§ 2.33 p.m.
§ LORD HENDERSON rose to call attention to the international situation; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. The Foreign Secretary has just returned from Geneva. While he was there, he signed, together with the other members of the Conference on Laos, the agreement which, we hope, will bring peace, security and neutrality to that country, which has for so long been ravaged both by civil war and by the pressures of the cold war. I think the whole House would want to congratulate the Foreign Secretary on the part which he has personally played in bringing this agreement to a successful conclusion and at the same time to express appreciation to Mr. Malcolm Macdonald, who has been our chief negotiator. We are all thankful that, in spite of the division of the world and the acuteness of the controversy, both sides in this cold war struggle have seen reason and have been prepared to negotiate rather than prolong the fighting.
No doubt we all wish, too, that the same could be said for the situation in Vietnam. The situation in this divided country is as dangerous as it has been at any time since the Geneva agreements were signed in July, 1954. In the case of Vietnam, the agreement would appear to be almost null and void. The final declaration made clear that the 17th Parallel
should not in any way be interpreted as constituting a political or territorial boundary".
§ The hostility on this frontier is as acute as almost any inter-State boundary in the world. Neither can the blame for the situation be put at the door only of one side. There is no doubt whatsoever, as the Indian and Canadian representatives on the International Control Commission have made clear, that the insurrection in South Vietnam has been inspired and encouraged from the North. Yet it is equally clear—and it is the unanimous view of the International Control Commission—that the Government of South Vietnam have refused to abide by the provisions of the 1954 Treaty. The responsibility falls heavily upon the British Government together 1012 with the Soviet Government, as co-chairmen of the Geneva Conference, to take an initiative which might lead to a settlement in Vietnam now that a solution seems to have been found to the problems in Laos.
§ It is also my hope that the ending of the conflict in Laos will soon lead to a situation in which the British and other foreign forces can be withdrawn from Thailand. We sent a token force there at the request of the Thai Government, because of their stated fears of aggression from Laos. Those fears must have now been put at rest, and I hope the Foreign Secretary can assure us that he is in consultation with the Governments of Thailand and of the United States to ensure an early withdrawal of all the foreign contingents.
§ There are two other areas in Asia and South East Asia which might easily become areas of conflict. Communist China seems to have become somewhat jittery about a suspected attack from Formosa by the Chinese Nationalists. I do not know what foundation there is for China's fears, which have led her to mass large forces opposite to the offshore islands and Formosa. But if Chiang Kai-shek is contemplating any attack against the China mainland, the sooner he is bluntly told by the United States, with the full support of the United Kingdom, not to indulge in any such aggressive folly, the better it will be for the peace and stability of the Far East.
§ Then there is the series of clashes on the Sino-Indian border, which must be giving some cause for concern. It may be that the Chinese are simply "trying it on" and have no intention of creating an uncontrolled crisis in its relations with India. I note, however, that Mr. Nehru has said that "it's a serious situation". Serious situations sometimes become grave situations, and grave situations can become open conflict. One cannot help becoming anxious at these border troubles, especially having regard to the economic disasters which have been, and still are, afflicting Communist China and which might lead her into diversionary actions. One can only hope that China's participation in the Laos settlement is an indication that she has no intention of pursuing a reckless policy on the Sino-Indian frontier and 1013 thereby endangering the peace in Asia. As a member of the Commonwealth is involved in this trouble, I am sure the House would welcome a statement from the Foreign Secretary on the situation.
§ The Foreign Secretary's visit to Geneva also gave him the opportunity of reviewing with Mr. Gromyko the developments in the Disarmament Conference. In view of the debate on disarmament earlier this month I do not propose to deal with this subject in detail, but there are one or two points that I think must be mentioned. In the first place, we welcome the fact that the Soviet Union has at last made some concessions to the Western point of view as presented during the first stage of this Conference. In particular, it is encouraging that the Soviet Government has now accepted the United States proposal of a 30 per cent. reduction in conventional armaments in Stage 1. But Mr. Zorin's continued insistence that the first stage must also include the abolition of all nuclear weapon delivery vehicles and the dismantling of all foreign bases is quite dearly in violation of the basic principle that during the course of disarmament the balance of security should not be disturbed to the advantage of either side. It is, therefore, unacceptable. But surely a distinction should be drawn between troop bases and bases for the delivery of nuclear weapons. As I have said before, the Thor missiles and some of the strategic air command bases might well be withdrawn in Stage 1; but to withdraw all the troop bases would mean the virtual disbanding of NATO while the process of general disarmament had only just begun.
§ I must also say that I was disappointed that neither side has yet made any significant move to bring about a test ban treaty. It has always been my view—and I have said this to the House many times—that the first step to general disarmament was the ending of nuclear tests. It really does seem to me that when the United States has completed its present series, With a series of tests by the Russians to follow, both sides should be prepared to call it a day. If Soviet Russia wishes to have the satisfaction of being able to say, "Since the United States made the first test, we, Russia, insist on making the last one", does it really matter very much? What 1014 does matter is that tests are ended and that a start is made in saving the world from nuclear disaster. I must say, speaking for myself, that I am attracted by the suggestion made earlier this year by the Mexican delegate, that a date should be set—and not too far off, either—after which no tests should be conducted by any country.
§ On the question of inspecting such a test agreement, it seems to me that the statesmen are lagging behind the scientists. The Americans are apparently now prepared to agree that there need be no permanent inspection posts on Soviet territories. But they have made no new offer concerning on-site inspections—our present demands stand, I believe, at between twelve and twenty a year. Surely we could tie in the neutral plan for the establishment of an international commission, and the original concession by the Soviet Union that three on-site inspections a year could be accepted. We should be prepared to reduce to a minimum our demands for verification concerning "suspicious" events, in view of the greatly increased sensitivity of the existing seismological instruments. Scientists in Britain and the United States now seem more than ever convinced of the efficiency of the present means of detection. It is, in my view, time for a new initiative by the West, not designed to prevent a new Russian series, tout to bring tests finally to an end within the near future.
§ I hope that the Foreign Secretary will also have something to say about the situation in Berlin. Diplomatic probings have been taking place over some months. Has there been any progress, or is there still deadlock? On this side of the House we welcomed the proposal that there should be immediate talks between representatives of the Commanders of the four Powers in Berlin to reduce the tension at the Wall. It has been sickening to read time and time again of the East German Police firing at their own people attempting to rejoin their families in the West. Mothers, fathers and children have all been shot down; and I think we must ail warmly endorse the remarks made by Mr. Harold Wilson in another place commending the restraint of the people of West Berlin and the West Berlin police, who have been subjected to such provocation.1015
§ There can be no excuse for the Russian refusal to take part in talks which might ease tension at the Wall in Berlin. But, of course, the real solutions must be bigger ones, and it was our hope that the direct talks between Mr. Rusk and the Soviet Ambassador in Washington would lead to some results. For our part, we have, with the Government, insisted that there are three essential provisions of any interim agreement, and as the House is quite familiar with them I will not stop to restate them. We welcomed the proposals putt forward by the United States in the spring that an international authority should be established to control the access routes to Berlin. At first, it looked as if this American proposal might have some chance of success. On April 27 the West German Foreign Minister agreed that an international body to control access was "a basically good idea"; and Herr Ulbricht, the East German leader, had said that his Government might accept a Four-Power Arbitration Board for safeguarding peaceful traffic to and from West Berlin.
§ What I wish to ask the Foreign Secretary is whether this proposal has been dropped following Dr. Adenauer's critical references to this American initiative. What is the attitude of Her Majesty's Government? I hope we can be assured that a constructive initiative like this, which seeks to break the Berlin deadlock by means which should ensure one of the basic Western conditions—namely, a guarantee of free access between Berlin and the Federal Republic—will not depend entirely on the whims and mood of Dr. Adenauer. I hope it is being kept to the forefront in the American-Russian talks.
§ I want to put forward another idea which seems to follow naturally on the American proposal. As the House well knows, it has been for five years the view of the Labour Party that the best way of reducing tension in Central Europe was to negotiate an agreement for the reduction and control of all armaments, including the total exclusion of nuclear weapons, and the reduction of all foreign forces in the area, covering East and West Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and, if possible, Hungary. This concept has now been embodied in the most recent version of the Rapacki Plan presented 1016 to the Geneva Conference on March 28.
§ In their new memorandum, the Poles proposed that a special control organisation should be set up to supervise the implementation of the regional Disarmament Agreement. Such a control organisation should include not only the countries in the area but the four Powers responsible for Berlin and, possibly, a number of neutral countries in the world. Such a control organisation would be almost identical with the composition proposed by the Americans in May this year for controlling access routes to Berlin. They suggested a 13-member control authority, including representatives of the four Powers, East and West Germany, East and West Berlin, two Communist states and three neutrals.
§ My Lords, I want to say, quite clearly, that in my view the time is now ripe for a major attempt to secure agreement on the lines which the Labour Party have for so long been advocating, and which has now been put in more constructive terms by the Polish Foreign Minister. Here is a case Where we both have much to gain. Is it not likely that the Russians would be prepared to pay a big price to get nuclear weapons out of Western Germany? And is it not equally true that we should be prepared to pay a price for getting a major reduction in the size of Soviet and satellite forces in East Germany? It is in line with much of the tactical thinking in the West today to get nuclear weapons out of the front lines, and to get our forces in Europe able to resist without immediate recourse to nuclear weapons. Surely these arguments cannot be totally dismissed by the Western Governments.
§ These are two sets of practical proposals for helping to get agreement on Berlin, both involving giving partial recognition to East Germany. Other useful ingredients would be the recognition of the Oder-Neisse line and a non-aggression pact between NATO and the Warsaw Pact Powers. I hope that these matters are being discussed in the present talks, and that there is some prospect of finding a basis for negotiation'; otherwise tensions will deepen, and we may have the Berlin issue brought to the boil again. As we ail know, Mr. Khrushchev can turn on the heat to suit his purpose, but it is hardly likely that 1017 he would do so while talks continue with any prospect of progress.
§ Earlier, I paid tribute to the Foreign Secretary for his rôle in the Laos negotiations, and in the recent disarmament debate I praised him for some of the things he had said at the opening of that Conference. He will understand if I do not continue to embarrass him, or myself, with too much praise. I felt that some of the comments that he had to make to the Annual Conference of the United Nations Association on Friday, July 13, ware most unfortunate. As will be recalled, some of my colleagues in another place were very critical of some of the Foreign Secretary's statements in a speech he made at Berwick on December 28. He then accused the uncommitted nations of being "reckless and Careless to peace" by supporting a resolution condemning colonialism; of adopting a double standard of behaviour, and even "of playing the Communist game". In view of the rôle played in the United Nations by many of the uncommitted countries, these allegations were deeply resented.
