§ 2.45 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE rose to call attention to the situation in, and desirable developments of, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and the need for firm support of it by the United Kingdom Government and Parliament; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have the honour to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. I may say that I am very pleased indeed that so many distinguished Members will follow me in the debate and that we shall have the opportunity of listening to no fewer than three maiden speeches. I am also glad that the Foreign Secretary is to speak on behalf of the Government—that we shall look forward to with the greatest expectation—and also that the First Lord is to wind up for the Government.
§ In the last few months there have been two meetings connected with N.A.T.O. The first was the Parliamentarians' Conference in Paris in November last, when no fewer than seven Members of your Lordships' House attended, together with their colleagues from another place, as representatives of the United Kingdom Parliament; and the second, a little later, was the Ministerial Council, also in Paris. So far as the Parliamentarians' Conference is concerned, the British Delegation was led by the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, in his usual kindly and courteous way; and we also had the opportunity of hearing a speech or two from the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood. I may say, so far as the noble Lady is concerned, that the Parliamentarians are always anxious to hear her, not only for her own sake but also because of the memory of her late husband, Colonel Walter Elliot, who was one of the founders of the Parliamentarians' Conference.
§ I have been to Parliamentarian Conferences for several years past, and this 1196 year it was a lively Conference. It seemed to me that, for the first time, the members were beginning to think of themselves as part of the North Atlantic Community. There was an impressive United States delegation, headed by the Vice-President Elect, Senator Lyndon Johnson, together with Senator Fulbright, who at that time it was thought might be Secretary of State, Senator Kefauver and others, both from the Senate and from the House of Representatives. A number of important subjects which affect the Atlantic Community were discussed and recommendations upon them were passed, but I intend to mention only three this afternoon, because others who were there will no doubt take up other points in their speeches.
§ The first subject upon which I wish to speak is that relating to the speech of General Norstad, the Supreme Commander. He made on the first day of the Conference's business what has since become a famous speech, often referred to in Parliament and in the Press. He put before the Conference three issues which he asked the Conference and their respective fifteen Parliaments to consider. The first issue that he raised referred to the mid-range ballistic missile. He said that the N.A.T.O. forces required to be armed with these weapons which have a range of 1.000 to 1,500 nautical miles. They will supplement the fighter bombers and the light bombers and are in addition to the N.A.T.O. conventional capability. In pursuance of this proposal, the United States Government propose to assign 100 missiles to N.A.T.O. and five Polaris submarines with a total capability of 80 missiles: in other words. N.A.T.O. is to be armed with 180 missiles. As one Polaris submarine has an explosive capability equal to the whole of the bombs dropped by both sides throughout the Second World War, it can be imagined that the capability of N.A.T.O. when it gets these 180 missiles, quite apart from the nuclear weapons it now has, will be enormous—almost unbelievable.
§ The cost is to be shared by the N.A.T.O. Parliaments and will not, as heretofore, be borne solely by the United States. This naturally came as a shock to the representatives present, who had rather got into the habit of thinking that 1197 the United States should be responsible for all this tremendous expenditure. But it is a salutary shock, because we have to realise that at some stage or other the West must bear a fair share of the burden of these 'weapons and not rely exclusively upon the United States.
§ The second point made by General Norstad was as to a N.A.T.O. strategic force—that is, a heavy strategic retaliatory force for N.A.T.O. alone. It would obviously be armed with H-bombs. Now this proposal did not find much support, among the representatives of N.A.T.O., and I think it is true to say that it has not found much support either in Parliament in this country or among the public as a whole, so far as the public have either understood or considered a complex issue of this character. Most delegates again felt they would prefer to rely upon the United States for the force—that it would be much cheaper, at all events. In fairness to General Norstad, I should say that he himself did not either advocate or repudiate the suggestion. He put it forward as a possibility, and it is obvious that such a possibility is very much in the minds of the United States Government or, at least, of the late United States Administration. Whether it is in the minds of the present Administration, of course we do not know.
The third issue raised by General Norstad was the desirability for a broader sharing of political control of N.A.T.O. nuclear weapons. It is at least equally important as the others, and it is a question upon which I am sure we shall be most anxious to hear the views of the Foreign Secretary to-day. This desirability of the broader sharing of the political control of these weapons is made more urgent by the proposed missile transfer to N.A.T.O. of these tremendous weapons. I do not pretend to be in the confidence of the Government, or even to be able to follow all the ramifications of their various statements. The only Government statement or comment that I can quote to your Lordships to-day is one by the Prime Minister, in his usually witty and caustic style—I am referring to our Prime Minister, Mr. 'Macmillan. He said:
Can we say that with fifteen representatives, Ambassadors or Ministers, in N.A.T.O. acting in unanimity, the deterrent would continue to be credible? There might he one
finger on the trigger. There would be fifteen fingers on the safety catch.
Of course, that is witty and caustic and it is epigrammatic, but it does not lead us very much further. We have to try to achieve, if possible, some way in which there is no longer one finger on the trigger and the safety catch, and that the same finger, namely, the United States.
§ The Parliamentarians representing the Parliaments of the fifteen countries urged the N.A.T.O. Council to develop ways and means to establish the political authority of N.A.T.O. over nuclear weapon delivery systems and their use. In other words, they did not accept Mr. Macmillan's rather limited view of this problem. They thought there was the possibility of doing just that. The Liberal Party believe that Her Majesty's Government should negotiate with other N.A.T.O. members a more effective joint control over the use of nuclear weapons. So the Liberal Party is at one with the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians on this particular point.
§ What I should like to know is what the Government and the Foreign Secretary believe can be done. I am not pretending that this is an easy problem—it is not. This is a very difficult problem, for the reasons which the Prime Minister has given. But, at the same time, I think we must try to effect a solution, because obviously when the missiles are added to the already big nuclear weapon potential of N.A.T.O. it is most important that all the rest of us should have something to say about when they should go off, These defence issues which I have mentioned vitally affect United Kingdom politics. We are not at one in this country. There is no British point of view on these things. Every one of the Parties has a different point of view. The Conservative Party believe in every nation having its own deterrent—a sort of John Bull attitude to the deterrent. I must say that I shudder to think what is going to happen if every nation does have its own deterrent. When one considers that some of the Banana Republics and some of the Middle Eastern countries may get hold of the deterrent it gives one great cause for thought.
§ The Liberal Party wish to cease the independent manufacture of nuclear weapons and to rely upon collective security, and they reaffirm their support for the retention of N.A.T.O. as a neces- 1199 sary shield until multilateral disarmament is achieved. We are entirely behind N.A.T.O.; we support it to the full. The Labour Party renounce the retention or use of nuclear weapons entirely, and thus as a logical consequence desire to leave N.A.T.O. The official policy of the Party is not, of course, approved by the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party, either in this House or in another place—I say that in fairness to the speakers who are going to speak to-day, most of whom will take, I gather or I imagine, the minority point of view.
§ Now we come to the so-called conventional forces; and this is very important indeed if we are to get away from too great a reliance upon the nuclear deterrent. The problem is how to build up or even maintain the conventional forces so as to make the shield realistic and lessen reliance on nuclear weapons. This problem is accentuated by the difficulties which the various European nations are experiencing: the French difficulties over Algeria, the United Kingdom difficulties over recruiting, the Belgian difficulties at home, the United States' desire to reduce the numbers and the cost of their forces in Europe, and the smaller European nations' unwillingness to accept the predominance of the West German forces. The wounds of war, I think we all can agree, have healed marvellously in the time since the end of the last war. But the scars are still there. Unless we make an important contribution to N.A.T.O., none of the smaller European countries will be at all happy. They rely upon us.
§ Now what are the Government's intentions with regard to the so-called conventional forces? I use the word "so-called" because there is not a better word. I ask because just lately there have been two reports in The Times on this very point. The first was a week or two ago, when it said that the United Kingdom's N.A.T.O. commitments would take priority over other overseas commitments—that is in view, of course, of the fall in recruiting—and that troops would be returning from Malaya, Cyprus and the Caribbean, whilst a brigade of Gurkhas would be stationed for the first time in history in this country. If they are depending upon getting troops from the Caribbean to support N.A.T.O. they 1200 must be in very bad shape, because the number of troops in the Caribbean is very low and I should not have thought there was any possibility of weeding out any from there. Of course, it is quite desirable to have some forces in that area.
§ The next reference in The Times appeared in an interesting article this morning by the military correspondent, in which he said—or inferred perhaps; I will give a précis of his argument—that the British Rhine Army is not organised, equipped, trained or deployed to react promptly with conventional weapons. They are in fact depending upon nuclear weapons. The matters that I have raised are the main matters that I intend to raise to-day as there are a large number of speakers. These subjects are very important and vital to our national safety and to the safety of the North Atlantic Community. I would ask whether it is intended that they should be settled, if they can be settled, on the highest possible level, because that is the only level that can really deal with problems of this sort. It was reported in the Press recently that President Kennedy may attend a N.A.T.O. summit in May. Is this so? If the Foreign Secretary is able to give us any information on that point, I am sure we should welcome it. May I say now, as this is the first opportunity we have had to raise any point with regard to President Kennedy, that I am sure we all appreciated the President's most inspiring inaugural address. It was very heartening to us all in the free world.
§ The second main subject to which I shall refer to-day is related to economic co-operation. Here the Parliamentarians showed themselves in advance of their Governments. They drew attention to the need for direct negotiations between the Six and the Seven, with a view to the establishment of economic and political integration throughout Western Europe, and recommended their Parliaments to ratify without delay the O.E.C.D. Treaty. On this last point, as your Lordships will remember, it was, I think, the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, who made a statement before we rose for the Summer Recess, and I anticipate that there will certainly be no delay in ratifying this Treaty so far as the United Kingdom Parliament is concerned.1201
§ The last subject which I wish to mention is the question of under-developed countries. The Conference urged N.A.T.O. Governments to give substantial educational, economic and technical assistance to the developing countries and, as far as possible, on a multilateral basis. This decision was very significant, showing how the effect of the cold war and of the moral necessity, quite apart from the cold war, for us to help underdeveloped countries has become more apparent to all the nations in N.A.T.O. In 1957 I spoke to the Assembly at the N.A.T.O. Conference and I urged them to do this very thing, and I was called to order; I do not know whether I was actually ruled out of order, because they are very polite, but I was certainly called to order and asked what it had to do with N.A.T.O. The fact that at this Conference, only four years later, practically every committee moved resolutions saying how important it was that we should assist the under-developed territories and eventually a very strong resolution was passed by the Assembly itself, shows how far opinion has advanced in this way since 1957. That, I think, is a most encouraging sign.
§ Many other important subjects were discussed and resolutions were passed, and no doubt noble Lords and the noble Baroness will develop them in due course. As I say, I felt as never before that the Atlantic Community was evolving as a real community, with high ideals and practical proposals. Let us in the United Kingdom not fail to make our contribution and to give our support to this vital brotherhood. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.4 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, this Motion is on a very important subject. It is raised at this stage, I suppose, at an earlier date than we expected, perhaps because the Foreign Secretary was not able to speak to the House on this matter after the ending of the meeting of the Council of Ministers. But I must say that as I read the Reports put by the Lord Privy Seal to the House of Commons on December 20 I felt very much that that Council of Ministers was deliberating in a sort of atmosphere of hiatus with regard to the Presidency in the United 1202 States of America and what the policy of the newly elected President would be. I feel, therefore, that the communiqué which was issued, and which your Lordships can find reprinted in the Hansard of the House of Commons for December 20, is not very promising.
It repeats a good many old statements of the past. It gives little idea of very much progress having been made, and I should myself have preferred, seeing the tentative nature of the explanation of the matter which was given in the other place on December 20, to refrain from making any major contribution to the House on this question until we have the White paper on Defence. In that Paper we shall be able to find out exactly what the reactions of Her Majesty's Government may be in regard to implementing the suggestions that were discussed in the Parliamentary Conference of N.A.T.O., and whether the actual meeting of the Council of Ministers resulted in anything which means factual and executive action by the Government in this country. At present I have no indication of it. Of course, the Foreign Secretary has the top position in this matter as regards the Reports of the Council of Ministers, and no doubt when we have listened to him this afternoon we shall have a little more information about it.
However, let me say this. With the general language of the Motion on the Paper, that the support of Parliament is needed for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, I am in entire agreement. It is perhaps just as well to remind ourselves that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is in existence through the initiation of a British Government; and a British Labour Government at that. We should always, when we are meeting criticism, whether from within or without our Parties, on this matter, take to mind what was the situation that made it necessary that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation should come into being. It is very simple. I notice from the list of speakers who are likely to take part in this debate that the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn is to address us, and it will be interesting to get his confirmation, perhaps, of the basic reason for N.A.T.O. and the kind of conditions which those who drew up 1203 the draft of the Treaty envisaged would require to be fulfilled.
Certainly in 1946 we were only a few months away from the dreadful agonising experiences of five years of war; and a war in which, for nearly four years, at any rate, the U.S.S.R. had been an Ally, an Ally because we first of all offered her assistance when the common enemy invaded her. And it might have been expected, when it came to the Paris Peace Conference to discuss ways and means of coming to the most comprehensive peace and of getting a real settlement of the treaties with enemy countries, that we should have found the U.S.S.R. pulling with us in the general idea that, as a result of our common dire experience in the war, we should be aiming for the same goal of widespread international peace. But we did not find that. In my own Labour Party, in spite of variations here and there in decision from time to time, which are rarely permanent when they are not right. I would say that in all our growth of knowledge in international affairs and matters relatng to armaments we always had this great bugbear; how could we get away from the effect upon the working classes in all countries of the normal operation of the balance of power?
When the late Ernest Bevin and myself (and I was a substitute for him for a very large part of the gathering) got to Paris, what did we find, without much delay? That we were presented with a new balance of power section. Russia had already taken control of the satellite States, had started arming them, and would give nothing at all to our proposals for the development and maintenanance of understanding and peace. That is the reason for N.A.T.O. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation came about because of the common search of those who are really interested in, and are desirous of establishing, international peace and who have long since become convinced that, unless there could be set up some world organization, able to take advantage of a gradual reducing of the sovereign power of individual States, which could become of world consequence, and armed sufficiently to have world authority, it would never be possible to maintain a peace.
1204 At that time, just growing in its first year of existence, we had the United Nations Organisation. This was how it was being greeted by the U.S.S.R. and her satellites in Paris. When we studied the Charter of the United Nations we found that, standing out a mile, was the fact that the United Nations would have no arms to support her authority, and that within the terms of the Charter it was quite reasonable for any country attacked to be able, and rightly so, to defend herself, and that for that purpose individual nations which were in danger of attack might form Alliances. That is the basis of the origin of N.A.T.O. In spite of all that its critics say, whether from the Left or from the extreme Right in this country (and there are such people as well as those of the extreme Left), the basis of that Treaty is entirely defensive. It is specifically stated that it is in no way introduced in order to attack somebody else. Therefore, we ought not to have to apologise anywhere for defending the existence, and to desire the promotion, a the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
Look at the actual issues which have arisen from the Ministerial Conference referred to by Lord Ogmore. I am glad that the noble Lord had his preliminary training in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. I asked him to represent us, and on the occasion to which he referred he was there at my request. No doubt it has been good experience for him, and I congratulate him on now possessing the necessary knowledge. But I would say that there were certain things which happened at that Conference, and particularly some passages in General Norstad's speech, which only remind me of suggestions I have made to your Lordships over and over again in connection with debates upon White Papers on Defence policy.
I have been concerned continuously, as a Minister of a Service Department, either at the Ministry of Defence or the Admiralty, for well over thirteen years —always as a Service Minister. I have been concerned with the post-war situation in which senior military officers make such public statements as they do. and in regard to such subjects as they do. Whilst there was a great deal in the speech of General Norstad to this International Parliamentarians' Conference which one might praise, I felt that from 1205 time to time he was lecturing the parliamentarians on politics. I take one passage, in particular, from his speech:The forces which are assigned to the N.A.T.O. mission require the support of nuclear weapons. The defence of Europe against a serious large-scale attack certainly depends on these weapons. A search for a fair solution to the problem of sharing their control is thus of the most vital concern to all of us. … Such action might very well satisfy the desires and interests of others by meeting fully the military requirements and by assuring an equal voice in the control of the particular pool of forces which could be established as essential to the direct defence of Europe.That statement may be absolutely true, but I would say that the latter part of it, at any rate, should have been made by a Minister and not by a senior soldier. Over and over again, it seemed to me, as I carefully read the full speech of General Norstad, that there was a constant sort of flying of a kite at this stage in the relationship between N.A.T.O. and the United States of America in what I have already described as a period of hiatus. That will all have to be most carefully considered, by both Governments and Parliaments, when the time comes to make actual decisions. I greatly hope that the Foreign Secretary will not disagree with my general presentation of that aspect of the matter, and that it will be duly taken care of.
With regard to the actual points which were made by Lord Ogmore arising out of that speech, the noble Lord dealt first with the medium-range ballistic missile. If, as has been foreshadowed, the range turns out to be between 1,000 and 1,500 miles, how we can possibly defend our case morally in any international council of nations on the ground that these are not strategic weapons but only weapons generally used in localised warfare. I really do not know. What is an atomic, or a partly atomic, nuclear missile launched at 1,500 miles to do? It is going to attack, as I think was rather grudgingly admitted in the General's speech, some objective from the N.A.T.O. defence force. The shield which was to be a shield for us against enemy attack was going to be the launching of a missile over the frontier of Russia, on to some particular target which it was required to reach. For the life of me, I cannot see what confidence and what enjoyment of a likely peace will result from that for the population of this country.
1206 I do not know what would be the consequences in regard to the reaction of the Soviet if that were carried out. Would they regard that as anything other than a strategic weapon? Would not the immediate result be that we in this country should then be in the front line as a target for the nuclear weapon? I much prefer the statement which has been made again and again by members of my Party, however much they may be criticised just now—namely, that we would follow up not only the campaign that we were the first to operate for ending the testing of nuclear missiles, but that we would undertake never to be the first to launch a nuclear attack. I cannot see that the General's speech means that we shall not be the first to launch such an attack.
On that point, and on that point alone, one is entitled to say that at this stage the North Atlantic Treaty Council surely needs very careful examination: it needs to widen, and widen very specifically, the amount of political control that can be fairly operated in regard to the possession, and the use, of these weapons. I hope that when the Government come to present their White Paper on Defence they will have within its pages specific views, if not by then actual specific recommendations, as to how they are to proceed to secure this amendment of the constitution and control of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
The strategic force that is to be allocated to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation seemed to me to be further "kite-flying" on the part of General Norstad which I expect will be as greatly resented by as many people in authority in the United States as, clearly, it has been resented by in this country. I have not, of course, seen the full report of the Parliamentary Conference; but so far as I can tell, judging by reports from my colleagues who were there, I should say that there was very strong opposition from British Parliamentarians to the proposals which were then made. It seems to me, also, that it would be very unlikely that we should get much support for the particular proposition except, maybe, from the United States and certainly from Germany. And as things go on from year to year I beg our citizens in this country to keep their eyes upon German developments.
1207 I hope very much that those in West Germany who hold the right democratic views will prevail. I am not by any means one who wants to prolong criticism or anything approaching hatred of those who have been our enemies in the past; nor do I think it can ever be said against our country as a whole that we have usually followed such a line. But when I look at the position now with regard to the German economy and the United States—where the Republican Party, under President Eisenhower, in its last peace-time budget submitted to that country a budget of nearly £29,000 million—and note that a representative of the United States had to go out and have a talk to those in West Germany, the people who caused the war and who have got rid of their terrible indebtedness, to see if West Germany could help the United States out of an awkward gold position, it seems to me that if we in this country are gradually so to give up our proper contribution to the real basic principles of defence which we tried to put into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation then we shall be leaving it more and more not only to the enlargement of German numbers and armament but also to the leadership of a German High Staff and Command.
I would beg that we should all think and consider exactly where we are going. If we take the point which was rightly made by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, about the condition of our conventional forces in West Germany, what sort of a record have we on that? We were to maintain permanently four divisions in Germany. That was to be the B.A.O.R.—the British Army of the Rhine. That Army had a very important function. It has always had a British Command, and certainly the position to-day, under the present Government, is not surprising. I am not surprised. I have lived 75 years, and I have never known a Conservative Government in office at the opening of a war who were ever ready with the forces required to back the policy which led them into it. What do I find to-day? Already our forces in 'the British section of the British Army of Occupation have been greatly reduced. Admittedly they were reduced two years ago from 77,000 to 55,000, and now there are rumours running around about new economies in the coming 1208 Budget. I hope that they may be untrue. There is a suggestion that we shall reduce those forces still further, by another 12,000. We ought to have some of these facts in front of us before we go too deeply into that. What then becomes of the military command in Germany, of the northern area of Germany? I just wonder.
