HL Deb 19 July 1961 vol 233 cc722-66

6.34 p.m.

Debate resumed.


My Lords, I think we should thank my noble friend Lord Henderson for framing his Motion in such a comprehensive manner that each one of us can make a speech on the affairs of that part of the world with which one is acquainted. I propose to speak to-night on what I think history will describe as the "Kuwait incident", because it is quite clear as the days go on that what has happened in Kuwait recently will be categorised historically as an "incident". An occasion of this kind serves a useful purpose also because it enables one to focus attention on what I believe are our outmoded commitments in the Middle East.

I should like to preface my remarks by mentioning that my first mission in the field of foreign affairs was undertaken at the request of Mr. Ernest Bevin—that unique Foreign Minister who did not possess any of those superficial qualifications once deemed essential to his position. Ernest Bevin was a man of deep human sympathy, who did not indulge in dialectics but applied his native common sense to world problems. It was after a conference in Cairo in 1950 that he asked me to go and see him. I remember well that, in a few words, he told me what he believed were the right qualities for a good Foreign Secretary. He said that among them, a Foreign Secretary should not only talk of extending the hand of friendship but, so far as possible, follow it up with action.

I had been in Cairo two or three days, and he reminded me that Egypt was an extremely poor country and had pressing social problems. It was in this field that he asked me to give him this help. Shortly afterwards, we invited the Minister of Social Affairs from Egypt to this country. He came here, with a number of his staff, and to the best of my ability I helped them. I was gratified when, only a few months later, I was invited back to Cairo and asked to open the first insurance office and a new clinic. Subsequently, at the invitation of the Government I went to Iraq and many Middle Eastern countries, and I learned that, while appalling poverty prevailed in the non-oil-producing countries, nevertheless oil revenues cannot in themselves establish a welfare state.

In these countries (and I think it is well for us to remember these things and to put them on record) the most crying need is for a civilian army of qualified teachers, health workers and administrators, among whom, incidentally, should be plenty of women; and also, if possible, of course, an Arab civil administration. With all this in mind, when the news about Kuwait was announced only two or three weeks ago, I realised that this claim for Kuwait coincided with the anniversary of the revolution in Iraq, when people were apt to indulge in a reappraisal of their continuing social problems. Of course, Iraq's claim has no historical validity at all. Nevertheless, it has been made before, though no attempt has been made to enforce it militarily.

I was rather shocked when the Foreign Secretary (I am pleased that he has come back to the Chamber) said in his opening speech this afternoon that he felt there were malicious propagandists about, who are now trying to criticise our action in Kuwait. I hope that he will not include me among them. I can assure your Lordships that my criticism is going to be rather similar to that of my noble friend Lord Henderson, who said only that he hoped that in Kuwait we should not overstay our welcome. I felt that that was a masterly understatement, and a delightful euphemism of what I am prepared to say.

I should certainly like to know, in view of the fact that it was made clear by the Iraqi delegate to the United Nations, and by the Iraqi Ambassador here, that there was no intention of forcing militarily Iraq's claim on Kuwait, why it was that Her Majesty's Government were not made more aware of the situation. For instance, why were our advisers not better informed about the true position?—because the tactics we have employed are calculated to undermine confidence in Britain in the Middle East and in Africa. I do not think that that can be denied; and this loss of confidence is a big price to pay for this rather abortive action.

In Middle East politics there is an unwritten law that Arab armies do not fight one another; and there is an Arab saying (one that I have often heard; and it is repeated in most of the countries of the Middle East) which emphasises this unwritten law. They say: My brother and I are against my cousin, but my brother, my cousin and I are against the stranger. It is a fact that since the last war there have been bitter feelings and plots in the Middle East, but this Arab law about one Arab country not fighting another has held good. My Lords, I am a little apprehensive lest "my brother, my cousin and I" may be "against the stranger"—that is, Britain—unless we very soon Change our policy.

There is ample evidence that Kuwait has already gone a considerable way towards achieving acceptance, both as an independent State and as a part of the Arab world. I would remind your Lordships that the Arab Economic Council was established in 1960 with Iraq among the member States. Then the following year, in 1961, Kuwait joined as a full member. At the Arab Telecommunications Conference in Tripoli in I960, of which Iraq is a member, Kuwait was represented by a full delegation. The Arab Airline Conference was established this year with Kuwait as a full member contributing 15 per cent, of the capital. At the Arab Financial Organisation for Economic Development, which met this year in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, Kuwait and Iraq were admitted as full members, and Kuwait agreed to contribute £5 million to the capital. My point in explaining the position of Kuwait vis-à-vis Iraq is to make it clear that, in the eyes of the Arab world, Kuwait and Iraq have already established themselves as two independent States. I therefore found it very difficult, knowing this history, to understand how it was that Her Majesty's Government could believe for one moment that in the Arab world, Iraq, part of the Arab community, would militarily enforce her claims.


My Lords, may I just interrupt the noble Baroness, as she has referred to me? I was going to acquit her of being a malicious critic in any way, and I think I still do. But when she asks why we acted—because, she says, there is a general rule that Arabs do not attack each other—then I would point out that I did explain that the Iraqi Prime Minister had said Kuwait was no longer independent but was part of Iraq, and that the present Ruler of Kuwait was one of his own Governors—a Governor of part of the Province of Basra. I also explained that we had been told there were sufficient troops on the ground to take the city of Kuwait; that an armoured regiment was moved up to reinforce them. So it was not the British Government's action; it was that the Ruler of Kuwait asked for assistance under the Agreement which we had made with him. Unless we were to break the Agreement we had made, we were bound to go to the Ruler's assistance when the Ruler's position was questioned.


I am grateful to the noble Earl for acquitting me of being a malicious propagandist, but if he will listen to me patiently I will meet the points he has made. I recognise, of course, that we have to balance the two things against each other, and that is precisely the argument which I intend to pursue. In the first place, I was explaining that during the last few years the closeness of Iraq and Kuwait in the Arab world, as shown by their collaboration in these various organisations, was such that the Arab world would know that it would be a most remarkable thing for Iraq suddenly to announce that it was to devour Kuwait. Of course, we should welcome Kuwait taking her rightful place in the Arab world, but in all this I believe we have to recognise that the question is an Arab one. Our policy should be solely to remove all possible obstacles. In answer to the noble Lord when he asks, "Should we withdraw?", I would say, in the first place, that the fact is that the presence of British troops, and not Iraq's claims, is the main obstacle to Kuwait's membership of both the Arab League and the United Nations. Indeed, I think that is accepted by people who have studied this problem.

The Foreign Secretary, as he has done to me, may argue that withdrawal may involve risk. I agree; but surely we must determine the degree of risk and whether, on balance, it must be taken having regard to the risk of the hostility of the rest of the Middle East—and, indeed, other undeveloped countries who suspect that we are there only to protect our economic interests. I think it is a fact that a Kuwaiti delegation in Cairo suggested on July 11 that Arab League troops should replace British troops, and it was on July 13 that the Council of the Arab League decided to adjourn for a week in order to enable delegates to consult their Governments regarding the sending of an Arab force to replace British troops in Kuwait, and regarding the admission of Kuwait to the League. The Foreign Secretary, who quoted a number of dates and who is, I know, very familiar with the whole situation, will know that the week is up to-morrow, Thursday. It was last Thursday that the members of the Arab League went back to their Governments to ask permission.

Now I should like to ask the Foreign Secretary whether we could have his assurance—and I really feel that it would be helpful to our relations with the Arab nations if we could—that Britain would not oppose the replacement of our troops by Arab troops, as Kuwait has herself suggested. To-morrow may be the day when this decision will have to be made. May I say that, tactically and diplomatically, it would surely be the right moment to make this generous gesture to-day, before to-morrow, when there is another meeting of the Arab League and when it may mean that the Arab League will ask us to withdraw in order that our troops should be replaced by Arabs.

Now I am not unaware that while there is an unanswerable moral case for this action, there are those who are reluctant to loosen their hold in the Middle East for economic reasons. The interests of Britain in Kuwait are in the importation of oil, oil company profits and sterling area reserves; but the most important and the most genuine interest is the ability to import oil. Those of your Lordships who know the Middle East and the oil-producing countries well will surely agree that unless there was a breach in political relations comparable to that with Egypt after Suez, any Government in power in the Persian Gulf area would sell oil to Britain. There is no shortage of oil in the world now.


My Lords, I wonder if the noble Baroness would allow me to interrupt, and to come back to the point which she has just left. Suppose the Ruler of Kuwait himself expresses a desire for British troops to remain: how would the noble Baroness view that desire?


