HL Deb 10 February 1960 vol 220 cc1130-85

3.47 p.m.

Debate resumed.


My Lords, we have had from the noble Lord the Leader of the Liberal Party a speech in support of the Motion he has on the Paper which has been exceedingly thoughtful and which, from the point of view from which he was speaking, certainly attempted to be constructive. It is interesting to note that today is February 10, for I remember that on February 11 last year there was a major debate in your Lordships' House on the nuclear section of the problem on which the noble Lord has been speaking. And it certainly does not hurt in any sense for these matters to be brought before us from time to time, for whatever publicity can thereby be rendered to the general citizenship on the very grave and urgent problems in these matters which have to be faced by the whole of the country.

As I listened to the noble Lord this afternoon, I felt that on the points on which I do not always agree with him he nevertheless seemed to make a good case from the point of view from which he was arguing. It is perfectly true that what is required is that this nation and all the other great nations concerned should be formulating, for themselves and collectively, a constructive policy with regard to disarmament. I believe that that is generally accepted. Having listened very carefully to what was said by the noble Earl the Leader of the House on February 11 last year I said at that time, and I say now, that, having regard to the problems which face this country and the world, he made then a speech with which I agreed, at any rate very largely; and I especially agreed with its spirit.

Nevertheless, I feel we must face the fact that one can hardly go as far as the noble Lord, Lord Rea, who suggested that perhaps one of the main reasons for which we in this country maintain such a large—and, I gather, increasing—expenditure as £1,500 million a year, is pride, prestige, or something of that kind. I do not believe that any of us who have been engaged in the past in trying to be constructive in regard to the Defence Services of our country could accept that for a moment. The fact is, of course, that we have many, many responsibilities, and what we must regard as duties, in defence. The responsibilities that we have are worldwide and are not entirely confined, say, either to the defence of our ships at sea or to the defence of outlying parts of Commonwealth nations. Those are very important and very heavy responsibilities; but having regard to the history of the growth of the influence of the British-speaking people, and especially our own section of the British-speaking people, one cannot hide from oneself the fact that we now have the responsibility of somehow defending the rights of people throughout the Commonwealth and throughout the world to maintain their freedom, to be able to live in liberty with their fellow citizens and comrades. And I do not see how any Government responsible for the proper leadership of the country could ever omit from its duties and responsibilities the question of how this greater responsibility of our country in the world and in the Commonwealth at large can best be met.

The fact is, of course, that we are often critical of Her Majesty's Government as to how this or that or the other particular section of policies thus involved has been met. Certainly some of us have been critical as to the particular plans of defence which have been adopted. But I do not want it to be thought for a moment that I would agree—and I doubt whether many of my friends would agree—that we maintain what defence is voted each year by Parliament only from the point of view of pride or of prestige. It is a question of having to defend against any aggression all our rights and the liberties of all those for whom we are responsible.

I was happy to hear the noble Lord, Lord Rea, say, because from what I know of him I felt it was true, that he is not inherently a pacifist. And I am quite sure he will agree with me that, if one rests upon the Scriptures, one can find all kinds of texts, sometimes taken from their contexts, which show that the Christian faith would be in favour of complete pacifism. I think that is true. But there are many other passages in the whole Word showing that it does not mean necessarily that if you take a sword to defend freedom and yourself you perish by the sword especially for that reason, but that we have certain duties to our fellow men and to the principles which we have to defend at all times in our lives and which would justify our using force. I cannot argue that aspect at length this afternoon. There is not time, and I dare say that the noble Lord, Lord Rea, would not want to argue it at length, because he has really conceded that he would not be a pacifist 100 per cent. where such issues and rights were involved.

As to the main purpose of his Motion this afternoon—that is, to request the Government to formulate a constructive policy of disarmament—I would say that I am very much behind him in the general principle. From my fairly intimate knowledge of what has been taking place ever since we tried to get agreement with the U.S.S.R. in the Paris Peace Conference of 1946, fourteen years ago, I think that in general we have been pursuing efforts at getting a concerted and constructive policy, and we have often been very disappointed. But, of course, one of the obvious advantages of debating these matters from time to time, as the noble Lord has enabled us to do to-day, is to be able to offer criticisms, I hope constructive criticisms, of this or that part of the efforts of the reigning Government of the day in their desire to get collective action for defence and certainly constructive action for disarmament.

After the lengthy debate we had on February 11 last year there is no need to talk to your Lordships in general about the horrors of nuclear warfare, because it is all on record; and the horrible dangers in such a form of warfare are certainly not going to decrease. They are likely, by the development of science when used for these evil purposes, to get very much worse, and even much more widespread and drastic. I would say that ultimately there will be no final remedy until we can get a change in the outlook of a far greater number of people in the world on these matters in general. I was particularly interested in what the noble Lord said about his view as to the way the young people, and even the older people, in our country are thinking and acting to-day. We can never face a great moral problem such as is wrapped up in this terrible threat to humanity and civilisation if we merely seek and work to develop only the advancing materialism of the races in the world. Wherever we look to-day I think we have to face up to the fact that there is a much more materialistic outlook than at any previous time in our lifetime, and maybe in the history of the whole world. But I would leave that matter to greater scholars than myself to settle.

Certainly as one looks round upon our very gay society, the society which the Prime Minister was able to inform, in the Election campaign last year, they had"never had it so good"—when there has been so much advance alongside ordinary education in every kind of gay occupation, though in some pursuits the advance has been rather less than desirable—one sees that we are not far removed from those people in nearly all the ages who were faced with sudden dangers for which they ought to have prepared and then had suddenly to scrabble about and prepare for them and in the end were really saying to each other, night after night,"Eat drink and be merry for to-morrow we die." That is a very serious thought of mind and aspect for any nation or nations to get into. Therefore, I was very pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Rea, mentioned that point.

What is the first call from the nation's point of view? I think the first call from the nation's point of view is to try to get a better spiritual outlook to the whole problem. I have not yet been able to discover in any philosophy, nor in the political science which many of us have tried to acquire in our political lives, a real answer to that one. We have to come to some spiritual outlook which is engendered by a belief that there is a force in the universe which can change and direct men's and women's hearts and fasten them on to the right path of doing good and not doing evil. It is very difficult to find it properly anywhere outside of religion. So the first thing is to get a better spiritual outlook. Then perhaps we may be able to get on to the ideas many of us have talked about, because all of us, even those of us who have had to serve heavily in the cause of organised defence, physical defence, have never had out of mind that what we should aim at is a society in which there is a fulfilment of beating our swords into ploughshares.

So I look back over my experience with the formation of the League of Nations, with its great achievements in almost every human problem with which the world has been faced except the problem of the prevention of war. Although it settled many minor disputes, in that it failed, in the whole size of the problem. I am looking now at the United Nations Organisation, founded after enormous stress and strain and suffering of nations throughout the world during the last war, and with every hope of trying to reach the kind of goal which the noble Lord who moved the Motion has in mind.

What has happened? No one can say that there have not been efforts to make constructive organisation. I am bound to confess that when I came back from the Paris Peace Conference at the end of October, 1946, I advised my colleagues in the Cabinet that there was no prospect at that time, so far as I could see ahead, that we could possibly meet the situation without organising defence and without having not merely an Army, a Navy and an Air Force but also, even in the difficult economic circumstances which we had to face, if we were to have sufficient forces, National Service. That is what I was faced with after the Paris Peace Conference: and, so far as I can see, if we had not done that then we should have been in an even worse position than we are to-day as a result of what has been called the cold war.

I look at that fact, and then I try to compare it with the work that many of us, of all political opinions in this House and in the other place, who have been connected with the National Brotherhood Movement, have tried to do to get constructive policy. I may have mentioned this before, but I will mention it again, in view of what the noble Lord has said to us this afternoon. It is twenty-six years since I delivered the John Clifford Lecture at the Middlesbrough Annual Conference of the National Brotherhood Movement on the title, The World Court—The Way to Peace. My chairman for the evening was the late reverend Canon Dick Sheppard, and, at the end, he said as a pacifist that I had almost persuaded him—quoting the language of King Agrippa—but that what he could not accept was, as I had said, that, whatever court was set up, it was essential that there should be means of implementing its decisions. That is absolutely fundamental.

If you are going to do that, then you will be faced with this other problem: can you, by spiritual means, inspire the individual nations that at present have arms and feel that they have responsibilities to defend, and persuade them to accept a world legal organisation on that basis which would deal with the real pith of the matter and say,"This is not a question of disarmament; it is a question of handing over to the international organisation which must implement the decisions of the World Court what armaments are required for them"? That brings up the old question which I think was debated in the other place only yesterday on a much smaller issue, the issue of Cyprus, and that is the question of national sovereignty: but if you are once going to get to the position of being able reasonably to guarantee peace throughout the world, that is the objective you have to aim at.

Now as to constructive proposals on the way up to that, I think we have to use our position as still a very great Power in the world—nothing like as great in some respects as we have been in the military, and other, senses—and have to do all that we possibly can to persuade Governments and people that they could do a little more than they are doing now. For example, there are matters of immediate moment that could be studied, to see whether they would help in the direction that the noble Lord, Lord Rea, desires. Take, for example, the question which has been debated so often, as to whether we are ready to ban altogether nuclear weapons. Surely the first step in respect of that would be to stop all tests. We welcomed very much the Government's suspension of the tests of nuclear weapons. I am bound to say that I felt very concerned when, just two or three months ago, the President of the United States announced that they were not proposing to carry that pledge not to test any more nuclear weapons beyond the original date of the period first fixed, December 31.

If we really want to see come to fruition spiritual progress in the minds of the nations of the world who are really powerful, we surely must get better leads from Governments than that: and although we, on behalf of this country, can say at the present time that we have suspended our tests, I am anxious to-day to put to the Government that it would be a very good thing if we could say to our American colleagues in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation,"We think you should accompany us in this suspension and there should be a guarantee that there will be no further tests, at any rate until after the summit meeting or meetings have been able to consider the whole question again." Perhaps after those summit meetings it may not be necessary—I pray God it may not be necessary—to resume the tests. Then, of course, we shall all have to do a considerable amount of re-thinking about what we actually mean by controls against the possibility of nuclear developments taking place which would be a danger to us, or to all the world, when they happened.

It would not be saying too much, I think, if I said that the work of the representatives at the Three Power Commission at Geneva has been exceedingly interesting and very valuable but it is exceedingly frustrating to the thinking part of our public to find the way in which these delays go on from month to month over matters and suggestions that one would have thought could have been settled in a very few weeks indeed. I must mention the United States again, and the statements that they make every week to Press conferences, either through the President or through their Secretary of State. They make statements on these things which fill us with a good deal of anxiety as to whether they have any special bee in their bonnet which is continuously holding up the advance of the technical work of the Geneva Commission.