§ I do not think that anyone can deny that this country has a remarkable record in its policy of decolonisation—it is something of which we can all be proud. Because of it, we ought to be able more readily than most to understand the desires of the newly independent States of Asia and Africa to see the progress to independence speeded up for territories which have still to reach that goal. The British Government may strongly disapprove of some of their efforts in this respect at the Assembly, but it would be a grave mistake to impute dubious motives to them as a whole and to develop a lack of confidence in the Assembly itself, which it seems to me the Government are in danger of doing.
In his speech on July 13, the Foreign Secretary said:
Because some members of the Assembly have allowed themselves to sit in judgment while their own imperfections are so apparent, grave doubts are beginning to be felt by many whether the Assembly can ever be trusted to be impartial.
The Assembly is not an impartial tribunal, any more than the British Parliament. It is, in fact, a gathering of representatives of Governments, and these Governments are concerned with the conflicting interests and international
problems which make the world such an uneasy place. Not only have views to be harmonised, but also actions, in the light of the Charter. The Assembly had defects and difficulties before the large accession of newly independent States. It did not wholly satisfy every member State then, and it does not wholly satisfy every member State now. It is a human institution, and I do not think we can expect it to be an impartial tribunal. But what we should be able to expect is that it will operate in a fair-minded manner.
§ To my mind, its record of achievement shows that it has, on the whole, been fair-minded and constructive. It has its imperfections—and let me interpolate here that so have many of the Governments their imperfections, and I do not exclude our own Government in this respect. But to deduce from this that there are grave doubts whether the Assembly can ever be trusted to be impartial is a counsel of despair, and plays into the hands of those who wish to by-pass the United Nations and to disregard its recommendations.
§ The Foreign Secretary may argue that he did not himself say that he had grave doubts about the rôle of the Assembly, but the repetition in Berwick, and more recently of doubts which may have been expressed by others, can only give weight to these doubts. It certainly gives the impression that Britain does not believe that the Assembly can be trusted. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will take the opportunity to-day to deny this implication. It was on the same theme that the noble Earl later asked, "Who could agree to put an international force under the command of a United Nations inspired by bias and prejudice?". Is he thus condemning the newly independent countries, including those who have loyally provided troops for the United Nations operations in the Middle East and in the Congo?
We all respect the Foreign Secretary for his courage in speaking his mind, but he surely ought to limit his criticisms, as he did in one section of his speech, to the small minority who
subscribe to what they know to be wrong and dangerous and ally themselves with the Communists to do us maximum harm".
This is indeed a small minority. The vast majority of the new nations, small
and inexperienced though many of them may be, are, in my view, making a great contribution to the work of the United Nations, and they should be encouraged and not condemned.
Finally, in recent weeks we have welcomed to Britain the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant. He is, himself, a citizen of one of the uncommitted nations, and, in a sense, his presence in the principal executive office of the United Nations is an indication of the importance of the uncommitted countries to-day. There are two points made by U Thant in his visit to London to which I should like to draw attention. On July 5 at a luncheon given in his honour by the United Nations Association he said as follows:
From time to time remarks and accusations have been made in various quarters, including some with strong vested interests in the Congo, which have hardly been suitable either to the dignity of the World Organisation or to the gravity of the task it faces in the Congo.
I am afraid there has been another example of this in the Press and radio reporting of the tragic events which occurred on July 17, when a Katangese mob launched an unprovoked attack on United Nations troops at a road block position. The Rhodesian Herald, which has often been highly critical of the United Nations, reports, according to the Guardian of July 20
that its correspondent saw the bodies of the supposed victims (one adult and two children) an hour before the troops opened fire above the heads of the demonstrators".
This statement was confirmed by the United Nations spokesman at United Nations Headquarters on July 18. My Lords, it is difficult to escape from the conclusion that Mr. Tshombe is again trying to stir up anger and animosity against the United Nations and to provoke acts of violence such as led to the fighting in December last year. It is vital that there should be an impartial inquiry into the events in Elisabethville on July 13, and that the Government should not accept at its face value the reports put out by Mr. Tshombe's representatives, who, as we know, were responsible for so many unfounded allegations concerning the events last December.
§ Secondly, U Thant emphasised the dependence of Mr. Tshombe on financial 1020 payments from Union Minière. It seems to me that it is now time that the Union Minière ceased to pay its taxes to Mr. Tshombe. So long as he receives these financial resources he is able to persist in his non-co-operative policy and to drag out indefinitely the discussions to bring about a political settlement of the Congo dispute. Could there not be some system whereby revenues from Union Minière are, for a period, frozen so that they are paid neither to the Provincial Government of Katanga nor to the Central Government pending the achievement of a political settlement? It is reported from Washington that the United States Government is now anxious to bring international economic pressure to bear upon Mr. Tshombe, and there seem to be, once again, differences between the British Government and the American Government on this question. That is information I have taken from the Press. I hope that this is not the case. There is surely complete agreement on the desirability of tying Katanga's wealth into the structure of the Congo, and Britain should be prepared to act with her Allies and the United Nations to see that the present unhappy situation is not further prolonged, with all the dangers that it offers not only in the Congo but for the peace of the world. My Lords, what we must all be wanting to see is conflict in the Congo finally ended, an agreed settlement reached, and the Congo put on the road to peaceful reconstruction and growing prosperity. All efforts should be directed to that end. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.5 p.m.
My Lords, on the last occasion on which we debated the international situation I managed to bring down on my head the reproaches of the Front Benches of both the major Parties for suggesting that the image which we present to the world should be, broadly, more of a Liberal image rather than a purely Tory-cum-Socialist image. Indeed, the charge against me then was, in effect, that I was driving under the influence of Orpington, but I fear that I have neither remorse nor repentence, nor even a hangover. For I still consider that no country can take a place of really respected influence among the nations of the world unless its foreign policy genuinely reflects its own national 1021 opinion in a general way; or, in some special cases, a reasonable majority opinion, since, of course, unanimity seldom obtains in this imperfect world, and not even in a British Government. I am sure many of your Lordships will know of parish churches called St. Michael and All Angels, which might be called St. Michael and a working majority of angels—the Chief Whip might take note of that.
My Lords, I shall refrain this time from inflicting again in your Lordships' House in a Foreign Affairs debate my own views on our British electoral system, beyond saying that the system does make it, of course, extremely difficult for any British Government to live up to such a counsel of perfection as I have suggested, bearing in mind, as I personally do, the dictum of the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, who some years ago said:The rules of the game may be unfair; but as we are winning by them, you can hardly expect us to change them in the middle of the game.If we take this jocular philosophy at all seriously it is not very conducive to great confidence either within this country or, probably more important, in foreign countries, whose analysis of our domestic and internal affairs might thereby be most incorrect and most misleading.
But it As in connection with this general principle of representation that I consider the present unsatisfactory state of our internal and domestic affairs, as revealed by public opinion in every by-election for some time, is very pertinent and very relevant to our standing in the international field, where I, for my part, think it is realised, with some embarrassment, and doubtless with regret, that Great Britain's Government and policies do not now enjoy the support and the backing of the British people. But, of course, I admit the picture is not entirely black—if it were it would not be a picture—and I should like to join with the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, in congratulating the Foreign Secretary with regard to the great sensitivity and ability with which he has been handling things lately, particularly the Laos situation.
I rather differ from the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, about his attitude towards the League of Nations. After the noble Earl's speech in Berwick earlier 1022 this year I confess I was not quite clear about which way he was facing, but I think his more recent utterances have given reassurance to many of us who sincerely believe that the United Nations Organisation, imperfect as it must be on occasions, is vitally important in this age when no nation can stand back in isolation, and when the choice is inevitably between international cooperation with some reduction of sovereignty, or international war and international destruction. I hope that the Foreign Secretary can perhaps tell us to-day whether he has been able to consider and discuss the proposal frequently put forward by my Party, that a permanent unit of the United Nations should be established in Germany, if not in Berlin itself, where there are depressing indications of possibly more trouble to come. And in that connection, might I say that it is rather disheartening for all of us and particularly for the inhabitants of Western Germany that almost every new suggested move in that troubled area seems to originate from Mr. Khrushchev, so that we in the West are continuously put in a position of answering and defending, instead of initiating and pressing forward. Could we not somehow more often get in first? Could we not make some imaginative suggestions perhaps about coming to some sort of modified or compromise agreement for the recognition of East Germany, which, after all, nobody can deny does in fact exist, or perhaps about some fresh examination of the Oder-Neisse line or some alternative in parallel which might relieve tension in that uneasy and unnatural area. If we could only take a little more creative initiative, instead of continually having to be on the defensive, the peoples of the West, I think, would surely, from the access of greater confidence which would result, be stronger, more coordinated and more single-minded.
It will be, I think, tempting for some speakers in this debate to refer to the Common Market, but for myself I propose to leave it alone, as we are, as your Lordships know, to have a debate on that subject a week from now. But I think the question of the independent nuclear weapon is bound to arise, quite naturally, once more in a debate of this sort. At the time of our last discussion there were very positive indications, as 1023 your Lordships may remember, that America would welcome a change of British policy, a switch of our nuclear contribution from the limitations of a narrow national concept, which so many of us consider to be wasteful, and not only wasteful but ineffectual, to a joint Western Powers authority where it could be blended with much more value into the great machine of some Western armament authority. Those of us who wish to see this sort of thing come about are very oddly sometimes called unilateral disarmers. That is the very reverse of what we are. We are multilateral armers, wishing to see strength through unity and wishing to see this country of ours specialising more in the rôle of conventional armament, Where we are unsurpassed and have proved over and over again we are unsurpassed.
I do not wish to press the Foreign Secretary beyond discretion—I am sure he would not let me do so—but it would be very welcome indeed if he could indicate to-day, or at least decline to deny, that some such consultations with America, and possibly with other Allies, are in the air. If it is asked why there should be such a modification in British defence policy, I think there are two answers which would seem to carry weight. First, as I have said, America has hinted that such a move would be welcome and might well lead to much more co-ordination and pooling and strength, particularly if, as a result, our other Western Allies followed suit. Secondly, there is undoubted evidence in this country that a majority of people have become opposed to the courses which the Government are pursuing. That is no British secret; I think it is known in every part of the world, and if there be any doubt about it the Government can obtain proof of it by holding a General Election.
