§ 2.8 p.m.
§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved yesterday by the Earl of Home:—That this House takes note of the International Situation.
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE)
My Lords, my noble friend, the Foreign Secretary, referred briefly yesterday to the situation in the Congo. He thought it would be useful if I were to give your Lordships a personal account of my short visit there last month. Before doing so, however, I should like to remind the House of the course which events have taken since the Congo gained its independence on June 30, 1960.
The calm and joy of the independence celebrations were quickly succeeded by a mutiny in the Force Publique which finally led to a state of general anarchy. With the support of the Head of State, President Kasavubu, Prime Minister Lumumba called for United Nations intervention. On July 14, 1960, a resolution was adopted by the Security Council authorising the Secretary-General to provide the Congolese Government with such technical and military assistance for which they had asked. Within a short time a small force had arrived in the Congo. Its military rôle at that time was principally to hold the ring, to stop excesses and to prevent tribal warfare.
The policy of Her Majesty's Government towards the Congo has remained unaltered since its independence. This policy has been to permit the Congo to enjoy its independence within the frontiers of June 30, 1960, and to allow the Congolese to settle their own affairs without external interference through the medium of a central Parliament. The basic constitution of the Congo is the Loi Fondamentale, which was negotiated in Brussels before the granting of independence. It is only provisional and it is by no means a perfect instrument. It is notably incomplete in its lack of financial provisions for the allocation of revenue between the provinces and the Central Government. The Loi Fondamentale lays down the relative positions of the Central Government and those of 442 the Provincial Governments and it is about this that Mr. Tshombe is in dispute with the central authority to-day.
On August 9, 1960, a further resolution on the Congo was passed by the Security Council. This noted with satisfaction the progress madein respect of the territory of the Republic of the Congo other than the province of the Katanga".It called upon the Government of Belgium immediately to withdraw its troops from Katanga and declared that entry of the United Nations force into that province was necessary for the implementation of the original United Nations resolution of July 14 to which I have already referred. This second resolution reaffirmed that the United Nations should not intervene in any way to influence the outcome of any internal conflict, constitutional or otherwise. Later in August United Nations troops entered the Katanga.
In September, 1960, President Kasavubu dismissed Prime Minister Lumumba and appointed Mr. Ileo in his place. This successor Government only lasted a week before it succumbed to the military coup of General Mobutu. Your Lordships will remember that General Mobutu, in a desperate attempt to contain Russian subversion throughout the Congo, tried to neutralise all political factions and rule through a number of commissioners. On September 20 the General Assembly passed by 70 votes to none, the Soviet bloc abstaining, a resolution calling on all States to refrain from the direct or indirect supply of arms to the Congo, except through the United Nations. The significance of this and its timing, the day after Mr. Khrushchev arrived in New York, is clear for all to see.
Throughout the events of the following months runs the shadowy figure of Mr. Lumumba. Sometimes he was under house arrest, sometimes at liberty, sometimes in Leopoldville, sometimes elsewhere. On December 3 he was finally brought to Leopoldville a prisoner. A month or so later he was transferred to the Katanga where he was subsequently killed. At this time, too, the rival Government of Mr. Gizenga was set up in Stanleyville—not a rival provincial Government, but a Government which claimed to be the 443 Government of the whole Congo. It existed there until August of this year and a number of nations supported it.
The existence of this rival Government presented the United Nations with a most difficult problem, for a majority of the members of the United Nations, including Her Majesty's Government, continued to support the Leopoldville régime, whereas others supported that at Stanleyville because they regarded Mr. Gizenga as the heir to Mr. Lumumba. So long as these two rival régimes existed it was virtually impossible for the United Nations in the Congo to follow any coherent policy.
In February of this year General Mobutu's commissioners gave way to a provisional Central Government presided over by Mr. Ileo. At this stage, following deep and widespread dissatisfaction over the disruptive influence of mercenaries and other foreigners in the Katanga, the United Nations passed on February 21 the resolution which is the mandate for its activities in the Congo since that date. I will quote the crucial part of this resolution.The Security Council urges that the United Nations take immediately all appropriate measures to prevent the occurrence of civil war in the Congo, including arrangements for cease-fires, the halting of all military operations, the prevention of clashes, and the use of force, if necessary, in the last resort.On the question of the use of force, the United Kingdom Representative to the United Nations specifically stated that Her Majesty's Government understood this part of the resolution to mean that there would be, and I quote,no question of using force until agreement had been sought by negotiation, conciliation and other peaceful means".He reaffirmed that the resolution of the Security Council and the General Assembly had established that the mission of the United Nations in the Congo is to assist in the maintenance of law and order and to safeguard the unity, territorial integrity and political independence in the Congo. This remains a cardinal point, as I have already explained, of Her Majesty's Government's policy.
In March of this year it was agreed to hold in Tananarive a Conference of the provisional Central Government and the leaders of the Provincial Govern- 444 ments. An agreement appeared to have been reached but this was subsequently disavowed. It appeared that agreement had been reached on some form of confederal constitution, but this seemed to mean different things to each of the participants.
On April 21 a further attempt was made to reach agreement on the constitutional problem, and for nearly eight weeks a Conference was in session at Coquilhatville. In the course of this Conference Mr. Tshombe's attitude so exasperated the central authorities that he was placed under arrest. At the end of the Conference Mr. Tshombe was brought to Leopoldville where he was eventually released after he and the Central Government had signed an agreement about the relative constitutional position of the Katanga and the Central Government. As soon as Mr. Tshombe returned to the Katanga he denounced this agreement. Continuing in this mood, Mr. Tshombe refused to participate in the meeting of Parliamentarians which was held at Lovanium University in July under the guardianship of the United Nations. In the absence of delegates from the Katanga, agreement was reached on the election of officers to both Houses and subsequently on the creation of a new Central Government under the premiership of Mr. Adoula. This Government took up its functions on August 2.
One of the most important achievements of this Parliamentary reconciliation was the disappearance of the rival Stanleyville régime. Its leader, Mr. Gizenga, accepted the post of Vice-Premier in the Leopoldville Central Government and some of his followers also received portfolios. Mr. Adoula was then faced with the position of being the legally elected Prime Minister of the Central Congolese Government with five out of the six provinces co-operating, while only the Katanga stood aside. In the view of Mr. Adoula, as he explained it to me, the Loi Fondamentale remains the constitution of the Congo at present and only Parliament can revise it. If Mr. Tshombe, the provincial Prime Minister of the Katanga, is not satisfied with the provisions of the Loi Fondamentale then the place for him to seek its amendment must be in Parliament. Unless Mr. Tshombe sends his 445 Katangese members to attend Parliament he cannot state his case or seek the amendment of the Constitution. Both Mr. Adoula and Mr. Bomboko separately made it clear to me that the final form of the Congolese Constitution had still to be evolved. First, they said, let Mr. Tshombe and the Katangese co-operate and then the Congolese people as a whole would together, through Parliament, decide whether they wanted a unitary, a confederal or some form of federal Government.
I will now describe what took place in the Congo at the end of August and my visit to Leopoldville last month. We had received conflicting accounts and rumours about the United Nations action in Elisabethville on August 28. The United Nations intervention of that date was brief and misleadingly successful. With the co-operation of Mr. Tshombe, a considerable number of mercenaries were arrested in the Katanga without resistance. About 100 took to the bush. It was not clear in London what was going on, nor was it clear what prospects there were of reconciliation between the Central and Provincial Governments. Sir Patrick Dean, Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, was instructed to ask Mr. Hammarskjoeld what was the exact scope and purpose of the United Nations intervention; to find out whether force had been used before other means had been exhausted; and to express the opinion of Her Majesty's Government that there was no mandate for the removal of essential foreign civilians which might lead to a breakdown of the administration of the Katanga.
Sir Patrick Dean saw Mr. Hammarskjoeld several times in the course of the next week to discuss the position. Mr. Hammarskjoeld insisted that nothing that had taken place on August 28 went beyond the terms of the United Nations resolution of February 21. On September 7, after consultation with my noble friend the Foreign Secretary, the Prime Minister decided to send a member of the Government on a fact-finding mission to the Congo the following week. It was originally proposed that I should leave London on September 12.
Meanwhile Mr. Hammarskjoeld had decided to visit the Congo and at the invitation of the Central Government he arrived in Leopoldville on Septem- 446 ber 13. While the late Secretary-General was still in the air, United Nations forces early on the morning of September 13 took over Elisabethville radio station and General Post Office as a preliminary to the arrest of the remaining mercenaries. Your Lordships will remember that it was this action which started the shooting. I do not suppose that anyone will ever know for certain how the first shots came to be fired.
It seemed to us in London, so far as we could judge from the reports which we had received, that the action taken by the United Nations was aimed at the forcible overthrow of the provincial Katangan Government, and therefore went beyond the terms of the February 21 resolution. Our Ambassador in Leopoldville was therefore instructed to see Mr. Hammarskjoeld on the evening of September 13 to inquire about the scope and purpose of the further United Nations action. On September 14 I left for Leopoldville with instructions to acquaint myself with the facts at first hand and to report to Her Majesty's Government, to reassure the Government of the Congo that the policy of Her Majesty's Government remained unaltered, and to impress upon Mr. Hammarskjoeld that Her Majesty's Government were shocked at the outbreak of fighting in the Katanga and to urge upon him the necessity of bringing the fighting to a close.
I arrived at Leopoldville on the morning of September 15, where I was greeted by Foreign Minister Bomboko. Within 24 hours of my arrival I was able to have meetings with President Kasavubu, Mr. Bomboko and Prime Minister Adoula, who was accompanied by Vice-Premier Gizenga. The Ambassador accompanied me to all these meetings. In all my conversations with the Congolese Ministers I reassured them that it was the wish of Her Majesty's Government to see the Congo independent, united, rich and strong; that we did not support nor ever had supported Mr. Tshombe's pretentions to secession; and that Her Majesty's Government had supported the operation of the United Nations in the Congo and this was costing us a great deal of money. The Government and the people of the United Kingdom had, however, been very shocked by the use of force in what 447 appeared to be an attempt to destroy the Provincial Government of the Katanga.
Prime Minister Adoula insisted that Mr. Tshombe and his Provincial Government had broken the Loi Fondamentale, and he referred throughout to the Katanga as being in a state of rebellion against the Central Government. He insisted that he had done everything in his power to promote conciliation and to encourage Mr. Tshombe to take his part in the constitutional, Parliamentary life of the country. I was impressed by the balance and moderation of Prime Minister Adoula who is a man who measures his words and expresses himself with great clarity. I am afraid that nothing which I said convinced the Prime Minister that the policy of Her Majesty's Government which I had enunciated was not at variance with what he said were their actions. He instanced, for example, articles in the British Press which appeared to him to support the independence of Katanga. Again I was unsuccessful in convincing Mr. Adoula that Her Majesty's Government did not and could not control the British Press.
From my talk with Mr. Adoula I went straight to see Mr. Hammarskjoeld on the morning of September 16. I went, as your Lordships can imagine, with two main purposes in mind: first, to try to get from Mr. Hammarskjoeld personally a more precise account of the events of August 28 and September 13; and, secondly, to explain to him how shocked Her Majesty's Government were at the trend of events since September 13. I was therefore very pleased when Mr. Hammarskjoeld said to me straight away that he thought that the most important thing was to achieve a cease fire. He showed me a message which he had drafted for transmission to Mr. Tshombe proposing a meeting, and he told me that he had reached the conclusion that Ndola was the most suitable place to meet.
I told him at once that I was sure Her Majesty's Government would entirely support his decision and that would seek early approval for the use of Ndola both from Her Majesty's Government and from the Federal Government. Mr. Hammarskjoeld's plan did not envisage that Mr. Adoula should participate in the meeting. I asked the Secretary-General whether he thought 448 there was still not a chance that Mr. Adoula might also be brought in from the start. Mr. Hammarskjoeld did not think that this would be possible, but undertook to discuss it with the Congolese Prime Minister before his message was despatched to Mr. Tshombe.
Mr. Hammarskjoeld then explained to me the origins of the United Nations actions on September 13. He said that in the opinion of his officers on the spot it was necessary to act urgently against the remaining foreign mercenaries in the Katanga. The operation of August 28 which had been endorsed by Mr. Tshombe had only been partially successful. Intimidation against the United Nations had been increasing and there had been instances of arson, stone throwing and incitement to violence. There was a danger that with the assistance of these foreigners an organised underground movement might be built up. Mr. Hammarskjoeld made it clear to me that the object of the action of September 13 was to complete the work of August 28, and that no further instructions had therefore been required from him. Now I must tell your Lordships that in both my long conversations with Mr. Hammarskjoeld I spoke with absolute frankness, and it is my conviction that he spoke with equal frankness to me. Although he did not disagree with my views that his officers had made a quite erroneous appreciation of the resistance that they would encounter, he fully accepted responsibility for the action that they had taken.
As the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary told your Lordships yesterday, and it was certainly my impression also, mistakes were made; and I believe that Mr. Hammarskjoeld also shared this view. I emphasised, however, that Her Majesty's Government were not so much concerned with the past as with the achievement of a peaceful reconciliation between Mr. Tshombe and the central Government. I said that I had reluctantly formed the impression that there was an insufficient desire among certain of his officers to bring about the ceasefire. They seemed to me to be carrying out a punitive war, rather than a precautionary police operation.
I also felt obliged to draw the Secretary-General's attention to certain inconsistencies, as I saw them, between 449 his account of the events in the Katanga and the reports which we had had from Elisabethville. There were Press and radio statements attributed to United Nations officers in charge of operations in the Katanga which seemed to me to run directly counter to what he himself had stated to me was the position of the United Nations vis-à-vis the Central Government. Also they had said that the United Nations action was begun at the request of the Central Government, which the Secretary-General had denied. In order to be precise, I undertook to prepare for the Secretary-General a document setting out in detail the points which had worried me.
At the end of this meeting I had formed the impression that many of the apparently more outrageous aspects of the United Nations action as we had seen them from London were inaccurate or exaggerated. I thought that there had been a gross miscalculation of the effect of the United Nations action, and that this was due to ineptitude and bad judgment. When I left Mr. Hammarskjoeld it was in the knowledge that he would be asking Mr. Adoula and his Cabinet for their acquiescence to the despatch of his message to Mr. Tshombe.
At 9.30 a.m. on September 17 I again called on Mr. Hammarskjoeld and told him that I should be glad to do anything that I could to facilitate his meeting with Mr. Tshombe at Ndola, and as time was short, and I did not know whether all the arrangements could have been made, I offered to accompany him, in order to assist him on British territory. I added that I appreciated that there was a risk of my accompanying him being misinterpreted. The Secretary-General said that he thought it would be useful if I could precede him to Ndola. It was agreed that I should do this in a United Nations aircraft which he placed at my disposal, and in which I was to fly on to Salisbury before he arrived at Ndola.
Before leaving Leopoldville I had word from London that all the necessary arrangements for the meeting had been made, and the Secretary-General was informed of this. None the less, he telephoned to me to proceed to Ndola, and he also informed me that he had received a communication from Mr. Tshombe. Although this communica- 450 tion was not entirely satisfactory he was none the less determined to carry out his mission. In this same telephone conversation, which took place one hour before my departure, the Secretary-General informed me that he had taken note of my personal letter to him, and that as he wished to investigate himself the points which I had raised there would be some delay in his reply. I think it probable that this letter was destroyed in the aircraft in which the Secretary-General was killed. A copy of this letter has since been sent to New York.
I left for Ndola in a United Nations DC 4 at 3 p.m., local time, on September 17. The Secretary-General was to leave Leopoldville in a faster aircraft later that evening. I arrived at Ndola at 10.40 p.m. where I was met by the High Commissioner, Lord Alport, who, with the assistance of the Government of the Federation, had made all the necessary arrangements for the meeting. As my arrival had been announced to Mr. Tshombe I briefly visited him, Mr. Kibwe and Mr. Kimba, the two Ministers accompanying him. As I had undertaken in no way to interfere in the negotiations which Mr. Hammarskjoeld was to carry out I discussed no basic questions but limited myself to expressing the hope that these negotiations would be successful and the belief that a peaceful solution rested with Mr. Tshombe. After conversations with Lord Alport I was informed that the pilot of the Secretary-General's aircraft had been in touch with Ndola Control. I left for Salisbury at about 12.20 a.m. on September 18.
Shortly after my take-off, our pilot endeavoured to establish contact with the Secretary-General's aircraft. He repeated this more than once, but without success. On arrival in Salisbury at half past three in the morning I was informed that there was no further information about the Secretary-General's aircraft. I understood that the "overdue" procedure had already been put into effect. At 9.30 a.m. I went to see Sir Roy Welensky, and your Lordships will appreciate that our meeting was clouded by the very grave anxiety which we all felt over the disappearance of Mr. Hammarskjoeld's aircraft. Sir Roy Welensky confirmed that every 451 possible step had been taken to locate it.
He then proceeded to make the position of his Government on the Congo perfectly clear. He confirmed to me that he shared the objectives of Her Majesty's Government in respect of a united Congo; that he was completely opposed to the secession of the Katanga, and that he had done all he could to encourage Mr. Tshombe to come to terms with Mr. Adoula. Furthermore, he undertook to send a personal message to Mr. Adoula reaffirming his position. This message I was subsequently able to give to Mr. Adoula on my return to Leopoldville. It was only after my meeting with Sir Roy Welensky that it became clear that the Secretary-General's aircraft had crashed. I then saw Lord Alport, and shortly afterwards returned to Leopoldville, where I arrived again at 9 p.m.
At 11.30 that night I saw Dr. Linner, the Chief Representative of the United Nations in the Congo. In the first, instance I saw him alone and offered him my deep sympathy over the tragic death of the Secretary-General. Despite his extreme grief (he was a close personal friend of the Secretary-General) I felt that I must insist that I considered it to be of vital importance that the momentum of Mr. Hammarskjoeld's initiative should not be lost. Dr. Linner assured me that it was his intention to arrange for Mr. Khiari to leave for Ndola within a few hours to meet Mr. Tshombe. All the necessary arrangements were immediately made for this meeting, and on September 20 agreement was reached between Mr. Khiari and Mr. Tshombe. The cease-fire started at 00.01 hours on September 21. Later that morning I left Leopoldville for London to report.
After the cease-fire came into effect on September 21 a mixed commission was set up. It has now reported, and its agreed report has been sent to the United Nations for ratification. Meanwhile, there have been many allegations and counter-allegations about breaches of the cease-fire by both sides. It has been said, in particular, that the United Nations have built up their forces since the cease-fire started. Dr. Bunche last week in New York assured my honour- 452 able friend the Minister of State that there had been no build-up of United Nations forces in contravention of the cease-fire agreement. Mr. Tshombe is arranging for a delegation to go to Leopoldville for talks with the central Government. I am sure that all your Lordships share the hope of Her Majesty's Government that this will be followed by a meeting between Mr. Tshombe and President Adoula, and that a lasting reconciliation will follow.
My Lords, although, as you will now have realised, much that I had to say to Mr. Hammarskjoeld was highly critical of the United Nations' action as I understood it, I left Leopoldville more than ever convinced of the vital importance and great potential of this Organisation. Perhaps I had seen some of its imperfections, but I had also been brought face to face, in deeply moving circumstances, with the single-minded devotion to the cause of peace of its principal officer. At one of our meetings Mr. Hammarskjoeld said to me, "You know, this work of an international Agency is only in its infancy. There is still so much that we all have to learn".
I should like, my Lords, with deep respect, to pay my personal tribute to a great servant of humanity. Throughout the world there are countless witnesses to his achievements. Let us hope that a peaceful and prosperous Congo may prove to be another one of these.
§ 2.42 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, yesterday's debate, which was opened by the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary in an admirably distinguished speech, was almost entirely confined to the urgent question of Germany and of Berlin in particular. To-day it appears that a number of your Lordships are anxious to discuss the Congo, and we have had a very interesting and detailed account of the events in the Congo, as the Government see them, from the noble Marquess who has just spoken. May I first of all express our great pleasure at seeing him back safely after the very fortunate escape that he had on a perilous journey? We are delighted that the circumstances were such that he did not make the journey which he had originally contemplated. We are very glad to see him.
453 It is, of course, difficult to follow all the intricacies of the statements which he made, and I do not propose to try to deal with them in any detail. I will read and study them and perhaps we may have a later opportunity of having a talk about these events. I must say that most of us were rather mystified by what was going on in the Congo and also by the necessity of the visit by the noble Marquess; and to a certain extent he has cleared the ground. The noble Marquess assumed, I thought, that the action of the United Nations was derived from its resolution of last February. However, I would draw the attention of the House to the resolution passed on July 13 of the previous year, and I would suggest that, in fact, the actions the United Nations took in the Congo last August really stemmed from the earlier resolution.