Take, for example, the treatment by the Geneva Commission of what was called the Russian"package deal", especially the parts relating to what should be done by seismography—the testing of actual earthquakes as against the possibility of underground nuclear test explosions. I thought there was a great deal of unnecessary delay on that matter, although, of course, I am no technician, and I do not want anybody to feel that I am criticising unworthily. It seems to me that frequently they have drawn close together and that it would be wrong to assume that there has not been some gain in the continuance of these talks. I think that the whole of Parliament and the whole nation ought to be pressing for much more rapid progress and that the efforts of ourselves and of our Allies should be in that direction.

The other thing that concerns me very much is the attitude of General de Gaulle. How much more difficult will it be to get on to a constructive policy of disarmament for all the allies in N.A.T.O., if, as I understand it, General de Gaulle wants a special place in N.A.T.O., and special rights to do what he likes, especially in regard to nuclear development. I think that if we were to express public opinion in as nice a way as we possibly could, we should say to the President of France that at this stage in world history it would be much more desirable to combine together for the one great purpose of getting peace and stability, without which we cannot have true and continuous economic progress and human happiness, rather than to assume that the great mission of the leader of a nation is to re-establish this or that national unit as the proudest or highest or best in the world from the point of view of armaments or scientific achievement. These are great moral and religious, as well as political, international questions.

So far as I am concerned, I will never submit to my country being put into the unilateral position of being the only main Power that provides no defence for the rights of its citizens and of those for whom it is responsible. I cannot see any sensible end coming out of that. I hope that in the few remaining years of my existence I shall not cease to try to establish such an organisation as the World Court that will be properly provided with the means to enforce its decisions.

4.13 p.m.


My Lords, in welcoming and supporting the Motion of my noble friend Lord Rea, I want to speak in particular of one aspect of this terrible question, the aspect of it which might be put in the phrase,"the psychological moment." I truly believe that States and nations are far nearer to that moment now than ever before in the past. Again and again since the 1920's, the great Powers have struggled together to try to achieve disarmament, and I believe that it is a fair reading of history to say that two things have always stood in the way, two things not really very different but both controlling the course of events. One thing has been the desire of some State or other, set upon aggression, to have enough weapons for its aggressive purposes. The other thing has been the desire of a group of peace-loving States to have enough weapons, collectively or singly, for the withstanding of possible aggression.

How often since the 1920's has that situation repeated itself! And in this way both political immorality and political morality have combined to check bold steps towards achieving a considerable disarmament. It is indeed, a difficult cause when, to put it crudely, yet not, I believe, inaccurately, both the wickedness and goodness in the world of nations combine to frustrate it. Does not the psychological moment come far nearer when it is really grasped that no sort of goal or motive is going to be served by war on a world scale—and, of course, any war to-day is liable to become overnight a war on a world scale. I believe that, at long last, Russia realises that if she is set upon imposing her ideology on the world, she connot achieve it by an aggressive war. She bids only to destroy herself, as well as the rest of the world in the process. On the other side, the peace-loving nations may possess deterrent weapons. In the last decade or so, I truly believe these deterrents have preserved the peace, but the deterrents become exceedingly precarious when they amount virtually to boomerangs, just because their use invites the retaliation that means total destruction. A war for the promotion of justice and order has no guarantee that justice and order, and not just wholesale destruction, will emerge.

If, then, the peoples of the great Powers can but move to a realistic grasp, in mind and imagination, of where they really stand, the will to disarmament could have, even quickly, a totally new impetus; because States totally at variance in their ideologies of how human existence ought to be conducted can quickly find themselves in a sort of comradeship if it is the preservation of human existence itself that is at stake. In this context the question of trust is crucial, and I think that the question of trust can be put in a new light. If we were asked,"How can we trust Russia?" my answer would be that there are lots of way in which we cannot and do not trust her but we can trust her in one respect—namely, that her leaders have rightly grasped, and I believe that the evidence suggests it, that aggressive war cannot achieve Communist world domination. I believe that in this crucial year many people in this country, of many different sorts and outlooks, are looking hopefully towards our Prime Minister. In his recent utterances in Africa he has shown a courage and imagination which have struck a new note and have already begun to generate new trust. May it be given to him to seize the chance, in talking with Russia and America, of lifting the whole matter on to a new plane of appreciation which will touch the imagination of the peoples, and touch them with the conviction that their common predicament has at long last brought new possibilities of trust between them!

In this country I have not been able to identify myself with the anti-nuclear weapons campaign, with its cry for unilateral nuclear disarmament. I believe that that cry has wrongly simplified the moral issue. The inception of a war can as easily begin by an aggression with big conventional weapons as with nuclear weapons; and when once begun, it becomes a nuclear war of unlimited destruction. The right moral demand is, I believe, for disarmament by agreement in every type of armament, so that no State possesses enough armaments to enable it to start an aggressive war. May Her Majesty's Government have that goal firmly before them! I believe that it might help greatly in the building up of confidence and in this capturing of the imagination of peoples in many countries if Her Majesty's Government could take with them into conference not only as full a disarmament programme as is possible but also some sketch of the programme of economic reorganisation in the country which considerable disarmament would entail. I believe that, if that were possible, it would make a deep impression of sincerity and resolution.

The Christian Church in this country and everywhere—and I know that in this the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition agrees with me wholeheartedly, and I with him—must lead Christian people to direct their prayers and their resolution in such a way that a new outlook can make success possible in what is more nearly the psychological moment for disarmament than history has ever known before.

4.23 p.m.


My Lords, the House is always willing to listen to the noble Lord, Lord Rea, because he always puts his point of view to us with clarity and manages to convey to us his thoughts, which are often quite profound, in the minimum of words. He has raised to-day—and, indeed, any debate on disarmament must do so—all the great moral issues which are involved, of which the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition and the most reverend Primate have spoken. I do not intend this afternoon to argue whether the balance of forces, both nuclear and conventional, is more likely to keep the peace or more likely to be the prelude to a deadlier war than the world has seen before, because I want to bring the debate down, if I may, from theory to the terms of the noble Lord's Motion when he asks for a constructive plan of disarmament.

The wording of the noble Lord's Motion, I am bound to say, surprised me. I have looked week by week to see if the words might be changed, and I listened with close attention to his speech to-day, and both the Motion and the speech suggested to me that he had never heard of the speech made by the Foreign Secretary to the General Assembly of United Nations on September 17, 1959. On a previous occasion when we had a debate on disarmament that was sponsored by the Liberal Party in this House I had to send the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, copies of the United Nations Disarmament debate, at which a plan of disarmament was supported by 57 members—the great majority of them—and the noble Lord had not known about it. To-day, if I may, I am going to send the noble Lord, Lord Rea, two copies of the Foreign Secretary's speech, one for himself and one for the research organisation of the Liberal Party.

First, I should like to make clear to the noble Lord, Lord Rea, and to the House, what the Government mean when they talk of"comprehensive disarmament"; and I want to define this meaning in specific terms. We mean the prohibition, by international agreement, of the manufacture and use of all nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, and the reduction of armed forces and conventional armaments to the levels necessary for internal security only. I do not believe that anybody could quarrel with that definition or that aim. But, as the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, has said, I think the majority of noble Lords in this House are agreed that confidence in the world, and therefore security, cannot be secured by unilateral disarmament. I very much agree with the noble Viscount, if I may say so, in saying that we have rights and liberties; and it is not only our own liberties that we have to defend, but great responsibilities overseas in which we have to defend people who wish to lead a free life.

Nor, clearly, can any disarmament plan be dictated by one nation; it must be negotiated. Therefore, my right honourable friend, when he went to the United Nations last year, thought that the first practical thing to do was to try to break the deadlock which there had been since the Russians paralysed proceedings on disarmament by boycotting the United Nations Disarmament Com- mission and its sub-committee which had previously dealt with these matters. Clearly, there could be no headway at all in the field of international disarmament, which the noble Lord, Lord Rea, seeks, unless we were able to find a negotiating body of workable size. Therefore my right honourable friend took the initiative at the Foreign Ministers' Conference of 1959, and the result has been the establishment of the 10-Power Disarmament Committee which is to sit in March. Five countries, the United States, France, Canada, Italy and the United Kingdom, can be said to be from the West, and five, the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Roumania and Bulgaria, representative of the East. That is not a United Nations body, but it is linked to the United Nations and has been welcomed unanimously by the Political Committee of the General Assembly.

I think that is important, because it is, in our view, vital that we should retain the authority of the United Nations in these matters of disarmament and the reduction of tension between nations. Therefore, I trust that the reception which has been given to this 10-Power Committee in the United Nations as a practical Working Party will mean that there is a new realism and a fresh sense of urgency, and that, if the will is there, at any rate we have established some machinery which may bring results. That, I think, was the first thing to do.

I should now like to turn to the principles which must govern any satisfactory and successful disarmament plan. First of all, a plan must increase the security of all without endangering the security of any. In other words, security must be truly collective. Secondly, it must provide for effective control through inspection, and I think the operative word there is"effective". Thirdly, it must ensure that nuclear and conventional disarmament are not treated as separate problems, but as a whole.

The nub of the matter would seem to me to be this: inspection and, through inspection, control, because there can be no confidence or security if it is thought that one nation can conceal forces and arms and thereby launch a surprise attack upon its neighbours. Many of your Lordships will remember that a Frenchman, M. Moch, once said: There can be no control without disarmament and no disarmament without control. I think that is putting it in a nutshell, and it is as valid to-day as it was when he said it.

The difficulties—and, let us say also, the possibilities—have been well illustrated, as the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, said, in the current talks on the suspension of nuclear tests. They have made considerable progress, but now they have reached the point where they are discussing the possibility of the detection of underground tests. I agree with the noble Viscount that one finds oneself, as a layman and an amateur, very impatient in these matters, and one would have thought that we could have come to agreement before. But let us remember that unless the controls are effective there will be no confidence and, therefore, no security. That is why I insist all the time on inspection and effective control. That is why we are exercising infinite patience in the Conference at Geneva on the suspension of nuclear tests—not only because of the immediate gains that such a suspension would bring to humanity, but also because if we can devise a system of inspection and control here in respect of that matter, then it can be expanded and adapted over a wider area of the military field. For our part we have made it clear, as the noble Viscount said, that we are not going to conduct nuclear tests so long as useful discussions continue at Geneva.

Now perhaps I might turn to the main headings of the Foreign Secretary's proposal, because I think the House ought to know of this plan which he put forward. It was a constructive plan, set out in considerable detail in several stages. Stage one would consist of the provision of information about arms by land, sea and air—information to be given by each country according to agreed criteria. Then it would be necessary for the experts and the technicians to have discussions, based on this information, as to the actual levels of disarmament which could be achieved. That would be followed by reductions of forces in the conventional field.

Stage two, which again was in much more detail than I have envisaged, would include major reductions in conventional arms and measures to curb the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Stage three would be comprehensive disarmament by all the Powers, and the establishment, as the noble Viscount said, would be necessary at that stage of some instrument which would keep the peace if, as is almost certain, I am afraid, in an imperfect world, the peace was threatened or broken. I could elaborate the plan put forward by my right honourable friend. It dealt, for instance, with the prevention of further production of fissile material and the transfer of existing stocks to peaceful purposes. It dealt with the technical and political aspects of measures to be taken against surprise attack. It dealt with how other forms of warfare, for instance, biological warfare, might be fitted into the whole.

