a nuclear shield. It is indeed hardly complimentary to the great ideals of democracy to suppose that its only hope of maintenance is in a weapon which might, in the process of defending it, destroy those very things for which it stands.
My Lords, I should say one last word. I recognise that this Motion, or any 159 similar Motion, would essentially first raise the, issue of control, but it raises it in the form of self-control. Self-control is a very great virtue. It is a virtue in individuals. It is not always regarded as a virtue in States who take pride in their own unlimited sovereignty. Yet what it asks for, in essence, is that nations should begin to recognise that within the context of the modern world they must exercise that control upon their own ambitions, upon their own powers. Any step towards this control is surely something which can be welcomed. There was a play running recently in London which centred around this theme. A great scientist had invented a bomb of incredible efficiency and magnitude which he was asked by the statesmen of his country to give up for the safeguarding of their people. In the end he agreed, whereupon one of the statesmen replied, with a sigh of relief: "To see an evil power not exercised gives me a little hope for the future of the world."
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ LORD WILMOT OF SELMESTON
My Lords, it is a great privilege that it should fall to me to offer my congratulations, and I am sure those of the whole House, to the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Chichester, on what I believe is his maiden speech in this House, certainly his first speech in his present high office. His thoughtful speech certainly goes some way to assuage the sorrow which we have at the loss of his distinguished predecessor, whom we loved so much.
I feel that, however we come to regard the Motion on the Paper, we shall feel under a sense of enduring gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, for having put it there. It has raised one of the most memorable debates in my somewhat short experience of this House (but considerably longer of another), and I think we are better for it. It has given rise to some speeches that will long endure in the mind. I shall long remember those of the mover and of the noble Earl, Lord Russell, the wisdom of Lord Strang, who couples practical wisdom with much else, and also the speech of the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Manchester, and, if I may say so, the profound nobility of the noble Earl, the Leader of the House.
160 This is a subject which inevitably becomes charged with emotion because of the almost immeasurable results and consequences of decisions which we fallible people, particularly those on the Front Bench opposite, have to take in the most difficult circumstances. I beg the noble Earl the Leader of the House to believe that we think that not only the people of this country but the Government too are sincerely dedicated in their endeavours to secure lasting peace. But the difficulties are very great, as the noble Earl said, complex and ever-changing. However, the fact remains through it all that the only goal that is worth seeking is the goal of the abolition of war itself, and that the only real step towards that goal must be, as the noble Lord, Lord Strang, said, controlled reduction leading to the abolition of all weapons of mass destruction and ultimately armaments of all kinds.
I myself feel that the test which we must apply to this Motion in an attempt to decide whether we can support it or not is to ask this question: is the policy here advocated thought to make war itself more likely or less likely? That, it seems to me, is the only test, and in what I have to say now I must confess I speak for myself alone. Whether all my friends would agree and whether the official policy is in line with it I am not sure, but I speak for myself and from conviction. If I understand this policy aright, it will make war less likely and will make controlled disarmament over all fields of armament more likely of attainment. I support it for that reason.
But it is important to make clear what I believe this policy involves, because I think it was much misunderstood by some speakers, particularly, if I may say so, by the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, who gave the impression of underestimating the moral outlook of those with whom he did not agree. I should like to make it clear that this Motion does not envisage fleeing from danger to be free from danger; nor does it envisage placing the burden on other shoulders, seeking safety at the expense of others or hiding supinely beneath the American umbrella. None of those things are contemplated, and I would beg of him to think again before he utters those judgments. In my view, there is nothing in this policy which would lead us to 161 break our agreements. It may well be that the wording is imperfect and in that exact wording it would be impractical for the Government to carry it out. So I beg the Government to think about it not in its literal wording but in the spirit which prompted it. I know that the noble Earl the Leader of the House, who is always charitable in these matters, will look at it like that.