My Lords, if the noble Lord is asking me what I would do if I were Foreign Secretary, I will tell him. I am afraid I have no control over these forces, except to give my opinion. The Ruler of Kuwait is an individual, an individual who has a Government which is very dissimilar to ours. I would take into account all the things I have mentioned—the repercussions in the Arab World, the real danger, if there is one—and then make my decision in view of that. I should certainly not make my decision because of one individual who thinks that he, as an individual, and his property is vulnerable to attack. I certainly would not agree that that would carry me over the consideration of all these other matters.


My Lords, might I ask the noble Lady this? If you have a Treaty with an individual, do you then scrap it?


My Lords, I think the noble Lady has not been listening to my argument. I have been describing what the background was, and in view of this I was specifically asking, having regard to the invitation from the Ruler, why these other considerations were not taken into account when the decision was made. Surely that is the right approach; and on an occasion of this kind, when we are discussing international affairs, this is the time to ask these questions.

On the subject of acquiring oil, I would say that, basically, there is no more reason for us to own, far less militarily to occupy, Arab oilfields than Danish farms, though the products of both are equally essential to us. The other two interests are a different matter, and I want the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary to consider very seriously the huge profits of the oil companies in the Middle East. These huge profits have been largely reinvested in Britain. The Sheikh receives about £100 million a year from the Kuwait Oil Company, and between £30 million and £40 million of this is invested in the London Stock Market. The Sheikh's total holding is now estimated to be at least £300 million, and his investments represent between 8 and 10 per cent. of all the new money available for investment each year in the United Kingdom. My Lords, this is Arab economic aid to Britain on a scale far larger than any aid enjoyed by an underdeveloped country.

The fact must be faced that, over the coming years, these funds must and should be increasingly used in the Middle East. The moral argument for this is unanswerable. If that is unconvincing, then politically it should be recognised that our good relations with the Arab States must deteriorate unless we practise what we preach for other underdeveloped countries. May I just emphasise that point? I think the latest world figure who has spoken on this is the Pope, when two or three days ago he appealed to the Catholic world and said that, if we are to have peace, it is essential for those wealthy countries in the world to help the poorer countries; and, my Lords, surely that is the approach of this country. That is the approach of the United States of America. Yet here, we are in the position of receiving help from the poor Arab world.

There is another question to which I should like the Foreign Secretary to give me an answer. Now that Kuwait has been given her independence, when do the Government propose to adopt the same policy toward the other Persian Gulf Sheikhdoms? There are eleven Sheikhdoms in the Persian Gulf, many of which consist of nothing but desert and scrub. If there was an incident in one of these primitive places similar to that of Kuwait, are we to use our men and money to protect a semi-feudal despotic ruler? The noble Lady asked me just now what we should do if the Sheikh asked us to come in and help because we had promised help to him. The same position might apply to any of these eleven Sheikhdoms on the Persian Gulf. Surely this is the moment to tell the country, the world, and especially the Middle East, what you would propose to do if one of these Sheikhs came and asked for your help, as the Sheikh of Kuwait has done.

The Arab League itself experienced a difficult adolescence, but now it is more mature and is directed by a responsible Secretary-General, Mr. Abdel Hassouna. Why should it not become an effective instrument for consultation on all these Middle East problems? I would remind your Lordships that Arab nationalism is no different from British nationalism. The British Commonwealth is an association of States; similarly, the Arab States are striving to associate for their mutual advantage. It is inevitable that one day the Arabs will become a united people, with one language and one way of life. We may resist that. We may resist it as we have resisted nationalism in Africa; but finally we had to accept the inevitable. Our mistake in this swiftly changing world is to haggle over the inevitable. True, the countries of the Middle East are no longer content to be regarded as a chessboard for foreign Powers. At this moment in our history, when our attention is focused on the Middle East through Kuwait, let us recognise that the Arabs have an important destiny of their own, and that our role to-day is to give them a friendly hand to help them to shape their destiny.

6.57 p.m.


My Lords, it is difficult to speak after the noble Lady, who had some almost vertiginous insight or foresight into economic reality, particularly in what she was saying about the reinvestment in this country of Kuwaiti capital. It seems that what happens is this. The basic economic reality is that we buy their oil, and they immediately send back the purchase money, the revenues, to invest in this country—which means in British industry—so that it is really rather a long way round of taking a capital sector off the money which is available in this country in any case. The situation is unreal to an extent that it suggests that the best long-sighted view is that which the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, was speaking of earlier in the afternoon—more international economic arrangements of one sort or another in all spheres.

I want to speak, very briefly, if I may, on two topics: first, the Berlin crisis; and, secondly, the test-ban talks. On the Berlin matter, at present we have the Western Notes of yesterday to the Soviet Union, which I was glad to see set out the legal position very forcibly and firmly; and, equally forcibly and firmly, left open the door to negotiation without specifying that this or that must be done, therefore leaving us free, as diplomats should be, to negotiate what seems to be the best settlement. I should like to associate myself with what my noble friend Lord Alexander of Hillsborough said when he wished the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary good luck in the talks he is going to have in two or three weeks' time with his American friends and German colleagues. I should also like to wish him good progress in reaching a concrete negotiating position which can be put to the other side in this matter. Legally, everything is in our favour. Legally we are in the right and they, it is quite clear, are in the wrong.

The Foreign Secretary was at great pains to emphasise the basis of British foreign policy as far as international law and order and the sanctity of our treaties are concerned. All that is in our favour; but the crisis remains. It is true to say that the crisis was created by Mr. Khrushchev—it was. But he need not have brought it up at this moment. He need not have brought it up in 1958. If nothing happens, he need not bring it up again in 1964. He did bring it up in 1958 and now, and, no doubt, if nothing happens, he will bring it up again in 1964. So we have to look a little at the "Why?" of this matter. Does he do it out of capricious malice, or does he do it because he cannot help it? I think there is a lot to be said for the latter view, if one considers what is happening in Germany at the moment.

The first thing one sees is the often proclaimed Russian fear of Western armaments. I think that anybody who has walked in the streets and talked, even through an interpreter, with the Russians in Russian cities could be under no misapprehension about the reality of this fear. No doubt in people who had been eating cats and rats in sieges of this or that city only 19 years ago this is justifiable. The fear is real, and naturally it is something they will want to do something about. Whether they are right in the course they suggest is another matter.

Secondly, there is something which is not often pointed out in this connection—namely, that East Germany, the so-called German Democratic Republic, is rapidly disappearing. People are leaving it at such a rate at the moment that very soon there will not be anybody left in that country. This is a state of things which is obviously a problem, not only to the rulers of any country but also to their friends and allies. For this reason I have no doubt Mr. Khrushchev has felt himself compelled to make a démarche now to settle the matter in some way which might reduce that flow of people out of East Germany. Here particularly I must not fall into the mistake which the noble Lord, Lord Strang, pointed out, of telling the Government what to do. I cannot do that because I do not know so much. But there are many ways in which this problem can be settled.

One is the suggested course of pressing for a reunited Germany with free elections and total freedom for a pan-German Government to join which side they wish. This would be very nice for us, but I do not think it is realistic to expect Mr. Khrushchev to accept this. It would mean an enormous increment to the Western armed forces, since there is no doubt whatever that a reunited Germany would join the West. Therefore he would not permit it, for the simple reason that it would bring Western bomber bases and missile sites a couple of hundred miles nearer to Soviet territory, which would mean so many minutes' fewer shooting time at the bombers and missiles which they fear would be launched against them—wrongly, we think; rightly, they think.


My Lords, the noble Lord will remember that in 1958 the Foreign Secretary put forward a proposal that if a reunited Germany wished to join N.A.T.O., we would not take advantage of that. We would not move anything in the nature of troops or aeroplanes farther to the East.


My Lords, I think that the troops and aeroplanes of a reunited Germany would be quite sufficient to rule out that course in the minds of the other side. From their point of view, a German bomber is just as bad as an American one.

The second course is some sort of disengagement plan, the reunification of Germany with guaranteed neutrality and no armaments in that country, with or without the corollary of the withdrawal of arms from Poland and Czechoslovakia, as proposed by Mr. Rapacki a few years ago, an offer taken up by Mr. Khrushchev a few days ago. This looks a good deal better. The balance is better. One could more reasonably expect the Russians to accept it, but the trouble is that West Germany will not. I think that anybody who has studied Dr. Adenauer's recent speeches realises that he feels deeply and will feel permanently, and so will his colleagues, that any such course would reduce the West Germans to a second-class people.

The third course is the reunification of Germany with guaranteed neutrality but with a general disarmament throughout Europe—throughout the world, if one wishes. This is a starter, but I do not wish to hold the House up by leading back once more to the great panacea of general disarmament. The first two courses are only half-way houses and seem to me to be full of disadvantages, in one case on our side and, in the other case, on theirs. The full-way house of general disarmament would provide a solution to the German problem but, of course, it would bring in many new problems of its own. But this is a decision that has to be taken.