This was a Resolution which called on the Belgians to withdraw their troops from the territories of the Congolese Republic, and it authorised the Secretary General to take the necessary measures, in consultation with the Government of the Congolese Republic, to furnish that Government with all the military assistance which might be necessary until by the efforts of the Congolese Government, the national security forces, in the opinion of the Government, were in a position to deal fully with their tasks. That was a clear resolution of the Security Council which gave the Secretary General authority to act in the way in which he thought necessary for a specific purpose. This resolution was carried by eight votes to nil, but there were three abstentions—Formosa, France and ourselves. I want to be quite fair, but I do not know why they abstained. It may be that there was some condition that they wanted imposed which was not contained in the resolution; I do not know. I should be grateful if the noble Viscount who is going to reply to the debate could let us know what was the reason that the Government abstained on this particular resolution.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF HOME)
My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord would like to know now. We made it clear at the time that the reason why we abstained on the resolution was that 454 in the preamble there were all sorts of conditions attached to which we could not subscribe—namely, that all our Colonies should be independent within two years.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, we have set out in the resolution what was eventually passed. It may have been in the minds of the movers of the resolution, but I have seen the resolution and it is not there. I want to be fair to the Government and say that they did accept a later resolution on the same subject on August 9. In that resolution there was this condition: that the troops of the United Nations would not intervene in any way in any internal conflict, constitutional or otherwise. It may be that the addition of those words had some effect in reconciling our Government to the resolution of the Security Council. At any rate, my point is that the authority of the United Nations to act in the Congo was derived from these two resolutions of July and August, 1960; and the later resolution of February, 1961, to which the noble Marquess referred was really a confirmation or corroboration of the earlier resolutions. Certainly as to the second there is no doubt that we agreed to the intervention of the United Nations forces for the purpose of removing foreign mercenaries, as the noble Marquess described them.
By August, 1961, as the noble Marquess has said, the position was substantially clarified and most of the foreign troops had been removed from Katanga as the result of the action of the United Nations forces, and that Mr. Tshombe acquiesced in this action. He had taken no part whatever in opposing it. But then there came a dramatic change in the situation in the early part of September, and there is a good deal of vagueness as to what happened at that time.
It is alleged, with what truth I cannot say, that we tried to exert pressure on Mr. Hammarskjoeld in New York, at the United Nations not to go as far as be had originally intended—this view has been held by many people who are in a position to express such a view—and thereby this pressure gave courage to Mr. Tshombe to resist the United Nations forces. I do not know whether or not this is true, but it would be useful if we 455 could have a clear statement as to whether there is any foundation for that. I would ask the House to bear in mind that the United Nations had been acting on a resolution, which we eventually supported and that they had been acting for some days without any opposition at all from Mr. Tshombe. Then suddenly, when the operation was almost entirely successful, there was resistance from Mr. Tshombe. We know, of course, there was a certain amount of apprehension expressed by Sir Roy Welensky at that time which may also have had some effect on the actions of Mr. Tshombe.
I should like to be informed quite clearly what has been the policy of the Government in connection with this intervention, and what is to be their future policy. To some extent I have been reassured by the statement of the noble Marquess, which I take to mean just this: that, while we are in favour of a united Congo and are opposed to secession by Katanga, we should not ourselves support any military action to oppose secession. I should like to be clear whether that is so; that the function of the United Nations in the Congo to-day is merely to ensure that there is no interference by foreign forces of any kind or from any country; and that, subject to that, we believe that it should be left to the Congo Government themselves to deal with secession, preferably by coming to terms with the Katanga Government and making its own arrangements. If, however, it should be that the Katanga Government revolts, and there is civil war, then I am not clear what our position is. Do we take the view that the United Nations forces would then be entitled to intervene, or do we still take the view that they should be left to fight it out for themselves? I hope I have made my apprehensions on the subject clear, and I should be very grateful if the position could be clarified.
There is one other point, I think, on the cease-fire agreement. There is a possibility that the cease-fire agreement might break down by reason of the fact that there are still a number of foreign troops on Katanga's soil. It has been stated that a considerable number of them have re-established themselves in camps on the outskirts of Elisabethville, and are now to be seen in the streets 456 of Elisabethville, moving about quite freely. If this is so, then the danger of the United Nations cease-fire breaking down is quite a serious one. I should like to know whether the Government are aware of this, and if they feel that they are able to take any action to secure the removal of the remaining European forces.
We on this side of the House are in complete agreement with the proviso to the United Nations resolution, that United Nations troops should not interfere in any way in any internal conflict, constitutional or otherwise. We regard it as no part of the business of the United Nations to determine the question of the secession of Katanga, or any kind of internal dispute. But, of course, the question does arise as to what is to happen when an internal dispute of this kind may spread and create wider difficulties outside the Congo itself; and it is on that aspect that I should be grateful for further information. My Lords, that is all I propose to say about the Congo at this stage, except that I should like, once more, to congratulate the noble Marquess on the very energetic work he has done in that area; I believe that it has been very valuable.
I want now, for a short time, to return to the debate of yesterday. It is difficult—and, furthermore, it is undesirable in the present critical situation—to make a controversial speech, or even to put forward any fresh or original ideas. All one can hope to do is to make a few comments which may be of value. The first is on the question of recognition of East Germany. A number of speakers—the noble Lord, Lord Strang, and my noble friend Lord Henderson—discussed the question of de facto recognition of East Germany; and the Foreign Secretary also gave his views about it. I suppose that almost everybody agrees that there is no sense in making an issue of refusing to recognise what actually exists, what stares one in the face, and what, for many purposes, is already recognised. None the less, we have to be clear in our minds, before we go into negotiations with the Soviet Union, what we mean by de facto recognition. I can see a good deal of controversy with the Soviet Union on this point before we arrive at eventual agreement.
457 The noble Lord, Lord Strang, emphasised the danger of de facto recognition as leading, he thought, almost inevitably, to de jure recognition, and he gave us the precedent of the 1921 negotiations with the Soviet Union, where in fact that was exactly what did happen. My noble friend Lord Henderson referred to "some limited measure of de facto recognition." I must confess that I find it difficult to understand what "some limited measure of de facto recognition" would mean; and still less do I believe that we could get away with a settlement with the Soviet Union by the use of vague terms of that kind. I think we shall have to clear our minds as to exactly what we do mean.
My own view is this. For all practical purposes, I should have no objection to a de facto recognition which led eventually to a de jure recognition. I think that in many ways it might be advantageous. I appreciate that we have given certain assurances to the Federal Republic on the basis of which they have entered N.A.T.O., and we have to carry them with us. But circumstances have changed very materially since the days when those undertakings were given to the Federal German Republic, and we all recognise that there must be some modifications in the arrangements that have been made with them. Obviously, this is one of those matters upon which we must carry them with us; but, from the point of view of the eventual reunification of Germany, I should have thought that there was much to be said for a recognition of East Germany which would put them on such terms as would enable them to discuss matters with West Germany, and would enable the two Germanies to get closer together as time went on. If we are right—and I believe we are right—that the existing East German Government is not representative of the people themselves, then, sooner or later, that is bound to manifest itself. Time is really on our side in that respect; and it is my view that, as time goes on, the tendency will be for the two Germanies to get closer together and for reunification to become easier. Certainly, as things stand, it can come about only by the consent of the Soviet Union and East Germany.
458 I speak to-day with the advantage of having read a summary of the speech of Mr. Khrushchev at the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party, in which, as was foreseen, there was a combination of a show of force and of reason. The show of force is typical—and we expected it—and it is in no way surprising. We had, incidentally, the same kind of speech from the United States: on the one hand, a show of strength; on the other, a willingness to discuss. I regard the speech as, on the whole, encouraging. It shows a desire to get agreement by negotiation and a willingness to give us ample time to discuss matters, and possibly ample time to bring into the open the differences which exist between the Allies. It may well be that that is one of his motives in giving us time. But, at any rate, on the face of it it is reasonable, and I hope we shall take full advantage of it.
However, the attitude of Mr. Khrushchev conforms with the experience of a number of us, including my noble friend Lord Attlee, who paid a visit to the Soviet Union, to Moscow in particular, a fortnight ago, in connection with the World Parliament Authority. We saw there some twenty of the most eminent and representative scientists, Communists, lawyers and members of parliament, and also two ministers. We spent four days in talks. I was asked to be the main spokesman, and we put the case which, broadly speaking, is a case for an international authority controlling disarmament and ensuring that there would be no rearmament, of dealing with disputes between nations and getting them settled by peaceful means, and the setting up of an international police force. These are the objects of the organisation which we represented, which are by now, I believe, perfectly well known and reputable. We seek to bring it about by a revision of the Charter of the United Nations, and we visualise the United Nations Assembly as being the authority which would be replaced by the World International Authority.
Now, at first, these people we saw, including the ministers, were very sceptical, and they talked of nothing but complete and total disarmament. But gradually the atmosphere thawed and we got more and more agreement. I think 459 that by the end of four full days' discussion we got to the point where they agreed that the United Nations Charter needed amendment to make it effective; and that an international body was needed to control and supervise disarmament and to ensure that there was no rearmament. There was some reservation, about which I am sure the Foreign Secretary is very well aware, as to the distinction between supervising disarmament and supervising armaments. They are prepared certainly to have ample supervision of disarmament, but they regarded supervision over what arms remained as being in the nature of espionage. But they even went some way on that, and while they were not willing to have physical supervision of arms, they were quite willing to have some kind of control—budgetary control, or any other means that might be devised I gained the impression that, while this was a debating point, it was not one that they took very seriously themselves, and certainly in the discussion they could not possibly maintain it. They were also prepared, to my surprise, once we had got well on the way to disarmament, to agree to the abolition of the veto.
I do not ask the House to attach a great deal of importance to these discussions; after all, we were an unofficial body. We met people of considerable eminence in the Soviet Union, but I would not pretend that they had the final voice in the affairs or policy of the Soviet Union. However, I would emphasise that I do attach importance to the flexibility that emerged in these discussions. From having started off, as many people do in this country, with a rigid view—inflexibility—they were prepared, as the discussions went on, to change their minds and to take a more flexible and, as I thought, a more reasonable view. If that is typical, and I think it is, it gives one some hope that, in the negotiations which will inevitably take place in the future, we may be able to come to reasonable agreements. At any rate, all of us who took part in the discussions came away feeling very encouraged at the way our talks had gone. Even if the principles of the World Government Movement have not been accepted, it is good to find a willingness on the part of the Soviet Union to discuss them.
Yesterday we had a remarkable speech by the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery 460 of Alamein, and I want to congratulate him on his courage in making that speech. He must have known that he would be speaking to a House that was completely out of sympathy with most of the views that he was expressing; and, if he had any doubt about it, his doubts were very quickly shattered by my noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth. I think it is good that a minority view should have a platform and be treated with respect; and it is one of the justifications for this House that it constitutes a platform of that kind where people who talk with sincerity—and we are very quick to appreciate when people are not sincere—have the opportunity of saying what they think without being hounded down. Even if one dislikes the views expressed, one should fight to the death for the right to express them. So I welcome the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, which he clearly delivered with great sincerity.
I do not propose to comment on that speech, except to say that I completely agree with him in one respect, and that is that we ought to have a long-term policy for the preservation of peace. Our greatest hope, indeed our only hope, lies in complete and general disarmament and in the creation of a strong United Nations capable of ensuring that peace is preserved, of settling disputes between the nations by peaceful means, and of ensuring that no nation takes the law into its own hands by the use or threat of force. I was therefore glad to hear the noble Marquess pay a tribute to the United Nations and its work, and to hear him express the hope that it would be strengthened in its undertakings. If we had such a United Nations in existence to-day the Berlin problem would not have constituted the threat it does to peace and civilisation, but would long since have been disposed of, and I beg the Government to keep this long-term objective constantly in mind and to take the initiative in bringing it, and advocating it on every possible occasion, before the United Nations.
Under existing conditions, what is our choice? It is either to submit to the Soviet Union completely and unconditionally, which I imagine none of us in this House would accept, or to bring about the virtual extinction of the human race and the end of civilisation, 461 which obviously would settle nothing and certainly would not serve the 2½ million Berliners, for whose freedom we should be fighting. This is a hopeless dilemma to find ourselves in, a hopeless dilemma to which the progress of science, ethics and material welfare has brought us. Whatever course of action we take, other than negotiation, it is bound to bring about disaster. We must find a better way of doing things, and I believe that the way which I have indicated is our only hope.
In the meantime, I would ask the Foreign Secretary, while insisting upon those aspects of our policy in Berlin which are vital and material, to remain flexible and to keep an open mind on less important aspects. I do not propose to prompt him. I think that the House realised yesterday, and it will to-day, that in the process of negotiation it is not desirable to put forward concrete terms and ask the Foreign Secretary to accept or reject them in this House, and I do not propose to do so. I think that, broadly speaking, he is on the right lines and that his mind is sufficiently flexible and appreciative of what are the vital factors and what are matters on which it is possible to negotiate.
May I say this to the Foreign Secretary?—and I say it as an opponent. I wish that we could leave the negotiations entirely to him. I should feel happy that they would be brought to a successful issue. His difficulty, as are all our difficulties, is that he has a number of allies who are not all in complete agreement either about the immediate desirability of negotiating at all or upon what we should negotiate. That, as the noble Earl said yesterday, is one of the penalties we have to pay for our democratic way of life. I can assure him that in carrying out this policy the Government can rely on the full support of the Opposition in this House. I know that all my noble friends will join me in wishing him every possible success in his difficult and almost super-human task.
§ 3.14 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF AVON
My Lords, I hope that it will not be thought presumptuous in a newcomer if I say with what interest and pleasure I have listened to a number of the speeches in the debate in the last two days. My 462 noble friend the Foreign Secretary, whose speech has just been referred to by the noble Lord opposite, gave us yesterday a survey of the international scene which I thought remarkable for its clarity and candour, two qualities eminently desirable in a Foreign Secretary. Also, I thought that, in the record he gave us of his stewardship, there was little that we could question. In fact, with his account I found myself almost always in close agreement.
I also enjoyed yesterday, not for the first time in my political experience, a speech by the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, who seemed, as I recall, to be in characteristic form, and in a vein with which I am bound to admit I have not always been in agreement. Then to-day we have had the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, who has given us a lucid report on the hazardous and useful journey which he made, and on the tragic circumstances which surrounded the last hours of Mr. Hammarskjoeld's life and his lamentable death, as we all felt it to be.
For the few moments during which I shall venture to detain your Lordships, I should like to come back to the European scene. It is about thirteen years ago that I stood where I am standing now, or a few paces to the left, to endorse, on behalf of the Opposition, the proposal made by the Labour Government of the day to take action on behalf of the Berlin Air-lift, a decision which I then thought, and still think, was both courageous and wise and, I agree with the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition, one for which the Labour Government were entitled to full credit.
To-day, we once again discuss Berlin, as perhaps we could not have done, had the Labour Government not acted as they did then. But, of course, it is not only the fate of this great city with which we are concerned, any more than it was only the fate of that city with which we were concerned thirteen years ago, or only the fate of Danzig with which we were concerned in 1939. The Soviet purpose is to gain possession of West Berlin, either directly or through their satellite Government in East Germany; and to do this they will employ threats, cajoleries and blandishments, hoping to prise the Western 463 Allies out of the city, or to scare them into making concessions which will further weaken their position.
The Russians do not want war, as Hitler wanted war; but they want Berlin, or at any rate so large a measure of control in Berlin that it cannot live the kind of life which, by agreement, when the war was settled, it should live—its own life. Of course the Soviets have a great confidence in themselves, which could be dangerous to the world, and dangerous to them. It is based on a belief in their superior strength, and this may be exaggerated. The offer, already referred to, which was made in a speech yesterday at the Communist Congress in Moscow, of a respite in the settlement of the differences about Berlin and at the same time the announcement that they were to explode a 50-megaton bomb, is characteristic of a sense of overweening power. But for us, for the West, it remains an inescapable truth that if the Soviets, or their satellites were allowed to take over West Berlin, however much appearances might be saved, they would then be free to pass on to other demands, which would follow thick and fast and strong. And where should we then stop them?
We must not burden our policy with make-believe. What is at issue is not the future of Berlin, but the unity of the will and purpose of the Western Alliance and its ability quietly but firmly to say "No" to unreasonable demands. We have done so before on occasions, and it has not always been without effect. We did so about Austria; we did so when the Western Powers created N.A.T.O.—also an achievement, so far as this country is concerned, of a previous Labour Government. To hold to the essentials of our positions in Berlin does not mean that we must refuse to talk—certainly not. But for discussion to be possible there must be something to negotiate, and so far all the Soviets have done is to grab and then show a willingness to talk about the next stage in their plan. That is not negotiation. It is to ask the West to ignore violent deeds and to enter into discussion as though they had not been done. I do not think that is possible. To accept such a course would be to connive at a progressive deteriora- 464 tion of international relations. At each backward step the West would be so much the weaker. That way lies disaster.
This country, as my noble friend Lord Strang said last night, is not entirely a free agent in these matters. We have obligations. We played our part in the creation of N.A.T.O.; we played our part in bringing Western Germany into N.A.T.O., for which I accept, and do not regret, a personal responsibility. The N.A.T.O. partnership is the strongest political deterrent which exists to Communist world domination. But we must not think for a moment that the outcome of events in Berlin will be without its influence upon N.A.T.O. Germany's N.A.T.O. partners have expressed opinions, as have Governments of all Parties in this country, about the future unity of Germany. They cannot go back on those decisions except by agreement.
The hope in the minds of many in West Germany is that their country will one day have reunity. It is a perfectly legitimate hope and one that successive Governments in this country have many times endorsed. It would not be loyal to extinguish it; nor would it be wise. We must guard against a tendency to speak as though British Ministers were uncommitted in these matters; as though they could in some way arbitrate. That is not their position. If we did not stand by our N.A.T.O. partners we should commit an injustice and a blunder, because we could not then complain if West Germany were to seek other means to gain German unity. Another Rapallo is not an impossibility, and it had better not be our fault.
For these reasons, my Lords, I submit that if there is to be a negotiated settlement, as I should like to see it. about the future of Berlin, it will have to contain some contribution from the Soviet side, of which hitherto, so far as I know, there has been no sign. The Soviets and their East German satellites have, in fact, already achieved a part of their purpose and have been scarcely challenged doing it. They have closed the mercy gate, which is a harsh deed. It is a deed contrary to the spirit, and I think the letter, of the Four-Power Agreement which we made at the end 465 of the war. They are building a wall, a cruel wall, which in truth condemns them, because it is a prison wall, forbidding those behind it to reach physically to freedom. If I am right in my assumption that to build this wall is contrary to the international engagements we four Powers entered into, then this topic, I suggest, should be on the agenda when a Conference is held which includes the Soviet Power.
The most important contribution the Soviets could make to-day, if they would, to a discussion would be to show a willingness to take decisions to allow East Germany a freer opportunity to lead her own life, and to put an end to that callous rampart they have just built. In other words, what we ask for is self-determination, which the Russians so often preach but forbid ruthlessly in the territories they control.
The fact that such a settlement is so difficult for us to believe possible shows how far Moscow was challenged in taking forward positions to suit her policy. To stand firm over this issue of Berlin is not to invite war; it is the surest way to avert it. If we are firm, as I can see the Government have every intention of being firm, then we shall get negotiation. But we cannot accept a series of diktats, one after the other, nor the taint of being hostages, as I understand we have recently been described. The resumption of these atomic tests by Soviet Russia was intended to intimidate. There is no argument about that; they have told us so themselves. It was to shock the Western Powers into negotiation on Germany and on disarmament, presumably on Russian terms; and in this context Berlin and nuclear testing are closely linked. That is the reason why, though we will negotiate, and should, in certain conditions, the free world cannot yield to atomic blackmail and survive.
Soviet Russia really ought not to object if we maintain the position that negotiations can take place only on the basis of existing engagements and mutual respect. Their literature is for ever complaining of the weakness which they allege the Government's of France and Britain showed towards Hitler's Germany in the years immediately before the war. They roundly condemn appeasement; they indict Munich in all their propaganda. It is surely rather 466 illogical that they should now invite us to be appeasers in our turn, and bitterly revile the Governments of the West if, having learned their lesson, they are not prepared to negotiate a Munich over Berlin.
When Her Majesty's Government are considering whether or not there is a basis of negotiation, I should like to suggest to my noble friend a test which they might apply: it is whether the agreement for which they are working will serve only to relax tension for a while, or whether it is in the true interests of lasting peace. We must not perpetrate an injustice in order to get a little present ease; and the Government have to consider whether their decision gives peace, not just for an hour or a day or two, but in their children's time. That is the difference between appeasement and peace. A long trail of concessions can only lead to war. I suggest to the Government four signposts as guides in these uncertain times though I admit how difficult they can be to follow: to stand by our Allies; to fulfil our obligations; to repudiate threats; and to probe for negotiation, while being beware of appeasement as I have tried to define it.
My Lords, even as it is to-day the pressure upon Communist Powers is world-wide and continuous. Berlin is, at the moment, the focal point, but there are others. In Iran every method of intimidation and subversion, as it seems, is being unscrupulously employed. There the purpose is strategic and economic; the approach to the Persian Gulf, and the control of oil, to disrupt the economies of the other nations. In South-East Asia, particularly in South Vietnam, the area that strategically matters the most, fresh efforts are now apparently being made by extensive guerrilla activities to undermine the Government of the day; while in Tibet the conquerors are established, merciless and unchallenged.
There is no reason to suppose that these pressures will subside. On the contrary, we must expect them to gather force as the Kremlin glories in the new power to intimidate, which its breach of the agreement to suspend nuclear testing is gaining for it. It may seem surprising that this action, which must to some extent imperil the future of the human race, has been so little condemned by 467 what is usually called neutral opinion. I think the explanation is that its brutality—because it is brutal—was deliberate at that particular time in order to create fear, and in that it largely succeeded. The threat of nuclear war is for Moscow an instrument of policy.
