HL Deb 04 May 1959 vol 216 cc4-64

2.42 p.m.

LORD HENDERSON rose to call attention to the international situation; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Motion which I rise to move is a general one calling attention to the international situation. As things have developed, the date of our debate is perhaps not well chosen, in view of the fact that the Foreign Ministers' Conference will begin in a few days. This obviously imposes some limitation in discussing matters that would be dealt with there since, while Western policy and tactics have already been agreed, they are still wrapped in official silence. However, speakers will be able to range over the whole field of foreign affairs. I shall direct my remarks to three areas of concern, Berlin and Germany, the Middle East, and Tibet. I shall also have a few observations to make about the Free Trade Area.

It is almost six months since Mr. Khrushchev launched his brusque initiative on Berlin. As a result, the Foreign Ministers will meet at Geneva next week. It will be the first Foreign Ministers' conference on Germany for more than three years. It is doubtful whether it would be taking place now but for Mr. Khrushchev's speech on November17. The West did not appear to be planning a diplomatic initiative of their own, and they did not seem enthusiastic about another Summit Conference. There seemed to be a feeling that the opposing positions of East and West were so fixed that there was little early prospect of getting any agreement that would open the way to effective progress being started. We all know that the problem of Berlin cannot be divorced from the problem of German reunification and that the latter is an integral part of the problem of European security. The problem of security itself is wrapped up in a complex of stresses and pressures between East and West, and these have been successfully contained within the present uneasy European equilibrium only because mutual possession of the nuclear deterrent has compelled both sides to recognise that they have a common need and duty to prevent another war.

My Lords, we live too near to the brink as things are. This is too precarious a situation to be left at the mercy of continued cold war. The Prime Minister was right in seeking to bring a policy of negotiation right to the fore. There is no other way out of Europe's dangerous tensions and troubles. And now that we are on the eve of the first stage of the Foreign Ministers' meeting I hope Her Majesty's Government will not weaken in their readiness to go on to a Summit Conference. I expressed the view in the last international debate we held in your Lordships' House that if business is to be done with Mr. Khrushchev the best way to do it is face to face. We on these Benches are convinced that a supreme effort at the highest level is called for. In taking part in such an effort the Prime Minister can count on the wholehearted backing of all Parties and of the nation.

Each side has announced that it will enter the Geneva Conference with its position confirmed by its Allies. That, of course, is to be expected. The West, so it would appear, have agreed on a so-called "package" plan which links a solution for Berlin and progress towards German reunification with proposals for European security. The Warsaw Pact meeting of Foreign Ministers considered that attempts to link the urgent problems of Germany and West Berlin with other problems such as the reunification of Germany would not be conducive to success at Geneva. They considered that every one of those problems was complicated in itself, and that "whoever ties them into a knot" thwarted agreement on the German treaty, West Berlin and European security. They thus virtually rejected a package deal.

But, of course, these statements are little more than trailers disclosing the preliminary position. Serious negotiation will have to be developed from that first stage. But it seems to me that too much should not be expected from the Geneva meeting. It is not likely to do more than provide each side with an opportunity to probe the mind and test the intentions of the other. It is but a useful preliminary to real negotiation and hard bargaining at the Summit. That will be the occasion when the unity of the West will be tested, and we must all hope that in the meantime the present signs that harmony in the West is not all that it should be will have disappeared altogether.

We welcome the fact that the British and American view has prevailed on seeking reunification through a phased programme in which free elections would come at the end and not at the beginning. The experience of recent years has made it abundantly clear that it has become quite futile to go on proposing free elections as a first step. To unite the two parts of Germany, with their differing political and economic systems, including their currency and trade arrangements, is bound to be a formidable and complicated task, and even with the goodwill and encouragement of the Four Powers, the Germans could not achieve it except through stage to stage advances over a long period. But if one obstacle is to be removed, another is to remain. I havesaid repeatedly, and I say it again to-day, that I do not believe that Soviet Russia will ever agree that a reunited Germany shall have the right to be a member of N.A.T.O. This may be largely an academic point at the moment, because there is a long way to go before the two German States can be integrated.

In the meantime, however, West German rearmament under N.A.T.O. is rekindling among Germany's neighbours the old fears of German military power, and these fears will be intensified when West German military contingents, now being trained in the use of nuclear weapons, are equipped with those weapons. The Western Allies are, we understand, prepared to discuss measures for European security, such as the inspection and control of armed forces on either side of the dividing line between East and West. That would provide a first step, and an important first step, in the right direction, but it falls far short of what we on these Benches have urged—namely, measures of controlled and inspected disarmament covering a zone in central Europe comprising the two German States, Poland and Czechoslovakia. It also excludes a nuclear-free area.

So long as each side continues to believe that the other has aggressive intentions, which both deny, the mutual confidence that is necessary to bring about an easing of tensions and the development of co-operation for European peace will be lacking and the status quo will steadily harden, with the longterm consequences that German reunification will not be achieved, nor will the liberation and freedom of the captive nations be attained. That is a most discouraging prospect.

A second obstacle that impedes progress towards German reunification is the fear among Germany's neighbours of future German irredentism. General de Gaulle has been alone among the Western leaders in declaring that the reunification of the two sections into a single Germany, which would be entirely free, seems to be the normal destiny of the German people, provided they do not call into question her present frontiers on the West, East, North and South. Federal Germany could maze a definite contribution to the easing of tensions if her Government were to announce that they would be prepared to give such an undertaking in a German Peace Treaty. To remove doubts about the Oder-Neisse frontier would have a profound effect in Poland. To remove doubts about the Sudetenland would set at ease fears and suspicions in Czechoslovakia, whose people no doubt haveread the report which I saw a few days ago that an organisation has been set up in West Germany renewing the Hitler claim to the Sudetenland. The more neighbouring countries are conditioned by the fear ofGerman irredentism at some future time, the less likely are they to respond favourably to proposals for German reunification.

Of course, there might have to be frontier rectifications by an International Commission; but that is no reason for leaving the permanency of Germany's present frontiers in doubt. I hope Her Majesty'sGovernment will not hesitate to indicate its support of General de Gaulle's statement. Soviet Russia, for her part, too, has advanced frustrating and unacceptable demands about German reunion. But if bothsides continue to stand pat broadly on their old positions and are not prepared to make reciprocal concessions, it is extremely unlikelythat any basis of agreement will be found on this issue at the Geneva Conference; and any hope of progress will have to be pinned on the Summit Conference.

My Lords, the problem of West Berlin has a special urgency of itsown. The West cannot prevent Mr. Khrushchev from following the course he indicated on November 17; but there is no reason why the West should be pushed into complying with Mr. Khrushchev's wishes. We canstand firm both for our own rights and for the rights of the people of West Berlin. That is just what the Western Allies intend to do—they are determined to maintain the freedom of the people of West Berlin and the rights and obligations there of the Allied Powers.On this, as the Government are fully aware, there is complete unanimity both in Parliament and in the country. It is the right and sensible course that we should be prepared, as the Foreign Secretary has stated, to negotiate a new agreement that would implement the right to free access and clear up present misunderstandings. Such an agreement would not interfere with or supplant but would derive from and maintain the rights and responsibilities which the war-time Allies hold from the unconditional surrender of Hitler Germany.

If Soviet Russia does in fact hand over her rights to be exercised by East Germany, there is no reason why the Western Allies should not deal with the East Germans as the agents of the Soviet Government. And, despite French reluctance, there should be no hesitation in discussing to what extent and in what manner the United Nations can play a helpful rôle in the new situation. Mr. Hammarskjoeld has not ruled this out, though he has made it clear that it would have to be a limited rôle. But if there is agreement in principle—and the Russians have not excluded such a development — there should be no difficulty in arranging the sort of United Nations services that can properly be rendered. The Secretary-General also suggested that the Summit Conference should be held within the framework of the United Nations. That is a matter to be decided by the Geneva meeting of Foreign Ministers. I hope,however, that the Foreign Minister is already in consultation with his opposite numbers on this suggestion, and that he will strongly press acceptance of it.

There is one further suggestion I would make for consideration bythe Western Allies. The twenty-two West Berlin representatives in the Federal Parliament attend only in a consultative capacity. No suchrestriction applies to East Berlin representatives in the East German Parliament. This discriminatory restriction, which has operated now for nearly ten years, should be reviewed and removed. I can see novalid reason why the Parliamentary links between West Berlin and Federal Germany should be in any way inferior to those between East Berlin and East Germany. This is not a Four-Power matter: it is a matter for which the three Western Allies were responsible. They can rectify it, and I hope that they will do so.

In ending this part of my speech I would strongly urge upon Her Majesty's Government the importance of not allowing the results of the Geneva Meeting to decide whether there is to be a Summit Meeting. The right honourable gentlemen the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary said on their return from Moscow, that they were convinced that "Mr. Khrushchev genuinely wants to negotiate." But Mr. Gromyko is not Mr. Khrushchev. He does not decide; he works to instructions. The vital thing is to meet the Soviet Prime Minister. He is the man who decides. The West should go to the Summit Meeting genuinely prepared to negotiate and ready to get to grips with Mr. Khrushchev. They should put to the test there whether Mr. Khrushchev still "genuinely wants to negotiate."

My Lords, if Europe is still at a deadlock, so is the Middle East. Discord, strife and threats remain the staple fare. Arab union seems hardly possible in any workable form. Nasser and Kassim are dangerously at loggerheads, while Russia, from a distance, plays her intrigues through the Iraqi Communists. Soviet Russia has reason to be satisfied with the way things have gone, except in Iran, against whom a campaign of threats and warnings is being conducted. Information from Iraq indicates that the Iraqi Communists are playing the typical crafty game of building up a variety of "fronts" under their direction, ready for manipulation when conditions are favourable. Their activities follow the familiar pattern, including a demand for seats in the Cabinet. So far they have not been able to achieve this, but if they do we may be sure that theywill try to repeat what happened in Czechoslovakia and soon take full charge of the Government.

Kassim is said to be struggling hard to keep Iraq independent, despite being faced with inter-Arab rivalry and subversion, and despite increased Russian efforts at political, military and economic penetration. Some informed observers believe that Kassim is pursuing a neutralist course between East and West, holding out against both theUnited Arab Republic and Communist domination. It is considered that in these circumstances the pressure exerted by Nasser against Kassim, through a relentless propaganda war and increasing subversive activities inside Iraq and along the Syrian-Iraqi frontier, plays into the hands of the Communists in Iraq by enabling them to assume the rôle of true Iraqi and anti-Nasser nationalists and loyal followers of Kassim.

There are urgings from some quarters that this country should compose its quarrel with Nasser, establish friendly relations with him and adopt a more understanding attitude towards his aims. No doubt Nasser would welcome such a step, but has the danger he presents to the Middle East been changed by the latest anti-Communist position adopted by him? Russia gained a foothold in the Middle East, and the Communist threat in that region has been on the increase since 1955, when Nasser started to conclude agreements with the Soviet countriesfor deliveries of arms, and for military and economic aid. It is, I believe, true that the United Arab Republic Army to-day is totally dependent on Russian supplies and assistance. A large number of its officers are being trained in Russia, and increased numbers of Sovietexperts continue to arrive in Egypt. Moreover, I understand that the anti-West propaganda of Cairo Radio, beamed to the Persian Gulf and to East and North Africa, is as vicious as ever.

The question we have to ask ourselves, my Lords, is: would Nasser be a trustworthy friend? Will he respect the independence of Arab States that do not want to be swallowed up in his Arab Empire project? Will he adopt a policy of peaceful co-existence towards Jordan, the Lebanon, Saudi-Arabia, Kuwait, the Sudan, and others? Or would hetreat them as he is treating Iraq? With regard to Iraq the question is not one of support for Kassim but of support for Iraq's independence. One of the factors increasing the chance of this independence is the Western market for Iraqi oil, upon which Iraq depends more than does the West.