Before leaving Germany, I should like to take up one point that the noble Earl made about the statements in Mr. Khrushchev's Vienna memorandum to President Kennedy. The noble Earl introduced these by saying that there was a duality in the Russian statements—in other words, that they contradicted themselves. Of course, so they do frequently, but in this case I do not quite see the contradiction and should be grateful if the noble Earl could enlighten me about it. Mr. Khrushchev said, on the one hand, that no one would interrupt Western freedom of communications with Berlin under the settlement he proposes, and he said, on the other hand, that the control of Western communications with Berlin should be passed from the Soviet forces to East German forces. Is there a contradiction here? If we take them together, it seems to me that this could be interpreted as a guarantee that, so far as Khrushchev is able to say, which is a very long way, East German forces would not interrupt Western European communications with Berlin.

Let me turn to the other matter I want to talk about—the test ban treaty, which is bogged down severely. There has been a great feeling, I think, on all sides of your Lordships' House, and in wider circles in the West, that this has been a grave setback to the cause of disarmament in general. There has been a great inconsistency of behaviour on the Russian side in this negotiation. We can all remember how three years ago they insisted on taking the test ban separately and the West wanted to engage in a general disarmament negotiation; how the Opposition in this country pressed the Government to take the test ban separately; how subsequently the British Government pressed the Americans to take it separately; how the Americans agreed to that and how negotiations then began. Now, after three years, the thing is upside down. Now the Russians want to take general disarmament and soak up the test ban in the bread, and the West want to take the test ban separately.

I very much agree with and should like to support what my noble friend Lord Henderson said about the immediate course for this country—so far as we can take it in the Western Alliance—not to resume testing and not to break off negotiations. It is clear that this is what should be done, and I have every reason to suppose that this is what the Western Governments will do. But not to test and not to break off is no way forward; it is simply a way of avoiding going backwards. This is good, but not enough. Where do we go forward from here?

At this point, the Foreign, Secretary quoted a passage from Mr. Khrushchev's Vienna memorandum in which Mr. Khrushchev suggested that only after the abolition of all arms would he regard international inspection and control as being free a the taint of national intelligence—espionage. Here I would come back to what the Foreign Secretary said about duality in Russian statements, because in the very same document there is a passage where Mr. Khrushchev said: The Soviet Government will unconditionally"— I repeat, unconditionally— accept the Western proposals for inspection and control, provided they are in the context of a general disarmament settlement. And secondly, that the Soviet Government are prepared now to sign a document incorporating the Western proposal on the test ban agreement, provided that is in the context of general disarmament.

The point about this is that in the Western proposals on the test ban, as is well known, there is no Troika, but a single administrator. Equally, one may be sure that the Western proposals on general disarmament would contain no Troika; they would contain a single administrator. It seems to be at least possible that in this passage in his memorandum Mr. Khrushchev was leaving the door wide open to abandoning the Troika, along with many other things on which he insists and which we do not like, provided that all is in the context of general disarmament. I hope that the Western Powers will pursue this matter and take him up on it, word by word, sentence by sentence and text by text, and press him, to see what comes out round the conference table at the next Disarmament Conference which takes place in a month or two.

Lastly, on the matter of the test ban and disarmament, I should like to associate myself with everything that has been said from both sides of the House welcoming the statement of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers, which, as I understand it, is not only the first statement on foreign policy to be commonly adopted by the British Commonwealth, as a whole, but is also very much the best statement which could possibly have been adopted, now or at any time during the last few years. I am glad to hear that it has been presented to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to be laid before the United Nations. I hope that it will be, colloquially speaking, "plugged" in season and out of season in the United Nations and everywhere else where it can be usefully "plugged", because the policies outlined in that statement seem to me to be the only ones which will solve not only the German question and the bog-down on the test ban, but many other tormented international problems of the day.

7.12 p.m.


My Lords, at this hour and after so many excellent speeches I can and will be brief. I shall not give myself the pleasure even of naming those to whom I feel special gratitude for what they said. I will confine myself to the problems raised about Germany and Berlin. It so happens that between the two wars, and during and towards the end of the Second World War, I gave much thought to Germany, and that thought led to the writing of two publications. The first was a book called The Price of Peace, written while the war was still on but published after the Yalta Agreement was known in full; and, secondly, a pamphlet in 1946 describing what I had seen in Germany during that year. I was glad on looking at these two writings to have the origin of to-day's problem about Germany recalled to me. In case any other Member of this House should care to glance at these writings, I have presented them both to the Library of the House. If anyone still wants further reasons for abolishing war completely, they will find them in the pamphlet called The Message to Germany.

To my mind the arrangements made about Germany after the Second World War illustrate two theses: first, that making a lasting peace is harder than winning a war, particularly when it has been won by a medley of nations forced into agreement and forced to work together, not by love of one another, but by fear; and, secondly, that leaders to victory in war are not always or naturally the best designers of peace, because they will have spent the last six years or so in planning war and feeling hate. They do not do well. They did not do well at Versailles; and I think they did even worse at Yalta. But Yalta, better or worse, is what we have to-day, and the problem is how we can do better from it now.

I will say at once that I agree with what the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary said: the way to a better Yalta is not by handing Berlin over completely to Soviet Russia and her satellites. I welcome completely the firmness of the United States to Russia on Berlin, as published to-day, and the firmness of our Government and of the Foreign Secretary to-day. But I would make two suggestions that might possibly lead to slightly better things, or lead towards them, if not so far as to them, because there is a long way to go.

There are two things that in dealing with Soviet Russia we ought to bear in mind about them. First, Soviet Russia in the Second World War received good reason for hating and fearing Nazi Germany. She is free to continue to hate the Germans if she thinks it right or necessary; but she will not have the slightest reason in the world to fear the Germans if the total disarmament which she herself proposes that is, the total disarmament of all countries—is achieved. Let us therefore call her back to that goal. Let us in everything we say to her always include, whenever we have a chance, our determination on this. Let us undertake that, once disarmament has been agreed, we will be prepared to use any powers that still remain to us—there are economic and other powers—to enforce total disarmament on Germany, as on others. That is my first suggestion.

My second suggestion is that we ought to bear in mind that Communism, as my old friend Beatrice Webb often said to me, is something like a religion. We in Britain may continue to hate Communism, as I personally do, not on economic grounds (oddly enough, I think she has some economic merits) but for her denial of essential human liberties of free thought, free speech, free reading and free teaching. I hope we shall show that, while hating Communism, we in Britain do not fear it, provided it is only being talked about and propagated by words and not by force or bribery. That is the end of what I have to say. Disarming is essential, and open, friendly argument is desirable as a means of building up communications with nations, even when we differ from them on any main point. Never let us fail to take every opportunity to mention total disarmament and our determination to take all stops necessary to secure total disarmament. There, of course, I agree so happily with my old friend, the noble Earl, Lord Attlee. Secondly, never exclude free speaking in this country by those who seem to us foolish in their religion.

7.21 p.m.


My Lords, it is a privilege to take part in a debate so admirably begun by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and continued at so high a level. I am always well content to follow the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, and I have followed him frequently to my own benefit. He has never, so far as I am aware, followed me, although there was once a moment when I hoped he would follow me into the Labour Party. However, he made his choice otherwise, and I hope he has found that that also has benefited him and his colleagues. I think it should be said, when we are talking about Germany so much to-day, that the noble Lord was one of the first Englishmen—or Scotsmen, as I think one should refer to him—who showed real positive friendship towards Germany after the war. When I had the great honour of being made Minister for Germany by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, Dr. Adenauer knew nothing about me, but he said: "If the pupil is anything like the master"—that is, anything like Lord Beveridge" Germany will have reason to be grateful." Therefore, already by 1947 the noble Lord was highly esteemed in postwar Germany.

When one noble Lord said to me to-day, "I suppose you will be speaking about world government", I asked: "Why do you suppose that?" He said: "Because you always speak on world government in the Foreign Affairs debates". I said, "What I suppose you mean is that I always make the same speech on world government in the Foreign Affairs debates". He did not exactly deny that. I will not make precisely the same speech, if only because everything that can be said on that in a short space has been said so much better than I can say it by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee.

I should like to strike a rather critical note before going on to praise the Foreign Secretary very highly in another more immediate connection. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, paid full attention to the tensions under which a British Foreign Secretary of to-day must labour. The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, my own revered leader, drew a distinction between the immediate handling of events and these far-reaching issues, sometimes called long-term issues, such as world government. The noble Viscount said, in effect, that we were not quarrelling very much, or at all, with the way in which the Foreign Secretary was conducting our affairs at the present time. But I think I am right in saying that, like the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, the noble Viscount wondered, as I wondered, What the Foreign Secretary has in mind for the future. It seems to me that the hardest of all tasks, and the greatest test of statesmanship, is to look some way ahead when you are faced with the most dangerous present anxieties.