These events seem to me to show that the Free World is in a position of the utmost danger. I said a year ago that our peril was greater than at any time since 1939. Some thought that alarmist, though I do not think anybody would think so now. Yet we are still not realising the nature of the effort which is called for from us if we are to survive against a challenge of so much ruthlessness and power. Here I am not criticising any particular Government of any country, but posing the problem as it besets the Free World. Our methods do not yet match our needs. Admittedly, machinery is no substitute for will; but unless you have the machinery even the most purposeful will cannot achieve results.
Many of your Lordships had experience during the war of the work of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff. Without that organisation there would have been, as many noble Lords know, confusion and disarray; Allies playing their own hands in different parts of the world, often without understanding of the interests of others, sometimes regardless of them. That is exactly what has been happening often—only too often—between the politically free nations in the post-war world. We need a closer and more effective unity if we are sometimes to mould events and not only to pursue them.
We have had two examples in the last few months of the consequence of not being prepared and agreed in advance for eventualities which were not very difficult to foresee. One was the building of the wall in Berlin, which I have just mentioned. The second has been recent events in the Congo, where opinion among the Western Powers seems to have been at odds and their actions uncoordinated, even within the United Nations. I do not want to argue about what the policy of the United Nations in the Congo should be, only to say this. While it seems to me a course of wisdom to encourage confederation in the Congo. 468 I do not believe that it is defensible to try to impose federation by force.
But however that may be, would not our policy in the Congo have been more influential if, even in the last few months, we and the United States and our other N.A.T.O. allies could have acted in unity? And should we not have had a better chance to do so if an international political General Staff had been at work to prepare joint plans in advance, as was done in war time, against a contingency which could be foreseen? I admit that to create such a political General Staff involves an act of will, overriding old jealousies and old prejudices which still exist between allies in the Free World, in what are nominally peace conditions. I therefore find it encouraging that this intention has received most support so far in the United States of America.
In conclusion, my Lords, there is just one aspect of our affairs which, since I am now out of the stream of active politics, I think I can mention without being either patronising or partisan. There is another way in which this country can influence the international scene: by the image of its purpose which it creates in the minds of other people. I do not think we can, any of us, be altogether happy about that portrait just now. That is partly because of the theme of recurrent economic crises which have been endemic since the war and which, when they are temporarily surmounted, are so easily forgotten. Immediately after the war they seemed more readily acceptable. After the prodigous national effort that our country had made, and the unstinted expenditure of our resources, they seemed excusable. But now nothing would so much increase the authority of my noble friend the Foreign Secretary as the conviction in the world that we have put these recurrent spells of economic weakness behind us for good.
I have no doubt that we can realise this, but only by a national effort in which every member of the community plays his part with a will to see the business through. This is something more important than the politics of any Party; it is our national survival as a great Power. If we can approach our economic problems in a spirit such as we have so often evoked in the past in the face of our country's danger, selflessly, but with 469 determination, we can solve them. We have to succeed, if our deliberations are to count for anything and if our country's influence is to hold sway for justice and for peace.
§ 3.38 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, it seems to be my fate in life, and a very agreeable one, to follow the noble Earl, Lord Avon. When he was an Under-Secretary I was his Parliamentary Private Secretary. When he was a Minister in the years before the war I was his Under-Secretary. When he was Prime Minister I was a member of his Cabinet. And now here I am again following him. Technically, I suppose, I should congratulate him on an immensely impressive maiden speech, but I doubt whether it can really be called "maiden", for he has confessed to me that very often in the past during the war years he has spoken from these Benches in this House, when it was, in our jargon, "another place". I suspect that on those occasions he spoke to a considerable number of the same people. In any case, I am sure we are all extremely glad that these walls should echo to his voice again.
There is no one in this country, I suppose, whose enforced silence during these last years has been so widely and so deeply regretted. He has, if I may say so with very real deference in his presence, the four qualities which I think are most valuable in a statesman, especially in the present difficult times: an unrivalled experience of the international scene, realism, courage and unshakable integrity. It is for these qualities that his fellow countrymen have loved and revered him. And those qualities, I think, were very evident in the remarkable speech which he has just delivered to your Lordships to-day. I am sure we are all very happy that, through his membership of this House, his voice, his words and his stout common sense will be available now to the country again.
My Lords, I should like to turn to the subject of the debate. I am sure we all wish to thank the Government for agreeing to recall Parliament at an earlier date than was originally intended, and also to thank, in particular, the Foreign Secretary for the sincere and courageous speech which he made to us yesterday afternoon and for the equally valuable 470 statement, if I may say so, which has been made to-day by the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, whom we are all so glad to see back from his arduous expedition. Personally, my only regret is that it was not possible for the House to be asked to meet at an even earlier date than yesterday. I realise the difficulties: there was first, as we know, the Commonwealth Conference, which inevitably required the presence of more than one Minister who would have been immediately concerned in our discussions. Then, of course, there were the Annual Conferences of the Labour and Conservative Parties—very important occasions indeed. But so, certainly, have been events in the international sphere—since we separated for the Summer Recess—which might be regarded as requiring the very urgent attention of Parliament.
First of all, there are the most recent developments over Berlin, which have been referred to in so many speeches in the last two days. There is a situation which very naturally the country is watching with passionate interest, to see which way it goes. I say "very naturally", for it is pre-eminently one of those situations which contain within them, as the noble Earl, Lord Avon, told us this afternoon, the seeds of peace or war. The Foreign Secretary gave us yesterday. I am quite certain, the fullest information he could as to the latest developments, and I certainly do not propose to press him further. I know from old experience at the Foreign Office how much it increases the difficulties of Ministers of democratic countries in negotiations with dictatorships if they have to expose each move as it occurs to the full glare of publicity while the other party is able unhampered to operate in the deep shadow of official secrecy without giving any reasons for the steps it takes or the policies it pursues.
I would only say this: that we are all of us pledged to the ultimate unification of Germany, West and East, and I imagine no one would wish to go back on that pledge. But at this moment the most important thing surely is, as I think the noble Earl, Lord Avon, said this afternoon, to prevent the line between the Eastern and the Western worlds, which cuts right across Germany, being edged further to the West. What may, 471 to use a military expression, be called the "back areas" of these two worlds are already sufficiently disparate, unequal. The back areas of the Eastern world stretch from Berlin to Vladivostok, over many thousands of miles of land, all controlled by Russia and China. The back areas of the Western world, on the other hand, are already, by modern standards, dangerously restricted. We have only the few hundred miles between the Iron Curtain that runs across Germany and the Atlantic coast of France—only those few hundred miles. In these circumstances I suggest that the Western Powers simply cannot afford to withdraw any further. That is a crucial consideration for us and, indeed, for Western Germany itself, just as much as for the other Western Powers.
If we were obliged to give up Berlin and the corridor, no doubt it could be argued that in terms merely of land surrendered the difference would not be very great. But psychologically the effect would be tremendous. It would be regarded throughout the world, and in particular in what are now called the uncommitted countries, as a major defeat for the West. It would still further weight the scales against the Western Powers and only encourage the Eastern bloc to intensify its pressure, on the fallacious assumption that the West, if pressed hard enough, would always give way; and that, I am sure we should all agree, would be a very dangerous situation to arise.
The question of communications between Eastern and Western Germany is also undoubtedly a very touchy one, and the steps lately taken by the Russians to close those communications—I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Avon—were quite unjustifiable, cruel and shocking in their effects. But, even so, I suggest that that aspect, important though it is, is not so important as the problem of Berlin itself and the corridor to the West. Indeed, I should have thought it might even be possible to consider a certain measure of what I think the noble Lord, Lord Strang, called yesterday afternoon practical, informal, official contacts between the Western Powers and the Government of Eastern Germany on a temporary basis, pending a more permanent settlement, without surrendering any great 472 principle. That, after all, would be only recognition of an established fact; and it might well give us something, if I may put it so, to play with in our discussions with the Russians. Personally, at any rate at the present stage, I should not feel prepared to go further than that. But that might be enough to get a temporary modus vivendi, and that would, at any rate, be something.
On the maintenance of the existing international status of Berlin and on the free access to it from the West I believe we must stand absolutely firm, not so much because of the physical importance of the city to the West but because of its psychological importance in the vast struggle between the two power blocs, the East and West, which now so unhappily divides the world. If the West gave way on Berlin, so far from reducing tension it would, I believe, as the noble Earl, Lord Avon, believes, mean opening the way to very much the same pattern of successive retirements that led ultimately to the last war. I feel certain that our Foreign Secretary was right in saying, as he did yesterday, that in dealing with dictators—I am not sure I have the exact words but I think the sense is right—the time to stop the encroachment on liberties is at the start.
My Lords, I do not intend to go any further than saying that to-day and I certainly ask the Government for no reply. When they are entering on a phase which may mean very delicate negotiations, and negotiations on which so much hangs, I think it is surely not the moment to ask the Foreign Secretary or the Government as a whole to disclose their hand.
Now I should like to turn, if I may, for a short time to another part of the world where even more startling events have been taking place, events which have done more, I am afraid, to undermine the confidence of the British people in the United Nations than anything that has happened throughout its whole history. I refer, of course, to Katanga. For years we in Britain have preached, in season and out of season, the virtues of a partnership between the two races, European and African, as the best hope for the future of Africa. I remember a speech by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, some years ago in which he spoke, quoting a vivid 473 phrase, I think of Dr. Aggrey, of the "harmony of the black and white keys"; and most of us, I expect, have expressed very much the same sentiments in all parts of the House. That is the principle of partnership for which we have been working over the whole of the last half-century, or even longer. And here we had, in the State of Katanga, an example where that principle was being applied in practice. The Government was, so far as I know, entirely composed of Africans, but it was assisted at its own wish by European advisers in those branches of the administration, military and civil, where the African recognised that he had not yet the experience to handle matters for himself.
And what is more, Katanga represented a considerable success for that principle to which we have always been so firmly attached. At a time when the rest of the Congo, which had rejected the principle of partnership, was weltering in chaos and bloodshed, Katanga alone enjoyed peace and prosperity and continued to produce and export copper to the advantage of herself and the world. And in this situation, what did the United Nations do? One might have expected it to give a vote of thanks to President Tshombe on the success of his multiracial experiment. But not at all; on the contrary, as the House knows, the United Nations in February of this year passed a resolution which fell into two parts. The first empowered the Secretary-General to use force against Katanga, though only, it must be said, according to the resolution, "in the last resort to prevent civil war"; and secondly it demanded that the European advisers of the Katangan Government, to whom it was generally agreed the continued prosperity of Katanga was largely due, should be immediately withdrawn.
Why Her Majesty's Government subscribed to the second part of the resolution, which on the face of it ran counter to all the principles for which we had always stood in Africa, has never yet been entirely explained. I rather gathered from the speech which the Foreign Secretary made to us yesterday that the reason was to keep the cold war out of the Congo, in which case, judging by subsequent events, it 474 was not especially successful. But at any rate the United Kingdom Representative very properly made it abundantly clear in the debate on the resolution that, so far as the first part, which dealt with the use of force, was concerned, in the view of Her Majesty's Government (I quote his words) therecould be no question of empowering the United Nations to use its force to impose a political settlement",and yet that is exactly what the United Nations tried to do. It tried to use its forces, as I think the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, himself said this afternoon, to impose a political settlement. Katanga, which had hitherto been so peaceful, became a battleground, not because of the incursion of troops from the Congolese Government in Leopoldville—they, I understand, could not get near the place—but as the result of a military coup carried out by the forces of the United Nations themselves and designed to enforce a political settlement in the interests of the Central Congolese Government.
Orders were given that all European officers should be dismissed from the Katangan army, though Ghana, one of the most vocal members of the group of nations which were pressing that Katanga should be brought to its knees, had herself, I believe, at the time (the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, will correct me if I am wrong) no fewer than 200 British officers training her forces. Not only were white officers told to leave Katanga—I say "white officers" because I dislike, if I may say so, the word "mercenaries" in this connection—but the threat was extended also to civilians occupying positions of responsibility. There was apparently to be a drive against Europeans, the white partners in this multiracial State. That, surely, was in entire conflict with the whole policy for which this country has always stood.
I do not for one moment suggest that Her Majesty's Government had any foreknowledge of this coup. I am quite certain that they did not. I am quite certain they were just as shocked as any of us; and that, I think, was confirmed by what was said this afternoon by the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, in the most important statement he made 475 to us. But I do find it surprising, even after listening to the Foreign Secretary and the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, that they did not make, at that stage, the strongest public protest they could against this flagrant misuse of their powers by the United Nations authorities; that they did not say at that stage, or as soon as possible, just what it was found possible for the noble Marquess to say this afternoon. And in particular I am very sorry that no attempt was made to define what Her Majesty's Government had in mind by the term "united" in the context of the Congo, for, my Lords, "united" is a very elastic word. If it is not frivolous to make such a reference in this connection, some of your Lordships, at any rate, who are admirers of the works of Lewis Carroll will remember the passage in Alice Through the Looking Glass where Humpty Dumpty, in conversation with Alice, makes the remark: "There's glory for you", and when Alice asks him what exactly he means by the word "glory", he replies: "There's a nice knock-down argument for you." And when Alice, returning once again to the charge, objects, "But glory doesn't mean a nice knock-down argument", Humpty Dumpty replies (I quote his words), "When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less".
My Lords, it seems to me that "united" is a word peculiarly suited to this particular type of treatment. It can mean, for instance, a looselyknit confederation, as one might say, "United Commonwealth". That, no doubt, is what President Tshombe would mean. Or it can equally mean a highly centralised federation, with all major spheres of government, including the money bags, in the hands of the central Government. That, no doubt, is what the Congolese Government in Leopoldville would mean, and what apparently the United Nations authorities in the Congo also mean. But how are we to read this word, which appears in all the pronouncements of Her Majesty's Government over the Congo, and what do Her Majesty's Government themselves mean by it? Or, alternatively, what do they not rule out of it?
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, the noble Marquess helped to write the Charter of the United Nations. Perhaps he will tell us what he meant by it when he wrote it. When we talk about "united" for the Congo, and a "united Congo", we do not define it for the very reason that we hope the Congolese will define it for themselves.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am going on to say that; the noble Earl has taken the words out of my mouth. And yet, I submit, it is the meaning of this word which is the essence of the whole matter. It is the main issue between the parties. It may be that Her Majesty's Government have spoken with intentional imprecision to avoid treading on anybody's toes. But there are times, I believe, when it is absolutely necessary to state one's views frankly and boldly, and this, I believe, is most certainly one of them.
The noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, this afternoon defined the policy (I put down his words rather hurriedly, and perhaps he will correct me if I have them wrong) as designed to allow the Congolese to enjoy independence through the medium of a Central Government. That may well be the explanation of why the Government have been so silent, though, even then, it does not explain how much we envisage that the functions of government should be channelled through the Central Government which is referred to in the noble Marquess's definition. Broadly speaking, however, I think that he and the Foreign Secretary will not disagree that our policy is in effect, according to their definition, one of non-intervention. That is, broadly speaking, what they have in mind.
Clearly that is a course which has much to commend it; but, unhappily, that is not the course on which the United Nations, and we as a member of the United Nations, have embarked. Apart from the provisions of the resolution of February 21, which represented, I suggest, a very direct interference in the internal affairs of the Congo, the United Nations, and we, too, have continuously said that we are in favour of a united Congo and against an independent Katanga. We may be right or we 477 may be wrong to say so, but surely that statement is in itself an intervention in the internal affairs of a country? And if we are prepared to go as far as that, why boggle at giving some indication of what we mean by the word "united", or alternatively, as I said just now, what we did not rule out by it?
It seems more important that we should define our position rather more clearly, in view of the news which reached us yesterday. We had all, I am sure, welcomed the cease-fire agreement, and, like others, I would congratulate the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, most warmly on the part that he played in bringing it about. But the skies are not yet completely clear; indeed, there are already signs that they are clouding over again. The Congolese Government at Leopoldville, I gather, has not yet accepted our cease-fire terms—at least, that is what one gathers from the Press. We read in the papers of the import into the Congo, I think from Sweden and Ethiopia, of jet planes. But for what, it is surely legitimate to ask, are jet planes now needed? Is it to bring in food, or is it to bring in ammunition? Or is it to facilitate the movement of troops from Leopoldville which, without them, might not be able to get to Katanga at all? Are Her Majesty's Government quite happy about these developments?
There appeared in the Daily Telegraph yesterday an account of an interview with Mr. Khiari, a United Nations official who negotiated the cease-fire. The noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, did not refer to this account. But what did Mr. Khiari say? He said that under the agreement the forces of the Congolese Central Government could attack Katanga any time they like: under the agreement that would not constitute "an attack from outside"—and here I quote his words:The Central Government is now free to arm itself to the teeth, if it wishes to pursue a war.….Katanga on the other hand (again I quote the Daily Telegraph report)could not make war against the Central Government since the Katanga gendarmerie was only for internal policing. If it forced itself into an army to fight the National Army, it would become an irregular armed band and would immediately be subject to being disarmed"—478 it does not say by whom, but presumably by the United Nations. That is the interpretation which has been put on that agreement by one of the signatories to the cease-fire agreement.
My Lords, I should like to ask Her Majesty's Government—this is a matter which will be of equal importance to them, as to others of us: do they accept that interpretation; and, if not, do they intend to protest against it? And if the United Nations do not accept our protest, what, if any, further action do Her Majesty's Government propose to take? I would remind your Lordships and the Government that this agreement was made by Mr. Khiari, not on behalf of himself alone, but of us too, as members of the United Nations. If we do not repudiate his interpretation—the interpretation which is put on it by a man who is our agent—we make ourselves jointly responsible for it. This, I submit, is a matter of considerable urgency, and I hope that the House may have an answer on it at the end of this debate.
In conclusion, I should like, if I may, to say a few words on that other outstanding and most tragic event which has taken place since we met, the death of Mr. Hammarskjoeld to which Lord Lansdowne made so moving a reference. I was fortunate enough, like others of your Lordships, to know Mr. Hammarskjoeld personally. Indeed, I saw him in Geneva within a few weeks of his death. Inevitably, he was a controversial personality, for he represented, in effect, in his own person, the germ of a World Government in a world that is deeply divided. In such circumstances, anything he did was likely to be severely criticised, by one side or the other in the cold war, as being biased and unfair. Some of us have ourselves felt this strongly on one occasion or another, and I have no doubt that the Russians have done the same.
But, my Lords, one thing is certain: Mr. Hammarskjoeld carried the heaviest burden in this post-war world, and he carried it unflinchingly. He had in his heart, as I think Lord Lansdowne said, the vision of a world where universal peace and law prevailed. For that cause he lived, and for that cause he died. And no one, I am sure, could wish to have a better epitaph. His work was 479 cut short by death, but for us much still remains to be done. We can expect no easy time, for tension, as Lord Strang finely said yesterday, is the very "fabric of international relations." But it is to that cause for which Mr. Hammarskjoeld died—the rule of peace and law, and, I should like to add, the preservation of liberty—that we must surely dedicate ourselves in the years that lie ahead.
§ 4.8 p.m.
§ LORD CLITHEROE
My Lords, I rise this afternoon to take part in this debate for one reason only—namely, because I have recently been in Katanga. I should like very much indeed to welcome back amongst us the noble Earl, Lord Avon. I know how glad we all are to have him with us again and to have the advantage of his wise counsel. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, has already been discussing this problem of Katanga. I am grateful to the Foreign Secretary, Lord Home, for what he said yesterday, and also to the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, whom I certainly want to congratulate very much on his safe return from a dangerous journey.
The reason for my being in Africa in August I should perhaps explain. I am a director of a railway which runs through Angola and serves both Angola and Katanga. That railway has certainly been of much more benefit to central Africa and to those countries than it has been to the shareholders who, I am sorry to say, for 50 years did not receive a dividend. I do declare an interest, but my interest is that of preserving peace in those parts of the world. I went right through Angola and through Katanga, by train and by car, and I saw quite a lot. I am not sure whether it is always appreciated that Katanga is a country as big as France. It is as far away from Leopoldville as we are here from Russia. It is populated by tribes as different from those in other parts of the Congo as we are different from the Greeks or Italians or Russians. I was told when I was there that Katanga was a separate Protectorate under a separate Vice-Governor General until 1933, when it was, contrary to the wishes of many of its inhabitants, incorporated in the Congo.
May I come to its more recent history? In July of last year, as your 480 Lordships know, the Force Publique in the Congo mutinied. I was given one of the reasons for the mutiny when I was there by somebody who heard on the radio a voice saying: "Members of the Force Publique! Your officers are going to kill you. Kill them first." This was repeated time after time. I cannot imagine where that voice could have come from, but it came. After that, chaos was the order of the day in the greater part of the Congo. Within a few days Katanga declared its independence and since then has maintained its independence and has had a Government of good order and better administration than any other part of the Congo has enjoyed.