I believe that, these matters having been raised, we are entitled to bring these points home to the Government, whether or not your Lordships will agree with me, for consideration, to see what their effect is likely to be. I myself am persuaded that the first thing to do in regard to this matter is to make sure that we get away from the disaster of the White Paper of 1957 and make it clear, not only to our countrymen but to the world, that our main reliance in this matter of our defence organisation is on conventional forces; that we are not against the use of a nuclear weapon as a deterrent if it is understood that we are not going to make use of the nuclear weapon as a first strike. In other words, we ourselves will not use it first.
Then I believe we ought to make quite sure that the conventional forces are at least properly equipped. Why are they not now? Parliament has a lot to answer for in the last nine years. When I left the Ministry of Defence in 1950 I was spending just over £800 million. Then N.A.T.O. came in, and there was the Korean war; and we went up to a triennial budget of £1,500 million. What are we spending to-day?—£1,625 million. But we have not one-half of the forces we handed to the Government in 1950. That is what Parliament has to answer for. The Government, therefore, in spite of the expenditure, have not provided us to-day with an adequate defence for our needs; and that is the fault of the Government and the Parliament that supports the economic policy of that Government. Perhaps on a future occasion we shall have an opportunity to develop that economic point. I do not think I should have any difficulty in proving the case.
Let me say this, in conclusion—for I do not want to keep your Lordships too long. I said when I began that in the end, if the peace of the world and the happiness of mankind were ultimately to be secured, then without a doubt we shall have to look forward to a world 1209 organisation. Forgive me if sometimes I have a very big doubt as to whether we shall ever achieve it in the present dispensation. If I read my Bible, I read of the dispensation in which One shall come:and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor … mighty …Nevertheless, we have the duty to maintain our struggle towards attaining a world government of the kind I have indicated. How we can hope to do it unless we make progress, first of all, through the United Nations, I do not know. Here, the United Nations certainly, I think, if we take a fair view of the last sixteen years, is more powerful in its influence than the League of Nations was on matters of peace and war, for the prevention of war. Yet it is up against such problems as, under its present constitution and administration. cannot be mastered. We see the sporadic calling forth of small units from various countries to go to a particular centre of conflagration; we see things happening as they are happening in the Congo to-day, and the dissidents among those contributory nations gradually pulling out one after the other. The use in a most extravagant and extraordinary manner of the Veto in the Security Council has not made it easy for those who truly desire the success of a world organisation to pursue towards their goal successfully. A great deal needs to be done on that.
What is perhaps the greatest and first step that has to be pursued—one which this country as a whole, I think, has pursued, but I feel inclined to claim no better pioneer in this than my own Party—is, in season and out of season, a general disarmament, on a collective basis and with proper controls of the areas disarmed. If that were really brought about, we should have gone a long way towards first making the United Nations a successful and operative organisation, building up step by step its prestige, as well as its mutual authority and power. We should perhaps be on the way at last to the Eldorado of a world organisation in which there would really be a reign of the Prince of Peace.
§ 3.33 p.m.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF HOME)
My Lords, Lord Ogmore has 1210 promoted this debate upon the North Atlantic Alliance at a time which I think is both appropriate and useful; and certainly I look forward very much to being able to hear the contributions which are to be made by what are known as the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians who are represented in this House and by others who can speak with a great knowledge of Europe and who have worked a lifetime to help towards its unity. Before Christmas, when I gave a short account to your Lordships of the N.A.T.O. meeting in Paris—that is to say, the meeting of the Council of Ministers—I said that the permanent representatives there were about to conduct a review of the purposes, control and deployment of the nuclear armoury of N.A.T.O. with the objective of making the deterrent as effective as possible without wasting our resources. And to-day the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has, quite properly, concentrated much of his analysis upon the military problems which are presented Ito us all by eleven years of rapid evolution of nuclear weapons, with the effect that that has had upon strategy and tactics in the Alliance.
I hope to follow him very closely, but at once to make four points, two old and two new: the first, that it was recognised as early as 1954 that a certain number of nuclear weapons must be included in the N.A.T.O. armoury; the second, that at this present day, now, N.A.T.O. commands a wide range of nuclear power. And the two new points are these. The development of nuclear weapons has in the last few years been so revolutionary that it is no longer possible to put weapons tidily into categories arid mark them "tactical" or "strategic". A weapon is to-day tactical or strategic according to where it is sited and according to the targets which are allocated to it in the military plan.
The second point is this. I always listen to the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, with great appreciation and am instructed by what he says about its origin; but, of course, when N.A.T.O. was started the situation was that the Western Powers had an absolute predominance in nuclear power. To-day there is equipoise between East and West, and each bloc (if you like to call it that) is in a position to destroy the other; and the repercussions of that situation are 1211 bound to modify the original conception of N.A.T.O. as a tripwire. I shall return to that in a moment, but I thought that those were two new factors which we must take into account.
I very much agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, when he says that these two factors. namely, the revolutionary character of the new weapons and the fact of the nuclear equipoise, throw immediately into highlight the importance of defining with precision the military purpose of N.A.T.O. to-day, the importance of defining its area of operations and the nature of the political control over weapons which it is decided it is proper for N.A.T.O. to deploy. It is those problems precisely upon which the permanent representatives of N.A.T.O. are at this moment sitting in review.
I think it may help your Lordships to visualise what N.A.T.O. ought to be if I say a word about what it was and what it is to-day. I need not add very much on what it was to what Lord Alexander of Hillsborough—himself one of the authors of the Treaty—said. It was brought about as a result, primarily, of Russia's refusing to co-operate in peace after the war. It was an Alliance born of the failure of the United Nations to provide collective security. It was, as he said, a defensive Alliance within the Charter; and I think I should be right in describing the military objective from the start as being solely directed to preventing Europe from being overrun by an aggressor. Sometimes I am myself guilty, I confess, but I have never been happy with the attempts to describe the function of N.A.T.O. in words of one or two syllables drawn from the Army Manual: "tripwire" or "shield" or even "shield and sword." That, I think, is to oversimplify. But the design, I think, of the N.A.T.O. Alliance can be described quite clearly to-day: it still is an exercise in collective security; it still is an essentially defensive Alliance to which all its members make a military contribution.
It is necessary to remember that, under Article V of the Treaty, an attack upon one member is to be regarded as an attack upon all. I ask your Lordships to remember that for this reason. I think it helps us to avoid some of the confusion which arises when people talk about the possibility of N.A.T.O. emerg- 1212 ing as a third or fourth nuclear Power. What happens if N.A.T.O. cannot hold an attack upon Europe, or upon any Member of the Alliance? Then the whole strategic strength of the entire Alliance comes into play. So, inevitably, there is a relation between the N.A.T.O. Alliance and the broad strategic plan which would come into operation in the event of an attack. I will return to that, if I may, in a moment.
What, then, is the purpose of N.A.T.O.'s strength? I think we can describe it like this: to carry such conviction as will deter an aggressor from attacking Europe; and, if that fails, to delay and to hold an attack long enough for the Alliance to mobilise. But the position of nuclear equipoise is now introducing another, a third, conception. That is: now that full-scale nuclear warfare means that each side can annihilate the other with megaton weapons, should one of the rôles of N.A.T.O. be to try to enforce a pause where an enemy can have second thoughts before the world is irrevocably involved in its own destruction? I do not know whether, in the event—I pray we shall never reach it—these niceties of calculation would be practicable. But noble Lords will recall the jargon which is used about these matters at this time; and it is a real problem that if once a nuclear weapon is used at all then the escalation in nuclear weapons may 'be very rapid until you get into the final battle with rockets and guided missiles. Now that, again, is a matter which is being studied by the Council at the present time.
When the Council met in December, the first thing that came under scrutiny was the Treaty. It was agreed, in the first place, that the structure of the Treaty was adequate to any rôle which N.A.T.O. might have to fulfil in modern times, and that it need not be amended; but, secondly, that it was sensible, after eleven years, that there should be a review of the purposes of N.A.T.O., of the control and deployment of its nuclear armoury. My Lords, the Treaty was not judged solely by military tests. By many other tests it can be said to have succeeded far beyond the expectation of its authors. It has preserved its members from Communist aggression. It has enabled France and Germany to find a new understanding. It has allowed former 1213 enemies not only to achieve a considerable degree of integrated military planning but in fact to achieve considerable integration in their military forces. As I listened to the noble Viscount I reflected, too, that perhaps the greatest prize has been that it has allowed the German forces to be fully integrated with the forces of the other Allies in the West. We must acknowledge that this is not only welcome to us but fully welcome to, and entirely the policy of, the present West German Government. Again, the Alliance has enabled the United States to keep its power in Europe. And finally it has provided the security and fostered the confidence behind which the sense of the unity of Europe is growing day by day. I believe that these are assets which none can gainsay and that in these respects the N.A.T.O. Alliance has contributed not only to the stability of Europe but also to the peace of the world.
In recent years the Alliance has extended its field of consultation on political as well as on military matters, and that process is going to be extended. I am sure it can be extended with great advantage, and that the extension of political consultation on matters which are outside Europe but which are of great interest to the member Powers will lead to greater understanding. So I leave the Treaty itself with this reflection: that it has served the Alliance and its members well.
Now it is against that broad achievement of the Alliance that I should like, for a few moments, to review the genuine problems which arise when we consider what should be N.A.T.O.'s tactical rôle to-day. The first question which naturally arises, and which the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, touched upon, is this: what policies should govern its nuclear armoury? How great a strike power is necessary for the purposes of first, deterrence and, secondly, defence?—bearing in mind, as one must, that no ground attack or assault could be launched against Europe to-day without a considerable build-up in the rear of the leading assault troops. My Lords, one is immediately brought into the difficulty of definition which I mentioned earlier in my speech: that if you think in terms only of the weapon's performance you can no longer say whether an 1214 aircraft or a missile is tactical or strategic—because, as I said, it depends on siting, the target allocation and the directives within which, in this case, SACEUR works.
I should like to say, in this connection, that I am starting from the premise that there is no proposition at present before N.A.T.O. which suggests that there should be any addition to the area in which SACEUR at present operates: and I should like to indicate to the House, therefore, with that as the background, what are the kind of questions which must be studied by the Council—and, indeed, which are being studied now. They are questions like this: when the bomber goes out of production—and there is a very strong case, I might interpolate here, for keeping the bomber as long as possible, as long as the bomber can get through, because the bomber is a more flexible instrument than the missile —and the day comes when the bomber cannot get through, should N.A.T.O. be armed with missiles which do the same job as the bomber is doing to-day? Again, there is the question whether missiles which to-day, when they are put on fixed sites, are known to he vulnerable, should be converted into missiles which can be made mobile. Then, again, bearing in mind that Russian forces in Eastern Europe command a very wide variety of tactical weapons, there is the question how best to constitute the N.A.T.O. armoury so that it is manifestly capable of dealing with any type of attack which those forces could mount.
My Lords, within this study comes the offer from the United States which the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, mentioned, which was connected both with the allocation of Polaris submarines and with the conception of a European force of M.R.B.M.s. It will be for the Council—and I should like to recall to the House that the Council is the political body of N.A.T.O.—after taking military advice, to make recommendations on this to Governments. There has been a lot of public discussion, and indeed a good deal of criticism, of the American offer, but I should like to say at once that the motives behind that offer were unselfish, generous and honourable, and they were these. They were to reassure Europe that American power would remain at the disposal of the Alliance, and to place 1215 a portion of the nuclear deterrent under European control so as to strengthen the will of the Alliance. Again, the conception was that if N.A.T.O. should own its own nuclear weapons, then it would be unnecessary for more nations in the Alliance to build up their own military nuclear capacity. My Lords, I find all those objectives admirable.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, might I just ask a question on this point, because I want to clear up a matter mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore? Criticism is already arising, which may be quite unfair, that this is a move in the present economic difficulties in the United States to try to spread over a wider field the cost of their undertaking in the nuclear field. I understand the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, to say that at the Parliamentary Conference it was suggested that that cost would have to be shared; but my recollection—and perhaps the foreign Secretary will correct me if I am wrong—is that the Lord Privy Seal in another place, in answer to that kind of criticism, specifically said that the cost, especially of the Polaris offer, would be met entirely by the United States. I think he also included the 100 missiles of the other kind.
§ LORD BOOTHBY
My Lords, before the noble Earl replies, might I ask him whether this offer has been repeated—because it is quite important—in any precise form by the new Administration? I gather it came from President Eisenhower's Administration.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, that is right; the offer came from President Eisenhower's Administration, and, as I said, it has been put forward to N.A.T.O. for study to see whether the N.A.T.O. Alliance wish to adopt the system, or any variant of it. As I understand the position at present, it is this: The submarines are allocated to N.A.T.O. and remain part of the American forces allocated to the Alliance. As far as any future system might arise where Europe produced its own weapons, the question of cost and the division of cost would have to be threshed out in the Alliance; but there is no definite proposal on that at the moment about which I can speak further.
1216 Now, my Lords, what I was saying was that the motive behind the American proposal, it seems to me, should be welcomed by everyone. But what I cannot do to-day is to pronounce upon the military merits of the scheme. For instance, why is a warhead of this magnitude needed in the tactical area of the N.A.T.O. Command? I would again remind your Lordships of what I said earlier on, that if N.A.T.O. fails to hold an attack, then the strategic forces of the Alliance are bound to go into action. I do not think that there is anything here that I have seen which involves the conception of N.A.T.O. as what one might call a third or fourth nuclear Power.
Perhaps I can put it in this way. N.A.T.O. provides the essential complement to the strategic forces of the West by supplying the tactical element in the deterrent. But whether or not this offer had come from the United States, there was a very strong case for review. There is the problem of the replacement of the bomb by the missile. There is the problem of the modern range of nuclear artillery. There is the question of the weight of the megaton explosion which is now possible. Those things all called for review, particularly upon the nature of the weapons deployed and the controlling system for their firing.
I now come to the second category of questions which the noble Viscount asked, and that is the question of control. I would join with his general proposition about Generals in office being allowed to speak. I am not really sure about that after they leave office; but, anyhow, the first proposition is good enough for me. Whether we conclude that the present rules of control are good enough, or whether we conclude that they should be revised, one thing is quite certain: that in respect of the firing of nuclear weapons, the decision must remain political. That is quite clear.
I think it is well to emphasise, as the noble Viscount has said some things about General Norstad and what he said, that General Norstad has publicly expressed that view. I should like to read to the House what he did say, because it gives the picture of the present system of controlling N.A.T.O. He said:All of the N.A.T.O. forces, conventional as well as atomic, are controlled ultimately by a political authority, and that applies to the 1217 tactical atomic weapons wherever they may be deployed, and in whose hands they may be located. In addition to that, in order to ensure control of this very important weapon, and, I must say, to keep faith with the Governments of N.A.T.O., I keep under my own hands a very tight centralised control on these units that are equipped to use nuclear weapons.At present, of course, nuclear warheads are in the custody of the United States; but if the House needs any reassurance that the decision to use nuclear weapons must remain political, I give it categorically.
It has been suggested that in order to allay fear that the United States might at some future date be unwilling to defend Europe, the warheads might be retained in Europe under control by the members of the European Alliance. The noble Viscount asked me to comment on this aspect of control. To-day I think I should make only three observations upon any possible variation of control in this way. The first is that I do not believe that there need be any fear of a United States withdrawal from Europe. Indeed, all the evidence is to the contrary. The second is that, if there is to be a change of control, Congress in the United States has to alter the law. Thirdly—and this matter has been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, when he quoted the Prime Minister—we must always remember that if the nuclear weapons are really to be an effective deterrent, they must be credible to the enemy.
Of course, we have to study and have to see if we can work out whether there can be a system of control which could be extended to European members of the Alliance, always remembering that the more hands there are in the control, the more the credibility of the deterrent is diluted; and as the essence of the deterrent is, of course, swift retaliation, the more you dilute the control the more it may be discounted by a potential aggressor. So, my Lords, I cannot gratify the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, more to-day on this subject than to say that these again are matters which are under active study by the Council and upon which they will report shortly to Governments.
Of course, we should all be happier if we could dispense with military alliances and if, in turn, they could dispense with nuclear weapons; but that is not very realistic. Mr. Khrushchev has 1218 very lately said that reductions in Russian manpower are more than balanced and replaced by the increasing strike-power of his tactical nuclear weapons. We know that there are heavy concentrations of these in Eastern Europe; that their forces there are armed with these tactical nuclear weapons, backed by long-range rockets. The Russians have some 400 submarines and we know that they have at least a type of missile-firing submarine. The balance between conventional and nuclear forces and weapons is another matter which certainly must be studied by the Council with the greatest care.
I have heard the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, make the point on many occasions that in the N.A.T.O. Alliance we may be over-insured on the nuclear side. I am not going to express a judgment on that, but certainly very close attention must be paid to that question by the Council in their study. And on other occasions I have heard the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, say that whereas the original conception of N.A.T.O. was that of a tripwire, we seem to have departed a very long way from that. I think that in some respects that is true, although I would remind him again that there is one essential difference between now and then. When the West had an absolute preponderance, of nuclear power, the tripwire could be lighter. Now that there is an equipoise, we have to ask ourselves, in the strategic nuclear field, if an attack develops, how it can be held by the N.A.T.O. Alliance. I suggest to him—and I shall be interested to hear what he says later —that this may mean that the tripwire may have to be heavier or may have to be devised in various stages. Therefore, as I said earlier, we have to decide very soon the degree and nature of the tactical nuclear weapons which may have to deal with the kind of attack which may be launched upon us from East Europe to-day.
Everything I have said, I think, reinforces the view expressed by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, that the only sensible way of resolving the dilemma, in which not only we find ourselves but also the Russians must find themselves to-day, is disarmament. I will not pursue this subject to-day. We have a Foreign Affairs debate in a fortnight's time and 1219 we shall have more to say about it at that time. I would only say this: that if the Russians could agree to work disarmament and accept the principle that we should so proceed that at no stage of disarmament would the balance of strength be disturbed, then I think we could start now and lift a lot of tension from the world, and that we could proceed at once, to the great advantage of all. Of course, it would be part of a disarmament plan that gradually there should be built up the international police force to which the noble Viscount referred. Meanwhile, this is, and will continue to be, largely a military debate.
Perhaps I may sum up the opening stages like this. N.A.T.O. is essentially a piece of machinery for a specific purpose, and that is, to prevent an aggressor from attacking Europe. N.A.T.O. is the servant of the fifteen nations and cannot be their master. The prototype of N.A.T.O. has been proved and, if I may use a familiar analogy, Mark I has been succeeded by various models. Mark II, I think, was brought about by the accession of Federal Germany to the N.A.T.O. Alliance and Mark III, when N.A.T.O. was equipped with nuclear weapons. Mark IV will emerge out of the present study of the N.A.T.O. Council, and when that happens I will report the results to Parliament. But I would remind your Lordships, when we are apt to criticise this N.A.T.O. Alliance, as some of us occasionally do, that it has achieved the main purpose for which it was made—that is, the security of Western Europe. With the control that there is of this Organisation by fifteen nations, all passionately determined to preserve their way of life and equally all passionately devoted to peace, I think the House may take it that the Council of N.A.T.O. are absolutely alive to their responsibilities to mankind and alive to their obligation so to handle their strength that, while it defends Europe against an aggressor, it also contributes to the peace of Europe and to the peace of the world.
§ 4.7 p.m.
§ LORD CRATHORNE
My Lords, the New Year seems to me to be a fitting time for a new Member to address your Lordships' House on the first occasion. I only hope that noble Lords will show 1220 me the customary courtesy which they have extended to others who on previous occasions must have felt exactly as I do to-day, the qualms of a "new boy" about to address this learned House for the first time.
The New Year is commonly regarded as a time to be hopeful, and indeed it would be a very sad thing for human nature if it were not so, but I think we are more likely to arrive at that desirable condition if we deny ourselves all false optimism's about the real nature of the contest in which we are inescapably engaged; for I feel that the more clearly we recognise what we are up against the better we are prepared to meet the challenge. On various occasions recently the Foreign Secretary has told this House, in brilliant speeches, the nature of the struggle of the 1960s. To-day he has given further food for thought, particularly in the military sphere. In the speeches which he has made, both to-day and on previous occasions, he has left us in no doubt at all that we are in for a period of fiercely competitive coexistence, which, on Mr. Khrushchev's own showing, will be used to further the advance of Communist influence on a global scale by every means short of open war.
So it would appear that competition, not open war, is now Communism's chosen instrument of policy in the struggle with the West. And the most favourable conditions on which to cooperate are those of peaceful co-existence. Mr. Khrushchev has used these words himself in this connection. I feel that in this context it is no good complaining of unfair competition because Soviet methods of prosecuting it do not correspond to the Western code. Nor dare we underestimate the immense military strength which Russia retains in reserve. The prospect before us, therefore, is stern in more ways than one. For that reason, apart from any others, the Motion before us could not be more appropriate or better timed, and, if I may do so in my first contribution in this House, I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for having raised this Motion to-day. Not only has the inauguration of a new American President and Administration given us an opportunity to take a candid look at the state of the Western Alliance, but it is only a few weeks ago since some of your 1221 Lordships returned from the Sixth Annual N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians' Conference in Paris. I have been associated with this unofficial organisation since the autumn of 1958, and it is the accumulated experience of discussing N.A.T.O. in all its widest implications with Parliamentarians from North America and Europe that is one of the reasons which make me fed that I should take part in the debate to-day.