I cannot help asking what, if anything, the Government are doing to promote world government. I do not want to adopt tactics that I have adopted once or twice before with the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne. I do not want to press him to make any further statements about the good will of the Government towards world government, but I do want to know—and I think one is entitled to ask, following the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and following pronouncements that have been made by so many Government spokesmen in the last year or two—whether, during the last year, the Government have taken any positive steps towards the establishment of world government. Do they contemplate any positive steps in the next year towards world government? Perhaps the noble Marquess would care to answer those questions, which at least are not as shadowy as 'those with which I have sometimes confronted him in the past.

I had the honour to be chairman, some years ago, of an All-Party Committee Which drew up and published a plan for a small standing International Police Force. I am sorry to repeat myself, but I think the noble Marquess was otherwise engaged. I do not know whether the gesture with the pencil means anything particular.


I beg the noble Earl's pardon.


I willingly accept the apology. The noble Marquess must not treat this as irrelevant self-glorification. I was chairman of a committee which drew up a plan for a small standing International Police Force. That plan received its mead of praise in this House from the Government, and from the Foreign Secretary of the day, the right honourable gentleman Mr. Selwyn Lloyd. That was four years ago. Have the Government done anything since? We were told, if I remember rightly, that we must try to stir up public opinion. I think a great deal has been stirred up in pursuit of that ideal. But think what an advantage it would have been (and I hope the noble Baroness who spoke about the Middle East will agree) if there had been this permanent Force for the Kuwait trouble which "blew up" the other day. But no such Force has been established, in spite of the fact that a great stimulus to the whole idea has been given by the events in the Congo.

I do not think I am disclosing any secrets if I say that three or four years ago the Government appeared to be very worried, in any discussions we had with them, not only about the opposition of Russia but about the opposition of India to an idea of that sort. I doubt whether that is still the situation. It hardly can be, I should think, in principle, in view of the pronouncement of the Commonwealth Premiers, to which the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, referred in his most interesting speech. So it really comes down to this—I am trying to make the question as concrete as possible for the noble Marquess, whether or not he can answer it this evening. What steps are being taken now to give effect to the strong support which the Commonwealth Premiers exhibited for the idea of an International Police Force? Is any Committee working out a scheme, or are the Government deciding how this idea can be pressed on the United Nations?

It may well be that it will not at first be accepted—it may run into trouble from the Soviet Union. But if we believe in this, we must surely believe also in the force of what the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said: that no country is better suited, more naturally looked to, than our own to give a lead, even if that lead is not at first followed. If I am asked, "How can we make much headway with this idea, in face of the opposition of the Soviet Union?", my answer is that I am not certain that that opposition would be as strong as might be supposed. But let us assume that the Soviet Union were very difficult—and I think we must always take a rather reserved view about the Soviet Union's intentions in this sort of matter. Surely, one way in which we could make it almost impossible for the Soviet Union to refuse to support the idea of a limited force, would be if we could win the peoples of Asia and Africa for such a conception.

Therefore, I repeat, now that we have, in principle, the Commonwealth Premiers' pledge for an International Police Force, I ask the noble Marquess either to tell us to-night whether it is intended to push that idea further, or at any rate, at the very least, to give us an assurance that what has been said this evening will be studied with a view to a statement on a subsequent occasion. Whichever course is adopted, I need not say any more about world government, except to express my wholehearted support for what has been said by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee.

Then we come to the immediate issue which is centred in Berlin, though, as the noble Earl, Lord Home, brought out so well, Berlin is a kind of epitome of the struggle with international Communism. At the risk of being further reminiscent I think I can recall that, just as the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, was asked to undertake a mission by Mr. Ernest Bevin—that great Foreign Secretary—so I was also asked by him and the Prime Minister to undertake a mission. At the beginning of 1948 I suppose I was the first British Minister to say in Berlin that we intended to stay there permanently, and that nothing was going to turn us out. That, I am glad to think, is the course that has been pursued by all Governments, of every complexion, since that time. What has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and other speakers to-day will, I am sure, give heart to the people of Berlin, and I need not add to it except to say that I am thoroughly, in every way, in sympathy with the firm stand that is being made.

I agree entirely with the general approach of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, to the question of negotiations, but one is bound to ask what will be the psychological climate in these negotiations. What will be the attitude of our own people if these negotiations become very tense and drag on for some time? I am one of those who believe that we shall never see any real peace until we see a reconciliation between the peoples and Governments of the United States, on the one hand, and the Soviet Union, on the other. I do not want for a moment to suggest that I regard the people of the Soviet Union as evil. I think that is, of course, a totally un-Christian point of view, whatever one may think of their policies. I remember, years ago, working on the Daily Mail, and when I arrived on the scene I asked the chief leader writer, under whom I was working, what was the policy of the Daily Mail. He said, "We regard the Germans as the cruellest people in the world, except the Chinese and, of course, the Irish". That did not really make the relations as happy as they otherwise would have been. That kind of approach, of course, is quite hopeless in application to international affairs, quite apart from being far removed from any possible idea of Christianity.

But when we are thinking of these two peoples, on the one hand our own great Allies who have, after all, protected us for many years, and, on the other, the Russians who, at any rate through their Government, have constituted such a threat that we had to rearm ourselves to defend ourselves against the danger that they represent; when we think of that comparison it seems to me that we in this country are not always fair to the Americans. I am bound to say (though this may not be thought everywhere) referring to the letter which the noble Earl, Lord Arran, wrote to The Times yesterday, in which he referred to the mass hysteria with which this very brave Russian Major Gagarin was welcomed, that this may be regarded just as an exceptional sign of goodwill. What I find harder to condone is a short piece of journalism appearing in the Evening Standard this evening, which refers to the second American spaceman. It is headed "Is his journey really necessary?", and it goes on to say Alan Shepherd's fifteen-minute journey may have been, in the political climate of ten weeks ago, necessary and justifiable. To-day's carbon copy ride into space is neither. They are just trying to discourage our American Allies, on whom, after all, we depend for our safety, from embarking on these experiments on which the whole safety of the Free World may depend. Compared to Yuri Gagarin's 108-minute orbit of the world, it is another flea-hop. However, as I said, it is a free country—and as a matter of fact, the Evening Standard is often very kind about me. I am perfectly ready to take what they say about me, and they, I am sure, are ready to listen to my opinion about them. But I do think that this article is art absolutely monstrous example of pro-Russian, anti-American bias; and I think there are great dangers to the public mind in these days if this is thought to reflect public opinion.

There is a leading article in the Daily Telegraph to-day which makes one think a great deal. It asks what impression Mr. Khrushchev will be forming of public opinion in this country at the present time? What will he think", they say about Britain. It will have been reported to him, accurately, that nearly all Britons show no sense of crisis. He will be in possession of every detail of Major Gagarin's reception over here. It must be hoped that he will not misjudge the British people as Ribbentrop did. I hope that he does not read the Evening Standard (which, as a matter of fact, is almost my favourite paper: I have enjoyed it for many years), because I think it would be utterly disastrous if the idea got about that this sort of hysterical joy over the Russian success, and disparagement of anything the Americans may be achieving, represents the deep feeling of the British people. Let me say clearly that I do not think it does represent the deep feeling of the people, but I think there are dangers in the public mind at the present time, which, unless the public are, so to speak, warned of them, could develop into something fundamentally inimical to the interests of this country. That is one aspect of it. But, of course, no one can be satisfied with anything except a policy which not only carries us through the immediate crisis but carries us on to peace.

I went to the Russian Exhibition, and, of course, as noble Lords who have been there will know, you see this tremendous mural announcing "Above all we treasure peace", signed "Lenin". What meaning can one attach to that? I am quite sure that the ordinary Russian treasures peace as much as the ordinary Englishman. I do not doubt that. But can one really claim that the methods which Mr. Khrushchev is pursuing, or which any Communist has been pursuing, are those of a peace-loving Government? Obviously, they would rather not have war, but by their methods of foreign policy they are running great risks of producing a war. I believe that there is so much good in all peoples and in all individuals, that, in the end, we shall see a Government in Russia which can make that claim more genuinely than the present rulers. I believe that it should not be many years before we see a Government in Russia that can say, as honestly as this Government here, "Above all we treasure peace". But I believe it will be some time before that is true. In the meanwhile, great firmness will be necessary, great good will, great humanity; never forgetting that we are all, ultimately, children of the one God, whether we are Britishers or Russians.

I know that it is thoughts of that kind, however one expresses them, that govern the outlook of the Foreign Secretary. If I may say so, leaving out Party politics, I think there is no one in this country better suited to discharge those great duties which fall to him than the noble Earl, Lord Home. Like the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, I wish him well. But I do seriously hope that, somehow or other, he and his colleagues will snatch time from these terrible contemporary preoccupations to build a permanent peace for the future.