Talking about disarmament in this way, I am not referring to the pacifists, whose views I greatly admire but cannot subscribe to; I am not talking about odd "groups of One Hundred", who base their basis on their own bases. I am talking of ordinary men and women of peaceful instincts who regretfully acknowledge the need for a deterrent and so wish for the strongest possible Western international deterrent, and not 1024 a weakening of deterrence by pursuing a nationalistic and dissipating course. I ask this because to any reasonable person I think it would seem that a major change such as we have just witnessed in the composition of this Government must indicate some intended alteration of course; and as I think we are given to understand that the fiscal and economic programme of the Government is to remain much the same, despite the removal of some of the chief supporters of that programme, it is not unnatural to speculate upon a change of course in some other field. I hope it may be in the field of national defence, in order not to weaken but to strengthen our national position. But, of course, the Government's new policy, if it has one, is not yet revealed. Indeed, last week it was obviously not ready to be revealed. The Prime Minister made rather a notable utterance on July 17 when he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 633 (No. 146), col. 228]:We have to see what we have to consider and then we can make up our minds.I agree, but I hope we shall see it soon.
§ 3.16 p.m.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF HOME)
My Lords, I know the noble Lord's speeches are always short and to the point, but I was hoping to hear a little more. I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, as well as the noble Lord, Lord Rea, for the kind things they have said about my part in the Laotian agreement, and if I may I will, as I go through the various subjects they have both raised, comment on some of the suggestions they have made. I should like to stress this: I must decline, for the second Foreign Affairs debate running, very politely, to engage in a talk with Lord Rea about the virtues of an alternative vote or proportional representation. I cannot do that. But, apart from that, I hope to comment on some of the things he said and certainly to illustrate as I go along some of the points Which the noble Lords have made.
When we debated international affairs almost exactly a year ago to-day, I described the international situation as one of international anarchy. I do not think I need remind your Lordships that there was trouble in Laos, in South Vietnam, in Indonesia, in Cuba, in Algeria, in the 1025 Congo, in Kuwait and An Berlin. I had to confess that I could see no universal cure for this universal ferment and unrest, and I then had to advise your Lordships that the way in which Great Britain could best proceed in international affairs was by quiet and patient conciliation against a background of firmness of principle; not the kind of principle which degenerates into the rigidity of dogma, but the principles Which are embodied in the Convention on Human Rights and in a code of international conduct, which must be devised if the world is to move steadily towards a condition of interdependence.
So, my Lords, to-day, in response to the noble Lord, I should like to do a stocktaking so that the House may know and the country may know where I believe we stand on the issues of the hour and may be able to measure the prospects of peace. So I think I can say to your Lordships now that, with some obstinate exceptions, there is some improvement on the position as it was when I spoke to your Lordships a year ago.
As the noble Lord reminded you, I have just come back from Geneva, where fourteen nations spent fourteen months agreeing upon a Laotian settlement—a settlement which in due time will be recorded and come before Parliament. I believe that we can welcome this, both in substance and in form—in substance because it represents a real agreement between East and West. In this particular case both the East and the West, who were in danger of meeting in a clash of rivalries in this area, have decided that the will of neither will prevail and that they will both live with neutrality We may welcome it in form because it demonstrates that, by patient negotiation and with the will to do so, we can arrive at sensible solutions to our problems.
The nations who were represented in the Laotian Conference, you will remember, contained the Great Powers—United States, China, Russia, United Kingdom and France—and, of course, the South-East Asian countries. They sat together with something practical to do, with a problem to be solved, for fourteen months; and I must say that the contrast I noticed between the atmosphere when I was there on Monday for the signature of the Treaty and the 1026 atmosphere of fourteen months ago was quite extraordinary. These fourteen countries who had sat together for all that time had certainly gained a greater understanding of the others' paints of view, by reason of the fact that they had been at this Conference and had been exchanging views, not only in the official sessions but also between each other on the sidelines.
I cannot say whether the Laotians will have the skill to make this settlement a reality on the ground—I profoundly hope so; but they will want assistance. As your Lordships know, if I have had a complaint against the Communists it is that they have talked co-existence but never practised it. Here is an area in which it can be practised, and where it will have the chance of proof. But in this Conference fourteen nations have sunk their national selfish aims for the greater international good. I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, singled out Mr. Macdonald for his praise. Both Mr. Pushkin and Mr. Macdonald have done good work for their respective countries in this matter; but if we single out Mr. Macdonald I am sure that the thirteen other countries will not begrudge us our pride, because I am certain that when the history of this Conference comes to be written, his personal contribution will be found and judged to have been decisive.
My Lords, I hope that the House will allow me one reflection on the attitude of our own people in these days to events in other Continents, events which often hold within them the seeds of peace and war. I trust that our people are not getting the feeling that, because we have shed an Empire, they can be insulated from danger or absolved from exerting influence and taking action on the world stage. I should like to say now that which I could not say eighteen months ago: that when I went to the SEATO Conference at that time, war (and it would not have been war only between North Viet-Nam and Laos; it would have been war between the SEATO Alliance, including the United States, and the Communist Alliance, including China and Russia) was so near that it could have turned on the spin of a coin; and had that happened, Britain would once more have been engaged in a world war, no less a world war because 1027 it happened to be in the Continent of Asia.
I hope that the British people realise that situations of this kind are not resolved by luck. Nor can we pretend that we do not see them and just hope for the best. They depend for their solution on deliberate policies being adopted by the British Government, and by the British Government's determination to see those policies through. My noble friend Lord Avon, who I am very glad to see here to-day, had experience of this some years ago in the same continent. We are a small country, and it would be extremely foolish to overstretch our resources—that is true. But the lesson that I have myself learned from the Laotian Conference is that our people must be willing to equip this country with enough strength to play our part in the collective security arrangements adopted by the other free countries of the world; and it is really on that that our influence in international councils depends. I dare to say that it is possible that in these situations the peace of the world may depend upon Britain's voice being heard everywhere where these matters, peace and war, are under discussion.
I hope, therefore, my Lords, that our people will not be so preoccupied with affairs at home that they will leave foreign affairs to the Government of the day. There are many tough prospects ahead, and I shall talk about some of them in a moment. But if the Government's voice is to carry authority in world affairs, then it must be supported by an interested and an informed public opinion. I have no hesitation in saying that the Laos Agreement is a clear victory for the forces of order in international affairs, and it is my ambition to make it the first of a series.
The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, drew our attention next to the problems which are involved and under discussion in the Disarmament Conference at Geneva. Progress is slow. I think that is inevitable. The points of difference are acute, and, after all, as I tried to say in Geneva yesterday in a speech I made to the Disarmament Conference, if you are to achieve total disarmament, general and complete disarmament, you have to go very near to changing the 1028 nature of man—and that is a pretty ambitious programme. Nevertheless, though they are acute, the points of difference have been clarified in the Conference, and now we are arriving at a new stage and the Conference is getting down to a new debate in which, at the suggestion of the British delegation, they have isolated the points on which they are in difficulty, and they are going to discuss and debate them in depth. Of course we have had many propaganda speeches, but once again (and this was true of the Laos Conference) the fundamental point is emerging—namely, that while it is legitimate to get the best terms you can in a bargain, there will be no success if the object of the negotiator is to get a victory over the fellows who are sitting around him at the table.
It is clear that the only proposals in the disarmament field which stand a chance of being accepted are proposals that are, first, balanced and, secondly, verified: balanced in that neither side at any point in the process of disarmament is to be put at a disadvantage in arms (Lord Henderson has always made that point); and verified, because unless you give confidence to each side, and each side plays by the rules, you are in fact going to make no progress. So yesterday, at the Geneva Conference, I took the chance of putting the focus and the spotlight on the central problem of general and complete disarmament, which is verification; and it is becoming clear, I think, to all those who are in the Conference—and I think that when it comes to the United Nations it will be clear to the other countries of the world—that the Communist countries are now the only countries who are not willing to pay the price of inspection in order to achieve disarmament. It is a most serious position in which the Communist countries find themselves, because, so far as I know, every other country in the world is willing to open its borders to the degree of inspection that is necessary in order to achieve a nuclear test ban and to make progress on disarmament.
I think I can report some progress in the field of nuclear tests. I have recalled to your Lordships that some time ago, at the last Geneva Conference (indeed, we have done this before), I invited the Russians to join with us in scientific 1029 research on the problems of detection and on-site inspection. In the event the United States and Great Britain had to do research for themselves; and I find it quite incredible that the Russians continue to refuse, but they have done so. It is a little early to say, in response to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson—although I hope I may be able to give some information to the House on this matter, possibly before we rise—that because of the new scientific information which has just come our way we can make a substantial modification to the proposals on nuclear tests which we have put forward. But if, as I hope, the new scientific information means that detection is easier and more accurate, and if it means it will assist us to identify the nature of noises more surely, then there can be a diminution of the on-site inspection which is necessary and required.
I should be quite misleading your Lordships if I did not say now that, even with the most perfect system of detection and even with an international organisation of scientists—a commission, it might be—to assemble the information, to analyse it and pronounce upon it, it is almost certain that there would be a residue of noises about which an international commission would not be able to say, with certainty, whether they were an earthquake or a nuclear explosion. So there would be some need, although I hope it will be much reduced, for on-site inspection. My Lords, I hope that the need will be, and I believe it is likely to be, almost infinitesimal in comparison with the size of the Russian territory; it is, after all, a question only of a few men moving only to places which have been carefully located. But, again, so far, the Russians have said that they are unwilling to pay even this price, but I would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, that our object must be to put forward a proposal which will give them a chance to accept because it is so patently reasonable to all the rest of the world.
My Lords, the third main topic of our discussions in Geneva in the last few days has been Berlin. This is the part of the world which gives the most anxiety when we are thinking in terms of East—West relations, because it is here that the interests of the Great Powers 1030 are most directly and immediately engaged.