In Paris last November some of our most lively discussions, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, has pointed out, took place in the Economic Committee. Other Members of your Lordships' House will in the course of the debate dwell further on the various committees and what took place in them, but I would say that the importance which Parliamentarians attached to the Economic Committee was a completely new feature. They were also much interested in the Scientific and the Cultural Committees, on both of which committees Members of your Lordships' House made most useful contributions on subjects ranging from aid to underdeveloped countries, as has already been mentioned, to space research and the study of African and Asian languages. Your Lordships will agree that this reflects the significance that the Alliance has come to attach to non-military aspects of Western co-operation; and this in turn, I think, reflects the shift in Communist strategy from a primarily military threat to a politico-economic offensive.
At this point I should like to digress for a moment to tell your Lordships my second reason for intervening in the debate to-day. Last week I visited Malta on behalf of the British Atlantic Committee. The purpose of the visit was to inaugurate a Malta Group of this Committee. The basis of the formation of the Group has been the eagerness and enthusiasm with which many of the citizens of Malta joined the British Atlantic Committee as associate members. As your Lordships will be aware, the British Atlantic Committee in the United Kingdom is the constituent national group of the Atlantic Treaty Association. The Atlantic Treaty Association is a voluntary international organisation which has national groups in all the fifteen N.A.T.O. countries, and its purpose is to bring to the notice of more and more citizens in the N.A.T.O. countries the work that is being carried out by NA.T.O. I 1222 thought your Lordships would be interested to hear of this new development in Malta, which I think has particular significance.
To return to my main theme, N.A.T.O., the fact remains, as the Foreign Secretary said in the conclusion of his speech, that nothing short of concrete progress in disarmament—multilateral, not unilateral—can dispense us from the responsibility to maintain our defensive strength. N.A.T.O., in my view, is not an automaton. I believe sincerely that N.A.T.O. has been able to fulfil successfully its deterrent rôle over the past decade not only because of the weapons, but also because of the political will among its members. My Lords, more, not less, political unity of purpose will be needed in the next decade.
Does not that bring us to this question: does this call for drastic change in the character of the Alliance in line with the changing character of the challenge? This, I believe, is the question that we should all ask ourselves. Few would deny that the entirely new conception of force brought about by the mastery of nuclear weapons has transformed the approach to power politics, both of East and West. This is certainly implicit, I think, in what the Foreign Secretary said not long ago, when he said it was inevitable that the logic of military developments would lead to greater integration, not less; to greater interdependence, not less. For surely this integration and this interdependence must have a political and economic, as well as a military, construction. So when we seek to find the answer to this question, whether the time has come for N.A.T.O. collectively to carry a great share of the nuclear responsibility, from which political control is inseparable, then we are at once brought up against the second question: to what extent is it desirable to reconstruct or make adjustments to the original concept of the Alliance?
These, my Lords, are matters of high policy, which we know—and, indeed, the Foreign Secretary has told us to-day —are under detailed review by the North Atlantic Council, following the Ministerial meeting in Paris last month. For these reasons alone I would not presume to attempt an analysis of these complex 1223 questions. The Foreign Secretary has touched on the great problem of the present day in the military field and the differentiation between tactical and strategic weapons. I would not go further than that; nor would I anticipate the answers that may emerge.
The reason I have brought these matters to the notice of your Lordships is because I hope and believe that the discussions in the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians' Conference have materially helped the N.A.T.O. Governments and their official advisers by providing them with a body of opinion where soundings can be taken and constructive criticism encouraged. At the same time, I personally am convinced—and so, I believe, are the majority of the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians—that our Conference is best kept as it is, an unofficial organisation, and that to aspire to a constitutional status not only would be impracticable, but would also mean there would be a real danger of its losing its value as a forum for discussion at the highest level.
The crux of the Motion before us this afternoon is that the United Kingdom Government and Parliament should give N.A.T.O. their full support. That principle, of course, I give my wholehearted support. But I think there is a further reason, apart from what has already been mentioned, why this Motion is so founded to-day. I refer to the unilateralist movement, not as a matter of controversy, but as a matter of fact. The unilateralist arguments have only one logical conclusion, as I see them: that the United Kingdom would refuse to have any part in the policy of the Western nuclear deterrent and would leave N.A.T.O. rather than contribute to any form of nuclear defence by the West. The military and political consequences would be that we should contract out of collective security and adopt a posture of neutralism.
The unilateralists claim in this connection, as a justification for this step, that a neutral Britain would be better placed to advance the cause of disarmament, having set the moral example of renouncing nuclear weapons and throwing over her Allies. Here we have, I am convinced, a profoundly dangerous concept, based on utterly false premises; because I believe that the possession of the deterrent is not a barrier to dis- 1224 armament but a spur to negotiation. The fact that these Disarmament Conferences have not so far resulted in agreement may be disappointing. Of course it is disappointing. But I do not believe that this is surprising, in view of the nature of the actual as well as the ideological conflict, and the tremendous issues that are involved. Once we accept that true peace must rest on multilateral disarmament in all weapons, without placing any of the parties to agreement at a disadvantage, then we must accept also that there must be international inspection and control of a type that might justly be called unprecedented. Even when a start has been made, the end of the road may be very far off. Nevertheless, I believe it is fundamental to our support for N.A.T.O. that the Alliance should be maintained, in the interests of peace and as an insurance policy against aggression, pending the ultimate goal of disarmament.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I regard myself as extremely lucky to be the next speaker on the list, because it gives me the opportunity, which I am sure other noble Lords who have heard the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, will envy, of congratulating him very warmly on his maiden speech, which was made with the full authority of the leader of the Parliamentary body which attended the last N.A.T.O. Parliamentary Conference. I should also like to join my noble friend Lord Ogmore in the tribute he paid to the leadership which we have in the kindly, courteous and skilful leadership of the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, and which greatly added to the efficiency of all of us and to the pleasure of all of us. It seems to me most satisfactory, looking back on my first visit to N.A.T.O., when I was privileged to serve under the late Colonel Walter Elliot, that the tradition of leadership which he set, and which was a difficult tradition to maintain, has been so satisfactorily maintained subsequently. I hope that we shall hear the noble Lord again, and particularly that he may speak to us about farming, which is one of the many subjects with which he is familiar.
I thank the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary for his interesting statement about the past and present of N.A.T.O. He did not say much about the future, 1225 but perhaps we were not entitled to expect it. He pointed out that the problems of political control of N.A.T.O. and the N.A.T.O. nuclear armoury are at the present time under consideration by the N.A.T.O. Council, and no doubt he is waiting for advice from that quarter. I think we shall have to be satisfied with this statement, although we should naturally have liked to hear more about Government policy in these matters.
What the noble Earl did say—and I hope he will correct me if I have misunderstood him—was that N.A.T.O. should not become a fourth nuclear Power and should be limited within a definition, which, of course, is for the technicians to advise, about the use of tactical nuclear weapons. If that is the broad principle of Government policy, we can unreservedly agree with it. Let me say that I hope that the noble Earl will be able to get our partners in N.A.T.O., and more particularly the new American Administration, to accept this policy.
THE EARL OF HOME
May I say that I did not want to lay down what we think should be the policy for N.A.T.O. while it is being reviewed in company with our Allies. It is for all of us together to say whether there should be any complement of a strategic deterrent. The point I was making was that N.A.T.O. is supplementary to the strategic deterrent, because it provides the tactical powers which would hold the attack or prevent it, we hope, until the whole operation of the Alliance can be given time.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I appreciate that we are discussing these matters with our partners in N.A.T.O., and it is quite clear that the noble Earl could not, and should not, tell us exactly what is going on at the moment. I think he will agree that it would be fair to say that with the broad approach to this problem we shall be in agreement.
The main point that has arisen, and which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, as the most important feature of General Norstad's speech at the opening of the Conference—and which was repeated again by M. Spaak, the Secretary General, at the conclusion of the Conference—was whether or not N.A.T.O. should become another nuclear Power with its own strategic deterrent. 1226 That is a matter about which I think we are all entitled to express our views. That was the proposition we were asked to consider, and it is a proposition which we have all considered very carefully since then. I think there is little doubt, as the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said that public opinion generally in this country (so far as public opinion understands the issue) would be against any idea of N.A.T.O. having a strategic nuclear deterrent. Because it is difficult to define the difference between a strategic and a nuclear deterrent, may I say that I think we understand that a strategic deterrent could include either the Polaris missile carried by a submarine, which can be used in either capacity, or an H-bomb carried by a jet bomber over long distances. Certainly that is what I mean, and it is the way in which I mean to use this expression in the course of what I have to say.
The noble Earl suggested—indeed, it is one of the arguments in favour of this new weapon, or this additional weapon, for N.A.T 0.—that it would tend to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to European countries which at present do not have them. I must say that I am very doubtful about the force of this argument. Can one imagine that this would stop the French from having their own nuclear armoury? It would be interesting to hear the views of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, on this matter and—we are looking forward to his maiden speech, because nobody knows more about French policy than he does. But I myself should doubt it very much
Other European countries, if they are in a position to do so, will no doubt wish to have nuclear weapons of their own. It is an unfortunate tendency which we see all over the world—it is not confined to Europe—for countries to want the most expensive symbols of their national prestige. Of course we all want to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, which is one of the potential causes of war; and the question is, how can that be achieved. If giving them to N.A.T.O. would, as some people think, prevent or stop the spread of such weapons, those who take this view have a strong case. But I do not believe that this would be likely to happen. The positive disadvantages of a N.A.T.O. strategic deterrent are really enormous.
1227 In the first place, it would raise the difficult, if not insoluble, question which has already been discussed this after- noon, of effective political control. The graphic description of the situation that would arise is "fifteen fingers on the trigger" or "fifteen fingers on the safety catch". There is no doubt that public opinion in the N.A.T.O. countries would insist that the decision to wage, or possibly even to start, nuclear war must be a political and not a military decision. The noble Earl has said quite clearly that that is the policy of Her Majesty's Government. There is equally no doubt that each country would want an equal say in this decision. How on earth can this state of affairs be reconciled with the military requirement of swiftness of decision? Again, the noble Earl mentioned this military requirement, and it is a problem which must appear to the ordinary layman, at any rate, as a problem not capable of satisfactory solution.
The second objection to this course of adding these enormously dangerous weapons to the N.A.T.O. armoury is that it would increase by a huge amount the arms bill of Western Europe. We should have to pay for part, at any rate, of the supply of atomic missiles and the means of carrying them, however generous America might be in endeavouring to help us in a matter of this kind. We know that the Americans have their own economic problem, which is at the moment a problem of the balance of payments; they are urging us to contribute more to N.A.T.O., and they would certainly wish us (and this point has already arisen in the case of the supply of the Polaris missiles) to pay at least a part of the cost of this additional deterrent. We certainly could not expect the United States to pay for a duplication of its own system of strategic deterrent. They would clearly have to keep their own atomic missiles and the means of delivering them. Surely increased expenditure on arms at a time when the people in Western Europe are looking forward to reduced taxation and better living standards could be justified only if it were absolutely necessary for the defence of the West. But is it necessary? I think everyone would agree that N.A.T.O. has carried out with very great success its task of preventing Communist aggression and encroach 1228 ment in Europe. There is no evidence at all that it needs this huge additional strength to go on doing what it has done successfully for the past ten years. If it can do its job without the strategic nuclear deterrent, as it has done in the past, why cannot it continue to do so in the future?
Finally, my Lords—and I think this is a no less important argument than the two I have mentioned—there can be little doubt that a new Western deterrent would make the prospect of agreement about general disarmament, at which we all agree it is essential to aim, even more remote than it is at the present time. The Russians would regard this new weapon as provocative and would be even less willing to cut their own arms. They might start a new arms race by retaliating or giving the nuclear weapon to the Warsaw Pact Powers. With the new Administration in Washington and the known willingness of President Kennedy and Mr. Khrushchev to negotiate, it 'would surely be the greatest of pities to do anything to lessen the chances of success of agreement about general disarmament or a more limited agreement about atomic tests.
What I think we should encourage N.A.T.O. to do is to give its conventional forces the most up-to-date organisation and equipment that can be given. General Norstad is not satisfied, and I think rightly, with their present state of efficiency. By making N.A.T.O.'s conventional shield stronger we shall also lessen the risk of nuclear war. Nobody expects a war to begin with the use of nuclear weapons. But if one side finds that it is losing a battle between conventional forces it will be strongly tempted to redress the balance in the only way open to it. We should give General Norstad all the support we can in his efforts to improve and modernise the conventional land, sea and air forces at his disposal. There is much to be said for a mobile striking force. I will not go into that point—I am not a military expert. But it is clear that there would be great advantage in having a mobile force which could go to any point of danger in Eastern or South-Eastern Europe; and such a force would add to the weapons the West has to defend itself from attack by conventional weapons without adding as the nuclear deterrent would, to the risk of war.
1229 I was very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, made so much of this point. We are really living in the past if we imagine that the Communist threat to-day is still primarily a military threat. Mr. Khrushchev has described what he means by peaceful co-existence. In his own words it is an economic, political and ideological struggle, not a trial of military strength. Mr. Spaak, in the speech with which he wound up the Conference, spoke of the Communist economic offensive, and pointed out that it would be launched not in Europe or North America but in the underdeveloped countries of the world. The Russians want to turn swords into ploughshares, not because they have become pacifists but because they realise that ploughshares are now the most useful instrument in propagating the doctrine and power of world Communism.
The task of the Western Allies to-day is therefore to meet the threat to the free, and largely uncommitted, countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. This can be done only if we pool our economic resources for the benefit of these under-developed countries in the way we have already pooled our political and military resources. But this is something very much harder to achieve in the free economies of the West than it is in the State-planned economies of the Soviet bloc. That is why I regard (I think this is a new point, and a new point is always difficult to make at this stage of the debate) the establishment of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as the most promising recent development in relations between the N.A.T.O. countries.
In the first place it will bring Canada and the United States for the first time into full economic co-operation with the other countries of the N.A.T.O. group in Western Europe, and this will make possible prior consultation and the coordination of trade and economic policies which are essential if the West is to do more for the development of the underdeveloped countries. These countries still receive most of their capital investment and technical skill from the West, and most of their trade is, of course, already with the industrial countries of Western Europe and North America, which buy their foodstuffs and raw materials. Hitherto, everything has been 1230 done on a bilateral basis. For example, in Africa, France has helped the former French African colonies; the United Kingdom has helped the former British African countries, and the United States has done its best to help everyone.
It is vital, and it is certainly high time, that France, the United Kingdom and the United States, and the smaller European countries as well, got together and tried to work out common policies for trade, capital investment and technical aid in Africa. This has already been done for Southern Asia by the Colombo Plan, which provides a model for what is required in Africa. O.E.C.D. is the right instrument for getting the co-operation of the African countries. They are mainly neutral and uncommitted, and the fact that O.E.C.D. includes five neutral European countries will show them that we are not trying to drag them by the back door into the East-West conflict. I hope that the Government will make the greatest possible use of this new instrument to meet the economic challenge of the Soviet Union. I hope that O.E.C.D, will not stop at the co-ordination of supply; I hope that it will bring supply and demand together, and that will be the next step. There is no reason why this organisation, if it wins the confidence of the African countries, should not work out a Colombo Plan for Africa.
In saying all this about economic action to counteract what is being done by the Soviet Union and its allies, I do not for a moment wish to lessen or underestimate the importance of N.A.T.O. as a regional military Alliance, because it has the membership of the United States and this provides the best means of security for Western Europe; indeed, we have greater security now than we have had at any previous period in the course of this century. But N.A.T.O. has always been more than a military Alliance, and its other objectives—social and economic—willbecome increasingly important as time goes on, for the values and the way of life of the N.A.T.O. countries can be defended, in the long run, only by defending the whole free world. Our own freedom depends on whether or not we are able to meet the social and economic challenge of Communism in the underdeveloped countries of the world. Most of them, though uncommitted, still look 1231 to the West to rescue them from poverty and to improve their standards of living without taking away what they would otherwise lose—their most precious asset, their independence and their freedom from interference in their own internal affairs.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD
My Lords, I rise to take part in this debate as I have had the privilege of being a delegate to the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians' Conference for three successive Conferences. I should like to say how touched I was by Lord Ogmore's reference and also by Lord Listowel's most kind reference to the origins of the N.A.T.O. Parliamentary Conference, which was in fact started by my husband and Senator Robertson from Canada, now I think some eight or nine years ago. I have watched closely the development of the Conference because I think that from year to year it has grown a great deal in importance. I am not sure that the Paris Conference last autumn was not perhaps the most important that we have yet had, because we had an enormous world press for the speeches made by many of the distinguished delegates and, more particularly, by General Norstad and M. Spaak. It shows that this organisation fills an important part in the work of the N.A.T.O. Alliance and in the work of the N.A.T.O. Council.
It started in a most humble way. It had neither money, nor personnel, nor administration—it just started with the idea in the minds of two Parliamentary men that the enormous sums of money that were being spent, and rightly so, on N.A.T.O. defence, at the end of the day came through the Parliaments of the N.A.T.O. countries, and that it was high time that the Parliamentary people in the N.A.T.O. countries realised what was going on and how the money was being spent, because in some ways discussion was conducted more over the desks of the Defence Ministers and less across the Floor of the Houses of Parliament from which were coming these great sums of money and these great plans. So it was really to try to bring in the political characters among the N.A.T.O. countries, to try to bring in the Parliaments of the N.A.T.O. countries to discuss and exchange views, that 1232 the idea of the N.A.T.O. Parliamentary Conference started. The fact that it has grown, that it has become more important, and that now we get small subventions from the Governments of the N.A.T.O. countries, I think shows that people are beginning to realise that this is an important part of the N.A.T.O. set-up.
In addition, the N.A.T.O. Parliamentary Conference has had the opportunity of showing to many politicians the big centres of N.A.T.O. defence. Visits have been paid to the different centres in Europe and elsewhere, by Parliamentary people—not Defence Ministers, not people who know all about it, but people who should know and who are interested, and would not have such an opportunity of visiting these centres. That, I think, has been one of the great aspects of the N.A.T.O. Parliamentary Conference. Some of your Lordships were among the distinguished people who attended the Conference in London in 1958. Many people came—again, not necessarily people interested in military affairs, but those interested in the political and economic aspects of the N.A.T.O. Alliance. Then in 1959 we went to a Conference in Washington, where we had the benefit of listening to many of the great American experts on these subjects.
The speech that attracted the most attention in Paris was undoubtedly that of General Norstad. It has been discussed here in you Lordships' House to-day, and I do not feel that I can make any additional contribution to that aspect of the discussion. But in Paris M. Spaak made reference to General Norstad's speech. He did not, I think, commit himself to the views expressed by the General, but he made a point which I think is worth remembering. He gave illustrations in his speech of the difficulty of operating as Secretary of an Alliance that has fifteen bosses, so that no decision can ever be made singly but all decisions require the approval of fifteen nations. As he said, faced with the single powerful force of the U.S.S.R. and the single decision that Mr. Khrushchev requires to make, the disadvantages of the fifteen are obvious.
It is therefore to closer co-operation within the fifteen that attention must be given, and that is where I feel the N.A.T.O. Parliamentary Conference 1233 comes in. In the military sphere cooperation has already gone a long way, although M. Spaak again said that he thought there were many aspects of military co-operation that could go a long way further. But the military aspect has been discussed ever since N.A.T.O. came into effect, and I have often felt that the economic, the political and the philosophical, if you like, background of all the free countries cooperating together has never been studied to the same extent as has the military background.
I remember very well in 1954, which was the first year I went as a delegate to the United Nations, feeling most strongly that the eyes of the Communist world were not turning so much towards Europe, although, being part and parcel of the European situation, they naturally kept their eyes on that part of the world, but were really turning towards the East —turning away to another part of the world rather than only to Europe. I felt then that we were so concentrated on Europe and in Europe that it was essential for us to look elsewhere. I went twice to New York and watched this same thing happening. Since then, the eyes of European countries have been turning away from Europe. They have been turned to Africa, which still occupies the world stage. They have been turned towards the Far Eastern countries, like Indonesia and Laos—alternative theatres of unhappiness at the present moment. Those events react on the N.A.T.O. Alliance, and it becomes increasingly more important that title fifteen nations should co-operate, not only in defence but also in political and economic affairs.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, has referred to the Treaty that has just been signed—that of the O.E.C.D.—as being a great step forward, and I am sure he is right. We all feel that this is a big step forward in the co-ordinating of economic policies and in bringing about an effective way of helping under-developed countries—something of which people sometimes talk all too glibly, so that it becomes almost a slogan but does not become something practical. That is, indeed, a step forward; but it would be a great tragedy if on the economic battle ground, not only between Communism and the Free World but between the competing nations of the Free World, we 1234 did not and could not establish proper co-operation. So we must turn our minds to building up political and economic co-operation among the fifteen nations as one of the most important aspects of the N.A.T.O. Alliance, because if we are to provide a defence against the Communist world in another sphere altogether, it is by co-operation among the fifteen that we must find it; and it is exceedingly difficult.