Katanga is at the moment de facto a State. It is not recognised by the Powers, but it is de facto a State. In order to go to Elisabethville I had a visa from the Katanga Government. Katanga issues its own currency—I have one of its notes in my pocket. Katanga has all the appearances of being an independent State, and I think one must remember that, although it has not been recognised as a State. We have heard about the resolutions which were passed at the United Nations. I must say it is extraordinarily difficult to get hold of these documents. I acquired a copy of these resolutions. They have already been quoted to-day, so I will not trouble the House with them, except to say that the two which we are talking about to-day discussthe use of force, if necessary, in the last resort",and theimmediate withdrawal and evacuation of the foreign military and paramilitary personnel and political advisers.At the debate in the United Nations, as has been explained, Sir Patrick Dean, on our behalf, said:I must explain that the interpretation which my delegation puts upon the words at the end of that paragraph, namely, 'and the use of force if necessary in the last resort', is that force will only be used by the United Nations to prevent a clash between hostile Congolese troops. There can be no question of empowering the United Nations to use its force to impose a political settlement.It is interesting that eight out of the eleven Security Council members, including Liberia, which sponsored this resolution, indicated that they interpreted it in the same way. Only Soviet Russia, the 481 United Arab Republic and Ceylon did not place that interpretation upon it. Subsequently the Lord Privy Seal said in the House of Lords on February 22:In supporting this resolution our representative made clear that we did not consider the resolution gave the United Nations power to impose forcibly any solution, political OT otherwise, upon the Congolese.Then again on September 27 the Foreign Secretary, when he addressed the United Nations General Assembly, said:Our support was conditional in that we insisted that force should not be used to impose a particular political pattern on the Congo.I think it would have been better—and I think the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, feels the same—if we had opposed that resolution, and, to use the words of the Foreign Secretary yesterday afternoon, "backed up our convictions by our vote." It would at least have put us in a better position to say what we thought later on.
I think it was very unwise for the resolution to demand the immediate withdrawal from the Katanga of all the Belgian advisers. Lord Salisbury has explained to us how very valuable they are there; how much they are needed by the Government. And noble Lords must agree that to remove all the officers from a force of 11,000 men is one of the most reckless things that has ever been attempted. I should also like to stress my firm belief in the right of Congolese leaders to have advisers of their own choosing. I should like the Government to be good enough to recognise that and say that they have the right to have advisers of their own choosing. Even defeated enemies and criminals are allowed to have advisers of their own choosing, and I cannot believe it is right to deprive Congolese leaders of that right. We have urged that all this should be done in our own colonial territories when they become independent. We want them to keep their advisers and their officers as long as they need them.
What was the situation in Katanga when I arrived in August? There was peace and good order there. I slept in a house in which we did not even lock the doors or windows. But it was quite clear that there was tension, and the tension was not between black and white, who were quite united. The tension was between Katanganese, whether black or 482 white, and the United Nations. Already Elisabethville was beginning to have the feel of an occupied city. There were the soldiers walking about in their blue berets. There were many nice young Irish and Swedish boys; but none of the girls of Katanga, whatever colour they were, would look at them or dance with them. It had the appearance of an occupied country and pressure was being brought to bear by the officials of the United Nations at that moment that I was there to remove the top advisers of the Katangan Government, Mr. Tshombe's Government. I had the advantage of discussions with Mr. Tshombe and Mr. Munungo and with some of the United Nations personnel, and I found it difficult to understand how the United Nations officials could expect this to go on without causing a serious clash.
When I came back to London I naturally told the Foreign Office what I knew and I did all that a private individual could do to make known what I thought was going to happen. I wrote to The Times, who were good enough to publish the letter from me, and to the Daily Telegraph, who were good enough to publish the letter from me, and the B.B.C. were good enough to allow me to broadcast. When the House is not sitting that is all that is open to a private citizen. But I was glad to know that the Government made representations to the United Nations, although those representations did not, unfortunately, have very much effect in stopping these acts of aggression.
The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said he was not clear about what happened—and I am not surprised—by reading the newspapers; it is not too easy to discover what has happened. But may I just quote what happened on August 28 by using the words of Sir Roy Welensky in the Federal Assembly in Salisbury? I would remind your Lordships that Sir Roy's country adjoins Katanga along a frontier of 2,000 miles and he has a great interest in that country because the tribes in Northern Rhodesia are largely the same as Mr. Tshombe's and therefore support him. Sir Roy knows what he is talking about when giving facts of this kind. He said:There is no doubt that at dawn on Monday large numbers of United Nations troops in full battle kit and backed by armour took over the town of Elisabethville and other administrative 483 centres in Katanga. Government offices were occupied, as were the military headquarters, the post office, the radio station and the airport Road blocks were set up and Elisabethville became in a very short time a militarily occupied town.Then time went on, and it became clear that further trouble was brewing. On September 13 came the second coup. That was, if you please, while Mr. Hammarskjoeld was himself on the way to the Congo to try to settle these problems. While he was on the way to Ndola to try to settle these problems, his officials in Katanga struck again.It would have been better",said Mr. Spaak, the Socialist Prime Minister of Belgium,if U.N.O. had behaved with more discernment and less brutality"—because brutality it was. There has been much evidence of that quoted, but I am going to quote only three examples. A letter was written by the doctors in Elisabethville, of which I have here a photostat copy. It is in French, but, translated into English, the last paragraph says this:On this day,"—that is, September 15—we, the doctors serving in Elisabethville, attest on our honour that the mercenaries of the U.N.O. fire upon Katangese ambulances wounding their crews who wear Red Cross uniform: the U.N.O. ambulances, on the other hand, do not bring the most elementary help to any civilians; that three hospitals in the town have been transformed into offensive bases by the U.N.O. troops although they were occupied by bedridden patients; from the roofs and gardens, the U.N.O. troops machine-gun military and civilian personnel. One of these hospitals is that which has been abusively called the Red Cross Hospital of the U.N.O., whose snipers are responsible for numerous wounded civilians.Then, my Lords, may I quote what I heard Mr. Richard Williams say on the B.B.C.:This morning in the main square of the capital, a Red Cross ambulance, painted white and clearly marked, approached the engine stalled, the driver and a stretcher bearer—dressed in white—got out. Indian troops in the post office immediately opened fire at almost point blank range; they collapsed on the road seriously wounded. This is the second time in 24 hours I have seen United Nations troops fire on a Red Cross vehicle. All the rules of war have gone by the board in this campaign.Again, a Daily Mail reporter, Mr. Peter Younghusband, reported finding 484 the bodies of thirteen Katanga policemen in front of the burned-out Elisabethville radio station. All thirteen had been shot in the back. I have many more quotations, but I give only those to establish that something happened in Elisabethville. In spite of the difficulty of ascertaining from the newspapers exactly what did happen, some very bad things and some very serious things certainly took place.
Now why did U.N.O. make such terrible mistakes? I think it is useful to ask ourselves that question. In the first place, the U.N.O. resolution was very loosely worded, and it was wrong in some of its objectives, as I have already stated. Secondly, in consequence of its being loosely worded, U.N.O. officials on the spot and U.N.O. troops were put in a difficult position. Thirdly, U.N.O. officials in the Congo lack experience of Africa because those with African experience are deliberately excluded from the Congo on account of the prejudice in the United Nations against colonialism. Therefore, the nations who could find the most useful people are not allowed to provide them. For example, one must remember that to be useful in that part of Africa it is essential to be French-speaking. Then, fourthly, the military arrangements were obviously unsatisfactory, and I think it was perhaps not a happy choice for Indian troops to have been chosen for this assignment.
Then came the cease-fire—and here I want to congratulate the British Government very much indeed, and particularly the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, on the efforts they made towards it. I think we ought also to congratulate Sir Roy Welensky on the very important part he played in bringing about the cease-fire. I should like to add my congratulations to Her Majesty's Consul in Elisabethville, Mr. Dunnett, who, throughout these most difficult times, has played a very gallant part, and who certainly helped to arrange this cease-fire. This cease-fire is signed, but it cannot be expected to be effective until it is confirmed by U.N.O.
My Lords, I said at the beginning of my speech that I had some constructive suggestions. Obviously, the great need is for agreement to be reached between Leopoldville and Elisabethville, but it must be a just settlement, and one which will last. Lord Strang told us last night 485 that no agreement is better than a bad one. I think there is hope of an agreement, but it must be based on the principle of a loose federation, and not that of a unitary State. The size of the Congo and its diversity make a unitary State quite unrealistic, but I do not want to see the Balkanisation of Africa if we can help it. Certainly, contrary to what I have heard stated in some quarters, none of the commercial interests concerned would want that.
I had talks in Elisabethville with Mr. Tshombe and Mr. Munongo. I formed a very high opinion of Mr. Tshombe and of other Ministers there. I have a note here of what Mr. Munongo told me. Mr. Munongo is thought to be rather more extreme than Mr. Tshombe, so that if Mr. Munongo was prepared at this time to do this one may assume that Mr. Tshombe was—in fact, he told me so. He said that at the present stage Katanga remained ready to have a customs union with the rest of the Congo to have diplomatic representatives abroad answerable to a central or co-ordinating Government; to have the armed forces, also, under a central authority, subject to the retention of a gendarmerie by the separate regions; and to make a financial contribution to the central authority. I asked particularly if there was any difficulty about what the amount of their financial contribution should be, and he said that that had not caused any difficulty. But he was not willing to give up what he called political power to Leopoldville, and to let Leopoldville administer Katanga. Nor would such a request be reasonable in any way.
I am also told that at the conference at Tananarive Mr. Tshombe presented a document which was both broadminded and far-seeing, suggesting the lines on which a Confederation could be brought about. It is quite a mistake to think or suggest that Mr. Tshombe wants to be separated from the rest of the Congo. He told me repeatedly that he did not want to be separated, and I told him, of course, that it was the wish of people in this country that the Congo should, so far as possible, be united. Mr. Tshombe feels that Katanga has a full right to have its views respected, and that an agreement should be freely negotiated between the parties without the application of pressure.
486 We were talking yesterday about self-determination for two million people in Berlin. One has to think about the rights of a country which is as large as France and has an old tradition of independence. I am told that Mr. Adoula wishes to reach agreement, but he is no doubt somewhat handicapped by having as his Vice Prime Minister Mr. Gizenga, who as your Lordships all know, has Communist affiliations. Let us pray that both Mr. Adoula and Mr. Tshombe will be blessed with wisdom which, although it comes from on high, often comes to people through wise advisers. Let us hope therefore that Mr. Adoula and Mr. Tshombe will receive and welcome good advice, and that peace may be restored to these troubled lands.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, it would be impertinent for me to congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Avon, before he leaves the Chamber, on his maiden speech, but I should like to say, whether he is with us or not, as the first speaker from this side of the House to follow him, how glad we are that he has decided to take an active part in our work and to make a speech which struck a very sympathetic chord on these Benches. We are also glad that the noble Earl has equalised the distribution of ex-Prime Ministers between the two sides of the House, because we are strongly in favour of fair, shares of ex-Prime Ministers, as of other things. The noble Earl has done me the courtesy of returning, and I should like to thank him for doing so.
The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, mentioned in the course of his speech the tragic death of Mr. Hammarskjoeld. Mr. Hammarskjoeld stayed with me in Accra for a few days on the first leg of his African tour in 1959. He was making a tour of African countries to meet the leaders of those African countries either in the United Nations or about to join it, and it gave me a chance of appreciating some of the qualities of this great man. One obvious quality was his insatiable appetite for work even in the most unattractive tropical conditions, and those who have lived in the tropics know what those conditions are like. He was, as the noble Marquess said, obviously a man entirely dedicated to peace. Peace 487 and life for him were synonymous, and we very much mourn the passing of this great man.
I hope your Lordships will not think it irrelevant if I deal in a Foreign Affairs debate with a subject which has not so far been touched upon—namely, the situation in Ghana and the projected visit of Her Majesty The Queen to that country next month. I hope your Lordships will agree with me that it is not irrelevant. I do not think it is, because in fact this event, the Queen's visit, will affect Ghana's relations not only with us and other Commonwealth countries but with the whole outside world—with foreign countries, with the countries in the Western bloc as well as countries in the Eastern bloc. In looking down the list of speakers to-day it seems to me as if the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, and the noble Lord, Lord Molson, will also touch on parts of Africa which are strictly either British or ex-British Africa and do not fall technically in the foreign field.
May I just say a few words about the situation in Ghana? In the last few months there has, I think we shall all agree, unfortunately been a distinct worsening in relations between this country and Ghana. The Secretary of State, Mr. Sandys, went out to Ghana at the beginning of this month, and his visit has helped to clear away a lot of misunderstandings and has marked a turn for the better, which we hope will be the beginning of better things. But since then there has been another turn —a slight turn, not a major turn—for the worse, which is shown in some of the more irresponsible sections of the Press in both countries. Your Lordships will remember that on Sunday there were certain newspapers in London suggesting that the Queen's visit should be cancelled, and quoting a Member of another place, who presumably, after a few days visit to Accra, came back firmly of the opinion that the Queen should not go.
I hope it is realised by all those who make these sweeping statements about the undesirability of the Queen's visit that nothing could do more than this visit to bring about a more friendly and better atmosphere between us and Ghana; and, conversely, that nothing could be more calculated to push Ghana 488 away from us, away from the Commonwealth and away from the whole of the West and towards the East, than a last-minute cancellation or postponement of the Royal visit. My Lords, we cannot think of a Royal visit just in terms of a V.I.P., even a Head of State, visiting another country. It is an event of profound national and international importance in the life of a Commonwealth country. I have looked very carefully at the arguments which have been used in favour of cancelling or postponing the visit, and I cannot find that they hold very much water. The most serious argument, obviously, is that which throws doubt on the safety of Her Majesty's person. Of course, if there was in fact a scintilla of doubt about Her Majesty's safety whilst she was at Ghana, Her Majesty's Government here, whose constitutional duty it would be, would, I have no doubt, advise her to cancel or at least to postpone the visit.
My Lords, what are the facts? I think the essential facts are these. First of all, it is true, of course, that when Her Majesty goes to Ghana President Nkrumah would accompany her on her tour of the country and at all the major functions. That is a matter of courtesy. President Nkrumah is a very courteous man, and it would be his duty so to do. When Prince Philip came to Ghana in 1959, the then Prime Minister went with him on all his official visits. It is said—and, of course, here hypothesis is added to fact—that when President Nkrumah accompanies the Queen on a tour of the country there might be an attempt on the President's life, and this obviously would involve Her Majesty. This hypothesis is, however, based on the discontent that has been shown recently in Ghana by strikes in different parts of the country and a growing political opposition. But we have plenty of strikes here and a growing opposition to the Government of the present time without having to worry about the safety of Mr. Macmillan. I am not saying that there is an exact parallel between our two countries, but I should like to go on to adduce what I think is really the most convincing reason for discarding these fears.
I am quite certain that President Nkrumah himself would be the first person to ask the Queen not to go to 489 Ghana if he thought that she would be exposed to any danger at all. That would be his duty and the duty of the Ghanaian Government, and no such advice, so far as we are aware, has reached us. I have no doubt at all that similar advice would be given by the representative of Her Majesty's Government in Ghana. That, of course, is most important evidence which Her Majesty's Government would have to consider—namely, the report of the British High Commissioner in Ghana. But the fact is that there has been no advice of that kind from the Government of Ghana or, so far as we are aware, from the British Mission in Ghana. It is pretty certain that the Secretary of State, when he was in Accra, discussed this matter, and, of course, he reported on it to the Cabinet. I have no access to any secret matter, but it is extremely likely that that was the case. I think most people consider that is what happened.
If the Secretary of State had reported that there was the slightest danger to Her Majesty, then I have no doubt that we should immediately have heard that Her Majesty had been advised not to go but that is not, in fact, the case. So if those in the best position to know the facts of the situation in Ghana, and to know whether there is any risk at all to Her Majesty's safety, have no doubt that this risk does not exist, I think that we and the British public generally ought to be satisfied about the matter.
The other argument, which I think is less important but which is an argument that has been used, is that the visit would be exploited politically and would give Royal sanction or approval to the domestic policy of the Government of Ghana. It is true that a Royal visit always adds to the popularity of the Government in power at the time. In this respect, it is certainly a political advantage to be that Government. But such a visit could not possibly be exploited to the advantage of a Government or a Party unless the opposition Party were to be completely shut out. I think that that would be exploitation.
I remember distinctly when we prepared for the Queen's visit in 1959. Your Lordships will remember that that visit was cancelled because Her Majesty was expecting a baby. At that time, the Government of Ghana had invite 490 drepresentatives of the opposition to all the main State functions arranged during the visit. That, of course, is exactly what is done here in the case of such visits. I have no information about the detailed arrangements for this visit and they might well be different from the arrangements for the previous visit, but it has certainly not been suggested by anyone, or in the Press, that the leader of the opposition in Ghana, who is perfectly free—I think that there is a quite widely held misconception about the whole of the opposition being in prison —and other members of the opposition Party will not be invited to meet Her Majesty.
Those who say that Her Majesty's presence in Ghana would signify approval of the domestic policies of the Ghana Government, and in particular of the detention of some leading members of the opposition Party, surely misunderstand completely the constitutional position of the Crown. The Queen will visit Ghana, as she has visited India and Pakistan, in her capacity as Head of the Commonwealth, symbolising Commonwealth unity. The internal affairs of these countries and their domestic policies are not matters with which the Crown is concerned, any more than the Crown would be concerned with the domestic affairs of this particular country. India is a democracy and Pakistan is a military dictatorship, but both were equally anxious to welcome the Queen.
This brings me to the essential thing about the Royal visit to Ghana—namely, its universal popularity in the country. When I went to Ghana in 1957 the first question that President Nkrumah asked me was, "When is The Queen coming?" He added that he hoped that she would come in August, because that is the coolest and driest month of the year. That was five years ago. It was then that plans were begun for the Royal visit in 1959, and when in the summer of that year the visit had to be postponed for the reason I have given, and it was privately explained to President Nkrumah why this had to be done, I have never seen a man look more disappointed or unhappy—indeed, almost heartbroken. In this respect, the President of Ghana represented faithfully the sentiments of his people. Changes in the laws and Constitution of a country do not effect the emotions of ordinary people and the 491 Republican Constitution which was introduced last year has not changed in any way the attachment of the Ghanaians to the Queen and the Royal Family.
I remember the crowds that turned out to see His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh when he came to Ghana in 1959. They were bigger crowds than those which turned out for any other visitor from a foreign or Commonwealth country during the whole of my time in Ghana. And when the Queen goes to Ghana next month, as I trust she will do, unless events that have not so far transpired were to happen between now and then, she will be welcomed all the more warmly because her visit has been expected and looked forward to for so many years. I am certain that her visit will be remembered afterwards as the most popular visit of all time in Ghana. I was anxious to say these few words because they have some bearing on certain problems that are apparently in the minds of people at the present moment.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
My Lords, may I say how much I agree with the tenor of the noble Earl's speech? Having had some experience, many years ago, in organising the visits of the Duke of Kent to the distressed areas of South Wales and the poorer parts of Glasgow in the very worst moments of the depression, I would say that the fears of the more cautious advisers were invariably wrong and His Royal Highness always received the warmest and most enthusiastic welcome. I feel sure that on this occasion such fears are misplaced.
For some years I have had a small financial and great personal interest in Central Africa. I do not think that it is realised how much the development of the Congo depended on the work of a great Englishman, Sir Robert Williams, a man of the stature of Cecil Rhodes, who explored that part of the world, found its mineral deposits and organised those great companies which started to develop the Katanga. As your Lordships know, the type of minerals found there are far different from those found in this country. We imagine that all that has to be done is to make a hole in the ground and dig up minerals as one digs coal. The minerals in Africa are more like trace elements. It would re- 492 quire a quantity of soil equivalent to the entire capacity of this Chamber to produce copper the size of the Woolsack. Mining of this kind presents tremendous metallurgical and chemical problems. It requires great hydro-electric and thermoelectric stations, which in turn need the construction of roads and railways. All this has equally meant that the companies have had to provide schools, hospitals and social services.
I think that I can say without any fear of contradiction that these mining companies of Katanga have given the highest degree of advancement in any part of Africa and have brought up their coloured employees to a higher state of technical development and offered better chances of promotion than any other company in Africa. Because of the extraordinary fact that Katanga runs into Rhodesia like an appendix, and is as far away from the capital of the Congo as we are from Russia, the railway had to be run through Angola into Portuguese West Africa to the Bay of Lobito. This provided the most straightforward way of getting out the minerals. This was the background of generations of enormous investment, which was originally British-inspired but which later came under Belgian technical and financial leadership, with some Portuguese participation.
When the independence of the Congo came, one could well criticise the Belgians for having been too fast. As we heard from the Colonial Secretary at Brighton, perhaps it was better to be too soon than too slow. Then followed the planned outbreaks in which the Force Publique, quite a small element, perpetrated terrible massacres. The result was that the Belgian advisers who had intended to continue as servants of the independent Congo did not dare to remain, and most of them and their families were evacuated.
They were replaced by the United Nations. The Belgians were very difficult to replace, because the United Nations had not the technical experienced staff, people who could speak French, let alone people who could speak the native languages. To show how hard it has been, there are over a quarter of a million lepers in the Congo, and with the recent developments of drugs with which lepers can be treated the Belgians 493 had started a service second to none in conquering that leprosy. Now, under the United Nations direction, that leprosy service has alas practically come to a full stop, and there are a quarter of a million people who have leprosy who continue to suffer, because it has not been possible for the United Nations to produce the number of trained doctors quickly enough.