There are, it seems to me, two principles which should govern anyendeavour to bring greater stability in the Middle East. The first is the maintenance of the territorial integrity and the political independence of the existing countries in that area. There should be noforcible or manipulated changes. The second is that emphasis should be placed on constructive measures of development and of raising living standards, and on the need for regional co-operation as against concepts of "political unity" under an internal or external domination. I would make one other point. So long as the prevailing conditions of insecurity continue in this area, Israel—which is theone stable democratic country—should be enabled to assure herself that, should events bring about a renewed attempt to kindle an Arab-Israel conflict as a means in the struggle for power in the Middle East, she will not be denied the economic and military strength to deter any aggression. It has to be remembered that Nasser insiststhat a state of war still exists between the United Arab Republic and Israel.

I believe that all parts of the House will be united in condemning Communist China's cruel behaviour in Tibet. It is not dissimilar to that practised by Soviet Russia in Hungary in 1956. It would be nonsense to suggest that the repeated protests of the United Nations, though ignored at the time, have had no effect. If they had had no effect we should not be talking about a Summit Conference within a few months. I do not think it can be doubted that world public opinion helped to bring about different Russian methods during the past two years. Nor will Communist China be immune from the effects of world public opinion, especially Asian public opinion. it is encouraging to find that so many voices in Asia have been raised in protest. China was both surprised and incensed at the dignified reception accorded to the Dalai Lama and at the spontaneous reactions of the Indian Parliament. This is shown by the abuse and accusations poured out on India and her leaders by the National People's Congress at Peking, and by the Chinese Press and radio.

In a forthright statement in the Indian Parliament a week ago theIndian Prime Minister rebutted every Chinese charge. He declared that the Dalai Lama is not under any sort of duress; and the Panchen Lama was invited to come and see for himself. He rejected the even stranger allegation about so-called Indian expansionists and made it clear that India had no political or ulterior ambitions in Tibet. He might have added, but refrained from doing so, that he had already called the Peking Government's attention to their official maps whichshowed the Border States and Protectorates of India as part of the Chinese Republic; and he could have reminded the Chinese Communist leaders that territorial expansion by map was Hitler's technique.

Mr. Nehru also said that the Khamba revolt gradually spread and made a powerful impression on the minds of large numbers of the Tibetan people. Fears about their future gripped them, and a nationalist surge swayed their feelings. And finally, he said that the Chinese Communists were using the language of the cold war regardless of truth and propriety. The attempt to force Communism on the Tibetans by armed repression has brought tragedy to Tibet, and if the Chinese leaders imagined they could intimidate Mr. Nehru and the Parliament of India into silence in the name of the Bandung five guiding principles, they have been disillusioned.

My Lords, whether Asian indignation and protest that a small defenceless Asian people should have been so brutally treated by a greatAsian Power will lead China to change her course from violence and coercion to one of restoring the right of autonomy and non-interference with her internal life, which was guaranteed in the Treaty of 1951, has yet to be seen. I cannot refrain from expressing regret that China is relieved of the obligation to attend the United Nations, where she would undoubtedly have come face to face with powerful criticism from other nations and been brought up against the censureof the Assembly. This is another example of the folly of keeping Communist China outside the comity of nations.

There is another practical point. Mr. Nehru has said that some thousands of Tibetans have been given refuge in India. The numbers areincreasing. It would indeed have been a tragedy if India's frontiershad been closed against those seeking asylum. But, my Lords, is it right that India, because she is a neighbouring country, should be left to bear the whole cost of maintaining and caring for these thousands of unfortunate refugees? We well remember the tragic events thatled to the flood of Hungarian refugees into Austria, and the way in which many countries, including our own, rallied to assist Austria in her relief efforts. I hope that Her Majesty's Governrnent are already inquiring of Mr. Nehru whether he would welcome relief assistance from outside, to be channelled through the appropriate United Nations relief organisation. If such assistance would be welcomed, I trust that Her Majesty's Government will act speedily to make a contribution in the name of the British people.

My last point, my Lords, is a matter which concerns this country and many of our West European friends. In our last international debate there was some discussion of the deadlock in the negotiations for a Free Trade Area. The deadlock continues. The failure of the negotiations is still exciting comments and suggestions all over WesternEurope and, to some extent, in the Commonwealth as well. Some of thefears which are being expressed about the consequences of the failure may be exaggerated; but in general most opinion remains firm thatsome such arrangement as the Free Trade Area will eventually be necessary. The most recent indication of this opinion is a resolution passed by the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe on April 27 calling upon its members' Governments to make a "declaration of intent" to form an economic association guaranteeing free trade in Europe.

The Common Market countries—that is, the six who signed—seem to have a genuine fear that the real object of the advocates of the Free Trade Area is to undermine, and eventually destroy, the political gains in the Common Market treaty. None of us believes that to be true. What is true is that the Economic Community is at present still a very tender plant. This is shown by the recent abortive sharp debate over the surplus of coal in the Coal and Steel Community, which is now an element in the Common Market rather than a separate entity. In a speech at the European Assembly on the resolutionto which I have referred, Mr. Maudling warned European Parliamentarians that if the present deadlock in the Free Trade Area negotiationscontinued, the eleven non-Common Market countries would have to seekother means to expand their trade. The need for some such action in those circumstances is obvious. But was there also a threat implied in the warning, that if we cannot have the Free Trade Area we shall have to join together with the other ten to fight Ithe Common Market? If that is what was meant, it is unsatisfactory, both as a method of negotiation and as a method of operation, since it would ensure the very split that we all wish to see avoided.

My Lords, I suggest that the only approach to the problem is to press on patiently with negotiations, seeking to overcome the fears of the Common Market countries as their confidence grows, and yet notallowing sufficient time for the Community to develop to such a pitch that it ceases to care about a Free Trade Area. There should be some point of time in the near future when the opportunity will be ripe. Meanwhile, I suggest that arrangements to protect our trade should be regarded as temporary, and that agreements should be made on the basis that they may be set aside when it becomes possible to establish a larger association in Europe. We need to keep constantly in our minds the fact that trade and tariff policy disagreements can easily produce political strains and differences; and these are results which all members and non-members of the Community should work to avoid. I begto move for Papers.

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

3.22 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, began by saying that he did not think that this was a very good time for a foreign affairs debate. But the noble Lord has had as much experience as I have, and he knows that there never has been a good time for a Parliamentary debate on foreign affairs—and there never will be. But the noble Lord has put down a Motion in wide terms; and I think that the House will agree that this foreign affairs debate will be most valuable if it departs from the accepted pattern of foreign affairs debates, in that the main value will come from the contribution which your Lordships make, in giving to the Foreign Secretary pointswhich may be valuable to him when he goes to the Conference shortly with the Americans and the French and the Russians; beginning with a Foreign Ministers' meeting and, as we hope, ending up with what isknown as a Summit Conference.

My Lords, such meetings, either at the Foreign Secretary level orat the level of Prime Ministers, can lead only to renewed frustration unless all the participants at such a meeting are willing to enterit with a genuine desire to negotiate. We have endured an arms race,the cost of which has been astronomic, and we have been through manyyears of cold war, which has been relentless and has led to tension,distrust and instability. It may be that we shall still have to endure these things, but if there is a desire on the part of the Russian Government to interpret "co-existence" in a more human, a more tolerant, and a more constructive way, then certainly there is an obligation on those who believe in international co-operation, as we do in the Atlantic Alliance, and as we do among the Commonwealth of Nations, to explore every road which might lead to better relations between East and West.

I therefore immediately give to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, the assurance that, so far as the United Kingdom Government are concerned—and I am sure this is also true of our Allies—we go into these negotiations determined to make them real. We believe that the meetings will be most fruitful if they are held in private, and if the Foreign Ministers resist the temptation to issue more than the most general communiqué about their agreement. Therefore, the House will, I am sure, understand if I do not to-day attempt to add anything of substance to what the Foreign Ministers themselves have to say.

My Lords, it is true, as the noble Lord reminded us, that this series of meetings (as we hope it will be) which is about to begin stemmed from an ultimatum, or what seemed to be an ultimatum, over the future of Berlin which was delivered by Mr. Khrushchev in November. But since those shock tactics there have been a number of visits to Russia—some official, some private, some perhaps not so private—and there is about to be (and the Russians desire this) a trade mission from this country to see whether we can extend trade between our two countries. These visits and contacts, especially the visit of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, have suggested that Russia may be willing to modify her original attitude to the question of Berlin and to consider, in conference, the future of Germany and the security of Europe. We in this country believe that, without sacrificing any of our essential freedoms or principles, and without impairing the effective structure of the N.A.T.O. Alliance, and without exposing Russia to any of the fears which she may have far her own security, at this time of day there should be opportunities for constructive agreements which would react to the advantage both of the East and of the West.

Agreement will not be easy to fashion. It is clear, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, himself pointed out, that political and military considerations are inextricably interwoven and intertwined. For instance, any schemes which have been canvassed for the limitation of armaments, or for the limitation of forces in Germany, must inevitably be influenced by the progress which can be foreseen by the negotiators towards the reunification of the country itself.

The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, naturally gave a great deal of his attention to the future of Berlin; and, if I may say so, I found his approach almost identical with that which we on this side of the House hold. We are all convinced that there is no future for Berlin as a "free city"; that it would simply be mopped up into the Communist empire; and that that would be a loss to the free world of 2½ million free people and an inroad into European security which could be fatal. We are convinced, too, that, whether or not the Russians decide to leave the city, our right to be there, and the right of our Allies to be there, is unchallengeable; and that with the juridical right to be in Berlin there must go the right of access.

So far as the problems of access are concerned, we shall not go into the conference in an inflexible mood. There is much to be said, if the Russians insist on their withdrawal, for devising a new agreement; or—and I listened very carefully to the words which the noble Lord himself used in this matter; I paraphrase them, but I think I have the sense of them—of deriving from the old arrangements, on which our rights and our presence rest, a new agreement which would be up to date and clear for all to see and for all to understand. There would, we believe, be a great deal of value in that if it could be achieved.

My Lords, there is one other aspect of the Berlin situation which I should like to mention. If we are to achieve greater international harmony, and if over the years ahead we are to pursue more actively the prizes which come, or could come, with controlled disarmament, then, whenever opportunity affords, the possibility should be discussed of a United Nations contribution. Obviously, in the context of Berlin and Germany it is inevitable that negotiations must be conducted by the Powers immediately concerned and agreements must be concluded by those Powers. But if we look further, if we wish to see more co-operative living, and if, above all, we want to see an advance towards collective security, then I have no doubt that when agreements are reached they will be more solid and lasting if they contain arrangements by which the United Nations can play an appropriate part.

Closely associated with Berlin and the future of Germany is the possibility of action to reduce the dangers of a military clash between the countries of the Warsaw Pact and the N.A.T.O. Alliance. Although the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, did not devote much of his speech to this to-day, nevertheless the thoughts were there. When we are talking of these matters, I feel that it is very necessary to be precise in definition, because the careless and inaccurate use of wordsmay well lead to misunderstanding among Allies and mislead the parties in negotiations about the intentions of the West.

There are two main ideas which have been canvassed and which hold the field, but between which it is vital to distinguish. The first is the concept of disengagement. If words mean anything, disengagement must imply withdrawal of forces, and surely it must mean also that there will be a no-man's-land between East and West, an area in which there would be no forces either of the Warsaw Pact or of the N.A.T.O. Alliance. From what I have heard them say in previous debates,I do not believe that either the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, or the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, is any more attracted by the idea of a vacuum between forces that have withdrawn than are my colleagues and I. N.A.T.O. has little hinterland available for depth in defence; the Warsaw Pact countries have all they need or all they could possibly use. There is a real danger that disengagement, in the accurate sense of the word, would offend against one of the principles on which think we shall all agree: that the security provided by N.A.T.O. must not be impaired.

If that is one idea which is put forward, there is an alternativewhich may hold promise of better results—that is, the limitation and inspection of arms and of forces in areas to be agreed. Thatconcept is very different from the concept of disengagement, as I understand it. In this concept, the balance of strength is retained, but the scale is less and the burden can be reduced. There are those who hold the view that in these days of inter-continental missiles, to limit ground forces and arms is of no real significance. That is arguable in logic, but I am by no means sure that it is right; because it seems to me that if we could be successful in finding an agreed area in which limitation and inspection proved possible and satisfactory, then we might gain confidence; which would lead us further on the road to general and controlled disarmament. Therefore we feel that there is ground to be explored here, and it might well be of great advantage to both East and West to find a practical arrangement for experiments in limitation of arms and forces and in inspection.