In his speech, the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, to whom I listened with the greatest possible interest, he being, as the noble Earl, Lord Home, said, one of the authors of the N.A.T.O. Treaty and more fitted to speak than anybody, drew attention to the difficulty of thinking of one's former enemies as one's allies. Unless we all believe that in the fifteen nations all are allies we shall never get anywhere. I believe that that is extremely important. But if we are all to be allies, and allies with erstwhile enemies, we must have, as it were, a basic inspiration to give it strength. We talk of the Free World and often mean very different things by freedom. It is because of the need to find practical expression for our free way of life that N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians have sponsored the idea of an institute, to be called the "Atlantic Institute", to study and research into practical applications of freedom, of the philosophy underlying our way of life, of the need to study our differences and to try to reconcile them in the realm of thought and philosophy.
For centuries men have been researching into weapons, into military strategy and all its modern developments. Millions of pounds and billions of dollars have been spent, and our N.A.T.O. strength, as the noble Earl, Lord Home, and others have said, is to-day very great. But in the world of thought, the philosophy underlying all our way of life and ideas, in the study of men's mind in the Free World, no coordinated effort has yet been made, no money (to speak of) spent, no research begun; and yet, unless we have a positive way of life to put forward, which will appeal to struggling and poor countries in the same degree as the programmes put forward by the Soviet Union, we shall not succeed in spreading our faith in freedom throughout the world.
1235 In his winding-up speech in Paris, M. Spaak said:The problem is not which country produces the most; it is what to do with the wealth so produced, what sort of society we should organise, what hopes we should give to mankind. Recent history has shown us the most detestable and the cruellest régimes to be quite capable of producing a certain amount of social progress, but only by sacrificing all their spiritual assets to their material ones.I am sure that that is absolutely true, and if our free society is to prosper and to recruit new nations to its way of life we must present our case for free institutions to the world unitedly, just as we have presented our case for defence. It is my hope that the Atlantic Institute will attract to itself a body of men and women prepared to study the many questions which divide us and those on which we agree and can demonstrate most effectively together. I do not believe this would in any sense be detracting from the United Nations, but in that vast Assembly of 88 countries it is really impossible to make such studies; and the atmosphere of the Assembly and its Committees, as I know all too well, is not conducive to this kind of work or discussion.
I hope, therefore, that the Government will give support and encouragement to the Institute in its beginnings in Milan, from where we hope it will grow to its own premises and by its work prove to be as important as the atomic and other research institutes and stations that have made the military strength of N.A.T.O. If that should be so, we should have practical plans to help the underdeveloped nations and also ourselves in the vast task of directing the Governments of the world away from war, whether cold or hot, to the spiritual and material well-being of individuals, of peoples and of nations. This is one of the activities, the ideas, that have come from the N.A.T.O. Parliamentary Conference which I very much hope Her Majesty's Government and other Governments in N.A.T.O. countries will consider, because these things are important as contributions to the ideal put forward by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, of a world in which the ideas of N.A.T.O. will not be confined to fifteen countries but spread out into other parts of the world and may 1236 break down—who knows?—the barriers that we all deplore between the Communist world and the non-Communist world. I hope very much that Her Majesty's Government will see fit to support the humble efforts in these beginnings, and that we, too, here in this country, will support it in any way we can.
§ 4.57 p.m.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, I feel particularly in need of your Lordships' indulgence, and indeed your sympathy, to-night. It is not as if, like so many of the most brilliant Members of this House, I had come up from what I must now refer to as "another place". It is all very strange to me—Peers to the right of me; Peers to the left of me, Peers even in front of me; all potentially volleying and thundering! I must say I feel almost like poor Lord Cardigan must have felt at the Battle of Balaclava. I only hope I may come out of this engagement with as much success and honour as he did.
Such experience as I have had of public speaking has been in a quite different atmosphere, in the United Nations. There, as your Lordships probably know, one feels far more secure. I am sure the noble Earl, the Foreign Secretary, will agree with me. In the first place, one sits comfortably at a table before a friendly microphone with lots of devoted secretaries who push forward material which one reads out. And nobody interrupts. Even in the Assembly, where one is supposed to indulge in flights of oratory, one grasps a kind of lectern and grinds out a speech quite irrespective of one's immediate audience, feeling as if one were reading the Lesson in Church. Indeed, it is not the immediate audience which is of any great importance. Everybody there is conscious of the prevailing presence through the microphones and television cameras of the great unseen, mass audience. I believe if anything is certain it is that I should be just as misguided to address your Lordships' House as if it were a mass audience as I should be if I were to address a mass audience as though it were the House of Lords; so I will do nothing of the kind if I can possibly help it.
My Lords, I suppose almost every Member of this House will agree upon 1237 one thing: that N.A.T.O.—that is to say, the organisation which is founded on the North Atlantic Treaty, and which I myself, under the inspired direction of that great Foreign Secretary, the late Mr. Ernest Bevin, was partly responsible for negotiating early in 1948—is essential for our defence. May I say here at once that I agree entirely with the description which the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, gave of the state of mind of our negotiators at that time and with the reasons he gave for the Government of the day agreeing to this Treaty. May I say also that I personally accept entirely the brilliant analysis of the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary as to the general purposes of the Alliance to-day and the things which it can and essentially cannot do. At this point I might say that, however much we criticise the present set-up—of course we may criticise it—-we should, I think, go rather warily about reform, because if we do not, perhaps without meaning 'to we may actually encourage disruptive tendencies. I think that is a danger.
Even those who believe that, for instance, the Command structure of N.A.T.O. should be reorganised, or those who question the whole principle of integration, like General de Gaulle, would also admit, I am sure, that the greatest disaster which could befall us at the present time would be if the Americans, despairing of their European Allies, proceeded to withdraw, or even to reduce the number of their troops. For then the Russians might conclude—I think they would—that the use of the nuclear deterrent for the defence of Europe was at least very doubtful. If this basic fact is generally recognised (and I must say I hope and believe it is) these problems of reorganisation., difficult as they are, are capable of gradual adjustment, given good will. They do not, as I see it, pose any insoluble problems. But what is essential is that nothing should be done which could lead people to suppose that Western Europe is defensible without America or, indeed, that America is defensible without Western Europe.
But there is one outstanding point of a politico-strategic nature, referred to in several speeches to-day, which admittedly does seem, on the face of it, to be insoluble. As we all know, it is the problem posed by the simple question: 1238 who presses the button for the use of nuclear weapons, and on whose authority? There are those who rightly maintain that this is a decision that can be taken only by the Governments concerned; and there are those who draw the logical conclusion that this means it is the N.A.T.O. Council that would have to make the decision. But, as we all know, in theory at any rate, the N.A.T.O. Council can act only by unanimity. Therefore, the equally logical, though naturally absurd, conclusion is sometimes drawn that there must be fifteen fingers on the safety catch. It is the old story of the Polish Diet and the Liberum veto.
I think that in considering this matter we should be guided less by theory than by common sense. The fact surely is that if Western Europe is the victim of a major or all-out aggression, irrespective of whether nuclear arms are employed in that aggression, all the chances are that all N.A.T.O. countries will be involved in an atomic war, whether they like it or not. An attack on one, as the Foreign Secretary said, is an attack on all. After all, hostilities, if indeed they are seriously intended and are not the result of some probing operation or even the result of some misunderstanding, cannot possibly be confined to one particular front or to one area. Besides, since what are known as tactical nuclear weapons are now, or shortly will be, part and parcel of defensive operations, they would sooner or later be employed, whoever is technically responsible for giving the command, and that irrespective of whether all Governments give their consent or withhold it. Those, I think, are the facts.
I know that it has been suggested that the use of tactical nuclear weapons would not necessarily involve the use of strategic nuclear weapons; but no one can surely count on this. Since, I believe, the range of so-called tactical weapons extends up to 1,500 miles, it stands to reason that in practice no distinction can be made between them and strategic weapons. If, therefore, any major attack occurs against a N.A.T.O. country, a seriously intended attack—a major attack with the object of knocking out—I do not think we need worry too much about who in theory will give the signal for a nuclear World War: it will simply start and we shall all perforce be involved. It may sound bleak, 1239 but I think it is so. Happily, I do not believe that this is in the least likely. Perhaps not all noble Lords will agree, but it has always seemed to me that the danger of nuclear war—never great—has, with the arrival of the balance of terror (referred to by the Foreign Secretary, I believe, as the nuclear equipoise) become increasingly remote. That is, of course, provided that the balance is maintained. If it is really true, as we are assured, that neither side can take part in war without committing suicide, surely we must assume that the buttons will not in fact be pressed. Nations do not normally commit suicide. Even the spectre of a mad colonel pressing the button in a fit of rage, or of radar operators mistaking the moon for nuclear rockets does not preoccupy me very much. Double precautions will certainly be taken on both sides against this sort of thing.
So it seems to follow that any "aggressions" in the old-fashioned sense are now completely out of date and that if they really were contemplated all the great Powers, while calling each other dreadful names, of course, would see to it that they were not undertaken or, at any rate, that they did not spread. If I may say so, Laos seems to me to be a textbook case. This state of affairs may, admittedly, be one day changed by China, but not, I feel, just yet and probably not for a number of years.
Thus, I think that for practical purposes we may contemplate action by the N.A.T.O. Council on two broad types of issue only. (I am talking about political decisions.) In the first place, there may be some major crisis—for instance, Berlin—not actually involving military aggression. In the second place, there may be some physical aggression but it is yet doubtful whether any major action is planned by the other side. On Berlin, the main responsibility for actually conducting any negotiations would of course be borne by the ex-occupying Powers in close association with Germany. But the Council would naturally, in those circumstances, be in almost permanent session, and any major decision would certainly be referred to that forum. In the second case—namely, that of a rather ambiguous aggression—it is also certain that the same kind of procedure would be followed. Thus, as it seems 1240 to me, if there is any doubt about this or any inhibitions, the smaller Powers will in practice have ample occasion for expressing their view and indeed for putting it across. And, after all, they must always reflect that if they left the Organisation they would put themselves in a position in which they would never be consulted at all. This, as I see it, is the limit to which political control can be exercised in practice. It may be different in theory, but in practice I think that that is as far as we shall be able to go.
For rather similar reasons I do not myself see (though this may be disputed) bow there can be such a thing as a N.A.T.O. bomb put at the disposal of the Council as such. The Supreme Commander, who already has this weapon at his disposal under one hat, and who under the N.A.T.O. scheme would presumably have it under another hat as well, could hardly wait to employ the arm on the consent of one recalcitrant member of the Council if the others had authorised its use. I repeat that in cases not involving actual all-out aggression the use of nuclear arms first by our side would presumably not arise; or, anyhow, it would be referred to the Council who would take a decision. In other cases, as I have said, if it was clear it was an all-out attack, they would be employed almost automatically. I do not really think that, in practice, we can push the matter further than this. The great thing is that there should be the fullest discussion possible in the Council.
My Lords, what seems to me much more dangerous for the West than such hypothetical situations is the expansion of Soviet or Communist influence and its economic and social propagation in those newly-independent States which have not yet had direct experience of the practical results of the establishment of a dictatorship of the proletariat, sometimes charmingly referred to, I think, as "social engineering". How can the Free World as a whole best organise itself so as to counter this menace? What economic and social measures should be agreed in common? Is N.A.T.O. itself one of the instruments which could be used for this purpose? And, in particular, could effect be given within the N.A.T.O. machine to the last sentence of Article 2 of the Treaty (which hitherto 1241 has been something of a dead letter), which reads:They will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies and will encourage economic collaboration between any or all of them.Now I know that this, again, is a moot point, and I must not be too controversial in a maiden speech, but I think the answer to the last two questions must, in principle, be: No. The essential purpose of the Atlantic Alliance is to defend members against physical aggression by the Soviet Union. It must, therefore, as indeed it does, concentrate principally on maintaining its panoply in as efficient a state as possible, and on trying to arrange that the financial and economic burdens of these arms are equitably distributed. It must also, naturally, try to co-ordinate the political policies of its members by various means, given the obvious fact that some of its members are much larger than others, and that the immediate objectives of all are obviously not the same, Thirdly, it could (and I am sure it does) co-ordinate the various anti-Communist propaganda lines of members, and make suggestions for suitable counter-propaganda themes for use in the area and elsewhere. Then, again, it can do great work in co-ordinating all scientific activity—for instance, in encouraging the production of scientists and technicians. Finally, it certainly should be responsible, as I see it, for all strictly cold war economic operations—what can be called, in fact, "economic warfare". In other words, as I see it, anything which tends to fortify the Alliance as such should come within the N.A.T.O. sphere—which, after all, I should have thought, was vast enough.
But whether N.A.T.O. as such should actually take on the vast work of co-ordinating the external economic, financial and social policies of members, of helping emergent nations and (whether this is the declared intention or not) of defeating the attempt of international Communism to out-flank the whole Free World, seems to me to be something which is much more doubtful. Of course, the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians—that wholly admirable body which, may I say, has done so much to bring real life into the Alliance—will continue. I think, to consider all these problems at their annual meeting; but for the purpose of 1242 actually handling them on the technical level, some other body than N.A.T.O. seems to be required.
It cannot be the United Nations, because, after all, the United Nations includes a good number of Communist countries—although, naturally, aid could, if so desired, be channelled through the United Nations, and notably through such organisations as the World Bank. It could scarcely be a body comprising all the non-Communist world, for the simple reason that the so-called non-committed" non-European countries would not join. Besides, by the very nature of things it would have to be a body of givers, one would have thought, rather than receivers. Moreover, if it is to be something comprised within the term "Atlantic", it must somehow approximate to a given area, I should have thought, and perhaps to a certain civilisation.
My Lords, such a body exists. It is true that, for political reasons, it cannot call itself an Atlantic Community, but that, in effect, is what it is. I refer, of course, to O.E.C.D.—the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development—the twenty members of which comprise all non-Communist European States this side of the Iron Curtain save Finland, plus the United States and Canada. It does not at present represent a unity—some of its members are members of military alliances, and some, most emphatically, are not—but it does represent a common, and basically Christian, tradition, an ethnic affiliation, a geographical area and an economically homogeneous group. Australia and New Zealand are the only really similar countries in the world which are not included, and they, after all, are situated many thousands of miles away from the Atlantic. Six of the members of O.E.C.D. are already on the way to becoming unified. Others may (and, personally, I hope they will) join that unity. But that will not harm O.E.C.D.—rather the reverse.
Eventually, I hope, it will become rather more coherent. Some day, no doubt, with the aid of those excellent N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians, I trust it will develop an Assembly of its own. At this point it might well even absorb the Council of Europe. But all this is for the future. At this moment, the rather anonymous Organisation for Economic 1243 Co-operation and Development is as near a thing to an Atlantic Community as we can achieve. It is true that I have just been elected, as the noble Baroness who spoke before me has said, a member of the policy committee of a body called the Atlantic Institute. It is one of the tasks of that committee to try to think out what the Atlantic Community might possibly be, but pending a meeting of my committee I should perhaps speak with all reserve.
Perhaps I could resume my thoughts in the following way. I am really not very pessimistic about the present state or the future of the military alliance known as N.A.T.O. It is adaptable, and has shown itself capable of adaptation. As an animator, it fortunately possesses a wonderful Secretary General in the person of the dynamic Paul-Henri Spaak. The essential thing is that, pending the achievement of controlled disarmament, there should be an organised and considerable inter-Allied conventional force of some kind in Western Europe with nuclear backing, including, of course, the Americans, the Canadians and ourselves: and this for the simple reason that, if it were not so, the other side might be tempted to take chances in the hope that general war would not follow some forward move. Such a force must obviously have nuclear weapons behind it, if only because the Russians have such weapons behind them. In the event of real hostilities, these weapons would be used. But before using them first, there would clearly, on our side, be discussion in the Council, during which the normal control of the participating democracies could be exercised. With the proviso mentioned, it does not perhaps matter very much whether General de Gaulle objects to the principle of integration, or whether French troops in Germany are temporarily reduced. Of course, if France left the Alliance altogether it would be disastrous, but I think we can be pretty confident that it will not come to that.
For the rest, we can safely rely on the balance of terror to preclude hostilities in Europe. Mr. Khrushchev may well provoke a crisis over Berlin, where he seems to believe that his position is strong, in order to achieve certain limited objectives if he can: but such ill-advised action will not, as I see it, result in 1244 war. The mounting hysteria about the international situation, the constant assertion that unless we can achieve complete disarmament we shall all shortly be blown up, seems to me to be most misguided. Naturally, a measure of disarmament is essential, if only because of the effect on the economy of both sides of our unrestricted arms race. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs referred to that, and I entirely agree with him. Partial, balanced disarmament is perhaps the answer. But I do not feel in the least that we shall all shortly be blown up. I did feel like this during the few years before the last war—a kind of hopeless feeling of inevitable doom. But, as I say, I have nothing approaching the same feeling now.
My Lords, is it because I have become less sensitive or less perceptive during the last 20 years? Perhaps; but I really do not think so. I know, after all, as much about the international situation and the appalling nature of modern arms as most people, but if I am alarmed, I am certainly not alarmed by the prospect of an imminent holocaust. To say the least, I am not so alarmed as Mr. Khrushchev would like me to be. I am alarmed because I feel that somehow the Western World may be led to think that the cold war—tension, if you like —can, as it were by some magic, be abolished; whereas in truth our only hope lies in taking up the challenge thrown down by the Communist world. I am alarmed because I fear that even if we do accept this necessity we may not have the courage and the imagination to fight the cold war as it should be fought, collectively; that is to say, with concerted intelligence combined with generosity. Because we may not, for instance, collectively accept the consequences, undesirable, no doubt, from certain points of view, of pushing up the prices of raw materials which alone, in the long run, might prevent the emergent nations from accepting the grim disciplines of Communism.
I am alarmed not because I despair of our country making sacrifices as such —rich and poor are quite capable of doing that, if only they believe they are making them in some worthy cause—but because I fear that the real issues may never become clear to the people. I am alarmed because I have the impression, coming back after a long absence abroad, 1245 that this nation as a whole does not at the moment know where it is going, or what exactly it wants to do. The détente has not materialised and an acceptable alternative policy is not as yet clearly defined. "Where there is no vision, the people perish". The process of "de-colonisation", as it is called, however desirable and necessary, seems to have left us without any very positive and generally accepted notion of our position in the world and of the rôle which we should play, either alone or in conjunction with the Commonwealth and our neighbours. It looks as if our ex-Imperial nation might have to devise some new national ideology. If it does not, there seems to be a danger that the very real idealistic forces always inherent in these Islands may be channelled into such quicksands as the campaign for the complete nuclear disarmament of the United Kingdom.
My Lords, I do not want to get into the sphere of the controversial. Perhaps in some future speech I may be more entitled to say what, if anything, I think should be done. To-day I am only giving expression to a few ideas which might perhaps govern our general thinking with regard to N.A.T.O. and the world situation generally. One thing I can say in conclusion, as a result of my long sojourn abroad—and it is comforting up to a point: expressions of public opinion in this democracy, and still more, of course, speeches by Ministers, and in the first instance by the Prime Minister, have a foreign audience quite out of proportion to the apparent political and economic importance of these Islands. We still, in fact, have a great deal of good will, which means that our voice still counts for much in international gatherings. But if we want to retain this form of leadership, we must, as things are, be very certain of our real objective. It is not enough to say that we are in favour of peace and controlled disarmament; that we support the United Nations; that we regard N.A.T.O. as the cornerstone of our policy. The real things that have to be defined are our attitude toward the cold war and our attitude toward Europe. But I feel I have said quite enough for one day and I should not wish to commit any impropriety. So I end merely by thanking your Lordships for your extreme indulgence.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ LORD BOOTHBY
My Lords, it is my privilege to be the first Member of your Lordships' House to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, upon his maiden speech; and I do so with particular pleasure because we have been contemporaries throughout our lives. We were usually in the same division at Eton, the only notable difference being that he was invariably at the top of it and I was invariably at the bottom. We were at the same College at Oxford. We went to the same tutor, the late Sir Lewis Namier; and I detected a few echoes of Sir Lewis Namier in the remarkable speech to which we have just listened. Last, but not least, I was his best man. I feel that this qualifies me to extend congratulations on behalf of your Lordships' House to the noble Lord. I do not think your Lordships will expect me to say any more than that not only did his speech come up to all our expectations, but it far surpassed them. It was a remarkable performance, in view of the fact that he is suffering from an affliction that all but deprived us of the chance of hearing him at all. But for his great physical courage, I do not think we should have been able to hear him to-day.
My Lords, while on my feet, perhaps I might be allowed also to extend my congratulations to my noble friend Lord Crathorne, who sat with me for many years in the House of Commons, upon his wholly admirable maiden speech. In fact, so good have the speeches been to-day that I feel the sooner I sit down, the better!