It would be possible to analyse all these points and to take them further, but I do not want to do so, for this reason. We are about to engage in disarmament talks in the new Disarmament Committee. We want to retain the position, which is flexible, and there are at this very moment talks going on in Washington in which, no doubt, the Foreign Secretary's plans, and other plans put forward by our Western friends, will be studied and put into a constructive whole. But there is little doubt, I think, that if the noble Lord, Lord Rea, had read the Foreign Secretary's speech he would not have come forward with a Motion worded in exactly the same way as he has done to-day, because the Foreign Secretary's plan is constructive. It is admittedly easy to write down a list of subjects covering the whole field of possible disarmament. But the important thing is to get a start, even in a limited field, and a start which includes inspection and control.

In the 10-Power Committee which will shortly discuss disarmament, side by side with the Foreign Secretary's suggestions and those of the other Western nations will be Mr. Khrushchev's proposal. His plan, leaving aside the time limit in it, would have to pass the tests which I mentioned earlier—namely, would it preserve the security of all and, therefore, create confidence? If it does, well then, the prospects for real disarmament are immeasurably improved. Over the past few years certain compulsions—one of them mechanisation, but mostly economics—have operated to reduce manpower in the forces of the various nations. According to Mr. Khrushchev's statement, in four years the level of the manpower in the Russian forces has been reduced by 37 per cent. We started slightly earlier, but between the Korean War and now the reduction in the manpower of our Forces has been almost exactly the same—somewhere between 36 and:37 per cent. By 1962 we plan to have something of the order of 400,000 men under arms, which, if we take the starting point of the Korean War—and I think that is a fair one—will be a 50 per cent. reduction on what we had then. Taking Mr. Khrushchev's calculations as he looked forward, he will arrive at the reduction of 50 per cent. at about the same time as we shall.

But when we pause to consider the implications in these unilateral reductions of manpower, even though they coincide in their results at a particular time, we see that it is only one factor in the tensions in the world, and that, perhaps, the least. The menace which hangs over mankind, as the most reverend Primate has emphasised, is the nature and the capacity of modern weapons to annihilate whole countries at a time. Therefore, a large cut in manpower does not necessarily reduce the ability to make war. Indeed, Mr. Khrushchev was at pains himself to make that clear in the speech he made to the Russian nation and to the world only a few weeks ago. Therefore I think this all goes to reinforce the conclusion that any plan of disarmament must include nuclear and conventional weapons, and that we cannot embark upon an extensive plan of disarmament until we are certain that there is an effective system of inspection and control; and that is really the key to the matter.

The people, of course, as the most reverend Primate said, are passionately anxious to see an end to this expenditure on modern weapons, not only because of the unspeakable horror of nuclear armaments and because they realise only too well that this country is in the front line, but because of the wealth which could be diverted to purposes of economic and social development, to the benefit not only of this country but of the Commonwealth and the underdeveloped countries of the world. But our people are pretty shrewd and hard-headed. I think they clearly understand these issues, too. They clearly appreciate that history has taught us, and we have learned in a hard school, that incautious disarmament and unilateral disarmament can lead to disaster. And they appreciate, too, what the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, so properly reminded us of, and that is this: that the first duty of a Government is to provide security for its people. It cannot escape that duty; no Government and no Party can do so.

So I would say, recognising these things as facts, that nevertheless the people are entitled to expect that their Government will go out and take advantage of what undoubtedly is the psychological moment, as the most reverend Primate has stressed, and try their hardest in agreement with the other nations represented in the Disarmament Committee to achieve security within the framework of progressive disarmament. I can give that absolute assurance to the House, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Rea, will believe that it is sincerely our desire to work for real disarmament. I hope that when he looks at the Foreign Secretary's speech and when he sees how the representatives of the West conduct themselves in the Disarmament Committee of ten that he will feel that we have a constructive plan which could be adopted, given the will to do so. I hope when he has studied this he will find—and I have no quarrel with his Motion at all—that the proposals which we have put forward could form the basis for steady disarmament under inspection and control.

4.44 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Earl who has just spoken for Her Majesty's Government indicated that on earlier occasions he had found it necessary to correct some of the things that I or other Liberals had said about the Government's attitude on this problem of world government and world peace. I think that, if I so wished to, I could put up some defence of my errors, but I am not going to attempt that. I merely want to say that I have every confidence that he will feel no need to correct me after what I am going to say now. I accept and welcome everything that he has said to-day. Above all I accept his definition of disarmament as total disarmament of all weapons of all kinds. I should like briefly to give my four reasons on one particular question on which the most reverend Primate has also spoken: the question of whether nuclear disarmament, merely getting rid of all nuclear weapons while leaving other weapons going, would be of any use at all. And I say at once that it would be no use at all—for four distinct reasons.

The first is that those of us who have lived through two world wars know how horrible they were without nuclear weapons. The second is that to abolish nuclear weapons and leave the development of all other weapons would expose the world, or large parts of the world, to the domination of a single Power that chose to go in for that. The third is that if war once began, even if it was not nuclear to start with, it would become that within six months. People who have once learned how to make nuclear armament could always take it up again, and would. Finally, if mass murder between nations is justified as a national duty, quite likely we shall soon find ourselves passing from nuclear weapons to things even worse, to bacteriological warfare and other such methods.

War in any form whatever must be abolished, and on that point I would stress that no serious evil in the world is curable by negative methods alone: positive action also is needed. You cannot cure bad housing by pulling down slums; when you pull down the slums you have to build new houses. You cannot cure want by sending a beggar to prison. Our method in Britain for dealing with want was the social insurance which was invented and introduced to us by Lloyd George, fifty years ago. Therefore, for the abolition of war you need some means of doing peaceably what war has done with horrors in the past, settling disputes between nations when they cannot agree themselves. That means there must be a world authority able to substitute justice for war between nations, able to enforce justice upon all nations, able to secure disarmament of all those Powers. That means, of course, a World Court and a World Police Force; and we must have an authority with all the necessary powers.

I need not say that I realise, as I know the noble Earl realises, the many enormously difficult practical questions that arise in substituting justice for force and murder between nations. First, how would one discover secret arming going on in some remote corner of the world? I hope that the noble Earl will not correct me on this matter. In a speech that I made in this House not long ago I said that I was very glad indeed that we had now a Minister for Science with the ability of the actual Minister—because I regard the scientists as bringing this trouble on us, and I think it is for them to cure it by teaching us how to discover when nuclear weapons are being made in secret. Whatever inspection they insist on, we ought to provide. I leave that to the Government, and above all to the Minister for Science in this Government. But then comes another problem: how, when you have discovered secret arming, do you stop it? What kind of inspection, what kind of power, can you use? Incidentally, before I finish I shall make a suggestion which, if the country were to carry it out, might be found useful for this purpose.

There is a third and much more difficult question, however. I am assuming that when we abolish war we do not take away from any nation its freedom to manage its own affairs. The problem then arises: what is a nation that is free to manage its own affairs? I need not dwell upon that. I mention only two places—Tibet and Germany. Remember that you cannot go on for ever drawing the boundaries of nations exactly as they are to-day. Economic and human conditions will change. It will be very difficult for a World Court to decide, as it will have to decide, what is a nation that must be left in freedom to manage its own affairs. Yet another question arises: how do you deal with the aggressor? There are plenty of questions. There is, of course, the question of the nature of the World Police Force. Let me say at once that my inclination is to make that a body of volunteers, and not to have contributions by the various nations. All my suggestions are merely thrown out for criticism and are not definite.

Another problem is what kind of World Authority should be established. There is the most interesting problem as to whether that World Authority should be organically connected with the United Nations or something different. I remember that only six months ago I supported the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, in his view that there should be a revision of the United Nations. I am going to say now that I am not sure that that view was right. But I am not going to discuss it, because it is too difficult a question to discuss. But if anyone is interested—any member of the Government—I will give my reasons for thinking that it might be better to have two separate authorities for two jobs which are utterly unlike one another: the job that the world authority for stopping war will have to do, and the job that I, personally, want to see the United Nations do.

Total disarmament means taking away only one right that nations have hitherto claimed for themselves—the right of mass murder and robbery in war. I do not think there is any need to take anything else. I myself believe that, next to peace, most people in the world want freedom to manage their own affairs in their own way and should keep that freedom. But I would put the United Nations into a position to give help to all nations if they desired help, on many things. Let us realise that if we had disarmament all the nations in the world would find themselves saving a great deal of money. I should like to see some substantial proportion of that money handed over to the United Nations—perhaps a revised United Nations, but still the United Nations—to be used for promoting free co-operation between nations for common purposes: such things as raising the standard of life, above all in the undeveloped countries and in guiding co-operation between nations, in social security, in trade, in learning and in education, in travel and in health. Such an expenditure would in itself be a great contribution to peace. It would help not merely to make a world of peace forcibly, but a world of peace happy because it finds itself benefiting by it.

That is the kind of suggestion that I should like to make. To-day I think there is a great chance of that. I have spoken already of my wish not to take anything from nations except what is necessary to stop war. But I want the nations to co-operate freely in all their common interests. Let each of them have their own form of Government, whether they choose a President, a Prime Minister, a King, or are chosen by a tyrant, as they might be in some cases; whether they prefer a Conservative Government, a Communist Government, a Socialist Government, or, once, in a blue moon, a Liberal Government; whatever economic policy they have, of free trade or anything else, of education, of social security and all the rest. That is federalism. Twenty years ago three young men in their twenties descended on me in Oxford to persuade me that I must become a Federal Unionist in order to stop war. They wanted that kind of thing—war stopped and co-operation between nations. One of those three young men, Derek Romsey, was killed in World War II, and another is also dead; but their work lives on. Federal Union is, I believe, the secret of a world not only at peace, kept forcibly at peace if necessary, but willingly at peace because it co-operates for all good purposes.

I am coming to an end because I know that there are other speakers. None of the practical questions that I have put is anything like so difficult as the question: How could civilisation survive another war? There is only one answer to that—that civilisation could not survive any war conducted with all the weapons that we now control. The progress of science has limited the choice to that of abolishing war or being, to a large extent, abolished ourselves. Let us therefore decide, for all its difficulties—and I do not ignore them (after all, I have been a civil servant who has had to think out the problems which Ministers have sent me) to end war. Science, which has made that necessary, has in many other ways brought all men and nations physically closer. We can end war, if we wish, together as nations. I want Britain to lead the way in that by teaching the other nations. I think that is the point of the Motion of my noble friend Lord Rea—not to force it on them, not to do things necessarily all alone by ourselves; but to guide other nations to make a world at peace, also a happy world free from want, free from needless disease, and free from ignorance and idleness. We can do it, if we so decide. From what I have seen of the leaders of other great nations, I believe that they would fall in with that idea. My last word is this. I am not going to say that the Government are slow: I say most emphatically that I am not suggesting that. But do let us try to get on as quickly as the other nations will let us do so, because delay in this matter is dangerous.