I do not think I have much to say to-day on the question of the reunification of Germany. I believe that we all feel that it must come; that when it comes it must come in freedom, and that this implies that at some stage there must be free elections to decide the willof the German people. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, asked a question about the Oder-Neisse line and said that there are certain peoplein Germany who are urging the recovery of the territory which Germany lost in the war. No doubt that is so. But it is explicitly laid down in the final Protocol of the Potsdam Convention of 1945 that the territories east of the Oder-Neisse line should be under Polish administration and that their ultimate fate should be decided in a Peace Treaty. The German attitude is the same as that of the Western Powers, and they have subscribed, in paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Bonn Convention on the relations between the three Powers and the Federal Republic, to the statement that the final determination of the boundaries of Germany must await a peace settlement. The Federal Government have further made statements, in 1956 and in 1957, saying unequivocally that the frontier question can be solved only by way of negotiation and without any threat of the use of force. This remains their position. Although, as the noble Lord says, there are people who wish to recover the territories which Germany lost in war, it is the attitude of the Federal Government themselves which matters.


My Lords, may I be allowed to interrupt the noble Earl? I am grateful to him for giving this information. Of course, I was aware of that. The point that I was trying to make is that these statements suggest that it may be possible to change the frontiers at the Peace Treaty. I think that that would be changing the basis upon which the frontiers were laid down at the end of the war. I can express only a personal view about this matter, but the understanding I have was that the finalisation of the frontiers, subject to rectifications, was a matter for a Peace Treaty. It is the refusal to confirm or declare that position which is creating so much doubt, suspicion and fear in the other countries concerned.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for making that clear. I would ask my noble friend Lord Lansdowne to make any elaboration required when he winds up, but I thought that I should repeat the informacation I have given to the noble Lord and the House. I hope that I have said enough on the future of Berlin, and on the possibility of areas of limitation and inspection on the Continent of Europe, to convince your Lordships that we do not intend to enter these talks in a negative way. On past form, if it cameto a contest between the Russians and ourselves as to who would say " No " more often, I have no doubt which country would be the winner; but I think the Prime Minister's initiative in recent months makesit quite clear that the accusation of a negative approach cannot lieto-day against Her Majesty's Government. If the techniques of obstruction are discarded in favour of a will to agree, then there will bea ready response from the West.

I should like to conclude in a few minutes, but not before I havesaid with what lively anticipation we and the people of this countrylook forward to the State visit, which begins to-morrow of the Shah of Iran. His Majesty's personal courage and his championship of the right of his people to lead a free life have excited our sincere admiration. We are glad to be associated with Iran, Pakistan and Turkeyin the Baghdad Pact, which is a defensive Alliance only and aimed only against aggression. Those who stand for the liberty of their peoples bring upon themselves from time to time tirades of abuse and threats. As the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, himself said, at this moment Iran is being subjected to a prolonged ordeal of this kind. But we in this country are sure that Iran will stand firm and staunch in the defence of the basic human rights, because by long tradition the Iranians are a people of free spirit.

The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, touched on the general question of instability in the Middle East, and it is because we have known over recent years that the instability of the Middle East is one of the main aims of Communist propaganda and Communist policy that we have been so anxious. I hope that the House will read the words which the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, spoke on the subject of the Middle East, about Iraq and Egypt. I listened to them with the greatest care and followed them with closest attention, and I should not wish to alter one word. They were said very wisely, and there is therefore no need for me to repeat them, but only to underline the impression which the noble Lord must have left; that is, that our policy towards the Middle East is in exact contrast to that of the Communists. We do not wish to take sides between one country and another or to meddle in Arab internal politics. All we wish to see is political stability and friendship growing between one Arab country and another.

It is partly for that reason that a growing section of the Baghdad Pact deals with one of the questions upon which the noble Lord touched—namely, the need for economic expansion and continued development in this area, in order that standards of living may be raised. I quarrel least of all with the principles which the noble Lord laid down. It should be our objective, in so far as we have influence in this area, that the territorial integrity of each country should be preserved; that there should be, in the words of the noble Lord, "no manipulated changes"; and that we should all seek, so far as we possibly can, for the second of his principles—namely, constructive economic development, either through the United Nations or through any other means.

Recently, Lord Monkton has had talks with General Kassim. They were practical and helpful, and showed a desire to maintain friendly relations with the Iraq Petroleum Company. That is well, because, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said, the orderly production and marketing of oil is at the very foundation of the economic prosperity of the Arab countries of the Middle East. It is our policy and our wish in every possible way to assist General Kassim to achieve his declared aims, which, as we understand them, are economic expansion, true independence and neutrality in international relations.

If the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, is agreeable, my noble friend Lord Landsdowne will answer some of the other points he raised, about Tibet and the Free Trade Area, and he may also have something to say on the wider aspects of disarmament. I would only add that while Her Majesty's Government are, I hope, realistic, and while we are not misled into optimistic beliefs by the lull in European affairs—we do not delude ourselves that the aim of Communism to probe the weak spots in the Western defences will be abandoned—we do believe that there is a fruitful field opening up towards real co-existence, and we are going into these negotiations with a desire to find it and to fashion agreements, if that is at all possible, on which may rest more solid hopes than we have been able hitherto to enjoy of a more peaceful and fruitful life for the generations to come.

3.45 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Earl the Leader of the House, in beginning his speech, said that no time was right for a foreign affairs debate but some times are more right than others, and I think this is an occasion when it is useful to have discussion on the international situation. We are just a week off the beginning of the Foreign Ministers' discussions, and though I understand, as my noble friend Lord Henderson did, that it may be difficult for the Government to say much about the problems that will confront them, nevertheless it might be useful to the Government to hear what we in the House may have to say; and I was glad that we were encouraged by the noble Earl to put forward our views. I feel that the best service one can render in this debate is to speak freely and even provocatively.

I want to begin my speech by referring to the visit which the Prime Minister made to the Soviet Union a short time ago. I think there can be no two views as to the value of that visit. It is true that there is a debit side and a credit side to it. It is true that the visit was not altogether welcomed by our Allies, and that it has created a certain amount of suspicion and resentment; that our motives have been suspect; that we have been thought to have been guilty of appeasement, and that in some way the visit has been regarded as an assumption of leadership of the West to which we had no right. I hope that the recent talks in Paris may have gone a long way to resolving those difficulties, because I believe that none of them has any foundation. On the other hand, the visit has had the immense advantage of creating conditions where there can be a mutual understanding of each other's point of view. The time that was spent in lengthy discussions—some friendly and some otherwise—must have helped both parties to appreciate what was in the mind of the other.

While I would agree with the noble Earl that you cannot have fruitful discussions unless there is a desire to negotiate, I would alsosay that you cannot have useful discussions and negotiations unless there is a complete understanding of each other's point of view. In this respect, I sometimes wish that we were a nation of better chessplayers. The essence of chess is not only to understand what your opponent is after but to try to anticipate many moves ahead. Possibly the Russians have some advantage over us, inasmuch as they have in recent years produced some of the best chess players in the world; and to-day I think they have the champion chess player. While appreciating that the Government cannot answer many of the questions that we should like to put, nevertheless I will tell the noble Earl and the House some of the questions I should have liked to have answered as a result of the Prime Minister's visit and which I think it is necessary to have answered in order to enable all of us to decide upon our policy.

First, I should have liked to know how Car the Prime Minister's views and outlook have changed as a result of the visit. That is a perfectly general question. But I should like to ask specifically whether his views about Germany have changed in any way. For instance, does he believe that the Soviet Union really fear a united Germany? I suppose most people would say they do, but there is a school of thought which says they do not—that this is merely a pretext for enabling the Soviet Union to carry out their policy of gaining control over East Germany, tightening their control over the other Communist nations in the East, and so on.

Of course, one would have thought that they had every reason to fear a united Germany if Germany were united without any safeguards as to the situation of the Soviet Union. They have twice been invaded by Germany in the last thirty years, and they have suffered immense destruction of property and loss of life. To-day, Germany is rapidly regaining its strength, both economically and militarily. It is becoming a dominant partner in N.A.T.O., and it is even about to enjoy the blessings of nuclear weapons. One wonders whether the Soviet Union really fear this growing strength of Germany, or whether it is a pretext, as some people say.

Incidentally, I should have liked to ask another question which is: Are we so sure that we ourselves have nothing to fear from a strengthened Germany? I know, of course, that we have less to fear from a Germany which is included in N.A.T.O., and which is to some extent under its control, than if it were completely independent. It may well be that in many respects our views about Germany may not be very different from those of the Soviet Union. My own view is that unification of Germany must eventually come. But it can come only within the context of as complete safeguards against a Germany breaking out again, and for the peace of the world, as we can possibly get. Until we can be assured of these safeguards and of the value of them, we must go very slowly.

I should have liked to ask the Prime Minister whether he was satisfied that the Soviet Union genuinely and sincerely desired peace. Unless they do, then these discussions which are taking place and the Summit talks will be completely farcical. I suppose the Prime Minister must have come away feeling that there is as keen a desire for peace in the Soviet Union as there is on this side or, indeed, anywhere in the world, and that they are not primarily dominated by a desire to enforce their views on other nations. I am not suggesting for amoment that they have not that desire. Indeed, in my view it would be more difficult for them, in the event of strife, to achieve the conquest of the world with ideas than if they could be assured of a peaceful atmosphere for their activities. But that, I take it, we do not really mind. If it is to be a battle of ideas, then weset our ideas against the ideas of Communism, and I believe that eventually freedom is bound to win. But let it be a battle of ideas and nothing else.

We have to recognise that there are a number of anomalies about the position of Berlin. It is an island surrounded by Communist territory. The nearest Western point is a hundred miles from Berlin. Berlin itself is divided as between Communist and non-Communist territory, and it seems to me, at any rate, obvious that that is a situation which cannot be regarded as durable, and that if the Soviet Union had not delivered the ultimatum —I think it was originally an ultimatum—in any case something was bound to happen at some time in the near future, because it is a state of unstable equilibrium. I was glad to hear from the noble Earl, therefore, that we at any rate do not intend to adopt a rigid attitude in this matter. We are prepared to consider some departure from the status quo.

I would suggest that one departure we might consider is some form of recognition of what is undoubtedly a fact, and that is the existence of Eastern Germany. My noble friend referred to the fact that the United States are refusing to recognise the existence of Communist China. Eastern Germany is a much less conspicuous object that Communist China. It is there and, indeed, I understand that Western Germany is actually doing business with Eastern Germany, and that they have constant discussions and dealings. Therefore the recognition of the existence of Eastern Germany would not be a very difficult thing to accept. But it might make a good deal of difference and ease matters considerably in our negotiations.

There is one other aspect of the Germany problem to which I should like to refer, and that is the question of the renunciation by Germany of any intention of regaining her lost territories—the territories she has lost to Poland, Czechoslovakia, Russia and France. I think the unification of Germany would be much eased and speeded up if Germany were prepared unequivocally to renounce any intention of regaining those territories by force or in any other way, and to acknowledge that she regarded them as lost to her.

I listened with care to what the noble Earl said about the Potsdam Treaty, and I am bound to say, having had occasion to refer to that Treaty from time to time, that his interpretation of the Treaty was not mine. I agree that the ultimate destination of the Oder-Neisse territories is stated to be dependent upon a peace treaty, but it seemed to me quite clear, from a reading of the Potsdam Treaty and our subsequent actions, that we were referring to rectification of the boundaries. We were not saying at all in that Treaty that the whole question of these territories was to be left in abeyance until a peace treaty; indeed, the noble Earl will remember that we ourselves agreed to a phased evacuation of German subjects from those territories. They were to be evacuated over a period of, I think, two years, and we laid down exactly how they were to be evacuated. We could not have agreed to that if we had assumed that the whole question would he thrown into the melting pot on some future occasion. I agree that the German Republic have stated that they would never go to war to regain those territories, but I think that that is not enough. If only they were prepared to say that they would never make that an issue, and that they have renounced those territories for all time, I think they would go a long way towards assisting in bringing about a unification of their territories.