Nevertheless, there are one or two things that I can say which I feel might add to your Lordships' information, even if you should not altogether agree with them. Like the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, I do not take an unduly alarmist view of the situation. And, like him, I have not the same sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that I had in 1937, 1938 and 1939—that world war is inevitable. I do not feel that at all. But however we look at it all is not well. For five years the West has been in slow retreat in many parts of the world, especially on the psychological and economic fronts, in this continuing struggle against the forces of Communism. Why? Because, as I have said 1247 to your Lordships before, we have been fighting the centrally directed forces of Communism without any effective centralised organs of political decision of our own; and, therefore, without any policies devised and pursued in common.
This has been said so frequently that it has become almost to sound like a cliché; but I want to give your Lordships a classic example, which is 1956. In January, 1956, a conference was held in Washington between Mr. Dulles, President Eisenhower, Mr. Selwyn Lloyd and Sir Anthony Eden (who was then, of course, Prime Minister) to discuss the question of a common policy in the Middle East. At the end of the conference a communiqué was issued designed to give the impression that agreement had been reached upon a common policy in the Middle East. Not to put too fine a point on it, it was a lie; and every journalist in Washington, including myself, knew that it was untrue. They had not been able to agree upon a policy at all, though what they had been able to agree upon was that friendship, brotherhood, comradeship, and all the rest of it, were admirable objectives which we should always, and ever, hold in front of us, and that, with God's help, we should achieve those great ends. But that did not mean an agreed common policy for the Middle East. And the net result was the Suez crisis. It was the inevitable and direct result, due entirely, in my view, to the fact that we had not been able to work out a common policy; and it was followed by an immense deterioration in the position of the West as a whole throughout the Middle East. I do not think anyone can deny that fact.
I do not want this kind of thing to happen again. I have a great deal of sympathy for the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, who said am paraphrasing his words) that he regarded the speeches made by military leaders on political subjects as, on the whole, a "pain in the neck". I think that was roughly the impression he conveyed, and there is something to be said for that point of view. But I find an irresistible attraction in some of the observations of the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein. I have long been an addict of his, and 1248 have repeated these two phrases to your Lordships before; but they are so good that I think they deserve repetition. The noble and gallant Viscount said, some years ago:The task before the nations of the West is primarily political. Economic fusion and military strength will not be obtained until the political association between the group of nations concerned has first been defined. …We have never done it. He went on:The first task of Western leadership must be to strengthen N.A.T.O. politically, and to give it that leadership and unity which it has always lacked.My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, was for many years a Deputy Commander in N.A.T.O., and I feel that on this subject he ought to know what he is talking about. I believe that the Command structure does stand in need of radical revision. Both General de Gaulle and the noble and gallant Viscount, who, as I have said, ought to know something about it, have consistently and severely criticised it. I do not want to go into details this afternoon; indeed, I am not qualified to do so. All I want to say is that the primary purpose of N.A.T.O. remains what it has always been, and what it has generally been agreed to be by noble Lords this afternoon, the prevention of war in Europe, and therefore a world war, and that the present machinery of N.A.T.O. is becoming increasingly inadequate for this purpose.
I want to make two brief points. First of all, no clear directives have yet been laid down to govern the use of nuclear weapons, and no effective political authority exists at present to supervise it. Secondly over the past ten years we have achieved (and here I quote Mr. Spaak) practically no results in the vital matter of standardisation of weapons within N.A.T.O., and the consequent dispersal of effort and waste of money on the part of all of us is almost beyond description. It has gone on now for the last five or six years.
I do not intend to deal this evening, as my noble friend Lord Gladwyn did, with the economic side of the question. I entirely agree with him. I believe that O.E.C.D. is an admirable instrument and organisation for this purpose. I think that it would be better than N.A.T.O itself. It would be putting too much of a burden on N.A.T.O. to ask it to undertake all this work. O.E.C.D. is by its 1249 composition, in my view, much better qualified to do it. And could. So far as Europe is concerned I have already expressed my views to your Lordships, and they remain quite unchanged. I have no doubt what we ought to do about that; but I submit that, so far as N.A.T.O. is concerned, at the present moment the supreme need is for a common nuclear policy.
Now I want to put to your Lordships once again, if I may, the two "64,000-dollar" unanswered questions. The first one is: do we want a series of more or less independent and more or less vulnerable nuclear deterrent forces within the N.A.T.O. Alliance? Or do we want a single, unified and comparatively invulnerable—in the sense of being securely based—nuclear strategic force for the West as a whole? This is a really vital question, but nobody has ever quite faced up to it yet. I myself have no doubt about the correct answer. I think that it should be the latter. I agree with the view of Mr. John Strachey, in the remarkable Fabian pamphlet which he wrote the other day, that a vulnerable nuclear force is a provocation rather than a deterrent, because, although it has little capacity for retaliation, it nevertheless presents an intense menace to the enemy. The ultimate weapon must be secure in its base. If the father of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, were with us this evening, he could tell us quite a lot about that because he found himself, in the year 1914, in supreme command of the ultimate weapon without a secure base—and that was not a very happy situation for him, or for any of us. We got through: but it was a very rough period indeed, and I should not like us to have to try to go through that again.
The second question has already been asked, and practically answered, this afternoon: is there a comprehensible line to be drawn between strategic and tactical nuclear weapons? I believe not. In a debate in another place on December 13 the Lord Privy Seal was asked by Mr. George Brown how it was realistically thought that a Polaris submarine could hurl a half-megaton warhead 1,200 miles into the heart of metropolitan Russia and be called "tactical". The Lord Privy Seal replied that it depended entirely on the target at which it was aimed. To which my answer is: suppose 1250 it went to a target at which it was not aimed? Coming out of the depths of the ocean from a submarine, that is surely not outside the bounds of possibility. It might be rather rough on all of us.
Mr. Heath has been criticised, and even ridiculed, for this observation; but I think that in making it he rendered a great public service. Because it is, in fact, impossible to distinguish between strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, as he clearly demonstrated; and I feel that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who not only endorsed Mr. Heath's view but almost went beyond it, came very near to this position in his speech this afternoon. I believe that, in the absence of any precise agreement on the matter with the Soviet Union, which is improbable, this attempt to make a sharp distinction between strategic and tactical nuclear weapons is a mathematical formula, if carried on indefinitely, for unlimited nuclear war. Because the first atomic explosion—and here again the Secretary of State came very near to saying this this afternoon—will put us on the escalator which could easily lead to the destruction of the whole world. If we start making these fine distinctions where do we land? I cannot think that it is a very good plan.
I turn next to what has been called the "shield force". General Norstad said at the N.A.T.O. Conference the other day:Stated in its simplest terms the particular task of the N.A.T.O. forces in Europe, the so-called 'shield forces ', may be identified as follows: first, to contribute to the deterrent. To do this we must be in a position to prevent, if possible, an act of aggression, large or small, intentional or unintentional, by the presence of effective defending strength. If such an act were to take place we must, as a minimum, be able to force a pause and. during this break, to establish clearly that the action is aggression, to emphasise the cost and the consequences of such aggression. The aggressor would thus be required, in the light of these considerations, to make a conscious decision as to whether or not he would extend the incident or the involvement so that it would constitute an act of major war.Applied to conventional forces, this argument could not be better put, and seems to me to be quite unexceptionable; but applied to nuclear weapons, whether they are called strategic or tactical, it does 1251 not seem to me to add up. For the time being, it may well be necessary—and I admit this at once—to retain small-scale tactical atomic weapons, of limited size and with a range of about 100 miles, in the forward areas. And so long as this is the case, I think that it would be far better to leave the control of warheads where it now is, with the original source or ownership—that is to say, in nine cases out of ten, with the United States Government—and not try to set up or alter the form of control which already exists over these tactical weapons. It may be an anomaly; but I think that this is probably the best way through, the most feasible form of control we have. But surely we must aim, in the long run, to withdraw all these tactical atomic weapons from the forward areas of N.A.T.O. on the Continent of Europe and rely instead on conventional forces with adequate air mobility. I am talking now of the forward areas on the Continent of Europe; and 30 divisions would do it. That is not beyond the bounds of possibility.
If these two basic premises are accepted—and I think that they cannot very easily be controverted—we shall have to face up to their implications, some of which are not very palatable. The first one is the gradual reduction of N.A.T.O.'s dependence on nuclear weapons on the ground on the Continent, which must mean larger conventional forces. The question is not so difficult as it may seem. Germany's conventional army is growing in size. We all hope that the present Algerian trouble will be over, so that a number of French divisions can be released. It could mean —and I do not want your Lordships to rule this out—a reintroduction of some form of selective National Service in this country, but I think that, for the provision of adequate conventional forces on the Continent of Europe, if we are to play our full part, and if other countries decide to play a full part, that would be a small price to pay. The second implication is the withdrawal of the basic strategic nucilear force to the oceans and, for the time being, to this Island; but ultimately, so, far as land based weapons are concerned, to the North American Continent. To the cost, and in the control of this force, both this country 1252 and France would have to play their full part, in co-operation with our N.A.T.O. Allies.
There is another point that I should like to make here. Anybody who knows President de Gaulle will realise that he is not going to go back on the policy of developing nuclear weapons in France; and we have to accept General de Gaulle—indeed, I think my noble friend Lord Gladwyn would agree with this—as a partner in the strategic nuclear force behind N.A.T.O. in order to ensure the co-operation of France in the future. As the co-operation of France is essential, I think we have no alternative but to do so.
The objection to this has been mentioned by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs: that if we create this single nuclear strategic force, under the effective direction of ourselves, the United States and France, at a considerable distance—and the distance may be increased as time goes on and the missiles are improved—a nuclear attack on Western Europe would not involve necessarily retaliatory action by the United States. I think this is a risk that has to be accepted, and that it is neglible by comparison with the alternative risks. I am old enough to remember the Grand Fleet in 1918, when it was still the ultimate weapon upon which the whole military power of the Allies was based. I saw it, as a boy, riding at anchor in a secure base. The Sixth Battle Squadron was comprised of capital ships of the U.S. Navy, serving under the flag of Sir David Beatty.
That is a precisely similar and analogous position to the position that our strategic nuclear force would occupy in relation to the United States in the future, if the kind of development that I have in mind came about. Furthermore, Western Europe occupies to-day in relation to the United States exactly the same position as the Low Countries have occupied to Britain for the past three centuries. The truth is, as the Secretary of State pointed out, that we are absolutely inter-dependent. The United States depends upon the security of Western Europe for her own security, and vice versa. We never failed to go to war when we saw that the Low Countries were in danger of occupation and control by a single Power; and I have no 1253 doubt at all that an attack upon Western Europe by Russia to-day would meet with instant retaliatory action by the United Sates. To those who say that it would not, I say that it is a risk I am prepared to run.
THE EARL OF HOME
I have not interrupted the noble Lord before, because this is interesting, and it is almost impossible to deal with it shortly in question and answer. But we are in this dilemma. The noble Lord suggests that it might be possible to meet a tactical attack against one of the N.A.T.O. countries by having only conventional weapons, or a great proportion of only conventional weapons. Is not the dilemma this: that if you have weapons which are exactly comparable to those of your enemy, and you fire off, say, a corporal, then you risk repeated escalation until you get the exchange of the thing? But if you do not, you may be overwhelmed even more quickly and brine the big thing into operation faster than you would if you had been in a position to enforce a pause. I am not sure that this problem is quite so simple—and I do not mean by that to say that the noble Lord put it simply. But those are the considerations, and that is the dilemma.
§ LORD BOOTHBY
I see the dilemma, and I did say earlier in my speech that I thought that, for the time being, these tactical weapons should be retained by N.A.T.O. on the Continent of Europe under the existing control. Then, of course, I suppose it all depends on the extent, if any, to which you can get agreement with the Russians (a) about what a tactical weapon is; (b) about possible disengagement in Central Europe; and (c) about possible disarmament. But as to the argument that we are dependent for our ultimate security upon the United States, I feel sure that I carry the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary with me when I say that that is the position now. We really are inter-dependent. But this does mean that full political control of the ultimate weapon is essential; and, therefore, the setting up of machinery for swift, joint political decisions. I see no reason why this should not happen as the result of the Council meetings which are going on, which will presumably be 1254 followed by reports to the Governments and inter-Governmental consideration.
I should like to say one further thing before I conclude. I do not think we should completely ignore President Eisenhower's final warning to the Congress, that the supremacy of the civil power must be maintained. What he actually said was:In the councils of government we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.I suppose that he had in mind particularly the Pentagon. But it is a danger. I think it was significant that this warning should have come from President Eisenhower, who has such vast experience in this field. I believe that there has been—and probably the Secretary of State would agree with me—a certain disinclination on the part of all the N.A.T.O. Governments to think these problems through. Obviously the general objectives can be agreed by all of us: disarmament, leading to some kind of world order; strengthening of the United Nations—which is at the moment no more than a confrontation of the two great Powers struggling for the mastery of the world before a rather alarmed audience, of whom I was one the other day. That is what the United Nations is. But I would rather have a confrontation than nothing at all; because, in addition to being a confrontation, it is a point of contact.
The immediate objective must surely he a relaxation of tension. I believe unrepentantly—and I would remind your Lordships that Sir Anthony Eden was the man who first put forward this idea—that some measure of physical disengagement in Europe would represent the greatest hope of all for an immediate relaxation—a greater hope, perhaps, than disarmament.
As President Kennedy has said, we have toprove whether our society, with its freedom of choice, its breadth of opportunity, its range of alternatives, can compete with the single-minded advance of the Communist system.To end on an optimistic note, I should like to say to your Lordships that we all have a pretty powerful common interest —the United States, Soviet Union, Western Europe and ourselves—which I think nobody felt they had in the same way 1255 before the outbreak of the last war: and to put that common interest quite simply in one word, it is survival.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ LORD ABINGER
My Lords, I am well aware that there are many of your Lordships who are far better qualified to speak in this debate to-day than I am. My intervention will be a short one, and on speaking for the first time in your Lordships' House I should like to ask for the indulgence which you are so generously accustomed to extend to maiden speakers. I am encouraged to speak at all only because I have been very much interested in the development of N.A.T.O. since its inception over ten years ago, and I have enjoyed many informal conversations with men of all nationalities in the Alliance about the problems facing the Alliance.
It has been suggested in the debate to-day that the machinery for the political control of N.A.T.O. should be altered in various ways. I can only give it as my view that the machinery as it exists at the moment is very good indeed, and I feel sincerely that any alterations to it may well cause more problems than they solve. I particularly like the fact that much of the more important work of negotiation at N.A.T.O. headquarters is done by professional diplomats. I think we owe a great debt to the ambassadors of all nations who have been appointed to N.A.T.O. headquarters. I sometimes feel that the professional diplomats—ambassadors and others—are not allowed the scope and initiative which their great experience, knowledge and training would justify. But I am glad to say that I do not think that mistake has been made at N.A.T.O. headquarters.
If I have a criticism of N.A.T.O. as it is at present constituted it is this. The Alliance is described as being a defensive Alliance. I intensely dislike the words, "defence" and "defensive". No contestant in a conflict can hope to succeed if his outlook is purely defensive; and there is, of course, the greatest possible conflict of ideas between the N.A.T.O. Powers and their opponents. I feel that the Alliance should seek much more aggressively to impose its views on the world. Unless we do this, it seems Ito me that there is the gravest danger that 1256 the Alliance's will, the Alliance's views, will go by default, and that those of its opponents will prevail. No one would suggest, of course, that the Alliance should act to this end by any hostile activities. Article I of the North Atlantic Treaty makes that expressly clear. But there are other ways in which the Alliance could seek to act.
I think the key to the problem lies in propaganda—a much more sustained, vigorous and better co-ordinated propaganda. This is a big subject in itself, which has been discussed in your Lordships' House before, and in the course of a short speech I cannot hope to throw out more than a few suggestions. First, I personally have never very much liked the name "North Atlantic Treaty Organisation". I think it is cumbersome, a little misleading and very uninspired. I should have preferred a name like "Associated Free Nations"— A.F.N.—the Associated Free Nations of the West, but I imagine that it is too late to change it now. A name like that would at least have carried a message—the message that powerful nations in the West are associated in the cause of political freedom.
I should have thought that our experience in the last war would have taught us just how powerful a weapon, and what a source of comfort to the politically afflicted, radio propaganda can be. At the moment, individual nations in the Alliance have their international propaganda transmissions, but I should like to see N.A.T.O. itself sponsor radio programmes, possibly using the transmitters of its member States, or even owning radio stations itself, and transmitting night and day, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Could not N.A.T.O. sponsor its own international newspaper—a paper of the highest quality and merit, something perhaps on the lines of the Christian Science Monitor or the Osservatore Romano, again a paper published and printed in several languages and with a world-wide distribution?
I have in my pocket a pamphlet—I think you would call it a broadsheet—which has been sent to me with the compliments of some comrade behind the Iron Curtain, by some Agency in Eastern Germany. It is one of several 1257 such pamphlets I receive every year. It is, of course, Communist propaganda, and I should like to think that I am as likely to be influenced by the rubbish in it as I should be to sign a compact with the devil. Nevertheless, it is a good example of the thoroughness with which our opponents work in these matters. Could not N.A.T.O. itself perhaps tighten up its own publicity material and sponsor a campaign of direct distribution of pamphlets, papers, magazines and brochures, directly addressed to Parliamentarians and others in responsible positions behind the Iron Curtain and in the uncommitted countries?
If propaganda is to be effective, the message must be brief, crystal clear and inspiring. I suggest that N.A.T.O. has such a message ready to hand—the message of political freedom as it is enjoyed in the countries of the Alliance and which is so lamentably lacking in the countries behind the Iron Curtain, however much it may be desired there. However, it is not primarily the message nor the means by which it should be disseminated with which I am concerned. It is the principle of the vast importance of propaganda: the suggestion that this should form a fourth arm of the services for N.A.T.O., arid the hope that the whole subject will be organised and supervised, not just from some subordinate information office at N.A.T.O. headquarters in Paris, but by a proper directorate of overseas publicity and information.
In conclusion, my Lords, I would say this. I genuinely believe that in spite of the tragic waste of treasure, of physical and mental energy with which the countries of the Alliance are faced even to defend the integrity of their territory and their way of life, they nevertheless draw great indirect benefits from their association. There is the healing of old wounds, the easing of old enmities. There is a greater co-operation in all the higher fields of human endeavour, social, economic and financial, as well as military. There is a greater awareness of the indivisibility of prosperity, not only between nations but between sections within nations. Let us hope that these things will continue to flourish, just as we pray that out of the nettle, danger, the Alliance will succeed in plucking the flower safety.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, we have been privileged to-day in having three maiden speeches of extremely high quality, and speeches which, if I may say so, have sustained the high quality from first to last. I am sure your Lordships will join with me in congratulating the noble Lord who has just spoken. The fact that he was the third in a row of four Magdalen men who spoke is to be noted, but unfortunately his "Magdalene" had an "e" at the end. But the quality of his speech was of the highest, and I find myself in complete agreement with him. I believe he is actively concerned in this field in some way or another. I believe he is connected with Atlantic House, and clearly it is only his modesty which concealed the fact, which was apparent from what he said, that he spoke with a great practical knowledge.
Like many of your Lordships, I am fairly hopeful about the situation. Indeed, I am more optimistic, if that. were possible, than the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, because, despite the misfortunes in the Middle East, particularly connected with and resulting from Suez, I do not believe that the West is on the retreat. In many ways—and I do not wish to suggest that he pressed that point very hard—our position has, I think, been consolidated, and it is clear that the policy which gave rise to the creation of N.A.T.O. continues to be successful. It has been one of the most remarkable achievements in history that a policy of this kind has been established and maintained by international agreement, with strength and determination, and without any signs of faltering. It would be a mistake—and I am sure none of your Lordships would fall into it—to think that any major change at this stage is necessary in our policy in regard to N.A.T.O. The danger may well be if we try to tinker with it too much.
Here, of course, we get into the difficulty—we get into the difficulty into which everybody gets when discussing hypothetical situations—that we do not really know what a "tactical nuclear weapon" is. It is probably a weapon which would be tactical if it were not nuclear, and this is the sort of confusion in which we find ourselves. I remember the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, trying Ito give us his account of an 1259 independent deterrent. The trouble is that all these terms change their meaning according to how you use them. We flounder among them, and the Government do not really help us, because they do not know any more—and I do not blame them. It is exceedingly difficult to hit on the nice, clear-cut policy we all want. Here, again, I must disagree to some extent with the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, even though his views have been reinforced from such an admirable source as a Fabian pamphlet written by another Magdalen man. The fact remains that we are already, rightly or wrongly, committed to tactical forces on the ground, and it is going to be exceedingly difficult to turn the clock back and indeed to build up strong conventional forces of a kind that would have a significance for more than the shortest period in the event of a serious outbreak. We are all searching for terms, for words that will make us happy, words that will enable us to avoid looking some of the more unpleasant facts in the face. And nobody is more prone to do this than are members of my own Party. This I fully admit. But they are not the only ones capable of being deceived in the situation.