7.39 p.m.


My Lords, at this time of night one's inclination is to take one's name off the list, but I take a point of view about these matters which is rather different from that of most of the speakers this afternoon and I feel it only right to put it forward. I want to devote most of my remarks to the problem of Berlin. I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, said about the importance of concentrating on one or two particularly important topics, and that, I think, is undoubtedly the topic of the greatest importance which confronts Europe and, indeed, the world at the present time. But before doing so I should just like to support what my noble friend, Lady Summerskill, said in respect of the. I think, slightly misleading account of the Kuwait incident which the Foreign Secretary gave us. What he said was, strictly speaking, accurate; but I do not think anybody would have gathered, from what he said, that the Iraqis have a claim to this place. It may not be a very good legal one, but it is one which I understand Nuri Said himself put forward. He was acclaimed as a very great friend of this country and was certainly a considerable statesman and one of the builders of the present Iraq. If it is wrong that he ever made this claim, perhaps the noble Earl would contradict it.


My Lords, it is perfectly true that a claim was made by Iraq a long time ago—a number of countries have claims on other bits of territory—but the thing on which one must insist is that claims should not be pursued by force. That was why we acted in the Kuwait situation: because force seemed to be imminent.


I quite agree with that side of it. General Kassem's attitude is indefensible, but it was a very appropriate time, if one may say so, for the claim to be re-formulated, for the Iraqis generally to make it, because it was the time at which independence had been conceded to Kuwait, and it is undoubtedly a fact, however legally indefensible it may be, that these countries which establish their self-government and independence, as in the case of Iraq lay claim to the territories round about them which were formerly ruled over by the Power which had domination in that particular part. In our own case, the Andaman Islands had never beer under any Indian Government that had ever been, but in the negotiations for the self-government and independence of India Pandit Nehru and his colleagues advanced a very strong claim, and it was one which, as we know, was accepted by the British Government. In the same way, the Indonesians are claiming territory in New Guinea which had never, in any sort of sense, belonged to Java in the past. Apart from this, it may very well be in the best interests of the people of that part of the world that Kuwait should eventually be incorporated with Iraq.

I should also like to support what my noble Leader said in answer to the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, in regard to the speech which he himself said might be described with the adjective "fantastic", and which I feel did describe it very accurately, particularly when he went on to draw some sort of comparison between the bombing war between Germany and England—in a great war which was being carried on after declarations and in an orthodox fashion—with the murder (because it is very little more than murder) by the Portuguese authorities in Angola of all sorts of perfectly innocent people. And it is clear from the descriptions of the missionaries in those parts that educated men were just picked out and killed, on the basis that, being educated, they were more likely to cause trouble than those who were not educated. That, of course, is a type of conduct which is quite indefensible, and it seems to me a great pity that there is a section in our community at the present time which is attempting to defend it.

I felt that the whole of the analysis of the noble Marquess—I am sorry he is not here—of the situation as between what he called Western civilisation and Communism was really open to question. This tendency to see everything on one side as white and everything on the other side as black seems to me completely misleading. It is absurd, in my view, to describe Russian civilisation as something antagonistic to Western civilisation. Russian civilisation, although in many ways it has diverged since the Bolshevik Revolution, is essentially a Western civilisation, and no one who had the great pleasure of seeing the Russian Ballet at Covent Garden last week—ballet stemming from France and originally from Italy—and who had the equal pleasure of hearing Rostropovitch playing Shostakowitch's great 'Cello Concerto at the Royal Festival Hall could deny for a moment that the civilisation of Russia stems largely from the West. Putting a satellite into outer space, of course, is founded on Western European science. Even Communism itself was invented by Karl Marx, who came from the Rhineland, which I understand is claimed as the centre of Western civilisation.


My Lords, may I chime in for a moment? The walls of the Kremlin were built by an Italian architect in the fifteenth century.


I am very glad to have that support. It must be obvious to anybody who has spent a few weeks in Russia how very similar, except in regard to a small number of matters, the Russian civilisation is with our own, and I always feel that one of the worst disservices that one can do to the cause of peace and the cause of better understanding between these nations is to accentuate these differences and completely to overlook the basic similarities.

Of course the problem of Berlin is one which is particularly with us to-day. My noble friend Lord Henderson in his opening speech pointed out that almost exactly two years ago, in his opening speech in the Foreign Affairs debate at that time, he had devoted a great deal of his attention to this particular subject, and, indeed, the situation is extraordinarily similar now to what it was then. A meeting of Foreign Secretaries then had been going on at Geneva, at which the Soviets had been putting forward a plan for discussion between West and East Germany with a view to finding some solution of the Berlin problem. And Mr. Khrushchev himself had not very long before put forward the important proposal for making Berlin a free city, a proposal, of course, which had been rejected out of hand by Dr. Adenauer and which had been received almost equally coldly by the Western Powers. So the position now is almost exactly as it was then; the problem has remained almost equally untackled during this period, during which much water has flowed under the bridges.

On that occasion I devoted my own speech very largely to this matter, and I need hardly say I concentrated on the subject then because it seemed to me so very clear that it is over Germany, that the final war, if there is to be a final war, is most likely to be touched off; and Berlin is the centre piece, the very core, so to speak, of the controversy in regard to that matter at the present time. Now I do not want this evening to repeat the speech which I then made, although rereading it the other evening it seemed to me just as applicable, or even more applicable, to the conditions now as in 1959. The truth, of course, has been plain for a long time: the creation of this island of Berlin within the territory which was conceded as a Russian sphere of influence at Yalta was a blunder. It was an understandable blunder, at any rate politically, for it was intended as a temporary solution for a problem which was not expected to last for more than a very short time. And of course one of the reasons why Mr. Khrushchev, and particularly the East German Government, are so anxious to get some rather better solution of the problem than so far exists is that it is really completely anomalous that Berlin should, sixteen years after the end of the fighting, still be an island in East German territory in the way that it is.

It is less understandable strategically how it came to be left without any line of communication with the West, although I believe that General Clay, who was responsible for that, has admitted that it was a military mistake on his part. Actually the strategic blunder may not have been so bad in the end, because I think it would have made the present situation even more dangerous if we had a corridor through which we could march troops into West Berlin, a corridor which obviously would have been militarily exceedingly unsafe, and which might have tempted us to take a line of action which would have proved very dangerous.

Of course, the fact of the matter is that Berlin is not really defensible and any real attempt to defend it could be made only at the cost of starting the final war. It is only incompetent generals who refuse to face up to the realities of a military situation and continue to pour into a hopelessly indefensible city resources which would be better employed elsewhere. I think we have perhaps allowed ourselves to be deluded by the success of the airlift, which was a magnificent feat of organisation and courage. The result has been that the importance of West Berlin has been played up; its industrial importance has been built up; its population has been allowed to increase and its symbolic value to West Germany has been accentuated. Everything has been done to make it more difficult to face up to the fact that somehow or other we must extricate ourselves from this position before it is too late. The very courage and tenacity of the West Berliners themselves, which fills everybody in this country with sympathy and admiration, makes it go against the grain not to support them one hundred per cent. It is all magnificent but it is not practical politics.

What we ought to be doing instead of behaving in our present truculent way—because I can only regard the Notes delivered to Mr. Khrushchev as truculent, although I was very glad the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary himself this afternoon took a much more moderate and reasonable view—is searching desperately for some sort of solution which will preserve their way of life for the West Berliners, and yet holds out the possibility of agreement with the Soviets; and I cannot see that any such attempt has been made of a serious character by any of the Western Governments over this period of two years. After all, Mr. Khrushchev in the first instance gave us only six months to think about it, and in the end he has given us more than two years, which seems to me very reasonable indeed on his part.

I think the historian of the future, if indeed there is going to be any future to have a historian, will stigmatise this conduct of refusing to face up to the realities of the situation in respect of Berlin as little short of criminal. We ought to have taken the initiative and to have devised some workable scheme. Instead of that we have, of course, as always, left it to the Russians, who have advanced the only workable proposal which has so far been put forward.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? Could he explain to me exactly what is not workable about the present scheme?


My Lords, does the noble Lord really think that the present scheme is workable? The mere fact that it has existed for sixteen years does not mean it is a sort of workable solution to the problem. As I have pointed out, the idea at the time was that it was a temporary expedient during the time when the peace treaty was being worked out; not that it should go on for sixteen years. I do not know whether the noble Lord is intending it to go on another 50 years. It seems to me completely inadequate and indeed a very dangerous way of looking at the problem.