4.59 p.m.


My Lords, I do not intend this afternoon to trouble your Lordships for more than a few moments; nor do I wish to range so wide as the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, has done in the moving and inspiring speech which he has just delivered to us. Indeed, I feel that anybody who intervenes at all at the present time in a debate on disarmament is a brave man. The whole subject has become rather like a game of chess in which first one side makes a move and then the other, no doubt partly to frustrate the machinations of its opponent and partly, I expect, as a propaganda gesture for the benefit of its own people. Unless one follows the detailed moves of the various players—and that, if one is not in close touch with those who are specially concerned with this very esoteric subject, is most difficult—it is extremely hard to find out the exact point which the game has reached at any particular moment, whose turn it is to play next and what is likely to be the riposte of the other players. And I believe that it is even more difficult to discover whether, after all that has happened and all the moves that have been made, any real advance towards disarmament has in fact been achieved.

That may seem to be a cynical view of a very serious question. I do not mean it in that way. But I have been connected with this question of disarmament, on and off, for over a quarter of a century. I attended innumerable meetings, month after month, of the Disarmament Conference at Geneva before the war, and I confess that anyone who has had that experience is unlikely to have any very serious illusions as to the character of many of the discussions on disarmament between the nations of the world at the present moment of its history. And the reason why that is so is very simple. Nations are, for reasons which are, or should be, very understandable to us all, extremely reluctant to disarm until there has been some progress towards a settlement of those problems, vitally affecting them, which have made their armaments necessary. They feel that a settlement of the problems should precede their disarmament; that that is the proper balance of progress on this question. Before the war, the French were apprehensive of the intentions of Hitlerite Germany and Hitlerite Germany affected, at any rate, apprehension of the intentions of France. Both pleaded the existence of hostile and dangerous neighbours as a reason for postponing their own disarmament.

Nor, my Lords, do I believe the situation is any different at the present time. The Western Powers are, perhaps naturally, apprehensive of the intentions of the Soviet bloc. The Soviet bloc, I believe, equally, are genuinely apprehensive about the intentions of the Western Powers; and so no advance of any kind is made. That is the problem which we have to face. I thought that over the whole situation the noble Lord, Lord Rea, whom we all respect so much, perhaps rather over-simplified the difficulties with which the world is confronted at the present time. Take, in particular, the question of nuclear weapons. He movingly emphasised the horrible nature of this weapon, and of course what he said is perfectly true. We all know that it is an unbelievably horrible weapon; and the more one knows about it, the more horrible it becomes. But its horrible nature is not a conclusive reason for abolishing it. On the contrary, it is, in one sense, the main merit of the weapon. That is what makes it a deterrent to war such as has never before been known.

Up to now, an aggressor, if he was a great, powerful and ambitious nation, could always feel, as no doubt Hitler, for instance, felt, that he could get away with his aggression before any individual nation or any organisation of law-abiding countries was able effectively to prevent it. Nobody could think that now—no one. The nuclear weapon, in my view, has brought about for the first time what has been called"equality of vulnerability." No aggressor nation, however big that nation might be, could now hope to escape retribution. The devastating retaliation which he would inevitably invite, at his very heart, would probably hit him within a matter of hours, certainly of days. That is something entirely new, and I feel that, for that reason, there are people in this country who do not entirely share the noble Lord's view and feel that, however horrible the nuclear weapon, it is an essential concomitant to peace at the present time.


My Lords, I very much appreciate the noble Marquess's argument, and I see exactly what he means. But would he not agree that surely it is the reverse? One aggressor now, a small atomic Power, can do as much damage throughout the world, and has just as much force behind it, as great nations who may try to stop that nation going wrong; and therefore the deterrent really rather falls to the ground.


My Lords, I would not agree. I noticed that the noble Lord said in his speech that the great nations of the world might be depended on to be sufficiently responsible not to use the nuclear weapon rashly (that was what I understood him to say), but that some small country might. But I do not personally see why a small ambitious country should be any more anxious to have itself blown to bits than a big ambitious country, and I should have thought that the nuclear weapon is equally a deterrent against aggression or irresponsibility by any Power, big or small.

After all, my Lords, if the nuclear weapon were done away with, which I believe is what the noble Lord would really like, where should we be? We should be exactly where we were between the two wars—and we all know that the deterrents at that time available to law-abiding and peace-loving nations were not adequate to prevent the outbreak of a Second World War even more formidable than the first. I believe that it was the most reverend Primate who pointed out that once war had broken out, even if it broke out in a world where nuclear weapons were officially banned, it would very soon develop into a nuclear war. What, therefore, we need in the world at present is a deterrent to prevent war breaking out. For once war has started, one thing is certain: there will be nothing that can be done to prevent its ferocity spreading to the utmost extent that is practicable on both sides. I personally, therefore, feel differently from the noble Lord, Lord Rea. I believe that, terrible though the nuclear weapon is, it has an essential advantage at the present time in the preservation of peace. I feel, too, that for us to disarm alone at the present time—and I understood him to be in favour of unilateral disarmament as a great gresture of our moral leadership of the world—would be fatal to that very thing. For in the world as it is to-day one cannot have a foreign policy at all unless it has the backing of some sanction of force. We should only reduce ourselves immediately to the status of a second-class nation, with no power for good or ill.

On the other hand, I entirely agree with him that we need a positive and constructive policy. The noble Earl the Leader of the House who has just spoken to us certainly took that view. Indeed, he thought we had one; and I agree that we have one within the kind of limitations which are inherent in the plan of the right honourable gentleman the Foreign Secretary—and no doubt we all welcomed the details of that plan which we have been given this afternoon. I am sure the noble Earl would agree, however—and no doubt the Foreign Secretary himself, too, would agree—that his plan is not enough by itself. If we are really to achieve success, if we are to do away with war, we must also have a different and wider approach. We must try to remove the causes of war, to remove those obstinate and intractable issues that at present envenom relations between nations. We must do what the noble Viscount. Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, recommended with such force. We must try to relegate to the limbo of the past that temper of mind which regards war as a normal and natural method of settling disputes.

I remember some years ago finding in my library a book written in about 1820, which referred to the subject of duelling. It said what a shocking thing duelling was, and it went on to say,"But, of course, so long as human nature remains as it is duelling must remain part of the fabric of our civilisation." Yet, within twenty years, duelling had entirely disappeared in this country, and it has now ceased to exist in practically every country in the world. I am not a pessimist about these things. The temper of men's minds can be changed, and I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, is right in saying that the temper of mind about war must be changed if we are to make any real progress towards enduring peace. Such changes are not necessarily quick, or easy, but I profoundly believe that they are the right and the only certain way of achieving the result which the noble Lord, Lord Rea, as we all do, so ardently desires.

In the meantime, I suggest that there are certain interim measures that could be taken without increasing the dangers with which the world is faced. One, in particular, I would mention this afternoon. The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, referred to the possibility of limiting or postponing nuclear tests. We are, of course, none of us in the confidence of the Government, over what is inevitably an extremely secret aspect of public policy, and I do not therefore know what is the exact position with regard to nuclear tests. But I should myself be inclined to agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, that if the nuclear nations have already produced weapons so powerful that they are capable of blowing each other to pieces, it surely should not be necessary (if one can use such a term in this connection) to paint the lily any further. Surely on that point, at any rate, it might be possible to get agreement between East and West. Possibly progress will be made on this particular point at the Summit talks, to which we are all looking forward. I personally do not expect too much of Summit talks: I do not suppose any of us do. I think it is right to have them; but I do not think they are going to solve everything. At the same time, my Lords, we surely might get results on a comparatively limited point such as this, and I am certain that it is the hope of all of us, in every Party, that the Government will find it possible to achieve some agreement on it.

5.14 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure we all admire the motives which led the noble Lord, Lord Rea, to bring forward his Motion to-day. At the same time, I am bound to say I think he is a little harsh on the Government and on the past Governments of this country. I would say that our record is fairly good in this matter of disarmament. I do not think the representative of any foreign Power could seriously report to his Government that he felt quite sure that the British Government were planning war. I am rather sorry to have to mention this, but I agree there is the Suez episode. I will not say more about that; it was very unfortunate. But I have often since the war really wondered what Russian Ambassadors in London have been reporting to Moscow. It seems to me that they must have been doing one of two things. Either they have been failing to report because they knew that what they would have to report would be unwelcome in Moscow, or they have been reporting very deliberate untruths indeed, because I do not see how any Russian Ambassador to London since the war could possibly have failed to report in honesty to his Government that if there is one thing the British do not want it is war and that they will go to practically any length to avoid becoming involved in a war.

But I agree that we never get very much further in our defence debates or our disarmament debates, and I think it is largely because the Government pursue such a rigid policy of secrecy in defence matters. Nobody in his senses wants really secret matters to be revealed, but I feel that Defence Ministers might go a little further than they do in acquainting the public with some of the facts about defence. They might to some extent follow the example of the Service Chiefs in Washington and give fairly regular information to journalists. Because, after all, my Lords, Parliamentary institutions are a very powerful defence institution. They played a very large part indeed in pulling us through two wars of this century. It is always in my memory that after the First World War a well-known German historian wrote a book entitled The German General Stall Fought the English Parliament. It is on that account that I think a reasonable amount of information might well be given to the public about our defence affairs, because a denial of all information, which is what has been happening now for many years, really induces public apathy, and public apathy inevitably weakens our powers of resistance.

When we debated the 1959 White Paper in February last year I confess I was rather perturbed to hear the noble Earl. Lord Home, imply that, while our defence expenditure was within our financial compass, we could not risk increasing it. That rather alarmed me because the White Paper, as was revealed in the course of the debate, showed to my mind beyond any argument that our defence forces were ill equipped and armed, and I quote only one instance of that. The Government appointed the Grigg Committee of Inquiry, which found that the equipment of our defence forces was very largely obsolete and uneconomic. If the Report of the Grigg Committee was true, it followed from their finding that our Forces might not be battleworthy; and on that account I always thought that Suez might have become not only a political but a military disaster as well, and that might be borne out by the fact that no dispatches about Suez had ever been published.

But if, as the noble Earl, Lord Home, gave us to understand, we cannot afford any extra expenditure, then I think the situation is serious, because we can only re-equip by"penny packets". I entirely agree with the noble Earl, Lord Home, when he said that peace has been threatened, not by the balance but by the unbalance of power. That has been the weak spot which has invited wars and has been irresistible to the aggressor. I entirely agree with that; but it seems to me that that is the weak spot that we have been in for a very considerable time if we are to believe, for instance, the Grigg Committee.