There is no intention of taking unilateral action, and there is no intention whatever of being false to the American alliance, which is absolutely necessary if we are to maintain our position in the present circumstances. As Lord Strang rightly said, probably the only thing which maintains the peace at the present time is the hideous balance of terror, and our one hope is that this will maintain peace long enough for the efforts of Her Majesty's Government and other Governments to bring the necessity for this balance of terror to an end by achieving some workable agreement on controlled disarmament leading to a renunciation of war as an instrument of policy. But it seems to me—this is where I see this policy being useful—that the danger is that the balance of terror will be upset by the emergence of some new nuclear Power among the States which at present are not so armed; and against that threat to the present precarious balance we must have a policy, for it is arising before our eyes, together with the growth of resurgent nationalism in various parts of the world and different forms of quasi-Communism which arise among people with limited political experience.
It is the danger that this balance will be upset that seems to me to be the most real immediate danger to the peace at the present time. The nuclear giants and ourselves, with our great political experience, fully understand the implications of all-out nuclear war. The danger is that the balance may be upset by some unexpected action and some misunderstood objectives or threats, which after all were the immediate causes of setting loose the wars in 1914 and 1939. The basic causes were there for a long time; so are they present in the existing situation. What we must try to do is to avert the touching off of the fuse before we have had time to arrive at agreement. As Lord Strang so rightly said, this will 162 take a long time. They have taken a very long time already. It seems to me that it would be wise for the Government, in consultation with the United States of America and our other allies in N.A.T.O., to seek some method of arresting the spread of the use of nuclear weapons in other parts of the world.
I have discussed this matter, as everybody must have done, with many friends in other parts of the world. There are many Americans, in official circles and otherwise, who think that there is a prime danger to the present uneasy peace in the outbreak of a nuclear conflict somewhere in Europe or the Middle East. There are many Americans who believe that nuclear disarmament of the middle States and the re-deployment of our collective defence would be a wise step in order to buy time for the full negotiations to continue. If I read this proposal aright, there is nothing which would preclude the Government from discussing it with the Americans and with our other N.A.T.O. allies to see whether some joint solution of this problem along these lines would arrest the development of nuclear armaments in the other parts of the world, so as to get time for the big-scale objectives to fructify.
It seems to me that it would be most unwise to rule out this possibility from the many roads which we ought to seek to follow to attain this greatest of all objectives. If we should fail to get agreement, then at least we should have made an attempt. We should have taken the initiative, and I believe we should have made a gesture of lasting moral value. Particularly would its effects be significant among the peoples of the uncommitted areas—in India, in Africa and in large parts of Asia. What do these people say who ought to look to us, because of our experience, for political guidance and for political judgment?
When we talk of deterrents, when we strike moral attitudes about defending the things we believe in, are we not talking of the age of guns? Our weapons today for the defence of these things are not such that we can fire at the enemy, but will involve the indiscriminate destruction of millions of innocent and uncommitted people, enemy, friend and neutral alike. That is well recognised in India and in Africa, and we shall have no claim to the leadership of the rising 163 nationalities unless we can find some way out. But if we can buy time, if we can limit the field somewhat, if we can have fewer to consult and convert to a common view, then perhaps we may succeed; for surely in America and in Russia, as here, the appalling consequences of war to-day are fully realised. I doubt whether they would be so fully realised in North Africa, in Central Africa, in the Middle East and in some parts of Asia if we had to carry all of them with us before we could get agreement, and if each of them became objectives for membership of this or that great camp.
If we can make some progress along these lines, if this can be used as, in effect, another tool in effecting the design and building the edifice which the noble Earl the Leader of the House said was the essential one, then perhaps the discovery of atomic power may have at last convinced the States that war does not pay, that there can be no victory, and that there must be other methods of conducting man's affairs. So, in conclusion, I beg Her Majesty's Government to examine the wisdom of these proposals, not necessarily in the terms on the Paper but in the sense that we should seek to find a path which will make the great task easier of accomplishment and bring the day of its accomplishment nearer. In the meantime, anything that gives us more time is of great value.
§ 7.52 p.m.
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, it so happens that the noble Lord, Lord Wilmot of Selmeston, and I are both men of Sussex, and it seems particularly appropriate that we should both have had an opportunity of congratulating the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester on a most remarkable and wise speech which gave us these problems in their historical perspective. I am glad, too, to see, on the Cross Benches, the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, who also comes from the same diocese. I hope, therefore, that the right reverend Prelate will have felt that this was a very neighbourly debate.