The only practical solution, to my mind, which has so far been proposed is that of making the City of Berlin a free city. This, of course, had already been propounded in 1959 and, generally speaking, the West has refused to have anything to do with it. But recently we had a ray of light from the United States which, at any rate to me, was very welcome, when Senator Mansfield of Montana, the Democratic majority Leader of the Senate, expressed the opinion that the West should negotiate on this sort of basis, particularly advocating that the whole of Berlin, both West and East, should be treated as a free city. As I favoured this idea myself in 1958, I was naturally very glad indeed when such a prominent politician in the United States felt it was a reasonable and practical proposal. I am not, of course, saying that Mr. Khrushchev would accept it. I am not saying that the East German Government would accept it. But it is so eminently reasonable that they could not refuse to negotiate upon it, and my complaint is that in the West no real effort has been made to get negotiations going.

I have been very glad to hear from quite a number of speakers this afternoon the emphatic opinion expressed, including the opinion of the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, that there should be negotiations, and the sooner we get them going surely the better from everybody's point of view. Senator Mansfield made some very sensible proposals for the setting up of an international garrison, perhaps a United Nations garrison during the transitional period, with guarantees by both East and West, and other matters of this kind, which certainly provide ample material for negotiation.

I must say that I find the argument of the Prime Minister's latest Note quite unsatisfactory. As I understand it, he has in effect been saying that we have been open to discuss a general peace treaty for quite a long time; but that is not really the same thing as saying we are prepared to discuss the specific proposals which Mr. Khrushchev has been putting forward. In the face of a really dangerous situation I think an argument like that really cannot be expected to cut very much ice. Nor do his fulminations about unilateral action carry greater conviction, because, as we know, it is now over two years since Mr. Khrushchev first put forward his specific proposals.

Even from the narrowest and most practical point of view the attitude is short-sighted, because unilateral action on the part of the U.S.S.R. does not involve them in any actual war. In effect they would be leaving it to the West to take the first steps which might result in that fearful calamity, and indeed it is significant that sabre rattling has started. Does the sabre-rattling mean we have made up our minds to fire the first shot if we think fit, or does it mean we are just trying to frighten the enemy by making a loud noise? Or does it mean that we are really going to initiate negotiations under the shield of this rather truculent attitude?

I now feel a little relieved, after hearing the Foreign Secretary to-day adopting a rather more moderate and conciliatory attitude. Of course, I realise that to negotiate about Berlin is difficult if not impossible without bringing in the East Germans, and that that involves considerable diplomatic difficulties with Dr. Adenauer. It means, in effect, the sacrifice of a pawn in the diplomatic game—perhaps more than a pawn. But would not this be a wise course to adopt if it holds out the possibility of winning the queen of peace in exchange? In any event, as a matter of practical foreign politics, it is quite absurd to go on ignoring diplomatically what is de facto a strong Power, a strong industrial Power, a Power with going on for 20 million people—perhaps potentially the fifth or sixth Power in Europe. West Germany, too, will have to accept this actual situation in the end and to negotiate, whatever Dr. Adenauer may be saying now—that is, of course, if he really wishes reunification between East and West to take place. I do not myself believe that Germany, her present rulers at any rate, envisages a military re-conquest of the East.

The State Council of Eastern Germany has indeed appealed, only within the last fortnight or so, to the West German Government to agree to negotiate on a peace settlement and on the terms of a reunification. This brings us to the greater problem which was at all times above and behind the problem of Berlin—namely, the problem of reunification. There are many who think that the peace of Europe requires the continued division of Germany into two separate States. I do not believe that that is a wise policy—indeed, on a long-term view I believe that it would be destructive from the very point of view which its adherents have in mind in advocating it: that is, the cause of peace. You cannot keep a great people permanently disunited in this way, and, with all their faults, the German people are one of the great peoples of the world. Moreover, the German people have a mystical temperament which makes a policy of disunion of this kind a peculiarly dangerous one. If they do not re-unite peacefully, which must mean by negotiation, in the end there will undoubtedly be an attempt to bring about reunion by means of war. As with Samson, it would result in bringing the whole house (of Europe) down not only on their own heads but on our heads as well.

Of course, on the short term and for a time, there is a great deal to be said for keeping Germany in two States. One can well understand that for the U.S.S.R., whose lands have been twice devastated within one generation and whose peoples have been decimated, that was, and had to be, a cardinal policy during the years immediately after the war. I think it was bound to be so. But already the U.S.S.R. is so strong that the fear upon which that policy is based should be passing away. Shortly it will become altogether a thing of the past, and Germany will no longer look like being a danger to the East.

It is enough, I think, to indicate that even when the problem of Berlin has been removed, considerable difficulties will remain to be solved before a final settlement of the German problem is in sight. The problem of Berlin is not yet even in the initial stages of solution. I suggest that the line of progress is to tackle that which is immediately before us, which will at any rate, if it can be done, give us a base from which we can go forward to handle the larger problems which lie so much further ahead.

8.5 p.m.


My Lords, we are reaching the end of a long and interesting debate. I think that almost everybody in the debate, from my noble friend, Lord Henderson, onwards, has spoken with a deep sense of responsibility and of the gravity of the situation which confronts us. As is quite understandable, a large part of the debate has been in connection with Germany and Berlin, and grave words were used by a number of speakers. My noble friend Lord Henderson referred to the "grave crisis", "deep concern", to Khrushchev's having "thrown a bombshell"; and the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary, in a speech which was full of restraint and understanding, spoke of "international anarchy". I was much taken with one expression that he used in his speech, when he said that one false step over Berlin could easily plunge the Continent into war. I would make only one correction and say "world" instead of "Continent". But it was a great comfort to me, and I think to most of us, that he realises this in his position.

This is a difficult debate in which to take part. I fully agree with the noble Lord, Lord Strang, in what he said explicitly and what the noble Lord said by implication—namely, that international negotiations are, at best, extremely difficult and delicate, that this is especially the case in negotiating with the Soviet Union, and therefore, generally speaking, everyone is well advised to speak with restraint in giving detailed advice to the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary. I am glad that the Foreign Secretary has had remarkably little detailed advice as to how he should proceed with his negotiations. I was glad also that the Foreign Secretary agreed, and appreciated, that there were understandable fears of Germany.

I say—I have said it so many times before in these debates—that unless you can see the other person's point of view, even if you do not agree with it, you are not really in a position to carry on successful negotiations. I have sometimes referred to chess as a useful accomplishment in negotiations; but, at any rate, short of chess, I think you must really see what the other person has in mind and what are his views, even if you do not at all agree with what those views are. One other thing I would say is that I was glad that he recognises that rigidity in negotiation is dangerous to both sides.

I will make only a few comments on the German question. The first is that, in my opinion, not only is Russia actuated by fear of a militarily powerful reunited Germany—she certainly is—but there are other factors that I think we ought to take into account. She has considerable internal strains, resulting in pressure on Khrushchev to take a stiff line. I do not want to elaborate that, but I think that that is generally appreciated. There is also considerable evidence of disagreement with China; and here again there is some pressure on him to take a stiffer line, perhaps, than he might otherwise take.

Furthermore, there is the unsatisfactory situation of East Germany. Nobody can rest content with the situation there, certainly not the East Germans. I suppose that most noble Lords receive a periodical from Western Germany, and in one of the latest of their periodicals they point out that every year East Germany is losing to the West a population which is the equivalent of one of our very large towns. In one year it is the equivalent of a town the size of Bournemouth; in another year it is the equivalent of a town of the size of Swansea, and so on. Year by year they are losing populations of a quarter of a million or more. That is a very serious thing from the point of view of East Germany and of the Communist regime as a whole. It is therefore quite understandable, even if, as I said before, one does not agree with it, that this is a situation which they feel they must do something about.

A number of noble Lords, particularly on this side of the House, have indulged in reminiscences, and I hope that I may be permitted to indulge in one very short one. In 1946–47 I was invited to go to Poland to discuss with the Polish Government the question of the reconstruction of Warsaw. Warsaw was then in such a condition that they were in two minds whether it was worth while building up Warsaw at all, or whether they should start building up a capital city elsewhere. That was their situation. I talked to a great many people, and I found that every single family I spoke to had lost one or more persons in the war; not as a result of the fighting, but as a result of the action of the Germans. I do not want to enlarge on that, but it is understandable that a country like Poland should have a legitimate fear of Germany rising again and starting up a war of revenge, or for the purpose of annexation of the territories of which the Polish Government are now in possession. I think that these are things which we have to understand.

In these circumstances, I think it would be dangerous to regard the position as a game of poker, or to see who can bluff best. I do not suggest for a moment that the noble Earl regards it in that way, but I have seen a tendency on the part of some of the Press, and particularly some of the American Press, to regard this as a game of brinkmanship; of seeing who can go nearest to the edge of the precipice. I believe one thing is certain: that is, that Khrushchev intends to recognise East Germany—or, rather, to enter into some kind of agreement with East Germany—before the year is out. That is a factor which we must take into account in our negotiations.