I would ask whether the Prime Minister has arrived at any conclusion as to the sincerity of the Soviet Union on the question of disarmament, whether he felt they were anxious to continue the cold war, both nuclear and conventional. There is a school of thought which believes that the Soviet Union are anxious to maintain the cold war and that these conditions of unstable equilibrium are to their advantage. If that is so, if the Prime Minister came to that conclusion, then there could be no hope of any fruitful conversations arising out of the Summit talks, and I imagine that the Prime Minister must have come to the conclusion that the Soviet Union are anxious to bring the cold war to an end and that Summit talks may be of some value.

If we really believe that, then I would suggest—I quite understand that we cannot make proposals on our own account—that we do our best to ensure that any proposals we put forward to the Soviet Union are such as we can reasonably expect them to accept, and such as we ourselves would accept if they were put forward by the Soviet Union. I think that should be the test, and I am bound to say that, on both sides, proposals made in the past have not been of that character. Nobody would have been more surprised than the West if the Soviet Union had accepted some of the proposals made from the West; and, equally, nobody would have been more surprised than the Soviet Union if we had accepted some of their proposals. It has been to a very large extent a game of bluff and a game of jockeying for position. I hope that we shall now put forward proposals which can reasonably be expected to be accepted.

There is a lot of jockeying for position on the question of abolition of tests. I must say that I myself do not regard the abolition of tests as being of the most vital importance. I do not think it is the tests that are important; it is the weapons which we already possess, and which the Soviet Union and America possess; and even more the possibility that those weapons may be acquired by other European countries and thus gradually extended all over the world. That, to my mind, is the greatest danger of all. But, of course, abolition of the testing of these weapons would be a step, though only a step, in the direction of complete abolition. I hope that we on our side shall do everything we can to be as helpful as we can on the question of the banning of the nuclear weapons, and then, of course, on the further question of conventional weapons.

There has been a good deal of conversation about the type of test that we should inspect and the type of test we should not inspect. We find difficulties about testing of underground explosions or stratospheric explosions, but we are prepared to examine atmospheric explosions. I would suggest that we might take certain risks. It may be that we could not be sure of detecting 100 per cent. of the explosions that might take place. Nevertheless, I would endeavour to bring all forms of tests into the ambit of an agreement, and I imagine that the resources of science will, in due course, enable us to detect them all. But, as I say, I suggest that the abolition of tests is only a step, and a small step, in the direction of the complete banning of nuclear weapons from the face of the earth: that should be our real objective.

There is one other point that I should like to suggest which I think might ease matters. I hope that we shall not raise difficulties about representation either at the Foreign Ministers' Meetings or at the Summit Meetings. If the Soviet Union want to bring along Czechoslovakia or Poland, why not? After all, at all the conferences that we have had hitherto, they have been outnumbered, by three to one, and it is a handicap to be there all alone and having three different nations in agreement collaborating and joining together. I would suggest that, if the Soviet Union insist upon it, this is a point on which we might well give way. It seems to me somewhat unreasonable and arrogant to insist on a permanent majority at all meetings of the East and the West.

I should like also to emphasise what the noble Earl said about the position of the United Nations. It does seem to me that in all this activity, the United Nations have been left somewhat out in the cold. They have been bypassed. After all, we still believe in collective security, and I was glad that the noble Earl referred to collective security through the United Nations. I think it would be exceedingly valuable if, somehow, these discussions could be held under the auspices of the United Nations, rather than by individual negotiations. It is true that at present the United Nations are lacking in power to enforce decisions, but they have on many occasions played a very great part in helping to maintain peace in the world. The international climate may well be such now that the time is ripe for looking again at the Charter to see how far we can give "teeth" to the United Nations, so that they can play an even greater part in the maintenance of peace.

Finally, my Lords, I should like to congratulate the Prime Minister once more on the initiative that he has taken in visiting the Soviet Union. To most people of this country it has been a welcome step in an effort to break the deadlock. I know that in the forthcoming discussions we cannot act alone, and that we have to carry our Allies with us; but I hope that the mutual knowledge of the Soviet Union, of our own outlook of the belief in each other's sincerity—because without that Summit Conferences would be useless—will produce beneficial results in the difficult negotiations that lie before us.

3.11 p.m.


My Lords, as your Lordships know, for a good many years it has been our custom in this House to try to arrange debates on foreign affairs in the week following a similar debate in another place; for, of course, the senior Ministers who deal with foreign policy, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, are nowadays nearly always in the House of Commons, and it is important that our discussions here should take place with full knowledge of what they have said. I take it that that was the reason why the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, tabled his Motion for this particular week.

Like other noble Lords who interest themselves in international affairs, I read with great interest what was said in that debate. What struck me most about it —and I think possibly may have struck others as well—was the comparatively narrow area which it covered. That was perhaps natural, because, after all, a conference of Foreign Ministers is just about to take place and, as we all know, that conference is called to deal specially with the problems of Europe. But to my mind this narrowness gave that debate a certain air of unreality. I should therefore like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, most warmly upon widening the scope of our discussion here. There was, indeed, talk in another place of the forthcoming conference, of the future of Berlin, of the future of Germany as a whole and of the control of nuclear tests; and no one would seek to deny the importance or urgency of any of those targets. But I personally do not propose to speak to-day at any length on the European position, except on one particular aspect, to which I will turn in a few minutes.

Over Berlin itself, most of us, I imagine, in all Parties, would agree with the statement of the Foreign Secretary—a statement which was, in effect, reaffirmed by the Leader of the House in his speech this afternoon—that this country (and I quote the Foreign Secretary's words): cannot accept any plan that will lead to West Berlin being swallowed up in the Communist State, in the midst of which it stands. I am pretty certain that that would be contrary to the wishes of the vast majority of the people of Berlin itself. Moreover, the absorption of the traditional capital of Germany in the Communist zone would be only too likely to prove the first step in a phased policy aimed at the ultimate reunification of Germany within the Communist world, and a forcing back of the boundaries between East and West to the Western. frontiers of Germany. It would mean the end of Western Europe as we know it, and clearly we could not agree to that.

Judging by what was said by the Foreign Secretary, Her Majesty's Government have it apparently in mind, as an alternative, to bring the United Nations Organisation into the picture. I was grateful to the Leader of the House for saying a few words on this point. At first sight, I must confess that I cannot feel very enthusiastic about such an idea. For, as we all know, any action by any organ of the United Nations can be stultified at any time by the Operation of the Veto. To hand over control of Berlin to the United Nations would, therefore, I think, not be likely to give any one of us a feeling of complete security. But I fully realise that the words of the Foreign Secretary and of my noble friend the Leader of the House have been, inevitably and no doubt rightly, so carefully guarded that I may have misunderstood what the Government have in mind. In any case, I am sure that we shall all look forward to hearing more about this and other alternative proposals which emerge from the meeting of Foreign Ministers, as soon as the Foreign Secretary is in a position to give us information.

The second main topic with which the debate in another place was concerned was the question of nuclear tests. I do not propose to take up any time of the House on that topic this afternoon. It is an extremely technical one and really merits a debate of its own. I should, however, like to say a little more about the third main subject with which the debate dealt: namely, the wider problem of the future of Germany as a whole, and indeed of the whole of Central Europe. This occupied a good deal of the debate there, and it has, very naturally, already occupied up till now a considerable part of the speeches that we have heard this afternoon. In another place, the Opposition leaders urged one or other variation of what is called the disengagement plan—either the plan which was produced by M. Rapacki himself or variations of that—and the Conservative speakers, as I saw it, tended to be rather more sceptical of the result of such schemes and more apprehensive of the dangers that might flow from them. The Government themselves, if I understood my noble friend the Leader of the House right, have been playing with the idea of some modified plan on the same lines—a plan of a neutralised zone buttressed by effective provisions for international control and supervision of the demilitarised areas.


My Lords, we have to be extremely careful when speaking of these things, and I hope I have not given the impression of meaning a neutralised zone. It is really for the limitation and inspection of forces and arms, retaining the balance of strength. It might be on a reduced scale. We feel that there is a very real distinction.


My Lords, I believe there is. But to go back to the original Rapacki Plan and variations and modifications of that Plan, I do not suppose there is any one of us who has not been attracted, at some time or another, by some idea of that description. It seems such a simple notion to establish a cordon sanitaire across some specially dangerous area and so prevent the opposing forces from getting anywhere near each other; but in this case, as I am quite certain Her Majesty's Government themselves realise, the solution of our difficulties is not quite so easy as that.

First, as the noble Earl the Leader of the House has already said, there is a purely military aspect. Any strategic policy, if it is to be an effective one, must allow not only for forward areas but for adequate back areas as well. In this particular case, so far as Russian and the Communist bloc are concerned that aspect is completely covered. They have back areas of vast extent, stretching right back for thousands of miles from Poland to Vladivostok at the Eastern end of Asia. But there is no doubt that, by modern standards, the Western Powers are, even as it is, very poorly supplied with back areas. They have only a few hundred miles, and then comes the Atlantic Ocean. Voluntarily to reduce still further that already small space would appear to some of us to be a pretty hazardous experiment.

There is, moreover, yet another danger attaching to schemes of the Rapacki type which in the long run might well prove still more serious. The essence of such proposals, as I understand them, is the creation of an artificially neutralised and disarmed zone, so many miles wide, across the centre of Europe. I am here not talking of the proposal of Her Majesty's Government but of the original Rapacki proposals, which have had considerable support in this country. As I think the noble Earl the Leader of the House himself said, that would be, in effect, the creation of a vacuum; and, as we all know, nature abhors a vacuum. Is it credible, My Lords, that a power vacuum of that kind could permanently endure?

No doubt there are people who feel that it could. But I still have doubts, for this reason: is it not certain that sooner or later the people who live within that demilitarised zone—as it were in the no-man's-land between the lines—would come to show a steadily increasing spiritual attachment to one side or the other in this great spiritual conflict (because, after all, that is what the cold war really is) and that that spiritual affinity would soon become a political affinity? Were that to occur—and I believe it is almost bound to occur—it would not be very long before the cordon sanitaire ceased to be sanitaire at all and became, on the contrary, a seething cauldron of frustrations and irredentist emotions.

I believe that we of the West would do well at any rate to be cautious of anything that savours of a power vacuum, especially from the source from which this proposal comes. There are far too many power vacuums in the world already and nearly all of them, in my experience, seem to lead to a further shrinking of the area of free civilisation. As has been said already by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, one exists to-day in the Middle East. We used to regard the Middle East as just such a cordon sanitaire between Russia and Africa; but it is rapidly becoming something very different, something dangerously like a springboard for the spread of Communist propaganda throughout the African continent.

Indeed, what has happened in the Middle East during the last two or three years may be regarded as a classical example of Communist technique in the cold war. By skilfully plugging, morning, noon and night, by all the means of modern propaganda, the theme of the exploitation of the simple Middle Eastern peoples by the wicked Western Powers exclusively for the latter's benefit, they have already succeeded in that vital country, Iraq, in bringing about the downfall of a Government friendly to the free world, and the murder of all the main leaders of that Government and, indeed, most of our friends in that part of the world. In that way they have created a power vacuum which, it seems, Communism is now attempting strenuously to fill. Nationalism, in fact, has been used to further Communism. That process is already so far advanced in the Middle East that Iraq, Syria, and, I believe, Egypt, have ceased to be, strictly, part of the Western world at all.

And now we can see the same procedure beginning over the whole continent of Africa. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has already warned us of the activities of Colonel Nasser who, even if he is perhaps not quite so friendly with Russia as he used at one time to be, is still certainly, whether intentionally or no, playing the Communist game; and only this morning other noble Lords, like myself, will have read in the papers the announcement by Dr. Nkrumah and the Prime Minister of Ghana of the creation of a new Union of African States—I see the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, pricking up his ears—


My Lords, I am listening very intently all the time.


—with particular insistence upon the ending of colonial exploitation, and a declaration—I quote from The Times newspaper—that the Union would not adhere to any world power bloc, but would take account of whatever outside forces might be in its favour. Whether the promoters of the Accra Conference—from which, I believe, this new development undoubtedly flows—or the leaders of this new movement, of which we have heard only this morning, are to be regarded as collaborators with Russia or merely dupes, I do not know. Probably they are the latter—more dupes than collaborators. But the presence of Russians at Accra during the Conference, and the whole pattern of events since that Conference, with the insistence on colonial exploitation, are so near to experiences we have had elsewhere that I submit that it is difficult not to see in it some evidence of a Communist hand.