There has been, unfortunately (and I got this from an Asian friend of mine who had been out there), an unreasonable hostility among the United Nations personnel in Leopoldville towards the Belgians, and especially also in the Katanga. This is a very natural temptation to fall to. It is always the role of people in the East to tend to play off one foreigner against another. When we were in Syria during the war the Syrians were always saying: "Of course, we could not bear the French, but we love you". But later they turned to the Americans and said: "We could not bear the English, but we love you". They make very flattering overtures to the newcomers in comparison with the people who have gone before. It is natural to be rather flattered to be told this, and this was a temptation which, unfortunately, many of the United Nations personnel there were unable to resist. The result was, that they got tremendous emotional feelings towards the Katanga and its advisers, quite unlike that calm detachment one hopes the good civil servant, either national or international, displays.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, I am a little shocked to hear the noble Viscount point to Katanga without doctors, and with lepers not being treated. Would he not agree that the Belgians took all their doctors away the day they left? They were quite merciless.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
No; I am afraid I do not agree with the noble Lady. The intention of the Belgian doctors and others was to remain as servants and employees of an independent Congo Government. It was only when the Force Publique rose and massacred, raped, violated and tortured that the Belgian doctors, civil servants, nurses, nuns, and others, were evacuated. That is, I think, an historical fact. It was only when these really horrible atrocities 494 were committed that they left; and one could not expect doctors, nurses and nuns to remain after what they had seen.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
I am sorry to interrupt the noble Viscount again, but I do not think his interpretation is quite right. I would remind him that there is a great tradition in the medical profession that they stay with their patients. Surely they did that in the war. In bombed London they did not run away.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
So far as I know, in bombed London doctors were neither tortured, raped nor violated. To stand by one's own community that is being attacked is a different thing altogether from staying in a place where you have seen this awful wave of atrocities perpetrated by the Force Publique.
In Katanga there was peace, and the mineral production, even after independence, has broken all records. I do not want to go over the political history which noble Lords have mentioned, but it did look as if the United Nations action was to remove not merely undesirable mercenaries, but also the Director of the Radio and people like that who were suddenly picked up and turned out; and then to replace Mr. Tshombe with a High Commissioner, sent in from Leopoldville, who had been a keen supporter of Lumumba. It was natural that everybody in Katanga, black and white, did not want to see the place put under this Lumumbist and the horrible atrocities which Katanga had avoided possibly repeated there.
We are very glad that there is this armistice. We hope this will continue, and that the reports of Mr. Khiari's Press conference may be wrong or exaggerated. War can take place between the Central Government and Katanga only if the United Nations facilitates it—for this reason: the distance from Leopoldville to Elisabethville is rather like that between Madras and Karachi, and there are very bad communications, because of the nature of the land. You have to get on a railway, then on to a boat and then on to another railway, and it is a long and difficult transportation feat. So far, whenever the Congolese Army has been sent on expeditions it has tended to disappear into the bush before it has reached its destination. It 495 could only be if the United Nations were deliberately to provide air transport and move troops from one place to the other that there would be the danger of war breaking out again.
But, having said that, one cannot declare too strongly that all parties wish that there should be overall unity in the Congo. And that goes for the Belgians and for the Union Miniere, as much as for anybody else. You just cannot cut off the Katanga too easily from the rest of the Congo. There are plans for 30 years ahead for the development of that area for the advantage of Africa, as a whole. It is through the development by European capital of this area that the social services of the Congo—whether medical, primary education, technical education and so on—are higher than in any other area. Nobody realises more than those concerned that a vast amount of the money made in the mines will always have to be reinvested in the development of the country and for the government and welfare of its people. But it surely is not to the advantage of the nations of Africa that there should be a vast loss of confidence by the European investor, because it is in those areas of Africa and Asia where you have had the fertilising flow of long-term capital that the standard of living of the native population has been the highest. It is in those countries where they have no natural resources and have not been able to get European capital, that people are the poorest and malnutrition is the worst.
It is no use saying, "One does not need private capital; we can get it all from the Government in United Nations loans, and so forth". One of the United Nations officials at Leopoldville said, "The problem is not so much the money for this country, but to find people to use it properly". During the fifteen years since the war there have been examples all over the world where foreign aid coming through Governments has been completely wasted. It has been like watering the deserts, and it has disappeared, leaving very little behind. You must not merely have the money; you must also have the skill and the technicians. You may say, "Well, the United Nations and the Governments provide those." But to 496 develop metals, oils and those things you require technicians, and in fact the best are in the teams working for the great private companies. Only if you get these men can you get the development.
As I have said, copper is not like coal. There is one place in Rhodesia where we know there are thousands of tons of copper in the soil, but because the particular chemical and technical method to develop it economically has not yet been worked out, after years of effort, it is no use to anybody; and that part of Africa cannot have the roads and development which it will have as soon as those techniques are worked out. So surely it is for the advantage of Africa itself, and essential for the undeveloped nations, that the private companies, with all their skills and technique, should be induced to come in, and should not have their confidence destroyed.
May I turn to the nearly related country of Angola? While the Congo is a large but potentially rich country, which was a colony of a small but rich and highly developed country, Belgium, Angola is a country almost as large as the Congo, but extremely poor; and was a colony of a country which was very small and very poor itself. That is the essential fact. You never did, or could, get the quick development which you had in the Congo because resources were not there on either side. Yet it was a country where much progress has recently been made, and one can certainly say that there were no racial harriers but a great intermingling of the races.
As we know, no Portuguese colony ever had anything like a colour bar. Then, quite suddenly there was this outbreak of terrorism in this country. It occurred in only a very small area of the country. One would have thought, by reading the papers, that the whole of Angola had gone up. It did not occur in more than, I suppose, 15 per cent. of the whole country. That was on the Congo frontier, where from inside the Congo there had been a carefully laid plot, in which the worst of instincts and the most barbaric tendencies of people had been let loose. Suddenly, you had the wives of Portuguese raped and then allowed to die the long, agonising death 497 of crucifixion, about which we read in the Bible. The children were taken and burned, and men were slowy hacked to bits. This has occurred in the last twelve months. It was not only against the Portuguese. Six times as many Africans as Portuguese were murdered by these terrorists. It was an attempt to make a reign of terror.
The Portuguese were caught completely by surprise. In a country as large as France and Germany put together, there were only 1,000 white troops. The result was that the wise Portuguese armed themselves with sporting rifles and anything they had; and they hit back, as anybody who knows the Iberian character could have predicted. Naturally, it has taken some time for the Portuguese Government to get Regular, disciplined troops out from Europe and to re-establish, as it is reestablishing, law and order. But all these stories of enormous areas of forest being put on fire are not true; it is just not physically possible. It never happened and never could have happened as anybody in the R.A.F. will be delighted to confirm. It was absolutely ridiculous propaganda.
The railway across Angola for 825 miles has never had a single derailment or incident of any sort along the whole course, and they do not even carry armed guards on the trains, or have them on the bridges. It is as safe as going from London to Edinburgh by train, and always has been.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
Not quite so far; but it shows how vastly exaggerated the story has been. I think the Portuguese realise as much as anybody else that they must move with the times and anybody who has taken the trouble to read the important speech of the Portuguese Minister for Overseas can realise that the Portuguese are making a serious attempt, according to their means, their wealth and their power, to make considerable changes and adapt themselves to the situation. But I think these people who were suddenly attacked, and who suddenly had these terrible atrocities out of the blue perpetrated on them, should receive sympathy, rather than criticism, and that we should remember the first principle which my noble friend 498 Lord Avon said, "Stand by your friends when they are in trouble."
§ 5.9 p.m.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, although in this debate which has taken place within the last two days there are a number of noble Lords who have made a contribution, and a number of honourable Members have made a contribution to the debate in another place on the same subject, nevertheless I was impressed this morning to see that The Times devoted its main leader to a matter which transcends all our arguments, and that is the announcement that another atomic bomb is about to be exploded, in consequence of which the upper atmosphere will be further polluted. I just want to refer to it at this moment because I believe it is quite unrealistic to have a debate on international affairs without mentioning it. Indeed I am hopeful, although it may be a vain hope, that the Government, or at least their representatives, and the Ambassador of the Soviet Union will read this debate and perhaps register what we in this country feel about this announcement. I think it was excellent that the United States of America immediately made a pronouncement, without any qualification at all, and begged the Soviet Union to desist.
I have visited the Soviet Union twice, in 1931 and 1952, and on both those occasions I was tremendously impressed with their achievements in the field of social services, particularly with regard to preventive medicine and in the child welfare services. This is not melodrama; this is scientific fact. The effect of this decision to increase the amount of strontium 90 in the atmosphere will take months or years to assess. Nevertheless it will be assessed, and ultimately the historians, the scientists and the statisticians will publicly record all the number of children born with physical defects since the great increase in artificially produced radioactive material in the atmosphere. Indeed all countries who participate in these tests are guilty of waging war on children, because strontium 90 is ingested through the milk.
I find it difficult to believe that a country which has given priority to the children's services—and in the Soviet Union they are among the best in the world—will deliberately injure children now alive and, by inducing genetic 499 changes, be responsible for hideous physical defects among the most helpless in the community. This will all in time be published in our medical journals of some years hence; and indeed in the next few months, perhaps in April, there may be more serious statements than we have read now. I can only hope at this late hour that the Soviet Union will demonstrate its true greatness in the field of preventive medicine by refraining from further polluting the atmosphere and thereby endangering the health and lives of children throughout the world.
I had hoped in this debate and in another place that this plea would have gone out from many Members of both Houses because I believe that notice is taken, that the Soviet Union is conscious of public opinion. We have noticed in the last two weeks, and it was mentioned by the Foreign Secretary, that there has been an amelioration of their attitude. Therefore, I hope that noble Lords when they speak, wherever they speak, will raise this matter again and again.
I now want to turn to the Congo. I am sorry that the noble Lord who has just spoken, whom I knew in another role in Fulham for many years, has gone, because I cannot identify myself with,his approach; but I do say to him that I believe he sincerely believes that what he says is a correct interpretation of the position. But there are others on both sides I think—I have listened to the Foreign Secretary and the noble Marquess to-day—who would differ with his interpretation.
The Foreign Secretary yesterday gave us a verbal sketch of the world situation, but I think he rather presented it in pastel colours. I am inclined to see disunity and conflict and chaos in some parts of the world which necessitates this scurrying from capital to capital of overworked diplomats. I have no doubt that our descendants will formulate some form of world government whose global jurisdiction will transcend our national quarrels. The time will come. Meanwhile we have the United Nations Organisation, which, while not perfect, at least embodies the hopes and aspirations of those who seek to solve international problems by the rule of law. Then I think of the Foreign Secretary's sincerity when he identified himself with the efforts that Mr. Dag Hammarsk- 500 joeld made to make the United Nations work as perfectly as possible. He said—and I hope this will go out—that we must support the United Nations because it has as its main purpose the strengthening of peace. Now having said that, I would say that those who strive to undermine the authority of the United Nations should be regarded as the enemies of the people, for only through world authority can we hope to avert catastrophe.
The noble Marquess to-day very kindly and helpfully analysed the situation over the last few years in the Congo, but he did not mention that on the Monday of this week President Tshombe defied the United Nations and failed to fulfil a promise to exchange 190 United Nations prisoners. I read my papers very carefully yesterday and to-day, and if the position has changed, if those 190 prisoners have been exchanged, I shall be very pleased to hear; and perhaps the noble Viscount, in winding up, will tell me if this is so.
§ LORD CLITHEROE
My Lords, may I be allowed to tell the noble Lady that arrangements for the transfer have not yet been confirmed by the United Nations and therefore the matter is somewhat in suspense at the present time, and the actual reason why President Tshombe did not return the prisoners, I understand, was that United Nations authorities refused to give up the radio station.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
The noble Lord gives the House that explanation. I can only say that it was stated in the newspapers on Monday that all the arrangements had been made and the United Nations authorities came to effect the exchange. This cannot be done in a frivolous manner. Arrangements must be made, but there was nobody there. The prisoners were mostly Irish and they were to be handed over at Elisabethville. In this description of the failure to hand over these prisoners it was said (I am quoting the Guardian of Monday) that there was a more ominous incident. There was cat-calling from a crowd of Africans and Belgians gathered outside the main post office which the United Nations Gurkha troops were due to leave as soon as the prisoners were exchanged. Now this is very depressing after what the noble 501 Marquess and the Foreign Secretary have said, and after all the hard work in this field of the noble Marquess, which we all recognise. The people of Africa are only slowly learning the art of government, and this defiance of the United Nations undermines the whole conception of world order.
I observed that the noble Marquess told us he went to see Sir Roy Welensky—I also listened to my noble friend Lord Silkin—when he said that for some curious reason President Tshombe's attitude had changed after it had been announced that the United Nations were going to the Congo. He said that he rather associated the name of Sir Roy Welensky with this change—and this will be found in Hansard—but he did not develop the argument. I find it very difficult to reconcile the conversation that the noble Marquess tells us he had with Sir Roy Welensky and the speech to the Federal Parliament which Sir Roy Welensky made on August 30, 1961, when he said:The United Nations has no authority for the wholesale arrest of Europeans. Its action is illegal and high-handed.As we all know that stems from a resolution of the United Nations on February 21. Of course, this statement is made in Africa, and this blatant emphasis on the privileges of Europeans, putting them above the International Law, is surely calculated to destroy confidence in the British Government and the United Nations.
Furthermore, at a Press conference on September 16 Sir Roy Welensky announced that the Federation was sending food and medical supplies to President Tshombe. Asked what would be the diplomatic effects of aiding people in conflict with the United Nations, he replied: "I don't know and I don't care". I ask the noble Marquess: how can he reconcile the conversation he has reported to the House, in which Sir Roy Welensky undertook to help to promote unity in the Congo, with these amazing statements. "I don't know and I don't care"—that surely is hardly the language of a statesman, a responsible statesman, in a situation such as this fraught with the greatest danger, danger which we all recognise not only from inside the Congo but from without.
502 The Foreign Secretary yesterday emphasised that Katanga is part of the Congo, and must remain so, and I think all responsible people agree with that. Yet according to the Sunday Telegraph of September 17, Sir Roy Welensky received two Katangan Ministers and promised them urgently needed supplies over the week-end September 1617. How, again, can we reconcile this with his desire for unity. After the recent ministerial shuffle in this country the Observer commented, on October 15:It now falls to Mr. Reginald Maudling to face the assaults of Sir Roy Welensky.It is not verbal assaults which should perturb any Minister—Ministers are used to them. If they cannot take verbal assaults they should not accept nomination; they should not accept the invitation tendered to them from the Prime Minister to fill a post. But these unrestrained outbursts are calculated to jeopardise the delicate relationship between Africans and Europeans, with unpredictable consequences.
I am grasping this nettle because so many people hint at it and mention it. Indeed, it has been mentioned this afternoon. But I feel that the time has come when we should be told what really is the exact position of Sir Roy Welensky. Is he helping us to promote unity and peace, or is he not? I must confess that with this history of his in the Congo it seems to me that he is consistently pursuing his questionable tactics in Africa. I would remind your Lordships that in 1950 he said:I am a bitter opponent of the Colonial Office and it is my intention to break that stranglehold on our country".In 1957 his Government passed the Constitution Amendment Bill and the Electoral Bill, both of which were designed to minimise African influence and representation, despite the opposition of the African Affairs Board, a body created to examine laws discriminating against Africans, and the Conservative Government in this country agreed to both measures. In his speech today, the noble Earl, Lord Avon, said "You must not give one inch; that would be interpreted as weakness". He was talking about Germany. But when we think of our attitude to Sir Roy Welensky, we recall that time after time he has done things in Africa which we 503 feel should not be accepted, and yet which we feel, for the sake of peace, we will accept. We now find ourselves with this history, that he is behaving in the Congo in a manner which must foment dissension.
In 1959 the Federal Government refused to meet the constitutional demands of the African people. This led to disturbances in Nyasaland. I must remind your Lordships, too, what Sir Roy Welensky said then. He said that some Members of Parliament here were "evil and foul" because they refused to accept the manufactured story of a "massacre plot" following meetings called by Dr. Banda's African National Congress. The Devlin Report revealed not only that there was no evidence of a massacre plot but that Nyasaland was being run as a police State. I have come well documented, in order that I shall not be charged with being biased or having an ill-formed opinion which really has no sound foundation. The Observer at that time, in March, 1959, said this:To-day we are supporting Sir Roy Welensky in pursuit of a policy which so far as the Africans are concerned displays the same disregard of political rights, and willingness to use force, that characterise the worse features of the South African Union.Then, my Lords, we come to this year, when Sir Roy Welensky intervened in the Northern Rhodesian Constitutional Conference to prevent African majority rule from being achieved in that territory. The noble Earl, Lord Avon, said that the position to-day was as serious as in 1939. But the fact is that the whole world is closely watching developments in Africa. How does the Government expect to win support among the uncommitted countries when it disregards the international significance of this catalogue of provocative speeches? I would ask the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, when he comes to wind up to address himself to this problem, as the whole question of conversations has been raised by the noble Marquess. He has endeavoured to reassure us; he has told the House that, so far as he and his noble friend are concerned, they have seen all these people who are concerned with the Congo who might be able to help in this difficult position. And I feel that on these matters which I have raised 504 tonight there is a great need of reassurance.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, before I come to the main purpose of the debate, and when I have the attention of Her Majesty's Government, I should like to make this reference to the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill. The noble Lady has given a long account of various observations made by my friend—and I am proud to call him my friend; I have known him for 30 years—Sir Roy Welensky. It may be in the course of those observations he said things that were regrettable, but not, if I may say so, anything more regrettable than the noble Lady's own observation, as reported, that she was ashamed of being British. The sole niche which she will fill in history is having made that observation.
I should like to begin by saying that I think we have had, if I may say so with the greatest respect, a most interesting debate of some value and importance. Like other noble Lords on both sides of the House—here I should like to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, and other speakers from the Opposition Front Benches for their generous tributes to the Foreign Secretary—I was immensely impressed with what the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary said. I hope I may say without presumption that in a long political career I have never known a better Foreign Secretary than we have at present, or one who is more courageous and more willing to put what is often the unpopular point of view which a British Foreign Secretary must put.
We had yesterday a most interesting speech from the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein. The reply of an old personal friend of mine and a great Member of your Lordships' House, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, was absolutely delightful. I should think that since the days of the Duke of Wellington, who used constantly to be attacked in your Lordships' House, no great soldier has ever received such a drubbing as did the Field Marshal yesterday. We all admired the way in which he put his case. To-day (I follow the old-fashioned rule of saying something about the speeches that have preceded one's own) we have had a 505 remarkable speech from the noble Earl, Lord Avon. I am sure I speak for all your Lordships on both sides of the House when I say how delighted we are to see him back and in such good health. I think that we have also had a most useful speech from my noble friend on the Bench beside me, and two most interesting speeches from Lord Clitheroe and Lord Astor.
I propose to devote what will, I hope, be the comparatively short time for which I shall address your Lordships to events in the Congo. I would begin by saying this. When the United Nations first took it upon themselves to enter into the Congo there was an almost obsessional dislike of the Belgians. A good deal of the trouble, as Lord Astor so truly pointed out, stemmed from the fact that the United Nations were determined, as soon as they could, to get every Belgian out of the country, when it was obvious that they would have to remain at least until things had settled down. I was very shocked at the time, as I hope were other noble Lords, at how little public sympathy was shown in this country when there took place the appalling outrages against something like 100 women who were raped by the Congolese.
I made a speech on the subject and I was touched by the number of letters which I received from Belgium, and by resolutions from Belgian organisations. They asked, what had happened to the British, did they think that they were savages? Why was there no sympathy in regard to these atrocities? That is my first indictment of the behaviour of the United Nations in the Congo. When the Government come to reply no doubt they will correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that they had at the time sufficient forces to do something to prevent these outrages; whereas they did nothing whatsoever.
But my second charge is that there was a terrible state of affairs some time after this, when refugees in a certain refugee camp (I have forgotten now who they were) were dying at the rate of 100 a day; and until attention was called to the matter in this country and in the United States, and pressure put upon the United Nations nothing was done. As it was, I think it was the Red Cross Which eventually gave them succour. These are two serious indictments. There 506 may be an answer to both of them. I brought them up in Questions at the time but, if I may say so, the Government were, as they were quite entitled to be, slightly "cagey" (if I may use a vulgar phrase) on this subject. I think the answer was that they were making inquiries among our diplomatic reprssentatives in the Congo.
I come now to the appalling events in Katanga. I cannot say how grateful I feel to Lord Clitheroe and Lord Astor, two very old and dear friends of mine, for what they have told us about the situation there. I said in a previous debate that there is in this country what I would describe as a Negrophile Press and a Negrophile element in the population. But always where African affairs are concerned these Negrophiles think that the Europeans are wrong and that the Africans are right. That does no good to the Africans and, let me tell your Lordships, it is deeply resented by the thousands of Africans who are working happily with Europeans and who do not wish to have any agitation from outside to make their position worse.