I think it is far better if we look, as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, did, at the broad picture, however we may hair-split or take a position on one side or another, because no one clear, single policy, either with regard to the control of nuclear weapons or the type of forces to be used, can in fact be taken. So long as we realise this and concentrate on the broad issues, I think N.A.T.O. will continue in the direction we want and continue to keep the peace of the world. It is obvious now that the dangers to peace are very much greater outside Europe and outside the N.A.T.O. organisation. It would not be for me to widen the debate further into a discussion of world affairs and how we deal with Africa and Asia and the problems of place like Laos. But I should like to take issue on one matter with the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. He suggested, in that extremely sensible speech of his, that it would be more logical for O.E.C.D. to indulge in some of the activities that N.A.T.O. and the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians in particular are inclined to follow in regard to economic, scientific 1260 and other fields. But I think that if we were to confine N.A.T.O. to its purely military aspect it would lose a quality which rather shines out and rather informs its discussions. There is something more than a desire to be purely military there. Whereas it may he argued that this is purely a psychological sop to make people feel happy, none the less sometimes good results come from such chance arrangements. Whereas I would wholly agree that O.E.C.D. would seem to be the more logical body, since the noble Lord himself did not seek to talk more than common sense I think common sense points to the fact that we should encourage the N.A.T.O. organisation to develop in these fields.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, I should like to intervene to say that I did not mean to suggest that N.A.T.O. should confine itself entirely to military matters. I managed to indicate a good many non-military matters with which it might occupy itself. But I ventured to suggest that since O.E.C.D. had on its Agenda the matter of aid to underdeveloped countries and co-ordination of all economies, it would be rather otiose for N.A.T.O., 100 yards away, to be at the same time dealing with exactly the same matter. I also said I was sure the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians in their assembly would consider all these economic matters on their own.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
I am sorry that I undoubtedly to some extent misrepresented the noble Lord. With that very precise statement I am not wholly in agreement. I am not wholly in agreement that N.A.T.O. should not concern itself in such matters. In the last resort it will be the taxpayers of the various countries who will provide the money, so it may be it is something of a euphemism to say that it is N.A.T.O. or any of these institutions. I fully concede that the noble Lord said that there were other activities in which N.A.T.O. should concern itself, and I would mention one matter which has been near my heart for a long time; that is, the development of international co-operation in the field of space research. Similar institutions are being set up. Co-operation is going on through a number of international bodies. But this is a positive side which I think might well be continued to be developed there, and, 1261 as has already been said in the debate, some attention has already been given to it.
After the many extremely well-informed and wise speeches which we have had to-day, I have little to contribute. I should like to follow certain noble Lords in the discussion of actual details of military arrangements, but we are, of course, coming up to the season of Defence debates arid the Service Estimates. I would say only one thing in conclusion, and this, again, is to my noble friend Lord Boothby: when he compared the position between America and ourselves or ourselves and the Low Countries he said he was convinced that America would always come to our aid, and that he is not afraid in that respect. It is not a question of whether or not he is afraid that they will come to our aid; it is a question of whether the other side know they will come to our aid. Whatever comfort he may derive from the fact that America will always come to our aid, he may not be there to enjoy that comfort. The important thing in regard to our defence arrangements is that they must be exceedingly clear and credible; and that is wily we want, so far as possible, the maximum clarity in our N.A.T.O. and alliance arrangements, not only for our own satisfaction, so that we may know which particular finger to remove from the safety catch at the right time, but so that other people may know it also.
§ 6.8 p.m.
My Lords, it has sometimes seemed to me that our debates on foreign affairs range, or rather sprawl, over rather too wide an area—,from China to Peru. But it is valuable that periodically your Lordships should focus attention on one particular aspect of foreign affairs, and that is why I particularly welcome Lord Ogmore's Motion which we are discussing this evening. May I also add my congratulations to those which the noble Lords, Lard Crathorne, Lord Gladwyn and Lord Abinger, have already and so justly earned? To me those most unmaidenly maiden speeches were of particular interest. It has been my pleasure to serve twice under Lord Crathorne as a delegate to N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians' Conferences. And as a former member of the Foreign Service it has been my pleasure to sit vicariously at the feet 1262 of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. It is clear from his speech to-day how much authority he will add to the Cross Benches.
I find it rather difficult, now that the question is posed to me, to say how one does. But I sat with pleasure, though at a distance, from Lord Gladwyn's feet. As I was saying, I feel that he will greatly contribute to the authority of the Cross Benches on which he is now sitting; or I think one should rather call them now the Diplomatic Benches, since so many former high diplomatic persons are now congregating there. Former, but more lowly, diplomatic persons tend to take cover behind the Church, but unfortunately its protection is not covering me this evening.
It is rather late, at least for us, and there are other speakers to come. Other speakers have uncovered expertly some of the ground which I was thinking of ploughing. I shall therefore try to be brief and to confine myself to a narrow front, and for that reason I hope I shall be operating from a fairly secure base. I shall confine myself to one tangential but, I think, important aspect of N.A.T.O.'s activities—namely, its concern with the development of science and technology within the Atlantic community. That concern found expression, in a practical form, in the establishment, in December, 1957, of the N.A.T.O. Science Committee, under the impact of the first Sputnik, originating, it is perhaps worth noting, from a proposal made by the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians' Conference.
I am touching on this question of science and technology by reason of having been a member for a couple of years of the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians Science Committee. I confess that my knowledge of these matters is slight, although I find some confidence in hoping that perhaps the knowledge of some of your Lordships in these matters may be even slighter. Recently a high-level Study Group of scientists from the N.A.T.O. countries was asked to report on how science in the West could best be strengthened and developed. The quality of this Study Group can, I think, 1263 be best gauged by the quality of its chairman, Mr. Louis Armand, of France, and that of the British representatives, Sir John Cockcroft and Sir Solly Zuckerman. That Study Group has now reported, and I think its Report is a valuable and significant document. Most of its recommendations call for action by national Governments, and I hope that this action will be taken.
One of these recommendations, however (and it is the one to which I particularly wish to refer), calls for international action; that is, the proposal to create in Western Europe an Atlantic Institute of Science and Technology. It is not the same as Lord Gladwyn's Atlantic Institute. But it is an Atlantic Institute, in this case for science and technology. As I understand it, the project is to establish on this side of the Atlantic an Institute comparable in scope and quality to the great American institutes like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It would be a centre for advanced scientific studies at which the students drawn from our intellectual elite would concentrate their studies and research, not only in the traditional scientific disciplines but also in the new disciplines, and above all, perhaps, what I think the scientists call the cross-disciplines, on the very frontiers of existing scientific knowledge.
The N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians' Conference have endorsed this bold and, I think, exciting project. I hope that the N.A.T.O. Governments also will back it. There is no such Institute at present in this country, or indeed in Western Europe as a whole, comparable with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This is a serious lack, as anyone who is familiar with the work of M.I.T. or the California Institute of Technology "Caltec"—would admit. But such an Institute is a vast undertaking, even in terms of finance. I doubt whether its creation would be within the resources of any of the European members of N.A.T.O., acting alone, without entailing a cut-back in the resources which they are already making available for scientific education and research. But, as the Armand Report makes clear, there is no reason at all why the countries of Western Europe, acting together, could not establish such an Institute at least equal in scope and quality to M.I.T.
1264 Again, there are many important branches of science, as this year's Annual Report of the Advisory Committee on Scientific Policy (which we debated in November) made clear, which lend themselves to, and indeed call for, the international approach. But perhaps my most important reason for urging that this project should be pursued is that I believe it would be a practical, but imaginative and human, way of helping to advance the unity of our efforts in Europe and in the Atlantic Community. I should add, of course, that the Armand Committee included distinguished American scientists who have fully endorsed this particular recommendation.
As I conceive it, this Institute would house some thousands of the intellectual elite of Europe and, indeed, of North America. Their experience of living, working and researching together would help to cement the unity of our societies, albeit perhaps in a small yet, I think, significant way. I gather that a further and smaller Committee, headed this time by the President of M.I.T., and on which Sir John Cockcroft is to be the British representative, is now looking into the project in more detail. If their Report is favourable, I hope that we can be assured that Her Majesty's Government will support this scheme.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I do not want to interrupt my noble friend, or indeed to cast any doubt on the excellence of the Institute which he is suggesting. It has not received Government consideration at the moment. I think, however, he would be a little unpopular if he tried to say to Imperial College that there was no institute in this country which is doing work comparable to M.I.T. And I do not think that Imperial College would be the, only place where he would be unpopular.
My Lords, naturally I should wish in part to defer to what our noble Leader has said; but while I have no Ecclesiastical protection, I would shelter behind the Report of the eminent Committee on which both Sir John Cockcroft, the Master of Churchill College, and Sir Solly Zuckerman, the Minister's own adviser, served. They themselves have made it quite clear that in their view there is no Institute in Western Europe at present comparable in scope, and perhaps 1265 it would be right to say also in quantity, to M.I.T. I do not think that Imperial institute, for all its value, is an Institute of the size and range of M.I.T.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, the noble Earl is now getting into really deep water. It is not the Imperial Institute, for a start; it is Imperial College. Secondly, it is a matter of profound interest, which I hope we shall debate when we come to debate science and scientific technology, and there are many noble Lords and educationists who would not agree with this proposal on educational grounds.
My Lords, again I thank the noble Lord for his intervention. If the depth of the water is to be measured by my terming the Imperial College the Imperial Institute, I am quite happy to be swimming in such deep water.
Nevertheless, since the noble Lord has so kindly interrupted me, I should perhaps refer to the project for a N.A.T.O. space research programme to which I think he alluded in his speech. It is true that the N.A.T.O. Science Committee has recommended such a programme—a fully integrated N.A.T.O. programme for peaceful space research —-both last year and this year; and both those recommendations were endorsed by the full Conference. Again, as I think has been mentioned earlier in this House this evening, they also endorsed recommendations for a greater concentration of effort in the study of Asian and African languages, which I believe is a very important matter. But to me the interest of these two particular projects in this context is that on neither, so far as I know, has the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians' Conference received any firm indication of what are the N.A.T.O. Governments' views.
That leads me to my penultimate point. I agree with what all previous speakers have said about the value of the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians' Conference. I also entirely agree that the value would be diminished if it lost its unofficial and, to some extent, informal character. Nevertheless, I believe that its effectiveness as a Conference, as an aid to N.A.T.O., would be increased if some technique, informal perhaps, could 1266 be devised whereby the Conference, could be given some assurance of receiving indications of the fate of its recommendations. At the present time, I believe the experience of some of the Committees of the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians' Conference is that their recommendations go, as it were, into orbit; but once they are in orbit they are not necessarily recovered.
May I, in conclusion, say why I feel the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, is so particularly timely? There are two reasons. The first is that the N.A.T.O. Powers are now confronted with a whole complex of unresolved and vastly important problems. There are the strategic and military problems to which much attention has been paid in this debate. There is the great politico economic problem of bow best the relations of the West with the developing and uncommitted countries should be organised—a vast, intricate and vital problem. There is the problem of political consultation; and, perhaps above all in this rag-bag of vital and pressing questions, there is the problem of how best agreed policies should be formulated and executed by the Alliance, especially in relation to regions outside the N.A.T.O. area. To my mind all these problems are important and all are pressing; and their resolution is overdue.
In certain epochs the essence of statesmanship may consist in letting sleeping dogs lie. But we live in an age of revolutionary change, and every day we are confronted with the phenomenon which has been so aptly termed the acceleration of history. If we do not take events by the forelock they are only too likely in these days to overtake us. In short, while quieta non movere may have been wisdom in the age of Walpole, it may be folly in the new dynamic age of the two Ks—Khrushchev and Kennedy—if it is not irreverent so to term them. My second reason concerns that second K, the new and able President of the United States. A rather hard-headed, pragmatic and, I suspect, in certain ways rather ruthless generation is taking over in America. I believe that the new American leaders will judge their Allies quite unsentimentally, and their judgment on us, and hence our influence on them, will be diminished if we are in any way unclear about the ends of our policy.
1267 The more our material power contracts, in relative terms, the more clearly defined must our policy objectives be, and the greater must be our skill and determination in their pursuit—of course as loyal partners. I was much impressed by what the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, had to say this evening on this score. But I was reassured by the precision and clarity of the remarks of the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary. In any event, I am sure that we must be very clear these days about our precise purposes in the world; and nowhere, in my view, is this more important than in our policy in and towards N.A.T.O.
§ 6.26 p.m.
My Lords, I propose to address your Lordships very briefly; in fact, I rise at all only to do two things: one is to offer a few congratulations, the other is, having attended the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians' Conference three times in the last four years, to say that I feel that I should make some little contribution in return. I am sorry the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, after a very long afternoon, has just had to leave the Chamber. Nevertheless, I should like to congratulate him most warmly on his maiden speech. Looking hack forty-two years to when we were at the same school (as I believe the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, has already said he was, too) I seem to recall, unless I am very much mistaken, that the noble Lard, Lord Gladwyn, was then Master of Beagles, a post he held with distinction, as he has held every post since. I am sure I am voicing your Lordships' feelings in saving that we should like to hear from him very often in the future.
I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Abinger, has served in the Royal Regiment of Artillery in the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and therefore is well qualified to speak on matters of this kind. Again, I am sure we all hope that he will come and speak whenever he can on Service and other matters. The noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, was our leader in Paris last November and performed his task with the efficiency and charm which one associated with his predecessor, Colonel Walter Elliot. I should like to congratulate him also on his maiden speech, and hope that it will be by no means the last time that I shall have 1268 the pleasure of serving, however inadequately, under his banner.
I would congratulate the mover of this Motion if for no other reason (and I have several reasons for liking the way he moved it) than that he took just under eighteen minutes, which seems a short time. Usually movers of Motions of this importance go on very much longer than that, but I think that during that short time he made the points he wanted to make clearly, shortly, and fairly. I would congratulate him also on his Motion, if for no other reason than that it has given us all the pleasure of hearing a succession of first-class speeches, not the least of which was from the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary himself.
There are two points which occur to me in connection with to-day's debate and I shall deal with them very briefly. It is not often that I find myself agreeing with the noble Viscount who leads the Labour Party in your Lordships' House; in fact, my utterances more often than not are apt to be quite bad for his blood pressure; but on this occasion when he spoke of important statements being made by senior military commanders I agreed with him. There is no doubt that General Norstad's speech on the first morning of a six-day conference was of such far-reaching importance that it overshadowed the whole of the week; and although I do not disagree with what General Norstad said, nor even perhaps with his right to say it, it is a question of the timing of these things. I feel it was a pity that an utterance of that importance, receiving that amount of publicity, should have been made right at the start, before anybody knew he was to make it, because the subsequent proceedings seemed comparatively unimportant. We had all gone there full of energy and zeal, and to some extent it rather took the importance out of the rest of the week.
While I was in Paris I wrote a short memorandum which I passed to the Secretariat through the leader of our delegation, in which I suggested that perhaps the Chiefs of Staff of N.A.T.O.—that is to say, General Norstad, the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic, and the Strategic Air Commander—should put out a paper some months before to the various military committees of the various nations attending, to 1269 serve as a sort of basis or agenda for the military committee meetings, because at the moment these committees consist largely of people who have very little naval or air knowledge whatever; in fact, some have none. The result is that the agenda consists largely of pious hopes, hopes that we shall all continue to support N.A.T.O. (obviously we do or we should not be there), and things of that sort. They are broad generalisations passed on from year to year and produce, in my opinion, very little.
The noble Lord, Lord Boothby, quoted M. Spaak, the Secretary General himself, saying that standardisation of weapons (just to take one point) had been recommended year after year by the Military Committee but nothing whatever had been done. I do not know whether an idea of that sort would commend itself to the Secretariat. They still have my paper; perhaps it will never get any further. But I believe that "staff duties", as it were, at Conferences of this sort are extremely important, otherwise the whole thing can go wrong almost before it has started.
I have only one other point to mention before I resume my seat. It is this. Monsieur Spaak addressed us on the Saturday, and in the course of his remarks he said as follows, if I may quote a few lines:The question with which the Atlantic Alliance is faced to-day is whether the scope … ought not to be considerably extended. I think I can go so far as to say here that there is no N.A.T.O. country which still thinks that the Free World and Western civilisation can he effectively defended if we confine our attention to Europe and the North American Continent,He went on to say a little later:It is all very well to defend ourselves along the line of the Elbe; that was and continues to be of immense importance. But what would be the use of our being strong enough to face a frontal attack, if we could be taken in the flank in the Middle East or in the rear in Africa?M. Spaak is not a man who says things without a very good reason for saying them. He makes: no special recommendations; he mentions no names, but one wonders a little what was at the back of his mind when he used those, in my view, well-advised words.
The present boundaries and membership of N.A.T.O. were laid down twelve years ago. It is possible to lock the 1270 stable door after the horse has gone. If our opponents see fit to leapfrog those boundaries, as they may well have done in Cuba and Africa, it is no good our saying, "That is not fair. You are out of bounds'". I cannot help feeling that the time has come when not only the scope—the geographical scope—but also the membership of N.A.T.O. and, in fact, its terms of reference should be gone into most carefully with a view to bringing them up to date where necessary. A member of our delegation—I will not mention him by name but he sits with some distinction on the Front Labour Bench in another place—said to me when I spoke of this to him, "It is all very well for you in the Lords. You do not have to worry about constituents. But I have the greatest difficulty in 'selling' the idea of N.A.T.O. to my constituents at all. If you try to change it about and to bring in other people, it will be hopeless." When I asked him about the position when Greece and Turkey joined, he admitted that he thought his constituents never even noticed it, which seemed rather inconsistent. However, those are the points which occurred to me, and therefore I have brought them to your Lordships' notice as briefly as I can.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
My Lords, we have had three maiden speeches and it would be invidious for one such as myself to distinguish one from another. I would only say, after listening to them, that although they were maiden speeches they did not give the impression of being made by maiden speakers. I will not take up very much of your Lordships' time. I have not had the benefit of belonging to this excellent club of N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians. I have had only the facilities which, of course, are open to all of us; and they are facilities to make ourselves acquainted with this very formidable stream of literature that pours out from the information service of N.A.T.O. at Porte Dauphine in Paris. I am not going to refer in any way to problems of defence. Indeed, I have not yet sorted out in my own mind the confusing issues of whether or not it is advisable to have nuclear tactical weapons in the forward area, and whether or not we can distinguish between tactical and strategic weapons. I always find myself in agreement with the last speaker who 1271 has dealt with the matter. So I am leaving the defence issue entirely.
What I should like to do is to touch on political co-operation, an aspect of our problem which was developed by what I might refer to as the old Etonian team on the Cross Benches, which is now not here. From this literature stream we learn that there is a very high degree of political co-operation; but at the same time, wisely, it is recognised that a great deal yet remains to be done. I have been carefully through this little handbook, N.A.T.O. 1960, and from the information available it is difficult for a layman to deal with the existing machinery. Yet on their own admission there is a gap in achieving political co-operation and it is up to somebody such as myself to say where we think the gap exists. I do not believe that there is a gap either inside the operation of the Atlantic Council or within the various committees.
If and when the Council are seized of a difficulty, of a disagreement, as between one member or another, it seems that they are perfectly capable of solving such a problem themselves. They quote the case of Cyprus. I think in that particular case we are justified in claiming some credit ourselves, bearing in mind particularly, perhaps, the skill and perseverance of the Prime Minister himself Nevertheless, I think we should all agree that there is an extremely friendly and free atmosphere at headquarters in Paris, and I am quite sure that when things go wrong, when members disagree and fall out with each other, agreement is achieved against a background, a basis, of a personal relationship which I think has been largely built up by Lord Ismay. But, my Lords, this satisfactory state of affairs refers to situations after they have arisen and before subsequent solution. It would seem to me that a lot of trouble could be avoided if situations could be anticipated and if those concerned could be got together before the event—before we, so to speak, wash dirty international linen in public, with sometimes the assistance of the Press, whether it be in a spirit of responsible criticism or, as often as not, in a spirit of mischievous irresponsibility.
I am going to give your Lordships for a few moments an example of just such 1272 a case: of a situation which has not yet arisen, which might embarrass the Atlantic Community if it did arise, and which, I believe, the Atlantic Council should be seized of at this moment. In your Lordships' House on occasions we have questions asked about Krupp's, and the future of Krupp's. Under an existing order, now some eight years old, Herr Alfried von Bohlen is under an obligation to sell his enormous holdings, his shares, in the great Rheinhausen steel and coal industries. An international committee set up in 1954 considers the routine appeal every year—an appeal for an extension of time made in what appears to be a genuine effort to sell assets which amount to some £150 million. The committee grant the extension. They are not empowered to end this situation: they can only judge the merits of the appeal to extend the time; and, so far as one can see, being an international committee, they make their judgment in complete impartiality.