There are three possibilities, as it seems to me, of a settlement of the Berlin problem. The first, and best, is that the Germans should be given the chance to settle their own destiny by free elections, and that within the context of the whole of Germany, Berlin should be treated as one city. That is the best, but, I am bound to say to your Lordships, it is the least likely, at least for the time being. Then, again, there is the possibility of an agreement with Russia which would include the three essentials I have mentioned time and again to your Lordships, on which the free life of the city of West Berlin depends: the presence of Western troops, the guarantee of access, and the right to run their own affairs without interference. In return for these guarantees to the people of West Germany it would be possible to meet the Russians on some of the things in which they are really interested, and I agree with Lord Henderson that the internationalisation of the access route in some form is a proposal which merits much more study than the Russians have been willing to give it. It certainly was not dropped by the Western Allies. There are other matters on which I think we could make progress. I think that there ought to be joint negotiations between East and West Germany to study matters of common concern, not only in Berlin but in East and West Germany. There are other suggestions which we could make if the Russians were willing to do one thing—and that is to renew the Four-Power responsibility for the city.
The third possibility is that we should live with disagreement, without imperilling the peace of the world and the safety of mankind. I told Mr. Gromyko over the last two days that this would not be a solution. That is clear. But it would make clear to the world that where there is a clash of interests which is direct, the Great Powers should agree that they can live with disagreement and try to solve it by negotiation, however long that negotiation might take. My Lords, we are in a situation of this kind now—and do not let us forget it—that the nuclear power at the disposal of the great countries of the world is so great 1031 that we face this straight choice: are we to fight and be blown to pieces; or are we to negotiate and continue to negotiate, however stubborn the particular problem may be, until a solution is found? There is no use thinking, as the Laotian situation proves, that you can isolate war these days into local war. The chances are that they will escalate.
This Geneva Conference has been very interesting not only in the context of Laos, but also in the context of Berlin. It has been interesting to see, the Great Powers having looked over the brink at world war and drawn back in the case of Laos, whether the Russians will now look over the brink and see the consequences of facing the West with demands which they know from the start that the West cannot concede; and whether, having looked over the brink, they will then take the advice which Mr. Rusk and myself have been giving to Mr. Gromyko over the last few years, and work round the edges of the problem, negotiating about things in which the Russians are vitally interested from the point of view of their own security. Such things as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, indicated—the non-dissemination of nuclear weapons to third parties; declarations that frontiers would not be changed by force; the possibility of a NATO-Warsaw pact, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Rea, has said, of a possible United Nations presence in the city of West Berlin. If the Russians will once decide it is useless to go on pressing the West to take their troops out of West Berlin, then there are many, many other avenues open to them for negotiation which would prove profitable both to them and to us. I profoundly hope that Mr. Gromyko will be willing to take this advice, because the Russians must understand that the Western interests in the freedom of the people in the city of West Berlin are not selfish interests. They are concerned with human rights, with the right of people to determine their own way of life, and with the important question I have mentioned of the maintenance of peace by negotiation. Therefore, no great Power in these days should face another great Power with demands which are frankly expansionist and which it knows that other Power cannot accent, because, as the consequence of war is the 1032 obliteration of both, then neither side should try to put the other side to that test.
My Lords, there is a connecting theme between Laos and disarmament, and disarmament and Berlin. Since even the greatest Powers cannot impose their wills by force, we must seek the best terms we can get around the conference table. And the Geneva Conference has encouraged me—although I am anxious on Berlin—to hope that the forces of international anarchy may at last be in retreat. The nuclear balance of power is a restraining influence, whether it is held at a high level or a lower level. I hope that the unilateral disarmers and the "Ban-the-bombers" will ponder the fact as to whether the world would be more peaceful if the nuclear balance were discarded. I am sure it would not.
My Lords, parallel to the ban on fighting imposed by fear there are, I think, more positive influences at work, both in the Soviet Union and in the West, which may mean that we are able to approach a newer and more fruitful phase in East—West relations; something more creative in content than simply the freezing of contact which we have known over the last fifteen years. I drew attention to the fact that there are more liberal influences at work in the Soviet Union. I am depressed to see that the number of Russian tourists has fallen very steeply this year, but I think that that is due to economic causes; but there is no doubt at all that the Russians are enabling contact to be made in a larger way than has taken place before with the outside world. Surely, my Lords, this must result in a questioning of the doctrine which has for so many years been responsible for isolating Russia from external influences. They have held away their people, and held them back from the amenities of life which are commonplace in the homes of Western Europe, and the lives of the American people.
My Lords, it cannot be just a coincidence that the capitalist societies are groaning under surpluses of food, while the increase of agricultural production right across the Communist world has been an almost total failure. Certainly, the much vaunted image of Communism as inspiring the workers to greater endeavour, the image of Communism as 1033 a giver of abundance, has been very badly tarnished, and there are Russians in high places who to-day are advocating remedies far removed from anything the Communist doctrine has taught them. Then, again, I think there must be much questioning going on in Russia as to whether there is not something fundamentally wrong with a system which gives such poor results. The system is proving itself far from flawless, and I think it is almost impossible that the Russians will find the same enthusiasm in commending it to other people, and certainly it will be less easy to sell.
But, my Lards, parallel with the apparent weakness of the Communist societies to-day is the fact that the Western countries are showing a disconcerting vigour. An enormous Communist effort has been put into dividing Europe. Yet Europe is not divided. On the contrary, it has repented of strife, and it seams to he trying to redeem its character by an example in unity and interdependence. In the process it is demonstrating the falsity of the Communist picture of the inevitable decline of the capitalist countries—and by "the capitalist countries", the Russians mean, I suppose, the infinite aspects that freedom wears in the free societies of the West.
I do not want to be too fanciful, hut if I were a Communist now I think I should be taking a fresh look at the principles of the doctrine, and at their practice. If I was a Russian, I think I should be asking myself whether their nineteenth-century philosophy has any bearing at all and any relation to the needs of Russia in the twentieth century. I drew attention to the fact that the post-revolutionary Russian has a split personality. There is the Russian who is the patriot, there is the Russian who is the international Communist; and I think that if I were a Russian who was a patriot I should now be wondering whether I would not be better employed in basing my view of life on observation of the facts, rather than in the reactionary process of banding the facts to fit the theories. Of course, that would mean that one would have to allow that the facts and the truth had a certain validity of their own; and that in itself is an incursion into Communist doctrine.
So there are, I think, certain signs of a loosening up of the pure Communist 1034 doctrine, although do not let us delude ourselves: it is almost impossible for anybody high up in the Communist hierarchy to depart from it vary far. That being so, I have said time and again in this House—and I think it is right—that we must patiently seek out areas of agreement with Russia, though we must not delude ourselves that these will be vary extensive.
The countries of European origin are, by and large, Christian countries. The Communist countries—at least those who rule them—are, by and large, materialist countries, and it is not very easy to find common ground between Christian communities and communities that are purely materialist. Nevertheless, we must try, and, given the modification of pure doctrine which I think is beginning in the Soviet Union, and given the overwhelming interest of both sides, East and West, in keeping alive, I believe there is a chance that we may be able to negotiate beyond the Laos agreement, and we ought to be able to find plenty of work to do at the conference table for years to come. I have suggested to Mr. Gromyko that in the particular case of Berlin, with so many other problems connected with it which could usefully be discussed between our two countries, we ought to set up some machinery to do so.
My Lords, Mr. Khrushchev makes speeches which always give food for thought, although not all of them are particularly palatable, but two months ago he made a speech which I read with considerable interest. He said:The construction of Communism in our country is tantamount of the fulfilment of our international duty to all the revolutionary forces of the world.If his deeds were consistent with these words we should have little objection to them, because we cannot deny the Communist countries the right to see their ideas triumph through example, in fair competition with ours. We would never deny that. But too often, in fact, the Russian objective seems to be not to confine themselves to example, and converting people by example, but to stir up bad blood everywhere.
I have in mind, in particular, the Soviet performance in the United Nations on colonialism. Like the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, I am not one of those who apologise for the British 1035 colonial record. The arrival in Africa and Asia of Europeans was the consequence of an irrepressible outburst of energy from Europe, which transformed the societies of Asia and Africa, who had been completely static for many hundreds of years before that—transformed them into modern, lively nations, fit to take their part in a 20th century expanding world. I will never apologise for British colonialism, or for the structure, shape and aim of the British Commonwealth. I think it has served the world very well. There is no place in which we have exerted our influence in the colonial field which has not been, on our departure, healthier and wealthier and better able to play its part in the world, as a result of our activities in that territory.
But the Soviet representative at the United Nations conducts his activities with the sole purpose of promoting disorder and bad blood between Africans, Asians and Europeans, the older nations and the new. Every spark of racialism or nationalism is deliberately fanned into flame until that most reasonable, patient and liberal of men, Sir Hugh Foot, the other day said that the Russian delegate in the United Nations was the Pied Piper of the Kremlin leading the world to chaos. My Lords, this is a very serious indictment, and it is too near the truth. It is this deliberate fanning of the flames which makes it so difficult for us and for the other countries, to fulfil all the purposes of the Charter. The purposes of the Charter—and I hope I shall not clash with the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, here—are, I insist, first peace, and then peaceful change; and all our remaining Colonies, which we are bringing to emancipation, must be brought to their independence as a result of orderly change.
Now I anticipate from the list of speakers (and I hope your Lordships will allow me a few moments more) that there will be some people who are interested in the Congo, and I must say at once that it was the ruthless opportunism of the Russians, taking advantage of the internal confusion in the Congo, which brought us into our present trouble. It was only the intervention of the United Nations which prevented a Communist take-over; it has been 1036 only the most patient influence exerted by the friends of the Congolese people which has kept some sort of order and prevented complete chaos. My Lords, things are not very good, but they might have been infinitely worse than they are. Once more, difficulties are arising, for two reasons: partly because (and for this the Communist countries are to blame) the United Nations is approaching bankruptcy early next year; and partly because of the genuine difficulties of reconciliation of the political views between Africans who have very little experience of working modern constitutions.
Several of your Lordships will, I have no doubt, when you speak, put forward different points of view and useful points of view. I want to give one or two reflections on the present situation in the Congo. The aim, on which I think everybody agrees, is a united Congo within the old frontiers as they existed in the time of the Belgian sovereignty, and I think it will be agreed that that is the only shape in which the Congo will really have a worthwhile future. But, my Lords, no one can settle the Congo's political future except the Congolese themselves. We can help them to do so, but the responsibility is theirs, and theirs alone. My Lords, no other country, nor the United Nations, should or could impose a political pattern. We can help the Congolese to find one, but we cannot dictate it, and we must not try.