What was the reason why the United Nations in the first instance—I will come back to Katanga in a moment—appeared to start off on the wrong leg and to show a bias? I think it was partly the fault of the Soviet Union. But we should not ignore another country which has done its best through its dictator President to make trouble in the Congo and, indeed, in Africa generally—namely, Ghana. President Nkrumah obviously sees himself as an African Stalin. If he is not a Communist, he is certainly a fellow traveller. I do not know whether your Lordships have noticed that he sent 1,000 young men to be trained in military service in staff colleges in Moscow. He has, of course, abolished all liberty in his own country. He has treated his political opponents with the utmost cruelty. Like other dictators he has invented plots against himself for the purpose of arresting respectable Africans, men of great integrity and position, some of them former members of his Government. If he had more power (which, fortunately, he has not) over the rest of Africa, he would be a very dangerous man indeed. He talks of forming an African High Command, and his supporters say that if it were formed the first thing he would 507 do would be to get into the Congo and then, if possible, into Northern Rhodesia.
Because your Lordships would naturally object to the very delicate subject, though I understand it is going to be raised in another place tomorrow, I do not propose to deal with a forthcoming visit there. But I think it should be made clear that such a visit is solely at the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government, and that they will incur a very great responsibility, possibly the greatest that they could take, if they do not take into consideration the disadvantages which would follow from such a visit.
I return to the question of Katanga. Here again, the Negrophile Press of this country and the Negrophile elements have done their best to blanket the truth about the atrocities committed in the name of the United Nations and by United Nations troops and officials. Mr. Hammarskjoeld is dead. I should like to join with others in paying a tribute to him. The fact that a man is dead is no reason for not criticising his policy. The policies of the late Mr. Chamberlain and Mr. Baldwin are constantly criticised. I must say that I should like to know—I do not suppose we ever shall—how far he was privy to the astonishing behaviour of the almost unbelievable Mr. O'Brien, who, I understand, is still in Katanga, who is the worst type of filibustering braggart, and who said on one occasion that every civilian found with a gun in the streets of Katanga would be shot. It seems most undesirable that countries like the United States and ourselves should, in a sense, be responsible for the conduct of such a man.
A reporter of the B.B.C., a very corn-potent man, and Mr. Ian Colvin, a journalist of great ability, both witnessed the attack upon Red Cross ambulances and entirely discard the story put out by the United Nations representatives, that the ambulances were armed. They saw the two men, the driver and the stretcher-bearer, shot and left on the ground, and they saw a number of other Katanganese shot in the back. The incredible Mr. O'Brien (I presume it was he who put it out) issued a statement that all the resistance of the United Nations troops was directed by Belgians. 508 This, I believe, according to information from those on the spot, was completely and absolutely untrue.
This afternoon we have had a statement with which I hope the Government will deal, because it is of immense importance. Lord Clitheroe has quoted the statement of a number of Italian doctors who objected most strongly to the way in which the United Nations made use of the Red Cross hospitals as strongpoints, and to the manner in which they dealt with the wounded and interfered with ambulances. Before I sit down I am going to suggest a method by which there should be an inquiry into this matter. I suppose that none of your Lordships who are to follow me in the debate is going to get up and say that these Italians were liars. There is the most comprehensive and factual information that these outrages did occur, and I just cannot understand the extraordinary answer of the Prime Minister, who is reported as having said that the alleged outrages, the shooting by certain troops in the manner I have described, were "unsubstantiated".
Does he suggest that the reporter of the B.B.C., Mr. Ian Colvin and these Italian doctors were all liars or were temporarily blindfolded? What did he mean by saying that they were not substantiated? Now that attention has been called to the matter in your Lordships' House—it may not attract much attention in this country, because the Negrophiles are very strong here, but it will certainly attract great attention abroad, in New York, Paris and elsewhere—the Government must give some answer on this question, as to whether they do or do not accept that these outrages occurred, and who was responsible for them.
I come now to almost my last point, and it is this. Of course, these atrocities were not on the scale of those committed by the Germans during the last war, or those committed by the Russians since. They were not as bad as those in Hungary, but they were bad enough; and I consider there should be an inquiry to find out who was responsible. I should like to see the International Committee of Jurists (I think that is the name of the body in question) appoint a committee, whether the United Nations likes it or not, to go into the facts and to assess 509 and assign the blame for these occurrences if they are proved to have occurred. I am afraid that it would be very difficult to punish the perpetrators, but at least they could be dismissed from the service of the United Nations.
There are only two other points I want to make. I quite agree it is as important, if possible, that the Katanga Government should come to some terms with the Leopoldville Government, but they have been not too well treated by the Leopoldville Government. The noble Lady who preceded me complained that the Katanga authorities had broken their word about the exchange of prisoners. The answer which was given by my noble friend Lord Clitheroe—and it seems to me to be a very conclusive one—was that they wished to wait to see whether the agreement was or was not supported by the United Nations in New York. In passing, I should like to say here something I should have said before: that I think the whole world is indebted to my noble friend Lord Lansdowne for the action which he took, at considerable personal risk and in circumstances of great strain, to arrange the cease-lire, and I hope that it will continue.
My last words are these. With great courage, the Foreign Secretary said something that many of us have been saying in private: that is, he referred to the manner in which we are constantly abused and insulted in public at the United Nations by the representatives of small nations, many of them with a very poor type of civilisation, either a feudal system or a dictatorship, who then say, in private, that they did not really mean what they said. We have taken it up to now far too much sitting down because of the (as I think) fantastic belief in this country—"fantastic" is not quite the right word, because of the mistaken belief in this country—and in America, that in some way (to use a vulgarism) you have got to "play up" to the Afro-Asian group. There is really no such thing as an Afro-Asian group. If they dislike us, they dislike each other even more than they dislike us. Iraq and Jordan, for example; and Pakistan and India. Our attitude towards the Afro-Asian countries should be friendly to those countries friendly to us—countries like Pakistan and Iran. I also agree with one of the speakers who preceded me, 510 that we should do everything possible to show our support to Iran, which has a very remarkable leader in the Shah. I had the pleasure of meeting him on one occasion, and he struck me as one of the ablest men I have ever met in my life. We should also be friendly to countries like Tunisia, Morocco and Nigeria—a very different country from Ghana. The Nigerians, perhaps, do not openly want to show too much favour towards us, but their Prime Minister is friendly towards us.
In conclusion, it is quite obvious that the structure of the United Nations will have, willy-nilly, to be altered in the next few years, and that the Charter will have to be altered. I should like to associate myself with noble Lords opposite when I say that it is really fantastic that China should be left out of the United Nations and that Formosa should be in. I think there should be some system—I do not know what phrase to use, but some sort of a differential voting system—which gives to small countries a smaller number of votes than that given to great countries like the United States and ourselves. It would have to be a rather complicated system. Then, of course, if it could be achieved, it would be desirable to form an international force that could keep order, instead of sending pockets of ill-disciplined troops such as have been sent to the Congo by various countries. If those things were done there could be a very real improvement in world relationships
Those of us who have criticised the United Nations, have done so only because we think the present structure is not suited to the occasion. For one thing, it is not a body of united nations, and when it was formed it was formed among those who had won the war. It is now an assembly of disunited nations and the name should be changed, though the functions of discussion and trying to preserve peace should, of course, be maintained. I quite agree with noble Lords on both sides of the House that we should achieve an immense help to peace if we could alter that structure and make it more suited to the circumstances of the time.
§ 5.51 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, in rising to make a brief contribution to this debate, I realise that one is going over already well-trampled ground, and I shall 511 therefore try to avoid repetition of what has already been much better said. I propose to confine my remarks to Africa, for reasons which have already been once stated in this debate: that although it is obvious that the danger point in international affairs is at present Berlin, Africa is a continent seething with potential trouble for the future, and therefore I think it should receive perhaps more attention than it does at the moment receive in the Press.
To speak on Africa in a debate on the international situation is, of course, merely to select what is already one of the main centres of international tension, and it seems relevant to start, first of all, by making a comment on the organisation of the United Nations. The tragic death of Mr. HammarskjOeld while on duty in Africa, and the difficulty of finding an adequate and suitable successor to so outstanding a figure, is itself significant. At the best, the situation of Secretary-General of the United Nations is one of the most difficult in the world, and this is a particularly difficult time. There are so many critical problems awaiting the attention of the world organisation, and only a man of exceptional qualities can hope to fill the office adequately, since he must be a great world leader. To say that, with the present methods of selection, these men (I refer to the Secretary-General and his main assistants) are unlikely to be of the calibre which is necessary, is meant to be no reflection on present holders of the posts, but it is a reflection on the organisation of the United Nations, which at the top is so influenced by political considerations which reduce, I suggest, the likelihood of efficiency.
Criticism has often been voiced that the United Nations should stop merely passing resolutions and expressing pious hopes, and start being something of a World Government. But, my Lords, the whole structure—and I am coming on to the point of the Congo—is utterly inadequate for such a purpose, because membership bears no relation to the facts of power. The United Nations is an organisation which is largely financed by a handful of its members, wherein (as the noble Lord who spoke before me has already mentioned) the smallest member State, with 1¼ million popula- 512 tion, shall we say, has the same vote as Soviet Russia or the United States of America. And although it may serve as a questionable forum of public opinion, when it undertakes action and active interference with the affairs of a sovereign State, then I suggest that the United Nations is apt to be what I think it has been in the Congo—a disastrous liability. It does not have the competent administrative personnel, the experience, the knowledge, or the traditional service integrity to undertake such tasks, let alone the legal right to do so.
It is a strange unwritten rule, too, that the Secretary-General must not be a national of any of the big Powers. One might reasonably have thought that the combination of rare qualities required in such a man would have been more probably found, say, in a national of the United Kingdom, France or one of the big Powers. It is also a curious comment, my Lords, to reflect what would happen if one of the pious dreams of some of the pan-African enthusiasts were realised and there were political union of most countries in Africa. In that event, instead of having 30 votes on the United Nations they would then have only one. Is that not in itself a ridiculous position?
But these comments, as I have said, have particular reference to the Congo, where United Nations forces recently have been used in a cynical and unscrupulous armed attack designed to smash the Government of Katanga which, with all its faults, has succeeded in preserving an area of peace and order in the militant tribal chaos of the rest of the Congo. The shameful details of this sudden experiment in international thuggery, which is what it really is, are too well known to need recapitulation by me, and the unexpected, though only qualified, success of Tshombe and the Katangan Government in their resistance to this treacherous attack, and the shock that such tactics gave, even to some African members of the United Nations, have led to the present uneasy armistice and a United Nations withdrawal from the position which it had taken up.
One can understand that Kasavubu, Adoula and the Gizenga group, whose aim was to get control of Katanga's mineral resources, were extremely pleased with this action; and so 513 also were the Communist Powers, because chaos is the climate in which Red imperialism can best extend its empire. Even some of what are called the Afro-Asian group were pleased about it, of course, because they objected to the retention of European advisers and technicians, regardless of the fact that they themselves knew that such help was essential if Africans were ever to be able to take charge. Incidentally, as has been pointed out—and I need not labour the point—this action of expelling European advisers and technicians is flatly contradictory to the accepted policy of the British Government, and, indeed, of the French Government. In short, my Lords, the Congo is a magnificent object lesson in the danger of trying to solve racial craving for independence, and of trying to relax tension in Africa by precipitately handing over control for purely numerical reasons to those who are not yet equipped to handle the responsibilities of government. As has been said, "Time takes his revenge for all the counsels to which lie is not called".
What may be the real wishes of the Congo have never been ascertained, if, indeed, they are ascertainable. Among leaders at the time of June of last year, as your Lordships will remember, opinion was sharply divided between the ideals of a unitary State and a federal State on something like the Nigerian pattern. Mr. Tshombe, to do him justice, has never varied in his willingness to enter a Federal Union, and has refused to accept a unitary State with all the power centred in Leopoldville. After only three days at the beginning of June last year—or was it the end of June?—when the Congo became nominally an independent State, the thing broke up in disorder; and it was after only eleven days, I think on July 11, that Tshombe, in desperation, declared independence in order to save his State from being involved in general chaos. The record of the United Nations in the Congo, let us face it, is on the whole one of failure. It has failed to restore harmony, and has merely succeeded in the past in preventing either Lumumba or Kasavubu or Mobutu or Tshombe from attaining their several aims. It recently crowned this ineffective record with an act of shameful violence.
514 One might comment that, surely, if the United Nations were determined to force a political solution on an unwilling group of tribal areas it would have been far more sensible to base it on Elisabethville, not on Leopoldville; and, incidentally—this is a thing they have consistently shirked or were afraid to do—also to deal just as firmly with Stanleyville, which had been the scene of Communist influence, as it subsequently did with Elisabethville. I also appreciate that this action would have been impossible, because it would have split the United Nations, which is almost as disunited as the various areas of the Congo. I think we should always try to remember that this idea of the Congo nation as a Congo State is a pure myth. It has never existed, and it was at the beginning a legal fiction which was rapidly dissolved.
Meanwhile, I think it is as well to notice the powerful external influences which are now being brought to bear on African life. The whole Continent is slowly and inexorably being sucked into the vortex of the cold war. African students are being attracted to Peking and Moscow and trained in subversive thought and deed. Financial aid is being offered by Moscow and Peking, Russian and Chinese advisers are always available, and modern arms are being supplied to aid subversive movements in unsympathetic States. Radio Cairo ceaselessly blares out its subversive messages and its falsehoods to all the emergent nations. President Nasser dreams of leading the Pan-African Movement—an African thraldom under Arab hegemony, presumably—while among the ambitious politicians of the new Africa are other power-hungry dreamers eager to merge the crying needs of their own people in the consolidated dissatisfaction of a continent. For all of this, Soviet support is available, sure as they are that their deluded followers, disappointed with the rewards which they have not earned, and which will not appear, will in the ensuing chaos turn to the discipline of Communism.
My Lords, I know it is quite true that there are other influences at work—the various financial organisations of the United Nations, and the separate ones of the British, French and Americans. 515 But it is, I think, also reasonable to remember that American influence is not always wise, since it tends to stress its traditional, anti-colonialism stand to African leaders, who are apt to misunderstand it and to take it as encouraging racial activities. Africa is not a nation any more than Europe is; and, incidentally, there are several million white people who are as much African as, say, the Bantu. The flamboyant politician who claims to be the representative of his people is, generally speaking, barely entitled to say that he is the representative of his tribe, and certainly not of his people.
My Lords, I turn now for a moment to another centre where another Congo situation might easily spring up, and that is Portuguese Africa, Angola. It is unnecessary to go into details concerning the present position in Angola. The noble Viscount, Lord Astor, has already spoken on that. But it is an established fact that the so-called Angola rebellion was stimulated and initiated from the safe distance of neighbouring territories. The invading forces were at times shown to have arms of modern Czechoslovakian type, and they have behaved with all the bestial savagery—murder, rape, arson, burning and tearing in pieces of live children, and so forth—which has already been mentioned to your Lordships. There is no doubt that there were savage reprisals by some of the settlers, reprisals which were stopped immediately on the arrival of Portuguese troops. Atrocities, on whatever side, are of course deplorable; but also deplorable, surely, is the tendency to place all the blame upon the victims.
My Lords, as I think the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, in a debate in the summer said: what is the alternative to Portuguese control in Angola? Is it handing over the territory to murderous thugs whose purely destructive activities are terrorising parts of the territory? The Portuguese connection with Africa, after all, dates back 500 years, and they have always regarded their territorial acquisitions wherever they might be—in Africa, India, China, or Timor—as integral provinces of Portugal. Tribal Africans have been secure in the occupancy of 516 their lands. They can, and do, rise to important Government positions. They have voting rights and educational facilities, and the Portuguese have encouraged inter-marriage and racial assimilation.
What, then, is the truth about the trouble in Angola? It has been initiated by bands of revolutionaries trained abroad. The maximum estimate of the number of people engaged in Angola is about 0.7 per cent. of the African population of the province—25,000 at the most. About half of these are held by fear—fear of the terrible reprisals, of which death is the least terrible, inflicted by the hard core of terrorists on any who refuse to cooperate. Many of them are not natives of Angola at all. It has been estimated that the real hard core of Angolan terrorists number about 8,000 to 10,000, or less than one-quarter of 1 per cent. of the native African population of Angola. This scarcely constitutes a great national movement and makes any invocation of the shop-soiled phrase about "the wind of change" more than usually foolish.
The pattern is all too familiar in Africa. The terrain of vast empty spaces of jungle, swamp and mountain enables small bands of terrorists to be a serious menace, very difficult to stamp out, as was found to be the case with Mau-Mau in Kenya. The Portuguese do not claim to be perfect in their administration, but at the moment the only possible hope of tolerable life for the inhabitants, be they black, white or coloured, is the restoration of their authority. Only the Communist Powers can want to create the alternative chaos into which they would inject their trained agents of future control. Incidentally, there has been ample evidence by competent English and American witnesses from Angola that the appalling atrocities simply exemplify the deliberate policy of the terrorists: they are not part of Portuguese policy.
Time does not permit me to make more than a passing reference to certain other parts of Africa. We have recently had debates on Kenya and on the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and the relevance of these countries to a debate on the International Situation lies in the increasing interest which their affairs have been exciting in inter- 517 national circles and in the United Nations. Just as the French Government's difficulties in Tunisia and Algeria have become subjects of international debate, in the same way the racial and tribal problems of Kenya and the Federation have attracted a great deal of extremely biased and ignorant discussion at international level. I do not propose to say anything more about Kenya than that it is an unfortunate fact that the British Government are no longer trusted by the bulk of the European community to see that justice will be done to them, while the African leaders have not regarded as binding their undertakings at the Lancaster House Conference, from which the present Constitution sprang. So the future happiness of the people of that country is also very uncertain.
With regard to the Federation, I would only say that the success or failure of the partnership policy, which is the foundation of the Federation, will have world-wide repercussions. I do not think that there is any need to defend Sir Roy Welensky for his interest in what is happening in the Congo, because he has the best part of. 2,000 miles of unguarded frontier there, and he must be deeply interested in whether there is chaos, which is apt to be contagious, across his borders. Equally, I do not propose, in view of our recent debates, to say anything about South Africa, other than that the Government have refused to surrender control of South-West Africa. It is difficult to see any feasible alternative. It has been suggested, I know, that control should be exercised by a committee of other African States. It is hard to visualise success for so unpractical and impracticable a proposal. Indeed, the inhabitants of South-West Africa are likely to be far worse off under such a régime.
The issue of the Common Market is of the deepest interest to the States of Africa, especially to the recently independent States, but again recent debates make it unnecessary to go into that in detail. Some African leaders suspiciously condemn the whole arrangements as neo-colonialism, an attempt to bind former Colonies and keep them under economic control. But the whole thing is shrouded with doubt because it is still uncertain whether, in the event of the United Kingdom joining the Com- 518 mon Market, the ex-colonial territories of this country will receive the same treatment as the associated overseas territories of France.
Africa is illumined with a blaze of racialism posing as nationalism. It is spreading with all the destructive force of a forest fire. And the exponents of air-conditioned and imaginative misunderstanding in Europe and America apparently tell us that the way to deal with a forest fire is to let it burn—that is more likely to give a satisfactory result. Adult suffrage, for instance, has become a symbol of status, regardless of the qualification that the possession of, a vote should be related to comprehension of the purpose and the ability to use it Surely democracy does not necessarily mean universal suffrage—one man one vote. It implies that, whatever its form, it should be controlled by as many people as can possibly fulfil the requirements needed to effect such control. It was J. S. Mill, I think, who said that the educated classes should be strong enough to make reason prevail but not strong enough to prevail against reason. The relevance of that is that in Africa the electorate is still chiefly influenced by tribal affinities and emotional slogans, and the difficulty in the prevailing circumstances is to devise a new system which can produce an effective and efficient government.
To conclude on one note of hope, at least, one of the things which I think may make a big contribution to future peace and order in Africa is greater opportunities of meeting and of serious discussion between the various members of the Commonwealth. Your Lordships may have noticed that there is to be a conference in Lagos from January 8 to 19, 1962. Chatham House has accepted the invitation of the Nigerian Federal Government to organise a conference to study "the interesting and urgent problems of Africa." It will, I understand, be attended by about 40 Commonwealth experts, and delegates will be attending as individuals and not as representatives of the Commonwealth Government. They will be the guests of the Nigerian Government during the Conference.
The aim of the Conference is to examine the problems and to provide objective information on them. Those who have been invited are Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, 519 Pakistan, Ceylon, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, the Federation of Malaya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Cyprus, Tanganyika, Kenya, Uganda, the West Indies, Singapore and, of course, Nigeria, the host country. I understand that the discussions are to include such topics as Africa in world affairs, constitutional questions, development, economic independence and the Commonwealth and Africa. I think such conferences might well do a great service and perhaps dissipate a good deal of misunderstanding. The problems of Africa cry out for the attention of statesmen and not politicians, and we can only pray that the statesmen may not be found to be in short supply.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ THE DUKE OF MONTROSE
My Lords this is the third occasion only on which I have had the honour of addressing your Lordships, and I must apologise if I always seem to be asking indulgence for taking up rather more than my fair share of the time of the House. But I do live in Africa, and have done so for 30 years, and when there is a debate of this nature, in which African affairs are involved, I always feel that I want to say rather a lot. I particularly felt so to-day, listening to the exchange between the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, and the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, because it seems to me that somebody should put on record here in Westminster something of what really goes on in the minds of the broad masses of the African people.