Frankly, I was most disturbed when I first read on the Order Paper the Motion set down by the noble Lord, Lord Simon, of Wythenshawe. Even recognising the deep sincerity of all those who take the line which he has taken, it seems to me 164 that an offer to renounce nuclear weapons, even if only, as suggested by the noble Lord in his Motion, in connection with negotiations and not in a clearly unilateral fashion, must be unilateral, even if it is, in fact, part of those negotiations. I believe the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, was also thinking in those terms. Someone has to speak or make the offer first, and therefore in a sense it must be unilateral. It seems to me that if that offer is made it can be viewed by others, and by a possible enemy, only as a sign of weakness.
We should all welcome, of course, a system of world-wide inspection, if the Soviet Union would agree to its being unrestricted; but what hope is there of that? The noble Earl, Lord Russell, has already referred to the regrettable phobia of the Russians in this respect. No, the crying need to-day is not for nuclear disarmament, however desirable that may be, but for agreement between the principal Western Powers on a global nuclear policy. I feel I should add, in parenthesis, that this is not a matter which can very well be discussed by the North Atlantic Council within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Unfortunately, there are in that organisation too many smaller Powers which do not wish to be committed outside the N.A.T.O. area, let alone globally, or even, I might say, over Berlin.
Yet agreement by the principal Western Powers on co-ordinating nuclear strategy everywhere is as essential as agreement between them on how to combat subversive Communist activity throughout the world and particularly in Africa and Asia. I hope, therefore, that it is not impertinent for me to suggest in this debate that these twin problems—co-ordinating nuclear strategy and combating subversion—both global in scope, can be resolved only by a concert of those Western Powers with important interests outside the N.A.T.O. area—that is to say, probably the four Powers: the United States, Britain and France and, now, Germany whose economic interests in the Middle East and in India have so much increased, as I am sure the noble Earl the Leader of the House found on his tour.
Any proposals or decisions formulated by these four Powers could be communicated to the full N.A.T.O. Council, who 165 would be continuously informed and consulted, as, of course, would all members of the Commonwealth. But to let the North Atlantic Council handle this matter in the first place would almost certainly be abortive when one considers, for example, that the Scandinavian Powers were only very reluctantly persuaded to extend the area to Greece and Turkey. They would certainly not now feel it incumbent on them to extend their responsibilities to the overseas territories of the other N.A.T.O. Powers. I believe that the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, will appreciate the particular point which I make about N.A.T.O., and I hope your Lordships will not have considered it irrelevant, for I felt it required to be made.
I have made these remarks because I believe that an agreed global policy by a concert of these four Powers would do much more to stabilise freedom in the world and to ensure an effective balance of power or, as we prefer to say to-day, equality of strength, than would the renunciation of any particular weapons. Unfortunately such renunciation is, in any case, no more practical, in my view, although it may be much more desirable, than was the renunciation of gunpowder in the past. Gunpowder was considered to have vast destructive power. The power of the H-bomb is vastly greater. But how can a distinction be made between different forms of nuclear weapon?
I know that disarmament is a magic word to many, but I also know that the Soviet Union can exploit magic words to the full. Let us not, therefore, be deceived, but concentrate on consolidating and strengthening the free world rather than offer to weaken it. This said, I believe that a great future lies in multiplying our contacts with the Soviet Union in the cultural and economic fields, and that is why I am sure we all welcome the coming visit of the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister to Russia. I truly believe that in the lifetime of several of your Lordships a more complete understanding will be achieved between this country and the Soviet Union and that some of us may live to look back on the suspicions of to-day as ugly dreams of the past. While, therefore, pressing for the suspension of tests and the cut-off of fissile material, let us wish the Prime Minister Godspeed in 166 his forthcoming mission, and let us tell him in no uncertain terms that we believe in peace through strength.