It is for such reasons that I find it increasingly difficult to arrive at any conclusion as to what is our defence policy, on which, of course, our disarmament policy must rest. The most serious problems in defence and in disarmament are connected with nuclear weapons: to use or not to use; that is the question. The N.A.T.O. policy is to maintain forces in Europe powerful enough to halt an aggressor, but the 1958 White Paper said that if Russia attacked with only conventional weapons then N.A.T.O. would immediately retaliate with nuclear weapons—and that, I understand, is the policy to-day. This policy has been criticised recently by General Sir John Cowley, who, I think I ought to point out, is not a retired General but holds an appointment at the present moment. In a recent lecture he criticised the White Paper statement, which runs as follows: A full-scale Soviet attack could not be repelled without resort to a massive nuclear bombardment of the sources of power in Russia". As I say, I understand that that is still the N.A.T.O. policy. We shall see whether it undergoes any alteration in the White Paper which is shortly to appear.

Sir John Cowley quoted that statement of policy and grimly commented that there was little doubt that such use of the deterrent would result in the destruction of Britain. He said,"Here, then, is the dilemma: unless we bring the nuclear deterrent into play, we are bound to be beaten, and if we do bring it into play we are bound to commit suicide." In the event of total war, Sir John said, he would not use the deterrent in the early stages. In his view we ought to hold it for a few days until the statesmen on both sides can agree that they are faced by stopping the fighting or destroying the world. Sir John's views, I understand, are approved in the War Office, and they are certainly very widely held in Whitehall, because nobody in any of the three Services has the slightest wish to fight Armageddon. So we are left, apparently, on the horns of a dilemma—defeat or suicide?

Sir John went on to say that nevertheless he believes Britain should have an independent deterrent (usable without reference to N.A.T.O.) if only to retain some independence in the terrifying game of international poker. That does not seem to me to hold out any very great hope of disarmament on the lines advocated by the noble Lord, Lord Rea, and by the most reverend Primate. But what we are always brought back to is the appalling expense of the deterrent, because nobody sees any way of reducing the size and cost of a deterrent which will really deter. We can have a deterrent only by cutting down conventional forces, which Sir John Cowley says would enable us to help our friends; and he in fact would opt for conventional forces and let the deterrent go.

I think he showed some confusion of thought when he came to deal with ethical questions. He said that countries were now faced by the classic choice between death and dishonour. Was it right for a country to choose complete destruction rather than an alternative, however unpleasant? I believe that even the most convinced pacifist would be inclined to think that we must choose an alternative, however unpleasant, to complete destruction, although I would agree with Sir John when he said that the mid-twentieth century would come to be regarded as a nightmare period when mankind seriously considered destroying itself as a preferable alternative to reconciling differing ideologies. But, as a matter of fact, I would not myself say that mankind has seriously considered destroying itself. I found myself very much in agreement with the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, in what he said about a deterrent. I think it is very significant that, mankind having invented a weapon of mass destruction, speaks of it as a deterrent; and, as the noble Marquess said, perhaps it is only behind the screen of such a deterrent that countries can learn to accommodate their differences in preference to nearly destroying each other.

I think that that view of the deterrent has to be considered very seriously indeed, and even Sir John Cowley holds that Britain must have nuclear weapons to use in retaliation in case the other side uses them. But to my mind the trouble about that view is that the side which uses the deterrent first, the aggressor, may thereby end the dispute. There may be no chance of retaliation, because I myself am no great believer in the theory of a subsequent"broken-backed war". My Lords, nobody can prophesy about the future of nuclear weapons, because mankind is not guided only by reason and good sense: mankind is also swayed by emotion and by greed; and, of course, a scientist's invention can at any moment put a country so far ahead in weapons as to enable it to disregard the contentions which Sir John has brought forward.

I should also like to make my protest against what I have seen increasingly during the past twelve months—we have had it again to-day—and that is the theory that the danger of nuclear war is diminishing. We have heard it said to-day that even Russia would not to-day seriously consider embarking upon a global nuclear war. I am not sure. I do not think that the danger has diminished. I notice that the lecturer in War Studies at London University has just said that in 1959 anxiety increased. Far from decreasing, anxiety over the military situation of the West increased. He said that anxiety is perhaps more intense now than at any time since N.A.T.O. came into being ten years ago. Another thing is that the situation as regards N.A.T.O., also, has altered very greatly indeed, because N.A.T.O. policy was framed in the belief that America was enormously stronger than Russia and therefore the fear of Russia committing a war of aggression would largely be discounted. But I do not know that this is the case any longer. As I understand it, the position has altered and America no longer enjoys that enormous superiority over Russia. To-day, Russia has got ahead of the West in both the quality and the quantity of the missiles she possesses. There again, I think that another argument has largely gone by the board. In unlimited atomic war Russia at present would hold the advantage, and I think that that makes the question of disarmament wear a very different light. What we have to realise is that we have seen the end of an era, an era in which decisions about the defence of Europe could be, and were, taken in Washington, and perhaps nobody realises that that era has ended better than the Americans. Europe to-day must look to its own defence.

5.32 p.m.


My Lords, the amount of agreement in thought and in feeling in your Lordships' House this afternoon is an impressive fact that should encourage any Government to go forward on the lines our Government are proposing to pursue. I suppose that this agreement is partly due to a common awareness that a war fought with the weapons now available to the great Powers would be destructive of life, of the works of man and of the fabric of society beyond all precedent, and would probably be totally destructive. Therefore, we owe it to our own generation, and to the children who are even now being born, to make an all-out effort on every front to prevent such a global war from breaking out.

It seems to me that, on moral as well as on every other ground, instead of trying to ease one's moral conscience by declaring some weapons more immoral and more bestial than others, it is far more important to concentrate all our moral forces, in this country and in other countries, on the one thing that really matters—namely, to keep the peace now and to go on keeping it. As we know, it is easier to say that than to do it, but that is no excuse for falling into a kind of complacent fatalism, and there is some little danger of that—I will not say in the Government, but among people here and there.

Our problem, here as elsewhere, is to see how we can move from the present precarious balance of terror towards making the world more reasonably safe for decent living. First, I would suggest that the Governments in democratic countries must not hide the truth from their people. Publicity and propaganda must not lull people into underestimating the appalling danger of the destructive power of the weapons now at the disposal of the Armed Forces. The service men who are being asked by the politicians to prepare a strategy for the use of such weapons are under no illusion at all about the horrors involved. This is of first importance, so it seems to me that civilians should be just as realistic. Since before the war, all the larger Powers have been talking to their peoples in terms of defence and at the same time have been arming themselves with weapons of aggression beyond all precedent. That does allow people to think that what I call the balance of terror is not essentially different from what is called the balance of power. But it is different. It can be far more easily unbalanced by bad men, or accidentally unbalanced by stupid or foolish men, with consequences which far more quickly become catastrophic. The chances of accident, of irresponsible acts by Governments of small countries, of gambles on the escalator stopping before the logic of insanity reaches the top and the megaton bomb is exploded, make far too unstable a state of life in which to live for long.

Then, again, the mentality of defence can so easily breed a fear mentality, which can become aggressive, as has already been suggested this afternoon. In recent years the threat to peace has surely not been the aggression of Russia, or if you like, of our side, but the fear of aggression which might have made one side strike first. May I insert here a true cautionary tale which is of real psychological value and interest? A friend of mine, when a child, was brought up in France and in due course was brought over to this country to be launched into a preparatory school. He was a highly-strung boy. His father left him in the care of the headmaster, who took him along to a classroom to be introduced by his form master. The boy was petrified. He stood by the door of the classroom for a few seconds, looking round, and then he walked up to the biggest boy and knocked him down. Well, was that defence or aggression? It is hard to say. But it is a good psychological pinpointing of what is a state of mind of adults as well as of children.

To an ordinary citizen like myself, there seems to be one dilemma which the Western Governments will have to solve, difficult thought it is, and it can be solved only by some extremely hard thinking, certainly not by drifting. We all recognise that the more nations that possess nuclear weapons, the more likely it is these weapons will be set off. With recent history in memory, one may say that it seems quite extraordinarily rash for the Western Powers to supply Western Germany, and Russia to supply Eastern Germany, with nuclear weapons. If the once great, and now not so great, Powers swallowed their pride, it might be better for world peace if these things were confined to the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. At the same time, it seems essential—and I think it is here that our own Government could give a lead—to this cause of peace that the N.A.T.O. Powers should get together, think together, plan together and act together, to a greater degree than they have done yet, and accept the necessity of interdependence in all these things.

Sir John Slessor, the Air Marshal, said recently (and some of your Lordships may have heard him on the air) that disarmament is one leg of a policy of which the other is political detente. Just as we feel that defence and disarmament cannot really be separated intelligently, so it is not possible to discuss disarmament without also discussing the question of a political detente. Here we are dealing with a psychological thing and a temper of mind. There are two obstacles, among others, to a political detente. One, as has already been said, is distrust, and the other is the fantasy that there can be an absolute enemy. In times past it was that sort of fantasy which precipitated what was called religious wars; and of all wars in history, so-called religious wars have been the most cruel, the most bloody, often the most protracted, and always the most futile in their consequences.

Let us be frank. While the Soviet Governments have encouraged in their peoples a peace mentality, there have been in the last fourteen years in the Western World some powerful voices which have exhibited a"crusader" mentality, not merely towards an ideology which they identified with all they disbelieved in passionately, but also against Governments and peoples of Communist countries. This is both wrong and foolish. It is terribly wrong because it ignores the fact that the peoples of Russia and Russia's satellites or China are probably just as peace-loving as we are ourselves. It also feeds on the belief that the Governments of those countries, when they say they want peace and disarmament, do not mean what they say and are just putting up a bluff to blind us. There may be tangible evidence in the Foreign Office and the Pentagon that Russia planned in the years following 1945 a war of aggression in Europe, but the published evidence is inconclusive: and, in any event, those who know say that that is not the situation to-day. Now, thank God, Governments as well as peoples are realising that both sides would be losers if a global war broke out.

This change of mind, following a stalemate in the armaments race, makes this an opportune moment, as the most reverend Primate said, for the United Nations to try to work out a combined operation for peace. We are glad that Her Majesty's Government are so alive to this and are pressing for disarmament, a detente, even if it may mean some increase for a time of conventional arms. For such a policy is the most likely policy to bring the world back to moral sanity before it is too late. Also, if that can happen it will allow the nations to direct their energies again, before it is too late, to what has been called the"war of want". If we take not just a short view of five or ten years, but a long view of 40 or 50 years, the economic quarrels of the world and the unequal standards of life—some people overfed and some terribly underfed—these inequalities, especially where they are linked with differences of race, might become before long a more serious threat to peace than the national and ideological rivalries of our time.

In conclusion, my Lords, I make bold to say this. I believe that the Christian allegiance does not ask us either to preach a religious war against an absolute enemy or to walk defenceless and in arm with a bear. But it does require of us to care for all men and peoples, and to keep the peace so far as we possibly can. We realise that in a world where there is much evil as well as much good absolute security is not possible. Statesmen and Governments have to take calculated risks. But our faith is that he calculates most wisely in these difficult circumstances who banks on the fact that the peoples of the world want life rather than death and peace rather than war, and that this is God's world and not the devil's; that is to say, that in the long run, at the end of the day, truth will prevail, and that justice, charity and peace are the ultimate verities and values of life.