I could name with reasonable assurance the conditions and ingredients of a settlement. There should be a genuinely federal constitution—and that is Mr. Adoula's contribution; there should be a fair division of revenues—and that is very largely (but not entirely, because there are other Provinces) Mr. Tshombe's contribution. And, because there is going to be a very large deficit in the total Congolese budget for many years to come, there must be third factor: a scheme of financial and technical assistance—and that must be the United Nations' contribution. But the essence of this matter—and I cannot emphasise this too strongly—is that these must be simultaneously agreed. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, used the word "agreement", and I emphasise this: that they must be simultaneously agreed and 1037 simultaneously applied. My Lords, we may be of assistance. It may be that there are skilled persons, skilled Africans, in constitutional law and in finance who could help these people to come to an agreement and to conclude a constitutional and financial settlement.
But because the world has poured out an enormous amount of treasure in money and life for the future of the Congo, I want to say two things about the attitudes of the two principal actors, upon whom the world waits for agreement. I hope that Mr. Adoula will not just sit back and rely on the United Nations subduing the Katanga by force. The United Nations is not empowered to do so; and, if it tried, it would fight a colonial war. The United Nations cannot be a colonial Power administering another country year after year. Again, Mr. Tshombe must not sit back and imagine that the de facto autonomy which he at present serves is likely to serve him well. The future of the Katanga really lies in playing a very large and influential part in a united Congo. There has been talk of economic pressures. All I can say on that is to emphasise once again that the political settlement and the financial settlement must be simultaneous, and that if pressures are to be applied they must be applied equally and fairly to both. Therefore, my Lords, our influence in this matter is not very great. I have said, time and again, that our investment interest is equally divided between the two parts of the Congo. We have only one interest in this: to see a fair constitutional settlement. If we can help we will, but I hope I have made my view crystal clear about the form that a settlement should take.
My Lords, my review has necessarily been rather scrappy, but I would sum up in this way. I hope that in the speeches that I have made in your Lordships' House during the last two years you have detected a theme which has been constant. It is the overriding need for international order, against the background, of which I have talked, of the strength of the nuclear Power; and against the background, too, of a world which for many years to come, because of the emancipation of new nations, will have all over its surface outbreaks of nationalism and racialism and stubborn problems to be solved. By "order", 1038 I do not mean—and I hope no one will ever Chink I do—that there should be no change. Order does not preclude change. That is clear from the history of the British Commonwealth. Indeed, change may be a prerequisite of order, as it is of progress. I am not, and the British Government are not, therefore, opponents of change. What we are opponents of is chaos, because chaos brings misery to ordinary men and women everywhere.
Therefore there is a need to ensure orderly change; and if this is the standard—and it is—which I apply, not only to the conduct of our own colonial policies with regard to those countries which remain, but to the conduct of the United Nations and to the actions of the Commonwealth, everything must be tested as to whether or not it increases the chances of orderly change. It is in that sense that I have talked to the Russians on Laos, on Berlin and on other matters in conference; and it is in that sense, and in that sense only, that I have talked (although I know some people do not like some of the things I have said, or the emphasis with which I have said them) about the United Nations. Because unless the United Nations is identified with orderly change, peaceful change, then we are not going to have a United Nations at all in a very few years. Therefore, my Lords, I insist that nothing can be solved by force and that everything is soluble by negotiation. If this message comes from Britain and is consistent and insistent, and if it is applied to every situation of international difficulty, then, my Lords, there is a chance that we may be able to help the world to turn away from the destruction and waste of war towards more creative activities and the life-giving tasks of peace.
§ 3.59 p.m.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, I should like this afternoon to examine certain trends in the activities of the United Nations, with particular reference to Africa, which appear to me to be leading in dangerous directions, and which certainly are giving rise to wide-spead disillusionment among many sections of the public in this country. I make no apology for doing so, because I had wished to put down a separate Motion on this subject but found that no day was available. The most recent 1039 event in our minds is, of course, the resolution of the Assembly of the United Nations of June 28, calling upon the British Government to introduce a new constitution for Southern Rhodesia.
My Lords, at this point I should like to take the opportunity of paying a tribute to the late Lord Robins, whose name is so intimately connected with the growth of modern Rhodesia. From his early youth, when he came to this country as an American Rhodes scholar at Oxford, Lord Robins was deeply imbued with the traditions of Cecil Rhodes, and, with the exception of the two wars and a brief period in London, he dedicated his whole life's work to Rhodesia and the welfare of its people. Until quite recently he contributed regularly to your Lordships' debates on African affairs, and I fed sure that I am speaking for all sections of the House when I say how greatly we shall miss him.
My Lords, I should like to make it clear at the outset that I am not approaching this question of the United Nations in any spirit of hostility, either to the Organisation itself or to the basic principles of the Charter. I have always been a staunch supporter of the United Nations, and I had the honour to serve for four years as a member of the British delegation to the United Nations Assembly when I acted as our representative on the Trusteeship Committee. Although we became at times irritated and frustrated, and even indignant, I believe that much valuable work was accomplished there. Nor, my Lords, I suggest, can anyone claim that Britain has not conscientiously supported the United Nations, even at the time of Suez, when we accepted their decisions in full and the arrangements which they set up to preserve peace in the Middle East.
Where it seems to me that the United Nations have gone wrong is in the increasing tendency, both of the Security Council and of the General Assembly, to interfere in the internal affairs of member States, and thus to violate a basic principle of the Charter. Article 2 (7) of the Charter lays down in terms that:Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorise the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State, or shall require the Members to submit such matters for settlement under the present Charter.1040 This cardinal principle, designed to prevent the interference of other nations in the affairs of an individual State, whether large or small, was from the beginning vigorously supported by successive Labour and Conservative Governments and their representatives at the United Nations. It was first violated—and this violation was, indeed, strongly resisted by ourselves—when the United Nations passed resolutions about the domestic affairs of South Africa. However much we may dislike the internal policy of a Government, it gives us no right to interfere with their business. We all hate the dictatorial system of Soviet Russia, and the suppression of sovereign rights of States such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, who are still recognised by the British Government and whose representatives appear in the Foreign Office list. But that does not give us the right to interfere in the domestic affairs of the Soviet Union.
In recent years, countries such as India, which had encouraged intervention in the affairs of other States though, of course, indignantly rejecting it when it concerned themselves, have sought to differentiate between metropolitan countries and so-called non-self-governing territories. Here, again, the provisions of the Charter are perfectly clear. The United Nations were given certain rights and duties in connection with the Trust Territories such as Tanganyika and Ruanda-Urundi; and they also claim to have the right to intervene in South-West Africa, though the South African Government themselves maintain that this territory is still under mandate to them from the old League of Nations.
But, my Lords, for all other non-self-governing territories the only obligation of the responsible Power, apart from general duties of economic and political advancement, is, under Article 73 (e):to transmit regularly to the Secretary-General for information purposes, subject to such limitations as security and constitutional consideration may require, statistical and other information of a technical nature relating to economic, social, and educational conditions in the territories for which they are respectively responsible.The wording is perfectly clear: it gives the United Nations no right to interfere in any colonial territories other than the Trust Territories, and no power to call for information on political matters. It is the flagrant and increasingly frequent 1041 breach of this principle, only recently exemplified in the case of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Zanzibar, which I believe is causing great anxiety among many people in this country. It must inevitably detract to some extent from their respect, and indeed their support, for the United Nations when they are called upon to deal with the real issues for which they were created, such as the elimination of war, the establishment of international justice, and the respect for treaties.
In the case of Southern Rhodesia, we have seen the open interference in the internal constitutional affairs of a territory which, since 1923, has enjoyed full internal self-government. No British Government of any Party has since that date passed any legislation affecting Southern Rhodesia without the full consent of the Southern Rhodesian Government. No information has ever been communicated on Southern Rhodesia to the United Nations under Article 73 (e) for precisely these reasons, and until recently the Assembly has never questioned the fact. The present action is being ostensibly carried out under the Assembly "Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial territories and peoples" passed on December 14, 1960; but that resolution, on which Britain abstained, is not legally binding on member States, and could not by itself alter the Charter of the United Nations. This can be changed only by a two-thirds vote of the Assembly, ratified by two-thirds of their Governments, including all the permanent members of the Security Council, of which Britain is one.
Not only that, but the established rules of procedure of the United Nations, which call for a two-thirds majority of the Steering Committee for the inscription of an item on the Agenda of the Assembly, was blatantly violated on June 16, on a proposal, if you please, of Ghana, in order to get Southern Rhodesia put down on the Agenda at all. I must say that when we think of the fact that, at that time, the Lord Privy Seal was doing his best to fight for the interests of these Commonwealth countries at Brussels, it is a little ironic that we should find them behaving in this rather discreditable fashion with no fewer than eight members of the Com- 1042 monwealth voting for the alteration in the rules of procedure.
When it came to the speeches of the delegates, the proceedings became even more farcical. Support for the resolution was, of course, to be expected from members of the Afro-Asian bloc; but criticism of Southern Rhodesia, which is making steady constitutional advance, from countries, many of which are under civil or military dictatorship, or, indeed, have never held any elections at all, is really rather incongruous. The speeches of the members of the Soviet bloc in defence of "representative democracy", and self-determination, and condemning "repressive measures", really make nauseating reading. To have the representative of Hungary, whose Government, with the assistance of Russian tanks and at the cost of thousands of Hungarian lives, trampled underfoot a movement for democratic government and freedom, now calling for more democratic government in Southern Rhodesia is an example of cynicism which is hard to beat.
My Lords, I must say that I was glad to see, from what I thought was a very notable speech by my noble friend the other day—the speech to which the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, referred—that he had made it quite clear that Her Majesty's Government had no intention of allowing irresponsible actions by some members of the United Nations to divert us from orderly and peaceable constitutional progress in our overseas territories. He very rightly and clearly drew attention to the tendencies of racialism and aggressive nationalism, which have, as he has pointed out this afternoon, been exploited by Communism and which have motivated the attitude of many Afro-Asian members. I think it is, as he said in his speech, quite understandable that in these newly independent nations these tendencies could occur; but my noble friend also pointed out how dangerous and how short-sighted this was. For, after all, it is not difficult to imagine circumstances in which intervention by the United Nations in the internal affairs of a sovereign State could be turned against the newly independent countries themselves.