It would be folly to renounce the Blue Streak or whatever it may carry, even if we recognise the peril which these weapons may bring; and the terrible picture which has been painted to us by the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, and also in other terms by the noble Lord, Lord Wise, brings home to us the desperate seriousness of the problem. But the best prospect, my Lords, of not using the nuclear deterrent is to keep it. I repeat, the best prospect of not using the nuclear deterrent is to keep it. As the noble Earl the Leader of the House has said, why should we leave this question solely to the United States?
The noble Lord, Lord Strang, in the most remarkable speech which I have ever heard him deliver, said that possession of the bomb has made us more careful; it has been a most important element in the stalemate. The noble Lord, Lord Strang, cited the various campaigns since the last great war—Korea, Indonesia, Suez—and showed how the nuclear deterrent had restrained those Powers from acting in a more drastic fashion. The noble Earl, Lord Russell, has spoken of what is right, of what is right for the whole of mankind, the brotherhood of man. I would say, my Lords, that the best way of preserving the freedom of mankind and the brotherhood of man is surely that those countries that permit that freedom should act in concert.
§ 8.3 p.m.
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, we are coming to the end of an important and interesting debate, a debate that has been notable for many speeches of high quality and deep sincerity. I think it is good that your Lordships' House has provided an opportunity for a minority view to be expressed freely and frankly on a matter of such public interest and vital importance. I congratulate my noble friend Lord Simon of Wythenshawe on having initiated such a fine discussion. He and his supporters have had a field day, and they have made the most of it. Whether they have succeeded in persuading Her Majesty's Government to modify the position stated by the noble Earl the Leader of the House remains to be seen. Speaking for myself, let me say frankly 167 that I did not find myself in agreement with the Motion when it was tabled, and I have not been converted to its support as a result of this debate. I do not know what my noble friend Lord Simon of Wythenshawe intends to do at the conclusion of the debate, but I hope that he and his supporters will be content to rest their case on the merits of their speeches and not press the issue to a Division.
I have only one purpose in speaking at this late stage and I will not take long over it. I have intervened only to restate the position of the official Opposition in this House and of the Labour Party in the country. It has, of course, already been done effectively and authoritatively by the noble Viscount my Leader early in the debate. He made it clear that we do not subscribe to the particular proposal made in the Motion before the House. But in view of the subsequent speeches from these Benches, I think it would be of interest to the House if I placed on record certain decisions relating to the problem of nuclear disarmament which were taken by the Labour Party Conference as recently as October of last year.
First let me say that we are in complete agreement with many of the general sentiments that have been expressed in the debate. We want to see all weapons of mass destruction outlawed everywhere. We want to see a complete shutdown of the production of nuclear weapons. We agree that an extension of the production and ownership of these weapons would increase the existent menace to humanity. We want to achieve a ban on tests. Indeed, we want to go further; we want comprehensive controlled disarmament over the whole field of armaments. But the Party for whom I speak does not advocate unilateral measures of disarmament. There is only one exception to that position, and it is that this country should suspend British nuclear tests, whatever other Governments may decide. On that, the Labour Party both in Parliament and in the country are, I believe, unanimous.
I come now to the relevant decisions to which I have referred. There are three of them. The first is that the Labour Party Annual Conference held in October rejected a proposal that the next Labour Government should cease unilaterally to 168 manufacture and test nuclear weapons and prohibit the use of nuclear weapons from British territory. Secondly, it rejected another proposal that the Parliamentary Labour Party should oppose in any circumstances the establishment of rocket bases in Britain. Thirdly, the Conference also rejected a resolution which, inter alia, called upon the next Labour Government within one year of taking office to invite all Powers to join in an organisation to eliminate, by agreement and inspection, the testing, manufacture and use of nuclear weapons, and without waiting for agreement by all Powers to implement this policy.