5.48 p.m.


My Lords, I listened to what the right reverend Prelate said with the greatest interest, and, of course, so far as Christian principles are concerned we should all fall in behind him; but he raises one important issue which represents a cleavage in approach, as I see it. He spoke of the balance of terror, the balance of fear, and he spoke in terms of the task to free ourselves from this governing condition of the balance of terror which preserves the peace. The question which puzzles me is this. Suppose that we free ourselves from this system of living on a balance of terror, what is the alternative? At this moment the alternative would be a disequilibrium of terror; and, as I see it, that could only operate not to maintain peace but to put us in a greater fear—not only physical fear but a political fear. This is already our lot.


My Lords, perhaps I may interrupt the noble Lord. I should entirely agree that we have to move towards disarmament by agreement.


I thank the right reverend Prelate. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Rea, has tabled this Motion with an acute sense of timing. We are now just five weeks from the 10-Power disarmament talks, and I think he is lucky in this respect: that pure disarmament, as divorced from political consideration, is something which does not lend itself to controversial attachment. So often when we debate international force we lay ourselves open to the charge that we are stepping up tension; sincerity is often mistaken for a cold war exercise; and to discuss pure disarmament is free of all those disabilities. I, personally, do not support the slight note of reproval in the noble Lord's Motion. I believe that to achieve disarmament is a matter of a long, uphill, unspectacular road. Her Majesty's Government may not necessarily have sought public applause through emotional appeal, but they have, as I see it, pursued a fairly steady, progressive and practical policy over the years.

The noble Earl, the Leader of the House, referred us to the Foreign Secretary's speech on September 17 at the United Nations. I heard that speech, and I heard the speech the next day of Mr. Khrushchev. I thought it might be of use and interest to the House if, for a moment, I put those two speeches side by side, and possibly made some kind of comparison. They covered much the same ground in many respects, and there was quite a degree of agreement, but there were obvious differences of approach. The Foreign Secretary's proposals, set out clearly in three stages, were practical and without controversial association. There was certainly no absence of a policy whatsoever. In contrast, Mr. Khrushchev spent a long time developing what one might term the moralities of disarmament. For example, he spoke of the opponents of disarmament, people who would deliberately hold up proceedings by demanding exaggerated terms for control. He seemed unaware that if in this country to-day there really are opponents of disarmament—people who would prefer a world in arms to world disarmament—we would see that they were examined by a brain specialist.

When it came to practical measures, Mr. Khrushchev's method was to spell out a long list of items which ought to be abolished to achieve total and complete disarmament within four years: nuclear weapons, bacteriological weapons, rockets, war ministries and training colleges, and it became difficult to find a common denominator as between his proposals in the form of an actual programme and the clear, consecutive stages which Mr. Selwyn Lloyd set out before us. But judging the two statements together, this much can be said. There was this much in common: there was agreement on the process of phasing by stages, and there was agreement on the principle of international control. If I may break that down and point to a particular item upon which they seem to agree, conventional disarmament, one noted that they both put conventional disarmament into the first stage. Mr. Khrushchev's method was to name certain ceiling figures—1,700,000 for China, the United States and the Soviet Republic, and 650,000 for France and the United Kingdom.

When it came to Mr. Selwyn Lloyd, he was more cautious. He said—and I think the Leader of the House reminded us— The great Powers should agree to maximum limits for their forces. There should be the establishment of an international body charged with the task of collecting information on present levels of forces and conventional armaments. There was a slight difference in approach, but on the whole a fairly common agreement, and perhaps the most significant the agreement on the principle of international control. For the Soviet to accept the principle of international personnel, posted in control posts on foreign soil, indicates, I believe, a real step forward. We have to recognise that, because it implies that we have moved some way from the days when we were simply asked to sign on the dotted line a pious statement of intention to ban the bomb.

Without discounting the value of Mr. Khrushchev's recent proposals concerning conventional disarmament—to reduce his forces by 1,200,000, which still leaves them at a figure of over 2,400,000—I think we should take note that Mr. Khrushchev qualified his position by saying that nuclear armament will fill the gaps left by the men taken away. Since our mind is so much on nuclear disarmament, I thought that I would for a moment dwell on this particular field as being most prominent before the public. I am puzzled by the way in which the Geneva talks have been bogged down, as other noble Lords have said this afternoon. I presume—and I am asking for enlightenment—that the nuclear test talks and their progress will be considered by the 10-Power Committee. To-day, when moralists and intellectuals—and I am not saying this in any disparaging sense whatever—paint a picture of future destruction, it is with a nuclear war in mind. For my part, I think I agree with the rather robust attitude of the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, which is that the public are aware of the physical implications of this; and, quite frankly, repetitive rhetoric which paints in a picture of horror, I am myself not impressed by. I believe we all know the results. Therefore, I suggest that what we have to do is to concentrate on the machinery to be devised. What we should be worrying about is whether the nuclear test talks are going to have practical proposals ready in time for the 10-Power talks Committee to consider.

A layman, as myself, sees the progress of talks at this stage in this way. The United States have reserved the right to renew tests, given the advance notice of the renewal. We have said that we will not renew tests so long as the other two agree to suspend tests. The Soviet say very much the same thing, so far as I can understand their latest proposal in the form of a letter from Mr. Khrushchev to Professor Powell of Bristol University on February 5. That is to say, the Soviet are set on a policy not to resume if the Western Powers conform. The long story of disarmament, proposal and counter-proposal, seems to me to be a matter of two sides very often agreeing but never being able to agree at the same time. We came as near synchronisation of agreement, as I understand it, with the Anglo-French proposals in 1955, and we who watch the situation to-day from outside could only ask that, in facing the task of nuclear disarmament and, indeed, the 10-Power Committee, we should look back to the past and note the errors of the past—often errors of psychological misjudgment on both sides, starting perhaps with the Soviet refusal of the original Baruch Plan—and should profit from noting those psychological errors.

As I see it, the nuclear test talks are held up to-day on this matter of the technical control of underground explosions. According to the Americans, if you let off a bang as a test underground, provided the chamber in which you let it off is big enough—that is to say, a kind of enormous underground cavern or cave—you can disguise the actual size of the explosion. An instrument will register the bang as a small one and, therefore, only be regarded as one of many thousands of other natural phenomena, when it might, in fact, be a very big one, and a rather sinister human experiment. From that sort of doubt there seem to flow all these other doubts about spies masquerading as foreigners in control posts on foreign soil, decisions about the sort of explosions you have to investigate, and how many you are allowed to investigate—what we call the quota system. In reference to that position I have one suggestion to make. It amounts to no more than a look at a principle: that where in the past we have been frustrated by the failure of synchronised agreement between the two great power blocs—two great power blocs who have become the prisoners of their own differences, because they had no outside mediation to which to turn—in future we can and should escape from that situation.

In practical terms what I am saying is: why not have these inspection teams, control teams, whether in the nuclear field or the conventional field, drawn not from the three great nuclear Powers, not from either bloc, but from States who over the years have built up a reputation for fairness and discrimination and, fortunately, a lack of vested interest. If it was possible to put into the Middle East the United Nations Emergency Force to keep the peace, I should have thought it was a simpler proposition to organise technical control posts from countries which would regard themselves as neutral. One's mind naturally turns, of course, to such people as the Scandinavians. I think we are wise to concentrate all our efforts on the control of the test, because if you control the test effectively you also control the manufacture. No one is going to bother to spend millions of pounds in making a bomb if they cannot discover whether it will go off. Therefore a foolproof system of control seems to me to be the key to the removal of these fears.

A previous Minister of State has said that disarmament and such matters as European political security are fused and inseparable. The Foreign Secretary, in his speech on September 17, put the matter in perspective when he said: There are some who say that you can have no disarmament without political settlements, but others who say that you will not get political settlements while the present race in armaments continues. The truth is if we can get political settlement it will make agreement on disarmament easier; if we can get an agreement on disarmament, it will make political settlements easier. Progress in either field will cause a correspondingly favourable reaction in the other field. In the vicious circle in which armament and political disagreement chase each other around, I have always thought that political disagreement is far more the cause than the effect. If the Ten-Power Committee were able to sort out the two and separate them, I think we could all thank God for their success, although five of them might have a different idea of the method of thanking God than the other five.

This week the Opposition in another place have introduced a strong political flavour into the Motion of Censure, and apart from that Mr. Khrushchev himself, in his speech at the United Nations, referred within the disarmament context to such considerations as the withdrawal of all foreign troops from European States, the liquidation of foreign bases on States' soil, and a non-aggression pact between N.A.T.O. and the Warsaw Pact countries. Therefore I feel justified in raising, in conclusion, a few political considerations, if only for clarification possibly from the Opposition which might be of interest to us all. May I say immediately that there are certain features of Opposition policy with which I am in sympathy and indeed agreement. I have never ridiculed the idea of the Non-Nuclear Club. I have never been cynical over the whole concept of disengagement, but I have, in honesty, to declare my reactions to this move of censure, censure as I understand it of the agreement of the Government to a policy of rearming Western Germany with nuclear weapons within the framework of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

I ask myself what is the motive? If the motive were merely to refrain from sharpening tempers, pending a Summit Conference, I could understand it. That is exactly the kind of restraint which we often exercise in your Lordships' House. But if the motive is to deny one Power, Federal Germany, her place in the defensive system of Europe, I cannot understand what seems to me to be a complete confusion of priorities. To support the erection of a great and complicated network such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (and we assume that that is still the policy of the Opposition) and then to qualify the contribution of one key member of that Organisation not only is lacking in logic, but is a very dangerous concept of Western defence. To remove Western Germany out of the North Atlantic Treaty family—and that is the implication; and, as I see it, without any compensating gesture from the East—you might just as well abolish the North Atlantic Treaty itself. With France preoccupied in Algeria the Western Alliance can turn only to Germany as the focus of Western defence. I would suggest that there is no surer way of feeding the cells of neo-Nazis and anti-Semitism than to place Western Germany in some form of defensive isolation and political boycott. It is for that reason that I feel sad, when one knows of efforts of thousands of Germans only to do their duty by this anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi issue, when one sees those efforts ridiculed in certain sections of the Press for the benefit of those who would be only too glad to see the disintegration of Western Europe and all it stands for. Judging from an article in yesterday's Evening Standard, the Beaverbrook Press seem to have become Herr Ulbricht's latest staunch ally.

At the coming Disarmament Conference five Soviet States will speak with one voice, in contrast to the difficulty of achieving agreement between five States who are not mesmerised mice and who are used to thinking out issues for themselves. There confront those five Western States men trained in the doctrine of Marx and Engels, as interpreted by Lenin: men, therefore, used to achieving success from a minority position. Yet the Western Powers face these men on a basis of parity, and in those circumstances surely those five Western Powers need all our trust and all our understanding. To that end I suggest that Aldermaston marches and motions of censure and the playing up of Western doubts at this precise moment are no contribution. I would hope that this House at least would offer Her Majesty's Government the support and the encouragement which they need to face these talks and which I believe they deserve.