That appears to me to be all the more necessary now, because when I last spoke in this House the policies of Her Majesty's Government appeared to be decided after getting educated, and emancipated, Africans around the conference table and consulting with them and the Europeans in the Government in the countries concerned. But things seem to have changed, and it appears now that Her Majesty's Government are prepared to alter their policy as a result of violent actions by groups of completely uneducated, backward Africans in remote parts of the country, who burn down their own schools and dipping tanks, stone the police and carry on in that manner. So I think it is necessary that somebody should deal with what motivates their 520 thinking in some detail; not, as the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, said in another context, hint at things, but call a spade a spade. If what I am going to say appears fantastic and hard to believe, it is none the less true, and I believe, with certain overtones and undertones, is true of the whole of Bantu Africa. It may need some little variation to fit the picture into any particular area.
It is obvious in this debate, as I believe it always is, that in this House there are always people who can speak with authority on any subject; and I have no doubt that that is so to-day. But having a good deal less political reputation to maintain than most other noble Lords here, I will take the risk of speaking about what is fantastic and what is hard to believe. I would emphasise that I am not going to talk about the educated, fully Christianised, emancipated Africans. What is to be expected from them has become quite clear in all that has been said by noble Lords who have dealt with what is going on in Katanga, and the type of man you find in President Tshombe, and those who are helping him—a man who is prepared to co-operate with the European and call upon the white man's knowledge to start him on the road of good government. As I say, I am talking not about those people, but about the type of people who will be brought into the machinery of selecting a Government if you have such a thing as universal franchise, or even widen the existing franchise; the sort of people who are involved in these riots and violence, which apparently now is sufficient to make Her Majesty's Government think of changing their policy.
It is necessary to go right back to the beginning of African thought, and to realise that everything in their minds is the result of supernatural forces. Most religions, the Christian religion and others, believe in the spiritual world and in a life hereafter through faith. But the Africans go a long way beyond that. They believe in the co-existence of a supernatural world mingling with their own lives, and they will tell you over and over again of concrete experiences they have had that prove that existence. It is not a question of asking them to believe in these things by faith; it is very difficult to dissuade them.
521 So I will not, as I say, just hint at things; let me go right to the foundation of their belief and tell you that they believe that the ordinary man in the tribe is inhabited by a normal tribal spirit. They believe that a man who conforms in the pattern of his behaviour, in the pattern of his energy, or lack of it, has inherited the re-incarnation of one or other of his ancestors. That is so firm a belief that I have heard an African call his son "Father". I have asked: "Why do you call your son 'Father'?", and he has said: "He is my father. He has made a number of remarks that my father used to make; he stands as my father used to stand, and I am confident he is my father. What is more, I remember the occasion when he was a child and had some kind of fit, a trembling and rigors, and that is the moment that my wife and I recognised that my father's spirit had entered into him. Therefore I call him 'Father'." That may sound fantastic, but it is quite true.
If a man has a number of sons, say, five sons, he expects them all to conform and be the same. But should one be different, he then says: "This son of mine, instead of inheriting one of my family spirits, has inherited a different spirit". There are a number of different kinds of spirit. The ordinary spirit that gives you additional ability in the part of the world I come from is called a shave. There are spirits that enable you to be a good dancer called madzuka. The herbalist has a Nyanga, the medium a Maroyi and a great tribal medium is the reincarnation of their Mondoro. What other explanation could the African have of these differences among his own people? He is not aware of the various genetical complications that can take place and so on. He has to have a simple explanation, and the one I have given to your Lordships seems straightforward enough to him.
Then the white man came, able to achieve all sorts of objects that he the African could not achieve, guns, explosives and wheels on his transport; able to defy the things that he believed would bring retribution upon him—for instance, to come down to modern times, able to damn the Zambesi River in defiance of the River God. Noble Lords 522 who have read the book, River God, will know what I am talking about, and how firmly they believe it. That has gone on for a century in Africa. The easiest explanation was that these strange people with white skins were the mediums of the Great Spirit, whose name does not vary very much all up the East Coast of Africa. Down in Zululand it is Mlungu, and in Central Africa where I come from it is Marungu; in Kenya it is Mungu. For short, the African called the white man Marungu. He did not mean that the white man was the God. He meant that the white man was the medium and had the ability given to him by the spirit. Nothing extraordinary that astonishes us, astonishes him. Noble Lords who are familiar with Kenya will know the expression sharia Mungu. Everything was accepted that the white man did, not as being wonderful, but just as being another manifestation of the great spirit. Now Mungu must never say, "I do not know". I think the instructions given to the district commissioners in Nyasaland have been dealt with many times in this House. I will not do so again, but it was then that were first sown the seeds of doubt in the minds of Africans that Mungu any longer acted through the white man.
Another small thing that happened about the same time was the outbreak of polio. For the first time the medical profession turned to the African who brought his child in with polio and said, "There is really nothing I can do about it." All these little things mounted up, and they came at the same time as the white man began to abdicate his power from one end of Africa to the other. The African had every reason to believe that no longer was the white man the medium of Mungu and that Mungu no longer operated through the white man. Now, my Lords, do not believe that that dissipated all belief in Mungu: it did not. It has merely made the Africans turn round to see who is now the medium through whom Mungu is going to operate. The chips were thrown down by the European for somebody to grasp.
Let me go back again in the mind of the African. From the time the white man arrived, the search began in the African mind: "How can we attract this power of Mungu into ourselves?". It may sound almost too funny to be said, 523 but he obviously believed it was something that the white man would keep from him and not let him have—the secret of how to get this power. In the early days, he thought perhaps it was in the whisky bottle. "Why cannot I have whisky?" It was no good telling him, "Because you will get drunk." He replied, "I get drunk anyway you have some other reason." He thought it was bread, and he tried bread. He thought it was wearing European clothes. He tried all that, and still he did not succeed in getting this power. He thought it was education. He did not think that he had to go beyond standard VI; the equivalent of a child of twelve in this country. Education was a password, yet he still did not get the power he sought. When I have said to an African, "You have had education", he has replied: "Yes, but they did not tell me the password. You people will not tell me where the real power lies." He has tried all these things.
It occurs to me, while I am speaking, to illustrate how desperate the African is to get this "secret" power. Your Lordships will remember that some years ago, when the riots were on in Port Elizabeth, a very brave nun went down into the dock area where for many years she had rendered first aid. She went down to see if in this rioting there was anybody on either side who needed help. Your Lordships may remember that this courageous woman was killed and eaten. The newspapers over here said that it was "something to do with witchcraft." It was as simple as this. Here are people longing to get this power. They have tried this, that and everything, and they said: "Let us eat a little bit of this woman and perhaps we can get some of this white man's power inside us." It was not revenge or hunger; it was an attempt to get that power.
If I am going to call a spade a spade, let me say that the final thing the African feels that the white man has held back from him has been the white woman. As you look round Africa (and I do not for a moment suggest the leaders themselves believe in these things), it is more than a coincidence. Look at Ghana. Dr. Nkrumah has married a white Egyptian woman. Jomo Kenyatta married a white woman in this country. 524 Seretse Khama, whose uncle was one of the finest African leaders, married a white woman and over-threw his uncle. So it goes on. Some of the associations are perhaps not as legal as those I have mentioned, and though the man himself may not believe it at all, it goes a long way in the mind of his fellow Africans to prove his point when he claims: "I have gained the power of the white man." I have asked Africans, "Do you think Dr. Banda has the ability to run your country?" and the reply of the ordinary type of foreman African, quite a well educated fellow, was "Mungu will tell Dr. Banda what to do now, the same as he told you what to do previously." It is as simple as that.
Do these men claim to have this power? Yes. It is stated by our newspapers over here that their followers refer to them as the Messiah. What does the Messiah mean in their language? They are not referring to our Messiah. What these men are being called is the earthly manifestation of the Great Spirit, whatever he may be called in their part of the world, Marungu or Mungu. I do not know what he is called on the West Coast. But you have seen all these men referred to by their followers as the Messiah, and that, if you translate it back into their own thinking, is exactly what I have told you.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, brought up the question of Her Majesty's visit. Though I had not intended to refer to it here, it occurred to me while he was speaking whether it was fair to advise Her Majesty to go to a country where their people believe their own leader is, if you like, the Messiah. To my mind, wherever Her Majesty goes in the Commonwealth she is the first citizen in the land and the leader. I believe that to advise Her Majesty to go to a country where Her image has been struck from the coins and the stamps, and where a man is happy to have himself called a Messiah, is something we should not do. I think it is entirely wrong that Her Majesty the Queen, coming from a long line of Kings, some believe perhaps even descended from David, should be advised to go to a country where she is in that position. It has been suggested that it might reinforce, or give the im- 525 pression, that it lent approval to the policies of Nkruma. There was a letter in the Daily Telegraph this morning which puts that in the same words. It said:The proposed visit would also make Nkruma's already over-inflated image bigger in the eyes of Africa.It certainly would.
Now to get back to the political approach. In the past the African has accepted the position of the white man with a shrug of his shoulders: "If the white man is indeed the medium or munongo, who am I to interfere?" By the same token, in these countries where he is persuaded that his own leader is now the medium he will accept him with a shrug of his shoulders. Africans I know and Africans who have worked for me have said to me, "We are very worried. We do not know what to do because we like you. We have lived with the white man for many years. But, again, who are we to interfere if Marungu now operates through Dr. Banda and his other leaders?".
That explains how an election can take place in a country where I believe two years ago nearly all the African chiefs (I refer to Nyasaland) were on the side of the Government of the country, but when the election came (I cannot remember the exact figures) they voted for the Congress Party, Banda's Party, and the vote was something over 90 per cent. How can you explain a sudden switch over in any other way than in the way I am explaining it to the House to-day? That is the explanation. Now where do we go from here?
I believe the explanation that was given of the situation in Katanga is the second stage. The first stage, of course, is to train Africans of merit and ability—not supposed merit based on those ancient superstitions, but true merit—and that we are doing in Central Africa. We are trying to train all those Africans who have merit and ability. The second stage is the stage that was taking place in Katanga where you give them responsibilities and stand behind them and guide them. They must be men who will listen. It is no good trying to do that with men who have now lost the guidance of the great spirits and say: "We can disregard you completely", which is what they are saying in parts of Africa.
526 It is no good supposing in areas that still have that belief that you have the right constitution, where it is in doubt whether you are going to have a white majority or a black majority. They do not want to know that. They want to know who has the authority, because if you bring in that sort of constitution in a country which still holds that belief you can discount any idea that the white majority will be listened to or white advisers will be listened to. They simply say that these people now are where they were before, that they can completely disregard them. So that is a fatal step to take until you have large numbers of Africans who have thrown out these ancient beliefs. It is not a question of just having the three R's and "standard six". They can still have standard six education without throwing out the ancient credos which they have been brought up with. The main thing is to get these people to throw out these ancient beliefs and recognise merit in a man when they see it, whether he is black or white. Then we can begin to get somewhere.
It will of course take time and I think the eight or ten years that is visualised by Her Majesty's Government in this country as the right time for an African majority to take over in Southern Rhodesia is far too short. I think it should be fifteen to twenty years—a generation. You must get the belief out of the father first before you can get it out of the son. When you have thrown out that belief and brought up the children, not as Christians, but able to judge a man on merit and not on some hidden force, it will have taken a generation. If the Government go ahead with the policies that are being carried out in Africa today, what is going to happen? We shall get in power men quite careless of good government and who will rapidly turn themselves into despots. We shall get tribal warfare.
Some noble Lords have already mentioned the fact that on the borders of Katanga and Northern Rhodesia the Lundo people live on both sides. A friend of mine was out there about a year ago and the Lundo on the Northern Rhodesia side of the river told him, "If our chief who lives near Elisabethville calls upon us for help we shall have to go. The fact that you created a border through the river between 527 Northern Rhodesia and Katanga does not mean that we shall not cross it." So I think it was probably wise on the part of Sir Roy Welensky to put troops up there to stop them—our inhabitants from going to help Katanga inhabitants, as it were, and to keep the Katanga ones out.
These borders all over Africa were drawn purely arbitrarily by colonial Powers. They virtually occur everywhere. Noble Lords probably are well aware that the Somali people were divided among five countries and that those, for instance, in Kenya to-day say they have got no wish whatever to be put under a Government of Kenyan people. The same applies in Nyasaland, where you have the Angoni, some on one side of the Northern Rhodesian frontier, some on the other. You have the Yao, some in Tanganyika, some in Portuguese East Africa and some in Nyasaland. It is very easy for conflagrations to spread across national frontiers when that sort of situation is existing. We shall get this state of chaos arising, I believe, if we allow Africa to be handed over too quickly.
Communications are rather poor—the Congo has been mentioned—and they will break down and one day we shall get a drought, perhaps drought two years in succession, and we shall have continent-wide starvation and the greatest tragedy one is able to imagine will spread right throughout the continent. Starvation and cannibalism will raise its head once more. I know the quotation has been used a good deal lately that democracy gives every man the right to be his own oppressor, but, my Lords, can you really suggest that the small communities, both black and white, which are in the forefront of development and civilisation in Africa should be allowed to be pulled down and destroyed by this vast mass of still uneducated, superstitious people? I think it would be quite wrong, and it would be a desperate blow to Africa.
I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, who spoke of the need to encourage people with capital to go there; and it is the capital that one might get from the World Bank or the United Nations without the men behind it to see that it was used properly. It would be a desperate thing for Africa if the small 528 communities of advanced Africans and Europeans who hold the torch of civilisation in the Continent were allowed in the name of some vague term of democracy to be pulled down and thrown out. I say thrown out, because I think that is the idea behind the resolutions which I saw the other day that had been passed at the recent Pan-African Freedom Movement Congress in Cairo—I think that is the right name. They do not wish to co-operate with Europeans at all. The country is suspect; the man who lends them money is suspect. They just want to take over and whether there is chaos or no chaos does not seem to worry them at all.
I have been rather concerned, since I came over here, to find a number of people adopt the attitude—I hear it both in the Lobby of this House and in another place—"Ghana will shake down in 20 years' time. You cannot expect too much at the beginning." That is all very well, but what about people like myself who have small children? I have five little children, 1½, 3½, 5, 6½ and 12. What am I going to do for the next 20 years while Africa is shaking down? It cannot be left like that. If you permit this policy to spread and it spreads from Cairo to Capetown—I think perhaps we may be able to stave it off; pray God that it would not go as far as that—but should it happen and these big amalgamations of African nations take place and there is an African army, officered perhaps by Russian officers or Czechs or Chinese, fighting their way down through Africa, trying to go perhaps from Cairo to the Cape, what is going to happen? The white people will fight as long as they can and then they will go. White people have always been prepared to go.
We should not be in Africa, those of us who are there, unless we were the type of man who is prepared to go and seek a fairer land. It has been a trait of the white man always, from the time of the Saxons and the Normans coming here, or the Germanic tribes spreading across Europe, or the Huguenots or the Pilgrim Fathers, to seek fairer lands. It is happening now in Mauritius where Her Majesty's Government have followed the same policy and handed over, too quickly perhaps, to the coloured people there. There are now more white Mauritians living in Natal than in Mauritius itself. When these torch bearers of civilisation go, 529 Africa will revert to chaos. The 3½ million or 4 million people will be driven out, raped, murdered, or flee as refugees. It sounds a familiar story.
I should hope that the Government of this country would cease to play any part that might indicate that they were prepared to see this sort of thing happen—arms being taken into places like Ghana and the Congo which are simply going to be used for the purposes that I have spoken about. We in Africa cannot stop that from happening. We small communities in Africa cannot stop ships bringing Czechoslovak arms into Ghana or the Congo. We cannot stop aeroplanes being flown out from Russia. I should hope that this country would not sit back and let that go on and do absolutely nothing about it. If that happens and the 3½ or 4 million white people disappear from the African Continent, history alone will be able to say on whose head the cap will fit of the Adolf Eichmann of the white man in Africa.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ EARL ATTLEE
My Lords, we have had a number of very interesting speeches in this debate and naturally covering a large amount of ground. I think the most notable speech was that of the noble Earl, Lord Avon, who I thought showed even more than his previous powers in a very remarkable speech. At this late stage of the debate I shall be very brief, and T should prefer to concentrate on one or two points. The point of Berlin has, of course, been prominent in our debate, and it recalls to my mind very well the blockade of Berlin and the air-lift. I think there is still some misapprehension about the position in post-war Germany. Some people seem to magine that the division of Germany between the Soviet zone republic and Western Germany and the division of Berlin were devised by sonic lunatic as a permanent solution. I thought the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, suggested that. As a matter of fact, it was devised purely as a temporary arrangement for the occupying forces under quadripartite rule, which was broken by the Russians.
I was in Russia the other day and talking with quite intelligent people. They had no idea of what had happened. When I said the Russians had broken the quadripartite agreement they were scandalised; they had never heard of it; 530 they thought it was due to some matter that occurred at a far later stage on the introduction of currency into Berlin. And talking with those educated Russians, I was struck by the fact that all they knew was what they had been told. The fact that I was concerned in that personally did not matter a bit; they continued to accept it as gospel. That, I think, is one of the great difficulties in trying to get down to this matter.
I think we should be ill-advised to take too gloomy a view of the situation in Berlin. It looks to me as if on this side of the Iron Curtain and the other there is a readiness to compromise. Let me say that I never believed that compromise meant surrender of one side. I do not think it is beyond the powers of statesmen to settle this immediate difficulty. Nor do I think that it would be wise for us to take too inflexible a line. I really do not think it is of especial interest to us that nothing short of the reunification of Germany is a feasible proposition. I do not know, looking back on history, that Germany did not serve the world far better, from every human point of view, when there were a number of small States. I do not think she has done much since she was unified under Bismarck, and I do not think we should have a view based necessarily on what we knew of the world before World War I.
I have been reading Mr. Khrushchev's speech. I must say I found it rather encouraging. I think it confirms what I have often said: that the Russians are now so confident of their Communist system that they are not the least likely to jeopardise it by starting a world war. I think they realise now that on the material plane they have accomplished a great deal. What I saw there represented a considerable change, to my mind, from what I saw 25 years ago or even 5 years ago. They believe that in a peaceful world their success will have a wonderful power of attraction. I do not believe it myself; it may attract in other parts of the world, though not in Europe. I think in the same way the Chinese achievement, which is very considerable, must have an effect throughout Asia.
We ought to be looking for a long-term contest, not on the basis of war but on a basis of competing ideologies. I was rather struck by what the noble Earl, Lord Avon, said in the closing passages of his speech, that what we 531 really ought to be considering is how far the West is facing up to the problem of how to present to the world an alternative more attractive than Communism. The last ten years have illustrated that there are enormous advantages in a planned economy, and not planned by our methods. Undoubtedly, both China and Russia have gone ahead in the modern world, on a basis of planning. Unfortunately, we who had plans and made great advances and a recovery after the Second World War, gave up planning and went in for a "go-as-you-please", with the result that, very largely, we have marked time while the others have gone ahead. Now I gather that there is a tendency for the Government to go in for a planned economy—only it is not going to be planned by us; it is going to be planned internationally. Whether that is to the good or not, I should not care to say.
I was struck by some remarks of the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein. I think parts of his speech were worth noticing. His emphasis on the folly of continuing to exclude Communist China from the United Nations will, I hope, be taken to heart, not only in this country but particularly in the United States of America. He also emphasised the need for reforms in the United Nations. I think that recent events have greatly reinforced that plea. We should not have had these unfortunate affairs in the Congo if we had had what many of us have advocated for more than five-and-twenty years—a real United Nations police force. I think it has shown that the system of national contingents does not work. The difficulty occasioned over the Secretariat of the United Nations shows the need for a much more grown up and powerful organisation to keep world peace than that which we have at present.
I should hope that when we get over, as I think we shall, the present crisis over Berlin, the West and the East will really try to get together. There is a good deal of hopeful suggestion in Mr. Khrushchev's speech. Of course, you can always say that it is only propaganda. But I think that Mr. Khrushchev is a realist. He lives in the age of the atomic weapon. I doubt whether all peoples in the world realise that they 532 are in that age. He knows that another world war, if it destroys capitalism will certainly destroy Communism as well. A broad approach might very well save us from much anxiety in the next decade. Meanwhile, I would echo what the noble Earl, Lord Avon, said: that it is no time for us to sit by and imagine that we can go on in a go-as-you-please way, when there is this intense activity both in Communist China and in Communist Russia, where undoubtedly immense strides have been made on the material plane.
I hope, too, for certain things in the conference now being held in Moscow. A great advance is that they are able to exhibit opponents still alive. That is quite a change from the Stalinist era. They have now reached the stage we reached about 500 years ago, when the victors did not necessarily kill off their opponents. Indeed, some of the old opponents are now honoured guests. There is the return to some effective work of Mr. Molotov—a quite unknown procedure under the régime of Mr. Stalin. If only we could get Mr. Khrushchev to apply to his own policies something of what he said about the Stalinist régime! He has tried to get away from Stalinism. He might try to get away from Stalinism in the international sphere. He has urged that we should get away from the sequel of World War II.