The West, in fact, is being gradually edged out of Africa just as, earlier, steps have been taken to edge them out of the Middle East; and it may well be that if we look forward a period of fifteen or twenty years (although it is very difficult for any of us to look so far forward with any certainty at the present time) not only Western rule but Western influence, the influence of the free world, will have been entirely ejected from the African Continent. The power vacuum will have been created and Communism will have begun to fill it.

It is, indeed, my Lords—and it is no use burking it—in the long term a very sombre situation with which Western civilisation is to-day faced. The Communist Powers—Russia, China and their satellites—already control vast areas of the world, stretching from Pekin on the East to Berlin on the West. They are stretching their tentacles out in one direction over Tibet, about which I am sure we all warmly welcomed the forthright words of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and in another direction towards the vital oil-bearing areas of the Middle East. And if they controlled Africa, too (and, believe me, my Lords, that is not such a fantastic dream, in view of what has already happened since the war), they would have outflanked Western Europe from the South and might well feel that the cold war had almost been won. So deep and powerful, at any rate in my view, are the currents which are running against us at the present time.

I feel, therefore, that we must distrust any plans emanating from Communist sources which might have the effect of creating a power vacuum in a new area. either by some definite plan, such as the Rapacki Plan, or by other devices such as the Accra Conference; and I should personally feel (though I know others would not agree with me) that we should be right to stand pat on the present dividing line between East and West in Europe, if the only alternative were to carry concession to the point of danger: and I should feel that, even if it meant that the Summit talks, to which we are all looking forward, could not reach definite results.

Frankly, I am not very afraid of a hot war in Europe. For a hot war, on anything like a major scale, means a nuclear war, and a nuclear war is, I believe, the one thing that Russia really fears. One can well understand why. In old days a country like Russia, with vast territories, used to be at an enormous advantage compared with its smaller neighbours: for it was easy for a great Power of that description to overrun them completely before it was possible either for the allies of those small neighbours or for such protective organisations as the League of Nations to strike an effective retaliatory blow at the aggressor at any vital part. But with the discovery of the nuclear weapon, all nations, big and small, have come to have what I believe Sir Winston Churchill once well described as "equality of vulnerability". How-ever vast the difference between the periphery of a country and the centre, it is now possible to deliver a devastating retaliatory blow at the very heart of the aggressor in a few hours—one might almost say soon, with inter-continental rockets, within a few minutes—from the time the original aggression started.

Indeed, the wider the frontiers of a country the more the points from which that blow could come. Great territories, in fact, are no longer nowadays an increased protection. In some ways they increase the danger with which the nation is faced. This, of course, the Russian Government know as well as any of us here. It is therefore unlikely, in my view at any rate, that they will take the risks involved in an atomic war. In fact, though I realise that the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, will not agree with me, and possibly many other noble Lords in this House will not, I believe most profoundly that the nuclear weapon. horrible though it is—and I entirely agree that it is horrible is the greatest safeguard for peace at the present time. I hope, therefore, that it will not be abandoned, though I would go so far with him as to agree that there is a great deal to be said for limiting tests. It seems to me that the bomb is a powerful enough deterrent as it is.


My Lords, would the noble Marquess go so far as to say that, in spite of the fact that the possession of nuclear weapons is likely to spread throughout the world, he would still think it was a useful deterrent?


My Lords, I would, for this reason. If you were to do away with atomic and nuclear weapons to-day, the world would be in exactly the same position as it was between the two wars; and the deterrents at the disposal of peace-loving nations at that time were not powerful enough to prevent another world war. That is my view.

But what is certain is that, even if a hot war is not likely, the cold war will go on, and go on, I believe, with increasing intensity. And it may well be that if the free nations take no adequate counter action to the offensive which is now being delivered against them, Western civilisation, which is based on free institutions, will ultimately be defeated without an armed conflict at all. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, if I understood him correctly, said that in a battle of ideas (I am afraid I am paraphrasing his words) he was sure freedom would ultimately win. That may be true in the very long run, but in the short term I wish I were as certain as he is.

That being so, I believe personally that the most urgent need of the West at the present time is to regain, to some extent at any rate, the initiative in the cold war which we have at present entirely lost. This seems to me the free world's weakest point. The propaganda of the Communist bloc is going on increasingly, day after day, week after week, under a centralised machine conducted by experts with all the modern methods of dissemination of such propaganda at their disposal; and yet, so far as I know, no comparable centralised machinery exists at all in the hands of Western Powers. I am not even certain that the various propaganda organs of the Western Governments are at present telling quite the same story or that they are preaching, in all respects, the same faith.

Yet, my Lords, the record of the West with regard to backward countries, where the danger is now the greatest, is after all a very fine one. If for the words "the exploitation" of these countries—that is the term the Communists use—we substitute the words "the development" of these countries, we get a quite different and a far truer picture. In every one of those countries which have been developed by the Colonial Powers, the standard of living of the indigenous people, their health, their education, are in a better state than they were before. There is more justice there; there is more freedom. This has already been recognised by many of their more thoughtful leaders. It remains for us and our Allies now to drum that lesson home, not only to the thoughtful leaders but to the ordinary men and women in those countries. I hope very much that consultations as to how this is to be done may be a main theme—perhaps the main theme—of future meetings of the Western Allies. I believe it is at least as important as the other subjects, with which they are usually concerned.

And now, my Lords, I have done. In conclusion, I would say only this. While I have thought it right to express some of the preoccupations which I have, and which I am sure are also in the minds of other noble Lords here this afternoon, I should like to wish my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary all success in the immediate negotiations on which he is embarking. He will, I am sure, carry with him the goodwill of us all; and if this meeting of Foreign Ministers, as we all hope, is followed by the Summit Conference—though I must frankly confess that, with the best will in the world, I cannot at present see any signs of a change of heart on the part of the Russian Government—it will, I am sure, be our sincere hope that these talks will at any rate help to reduce to some extent the causes of friction between the East and the West. We have already been told this afternoon by the noble Earl the Leader of the House that that will be the purpose and the spirit with which Her Majesty's Government will enter these two conferences. They can therefore, I am sure, be certain that, however much we may differ from each other on other issues and perhaps even on individual points of foreign policy, they will have the country as a whole firmly behind them in entering on their difficult task.

4.40 p.m.


My Lords, like the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, I too, was rather impressed by the extent to which the debate in another place had been confined to two topics only—namely, Germany and the control over atomic weapons. The control over atomic weapons was limited to an even narrower subject—the control over tests. It had been my hope to extend the debate, at least by the remarks I was going to make, into a rather wider field. Indeed, I had at one stage hoped to follow the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, into outer space, but I feel that the remarks which have come from the Government and from the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, rather impel me to return once again to the topic of Germany and the reunification of Germany.

In the speech which we have just heard from the noble Marquess we have had a very clear exposition of a point of view. The Government have not been able to satisfy the noble Marquess who has just spoken, any more than, I think, they were able to satisfy certain speakers in another place, as to precisely what their views are in regard to this matter of the "limitation" (I think that was the word they used) "of armaments and control in Central Germany". I appreciate that the Government and the Foreign Secretary are about to enter into negotiations, and that it may be very desirable that at this stage they should not commit themselves and say too much about what they do mean. But Back Benchers, or ex-Front Benchers, can say what they think. I say straight away that I think that to press proposals for the reunification of Germany simply because they unfreeze a situation which is at least static, and which is not at the moment likely to lead to an outbreak of war, is to take a very dangerous step. I think the Government are right to attempt it, but the very reasons which make the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, unable to accept any proposals which would lead to West Berlin being swallowed up in Communist East Germany must make the Russians equally unwilling to see East Berlin swallowed up into the West.

There is no question that if German reunification is carried out without some form of control and some form of guarantee—whether it be a neutral zone, the Rapacki Plan, or whatever it may be—it is bound to be unacceptable to the Soviet Union. This seems to me to be one of the few indisputable facts in the situation. We know that in certain circumstances Russia is not prepared to see courses followed which will lead to the break-up of her East European empire, of the Communist area. We had an example of this in Hungary. I do not propose to enter into a discussion on what happened in Hungary, but it was clear that, however wrong and however terrible the action of the Soviet Union in Hungary, she regarded the action that she took as absolutely imperative from the point of view of her national security. I am not defending this action, and no one could; but it is clear that any action by the West which would lead to a reunification of Germany under conditions in which that reunification was accompanied by the full access of German power to the West must be something which is unlikely, at least at the present moment, to be acceptable to the Soviet Union: and if that were likely to happen I think it would be equally likely that Russian troops would then move.

So, my Lords, I would only say this on this topic of Germany, which is one that we have been discussing now for years: that if no agreement is obtainable which gives some form of security, some form of guaranteed neutralisation, then I would agree with the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, that it would be better that Germany should remain ununited. I realise that from all stand-points of morality and justice this is a highly undesirable thing, but a world war would be even more undesirable, and I believe that a situation which led to a conflict over Germany would inevitably lead to the use of atomic weapons.

Just before I leave this point I would urge the Government to continue the initiative which vas envisaged in the speech of the Foreign Secretary in another place. That showed, I think, a considerable degree of flexibility—more so than has been shown in the past: a flexibility which can be attributed, I think, to the Prime Minister himself. But, at the same time, they must realise that any attempt to force through an agreement which is not satisfactory from Russia's point of view, is one which will do us in the West no good, either.

My Lords, I should like now to turn to the subject which was the other main issue for debate in the other place—the control of nuclear tests. I have been interested in the international control of nuclear weapons right back to 1945, when the first proposals that were sponsored by my noble friend Lord Attlee were con- sidered—the Lilienthal proposals and the Baruch proposals. I believe that the Soviet Union made a mistake in not accepting the fairly liberal proposals that were put forward at that time. I think their pathological fear of the West was such that they simply could not read the words on the paper.

Since then, the situation has been completely frozen, and only in the last few weeks have we seen once more a ray of light in the proposal—and we have not had it in very clear form—which it appears the Prime Minister did put forward to Mr. Khrushchev when he was in Russia, and which it appears the Russians were inclined to accept, namely, that in the system of inspection there should be a limited number of "on spot" checks which, even though they would not give 100 per cent. certainty and would not detect every atomic explosion, would, none the less, give a reasonably satisfactory statistical prospect that enough would be detected to indicate whether or not the agreement with regard to the explosion of atomic weapons for test purposes was being broken. It is unfortunate that these proposals seem to have met with no response (and I should be very grateful if the noble Marquess, when he comes to reply, will deal with this point) from France or from America. Indeed, they seem, so far as one can judge, to have caused, if not public, at least considerable private hesitation.

None the less, it is a most encouraging development that for once we appear to be going into discussions with some advance area of agreement, and I see no reason why, if this agreement can be obtained in this way, it should not be extended to the whole field of tests, including under-water tests and stratospheric tests. I do not quite understand, from the rather complicated statement of the Foreign Secretary in another place, what the difficulties have been about extending such an agreement to stratospheric tests. It may be that they feel that the danger is less great; but I should have thought that, provided that the principle of inspection is once accepted, which is implied in the partial agreement in principle to which I have referred, there will be no difficulty in getting agreement ultimately over all kinds of tests. Unlike my noble friend Lord Silkin, I regard the limitation of tests as of the most profound importance. It will be the first break in this terrible atomic block that bas existed for so many years.

Since I have referred to the stratosphere, I would now turn to the question of the international control of space. Although we have not spent a great deal of time in your Lordships' House discussing this aspect, the United Nations have spent a great deal of time discussing it. What impresses me most is the extra-ordinary patience, indeed, the physical strength, that our representatives have to show at the United Nations in listening day after day to the boring exchanges that go on between the representatives of the Soviet Union and of the United States of America. It is quite shattering, far worse than the extreme forms of Party politics which occasionally we have to put up with in this country.