The only authority that can end this absurd situation is the authority of a joint decision taken by the three Allied Powers concerned—the United States, the United Kingdom and France. Now I am not going into the merits of this case, or to say whether, in a juridical sense, von Bohlen is justified in resisting a ruling which was given in 1953. I resist the "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" approach which some people would press home to its conclusion. Instead, I am going to state this as an objective fact: that if this matter was pressed home to such a conclusion, it would be regarded in Germany by all political Parties as a challenge in their attempt, as they see it, to establish themselves as loyal Europeans and as loyal members of the Atlantic Community; and, whether or not This makes legal sense, from a political point of view, in the interests of the Atlantic Community, it would be sheer lunacy.
Now this seems to me to be just such a case as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation might be seized of, and the question arises as to whether or not the appropriate committee (which I imagine is the Committee of Political Advisers) is adequate Ito deal with such a situation. Here, my Lords, I am going to put forward a definite suggestion, a proposal. It is this: that there is a place for yet 1273 another council of experts from the fifteen States, one member from each. We have had good work from "Three Wise Men", and in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation it should be easy to find fifteen wise men. These men should he men of status, respected and known in their own countries, and (I think this is very important) should be capable of divorcing themselves entirely from the day-to-day political interests of their own country and identifying themselves completely with the interests of the Atlantic Community as such. This council would operate outside the stream of the North Atlantic Organisation and its responsibility. They would be independent of it, yet they would be recognised by N.A.T.O. as an institution whose judgment would carry weight and conviction, not only in the N.A.T.O. Council but also with the fifteen Governments concerned. Their proceedings would not be conducted in secrecy or detachment from the public; on the contrary, the more publicity they could command the better. Their operation would have to be known and would have to come to be respected by the man in the street if their operation was to be effective.
Now in the case which I am quoting, of Krupp's, assuming I am right in saying that the only way to end this situation is by a joint decision of the three Western Allies and their Governments, it would be up to such a top-level body of independent judgment to say so—and, indeed, if they could say so, it would surely make the task of the Western Powers in taking such a decision much easier. The process which one might describe as "losing face" would not arise. If, in such cases, an independent council could state its view clearly and loudly, it is possible that it would come to be recognised by the public over time as a voice demanding to be listened to. It could then be said that we were moving forward to that happy condition when we were educating an Atlantic Alliance public as such; because until we can educate the wider public in these matters it is rather difficult for conscientious Ministers and for Cabinets to take decisions which may not be understood and which are therefore unpopular with the electorate.
Now for the body that I have suggested I can think of yet another task. Ministers 1274 in all countries have a habit, sometimes, of saying very stupid things—stupid, that is to say, from the point of view of the interests of Western unity—and a council which could pull up a Minister when he says a stupid thing, which could act as a kind of mental audit on public statements when a Minister is off his guard, would certainly come to be regarded with respect, though not necessarily with any affection. The same applies, indeed, in regard to the free Press in a country. Suppose that a stupid article appears in The Times, using words to the effect that Berlin is a millstone around the neck of the Allies, as appeared some six months ago. A remonstration from a publicly-recognised, high-powered body would surely have its effect. And a Minister of a member State might come to think twice before dropping a political brick if he knew that an independent body of men, judging his statements in the light of their effect on Atlantic unity, were watching him from a distance.
My Lords, we have noted the plans to set up an Atlantic Institute—I think I am referring to the Gladwyn Institute, and not to the Jellicoe Institute—and there was a resolution at the last meeting of N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians asking that the process be hastened. If such a body as I have suggested could be established, it would seem to me logical that it would find its place within the whole set-up in association with such an Institute; hut, naturally, I am in no position to give any positive views as to exactly how and where it would fit in.
Finally, it has been stressed that the main responsibility for keeping the public of the North Atlantic Community aware of the many problems that arise, of the difficulties in solving those problems and of the machinery available to solve them —and, indeed, of the, whole aims and objectives of the North Atlantic Organisation—rests with the Governments concerned. Here I should not quite agree with the noble Lord, Lord Alpnger, when, as I see it, he advocated a kind of central Press to be initiated at headquarters in Paris which would find its distribution among all the N.A.T.O. countries. It seems to me obvious, and in the nature of things, that we cannot create yet more massive machinery than already exists; and yet we know well enough that the public interest and 1275 knowledge is not sufficient. This, indeed, is recognised on the last page of this little handbook.
In the normal functioning of a Western democracy, the great instrument for creating public opinion is still, of course, the Press. It is therefore interesting to note the facilities that are provided for the Press at N.A.T.O. headquarters. On page 63 of this little book we read:Since 1953, over 700 representatives of the Press and other individuals capable of influencing public opinion have participated in information visits to N.A.T.O. countries".I am not quite clear what they mean here. Knowing how impressive and thorough are the briefings which one receives on these visits to N.A.T.O. headquarters, I am of the opinion that the more pressmen and information agencies which can find their way to Paris headquarters, the better. A mere visit to a N.A.T.O. country cannot carry the same significance as a visit to the centre itself. If, as one must assume, 700 in seven years represents the rate at which the Press of the whole North Atlantic and Western European countries visit headquarters, then, of course, we are only scratching at the surface of this problem of creating Atlantic unity with a united purpose. In my own country I find myself wondering how often the staff of the Daily Express have received or accepted an invitation to visit N.A.T.O. headquarters in Paris. Surely, if we are thinking in terms of making an impact on millions we have to think in terms of at least thousands of pressmen going to N.A.T.O. headquarters and receiving the excellent brief which is provided there.
In a few days' time we have a conference here in London staged by the British Atlantic Council, when we shall go more fully into the details of these matters, and I hope we may come to some constructive conclusions. But in so far as I have judged it extremely important to concentrate on this matter of creating a public opinion, I have, I hope, helped initiate the process in your Lordships' House and have also assisted in creating the climate for our conference. Naturally I also hope that the two matters I have mentioned will be looked at by Her Majesty's Government, and in that hope I am extremely grateful to 1276 the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for providing us with this opportunity to discuss so vital an aspect of the international life of this country.
§ 6.53 p.m.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, I rise with a feeling of some difficulty. It is always difficult to speak in a debate when one has not been present all the time, and unfortunately this afternoon I had to be in another place. My difficulty is even greater because of the quality of this debate. Unfortunately, I missed the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, but as I entered one of the corridors of the House I was immediately told that the noble Lord had made a truly remarkable speech. I was fortunate enough to hear the two other maiden speeches. I must say that I was very surprised, on seeing the list of speakers, to see a capital "M" against the name of Lord Crathorne; and, as I told him at lunch, I regard him as a very doubtful maiden because the noble Lord is a man with some experience in political matters. He led the British delegation, both at Washington and in Paris, at the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians' Conference. He led us with kindness. He never allowed any strain to develop between the delegates who came from opposing Parties, and I remember an occasion when I was having some slight argument with colleagues of his Party in the Economic Committee and he lent me gentle support.
I also enjoyed the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Abinger. He dwelt on the question of propaganda. My only query about his speech, possibly, would be about the use of propaganda. Personally, I hate it. Propaganda is very suspect. Propaganda is often lies. What we have to do—and here I sympathise with the noble Lord; I know what he meant—is to tell the world the truth as to what this country's Alliance means. I should certainly agree with him that we do not do anywhere near sufficient, particularly in this country, to tell the truth to the peoples of the world.
I am reminded of a thought that I had some time ago. As the House knows, I have some affection for the Chinese. I have heard and read, as no doubt have your Lordships, of the terrible conditions which now prevail in China. Through drought, there is famine 1277 to-day in many parts of China. I thought that, instead of trying, by propaganda, to show the Chinese that we in the West are people who have no evil intention toward them, this might be an opportunity for a great gesture. We have in the world to-day considerable stocks of food—food which, for one reason or another, is not being distributed. What a wonderful gesture would he made, not as an individual country but as an alliance, or as united nations, if we tilled up as many ships as we could with food and sailed them to the port of Shanghai, into Canton! That would be a gesture which, if it were accepted by the Chinese Government, would be understood by its people not as a propaganda trick, but as a moral, humanitarian gesture, one which we should try to make within our own community should tragedy hit us.
My Lords, the only reason for my speaking this evening is that I have been a member, as I have said, of the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians' Conference. As I listened to some of the debates, both in the committees and in the plenary sessions, I felt that sometimes we were going through a period of self-criticism. It is true that we can be critical: of ourselves in particular, and of the Government, as my noble Leader has said, for its failure to provide the defence that this country requires in the present day. But it would be quite wrong for us to allow criticism to cloud the achievements of N.A.T.O. It is a fact, which cannot be denied, that since N.A.T.O. was formed on April 4, 1949, as a result of the Washington Treaty, there has not been one act of aggression in Europe: its boundaries have remained intact.
There are some who believe that this has been achieved purely as a military operation. But Communism is not the old-style national aggression: Communism can attack from without it can attack from within. Side by side with the military protection that we have given, we have created stability in Europe through our own economic and social growth and development. In the military field, the Americans, in the early days, paid a great price by providing military equipment and forces. To-day the burden is being relieved by our own economic growth and contribution to defence. But we must also remember with 1278 some gratitude—and I wish that our German friends, in particular, would remember this—that it was mainly American aid, Marshall Aid, which created the foundations for Europe's present economic strength, and in particular that of Germany. If America now finds herself in some temporary financial difficulty, it is time that her friends who received aid in their time of need should contribute so far as they can.
I do not wish to say a great deal on the military side. I am much perturbed about the question of the balance between conventional forces and nuclear capability. I do not deny to our forces in Europe the means of carrying out their task. I believe that they must have a nuclear capability. But what concerns me is the integration of nuclear capability with conventional forces. The purpose of N.A.T.O. was to provide a shield force of conventional weapons to retain any local aggression in Europe. I believe that that is still the need, but N.A.T.O. is very weak in conventional forces. General Norstad himself has complained bitterly many times about the quality of arms given to his forces. If these forces cannot hold a local attack—it may not even be a Soviet attack, but an East German attack—if we do not have the conventional forces, can we expect the unanimity which would be required of the fifteen member countries of N.A.T.O. in giving instructions to the military commander to use tactical nuclear weapons, particularly in a heavily populated area?
I feel that we are reaching a very serious situation. I believe that we must increase our conventional forces and give them the most modern weapons. Certainly we should have a nuclear capability, but do not let us have it integrated so that its use becomes practically automatic. As my noble Leader has said—and what he said should be driven home—we of the West will never use a nuclear weapon before the other side do. Let us remember that the Russians are just as frightened as we are If they think we would use the weapon there is more possibility that they themselves will say that they will have to use it.
But, my Lords, I believe that stability in Europe is not merely military; it is also economic. There are two large trading blocs, the Inner Six and the Outer 1279 Seven, which do not include the major Allies of N.A.T.O.—namely, the United States of America and Canada. At present, these two trading blocs do not conflict, but they are developing fast, particularly the Six; and unless we can bring them together, we may find that these blocs will come into conflict with each other, and that would be a very serious matter to the Western Alliance. Economically, Europe must expand to a far greater extent if it is to find the means to sustain a military effort, an effort that will cost more and more money as the years go by.
But we also have the seeds of a future war lying in Asia and Africa. The hunger and misery, the hopelessness, of the people in these continents will not be overcome by the efforts of individual countries. This can he achieved only by a combined and co-ordinated effort of the West, and we are far from attaining, that co-ordination to-day. I hope that in O.E.C.D. we have an instrument; but we must create a stronger instrument for trade and investment, so that we can attack the evils that lie in Asia and Africa. We cannot just rely on our present progress; and time is getting short. At the moment, the peoples of Asia and Africa are uncommitted politically, but once they lose hope and say that the West has failed, we shall have lost them; and like the people of China, they will fall under the domination of a Communist Government.
§ 7.7 p.m.
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, for the first part of his speech. It seems to me that opportunities like the one he mentioned are too easily missed in the world to-day, yet they can do an enormous amount of good. I venture to take up a few minutes of your Lordships' time, though I am a little off my ground, but I think that I am entitled to express an opinion on the matter to which I am now going to refer.
In the first place, I should like to say that what I welcomed most in the debate this afternoon was what the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, said in deprecation of people who go about in terror of nuclear war and atomic bombs and who do more harm than anybody else. I entirely agree with that. I have never found any man 1280 who could act or think wisely when frightened. I think that what he said on this point should be said not only in your Lordships' House but also through a trumpet to the whole country. He also said—and I partly agree with him, from my humble standpoint—that he did not think that there was any immediate danger of war. That may be so, but men pass and others succeed them, and I have lived through two wars made by men who thought that their resources were so great that it put them above the ordinary claims of morality. I do not think that it is impossible that that may happen again, because it does not seem to me that the general level of human conduct has been improved by the two wars through which I have lived.
It has been said often enough in this debate that N.A.T.O. is there to prevent war. But, as I understand it, it is also here to provide ready action in the event of war. That is one of its most important functions. War may be sudden and completely unheralded—a kind of Pearl Harbour. In such a case, war is touched off by the event. It is essential to the success of an Alliance of this kind that every member should have complete and absolute confidence in every other member, confidence in the complete fulfilment of what has been arranged. It is not enough to have correct diplomatic relations with other members of N.A.T.O. Relations must be cordial and very friendly, whatever their political complexion may be—what in this debate has, I think, already been called political co-operation.
So far as I know, until recently, at any rate, that has existed between us and all our Allies in N.A.T.O., including the Government of His Majesty the King of the Belgians. But recently, as we know, that Government found it necessary to institute austerity measures in consequence of losses suffered in the Congo, and these were followed by a general strike, with the avowed intention of bringing down that Government by violence or of forcing the Government to abandon its desires. I believe it is the case that the strike is now drawing to an end, chiefly due to the good sense and temperance of the people of Belgium. During the strike it was announced that the T.U.C. would send £50,000 to Belgium to assist the strikers, and that this transfer of funds 1281 would require Treasury sanction. Later it was announced that the money was earmarked for the support of the families of the strikers; and then, later again, that Treasury sanction had been given for the transfer.
My Lords, it seems to me that to transfer money to a movement which is calculated to bring down the Government of a friendly country can hardly be called a friendly act. The necessity for Treasury sanction is really due to the war—it was a war-time regulation —and probably it would be unreasonable to exercise it in the case of any private party wishing to transfer funds to another country. But I do not think the T.U.C. can claim to be a private party. The T.U.C. publicly admonishes and advises the Government of the country on almost every subject. I used to say to myself that it had usurped a right which hitherto I had thought belonged only to Members of Parliament and to women—that of raising one's voice in controversy on every subject under the sun, whether one understood it or not. It seems to me unfriendly to allow such funds to be transferred to war Allies, with Treasury sanction, and I cannot see that it would have been wrong to exercise Treasury sanction to prevent that transfer.
My argument is reinforced by the fact that the money was destined to aid the families of the strikers. That is clearly an excuse, as money so transferred would merely release other Belgian funds for purposes of a more militant nature. Now that the strike is over it may be that these funds will find a destination rather different from that which the T.U.C. possibly envisaged. I think I can bring this home to your Lordships by reference to recent history. When the Civil War in Spain was over, our Government of that day (and it was a peace-time Government; this was not a war-time measure) forbade the transfer of funds to Spain. A great many people in this country who sympathised with the new Spanish Government, or for other reasons—some of them were horrified by the slaughter of the priests which accompanied the Republican régime—wished to transfer funds to Spain; but they had no pressure group and were not able to do so. What a great many of them did was to transfer money to Spanish institutions in this country, and 1282 thereby, in exactly the same way, they released funds in Spain for the Government's own purposes.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I should like to know what all this has to do with a debate on N.A.T.O.
It has a great deal to do with N.A.T.O., for this reason: that anything which impairs complete and absolute co-operation of the member countries of N.A.T.O. and the Governments which compose them is striking at the very efficiency of N.A.T.O. My point is that all our institutions must back our Government in foreign affairs and must not take political actions which impair the complete and mutual confidence of N.A.T.O. If noble Lords will think of what happened in the 'thirties, and take a lesson from that, then I think it may be good for us.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ EARL ATTLEE
My Lords, I cannot think that the last remarks of the noble Lord opposite have very much to do with the subject under discussion, be cause there are many financial arrangements between people in different countries. I wonder whether he would have been so upset if it had been some capitalists transferring money to help the capitalists to defeat the workers in Belgium. I do not think that subject really belongs to our debate to-day. I can assure the noble Lord and everybody else that if the Government had prevented funds from being sent to help these women and children in a strike it would have had a far worse effect on the relationships between Belgium and this country than what was done by the T.U.C.
We have had a well worth while debate this afternoon, with three notable maiden speeches. We have often heard the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, in another place; of Lord Gladwyn we have often read when he has spoken at U.N.O.; Lord Abinger is, I think, new to us in this House. We hope that we shall hear them all often.
I do not intend to say much in this debate, but I want to refer back for a moment to when we first founded N.A.T.O. and what its purpose was. Its purpose was to check an imminent 1283 danger which existed at that time of enormous Russian land forces that might have been used to overrun Europe. It was valuable at that time, and it has continued to be a valuable form of defence. But, as has been emphasised in this debate, conditions have changed very much. I liked the Foreign Secretary's categorising of N.A.T.O. as Mark I, Mark II and Mark III. I do not think the difference that came over the scene with the adoption of tactical nuclear weapons is fully realised. That seemed to me to destroy the whole position. The noble Earl called N.A.T.O. a tripwire. Well, you may have a tripwire which prevents someone from trespassing on your property and that would be one thing. But if that tripwire were attached to a spring gun or a bomb, it would rather change its character. It seemed to me that the character of N.A.T.O. changed as soon as there was the introduction of these allegedly tactical nuclear weapons, and that once you had this there was nothing to stop an entire nuclear war.
It has been interesting in this debate to note how many noble Lords have emphasised the point that the contest between ourselves and the East is moving away from the military on to the political and economic plane. Mr. Khrushchev has said this himself. I welcome that, and it is what I am looking forward to. I have not the least fear of a contest between the West and the East in the ideological field, because I think we have much the better case. As I say, I am looking forward to it, and, indeed, it should he the natural outcome if we can get what we want—namely, disarmament.
The need for all-round disarmament is the second point that has been made by many noble Lords. But I do not think we are going to get that through N.A.T.O. We have to cling on to N.A.T.O. to-day to hold the fort, but the proper venue now for dealing with these matters is the United Nations. I do not think that any disarmament proposals which are confined to Europe and America will go very far, because the other factor which was not there when we formed N.A.T.O. is China. I do not see Russia agreeing to disarmament unless you bring in China, because you now have an anti- 1284 Pope in Peking—and a dangerous anti Pope—as against the "Pope in the Vatican" who formerly gave orders to the entire Communist world. Therefore it seems to me to rest on the consideration of broader aspects than just Europe.
I do not want to change this into a Foreign Affairs debate, but I suggest that if it is true that the Russians also, like ourselves, desire disarmament because they think they can beat us in the political and economic sphere, we should take them at their word and bring the matter up at the United Nations. It is right, of course, for us to do all we can in the economic field in helping the nations which might be exposed to Communist infiltration. You will have to do that if your fight is going on that line. But then you want disarmament. You will not manage disarmament just by some agreement by a committee in Europe. Disarmament conferences always break down on the question of security. Unless you can achieve that security by a more effective United Nations, I see little chance of disarmament. Until you have all-round disarmament you must cling to N.A.T.O. But we never regarded N.A.T.O as more than a prop to U.N.O.—the proper sanction preserving the world peace was the United Nations. We had to bring forward N.A.T.O. because of the position of U.N.O. at that time. I should like to see our Government and other Governments taking the initiative and getting ahead on this broad question of disarmament and world peace, and regarding N.A.T.O. as it is, only as a temporary prop at the present time, but no substitute for world order and a world law enforced by an effective U.N.O.
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (LORD CARRINGTON)
My Lords, this has been one of the most important, interesting and, I think, stimulating debates that we have had in your Lordships' House in recent months. I know that I speak for my noble friend the Foreign Secretary when I say how useful the views which have been expressed this afternoon will be to him and to the Government when they make up their mind about the future policy to be pursued by N.A.T.O.
The debate has been all the more interesting because it has contained three 1285 remarkable maiden speeches. It is rather impertinent of me to congratulate my noble friend Lord Crathorne, because for three years I had the honour to be his Parliamentary Secretary; and if I may say so it was as pleasant to serve under him as it was to listen to his speech this afternoon. I know that he speaks with great experience, and what he has said will have been listened to with great attention, because he has for the last two years been the leader of the United Kingdom group of the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians, and I know that he has contributed a great deal to their work. My noble friend Lord Abinger has delayed a long time before making his maiden speech. Having heard him this afternoon, your Lordships will agree that we have missed a great deal by that delay. I congratulate him upon his excellent speech, which I shall read again, and I will draw to the attention of those most interested and most concerned the constructive suggestions that he made.
Then, of course, there is the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, who has a vast experience of diplomacy and of the work of the United Nations. He was in at the beginning of N.A.T.O., arid probably, in his capacity as British Ambassador in Paris, he has had better opportunities than almost anyone else to observe, at one remove, the progress of N.A.T.O., its faults and its virtues. He made, as your Lordships will remember, a refreshingly optimistic speech. I know that I shall be speaking for everybody in the House when I say that those three noble Lords who have made their maiden speeches have greatly added to the significance of the debate.