I am not presuming to give the Government any advice. For one thing, the position does not rest alone with our Government. We have Allies, and we have to work together with them. But I suggest that it would be wise, perhaps, not to rush the negotiations. Let the German Election pass. There is an atmosphere at the present time in which all Parties have to take a certain line, in view of the forthcoming Election, which might be toned down when the Election is over. We have that kind of experience ourselves. In my view, it would be much easier to get a common line with our Allies after the German Election than at the present time.

I spoke earlier of the fears of the Russians and the Poles of a reunited and strong, military Germany. I would express my own view that they have under present conditions little to fear from such a Germany. So long as Germany is integrated into N.A.T.O., and its forces form part of N.A.T.O., they cannot constitute a serious threat to anybody. One of the offers which I believe has been made in the past, and which I imagine is still open, is to give guarantees that Germany would never commit an act of aggression against anybody without bringing to the support of the country attacked, and against herself, those countries, even, which form part of N.A.T.O.

The true problem to be determined is that sooner or later Germany must be reunited and the terms of a Peace Treaty negotiated. I think everybody will accept that. In the course of that Peace Treaty we shall have to settle the frontiers of the reunited Germany and of Poland, particularly, and the Oder-Neisse line. So long as that is outstanding, and so long as it is possible for Germany to claim a revision of those frontiers and for Poland to fear that there will be a substantial revision, I think that of itself constitutes a source of danger. But I hope that that is a matter that could be dealt with in the course of the negotiations.

In the conditions of international anarchy such as the Foreign Secretary described, it is a matter for deep distress, and certainly for great disappointment, that the United Nations Organisation is powerless to do more than it has done. It has had moderate success in certain directions, but the high hopes which many of us entertained when the United Nations Organisation was formed have been doomed to disappointment. I hope that the Government will take to heart the powerful and moving speech of my noble friend Lord Attlee, with the support that he has had from my noble friend Lord Longford, and will do what they can to eliminate the use or threat of force in international relations, and to make the United Nations Organisation capable of adjudicating upon disputes or disagreements between nations and of enforcing their decisions.

The House must have been impressed by my noble friend's wise appeal that we, the British Commonwealth, should take the initiative. My noble friend Lord Longford has put some pressure on the noble Marquess who is going to reply to make a pronouncement on world government. I imagine that my noble friend is a little optimistic in expecting such a pronouncement at this time of the night and at this stage in our history; but I hope that in the not too distant future it will be possible to hear from the Government officially what their view is about world government, and to receive some encouragement that they may be able to take the initiative in this matter. This is not a wild dream, because we have had great encouragement from specific statements made by the Prime Minister, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer (when he was Foreign Secretary), by the Leader of the House, and, in a more moderate form, even by the Foreign Secretary himself; and other Members of the Government have from time to time expressed agreement with the idea.

I do not think it is too much to ask now, when the policy of world government was never more needed than it is to-day, that we should have some attempt at carrying the matter a stage further. It is, in my view, especially opportune, having regard to what has already been said about the recent resolutions of Commonwealth Prime Ministers on disarmament. We have also been encouraged by the Foreign Secretary's statement that we should use the influence of our country everywhere to maintain law and order—and that is exactly the object of world government. Cannot we best do this by taking the initiative and helping in creating an effective United Nations Organisation?

I have also been very much encouraged by the Foreign Secretary's assurance that he would persevere in negotiating on the abolition of nuclear tests and on disarmament. I am bound to say that a great deal of patience will be required in this perseverance. I believe that we may have to take some risks—calculated risks—if we are to achieve any agreement at all. At the moment, with the intervention of the Troika, I can see great difficulties; but I am very glad indeed that the Foreign Secretary is not giving up hope and that he will persevere.

I hope the noble Earl will feel satisfied with this debate and will be encouraged and stimulated by the general support he has received. It is not often that he will receive such general support from all sides of the House as he has to-day in this debate; but we realise that times are grave, and I hope we have not embarrassed him too much by what has been said. On him, but not on him alone, is a very heavy burden. We all hope that the present clouds will lift soon, that we may look forward to happier times in the future, and that he will take advantage of his great opportunities of becoming a really great Foreign Secretary by taking the opening steps, so that our lives are not repeatedly darkened by international threats and crises; and I regard the opening steps as the next stage in the development of the United Nations Organisation.

8.25 p.m.


My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has so properly said, all noble Lords who have spoken in this long and interesting debate have spoken with a deep sense of responsibility. They have spoken realising that we are debating foreign affairs at a more critical moment in our history than we have experienced for many years. As the noble Lord, Lord Rea, said, the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, makes the field for discussion so wide that almost any subject can be raised, and for that reason, the task of the Government representative in winding up is not altogether enviable. But once again I should like to express the thanks of Her Majesty's Government, and my own personal thanks, to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, for introducing this motion, and also for the manner in which he has once again done so—always with restraint, with thoughtfulness, and with a sense of history.

Now, my Lords, many points have been discussed, and I hope your Lordships will be indulgent if I am not able adequately to reply to all of them. On the subject of Berlin, as your Lordships will have noticed in the speech of my noble friend the Foreign Secretary, the noble Earl himself did not propose to comment on the observations made by noble Lords. Clearly Under-Secretaries should not rush in where Secretaries of State have decided not to tread, so I will not do so. However, I will say this: that I have no doubt that I am speaking in agreement with the Foreign Secretary when I say that the observations which have been made this afternoon on the subject of Berlin will all be considered with the care and the respect which they deserve.

I remember the remark of the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, in a speech which, if I may say so, I found particularly interesting, reminding us that this Berlin crisis was the making of Mr. Khrusihchev. I think we should all bear that in mind. Many noble Lords have referred to the flight from East Berlin, and indeed this is a remarkable and disturbing phenomenon. Last week, if I may cap the figures given by Lord Silkin, no fewer than 6,000 Germans crossed from one side to the other. What does that mean? It gives emphasis to the great gulf that yawns between the ideologies of the West, indeed, the non-Iron Curtain countries, and of Russia. And although I would echo the words of the Foreign Secretary, that we should like to be friends of the Soviet Union—of course, we want to be the friends of everybody—at the same time I am sure the Foreign Secretary would agree with me when I say that we must not for one minute forget what Communism stands for, what ideals it represents.

In a speech last night, to which I had the privilege of listening, given by our Ambassador-Designate to Washington, Mr. Ormsby-Gore said some things which struck me deeply. With your Lordships' permission, I will quote a very short passage from his remarks: Western civilisation, which is now on trial, believes that individual man needs far more than physical satisfaction and nothing that has happened since the October Revolution in 1917 causes me to doubt this. He also said: I know of no more striking statement of this fundamental conflict of ideas than that contained in Dostoievsky's parable of the Grand Inquisitor, which appears in The Brothers Karamazov. There the claim of all totalitarians is made, that mankind's real cry is, 'Make us your slaves, but feed us.' I do not suppose that any of your Lordships need reminding of this fundamental battle of ideas, but sometimes I cannot help wondering whether there is not a risk, both in this country and in the United States, of forgetting what the conflict is about and of thinking too much in terms of material well-being. I submit to your Lordships that if our great American Allies and we of the West lose sight of what are the real values for which we stand, we have little hope of resisting the cancerous spread of world Communism.

I will try to address myself to some of the points which have been raised in the course of this debate. As always, I was interested and impressed by the observations of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and by his obvious deep sincerity in putting forward his views. I think that all of us would wish ultimately to achieve a goal similar to that about which he, Lord Longford and Lord Silkin spoke. But, as I have said on previous occasions, I believe that that goal can be achieved only by the improvement and strengthening of the United Nations Organisation. I believe that that is the only vehicle we have through which to work for this aim.

The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, was good enough to say that he did not expect a pronouncement from me this evening. Indeed, he is right, but he may perhaps take comfort from this. I personally have sympathy with his ideas, and I believe that all men of good will who are capable of serious thought also have much in common with the noble Lords who have spoken on world government. But I would just add this. I think that the hopes of world government, if the "Troika" came in, are indeed slender.


My Lords, before the noble Marquess passes on from world government, can he say whether he is going to answer the questions I ventured to put to him, or have they now been disposed of?


My Lords, the questions have not been disposed of, but I was relieved of the responsibility of replying to them through the kindness of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin.


My Lords, at the risk of being called to order by my noble friend the Acting Leader of the Opposition, I do not think that my noble friend gave an absolutely blank cheque to the noble Marquess to say nothing whatever about the very concrete questions I put to him.


My Lords, whether the noble Lord gave it to me or not, I took it as such.


My Lords, I thought it was perhaps a little unfair to ask the noble Marquess to commit himself tonight. To-morrow will do, if he likes to think over the difficulty over night.