6.9 p.m.


My Lords, I had not contemplated speaking in this debate, and in fact I had not put my name down among the list of speakers, but I felt moved to say a few words, particularly after the speech of the noble Marquess and the last speech to which we have just listened. I do not propose to discuss the technicalities of disarmament—I am not competent to do so. Nor do I wish to add to what has already been said about the horrors of war, either nuclear war or any other form, or its immorality. I think we can take it for granted that we are all agreed on that. I was going to say that this debate has been singularly free from controversy, but the speech of the noble Lord who has just sat down has created a certain amount of controversy. He has dealt with the subject in a perfectly responsible way, and I have no fault to find with anything that he has said; and although I should like to correct him on one point, I do not propose to pursue it any more.

I do not think it is for this House to discuss a Motion which is to come before another place in a few days' time; but I think he is under a misapprehension as to the meaning of the Motion of Censure. It is not proposed to censure the Government for providing Germany with nuclear weapons, but only for providing them pending the talks. There is a difference of opinion inside my Party. It would be wrong to disguise it. I think it is all to the good to have these discussions on tremendously important issues, even inside a Party. But there is a sort of truce between the various sections of my friends on this issue, and we all feel that it is the wrong time to discuss the question of rearming Germany with nuclear weapons while the discussions are about to take place. As the noble Lord himself said, there is a danger of exacerbating the position.

The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, referred to the various moves in connection with disarmament as being a game of chess. I hope that he meant that it has been a game of chess in the past; I hope he does not necessarily mean that to-day the various proposals constitute a game of chess. I am a strong believer in chess. I wish all statesmen as a part of their training could be taught to play chess, because it would teach them to look ahead and see many moves—sometimes even to play blindfold and to see the moves of their opponents far, far ahead. I think we have made many mistakes through not seeing in advance what our opponents or those with whom we were in discussion were likely to do. But I should hope that the discussions that are about to take place on disarmament will not be regarded as a game of chess in which we are opponents but that all of us—all those concerned with the problem—will be looking at the matter from the same angle, with a common desire to arrive at a satisfactory solution.

I can well understand that, after 25 years' concern with disarmament problems, the noble Marquess should be somewhat disillusioned. I suppose that all of us would be if, after 25 years, we had arrived at the sort of results at which we have arrived to-day. But I am optimistic that to-day there is a new outlook on this problem—no doubt partly arising from the fact that the horrors of war are such that a war can result only in mutual destruction. The noble Marquess made one point which, if I understood him correctly, I cannot agree with—namely, that he rather thought that a settlement of problems or disputes between nations must precede disarmament; that disarmament is unlikely to succeed unless we have settled the problems which confront us. If my understanding of what he said is correct, then I suggest that what is really needed is a more satisfactory method of solving differences that will always exist between nations. They are unavoidable, and I think we must recognise that fact. But we must have a more satisfactory method of settling differences than the method of warfare.


My Lords, as the noble Lord has referred to me perhaps I might say that I agree with him entirely. We have made several attempts. The world made an attempt through the League of Nations, and it made an attempt through the United Nations. My point was that these attempts have not yet succeeded. Quite frankly, I do not think that the United Nations, as the world is to-day, is capable of abolishing war or of providing an alternative to war. In those circumstances, it seems to me—I may be entirely wrong—that the nations who are responsible for the security of their peoples would be unwilling to disarm unless they felt there was a satisfactory alternative.


I think I understand that, and I think I am in agreement with the way in which the noble Marquess puts it. There is no doubt that to-day there is a general apprehension, a great deal of fear and suspicion; and all sides think that they are justified in those suspicions, particularly where this is coupled with the desire to spread certain doctrines which neither side wishes to accept. We regard Communism as abhorrent, but I think we have to recognise that the Soviets and their friends equally regard the return to capitalism as abhorrent. What we have to try to do is to live with one another in this world and to respect the different views of the other.

I feel, too, that there is a great danger in the possession of nuclear weapons, and especially with the more widespread possession of these weapons. The noble Marquess quite rightly pointed out that no nation is anxious for its own destruction, and that every nation should realise that the employment of nuclear weapons might well result in its own destruction. But I must point out to him that dictators are not always actuated by reason. If Herr Hitler had carefully calculated the possible results of aggression I doubt whether he would have embarked on it. He could not really have calculated, even at the best, that a war of aggression against Russia and the whole world would be a successful operation. The trouble is that there are nations which have dictators who are not going to be ruled by reason, and where the people themselves simply do not count.

I agree with the noble Marquess that many people have lost faith in the United Nations as a means of preventing or stopping war, and in the few remarks that I wish to make I want to deal with that point, because I think it is the key to the whole thing. Unless we can make the United Nations work, I do not believe that disarmament can function at all. I think we must have some machinery for dealing with differences and disputes between nations. As the noble Earl the Leader of the House knows, I have been particularly interested in the memoirs of Sir Anthony Eden. I have not agreed with much that he has said, but there is one thing he stresses—that is that the United Nations was powerless to deal with the genuine dispute which arose between ourselves and France and other countries, on the one hand, and Egypt, on the other. Sir Anthony Eden's view was that in the last resort we could deal with this matter only by force. Whether or not he was right to use force I should not like to say in this debate, but the fact remains that he was perfectly right in saying that the United Nations was not a possible instrument for dealing with that dispute, and that in his view, short of giving way, the only remedy open to this country was to use force.

I want to say, also, though I have not been able to hear the whole of the debate, that if anyone has recommended unilateral disarmament certainly we on our side are not supporters of that. We do not think it would be an effective way of dealing with the problem. We agree that there must be effective supervision and control, but there are a number of other things that must go with any discussion of disarmament. First, we must seriously consider the economic effects of disarmament. It may be that certain people, while feeling that disarmament was a good thing, might take the view that it would result in widespread unemployment and distress, having regard to the fact that we and other countries are geared to spending large sums of money on weapons of war. I believe that we have seriously to consider in what way we can deal with the consequences of disarmament on the kind of scale we have in mind. Then I believe that we have to ensure that at the same time as we carry out disarmament we provide some method of dealing with disputes between nations and with the difficulties and claims, either legal or equitable, which are bound to arise, particularly in the case of countries which are over-populated and need some outlet for their peoples. In order to settle international disputes we must have a standard upon which we can base our action. That is a rule of law and we must have the machinery for dealing with these disputes by means of the rule of law. Then we must have an International Police Force. Without that, any decisions that might be made by the United Nations are bound to be completely ineffective.

All these things will involve revision of the Charter of the United Nations; they cannot be carried out merely by resolutions. But carefully thought out revision of the Charter is needed, and to-day the time is opportune. As the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, who is to reply, will know, we had a debate on revision of the Charter some months ago. I did not think the reply I then received was altogether satisfactory. I do not know whether the noble Marquess will be able to give me a more satisfactory reply to-day, but I am quite sure that to talk of disarmament without these other safeguards and without a revision of the Charter is purposeless. I hope that serious note will be taken of these points when the question of disarmament comes to be discussed at the Ten-Power Conference.

I have no quarrel at all with the speech of the noble Earl the Leader of the House. I agreed with everything he said, though I did not think he went quite far enough in dealing with the other questions. We must deal with questions of dispute between nations, and we must have machinery for doing so. Without that I feel that, with the best will in the world, disarmament is likely to be ineffective. I look forward both to the Geneva Conference and to the discussions of scientists on finding satisfactory ways of having supervision; for without that, again, disarmament is useless. I welcome very much the Summit Conference. I believe that the more talks there are between leaders of different countries the more likely we are to create an atmosphere in which countries will learn to trust one another and believe in the sincerity of one another. And I would repeat that I hope that, when the nations come to meet together, it will not be regarded as a game of chess but as a common effort to get together and to arrive at something for which the whole world is looking.


My Lords, I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, that I never described the Summit Conference as a game of chess if that was what he thought. All I said was that until the problems which cause armaments were solved, or there was effective machinery for solving them, the nations would be reluctant to disarm and would manœuvre. It was that which I said gave the appearance of a game of chess.


My Lords, I am delighted to have the noble Marquess' explanation, because the more he explains himself the closer we are to agreement. Indeed, I do not think there is any serious disagreement in any part of the House on this matter. I suppose it is simply a question of timing and of what is the most opportune way of raising these matters. But I beg Her Majesty's Government to make themselves responsible for raising these issues in the course of the discussions. I would repeat that without a solution of these further questions to which I have referred, any thoughts of disarmament are in danger of being ineffective. This is a matter in which all the nations equally are concerned. There is no difference of opinion anywhere among the peoples of the world. Everybody to-day is praying for a solution of this catastrophe which looms over us, and the gratitude and prayers of the whole world will be with our leaders and the leaders of other countries on the talks upon which they are about to embark.

6.28 p.m.


My Lords, when I arrived at your Lordships' House this afternoon I was asked by my noble Leader to take the place of my noble friend Lord Ogmore who unfortunately has been prevented by ill-health from being here to-day. It was intended that he should wind up on this side, dealing with points made in support of my noble Leader's Motion. As he is unable to be here it falls to my lot to speak now, but I do not intend to try to wind up the debate, for two reasons: first, I have not the experience to do so; secondly, it is getting a little late; and in view of the rather deserted appearance of your Lordships' House you would probably prefer that rather than do so I should confine myself merely to the remarks I had intended to make in any case.

I wonder whether I might start my very short speech by quoting a few words from what was said by the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury in addressing the British Council of Churches last October. He was talking about Mr. Khrushchev's suggestion for universal disarmament which he made at the United Nations on September 18. The Archbishop said: No Christian could possibly have put forward a better plan than this. With respect, I would agree with the words of the Lord Archbishop, because the plan, as announced, seemed at first sight to have a great deal to recommend it. It seemed to make sense. But, unfortunately, my Lords, after fifteen years of what is called the cold war, distrust and suspicion still exist to a point at which people take statements of that sort with a grain of salt. Even the recent demobilisation of very substantial numbers of the Red Army may indeed only be in fact a move to help industry, as happened in China two or three years ago when I happened to be there. About a million Chinese soldiers were, so called, demobilised, but not in the way in which we think of demobilisation. They kept their uniforms and personal arms and were diverted to industry, and were available for call-up at very short notice indeed. Therefore, possibly that announcement by the Soviet Government some time ago sounded better than, in fact, it was; but I have no means of telling nor have the great majority of us. Nevertheless Mr. Khrushchev's attitude at the moment seems to be one of"sweet reasonableness," if we may describe it like that, and one must do one's best to believe that it is serious.