The debate has covered a very wide field, and I hope I shall be forgiven if I do not even try to answer a good many of the points that have been raised. The speeches have ranged very widely indeed, and I should need a. great deal more time than is at my disposal if I were to do justice to them. I want this evening, in my reply, to concentrate on defence rather than ion politics. Defence, even on the national plane, is a subject on which many people have different views; and understandably so, since it is not a precise science, and the issues do not present themselves in clear-cut terms of black and white. Perhaps this is more so nowadays than it used to be, 1286 since the political scene seems to shift more often and more quickly, and weapons and methods of warfare are developing and changing with terrifying speed. That this is an even more complicated subject on the international level has been amply demonstrated by the differences of opinion voiced in the House this afternoon. But there has been one striking feature of all the speeches made, and that is the unanimous recognition of the value of N.A.T.O. Before we are too critical of its shortcomings, let us remember that it is no small achievement that fifteen nations of different language, background and tradition should have united themselves over the last decade in an alliance of such magnitude and such success.
In the days when I was growing up, the phrase "collective security" was to be heard on the lips of every politician. It might well be that if collective security, of which N.A.T.O. is such a good example, had existed in the thirties the Second World War might never have taken place I find it difficult to understand how those who then talked loudest about collective security should now advocate our leaving N.A.T.O.; or how, in the reported words of one prominent advocate of unilateralism, the abandonment of nuclear weapons in this Alliance could make our collective security no less secure. But none of these ideas has been ventilated in the House this afternoon, and the many questions which have been asked have had as their main purpose an increase in the effectiveness of the Alliance. If doubt has been cast upon some aspects of it, or upon the part which we have played in its affairs, it is, I think, because noble Lords would welcome a stronger Alliance and the fullest support for it by the United Kingdom. This Her Majesty's Government have always given in the past, and most certainly intend to give in the future.
A number of questions have been asked about the reviews of N.A.T.O. strategy and N.A.T.O. policy which have been mentioned in the Press and elsewhere in recent weeks. In some quarters it has been suggested that there is something surprising, or even alarming, in the need for these reviews, as if they reflected a dangerous lack of cohesion among the 1287 members of N.A.T.O. But there is surely nothing surprising about this. The Alliance has been in existence now for about twelve years, and it was surely inevitable, and I should have thought desirable, that from time to time we should take stock of the situation to see whether the plans and strategy which we had made fully measured up to the prevailing situation and to the future. It is right that every few years we should pause and take a closer look at the fundamental attitudes and policies of the Alliance; and that is what we are, now proposing to do in the form of the long-term planning programme proposed by the United States.
I have already spoken of the far-reaching developments in weapons and weapon system, both our own and those of the Russians, which have been taking place over the past few years. Twelve years ago, when N.A.T.O. was born, we had not entered the missile age. Indeed, there were some at that time who said that the ballistic missile was not technically possible. It was the age of the free-falling atomic bomb, possessed in quantity only by the United States, whose massive nuclear support for the Alliance tilted the balance heavily in favour of the West—a West hopelessly outnumbered in conventional weapons. But in the last few years the balance has been swinging the other way, and we are now entering what my noble friend called the era, the period, of nuclear equipoise, or nuclear sufficiency, a period in which both sides have the power to inflict massive damage on each other. This is a new situation which not only the European N.A.T.O. nations have to face but also, for the first time, the United States.
So long as the balance of military power gave a decisive advantage to the West, the danger of attack by Russia on any member of the Alliance was slight. Now that Russia has the power to retaliate with overwhelming force against the United States, the Soviet leaders might calculate—or perhaps it would be much more correct to say miscalculate—that America would not risk the wholesale destruction of her own cities by resisting with nuclear weapons an attack which was not directed against the American mainland. If the European members, who rely so heavily for their defence upon the American strategic 1288 nuclear deterrent, were to come to believe this, there would indeed be danger for the Alliance; and it is undoubtedly true that if this idea, which I do not believe is held by any responsible body of opinion, were to gain currency, then there might be a danger that the fabric of N.A.T.O. would start to crumble.
Against this background America has put forward her idea of a multilateral M.R.B.M. force for N.A.T.O. to give the European nations a share in the weapons necessary for their own defence and to strengthen confidence in America's intention to stand by them against any aggression by the Soviet Union in Europe. My Lords, all of us welcome this initiative and applaud the motives which have prompted it. It is a clear indication of the importance which the United States attaches to Europe and its N.A.T.O. Alliance. At the same time it raises problems to which we must frankly admit we do not yet know the answers. The two most important questions which your Lordships have asked this afternoon are first; does such an increase in the striking power of SACEUR confer upon him a capacity for strategic action which goes far beyond the purely tactical rôle so far envisaged for him? And, secondly, how is this new force, if it comes about, to be controlled?
Let me take the two riddles one at a time. Some noble Lords, though not many, have spoken of strategic nuclear weapons and tactical nuclear weapons as if the difference between them were readily discernible. One can perhaps identify the largest of hydrogen bombs as a strategic weapon, because it would be used only on the largest targets whose destruction would affect a country's capacity to fight. At the other end of the scale, a bazooka with a nuclear warhead, and similar devices of which we read to-day, could have only a tactical rôle. But in between these two there is a whole range of weapons whose use could be strategic or tactical, depending upon the targets at which they are aimed. With these it is not so much a question of whether the weapon is strategic or tactical as of whether the target is strategic or tactical. What could be disturbing about it is the introduction of new types of weapons with the yield and range of Polaris; and that is the aspect which has worried your Lordships most.
1289 The proposal to include Polaris in SACEUR's armoury would certainly mean that he would have weapons which could be used in the strategic as well as the tactical rôle. But there has been no suggestion that SACEUR's tactical sphere of action should be in any way extended. Indeed, those who have expressed concern at the idea should remember that he already has coming into service Jupiter rockets, and other rockets with a similar capacity in Italy and Turkey. He has Valiants and Canberras, whose range could enable them to be used strategically. If these rockets and bombs were to be directed against strategic targets—which, of course, they would not be—they, too, might be said to be strategic weapons. And of course exactly the same is true of the nuclear weapons which are carried by the ships of the Sixth Fleet. So I think it is the targets and the boundaries of SACEUR's tactical sphere of action which make the weapon strategic or tactical.
The noble Lord, Lord Boothby, thought, rather derided this. It seemed to me that he was not so much saying that it was impossible to distinguish between tactical and strategic targets and weapons, as that the consequences of a large nuclear bomb on what we might all agree was a tactical target might, by its size or inaccuracy, lead to the same end as that of a similar bomb on a strategic target. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, gave it as his opinion that any use of nuclear weapons by N.A.T.O. would inevitably lead to massive nuclear retaliation.
§ LORD BOOTHBY
May I intervene? My point was that you cannot let the Russians know in advance what the orders are about targets and that something might go wrong.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
I quite agree, and I think this is a matter of enormous difficulty. The argument which the noble Lord advanced is a perfectly legitimate one, as is the one advanced by the noble Earl. It is, of course, one of the factors which has to be taken into consideration before we make our recommendations to N.A.T.O. on the new strategic and tactical policy. It might be said, however, that SACEUR already has these weapons, Canberras, Valiants. 1290 Jupiters and so on. Why, then, is it necessary to have Polaris too?
The development of weapons is always continuing. At present SACEUR relies very heavily on manned strike aircraft, which are becoming increasingly vulnerable on base and over target. The Jupiter and other land-based missiles which make up the rest of SACEUR's armoury are also becoming increasingly vulnerable, and it is this which makes a mobile rocket like Polaris so attractive. At the same time, to make the deterrent as comprehensive, and therefore as effective, as possible we should try to increase the types of weapons against which a potential enemy must guard, and make our shield forces as versatile as possible.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, may I point out that there is real substance in the actual reference to this matter in the speech of General Norstad, which seems to make it clear that he wants the Polaris type of warhead missile because there are places over the boundary into Russia which he would find very convenient for attack. And while I appreciate what has been said about the difficulty of distinguishing tactical and strategic targets, I must say that I have not got away from the idea I expressed: that I do not think there would he anything but an immediate reaction of the country so attacked with the use of the most powerful nuclear weapon.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
With respect to the noble Viscount, I do not think General Norstad said that. His tactical area is very closely defined. I think he was saying that he wanted Polaris because of the limitations which I have just described, of the other tactical weapons at his disposal.
The second difficulty is about control. Any arrangement which would give the European Allies of N.A.T.O., or the Supreme Commander, a wider share in the use of nuclear weapons must raise this question; and political control must certainly be maintained. But here we are in an obvious dilemma. On the one hand, the control must be, and must be seen to be, entirely effective. On the other hand, the certainty of instant military reaction against aggression must remain entirely credible. There can be no question of giving SACEUR undivided 1291 responsibility for the decision to launch nuclear M.R.B.Ms. At the same time, if the fingers of fifteen N.A.T.O. Governments were to be on the M.R.B.M. safety catches, the effectiveness of these weapons as a deterrent would obviously be greatly reduced. Some acceptable solution has to be found to this problem.
Your Lordships will recognise that both these are large questions and that they will not be settled in a day. On the other hand, they do make necessary this comprehensive examination of N.A.T.O.'s strategy to which I referred earlier. The communiqué of the ministerial meeting in December recorded that the permanent representatives at the N.A.T.O. Council were to study the United States proposals for a M.R.B.M. multilateral force and related questions in detail. We have suggested that this should be included in a comprehensive examination of the purpose, control and deployment of the whole of N.A.T.O.'s nuclear armoury, with the object of making the deterrent as effective as possible without waste of resources. This examination would, in our view, have been necessary in any case.
My Lords, as I said at the beginning, I think we can reasonably claim that N.A.T.O. has fulfilled its object more effectively than any other Alliance in history. From the outset the main purpose of the Alliance has been to deter aggression, and in this it has been completely successful. Since its inception in 1949, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton said, there has been no Communist advance in any part of the N.A.T.O. area. I believe that we owe this largely to the knowledge which the Russians have of the cohesion and unity of purpose of the fifteen member countries of N.A.T.O.
There are some who would argue that, although all this is true, there are now signs of disintegration among the N.A.T.O. Allies. But I really do not think that this is so. One has only to talk with European members of the Alliance to be conscious of how much store they set by it; what it has meant for their security, and how fully they support its continuance. Above all, the N.A.T.O. Alliance remains the cornerstone of the United States' foreign policy, and there is no evidence whatever to suggest that their attitude towards 1292 N.A.T.O. is weakening. Indeed, their suggestion for a multilateral M.R.B.M. force in Europe is a sure sign of their determination to stand by their European Allies and to participate fully in the common effort. We must all be thankful indeed for that.
While there may be many differences of view over some aspects of N.A.T.O. policy between France and her Allies, she continues on practical issues to support the common aims and plans of the Alliance. French agreement to participate in SACEUR's air defence plan has meant that this plan can now go forward. Then on the naval side, your Lordships may have seen only last week an announcement of a naval exercise in the Mediterranean where French ships were taking a full part. SACEUR's integrated air defence plan is an excellent example of the sort of planning which would have been unthinkable in former years. Perhaps some of your Lordships who have spoken this afternoon have rather underestimated the military integration which has taken place over the past few years. In this plan the United Kingdom is playing its full part, and we are assigning to SACEUR the whole of Fighter Command, while retaining as a safeguard the right to determine the rôle and deployment of these forces as we require. I think that this is a fine example of co-operation, and I am glad to know that there has been little criticism of the decision to assign Fighter Command to N.A.T.O.
Those who press us to support N.A.T.O. more fully cannot have it both ways. If you press for greater integration of training and logistic facilities, you should not, in fairness, criticise the suggestion that the troops of our German Allies should be trained in other N.A.T.O. countries. If you plead for greater co-operation in research and development and production, you must not protest when this co-operation leads to the adoption of a "foreign" weapon. You cannot ask for reductions in defence expenditure while calling for increases in our contribution to N.A.T.O. In fact, our contribution to N.A.T.O. is a substantial one. By far the greatest proportion of our defence effort is concentrated in the N.A.T.O. sphere. To the land forces we contribute the British Army of the Rhine.
1293 Here, perhaps I might comment on something said by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, when he introduced this Motion. He seemed to think that we were concentrating too much on nuclear armament in B.A.O.R. Perhaps I ought to remind him that B.A.O.R. is only one element in the N.A.T.O. defences in the West. I believe that the balance of nuclear and conventional units in B.A.O.R. is about right for the task which it is being asked to do. One must remember that the armies of many of our other Allies rely almost entirely on conventional weapons. But I do assure him that the balance of conventional and nuclear forces in N.A.T.O. as a whole will be one of the things which will be considered in the comprehensive study of N.A T.O. nuclear strategy to which I have already referred.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, that last remark is most comforting. But on this point I must point out that what I said was really repeating what General Norstad said. In his speech he said that the forces of Allied Command Europe must be organised, equipped, trained and deployed so as to be able to react promptly and effectively, with, first, conventional weapons when such weapons are adequate to the military situation, and secondly, with atomic weapons when the use of such weapons is necessary. That is the Supreme Commander, and what I said was that, according to the military correspondent of The Times this morning, we had not any adequate conventional support in Europe. I was asking the Government whether they were in fact, according to the Supreme Commander, not putting the second first.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I said that we think that we have the balance just about right. I do not want to carry this matter very much further this evening. I will gladly discuss it with the noble Lord, or he can put down a Question if he likes. All this is coming within the review, and it will be one of the things which will have to he taken into account. But of course it would be foolish to suppose that the Supreme Commander has not agreed to the balance of the British Army of the Rhine.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, I certainly do not want to delay the noble Lord, but can he give an assurance which 1294 I think is important—namely that if B.A.O.R. were committed, its conventional forces would 'be sufficient to sustain it at least for a reasonable period before nuclear weapons were called for? I think that is the burden of our case. Are the conventional forces balanced, sufficiently equipped with conventional weapons, to sustain them in the field as a purely conventional force?
§ LORD CARRINGTON
I have already said that, in regard to the rôle which B.A.O.R. has to carry out, the Government are satisfied that the balance of conventional and nuclear forces is about right That is what the noble Lord asked me, and I have given him the answer.
My Lords, not only do we contribute B.A.O.R.to N.A.T.O., but we have at present a large air force in Germany, and we have strengthened it recently by assigning some Valiant. bornbers in place of Canberras. At sea, we make a large contribution of naval forces to SACEUR, SACLANT and to the Channel Command. With Fighter Command assigned to SACEUR, there are forces at home which are also committed to N.A.T.O. But at the same time, we do what we can to practise the principle of interdependence in our equipment programmes. From the other side of the Atlantic we already have the United States Corporal missile, and we are taking the Honest John and 8-inch howitzer. From Canada comes the Beaver light liaison aircraft.
We are also equipping our forces with material from our European Allies. We use the Belgian F.N. rifle and we are taking the 105-millimetre pack howitzer of Italian design, and the French Alouette 'helicopter. And the traffic is not all one way. The British 105-millimetre tank gun has been adopted by the American Army; the West German Navy has recently placed an order in the United Kingdom for two prototype fast patrol boats and is buying a number of the Royal Navy's new Seacat guided missiles for evaluation. In terms of money, we already spend more of our gross national product on defence than any other N.A.T.O. country except France or America, and I know that our Allies take this as evidence that we mean to go on playing our part in support of the Alliance, and that our policy remains 1295 to make the largest and most effective contribution that we can.
The noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, has construed the Government's approval to the transfer of £50,000 from the T.U.C. to the Belgian strikers as an unfriendly act towards a fellow member of N.A.T.O. I can assure the noble Lord that this was not so. It was a difficult problem, but Her Majesty's Government did not feel able to use the instrument of exchange control—which was devised for a completely different purpose—to prevent this transaction; and I am sure that the Belgian Government themselves have not misinterpreted our action and that relations between us remain as friendly as ever.
The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, asked about the International Institute for Science and Technology which he commended as something we needed seriously to consider. I would agree with him that concrete measures to increase the effectiveness of Western science are obviously necessary and would be welcome. It may be that something on these lines would be a good idea, but obviously we must be quite sure that the money which would be spent on such an institution would not be better spent on national programmes; and, as the noble Lord said in his speech, we shall not know that until the Working Group which has been appointed, and on which Sir John Cockcroft is the United Kingdom member, has reported. But the noble Earl can be sure that any recommendations made by a member as distinguished as Sir John Cockcroft will carry great weight.
My Lords, if I might interject for a moment, I did indeed ask the question, and I am grateful for the answer; but the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians' Conference as a whole endorsed the proposal.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I realise that, and I have mentioned it only because the noble Lord asked the question. I have not referred to all noble Lords who have made speeches this afternoon because if I were to do so my speech would be unbearably long: it is not because their speeches have not been of great interest to the Government. I assure your Lordships that I will examine these speeches again, and will write to 1296 any who have raised points, made suggestions or asked questions. An overhaul of N.A.T.O. is only to be expected after twelve years. I am very conscious that in what I have said I have not answered or in any way solved the problems which have been raised in this debate.
What we are doing at this stage is to define the problems which face us in the changing circumstances of the sixties; and your Lordships have certainly given us some problems to define. I have tried to sketch out the considerations which will be borne in mind when we come to examine these problems, and, as I have said, to those will be added the many points that have been made by those who have spoken in this debate. I am confident that, together with our Allies, we shall find answers to them. In the meantime, we can look back over the twelve years of N.A.T.O., twelve years in which N.A.T.O. has successfully kept the peace, and we reaffirm that Her Majesty's Government will continue to give it their full support. At the same time, we welcome the call in the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for firm support of the Alliance by the United Kingdom Parliament. I have no doubt that it will be forthcoming.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I can safely say that the object which I had in mind when I put this Motion down has been entirely satisfied—that is to say, to have an objective and thorough debate upon what I regard as one of the most important subjects to-day, one which vitally concerns us in this country and our colleagues in the North Atlantic Alliance. May I say I have listened with the greatest interest and, after the first speech, with the greatest enjoyment to all the speeches that have been made to-day, and I should like to thank everyone who has spoken and has added a contribution to a debate which I think, or at least I hope, will make a considerable impression upon our Allies. It is no good denying or disguising that there has been in N.A.T.O. a feeling that the work we do in the Conference when we meet in Paris is disregarded by the various Parliaments, and particularly by the United Kingdom Parliament. That, at all events, can no longer be said.
I would congratulate the three noble Lords who made their maiden speeches. 1297 It is no empty tribute on my part to say that we shall listen with the greatest interest to any contributions they have to make in future. They were three rernarkable maiden speeches. I should also like to thank the noble Earl, the Foreign Secretary. There is no doubt about it, this House has been enlarged and has been made more important by having the Foreign Secretary among us. There is one thing I would say about him. We were contestants for years. I was the "shadow" Commonwealth Secretary when the noble Earl was the actual holder of that office. He had all the responsibility and the pay: I merely had the opportunity of criticism. But he is the same man now as he was then. I feel that he will tell us all he possibly can—and that has been by no means the case with former Foreign Secretaries, either in this House or in another place. He will always give us the maximum information he can. He does not try to hide anything from the British public because Bulgaria or some other country might be hurt if he were to reveal it. After ail, the main purpose of the Foreign Secretary is to look after the British public and not necessarily to look after the Bulgarian or any other public.
I should also like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who has done his best to give us some answers to the questions. At the end he said he had not been able to solve any of the problems. I did not expect that he would, and I did not put this Motion down in anticipation that it would solve any problems. What I wanted was to have the problems discussed, and, as he has said and as the noble Earl, the Foregin Secretary, kindly said, our deliberations will have an influence upon the Government when they come to make their contribution to N.A.T.O. I should just like to say a short word about my noble friend. Lord Windlesham. He came over especially from Dublin at my request for this debate and I am grateful to him for that.
Before I withdraw my Motion, there is just one comment I would make. I have made it for years past after debates of this kind and I propose to go on making it. I have been concerned to see that there is no Field Marshal or Marshal of the Royal Air Force present. One of the contributions this House can offer is that when we get a debate of a specialist 1298 nature people with great experience in the field who are Members of this House can make their contributions. Not one Field Marshal or Marshal of the Royal Air Force has even poked his nose into the Chamber, leave alone make any contribution—
§ LORD BOOTHBY
My Lords if the noble Lord will allow me to interrupt, may I say that I did see Field Marshal Lord Harding of Petherton here.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, he must have been very quick, because I did not see him. He must have come in by mistake; although I should like to say about the noble Lord that he is one of the Field Marshals who does contribute—
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear!
§ LORD OGMORE
—and I do not want to say anything about him, because have a fondness for him in that respect as well as for various other reasons. But, after all, some Field Marshals are never slow at making contributions outside this House; they appear on television and radio and all over the world at Press conferences, which must occasionally be an embarrassment to the Government. But when it comes to this House, of which they are Members. and where opinions can at least be challenged, they are always conspicuous by their absence, with the single exception of the noble Lord, Lord Harding of Petherton, who failed us to-day. With that, my usual criticism, which I voice on all these occasions, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.