It is a depressing fact that at the very end, when there was obvious agreement that outer space should not be a field for national exploitation, and there was no difference at all that it should be an area for international control and scientific work, negotiations broke down on the composition of the Committee that was to report on any proposals. I should like to ask the Government, who seem to be unfreezing a little, whether an independent initiative in this field might not have produced agreement. The West proposed a Committee which, as the Soviet reasonably pointed out, gave an overwhelming majority of numbers to the Western Alliances: twelve out of eighteen members were to be members of one or other of the defensive Western Alliances. The Soviet representative made a proposal which gave four to the Eastern bloc, four to the West and four to neutrals. That seems to be a not unreasonable proposal. It may be that there is some perfectly good reason why it is unacceptable, though I do not know what it is. I hope that the Government will tell us, because I feel that we are in danger of making precisely the same sort of mistake as the Russians made in 1945, in refusing to believe that any sort of agreement made from the other side can possibly be acceptable. Frankly, I should like an explanation of why the alternative compositions suggested for this Committee should be so totally unacceptable to the West.

I realise that it has been argued that the Assembly of the United Nations is a democratic body and can choose whom it likes, but surely it would have been possible to reach agreement on these proposals. For example, certain neutral countries suggested that the Soviet Union and the United States should get together and agree on the composition; yet we, along with the majority of the United Nations, particularly our Allies, turned it down. I think that an opportunity has been missed here. This Committee is now meeting. Its report will still have to go to the Assembly and is still subject to all the disadvantages and dangers such a report will have. Even then, I do not see what the report by itself can do beyond giving the Soviet Union yet another small propaganda victory.

There is one other matter that I hope to deal with, but I do not propose to deal with it at length, as there will be another opportunity of doing so. Again it is one which I hope will not be greatly contentious. I want to refer to the Antarctic, which is one area where there appears to be no cold war. During the recent International Geophysical Year, there has been a measure of international agreement and co-operation in the Antarctic, a clear demonstration that the ridiculous national claims we and other countries have attempted to make there can have no validity at all. I should like the Prime Minister, who goes in for good initiatives (and I only hope that he will follow some of them through), to take a lead, following the initiative of Mr. Nash in New Zealand, in proposing some form of international agreement in the Antarctic. I believe that the only reason why we are not moving in this matter is because certain of our own Commonwealth countries—Australia, and New Zealand rather less so—are reluctant to give up their little bit of Empire in the Antarctic.

There are no means of establishing effective claims in a territory where nobody lives. All sorts of attempts have been made. The British go in for building post offices; the Chileans build churches, and in the Arctic the Canadians put up police stations. I can remember exploring an island where the only inhabitants were policemen. All this is never going to make the Antarctic British or Chilean, Argentinian, Norwegian or French, or the territory of any of the other countries which have claimed it. Neither the Soviet Union nor the United States of America have yet attempted to make claims there. They are reserving their attitude. The United States occasionally fly around dropping flags of the United Nations. On the whole, I think that that is where the Antarctic should go.

My Lords, I think that it would be an excellent thing to get a solution of the Antarctic problem. It would be good practice for the moon, when that problem comes up. There are no national interests in the Antarctic that we cannot reasonably dispose of at the moment. There are no minerals there of any particular value. Admittedly, there is a lot of coal, but that is something we do not lack at the moment. The claims we have attempted to enforce at the International Court at The Hague will never be adjudicated on, since those who have overlapping claims with us are not going to submit themselves to the judgment of the Court, because at the moment their claims are precarious and as every year goes by will grow weaker. In this small matter I should like Britain, who has claimed three-quarters of the Antarctic, to give a lead and at least establish that modern war, which has never come to the Antarctic, remains away from it.

4.58 p.m.


My Lords, there have been many occasions in your Lordships' House when I have held as an article of faith the truth of the dictum to which the noble Earl, Lord Home, referred, that there is no opportune moment for a foreign affairs debate. At the same time, I recognise that this is a moment of considerable delicacy from the point of view of forthcoming conferences and I shall not ply the Government with questions. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, if I may refer for a moment to his speech, put a series of questions rather in the air to the Prime Minister, and I gather from the angle which he gave to the questions that he was under no very serious expectation of getting a precise answer from the Prime Minister. No doubt, a platonic dialogue between the Prime Minister and the noble Lord would be extremely interesting and informative, but it is one which is perhaps unlikely to take place in the immediate future.

Nevertheless, the noble Lord said two things which I should like to take up. One of the questions which he put—and I can give only my own view in reply —was whether the Russians were really under a fear of the Germans or whether they merely used that as a pretext to hold on to East Prussia. I am absolutely convinced in my mind that that fear is a deep and genuine one, and that it has a great effect in dictating Russian policy. If I did not believe that, I should despair of anything coming of any of the forthcoming conferences: because unless the Russians are themselves actuated by some compulsion of fear which is going to lead them to make some concession and some advance towards the Western countries, then I think all these discussions are likely to get nowhere. But I think the noble Lord, in a sense, answered his own question by pointing out the occasions on which Russia has been invaded, and, indeed, devastated by invasions from European countries; and it would be a strange thing if they were not afraid of a repetition of that experience.

There is another thing which the noble Lord said and which, from some experience of conferences, I should like to take up. He drew a somewhat plaintive picture of the poor Russians sitting there all by themselves with nobody to hold their hands, whereas on the other side was ranged the full might of the Western Powers. I should not have any particular objection to Czechoslovakia and Poland sitting side by side with Russia at any Summit Conference, but I should not be convinced as to which was holding the other's hand: whether the Russians were deriving strength from the presence of the Czechs and the Poles, or whether the Poles and the Czechs were not being kept firmly in line by the Russian grip. But, whichever it may be, I think the noble Lord's proposition that the loneliness of the Russians was something for which we ought to demonstrate sympathy by allowing other countries to attend, was not a very convincing picture, because being alone in those circumstances is very much like a country at war being on interior lines, whereas the others are on exterior lines: you can conduct your own offensive in your own way, in your own time, as you wish, whereas the others have to concert all their plans and make a combined operation out of every move, which is a much more complex and delicate operation.

But I think it is true to say—and it is a sombre reflection, fifteen years after the end of the war in Europe—that the dominant factors in the international situation to-day are fear and suspicion; and which is cause and which is effect does not very much matter, because it is the combination of the two. I believe the fear and the suspicion exist on both sides of the table if you come to a conference. Unless we are going to perpetuate that circumstance by mere inactivity, it needs somebody to try to break clown the immobility of the situation. If the Prime Minister has made that attempt, is it really necessary that we should be quite so shy as a country in taking any credit that there may be for his having done so? It is true that a certain number of statesmen on the Continent of Europe appear to be suffering at the moment from stiff necks—possibly through feeling the draught—but, at the same time, I think a little exercise for the stiff necks at a conference would not be a bad way of dissipating the friction under which they are suffering.

I hope that there will come out of this first discussion by the Foreign Ministers a Summit Conference, and I believe that the Prime Minister's idea, which he has, I think, adumbrated, that this should be the first of a number of Summit Conferences, is in all essentials the right approach, because as long as you are in contact, then you have a valuable asset in hand. It is when you break off contact and get to arm's length, when there are no points of sympathy and understanding between you and no method of exchanging ideas or explaining misunderstandings, that the danger really arises. If one contact breaks down, provided you know that another suitable opportunity is coming along in the not too remote future, that may at least preserve the situation until that other moment comes. Therefore I believe the prospect of a series of conferences might well be a valuable contribution.

I would, however, say one thing about a conference of that kind. If there is going to be a Summit Conference I hope it will be possible to arrange that it shall take the form of a conference at which only a limited number of people attend and at which the minimum of publicity prevails. Otherwise if you are going to have arc lamps and flash bulbs and the whole panoply of a film first night you are not going to get any meeting of minds at all: people will merely make their speeches for the benefit of their own particular countries and the parties will be as far away at the end as they were at the beginning of the whole proceedings. May I give one example? I saw this very plainly at Geneva in 1954, in the Indo-China Conference, when we had a plenary session, attended by a large number of people, with all the accoutrements of a plenary session, but we got nowhere. The only progress we made—and we did make progress—was when we had a restricted session at which only the heads of the delegations and a few of their advisers were present. That is when we really got some sort of rapprochement with the people across the table and were able to talk with comparative freedom and lack of inhibition owing to the surrounding circumstances, Unless that can be done. I think there is little prospect of a Summit Conference obtaining a valuable result. But it can be done, and I hope that all those who participate in it will agree to do it.

The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, threw open the door far this debate very wide. I have not attempted to deal with the European situation in any detail, except to point out, in passing, that you cannot go on indefinitely with a policy of what may be called momentous inertia, and you have to do something to try to break that down. And that is what I hope is now in hand.

I now want to move further East than anybody has yet done in the course of this afternoon's debate. I talked about the Geneva Conference of 1954 for a moment, and I would only say, in passing—and it is perhaps a not unuseful reminder—that at that conference, now five years ago, the Russians and the Chinese undertook certain obligations and put their signatures to certain agreements; and that they have, so far as I know, rigorously carried out their obligations under all those agreements during the intervening years. That may be some assurance that, if it is possible to arrive at an arrangement in the course of the forthcoming conversations, the prospects of the other side (if I may use the expression) departing from it are not quite as black as some people are occasionally inclined to think.

My noble friend Lord Salisbury dealt to some extent with the Communist position as a threat to Africa. It seems to me that there are two great dangers in the Far East: one, the increase of population, and the other the threat of Communism. Your Lordships will remember that in 1955 there was a Conference at Bandung, the first Afro-Asian Conference in history. At the time it looked as if that Conference might have serious results for the West. It was perhaps the first major conference in history at which the possession of a white skin excluded. There is little doubt, I think, that as the conference developed, in spite of the efforts, principally of Sir John Kotalawala, the Prime Minister of Ceylon, and General Romulo, who headed the Philippine delegation, the dominating personality at the conference was Chou En-lai. I am not altogether surprised at that.

Harking back again to Geneva, I spent at that time some three months in almost daily contact with Mr. Chou En-lai, a man of great charm and great intelligence, and, I should imagine, complete ruthlessness if the need arose. But Bandung was a considerable personal triumph for him. The remarkable thing about the Bandung Conference is that it is now four years since it took place, and it has never had a successor. That looks as if the need for this coming together of the two peoples and the homogeneity of interests between the nations of the two continents, upon which so much stress was laid at that time, was perhaps not quite so vital an element as people at the moment were disposed to think.

The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, spoke of Tibet, and I agree absolutely with everything he said about the deplorable action of the Chinese People's Republic in thus bullying and stamping upon a small and defenceless nation like Tibet. I am inclined to regret that action all the more for one reason which may not appeal by any means to all your Lordships. I regret it because I think it has postponed for a considerable time any prospect of the admission to the United Nations of the Chinese People's Republic. It has always been my personal view that it was an absurdity that the United Nations seat for China should be held by a country—if one can call it a country—with 8 million inhabitants, to the exclusion of a country of 620 million inhabitants. It is true that the Chinese seat carries with it a permanent seat on the Security Council, and when the matter is raised people say, "Yes, but it means admitting another Communist Power to the Security Council." I think there are two answers to that.

The first is that the United Nations is not an anti-Communist organisation. It is supposed to be, to all intents and purposes, a world assembly of nations. The second answer is that whether you have one Veto or two on the Security Council does not seem to me to make the slightest difference. It is not as if the Russians were so reluctant to use their Veto, when it comes to a difference of opinion with the West, that they want something else to bolster them up. Therefore, for my part, I regret that there has been, as undoubtedly there must have been, a setback to the chances of Chinese admission. I say that because I think that this action of China in Tibet has come as a real shock to a number of what are pleased to call themselves neutralist countries in Asia who had thought and hoped better things of China than to find her behaving in a way which would disgrace the tradition of Imperialism. So it has been; and, as I say, it has come as a very great shock. But it has deferred any prospect of a possible stabilisation in the situation, the prospects of which might be increased by the admission of China to the United Nations.