I recognise, of course, that the third proposal was not the same as that contained in the Motion before the House; but even on the latter the position of the Opposition was authoritatively defined on the same occasion. Dealing with the proposal, identical in its object with that set out in the Motion, from the standpoint of a Labour Government, my right honourable friend the Leader of the Opposition said—and here I quote:If it were really a choice, if we in Government knew for certain that only our continuing to manufacture these weapons stopped this agreement, which would finally freeze, as it were, the distribution of nuclear weapons to those two Powers "—that is, Russia and America—I know my colleagues and I would regard that as a very powerful argument, and I give that undertaking.My Lords, that is a carefully-worded and important statement, and, in so far as this debate is concerned, it cannot be prayed in aid of the Motion. On the contrary, it is a virtual rejection of the substance of the Motion. Mr. Gaitskell went on to ask:Is it not true, really, that all this argument points to the paramount object of getting all-round disarmament? Why cannot we concentrate on that? It is the right way, and it is the real way out.I think it is clear from these official statements that the policy of the Motion is not in harmony with the policy of the Party for which the Opposition in this House speaks.
Apart from the unilateral aspect of the proposal—and I must say that I regard the word "unilateral" as correct—I will mention only two practical considerations which ought not to be overlooked. They were slightly touched upon by my noble 169 Leader and by the noble Lord, Lord Strang, but they will bear brief repetition. I ask quite seriously: does any noble Lord really believe that the object of Lord Simon of Wythenshawe is realisable in present circumstances? Does anyone really believe that it is realistic to think that all nations, apart from Russia and the United States, would join a non-nuclear club? Does anyone believe that France and China would join such a club? France will soon have the bomb: she will soon afterwards begin to test it. Both France and Britain are members of N.A.T.O. What, I ask, would be the effect upon N.A.T.O. if these two nations were to renounce the manufacture, ownership and use of nuclear weapons in present circumstances? Would such unilateral action as is proposed be taken without prior consultation and agreement with N.A.T.O.? Then, further, would it bring this country greater security? This island would still be in the front line in the event of a major war, and the horrifying consequences of nuclear bombardment would still have to be reckoned with unless (and I repeat "unless") we excluded American bombers and bases from our soil—and perhaps even that would not protect us.
It is not convincing to argue that the inter-continental missile will render bombers and bases obsolete in the near future. That is contrary to the views of military experts. We do not know when the inter-continental ballistic missile will be in production on a sufficient scale by either side to become an effective military deterrent or weapon, but it is certain that for some years to come bombers and bases will continue to be needed as an essential part of the mechanism of deterrence. It seems to me, therefore, that the practical choice which we should be compelled sooner or later to make, if my noble friend's proposal could be implemented in present circumstances, would be either to shelter under the American deterrent, which would not save us from nuclear bombardment in the event of a major war, or else to weaken N.A.T.O. and endanger the Atlantic Alliance by refusing to allow the United Stales to continue to have bombers, bases and nuclear weapons stationed in Britain, I know that that is not my noble friend's intention, but I am convinced that, once we renounced nuclear weapons uni- 170 Laterally, demand would soon be made to make this country a nuclear-free area.
My noble friend Lord Wilmot of Selmeston referred to pooled security under N.A.T.O., and pointed to the need to avoid duplication of production of weapons, and to the financial benefits that would accrue to us from rationalising defence provision. I agree with him. That is a defence matter within the ambit of pooled security, on which the N.A.T.O. Powers have been too slow to act for too long. But the case for avoiding duplication and for rationalising production stands on its own merits in the field of defence, and I do not regard it as a good reason for adopting the policy of unilateral action which would involve serious if not fatal, danger to the future of N.A.T.O.: and I hope that I am right in understanding that my noble friend behind me agrees with me.
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, what chance do we think there is of getting China into a non-nuclear club? China is bent on becoming a world Power in every sense. The United States refuses to recognise the Peking Government, and is mainly responsible for keeping the Chinese People's Republic from occupying China's seat in the United Nations. Apart from other considerations, is that likely to encourage China, in present world conditions, to forgo striving to equip herself with the scientific instruments of modern military or defence power, which neither the United States nor Russia is to be asked to renounce and which, in any case, they will not renounce? These seem to me to be practical problems which strengthen my belief that the policy of the Motion is not practical politics in the world of to-day.