That might lead him to relax the controls over Poland, Hungary and the rest. Indeed, I believe that once you get away from the concept that there must be a war between Communism and the democracies many of these problems may fall into their proper proportion. I think that a great deal of the occupation of these border States was due to Communist fears of having hostile régimes on their border. The hope of setting up a kind of bursting layer between them and the West is now really as out of date as some of the obsolete strategies which we still find in the world, based on conditions of 100 years ago, in which quite useless, small islands are still considered to be strategic points of great importance.
I look forward to realistic talks by our Foreign Secretary or our Prime Minister with Mr. Khrushchev and others, and of course the other European Powers. Meanwhile, I fully agree 533 with the general line taken by the Foreign Secretary on Berlin. It is no good being scared. This terrible and terrific bomb is apparently put forward by Mr. Khrushchev entirely for the benefit of those outside Russia. Can the Russians do nothing about it? It is just a "bogy man" trick to try to scare the West. I do not think these tricks will work if we keep a stiff upper lip and remember that the Russians are as interested in peace as we are.
Something that struck me on a recent visit was that all the people we met repeated over and over again that their great object was all-round disarmament. They seemed a little surprised when I told them that our Government had put forward that aim some years before. I do not think they had heard of that. It took some time to get away from a mere repeating of slogans to try to discuss with them the conditions under which all-round world disarmament could take place. I think we achieved something. I am quite sure that Mr. Khrushchev has to have regard to the very strong anti-war, pro-disarmament feeling that he has himself created in Russia; therefore, at the present moment I am not in the least a pessimist. But it does mean that our Government must take a leading part, because I do not think that other Governments are quite so experienced as the British Government. There is a danger that impulsive steps might be taken by some of our Allies which might bring about what none of us wishes. I think this debate will have been useful because it has shown that in this country, while there is no sign whatever of bellicosity, there is a general firmness not to be hustled out of doing what we believe to be our duty.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I think it would really be impossible for me to give a worthy reply to this debate, which has ranged over so many subjects and which has seen so many notable contributions to our counsels, including two from two ex-Prime Ministers, both of which we very much enjoyed and to which I will return in due course. I wish, therefore, to be extremely brief in what I have to say. I think it would be impossible for me to enumerate the Government position on all the various points which have been raised.
534 I should like to begin by thanking Members of the two Opposition Parties for the extremely kind and helpful remarks which have come from them. This is intended to thank all the Members of the Front Opposition Bench who have spoken, and the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, who spoke for the Liberal Party, particularly for their generous remarks with regard to my noble friend the Foreign Secretary. I do not usually praise my colleagues—I think that we in the Government are all very conscious of one another's shortcomings. On the other hand, I do agree with the tributes which have been paid to him from so many sources, and I agree with my noble friend Lord Winterton that never—not for a long time, at any rate—has there been a voice of greater authority in foreign affairs speaking on behalf of this country.
My Lords, I was also very grateful for the generous welcome given by the Leader of the Opposition, then in anticipation, to my noble friend Lord Avon on what was, after all, a very great Parliamentary occasion—his maiden speech this afternoon. It was a wonderful speech, and we all enjoyed it. We enjoyed still more, if he will allow me to say so, seeing my noble friend back in such wonderful form. That was even better than the very good things which he said to us all. We all of us feel, I think, that his arrival here will add enormously to the strength and value of our debates, particularly on international affairs. I hope, if it is not presumptuous of me to do so, that he will accept my humble congratulations on a very successful debut.
My Lords, the debate has concentrated, really, on two broad topics: the great issues of international politics, centring inevitably on Berlin, disarmament and relations between East and West; and the more narrow question of the Congo and of Africa. These questions should not, of course, be seen in different contexts from one another. Indeed, one of the endemic troubles about our debates on Africa has largely been their tendency to become parochial, and not to deal with Africa in relation to the great issues of international politics, in which they are becoming more and more closely incorporated and to which they are becoming more and more immediately relevant. I should like, first 535 of all, to make one or two remarks About to-day's debate on the Congo, and then to pass back to the greater issues which we have been discussing throughout our debate, and to which the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, reverted with his very timely closing remarks.
My Lords, in the criticisms to which the United Nations have been subjected in the course of this debate about their operations in the Congo, with some of which I agree, as would appear from the speech of my noble friend Lord Lansdowne, who spoke with such authority earlier in the debate, I think one set of facts should not be forgotten. When the Congo situation exploded, as it did after the revolt of the Force Publique, there was a real danger that it would become the battleground of the Third World War. Russian 'planes were flying in, bringing arms which could have been designed only to create disorder, and we were faced with the alternatives of turning away and pretending not to notice; moving in ourselves, which would have created the very situation we wanted to avoid; or seeking some international organisation to seize the airfields and to prevent such a situation from arising—in the interests of international peace, in our own interests and in the interests of the Congo itself.
We chose the last course, and we supported the proper and constitutionally correct international authority, the United Nations, in the action which they took. I do not myself entirely agree with the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, in saying that that action was not successful. I think it was successful. I think it succeeded in its object. A very great number of criticisms, some of which may be legitimate, can be levelled at the United Nations on the other part of its work. But if, to-day, we do not have, as we do not have, an active war situation in Africa, it is, I think, very largely because we supported the United Nations in taking the course which was taken.
I agree with the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, that if our course in supporting the entry of the United Nations into that situation was mistaken, then, of course, we are responsible for any mistakes the United Nations may have made since. But if we were right about the course which we then took in supporting 536 the action of the United Nations in the Congo, I think we should become responsible for everything that happened afterwards only if our support had been wholly uncritical. It has not been uncritical. On the contrary, my noble friend's speech earlier this afternoon indicated that there were a number of points upon which we were considerably disturbed earlier in the year. Indeed, one, at any rate, of the reasons why my noble friend went out to the Congo in September was precisely because we were anxious about the turn which events had taken, and in order that we could bring our influence to bear.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Viscount, but my point was that it would have been better, if possible, to make a public declaration of our doubts and criticisms. What we did was to make a private statement, as I understand it now, of which we have been told to-day but not before. I felt—I may be entirely wrong—that if we had taken a rather stronger line in the earlier stages we might have avoided the later developments.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, it was precisely because I had that particular criticism in mind that I was seeking to clear the ground by saying that I thought that we could be held responsible for the whole United Nations action in the Congo only if we were taking an uncritical line altogether. On the contrary, we think that loyalty to a body like the United Nations involves the duty of criticism as much as the duty of support. There are some people who talk as if loyalty to the United Nations involves uncritical support on every occasion. That is not our view. It would be as silly to take that view, if I may say so, as it would be to think that loyalty to parliament involves the Opposition's always supporting the Government. On the contrary, if we are to be responsible as members of the United Nations, we are entitled to criticise and to bring influence to bear.
The noble Marquess said he thought that we should have done better to issue a public rebuke to the United Nations at some stage during August or September. Personally, I do not take that view. I did think, just before Mr. Hammarskjoeld's death, that we might be driven 537 into a position where some public statement of the kind would have to occur. But it also seemed to me, at any rate, that we should first of all seek to ascertain the facts—which at that time were very far from plain, and were very contradictorily reported in different organs of the Press in different parts of the world.
We sent my noble friend out to the Congo on his mission there to ascertain the facts. I think that the immediate need was for a cease-fire. When my noble friend arrived in the Congo, he found, as he has told your Lordships this afternoon, that Mr. Hammarskjoeld himself was not uncritical of what was going on—although he felt it right in public to support his subordinates, as a loyal man very likely would—and shared the view which was held by the Government; that the immediate need was to bring about a cease-fire. I believe that that was the right view, and I think that, if we had then gone on to issue a denunciation of the United Nations' policy, then quite probably the cease-fire would not have taken place, and it was very largely as a result of the intervention of my noble friend in the Congo, with Mr. Hammarskjoeld, that arrangements were made for the cease-fire which, up to the moment, has been successful.
On the other hand, after the death of Mr. Hammarskjoeld, I, at any rate, took the view that the situation had suffered a very serious turn for the worse. It was a tragedy—in more than a personal sense; and, at any rate in the hours and days following Mr. Hammarskjoeld's death, the reaction in the rest of the world was so serious that I think it would have been totally inappropriate for us at that stage not to re-announce our own policy, which was not that which it was reported to be by the umpires and by the critics.
Moreover, the immediate need there was overwhelmingly to retrieve, out of a situation which might have become much more ugly than it did, some kind of cessation of hostilities. In fact, some kind of cessation of hostilities was arrived at. Again I would emphasise that I think that was very largely due to the presence on the spot of my noble friend. He was able to secure that the talks, which were to have taken place between Mr. Hammarskjöeld and Mr. Tshombe, took place between Dr. Khiari and Mr. 538 Tshombe. I think that was a very considerable achievement, and I am sure that that was better done in an atmosphere in which such representations as needed to be made were made privately, than one in which anger had been aroused still more by public criticism and denunciation. I feel that now that we have made our position plain, when passions have at any rate to some extent subsided, we have taken the best possible course in all the circumstances.
My Lords, I do not want to pursue this question at any length. The noble Marquess asked me a question in relation to the interview of Dr. Khiari. I am bound to tell my noble friend that I have not, in fact, seen the precise text of what Dr. Khiari said; nor have I had an opportunity of checking whether he really did say it—which makes it a little difficult to give a very precise reply to my noble friend's question. But I understand that he spoke in the general sense of the Press article. The remarks were made at a Press conference and were not read from a prepared text.
The attitude of the United Nations, should actual hostilities break out between Katanga forces and those of the Central Government, has been explained to Her Majesty's Government as follows. The Security Council resolution of the 21st February, which empowered the United Nations to use force in the last resort, if necessary, to prevent civil war, was passed when there was no generally accepted central authority in the Congo. The formation of Mr. Adoula's Government has changed that position. In the present circumstances the United Nations consider that, if Mr. Adoula's Government should resort to force in an attempt to assert their authority, the only proper course for the United Nations force would be to remain completely impartial. I do not think that those unprepared remarks by Dr. Khiari at a Press conference ought to be taken to signify a change in the policy of the United Nations.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I quite realise that the noble Viscount cannot give a full answer, because he has not had the information, but I rather understood from the report that the view of the United Nations was that it would be perfectly all right for the Central 539 Government of Mr. Adoula to rearm and take any measures that were necessary, but that it would be very improper for President Tshombe to bring in any arms on the other side. That really means that the dice would be loaded so heavily against him that he would be bound to be defeated. I cannot believe that that is the view of Her Majesty's Government, but I should be very glad if they would make inquiries into the rights or wrongs of that interview.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
I think we are ascertaining what is the view of the United Nations about the remarks, but I do not think I can go further than that this evening. Certainly, whatever the remarks were, they did not commit Her Majesty's Government to any form of endorsement at this stage, and I am quite sure that the United Nations Organisation are doing their utmost to ensure that hostilities will not, in fact, break out.
Now, my Lords, this question of the Congo has rightly absorbed a great deal of your Lordships' attention this afternoon, and many criticisms and observations have been made, which certainly I listened to with the greatest respect and interest, from both sides of the House. I would only say this to the noble Baroness, Lady Summer-skill, who made an attack on Sir Roy Welensky—and, personally, I do rather deprecate attacks on Commonwealth Prime Ministers in this House: Sir Roy Welensky has not always handled the present Government very kindly, but the only intervention in the Congo business, of which I am aware, other than the conversation of which my noble friend spoke, was that he sent medical supplies and food which were very badly needed to avert starvation and misery in Katanga. And I cannot really believe that the noble Lady, with her known interest in medical affairs and health, could really disapprove of that, whatever the attitude of Mr. Tshombe may be towards the United Nations. Whatever else may be true of the inhabitants of Katanga, they are just as much human beings, just as much entitled to humane treatment in the way of medical supplies and food, as anybody else in the world. I certainly would not regard the humane action of the Rhodesian Government, in sending medical supplies and food in 540 there as in any way inconsistent with what my noble friend reported of Sir Roy Welensky in the earlier course of his speech. This brings me back to the main topic.
§ LORD SILK1N
Before the noble Viscount leaves the question of the Congo may I remind him that I did put a few specific questions to him, which I understood he was going to answer. If these questions are difficult to answer at this moment I shall understand, but I do not think it is courteous to completely ignore them, and I should be glad if the noble Viscount would say something.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
I was, in fact, thinking that at this hour probably the noble Lord would not wish me to put out at length the answers to his questions. I will try to give a short answer, bearing in mind the difficulty of compressing my remarks into a reasonable compass and of dealing with the very many other arguments which covered the main international situation.
The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, seemed to find some inconsistency, or some need of explanation, in our vote of July 14, 1960, when we abstained from voting on the Security Council resolution. The reason why we abstained from voting on that occasion was that the resolution demanded an immediate withdrawal of Belgian troops at a time when the internal situation in the Congo was so violently disordered that the Belgian troops themselves were in fact engaged on many tasks which could only be described as the preservation of human life against disorder. We voted for the resolution of August 9, 1960, because by that time our representative had received an assurance from the Secretary-General that, in arranging what were called the "speedy modalities" for the withdrawal of Belgian troops, he would take account of the need to ensure continuing security by the deployment of United Nations forces—which was not possible at the time of the earlier resolution.
The noble Lord also asked in what circumstances could force be used with Her Majesty's Government's approval in the Congo operation. I do not think I ought to add very much to what was said by the United Kingdom Representative on the Security Council when the resolution of February 21 was 541 debated. That resolution and those remarks need only this qualification. The resolution and the remarks were made at a time when there was no central Government, and since then the circumstances have changed. I am sure the United Nations can be relied upon to use all their influence to prevent civil war breaking out; but they are at present, I would say, confined to exercising peaceful persuasion on both parties. Without going any further into the unhappy events of August and September, I should think that that is very much their best course at the present time.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Viscount. I am sure he is not doing it deliberately, but a somewhat serious situation has arisen. Lord Clitheroe in his speech reported what has already been reported by reputable representatives of newspapers and of the B.B.C. about atrocities in the Congo, and I also asked some questions on the subject. I said that the Prime Minister had said that there was no factual evidence on the subject. I do not ask the Leader of the House to reply to it now, but of course he will realise that it is a very serious situation. It is alleged that United Nations troops have committed atrocities. Are we to have at no time any opinion from the Government whether they agree that those atrocities occurred, or whether they do not agree?
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I was—rather out of the plan which I had set myself—trying to reply to four specific questions by the Lord Silkin. I will, of course, try to help my noble friend on this other matter, but I really must ask leave to deal with one series of questions at a time.
The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, also asked, if the cease-fire agreement is implemented, what means could be used to remove remaining European military and para-military personnel from Katanga. The conclusion of the ceasefire agreement in no way affects the obligation of the United Nations, under the Security Council resolution of February 21, to secure the withdrawal of these personnel. They must continue to discharge their mandate in this respect. But I am now informed that 542 Mr. Tshombe has now discharged the foreign military personnel in his forces and is making arrangements to pay them off.
May I now turn to what my noble friend Lord Winterton has just said? It is true, of course, that the noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, produced certain statements which we have also read, either in the public Press or elsewhere. We are asking our permanent Representative in New York to ask the United Nations Secretariat whether they had considered this particular information, and what action they proposed to take about it. I cannot tell the House any more than that about it this evening.
§ LORD CLITHEROE
My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Viscount for what he has said. He did not answer one point with reference to what Lord Silkin said, and that was: is it the intention of the Government to support the United Nations in removing the civil advisers which President Tshombe and his Government wish to retain? That is part of the resolution of February 21. Are you still going to pursue that policy of removing President Tshombe's civilian advisers?
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, I think the original difficulty was that some of the advisers were military advisers and some of them took off their uniforms and became civilians. Therefore, it was not an easy thing to deal with this matter. If the noble Lord will allow me, I would rather consider this matter and get our Representative in the United Nations to see the Secretariat in New York. I quite agree with the noble Lord that Mr. Tshombe is entitled to civilian advisers; of course he is; but there have been difficulties because, as I said, some people in military uniforms took them off and made themselves into civilian advisers, which did not make things easy.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I think we have really gone into this matter as far as we can go this evening. I do not think there is any fundamental difference of opinion between me and my noble friend Lord Clitheroe on this point. But it is increasingly difficult, and has always been difficult, if he will allow me to say so, to ascertain the precise state of facts in relation to individuals in the Congo. Very conflicting 543 statements are made, and I should like notice of any question relating to individuals before I give a full or a considered answer to it.
This brings me back—and I am afraid that now the time is even later than it was ten minutes ago—to what has, after all, been the main topic of debate in your Lordships' House, and I feel I must be even briefer now than I had intended to be. I think that yesterday and to-day we did record—and I believe it is worth while saying that we recorded—a very wide measure of agreement indeed between the different Parties about the right lines to take in the present political situation; and I should like once more to thank the Opposition for the great help they have been, both constructively in the suggestions they made, and also in emphasising this atmosphere of virtual national agreement.
It is true that the noble and gallant Viscount who sits behind me was slightly out of step, as ill befits a man who spent much of his life in a famous infantry regiment, and who is now apparently absent without leave. But, my Lords, various comments have been made upon his speech by the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, and from the Cross Benches by Lord Strang, and earlier this afternoon by my noble friend Lord Avon; and I do not think at this hour I ought to do very much to counter his particular remarks. I would say only one or two things which I think ought to be said. In the first place, we cannot in politics—as we often have to in military affairs—ignore morality quite so completely as the noble Viscount did in the course of his speech. It is not absolutely nothing that 17 million Germans are enslaved at the present time and made subject by force to a Government which they detest. It would not he absolutely nothing if we abandoned 2i million free Germans in West Berlin. Nor—even though I agree with some part of the noble Viscount's remarks about China—can we regard the 8 million inhabitants of Formosa as so readily expendible as the noble Viscount seemed to think in his post-prandial press conference in Peking.
But, my Lords, there is another aspect of the matter which I think the noble Viscount has not fully appreciated. When 544 we take what we call a long-term strategic plan, the first thing to do is to appreciate the facts—that is to say, to get the facts right; and the first thing you have to get right is to make up your mind what are the intentions of the Communists in the post-war world. This is a question which I would not say the noble and gallant Viscount had answered wrongly; what worried me about the noble and gallant Viscount was that he did not answer it at all. And this is the vital question which we all have to answer about Communism.
I realise the virtues of compromise and negotiation, and I am glad to think that on that there is no difference between the two sides of your Lordships' House. But there remains the difficulty, to which my noble friend the Foreign Secretary adverted at the beginning of the debate, that negotiation with Communists is not quite the same thing as negotiating with ordinary people. It means to them that we go a step along their road and they give absolutely nothing in return, and only discuss with us further steps we may be prepared to take in response to further threats.
I am bound to say that when one looks at Communism over the world—whether rigging ballots in trade unions in Britain or massacring Hungarians in the streets of Budapest, whether building up walls to imprison their own subjects in Eastern Germany or causing trouble by importing arms into the Congo—wherever we see them active, the impression created is of a deliberate, world-wide campaign against freedom wherever it exists. And when we hear, as we have all heard in the last forty-eight hours, that they are going to pollute the atmosphere still further by a bomb of 50-megatons, the only purpose of which, as the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, pointed out, is to try to frighten free men, I would say that by trying to intimidate, they may excite not fear but hate. And those who are parents of young children, seeing this last pollution of our atmosphere by this series of explosions, are bound to warn the Russians that, if they pursue this line of conduct for very long, every decent parent in the world will hate them and refuse to treat them as civilised beings any longer. There must in the end be strong words spoken to people who continue a course 545 which is really damaging the health of the whole of the community by bombs of this size and seriousness, after it was open to them to conclude an agreement with us, which we have now ready to sign if they wish to sign it.
I feel that we shall have to take their actions into account before we in the West can consider withdrawing, as the noble and gallant Viscount has suggested we should, not only our own troops from Germany, which might tactically be beneficial, but also every American soldier from Europe, leaving the Russians still in Europe and only a few hundred miles from the Atlantic coast.
All the same, I think that we cannot abandon our attempts to find some modus videndi. We have already some progress to record in Laos. I think there is a moral to be drawn from that. We had to wait six months for that progress. Patience and negotiation do apparently yield results. Let us go on by looking further and seeing whether there might not be others on which we could agree. The nuclear test ban is not out of the question. Disarmament (and the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, made a number of interesting suggestions in the course of his speech) and Berlin, too—these are all questions in which we might carefully consider the means of negotiation. But it is no good thinking that that can be done in the sense that we shall never oppose Communism wherever it exists, because they are on the other side of the fence from ourselves on the fundamental issue of human freedom, and I do not think that the basic situation will alter.
That brings me to the two things which I want to say in conclusion. The first is how heartily I agree with my noble friend Lord Avon, who pointed out that we are not really mobilising the entire strength of the Free World in a unified plan to build up our own economic and social system. This failure, in the long run, and not the Communists, is what will defeat us, if we fail to heed my noble friend's wise words. The second thing is that we are surely right to support the United Nations as an instrument of peace. It may be that the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, are too optimistic, when what we are really having to do at present is trying to see that it is not disintegrated by the Troika; but 546 I think that we can look forward, if we continue along the course we have decided, not merely to saving the existence of the Organisation as an instrument of peace, but also to the time when we can discuss longer-term and more satisfactory arrangements, like an International Police Force and a reform of the Charter, which many of us would like to see. I apologise for detaining your Lordships so long, but I am grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.