I have cited what seemed to me to be the two great problems in Asia—population and Communism. They walk hand in hand, because if the growth of population is going to reach a point at which the countries of which these peoples are nationals are unable to cope with them or feed them, or cannot give them a reasonable standard of life, that is the most hopeful prospect for Communism that could possibly be offered. When one looks at the growth of population in Asia it is a really terrifying prospect. I think I have given your Lordships certain figures before, but perhaps I may repeat one that has always impressed me most. I was told that the increase in the population in South-East Asia alone—which is already one-sixth of the human race—between 1955 and 1970 would be equivalent to the total present population of the United States of 150 million people. People do not always realise that in Indonesia, a country which perhaps does not come frequently within our cognisance, there are 88 million people. Java is the most densely populated country in the entire world. So it goes on round the whole face of the world, until you get to this Communist bloc of China, with 620 million inhabitants, increasing at a rate of something like 12 million a year.

That is the problem, and the question is whether the countries themselves are in any condition to face and to solve that problem; and, if not, whether there is any help that we and any other more fortunately placed countries can give to them. I greatly hope that, out of the present series of discussions which are opening before us to-day, there may arise a situation, not as a method of appeasement, not as a method of unilateral sacrifice, but as a result of agreement between all those concerned, in which there may be such a reduction in the immense burden of the cost of armaments as may free resources with which we can help the less fortunate countries in other parts of the world.

5.18 p.m.


My Lords, this debate has ranged freely over world problems, including Antarctica and the realms of outer space. I hope your Lordships will excuse me if I am a little more confined in my remarks. I should like to speak briefly about one group of European nations which seem to me to get less than their fair share of our attention. These are the Russian satellite countries, with a long history of European culture and civilisation, which at present are behind the Iron Curtain and dominated by Russian military might. We have had many debates in this House and in another place, and we read constantly in the Press, about the struggles of colonial peoples for independence. We read far less, and we hear far less, of our European friends who have lost their independence and are repeatedly being reduced to the status of Russian colonies.

Only this morning, at a ceremony at St. James's Palace to mark the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Statute setting up the Council of Europe, the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor spoke most movingly and effectively of those principles of justice between individuals and justice between the individual and the State which are common to the Western world. Surely we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that we have many European friends behind the Iron Curtain who cannot enjoy these rights. In some of these countries a régime of terror such as was familiar in Stalinist Russia is still in full operation. In Hungary, two years after the Hungarian revolution, the present régime, in spite of their promises, continue their policy of persecution. The Chief Public Prosecutor in the National Assembly recently said, if I may quote, that: the systematic application of our penal jurisdiction is the most important guarantee that in the full implementation of law enforcement class warfare should prevail…. We will crush vigorously our enemies. I need not speak any more about Hungary; its story is too well known to you.

Less well known is the fact that this terror goes on also in Roumania, with its familiar pattern of the early knock on the door, the invitation to the police station, sudden disappearances of people for months and years, and all the familiar horrors. Prisons and forced labour camps are full, and the penalty of death is now almost arbitrarily imposed for a whole series of only vaguely defined crimes. Article 187 of the Penal Code, for example, prescribes the death penalty for acts which could cause the Roumanian State to become involved in a declaration of neutrality. And Article 207 provides special penalties for threats, defamation or terrorism directed at members of special agencies and persons engaged in public activities. From these extremes the picture differs throughout the rest of the countries behind the Iron Curtain, like Czechoslovakia, the model satellite, and Poland, where a certain amount of personal freedom exists under the Gomulka régime. But in all these countries there emerges a similar picture of political despotism, economic exploitation, ruthless censorship of intellectual activities and a bitter campaign against the Church and religion.

We have to be realistic and acknowledge that politically we are powerless to help these captive European nations. This fact was most clearly demonstrated, once and for all, at the time of the Hungarian uprising; and in fact our inability to intervene at that point has caused a wave of disillusion throughout Eastern Europe. Economically also there is very little that we can do. The economic policies of the various satellite countries are closely integrated with the Russian economy, and their mineral wealth and productive capacity are being exploited exclusively for Russian ends, to the neglect of the normal openings for their trade within Europe. But whilst we may be, for the moment, politically and economically powerless, I believe that there are two things that should be in our mind, two ways in which we can act. First, I believe that we should never give way on our principles of national self-determination and free elections for all countries. Those are our fundamental principles, and we should be ill-advised to part with them for the sake of a temporary bargain. To many people behind the Iron Curtain free elections are the symbol of liberation, not only in East Germany but throughout Central and Eastern Europe. There is some misgiving in those countries that the West, in its effort to formulate proposals acceptable to the Kremlin, may compromise on those very principles which are fundamental to European civilisation.

The second thing we can do is to keep open such links and lines of communication as we have with our fellow-Europeans in the satellite countries. The means are limited, but I think more could be made of them. One such means is broadcasting. In this field, I believe that the B.B.C. is doing a very well-worthwhile job—a job in many ways similar to the job it did in war time; and the fact that its broadcasts are so severely jammed merely proves how effective they are. I do not for a minute think that they should in any way contain inflammatory political material such as might encourage revolt in those countries, but they should continue to put before the countries behind the Iron Curtain the Western point of view on world problems and keep open the cultural links between the West and the East. This latter task is also being undertaken by radio courses run at the College of Europe, at Bruges. These courses are run by a Committee under the chairmanship of Don Salvador de Madariaga, and include talks especially for the intelligentsia and the young people on various aspects of European civilisation.

Another initiative to which I should like to direct your Lordships' attention is the activity of the Writers' and Publishers' Committee for European Co-operation, which was formed in 1957 in Paris for the purpose of making available to individuals, universities and libraries behind the Iron Curtain books of cultural value published in Western Europe. In the first six months of its activity this Committee sent some 12,000 dollars worth of books behind the Iron Curtain, and it has continued with this excellent work.

Another means of keeping some form of contact is by means of university scholarships and exchanges. This activity has already been put into effect through various bilateral arrangements with Eastern European countries, and such exchanges do a great deal to further understanding. As from January 1 last, there has been in existence a European Cultural Fund, formed originally at the suggestion of the Council of Europe, but now independent of it, to which other countries in Europe, other than those who are members of the Council of Europe, have adhered. It already has on hand a number of important ventures, and at its recent meeting in Strasbourg the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe recommended to the Cultural Fund that, in addition to what it was doing, it should seek to assist such measures of East-West cultural contact as I have been describing. But the Fund has only £32,000 a year, which is not very much with which to undertake a very large task. Her Majesty's Government contributes £6,000, but more is required, and I would urge Her Majesty's Government to consider whether, in the future, when they are approached they could not make a more generous grant over and above their agreed minimum of £6,000. That matter was raised one day last week in another place on the Motion for the Adjournment, and I should very much like to reinforce what was said then and to ask the Government to make an increased contribution. Such a step would be tangible proof of this country's whole-hearted support of the concept of European unity, and would be an effective contribution towards its eventual attainment.

5.30 p.m.


My Lords, I do not intend to traverse the ground which has been covered by noble Lords on this side, and I shall not make a long speech, but I should like to join with others in wishing all success to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary in the initiative that they are taking. Next week I am going to help to celebrate the ending of what might have been called one of the hottest points of the cold war, the Berlin blockade. At that time it would not have been much good for me to try to get into conversation with Mr. Stalin. I think it is profitable to-day for our Prime Minister to get into talks with Mr. Khrushchev.

Therefore I think that we need not really be quite so gloomy as was, I thought, the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. He seemed to see nothing but defeat all the way, with the Soviet Union wonderfully successful, winning all the way. I think that their victories are mainly caused by the mistakes of the West. He is now reaping the bitter fruit of Suez. Up to that time I do not think that the Soviet Union were winning, and I do not think that Communism is winning to-day. If we look at the condition of opinion such as one can gather either in the satellite countries or in Russia itself, we shall find that they show a far less monolithic face than they did ten years ago.

I am not in the least inclined to the gloomy prospect of losing all Africa, losing all Asia, and everything going smash. I think it is much more likely that the time is fast approaching when there will be some trouble among the Communist countries themselves, particularly, as has been pointed out, in regard to the intense pressure of population in the East. At one time not long ago it was thought that Colonel Nasser was the white-haired boy of the Communists. Apparently that idea has gone overboard now, and the clash between nationalism and Communism has come about. It seems to me that if we had taken a different view of that situation we might never have had that trouble in the Near East. Somehow or other at that time we were extremely badly advised.

I was impressed by the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Reading. I thought it most realistic. I think it is absolutely true to say that our greatest trouble is Russian fear of America and American fear of Russia. I think those fears are much too strong; that there is an inclination for the Communist always to see an American under the bed, and for the American always to see a Communist under the bed, whatever happens. I should be inclined to stress that one thing we want is to try to get some initiative from people who are not quite so deeply committed. Lately I have been in the Scandinavian countries. Certainly they are not suspect in America, and I do not know that they are suspect in Russia either. While I am all for a Summit Conference, I believe that sometimes a little movement in the foothills, among the smaller Powers, might be equally useful, because they always suffer when the big boys fight. Their interests are just as great as ours. Therefore, while we have a Summit Conference, I should like us to do all we can to encourage initiative amongst people like the Swiss or the Swedes, or perhaps the Asiatics, the Singhalese and others, Who are not so directly involved in the battle, because it is this mutual suspicion which seems to break everything down.

I was greatly impressed by the proposal of my noble friend, Lord Shackleton, about the Antarctic. I have put it forward myself. I think it would be a great thing if we could have talks in regard to neutralising the Antarctic. We might go further and neutralise the Arctic as well. Then at least we should have two areas of separation. I do not think I should feel seriously disturbed at the lack of power in the Antarctic. The noble Marquess seemed to think that it was a terrible thing if the rival doctrines were not lined up closely. When I was young, and his grandfather was Prime Minister, there used to be talk of "splendid isolation." We were always trying to make buffer States—a very favourite term in the late 'nineties and the beginning of this century—because we thought it was desirable to keep people apart. Now it is called the "power vacuum." I do not think I should mind a power vacuum in the Antarctic or the Arctic, or in a number of other places. I should hope that we were getting away from this perpetual conception of a struggle for power everywhere.

I am afraid that I was not impressed by the noble Marquess's suggestion that big countries were as vulnerable as small ones. It would take a lot more time to knock out all the Russian cities than it would take to put paid to this little Island. As a matter of fact, we are an intensely vulnerable country. Small countries are intensely vulnerable; one bomb knocks them out. There are chances for the rest of surviving. I agree with him in that I do not think the Russians want a great atomic war. I do not think they want any war. I believe they are perfectly confident that in building up their system they can win on the ideological field. I am equally sure that we can win on the ideological field, if we can survive. Therefore I welcome close contacts, whether at the summit, in the foothills or even on the level.

I think that in any realistic examination of our position to-day it will be found that though actually I believe the tensions are not quite so great, the possibilities of world destruction are infinitely greater than ten years ago. I have been to several countries where they are talking in terms of whether it would not be desirable for them to have atomic missiles. Every time that is done it increases the possibility of these missiles being in the hands of fools, or in the hands of a trigger-happy person. The suggestion that every nation ought to have an atomic bomb is akin to the suggestion that every woman of fashion ought to have a mink coat. Surely, we spend quite enough on armaments. I could not agree more with the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, in calling attention to the fact that one of the potential dangers in the world to-day is the enormous increase in population. Here are we, allowing that to go on and wasting our substance on obsolete or other weapons. I conclude by saying, let us hope that good may come out of these meetings. It would be the heartfelt wish of all of us, whatever our political views.

5.29 p.m.


My Lords, I think we can all agree that we have listened this afternoon to the most reflective, carefully-delivered speeches. I have no intention of making a formal set speech. I should like to follow the example that has been set by other noble Lords. At the outset I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and indeed to the other noble Lords who followed him, how much I appreciate that they realise fully that it is clearly not possible for me to enter into many of the interesting discussions which they have set afoot this afternoon—much as I wish I could.

It would appear from everything that we have heard this afternon that there is general support for the approach of Her Majesty's Government to the problem of Berlin. My noble Leader has clearly restated our position this afternoon. This morning, as the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, mentioned, we have been commemorating the tenth anniversary of the formation of the Council of Europe—an organisation about which some of us sometimes think and about the significance and possibilities of which, I believe, we might do well to think more. There, in the Council of Europe, we have in fact the first recognition of the need for a Parliamentary element in international administration, the recognition by an existing community of the need to find some form of representation other than that provided by national Governments.