I do not know how, for instance, India would react to a resolution calling for 1043 the examination of the demands of the Nagas for self-determination. How would they feel about that? And what would the Soviet bloc do if there were a resolution calling for self-determination or intervention in the affairs of the Baltic States? I really believe that in forcing such issues as Rhodesia the members of the General Assembly are playing with dangerous weapons, which could one day be turned against them.
It seems to me that so long as the Charter of the United Nations remains unchanged it is essential that we should continue to emphasise the sanctity of Article 2 (7), by which, as I say, both Labour and Conservative Governments have felt themselves bound. I myself regretted—and I think that it was a serious breach in our position—that on January 31 last the British delegate voted in favour of the adoption by the General Assembly of the conclusions of the Report of the Sub-Committee on Angola. Up till then we had contented ourselves with abstaining. I say to your Lordships frankly that no issue has been the subject of more misrepresentation during the past two years than that of the Portuguese territories in Africa. An all-out campaign, instigated, I fear, by Ghana, and fully supported, of course, by the Communists, and, I regret to say, encouraged by certain extreme Left-Wing writers in this country, has been conducted to denigrate the conduct of affairs in Portuguese Africa. Mozambique, Guinea and, of course, Angola have been the subject of constant accusations and misrepresentation.
I will give your Lordships one example. The complaint filed by the Government of Ghana to the International Labour Organisation on the subject of forced labour, which I think is still widely believed to exist in the Portuguese territories, has been completely demolished by the report of the International Labour Organisation Commission. Forced labour has long since been abolished in Portuguese Africa, and to-day so-called contract labour or penal labour, which exists in many other countries—and not only in colonial territories—has also been abolished.
Then in March, when the United Nations were going to examine the question of Portuguese Africa, came the 1044 attack in Angola from the Congo, which brought the Portuguese management of African affairs into the full glare of publicity. The attack was organised from over the border by Holden Roberto, an exile who had sat at the feet of Dr. Nkrumah and had been established, with his headquarters at Leopoldville, by the late Mr. Lumumba. As your Lordships know, the most appalling atrocities occurred. In the three weeks which followed March 16, 1961, 1,300 Europeans were massacred and at least 6,000 Africans, and possibly a great many more.
Inevitably accusations of reprisals by the Portuguese authorities were put forward. These were thoroughly investigated by Her Majesty's Consul-General at Luanda and by our Military Attaché in Lisbon. No doubt there were individual cases of arbitrary and repressive conduct, but the main allegations were flatly denied in the Consul-General's report. Since then, peace has been largely restored and widespread rehabilitation has gone on. But how much of this is known to the general public in this country, or to the representatives seated in judgment at the United Nations in New York? There is a conspiracy of silence on this matter, which unfailingly seeks to conceal the views of the Portuguese Government and of their representatives and of any person, or any report which is favourable to them.
The fact is, my Lords, that Portuguese rule in Africa, though in some respects backward, and handicapped by lack of financial resources, has consistently been in the direction of steady economic and social progress. Above all, the Portuguese have deliberately adopted a policy of complete non-racialism. I myself marvelled, during the course of a recent visit to Mozambique, at the complete social equality which exists among the Africans and the 200,000 Portuguese of European origin. On the political side, I do not suppose that any of us would expect that a State having a metropolitan Government based on a one-Party system would encourage a fully democratic system in their overseas provinces; but the fact remains that elected African representatives from Angola and from Mozambique are seated in the National Assembly in 1045 Lisbon, while in the territories themselves African deputies are elected on a basis of complete equality with Europeans to the Legislative Council and local councils. Furthermore, under the enlightened policy of the present Minister for Overseas Territories, Senhor Moreira, the old system, which discriminated between the assimilated—the assimilados—and the natives, has been abolished, and all the people are now on an equal footing. But how much of this is known in this country?
I have not visited Angola, but travelling through Mozambique, I was amazed to find what a high level of economic and social advance has been achieved. I went everywhere I wished and, speaking some Portuguese, I was able to question a large number of Africans. I found that their wages were equal to those of white workers and, so far as I could judge, in many cases higher than those in the mother country. Again, within the limits of their financial resources, the number of schools and hospitals is high, though of course more are needed. What the Portuguese are seeking to do in these territories, as I understand it, irrespective of the political system under which they are living, is, first of all to teach the inhabitants all to become citizens of one country and then to advance in the same direction as Brazil, where they have constructed a society of men and women of all races, working side by side without discrimination. I feel it to be necessary to say these things to your Lordships because of the gross misrepresentations which exist with regard to the Portuguese African territories. I only hope that, as a result of these things being said, a greater understanding of the position may filter through to the delegates at the United Nations when they come to address themselves, as they will in September, to future resolutions on the Portuguese territories.
My Lords, before I conclude I should like to say one word about the situation in the Congo. During his visit earlier this month, U Thant, the Acting Secretary-General, described some of the activities of the United Nations in the Congo. He admitted that some mistakes had been made. He also referred, quite fairly, to the achievements which had been made in technical reconstruction and in bringing food and medicine to 1046 large sections of the population. On the question of Katanga, he publicly stated that the United Nations had no intention or mandate to impose a political solution by force. Whilst, of course, we ail welcome that assurance, it was not encouraging to see it almost immediately followed up by military action, when there were no disorders of any kind. This military action led to the complete severance of free road communication between Elisabethville and the outside world. The attack of the women on the road block, to which the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has referred, occurred after the United Nations military action had taken place and the road block had been set up.
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, was the road block not established following the introduction of 2,000 troops into Elisabathville, when they had given an assurance to the United Nations that they would have only 300?
§ LORD COLYTON
That is certainly true. But my point is that there were no disorders, and, so far as I know, the troops had already been withdrawn. They went in for Independence Day and came out again. But that was used as an excuse for taking this action.
Then there are dark hints of sending troops to Jadoville, Kolwezi, Kipushi and elsewhere. It seems that all these activities are part of the plan to extract from the Katanga Government some contribution to the finances of the central Government. So far as I know, President Tshombe has never refused in principle to contribute towards a central Government, provided that he and his people—and I emphasise his people—can be satisfied on the terms of a Constitution which would enable Katanga to play her full part in a federal or confederal State. It is because he has never been able to get satisfaction on these matters that Katanga's share of the national revenue has been withheld; but I believe it is a fact that this money has been set aside for payment when, as we hope, agreement is finally reached. Meanwhile, U Thant has not improved the situation by publicly referring to President Tshombe and his Ministers as "a bunch of clowns". What effect is this likely to produce on people who are 100 per cent. behind their Government? For, believe me, my Lords 1047 President Tshombe is not a stooge of the Belgians, of the Union Minière or anyone else, but is supported by all his people. His gravest fault, in the eyes of many members of the United Nations, I fear, is that he is also 100 per cent. anti-Communist and 100 per cent. multiracial.
From one report I saw this morning, U Thant yesterday submitted to hisCongo Advisory Committee a programme of economic pressure on Katanga under which he hopes to be able to compel President Tshombe to accept the authority of the Central Government. How does he square this with his assurance that the United Nations have no intention of imposing a solution by force? I would ask Her Majesty's Government for a positive assurance that, if and when any proposal comes before the Security Council which is calculated to lead to hostilities, they will unhesitatingly exercise their veto. It is true that the matter could then be taken to the Assembly, but, as I pointed out earlier, under the Charter no United Nations Resolution is binding upon its members.
In The Times to-day there is an excellent leading article drawing attention to the divergencies of policy between Britain and the United States on the problems of Central Africa. The policy of the United States was said, as I thought, quite rightly, to be inspired by fears of Communism and a desire to stand well with the members of the Afro-Asian bloc and therefore to back the United Nations, right or wrong. I believe this policy to be wrong. It is not the policy, as I understand it, which Her Majesty's Government have sought to pursue. I fear that there will be little satisfaction to the United States Government if the result of their efforts is to lead to further fighting in the Congo, and, above all, to the total disruption of the economy in Katanga. No one could feel more strongly than I do about the vital need for collaboration with the United States Government over the great range of world politics, but I hope that Her Majesty's Government will not allow themselves to be diverted from their present path by any arguments of expediency or of sentiment. I remember before the establishment of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland being 1048 told by a Nyasa Chief that the reason he opposed Federation was that he was afraid he would be tied to the tail of a British South African policeman's horse. Such fears, fortunately, proved to be quite unjustified. But I have no desire to see Britain, in dealing with the affairs of the Congo and Central Africa, tied to the tail of the horse of the United States Administration, or of Mr. E. Mennen Williams.
My Lords, I have attempted to cover a rather wide field of United Nations activities in Africa. I feel that in these matters plain speaking is essential. I cannot believe that either the prestige or the value of the United Nations, itself so vital to the cause of peace, will be enhanced by pursuing a policy of intervention in the affairs of overseas territories in Africa or elsewhere in violation of the Charter. Nor do I believe that the success of the Congo operation, which we all desire—and I emphasise that—will be accomplished by resorting to questionable methods, involving the use of force to bring Katanga to heel. I realise very well the difficulties with Which the Foreign Secretary is confronted, and I congratulate him on the courageous stand he has taken. I hope that the course of events in the Congo, which since last September, and even before, have fully justified my noble friend's fears and warnings (which I trust will not fall on deaf ears in New York) will cause the United Nations to hesitate before they embark on any further dangerous adventures in the Congo or elsewhere.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, as we all know, it has been the custom for a good many years now in your Lordships' House, towards the end of July, to have a general debate on Foreign Affairs, which enables us to take a good look at the international scene before we go away for the long Summer Recess. The opening speech of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and, if I may say so, the characteristically admirable stock-taking by the Foreign Secretary, to which we listened a few minutes ago, have certainly enabled us to do that to-day. Usually there is a tendency in these difficult days—I thought there was a faint indication of it in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson—to 1049 take, on the whole, a rather sombre view of the international position. That perhaps is not very surprising, for we have all of us lived since the war under the shadow of an unremitting conflict of ideas—a struggle for power over the minds of men—between the rival ideologies of the Communist and the Free World; and there are at present, I am afraid, no definite signs that that conflict is coming to an end.
Certain new elements, indeed, there are since the war, which I think we may count as blessings. And chief among them I should put, oddly enough (and I have a feeling that the Foreign Secretary feels rather the same, though he did not put it in so many words), the existence of the atomic bomb. I realise that some people, perhaps a great many people, would regard this as a very shocking statement: and, indeed, I must confess that, having been in touch with atomic energy while I was in the Government, and knowing what the bomb can do, I find my blood curdle in horror every time I think of it. But I think it is a great mistake to suppose that it is only our blood that curdles at thoughts of the atomic bomb. Everybody else's blood curdles too, the Russian blood just as much as our own.