Like other noble Lords I have listened carefully to the moral arguments which have been developed in this debate. For me, the moral case against all weapons of mass destruction—and, indeed, against war itself—is unanswerable. But morality must be allied with practical political means, and it is on this point that I am unable to go along with the mover of the Motion and his supporters. To my way of thinking, as a first step, we should concentrate on getting an agreement to 171 end tests, and then to open the agreement for signature by any nation that is prepared to sign it. That, as I see it, would be a far more promising way of limiting the extension of the production of nuclear weapons, because it is extremely doubtful that a nation would be willing to apply the enormous resources needed for nuclear development and production if the end product could not be tested. I agree with the noble Earl the Leader of the House whose speech was such an outstanding contribution to our discussion, that if we could also get an agreement for the cutting off of fissile material we should be opening the way to wider disarmament agreements.
My Lords, the peoples of the world have been waiting for ten years for real progress along the road to all-round disarmament. A new and urgent approach is needed. I feel confident that an important first step will be taken at Geneva if agreement can be reached to end tests, and I have no doubt that such an agreement would help to allay present suspicions and distrust. I believe that the key to progress will be found only in growing mutual trust and confidence. That is the indispensable basis of the controlled, all-round disarmament which we seek and which I do not believe can be advanced by unilateral action. I hope that the Prime Minister's visit to Moscow will help to remove some of the mutual distrust and suspicion and that the world may then begin to move steadily forward towards real peace, genuine disarmament and freedom from the menace to humanity which we have been discussing to-day.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, before I make what I think your Lordships would like to be a short reply to this most interesting debate, I should like to congratulate the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester on his maiden speech and to express the hope that we shall often have the pleasure of hearing him again. The right reverend Prelate told us that in order that a war might be theologically justified two conditions must be fulfilled. It must have a grave and just cause and it must have a serious chance of success. I could not help feeling that these are two delusions which are often entertained by people who start wars, but it is too late in the 172 evening to start a theological discussion. I cannot go beyond what I think are the words of the 37th Article of the Prayer Book:It is lawful for Christian men, at the commandment of the Magistrate, to wear weapons, and to serve in the wars.I think that I have seen the play to which the right reverend Prelate referred, in which the inventor of the burning glass (or whatever it was), did obey the command of the magistrate, with the result that he successfully prevented a world war; but the magistrate was never let into the secret.
The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, who has just spoken, is one to whom your Lordships have often had the pleasure of listening in debates on foreign affairs, and I think that noble Lords will all agree that he always expresses the views of the Labour Party on foreign policy with great moderation and common sense. On the whole, since the end of the war we have had what is now called a bipartisan foreign policy, although last year there were perhaps what ought to be described as no more than a few differences of emphasis in application of foreign policy. These, I think, have not been mentioned by the noble Lord and therefore I shall not mention them either. I prefer to thank him for an excellent speech and to say that, at a grave period in history like this, it is of immense importance to a country in our position that two great Parties, both of whom from time to time may be called to office, should have foreign policies which are substantially in agreement in principle and which therefore will inspire confidence and belief in continuity among our Allies.
As for the movers and supporters of this Motion, we certainly do not want to quarrel with them either. I would prefer to respond to the amiable frankness of the noble Lord, Lord Wilmot of Selmeston, who told us a few minutes ago, with what I thought was most disarming candour, that he and his friends had put down this Motion in what he described as a kind of amateur way—implying, I suppose, that they did not think it right to waste too much of their valuable time in considering what the practical consequences would be if the Motion were to be accepted by Her Majesty's Government. But I think, in fact I am sure, that the proposition in 173 the minds of the noble Lords who have sponsored this Motion is the purpose which we all have—that is, to find some third alternative between the two alternatives of permanent brinkmanship, on the one hand, and submission to Communist slavery on the other. None of your Lordships, I think, has advocated the course of surrender, although it is bound to have attractions to some people in the country, for reasons which we have not time to go into now.
It has always been a matter of philosophical discussion whether it is better to be a well-fed contented hog than a starving, discontented philosopher. We might also discuss for a long time, without coming to any conclusion, whether it is better to be a slave or a cinder. But I think that from the point of view of people who have the responsibility of trying to stop war, the practical point, whatever the philosophical arguments may he, is that there are, and always will be, enough people in the free world who will insist upon fighting and the other people who would surrender will not escape. Therefore it is an impracticable solution.