My Lords, I apologise to your Lordships. As I think the noble Earl is fully aware, I do not wish to treat this with levity, but it is a very long subject, into which I could go at considerable length. I think it suffices to say to-night that, as the noble Earl knows, our efforts towards disarmament in fact comprehend much of what he wants. The idea of an international police force is an element in our proposals. Of that he is well aware. Perhaps he will be satisfied this evening if I do not go further with him into this interesting topic, but at any other time I am perfectly available to discuss it further.


My Lords, I am bound to say that I cannot imagine a more suitable time to discuss a major question of foreign affairs than a debate on foreign affairs. We are not likely to have a better opportunity. I do not think that the time is absurdly late. Here we are, if the noble Marquess feels able to dwell on this topic. He says that he could speak of it at considerable length. We ask for only five minutes.


My Lords, does the noble Marquess's negative attitude go for my specific questions also?


My Lords, if the noble Baroness would give me time, I will come to her. May I deal with the delightful and persuasive remarks of the noble Earl? I think that the time is late and I do not propose to pursue this subject further this evening.

Several noble Lords spoke on Spain and Portugal. I am sorry that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, is unable still to be here. He apologised for his inability to stay on. I listened to his speech with the greatest interest. Perhaps I misunderstood the thought which he wanted to convey, but it seemed to me that he was almost suggesting that one should make any friend in time of need, that one should go to any part in a storm. I do not suppose that the noble Marquess can in fact have meant that. I am sure that among our friends there should be room for different forms of government. That I can see perfectly and fully appreciate, but at the same time I find myself wholly in agreement with the noble Lard, Lord Henderson, when he said in the course of his speech: It is in Britain's interest to use its moral authority in favour of the oppressed. I hope that I am not misreporting him. With that, I certainly have no argument.

But when we come to the specific question of Angola, surely the first important thing is to be fully aware of the facts, and up to now I think we know far less than all the facts. I was a little surprised when the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, referred to the "cold-shouldering" of Spain and Portugal, and said we had treated them as if they smelt. Surely that is a terrible exaggeration, to put it mildly. We received in this country Señor Castiella and had valuable and useful conversations with him; and the Foreign Secretary has visited Spain and Portugal. Private conversations which take place between the statesmen of two countries are confidential, but I think that noble Lords in all quarters of the House know the Foreign Secretary sufficiently well to be satisfied that, if there were matters which he regretted, and which the Government regretted, he would not fail to bring them in no uncertain terms to the attention of the Ministers with whom he was speaking. And, in fact, it has been made perfectly clear on many occasions that we do not share the same ideas on colonialism as the Portuguese. But we must be sensible about these things, and I see the point that the noble Marquess was trying to make.

The real conflict is the conflict between the forces who stand for freedom against Communism, and there may be variants within the camp of the free. At the same time I do not believe that it can ever be wise for Her Majesty's Government to adopt policies which appear to savour of opportunism, by supporting régimes which in themselves are bad, but may appear to have a desirable quality in that they are opposed to Communism. If we do this, I submit that we shall lose the respect of the uncommitted world. Where we disagree, I am sure it is right that we should say so; but at the same time, surely we should take every opportunity of an exchange of views rather than indulge in public castigation.


My Lords, if I may interrupt the noble Marquess, he spoke of the lack of news about Angola. I believe it was announced in another place that a British diplomat—was it not the Consul-General in Lisbon?—was to visit Angola. I should like to know whether that official has yet reported, and if so, whether the report will be published; and if not, when he is expected to report.


My Lords, I put this point in my speech, and I was about to rise to ask whether there is any further information and, if so, whether it will be given to Parliament.


My Lards, at present there is no new information available, but so soon as there is my noble friend the Foreign Secretary will see that noble Lords are made aware of it. The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, is perfectly correct: at this moment the Consul-General and two others are visiting the Northern territory of Angola.

There was an intervention by the noble Lord, Lord Killearn, when he touched on the subject of Indonesia, and my noble friend the Foreign Secretary stated that I would say a few words on the matter. I am sorry that Lord Killearn is not in his place, nor is the noble Lord, Lord Rea, both of whom appeared interested in this subject. I will just say that Her Majesty's Government are very much interested in the development of Indonesia, and wish to be on friendly terms with this important country of some 95 million people, in a position of great strategic importance to the British Commonwealth, and one which can exercise great influence in South-East Asia. We have for some time been in close touch with the Indonesians, and I am happy to say that in recent months even closer contacts have been established.

Earlier this month, as my noble friend the Foreign Secretary told your Lordships, we received a visit from General Nasution; he had conversations with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the Minister of Defence and the Chiefs of Staff, and had an opportunity of meeting a number of British people of all sorts and kinds. In addition to General Nasution, we hope that we may receive visits from several other Indonesian Ministers in the near future. It may also be of interest to your Lordships to know that we recently sent a trade mission out to Indonesia, and a report on that trade mission was published in a publication of the Federation of British Industries, released on June 29. This is a stimulating and illuminating document for those who are interested in the subject of trade with Indonesia.

A number of noble Lords spoke about the European Economic Community. As the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said in his opening, remarks, this is a matter which was discussed at great length on the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Casey, on the subject of the Commonwealth, so I do not propose to go into great detail or to make long comments on what was said about the Common Market. However, I should like just to say this. I listened with great interest to the thoughtful speech of the noble Lord, Lord Strang, in which he drew attention to his thoughts on the subject of the political content of the Treaty of Rome. I am quite certain that the noble Lord did not wish to give the impression that if Her Majesty's Government were to apply for membership there would be any suggestion of perfidy. I think that the object of the noble Lord's speech was honestly to declare what he believes to be a matter which requires close study and great consideration by the British people. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Strang, that Her Majesty's Government are taking into account, and have taken into account, the political implications of the Treaty of Rome.

Many noble Lords have spoken on the subject of Kuwait, and I am sure that it was a matter of great satisfaction to Her Majesty's Government to receive the unconditional support of the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, gave as a general warning "Do not overstay your welcome". Certainly the Government are aware of the risks involved. The noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, asked me a question (in fact, she asked me a number of questions, but this one seemed to me to be of particular importance) about the presence of British troops in Kuwait. I would refer the noble Baroness to the words of my noble friend.

The important thing we have to remember is that we must guarantee a security on which the Ruler himself can rely. Within that context, I can assure the noble Baroness, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, that we should welcome any international solution that could be found which would conform with the Ruler of Kuwait's ideas of security. As the noble Baroness told us, the Arab League are meeting again tomorrow. We shall have to wait and see how things turn out. But let me assure the noble Baroness once again that certainly there would be no resistance whatsoever on the part of Her Majesty's Government to finding any international solution which would guarantee the security of Kuwait as the Ruler sees it. I hope that that will set the mind of the noble Baroness at rest.

On the subject of Laos, little was said, but what was said must I feel have given great encouragement to my noble friend; for from all sides of the House, and again from the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition, there was unqualified support for the great efforts that our Foreign Secretary is making, and to the patience and wisdom that he has shown. I do not wish to detain your Lordships much longer. I should like to refer to one observation made by the noble Earl, Lord Longford—nothing to do with world government.


That must have been accidental.


It was coincidental. The noble Earl referred to the hysterical reporting in the Press about Gagarin and about its running down of some of the American efforts. I agree with him wholeheartedly. It is reprehensible, and I am glad the noble Earl thought fit to squeeze in those observations while he was applying his mind so directly to the question of world government.


I am obliged to the noble Marquess, but I would exchange such compliments for one answer on world government at any time.


Perhaps we shall be able to do a deal yet. I had not intended to speak at such length. In conclusion, if I may say this without embarrassing him, I feel that the Foreign Secretary must have gained strength from this debate. I think your Lordships know full well that we have a firm hand at the helm, and that that firm hand is directed by a fair, a clear, and an honest mind.

8.50 p.m.


My Lords, I would not dare to make a speech at ten minutes to nine, when the Parliamentary Under-Secretary declined to make one at twenty-five minutes to nine, and there are two more Orders on the Paper to be dealt with. I should like to make one general remark. I think—at any rate I hope—the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary feels that this debate has been helpful to him. We must all realise that he has some anxious weeks ahead of him, and while the House will have dispersed he will live with the troubles. My own view is that nearly all the speeches that have been made this afternoon have given some measure of support to what the Foreign Secretary is seeking to do. He must realise that we on this side of the House have given him more than general support.

I think the House, as I have said once before, can congratulate itself that we now have the Foreign Secretary in this Chamber. All his interventions enhance our discussions, and give them a far greater authority than they had earlier. I hope the Foreign Secretary will be able to proceed along the lines he indicated to the House this afternoon, and I think he will realise that the three broad principles which he laid down as the under-basis of British foreign policy are fully accepted on this side of the House. Indeed, they have been the basis of British foreign policy for a long time, even before the United Nations was set up. Indeed, the reason why we are having this position of crisis to-day is that, unfortunately, there are other members of the United Nations who do not work to the same principles. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.