And if, in spite of all the problems which are confronting us, we can, at any rate, register satisfaction that we are not apparently getting any nearer to a hot war (and I think that was confirmed by what the Foreign Secretary said this afternoon), I believe that this is mainly, if not entirely, due to the existence of the atomic bomb. Indeed, sometimes, when I read about all those idealistic, high-minded young men and women and boys and girls (and they are both idealistic and high-minded), who go marching about the country shouting "Ban the bomb !", I cannot help thinking, rather sadly, that what they are really saying, though they do not know it, and though it is the last thing they want, is: "Let us have a nice hot war" For if the bomb were done away with, we should be back just where we were between the wars, with just the same deterrents as we had then. And those of us who are old enough to remember the inter-war years will remember, too, that the deterrents then at the disposal of peace-loving nations were not suf 1050 ficient to avert another war. Nor would they be sufficient to avert yet a third war, and a still more terrible one, if we put ourselves back in the same position we were in then.
There is a great deal to be said for banning further tests of the bomb. Personality, I should be strongly in favour of it; the bomb is quite destructive enough as it is. But J believe that the existence of this weapon, horrible though it may be, is at present the principal safeguard to peace, and I very much hope that it wild he a cardinal principle of all Parties alike, whatever Government may he in power, to keep it in existence until there is a much greater change in human nature than is at present visible above the international horizon. Till that great day, however awkward the situations that may arise in Berlin, Laos or anywhere else, I do not personally believe that they will blow up into world wars such as some of us have know twice in our lifetime. It would be far too dangerous for everybody concerned.
The Foreign Secretary, if I understood him aright, indicated this afternoo[...] that he seemed to see at any rate some faint indications of a modification in the practice, if not the theory, of Communism in Russia itself. Of course, we all hope that that may be so, and if there were any genuine evidence of this I am sure that we shall all be very ready to meet the Russians halfway. But do not let us live in a fool's paradise. At present, so far as I know, there is no indication that they have abandoned their main aim of world domination. It is in that spirit that I feed we must face—and shall probably have to face for many years to come—the perils of both a hot and a cold war.
That brings me for a few moments—and I am not going to trouble your Lordships for long—to the cold war, the war of propaganda and ideas. It would clearly take far too long to-day to try to tackle the whole of this vast subject. I should, however, like to say just one word about one individual facet of it, to which Lord Colyton has already referred, the facet of Katanga. It is a subject that has already been dealt with both by the Foreign Secretary and by Lord Colyton, and I propose to say only this. It seems to me that there 1051 is a tendency in this country, in some quarters—I believe, too great a tendency,—to regard the problem of Katanga (where the situation, I am afraid, appears again to be deteriorating) as an independent issue all on its own, which can be looked at, faced and solved without reference to the wider problems of the day; something quite detached from what is happening in other parts of the world. I wish it were. It would make it very much easier to solve. But, alas!, it is not. It is, in fact, just one episode in the cold war between the two Power blocs of East and West, in which every nation in the world, ourselves and everyone else, has to take its stand on one side or the other—a war which permeates the United Nations itself from top to bottom; which permeates even the inner shrine of the Security Council and the office of the Secretary-General himself.
We had a remarkable example of this (to which Lord Colyton has already referred) and about which I am sure we were all sorry to read, only a day or two ago, when that distinguished official U Thant, who is supposed to set. by virtue of his position, the highest example of impartiality, made a speech in which he castigated President Tshombe and his Government as "a bunch of clowns". Of course they are not clowns. No men who have run their country as they have for the last two years, under the conditions they have had to face, could possibly be regarded as clowns: and no doubt the Secretary-General himself did not intend those words to be taken quite literally. I am sure he is far too intelligent for that. What, clearly, he meant was that they were men who held a viewpoint utterly repugnant to him; that he regarded them as altogether reprehensible and people to whom he, as Secretary-General, felt that he was bound to be opposed. I do not think it is an exaggeration to put that interpretation on his words. I do not say, I would assure the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, that either the United Nations or the Secretary-General himself are never impartial. That would obviously be a dreadful overstatement. But I must say, in view of the words which the Secretary-General used on this particular occasion, that he shows no sign of being impartial over 1052 Katanga. Actually I do not think that we in this country need altogether regret the speech that he made. It is far better that we should know where we stand over a matter of this kind. But what conclusions are we bound to draw from his words? Surely that he will do his utmost to secure the defeat of President Tshombe and all that he stands for. How far he will go, I do not know. Will he go to violence? Time alone will show. We hope not. Indeed, he indicated that when he was here the other day. But that he will be impartially minded over the problem of Katanga is too much, I am afraid, to hope.
In these circumstances, what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to be? Up to now, if I may say so, if they have not actually sat on the fence they have remained within very easy reach of it. They have declared that they were opposed to the use of force in Katanga—and I am sure that is true—but they have made a considerable financial contribution to the cost of the military operations against her. One can well understand why they have done this. They were placed, as Governments often are, in a position of great difficulty and delicacy. They could not, with any honesty, pretend to be enthusiastic about the Katanga operations. But they did not want to antagonise, to alienate, what are known euphemistically as the moderate Afro-Asians—those States which, however embarrassing they may be on this particular issue, could not be regarded in general as definitely in the Eastern camp: they did not want to push them there. So they did not support President Tshombe, who was, in fact, pursuing that policy of multiracialism in which we have always believed, and they definitely, as Lord Colyton has just said, turned against our Portuguese Allies over Angola. It was, as I said just now, an understandable policy, if not a very heroic one. But, unhappily, it did not work; for the Afro-Asian bloc, having done their worst against President Tshombe and Portugal, turned round and bit us over Rhodesia.
What is the moral of this sad story? It is surely this. Whatever their views may be on other questions, we must recognise that, over Africa, there are no moderate Afro-Asians—they do not exist. The Afro-Asian States have all 1053 the same object. That policy is to get the white man out of Africa. This is the true explanation of their policy towards Belgium, Portugal and now ourselves. It is not because they dislike Belgian, Portuguese or British colonial policies, as such. They do mot really care whether those policies are good or bad, whether retrograde or progressive. They have only one aim—they want to get the white man out, and that will be their object in Kenya, Rhodesia and everywhere else: and unless Her Majesty's Government make it clear that they will not abandon the white man, and that our policy remains multiracialist, as it has always been, that is just what will happen—the white man will be pushed out of Africa.
I suppose there is none of us here who has not welcomed during the last few weeks and months the firm, wise words of Mr. Butler, since he took over his responsibilities in Central Africa. They have already led to a notable relaxation of tension in that part of the world. And there is none of us equally who has not welcomed the firm, wise words, if I may say so in his presence, of the Foreign Secretary on some aspects of United Nations policy. But there is one man, so far as I know, who has not yet made such forthright statements as the Ministers I have mentioned, and that is the Prime Minister himself. Is it too much to hope that to-morrow, when he speaks in another place, he will show himself, like Mr. Butler, a convinced multiracialist; that he will declare himself as a leader who regards multiracialism, with all that that implies for Rhodesia and Katanga, as the immutable basis of our colonial policy? I hope, most profoundly, that he will, for nothing, I believe, would help more both to consolidate his own Party and to restore his country's position to its former splendour in the world.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ EARL BALDWIN OF BEWDLEY
My Lords, I apologise for having to leave before the end of this most important and interesting debate, but I have to catch a train home to attend a meeting in the mourning that I cannot miss. In this field of the international situation I am not going to range very far or very particularly; I am going only to dig down among the roots for a few minutes 1054 and come up with something that I hope your Lordships will not find too repellent. I want to examine some of the factors in peace and war, and for that I need to go back to the years between the First and the Second World Wars. I was very glad that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, referred to the inter-war years, because I think they have a great bearing on the situation to-day.
It is a common occurrence in history, my Lords, that when bad times come to a nation there is a general wish to punish those who have been in power at the time; and, in the name of patriotism, their successors are pleased to proclaim the guilt of those who went before them. Abroad, of course, the fallen leader is not infrequently put to death, and the record of his words and deeds is modified to suit the verdict; but in this kindlier land of ours, if the occasion is grim enough we are content merely to destroy his public reputation—and his private character, too, if that is at all possible. Something of this sort happened to the political leaders in the inter-war years, and history has been compiled to crystallise that emotion. It is not so much the men as the history being misrepresented that matters, and for very obvious reasons.
On the whole, a thoroughly false view has been accepted by the Western world, and we have become convinced that there were no insoluble problems between the Wars, and that all we lacked were statesmen with wider knowledge, greater courage and higher moral values than those we had to put up with. But it is a pretty dangerous belief, because in that way we are bound to ignore the underlying causes of the War which are so similar in some ways to those which prevail to-day. Because if these causes of the last War were in fact, as I believe, an unwise peace treaty; victims aggrieved and victors insecure; an incomplete League of Nations; a pledge of general disarmament disregarded by most; the relative weakness of a democracy in dealing with a dictatorship—all these factors interacting, well, what then? But it seems to me that because we have taken the easy and not the difficult view of the inter-war period we are setting our course towards those same rocks on 1055 which we foundered a generation ago. If we continue to steer by the two inconstant stars of a so-called United Nations and a Treaty of Disarmament, expecting, as so many seem to do, to find thereby the solution to the problem of war between the nations, we are likely to come to the same crash.
I do not think that all the Governments before the last War were inferior to those we have had since, but if we really believe, as we are told, that they were composed of boobies and slackers, then the lessons of the twenties and the thirties will have passed us by; and those lessons are nothing more than the ancient tribal ones of selfishness overcoming the common weal and patriotism overcoming universal brotherhood; and so it will always be. In international affairs there is never a shore where one can rest and be at peace. There is only an endless voyage of adventure and misadventure, and when we arrive at what we think is a haven—a solution by treaty—all that we can be sure of is that an even dirtier-looking horizon opens up before us towards which we have to struggle on.