May I quote a few words from Lenin? Admittedly these words were spoken some time ago, but there is reason to suppose that the Russian leaders still have some eye for the writings of Lenin. He says: We shall make sensational offers and wide concessions. The capitalist countries, gullible and decadent, will co-operate willingly in their destruction and will welcome every chance of rapprochement. Once their vigilance is relaxed we shall destroy them with one blow. Those were the words of Lenin, and as to whether the men in the Kremlin to-day remember and whether that is in the back of their minds or not, we can only hope for the best.

I also recall—I remembered it this morning—that about 30 years ago at the League of Nations at Geneva (it may be a little less than 30 years ago) Monsieur Litvinov, the Soviet representative, got up and suggested that all the countries in the world should disarm completely. The report of the proceedings stated that all the delegates present laughed very loudly, but none laughed more loudly that Monsieur Litvinov himself! I do not think anybody laughed in the United Nations last September when Mr. Khrushchev made his suggestion; but then conditions were different. Disarmament in 1930 was comprehensible; people were talking about armaments they understood. It would have meant armies being reduced to a police force; navies being reduced to a coastal service; air forces being reduced to patrols and so on, and it was something they understood. But to discuss disarmament now as we have done to-day opens such an enormous field that it is really very difficult to comprehend. I have no doubt in my own mind that Her Majesty's Government are doing their best to think out and work to a plan of disarmament which, in their view, is at least workable.

However, if I may now do what the noble Earl the Leader of the House did, and come down from the general to the particular, I should like to put to Her Majesty's Government two points. The first—it has been touched on by nearly every speaker—is the question of inspection and controls, particularly inspection. Should disarmament be agreed in principle and then the means of disarming put into operation, inspection would be of paramount importance. We hear a lot about inspection teams, et cetera, but what is really the point? It could not be a case of just a few men. It would be useless for people to fly from one country to another, drive around in cars and go to factories and have lunch. It would be useless and would prove nothing. I visualise this not in terms of hundreds or thousands, or even perhaps tens of thousands, but of hundreds of thousands drawn from all countries—or from those that wish to participate, and the majority would—to be organised very carefully over the years and trained at colleges and universities for this highly specialised form of work. Nothing less will be very much good. They would have to be in very great numbers. You may say,"Look at the cost of it". Look, indeed, at the cost of it, compared with the cost of armaments in those countries. It would be a negligible fraction of what it costs to arm and stay armed. I hope I may be forgiven for emphasising that particular point, but it is a point of great importance.

My second and last point is that when disarmament is discussed and considered it may be argued that any agreed plan should be within the framework of the United Nations, or not necessarily but possibly through a system of conferences. I am not quite clear about that, but I would say that I believe that any such conferences would be an entire waste of time without the presence of China at the conference table. It is a curious thing that during the whole of this debate (I have been out of the Chamber only twice) nobody has mentioned China, or, if they did, it was only en passant. But I cannot believe that for the N.A.T.O. countries, the Soviet bloc and others to sit at a conference table without China is going to produce any result whatever in the long run.

Those of us, and there are a few—the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, and I, happened to be in China three years ago—who have been to China recently come home with an entirely different attitude to the whole problem from that of those who have never been to the Far East or perhaps have no particular wish to go there. It seems to me of basic importance that this matter should be considered now. I am aware the United States of America would appreciate that China's participation in such a conference would be dependent on their membership not only of the United Nations but perhaps also of the Security Council. Well, my Lords, a senior American diplomat told me not long ago, a year ago, when we were discussing this matter,"We do not wish to confer respectability on the Peking Government". I submit that that is a rather childish attitude in these days. It is perhaps a relic of what one might call"Dullesism." I believe that in the United States to-day—and I was there last May—a feeling is coming through that to keep on referring to the remains of the Kuomintang régime sitting on the Island of Taiwan as"China" does not really make very much sense.

So perhaps I may finish my remarks (it is getting late and your Lordships all want to hear the noble Marquess) in this debate by a homely analogy. I would ask your Lordships to consider an ordinary garden full of small animals, birds, and rabbits running about, representing the small countries, all twittering about on their lawful business; and then rather bigger animals, dogs and cats, snarling at each other; and then two very large animals in the corner, a bear and an eagle glaring at each other warily and each one waiting to see the other move; then, under a tree, a lion lying there in the shade; and every now and again the little animals throw stones at him. The lion does not blink an eyelid; he does not even bother to throw them back; but he keeps a very careful eye on the bear and on the eagle. Then in the middle of this somebody says,"Look, there is an elephant coming up the garden path." The others say,"No, there cannot be an elephant coming up the garden path because an elephant is not the sort of animal you find in a garden". My Lords, I am afraid the elephant is coming up the garden path, and any attitude or point of view that he just is not there, or is too far away to bother about, would, I think, be exceedingly dangerous. On that rather homely analogy, I will end my remarks.

6.41 p.m.


My Lords, as one would expect in your Lordships' House on a subject of such great importance, we have listened to a number of very thoughtful and sincere speeches. For my part, I must say at the outset that I regretted the terms in which this Motion was drawn, but I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Rea, for having introduced the subject and having enabled us to have the debate which we have had this afternoon, for I am quite certain it has been valuable. In this connection, perhaps I should say that the speech to which we have just listened, the speech by the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, speaking as I understood in support of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, appeared in fact to be nothing of the kind. He drew our attention to the observations of Lenin: Once their vigilance is relaxed, we shall destroy them at one blow"— and I suggest to you, my Lords, that the noble Lord, Lord Rea, was encouraging us to a relaxation of vigilance. The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, further went on to say that he had no doubt that Her Majesty's Government are doing their very best, and that seems to me to have been the general tenor of the speeches in every part of the House this afternoon.

I am not going to repeat what my noble Leader has already said to you. He defined comprehensive disarmament, and he gave you the principles that Her Majesty's Government believe should govern any disarmament plan. He emphasised—as, indeed, have many other noble Lords—the importance of inspection and effective control. Here I come back again to the words of the noble Lord who has just sat down. Of course, it is a gigantic problem, and the nub of the whole thing—and this is a matter which will certainly be discussed exhaustively at the 10-Power Conference—is how control and inspection can be made so effective that all the peoples in the world will have confidence in it.

My noble friend Lord Salisbury asked the question: Has any real advance been made? I wish he were here, for I think that perhaps he would agree with me when I say that he himself drew attention to certain advances that have in fact been made. He reminded us of the habit—the barbaric habit, as I think it—of duelling. Granted duelling was given up more than 25 years ago in most countries, and before the noble Marquess was himself embarking on the question of disarmament; but we have had a change in outlook, and that is something to which noble Lords on all sides of the House have referred. I have listened carefully to practically every single speech. The most reverend Primate talked about"the psychological moment". The noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition insisted that the essential thing was to obtain a better outlook in people. Many other noble Lords have asserted that they think that there is perhaps a new outlook in existence. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, who has just spoken, I think said that he thought that there was in fact a new outlook. That, indeed, is my own belief and my own prayer.

Now as to the attitude of mind that will be adopted at this 10-Power Conference, I am of course in entire agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Silkin. If any success is to come out of this Conference, there must be an attitude of mind of a common effort by people looking at a common problem, to achieve together a solution. We can only hope that that will be the attitude of mind that will obtain. It would be quite fruitless for me to advance theories of my own. We have listened to speeches by men of wide experience and who have been far longer in politics than I have, and so I am very conscious of the difficulty that I have in speaking on this momentous subject. But one thing I have felt—and I think all your Lordships who have listened to this debate have felt, and those of you who read it in Hansard to-morrow will feel—is that there is a very high degree of agreement in this House. That, I think, is a very encouraging fact. It has come from all sides of the House, from people of different political views; but there is a very great measure of agreement, and from this I know that we in Her Majesty's Government feel a comfort and encouragement.

My Lords, it is not boastful to say that the United Kingdom has played a very great part in setting the tone that exists in the world to-day. Ever since 1954, and before that, we have been trying—and we have been trying patiently and with great determination. When the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, said that he felt that we should guide the other nations, with great respect I say to him that that is what we in the United Kingdom have persistently been trying to do, and I think with quite a degree of success.

What progress has been made? Surely there is one momentous step forward that has been taken, and that is the agreement to the principle of international control and inspection. That, surely, is something for which we must all be grateful: that, surely, is a step forward. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, referred to what he believes is a very necessary thing—that is, a revision of the Charter of the United Nations. I know quite well that when he looked across the table at me he did not expect me to go into this problem with him; but, of course, it is something which must be considered, and I can assure the noble Lord that his observations on this subject will certainly be noted very carefully. On the question of an international police force, there has been general agreement. We are all agreed that when we do reach the stage where we have managed to disarm down to such a level that we have only what is necessary for our own internal affairs, there will have to be some sort of international organ. That is something on which we all agree.

There are two specific points which I think I should answer, though it is getting late. The noble Lord, Lord Bird-wood, asked me whether the 10-Power Committee would consider what has transpired at the Nuclear Tests Conference. What is being discussed at the Nuclear Tests Conference at Geneva is of special interest to the three nuclear Powers taking part, but, as your Lordships know, not all the Powers in the 10-Power Committee are nuclear Powers. The Committee have a formidable programme ahead of them in any case, and this subject will not be part of the matter which they have to discuss. Perhaps I should add that I understood from what the noble Lord said that he thought the Nuclear Tests Conference had"bogged down". Let me assure him that this is not the case. The Conference has not"bogged down". It is still continuing, and we hope that real, concrete results will follow. There has been delay, for reasons which the noble Lord himself described—for example, the difficulty of bombs that can be exploded underground. These, however, are problems quite beyond my comprehension and, I dare say, that of the noble Lord himself. But the Conference has made great progress, and let us all pray that it will continue to do so.

The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, very properly, referred to China. Of course in any question which deals with disarmament, we must take into consideration this colossal nation of 650 million people, and I can assure the noble Lord that he should not take the fact that it has not been mentioned during the course of the debate to-day as an indication that noble Lords or members of Her Majesty's Government are not fully aware of the importance that one must attach to China.

I do not want to weary your Lordships any longer, and I would conclude by saying this. All of us approach this problem with a great sense of responsibility. None of us would be so light as to think of it in any terms but the most serious. But let me remind your Lordships (and I think that I have the whole of your Lordships' House with me) of what the noble Earl the Leader of the House said. It is the first duty of Her Majesty's Government to ensure the safety and protection of Her Majesty's subjects, and it is in the light of that duty that Her Majesty's Government must approach the problem of disarmament.

6.54 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, and the noble Earl the Leader of the House for the pleasant and explicit way in which they have dealt with the matter, and also thank the many noble Lords who have come to speak and to listen. I feel in a sense that I have not really"put across" the absolute kernel of my case. Of course I agree entirely with all that the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, said. It is the duty of the Government to provide for and ensure the security of the nation. My point is: what is security? I was trying to argue that since the day of Hiroshima armed force is no longer security. What to put in its place, I am not in a position to say. I raised the one point which I look on as the kernel of my case. Once again, I should like to thank your Lordships and to ask your Lordship's permission to withdraw the Motion standing in my name.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.