We believe—and the Party opposite also believes, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has put it far better than I could—that the right solution is disarmament by agreement, and collective security under a world system which commands the confidence and assent of all nations. But it is no use pretending that that can be achieved quickly. It is a goal which will demand the utmost patience and perseverance. The noble Lords who have supported this Motion have made a suggestion which probably has the same goal in the long run. It may be an attempt to take a short cut, to get there by a quicker route. And if I may say briefly why I think it is a mistaken route, I cannot I think do so better than by replying to the question which was asked me by the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, about Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. The noble Earl wanted to know exactly the circumstances in which the United States were bound to come to our aid. I think that your Lordships are familiar with the clause of the Treaty and that I need not therefore read it.
The exact degree of force to be used, of course, is not defined: it must depend on the circumstances. But the N.A.T.O. 174 Conference has agreed that in the event of a major attack by Russia nuclear power would be used by our Ally in our defence. It cannot have escaped your Lordships' attention that world belief in the likelihood of nuclear retaliation is affected to a certain extent by the stalemate. If one giant has the preponderance over the other, then it is easy to believe that the one who has preponderance will come to the aid of its Allies because it can obliterate the aggressor, while the damage which the aggressor can inflict upon the Power which takes this action may not be fatal. But if the nuclear power of both giants increases to such an extent that each can practically obliterate the other in a few days, then their allies, and perhaps their enemies, start to think about it and to wonder about what is called the credibility of the deterrent.
Supposing Russia were to make an attack on France, the French might say: "We wonder whether, in order to save us from extinction, the United States is going voluntarily to submit itself to extinction. The fact that Russia will be extinguished, too, would, of course, prevent any more aggression from being committed, but will that nation really make that sacrifice in order to save us? Would it not be safer if we, the French, had a nuclear deterrent ourselves, just in case the United States, by pressure of public opinion, might not be willing to suffer the obliteration of nuclear war in fulfilment of its obligations? Of course we cannot achieve such enormous preponderance of atomic power as the United States but we can achieve enough." As Mr. Kennan said last year: "Enough is all you want" If you have enough nuclear power to inflict terrible damage on the cities and industries of Russia that is enough to deter her from attacking you, or common sense would tell you that this is so. You do not need completely overwhelming power, sufficient to obliterate the whole vast area of Russia. I do not see how we can object to the French, the Germans or any other nation taking that view, so long as there is no international control.
The noble Lord, Lord Strang, went so far as to say that if a large number of nations had nuclear weapons it might even make peace more secure than it is now. I do not mean to say that the 175 Government have any intention of encouraging other countries to develop nuclear weapons, but that certainly is a possibility. If you can imagine a state of society in which every tight between two men inevitably and immediately resulted in the death of both of them, that would have a considerable effect on our criminal statistics. And I think that might perhaps also be applied to international crime.
I would put these two propositions to the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, and to your Lordships: first, that you can never have world nuclear disarmament unless Russia and America both participate; and secondly, you cannot have nuclear disarmament without general disarmament—that is to say, disarmament in conventional as well as in nuclear weapons. I think that perhaps some of your Lordships in this debate may have been a little attracted by the fallacy that it may be possible to establish a system of world society in which conventional wars are still allowed but nuclear wars are ruled out. The Government cannot agree with that. I am not going to read it, because the hour is too late, but some of your Lordships have referred to, and even asked me to say something about, what is known as the Pugwash Conference between the scientists of the United States, Russia, Great Britain and other countries, which started in Nova Scotia and ended up at Kitzbuhl last year. This is the conclusion which the conference strongly and emphatically bring out in their report: that even if nuclear weapons were abolished, then when major war broke out, within a year the nuclear weapons would be made again. It is impossible, in the ages which lie ahead, to separate nuclear from conventional war.