I do not want to introduce a controversial note, but despite the somewhat off-hand dismissal of the fact by the right honourable Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Aneurin Bevan) I do not think it was without significance that all eighteen members of the British delegation to the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe, irrespective of Party, supported a resolution which was passed with no contrary vote by the 15-nation Assembly, upholding the rights of the inhabitants of West Berlin to live in freedom and security and to have free communications with the West. The Soviet proposal for a free city was rejected. The resolution supported the reunification of Germany by means of free elections, accepting the principle that no proposal should be agreed which would involve a change to the disadvantage of the West in the balance of military security. It was further resolved that concessions on the part of the West should be matched by equivalent concessions on the part of the Soviet Union. I believe that that resolution reflects very faithfully the temper and attitude of mind of the European Parliamentarians to the problem of Berlin.

The attitude of Her Majesty's Government at this turning point in postwar history—for although perhaps one always believes that the time in which one lives is a turning point, I really believe we have reached a turning point—is calm and robust; and we go to the conference table fortified by the knowledge that a real understanding and trust has been firmly established between the Western Allies. We know, too, that there is a will to seek solutions by negotiation—and let us be quite clear about this. The negotiations upon which we are about to enter, in my opinion, can reach a satisfactory conclusion only provided that their objective is to achieve results which are to the common advantage of both sides and which respect the fundamental security requirements of each. There, in a sense, I may have echoed the observations that have been made by other noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon.

Perhaps it might be well if I remind your Lordships of a statement that was made in another place by my right honourable and learned friend the Foreign Secretary on December 4, 1958. He said that at Geneva in 1955 we had made it quite clear that while a reunited Germany must be free to decide her own foreign policy, if she should decide to continue to be associated with the West we should be prepared to give real guarantees to reassure the Soviet Union and the East European countries against the danger of attack from a united Germany. He also said that we had furthermore made it clear that if a reunited Germany should choose to join N.A.T.O. we should not take military advantage of the withdrawal of Soviet forces by moving the N.A.T.O. shield further Eastwards. Surely in that statement we have a very real recognition of the genuine possibility of the fear that Russia may have. That is clearly taken into account by that statement which was made in December of last year; and I am certain that Her Majesty's Government and the representatives of the Government to whom so many noble Lords have wished well this afternoon go into this Conference with this thought very clearly in their minds.

I listened, as other noble Lords probably did, to the debate in another place, and I could not help being deeply impressed by the simplicity of the language of my right honourable and learned friend. Perhaps it is not the British way to use grand words when difficult things are to be undertaken. He simply said that Her Majesty's Government were very conscious of their responsibilities and would do their best. I am quite certain that noble Lords in all quarters of the House wish every possible success to the endeavours of the Foreign Secretary. I have been gratified also, during the course of this debate, to hear the way in which noble Lords, particularly from the other side of the House, have congratulated the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister on his initiative. Clearly, if people never meet they can never solve their problems, and I believe, as many other noble Lords in this House believe, that this initiative has been a very great contribution to the whole world.

The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, raised certain specific points with which I should like to deal. He alluded to the Free Trade Area, and I should like just to make a few short observations, if I may, to bring your Lordships as completely up to date as I can. Since the suspension of the Free Trade Area negotiations last November, we have been faced with two problems, the immediate one and the long-term one. The immediate problem was that of discrimination against the United Kingdom and other Members of O.E.E.C. resulting from the operation of the Treaty of Rome at the beginning of this year. As your Lordships know, this discrimination arose mainly in French markets, and I am glad to be able to say that, after consulting with other Members of O.E.E.C. who do not belong to the European Economic Community, we have now finally concluded an agreement with France on quotas for trade in 1959. This agreement does not fully remove discrimination, but it goes much of the way towards doing so, and I am sure that it will do much to create a better atmosphere.

The long-term problem, and the danger which all of us, I think, have all along foreseen, that economic division would lead to political division in free Europe, still remains; and it is still Her Majesty's Government's conviction that the only satisfactory solution to this problem is the setting up of a multilateral association of all O.E.E.C. countries. As the Community rejected our proposals we have been waiting with interest to see what alternative they would bring forward. In March. the Council of Ministers of the European Economic Community reaffirmed their determination to pursue efforts to create such an association and set up a Committee to examine the comments of the six Governments in a preliminary Report which the European Commission had made. The Council of Ministers met again at the end of last month, and further consultations are, apparently, to take place.

We naturally await with great interest the outcome of these consultations. Our own aim is still to establish a system of European co-operation which provides for an association of the E.E.C. with the Members of the O.E.E.C. and does so within the framework of our international obligations. We continue to examine all possible ways of achieving this objective and we have been having talks with the "non-Six" countries to see what can be done to facilitate this. But here I would hasten to add that these talks we have been having with the "non-Six" countries do not in any way constitute a threat. These are talks which I think the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, will feel flow quite naturally from the situation; and I hope that it will not go out from this House that these talks do, in fact, constitute any idea of a threat. They are a natural series of things that have followed from the present situation, and Her Majesty's Government's intention is still quite definite: to try to achieve, as I have said, a multilateral association embracing all the countries of the O.E.E.C.

The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, referred to the question of the status of Berlin. As I understand it, the whole basis of the Western position in Berlin is that by the Agreement on the Occupation of Germany reached in the European Advisory Commission in 1943, to which the Soviet Government were a party, Berlin was made the subject of special arrangements and was not incorporated within any Zone of Occupation. When the Federal Republic came into existence, its constitution had to be approved by the then Military Governors. In approving it. they made a specific reservation that the status of Berlin remained unchanged. Berlin is not a part of the Federal Republic, and could not be made so, as I understand it, without prejudicing its existing status. The Allied position in the city is based on the fact that it was never a part of any Zone of Occupation, but was to be under separate quadripartite administration.


My Lords, may I intervene? I am not sure—my recollection is getting a little hazy—but does the same constitutional position apply to East Berlin? Berlin, as a whole, was a quadripartite responsibility, and my recollection is that the East Berlin Members of Parliament are full members; the West Berlin members are merely consultative. How can it happen that East Berlin Members can have one position without interfering with the 1943 Agreement, whereas if the West Berlin Members had exactly the same position, that would be an infringement of the 1943 Agreement? I have some difficulty in following that at this stage.


My Lords, I think the answer to that question is the same as the answer to the question: How can the Russians decide to walk out of East Berlin and give up their responsibilities there? In fact the whole of the city is in exactly the same position as the West. But unilaterally this arrangement has been made, which technically is incorrect. If we did the same thing—I think I need not insist any further.

I should like now, my Lords, to say a few words on the subject of Tibet, which was raised both by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and by other speakers this afternoon. I have already had occasion in this House to express the sympathy of Her Majesty's Government with the Tibetan people in their troubles. As has been made clear on more than one occasion. Her Majesty's Government have for long considered that Tibet should be regarded as autonomous, and I should like to take this opportunity of making it abundantly clear that we deplore anything that the Chinese Government may do to prevent the Tibetans from enjoying full autonomy; and in particular we greatly regret the use of force against them.

But, however much our sympathies may be with the Tibetan people, we must have regard to the realities of the siutation and consider whether any action on their behalf would be likely to be effective in helping them, or whether it might not perhaps produce the opposite result. In this connection I should like to quote from a speech made in Madras by Mr. Nehru on April 15. He said this: I cannot imagine any feasible, practical or happy solution to the Tibetan issue without autonomy for the Tibetan people. Her Majesty's Government most certainly share the hope that a satisfactory solution can be reached by peaceful means, which will serve the best interests of the Tibetan people.

Here perhaps I may interpolate a few remarks on the question of the refugees. Naturally, Her Majesty's Government fully understand and appreciate the attitude of mind that is inspired by the observations made by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. So far as I know, the number of refugees is still not very great. The figure that I have is something between 6,000 and 7,000: it may be more. So far, the Government of India has not asked for help. So far, the Government of India appears to be managing to deal with this problem; and, until the Government of India takes some initiative, I do not feel that we can usefully discuss the problem. None the less, Her Majesty's Government, and I personally, appreciate wholeheartedly the reasons Lord Henderson mentioned this matter.

There was one point in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, which I should like to try to clarify a little, and that was on the question of the German frontiers. My noble Leader gave a reply to the noble Lord and said that perhaps I might enlarge upon it somewhat. As I see it, the position is this: the Government must be a Government of a reunited Germany, and until such a Government exists it cannot be committed in advance by any statement or declaration made now. I think that that really is the nub of the thing: and until there is a Government with which to negotiate, it is really not possible to carry out any negotiations. I therefore do not think there is any question of our being able to follow up the idea which the noble Lord put forward.


I fully appreciate the statement made by the noble Marquess, and I quite understand it. What I proceeded to ask was: would Her Majesty's Government make a similiar statement to that made by General de Gaulle? There is nothing to prevent us from saying that the frontiers should not be changed; that they are permanent now.


I think the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, will appreciate very well that that is certainly a matter that I should have to leave to the Foreign Secretary. There was a question on this very matter which was raised in another place, and this was the reply, quoting the Federal German Government [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 573, col. 353]: 'only an all-German Government and a Parliament elected by the entire German nation are entitled to make this decision on the future German Eastern frontiers '. I think that that is pretty definite.

I do not want to detain your Lordships for long. Even the very innocent question of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, is going to receive a reply which, I am afraid, he may find disappointing. He referred in his speech to proposals for placing Antarctica under international control. I am informed that a twelve-Power working group has been meeting in Washington since June of last year to prepare the way for a conference. The members of the working group are representatives from the countries which were invited by President Eisenhower in May of 1958, but no date has yet been fixed for the conference. Members of the working group, including the United Kingdom, have agreed among themselves not to give any public information, because this might prejudice the chances of an agreement. Her Majesty's Government sincerely hope that agreement will be reached at a conference on the two basic principles underlying President Eisenhower's original invitation. These two principles are freedom of and continued co-operation in scientific research, and the non-militarisation of the area. So, alas, my Lords, that is all the information that I have at my disposal on the subject as raised by the noble Lord. Lord Shackleton.

My Lords, the position of a Junior Minister in the Foreign Office, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, knows, is one in which very interesting work is enjoyed. It is a position where, alas, one does not have the freedom of noble Lords who sit where my noble friend Lord Reading now sits. In concluding my remarks this afternoon I would say that I believe that much has been said of great value. I listened to the string of questions which the noble Lord. Lord Silkin, rhetorically addressed to the Prime Minister; and I realise that these questions were all intended to be helpful. There were, perhaps, points on which I did not find myself entirely in agreement with the noble Lord, though that would not surprise him. But what I did feel throughout was that everything that he was saying—as, indeed, everything that was said by other speakers this afternoon: the noble Earl, Lord Attlee; the noble Marquess, Lord Reading; and the many other speakers who have spoken—had one object only, and that was to make contributions that could conceivably be useful. I would assure noble Lords that, in so far as it is within my power, everything that has been said this afternoon will be carefully considered and will be treated with the respect that it deserves.

6.8 p.m.


My Lords, in rising to ask leave to withdraw my Motion I should like, first of all, to thank the noble Marquess, the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, for the trouble he has taken to answer the many questions that have been raised during the debate. I have succeeded in getting answers to three questions that I raised myself, and each answer turned me down. I must therefore look at his answers carefully to see whether, though they are acceptable in terms of fact and law, they are acceptable in terms of political judgment. Then, on behalf of other speakers, I should like to thank the noble Marquess for dealing with the points of information which they raised. I am sure they would wish me to do that.

At the beginning of our discussion I said that I thought that perhaps the time for this debate had not been well chosen. I had in mind in particular, of course, the fact that conferences are about to open, and that little could be said here which was likely to influence decisions which we understand to have been taken. However, the Motion was wide open, and it was possible to range quite widely over the world: and I think the debate has been a very worthwhile debate. Some fine speeches have been made. We have not been tied down to any narrow area of discussion, and I think that the quality of the debate has justified its taking place to-day.

I want to thank all noble Lords who have taken part. In the past, perhaps, we have been restricted because of the pressure of the German problem. Speaking from memory, I think it must be some months since last we had a general foreign affairs debate, and I feel that, so far as the Opposition are concerned, we must protect the right of noble Lords to have more general debates and hold debates on particular issues only when an issue really calls for debate. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.