The noble Earl, Lord Russell, did not fall into any fallacy of this kind. He said plainly that in future all wars will be nuclear, and that the only solution is that we must ban every kind of war. With that view we agree. The noble Earl also said that the obstacle to a system of international peace was the Russian phobia about inspection. With that we agree also. The noble Earl told us that we must have a different method and a different approach if we want to solve this problem. But he did not tell us what his different method and different 176 approach were going to be, apart from that contained in the actual terms of the Motion, which I think is, if I may say so with respect, perhaps a little jejune and unpractical. The noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, said that, after all, if it fails you have not lost anything. I daresay. But if it succeeds you have. The situation would be a great deal worse if you succeeded. And even if you failed I do not agree that you would not have lost anything, because I think the result of the British Government making these proposals to other Governments would have a serious effect in diminishing the confidence of our Allies and our friends in the resolution with which we intend to pursue our policy of trying to preserve peace.
There are only two methods which we can pursue, so far as I can see. One is negative and the other is positive. The negative method is never to allow Russia to believe that she is going to have a preponderance in nuclear power. The Communist system is an aggressive system, and it would not be realistic or practical to pretend that it is anything else. It is a system which aims at the subversion of free societies all over the world and the absorption of the world into the Communist system. We hope that that will modify and change one day. But up to now there has been no sign in the acts of the Russian Government, or in Russian policy, that any change has taken place; and if we were to relax for one moment we should merely encourage the diplomacy of Russia in the course which they have inexorably pursued since 1945, of trying to split the free countries one from another and throw them into confusion, thereby making their destruction and disintegration all the more easy.
The other course which we must pursue is the positive one of which I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, speak. That again will take a long time, but it is not impossible. We must try to break down the cultural and intellectual barriers of the Iron Curtain. As the Foreign Secretary said in a speech in Scotland not long ago, what we want to do is not just to have controlled visits, some of which are probably for the purpose of propaganda sponsored by one Government or another; we want to have real freedom of intercourse between the leaders of education, industry and science, 177 and between ordinary travellers and tourists; we want censorship to be abolished; we want the Russian people and our own equally to be able to read each other's literature, to visit each other and to talk to each other. It has been for fifty years a religious article of the Communist faith that war between Communism and capitalism is inevitable. Now if the people of Russia are all brought up and educated in that doctrine, and if that doctrine continues indefinitely, then some day war will become inevitable. But if we can break down these barriers against friendship which now seem so insuperable, if we can establish better contact with the Russian people, there is no reason why misunderstanding should not be removed, because the Russian people are as amiable and as capable of love as any other people in the world.
Some of your Lordships have probably seen the few lines, published this morning, by the Russian poet, Boris Pasternak, who lately was prevented by some of his countrymen from accepting the Nobel literature prize and who has since been living under the fear of exile, against which he has appealed. We are all glad that so far his appeal has been successful. He writes:I am lost, like a beast in an enclosureSomewhere there are people, freedom and lightBehind me is the noise of pursuitAnd there is no way out.Dark forest by the shore of the lakeStump of fallen fir treeHere I am, cut off from everythingWhatever shall be is the same to me.But what wicked thing have I done?I, the 'murderer', and the 'villain'I, who force the whole world to cryOver the beauty of my landI am near my graveBut I believe the time will comeWhen the spirit of good will conquerWickedness and infamy.178 That is the voice of one Russian who loves his country, who wants to be loyal to its present Government, and who does not believe that war between capitalism and Communism is inevitable. If more of his countrymen could be persuaded to believe as much as that, then there would be a real hope of world peace.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ LORD SIMON OF WYTHENSHAWE
My Lords, I must resist the almost overwhelming temptation to reply to some of the very provocative things—that is, provocative to me—that have been said, on both sides of the House, especially perhaps in the last two speeches. I will only thank the House and the twenty speakers we have had, who between them have covered almost every conceivable angle from almost every conceivable point of view. If I may say so, the debate has fully met my hopes that it would do a great deal to clear up many of these important questions. With respect, I would say that I do not think it could have been more stimulating or brought out more facts and more ideas, often contradicting one another. But I regard it only as the beginning of what will be a great debate in the country and while I agree with what the two Front Bench speakers have said, that it is a good thing that they agree with one another and that we have a bipartisan policy, I hope that before long their bipartisan policy will be the one in my Motion and not the one they have at present. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before nine o'clock.