I mention this because I think a great many people have got it into their heads that if only all the great nations of the world would sign a disarmament treaty and leave the rest to the United Nations, then the danger of war would be removed from the earth. Bearing in mind the pacts that have been solemnly agreed to in our lifetime, the signing of such an agreement as that should really make us shake in our shoes. In my view it would no more solve the problem of war than does the marriage ceremony solve the problem of sex. Treaties can be signed, my Lords, but Governments come and go; and an appeal to patriotism, to national pride, never fails. What did the patriots of Japan, Italy and Germany in the 1930s care for the Kellogg Pact, which, your Lordships will remember. renounced war as an instrument of policy? What did they care for that Pact when the drums began to beat, when their leaders saw the chance of profit or revenge?
The United States was built upon the belief that all men are created equal, and the United Nations seems to hold that all nations are also created equal. So 1056 far so good, on paper. But in the practical enforcement of peace, is it not evident that neither men nor nations are equal? I want to say no more about the United Nations now but I want to say just a word about disarmament.
As to disarmament, you get one profound thinker declaring that the only way to secure it is, first of all, to create confidence; and then you get another equally profound thinker declaring that you must first secure disarmament before you can create the confidence that is vital to the cause of peace. Both may be right, but they do not get us very far forward. We have been through all this before: this dual pursuit of an overriding community of nations and an agreed Disarmament Conference. We have been through it for 43 years, less six interrupted by the war that the whole thing was designed to prevent. Let us take care that we do not reproduce and fail to recognise the same situation that we were in a generation ago, only with knobs on. And your Lordships will not fail to recognise that by "knobs" I mean nuclear missiles.
I know that all I have said seems to be purely negative, but I will try to end more positively. I have indicated my conviction that we are "no better than our fathers were"; and, having quoted from the Prophet Elijah—I almost always verify my references, but I did not look up whether it was Elijah. though I am pretty sure it was he who said: "I am no better than my fathers were"—I might as well go on to prophesy, not what I necessarily think that we ought to do, but what I think might happen, despite ourselves and all our policies.
My Lords, nothing to the minds of most persons is more certain than that we are, of all creeds and colours, all in the hands of God, though one occasionally hears powerful arguments against such an assumption; and, however arrogantly we may talk about shaping our own destinies and being masters of the event, it is, after all, no better than the boasting of little schoolboys. Whether our acts are voluntary or pre-determined we shall never be permitted to know. Nor do I pretend to any Divine knowledge. But from what I have observed during my lifetime, I should say that evil is just as likely to result from what we 1057 think good, as good is from what we think evil. We know only that His ways are not our ways, and the narrow limits of our intelligence are bounded by walls of paradox.
Arms and bombs, in my view, are not the evilest things in the world. Whether the slaughter of the innocent should rather be by bayonets, by famine or by poisonous radiation is an unfair moral question. Therefore I think we should do well not to get the higher Christianity mixed up too closely with international affairs so that we try to put a futile ban upon one weapon as being more disgusting than another. It may even turn out that disarmament is not the wisest road to peace—if, indeed, peace can ever be attained.
There was a book written about 100 years ago by Bulwer Lytton, not a very well-known book, called The Coming Race, which told of a Utopian land where strife was unknown, not because its inhabitants were saintlier than we but because everyone possessed a kind of electrical means of instantly destroying his fellows. That being so, perpetual peace was assured. Those who believe in the Millennium on earth may perhaps find some comfort there. But could it not be that through further nuclear research a similar power will one day be placed in all men's hands, and thus bring about the physical salvation of the human race, and in a more likely manner, too, more suited to what we know of human nature, which nationally has proved itself quite incapable of keeping its word under temptation except through dread of the consequences?
Might not the colossal cost of such research, added to the cost of travel in space, bring the nations to ransom so that they lay down their arms and pool their resources in a way that has never been possible by the old national catchwords of good will and good faith? Such an insurance premium would be worth the money, if all else fails. It is from that direction that I see more hope for our children than from any treaties that may come out of United Nations or disarmament conferences. Meanwhile, of course, so long as the wind blows from the opposite direction, we must follow the will of the people; but they ought to be warned that treaties are not 1058 the cure-alls which they seem to think they are.
I thank your Lordships for listening to what may be considered irresponsible views. For all that I have said, I am full of hope, so long as we do not suppress scientific knowledge. I am full of hope for the supreme reason that I gave earlier in my speech; and I am also hopeful, if I may say so, because statesmen of the stamp of the two noble Lords, the Leader of the House and the Foreign Secretary, occupy the vitally important posts they do.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ LORD LINDGREN
My Lords, I I hesitated a great deal before I decided to participate in this debate to-day. I must apologise to your Lordships for deflecting it from the general theme that it has taken up to the present moment. I do not claim to be an expert in foreign affairs: it has taken all my time and energy to secure improved wages, salaries and conditions of employment in this country, together with an improvement in our social services. I must say that sometimes I have envied colleagues who have concentrated on foreign affairs the ease with which they have been able to solve problems 6,000 or 10,000 miles away from home, particularly when they were not likely to have the responsibility of giving effect to the solution. But I participate to-day only because last November and December, through the auspices of the Ariel Foundation, I had the opportunity of visiting many countries in Latin America. Arising from my experiences during that tour I should like, not to express views on what ought to be Government policy but to ask the Government if they could indicate their policy towards Latin America and on assistance to those Latin American countries.
The purpose of my visit was mainly to discuss with trade unionists, presidents, general secretaries or executive committees, their problems, and to talk to them generally on the structure and foundation of the British trade union movement, its relation to Government, Government Departments, and the rest; to give some information, too, on the progress which we in this country have made in our social services. Although the visit was, as I have said, facilitated 1059 by the Ariel Foundation, I must express my appreciation of the very great assistance that was rendered to me throughout the tour by the Ambassador and the Embassy staff, and in particular by all the labour attachés in every one of the countries that it was my privilege to visit.
I must say, too, that I received very great assistance from the various British chambers of commerce, and through them I was able to discuss a multitude of matters with British industrial and commercial interests in those countries. It was for me a unique experience to meet, in a continent I had never previously visited, a continent of which I knew very little, if anything, a cross-section of the people—governmental, the ordinary worker, industrialists and those associated with commerce. I should like to say a few words under each of those headings, but before I do that I must say that I was greatly impressed by the high regard and esteem in which Britain and British institutions are held throughout the whole of Latin America. They thirst for knowledge: they are anxious to know how we do things, and why we do them; and they are anxious to have the benefit of our experience—not interference, but our guidance. I think it would be as well (and it is one of the reasons why I decided to participate in this debate) to secure, if possible, the views of Her Majesty's Government.
There are two great influences at work in Latin America. First of all, there is the American influence. One does not want to criticise foreign Governments, but in fact some of the assistance rendered by America in Latin America is "ham-fisted" and is resented by the people. There is, too, among the ordinary working people of Latin America a distrust of America, not based on any great foundation, apart from the American attitude to Cuba, and the general sympathy which the Latin American worker has for the Cuban revolution.
The other great influence is that of Russia and the general Communist influence. Here I have to admit from my experience of those countries that their propaganda is very skilful. It is well-directed, and, of course, it is effective because of the extreme range of poverty and riches, which provides a very fruitful 1060 ground for Communist propaganda, particularly among the peasants and the lower-paid workers in industry, who, from their point of view, have nothing to lose. I believe that Britain's prestige, our knowledge, our experience and adaptability, give us a great opportunity to render assistance to Latin-American countries in their development, and in the great struggle which is taking place in the ideology of those countries. I do not want to be, nor am I, despondent, but I think it would be foolish not to face the fact that the way Latin America will go, democratic or Communist, rests on a knife-edge. We can play a part in saving that Continent for democracy.
I will not say a great deal on the Governmental side, because the Ambassador and the Embassy staff keep Her Majesty's Government wall informed as to political trends, the actions of Governments and the rest of it, in those countries. But I have been delighted to note in the last few weeks that, in association with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, there has been formed the British-Latin America Parliamentary Group. I hope Her Majesty's Government will grant every facility, and help and encouragement, to that new Parliamentary Group in the work which they can and, I hope, will undertake in assisting these countries to understand a little more our democratic ways of Government, and how they can adapt them to circumstances within their own countries.
When I turn to the trade union movement, I am on much firmer ground in regard to knowledge of that movement in this country. But I think every one of your Lordships will agree that a solid, well-led trade union movement is essential for the development of social conditions within a country, and it can be a vital factor in creating stability within a country and, in fact, being a bulwark against revolutionary tendencies. Therefore, I hold the view, biased perhaps because of my own background, that one of the most vital factors in Latin America, in that rising, industrial Continent, is the correct growth and development of the trade union movement. It is true that industry is young in the whole of Latin America. It had an impetus arising from two World Wars, but largely the whole Continent is a feudal society. The trade union movement there is weak and it lacks 1061 experience. It has lacked direction, and it has lacked adequate training for the function that it has to undertake.
Again, one hesitates to speak in certain ways, but I think it is only right to face the problem, as I see it, in these countries. Perhaps largely through the influence of the large landowners, the Catholic Church was actively opposed to the development of the trade union movement throughout Latin America. I am pleased to say that that attitude has largely changed—in my view, not on a fundamental basis, but because of a greater fear by the Church of the development of Communism within these countries, and the change is due much more to its anti-Communist attitude than to its love for the trade union movement. But I have to admit that, throughout the whole of Latin America, the Catholic Church is really the only effective anti-Communist instrument within the trade union movement, and it is, in fact, doing good work in training the ordinary worker throughout industry for responsibility within the movement, in order that he can resist the Communist propaganda which, as I mentioned before, is effectively spread throughout the whole of the Continent. I think that one of the reasons why we can play a big part is that there are also a considerable number of important trade unionists who, though Catholics, have a dislike or a mistrust of the Church's entering trade union activities, and who look with envy to a country such as ours where the political and religious affiliations of a worker make little, if any, difference to his trade union activities.
I must say that the labour attachés in these countries are doing excellent work in the scope within which they can operate. They are civil servants. The field of activity in Which they can operate is limited by the fact that they are civil servants. The Foreign Office, the Ministry of Labour and the Central Office of Information in this country do a good job in bringing prominent trade unionists, one or two at a time, from all countries in Latin America to this country, and in facilitating their movement among trade unionists and Government Departments so that they can see the British way of life and in particular how the British trade union movement works 1062 here. That is most valuable. It is greatly appreciated, as one would expect, by those who have the opportunity of taking advantage of it and of coming to this country.
However, I believe that there is a far greater field of activity which we can undertake from this country. It may be said that surely that is a function for the trade union movement of this country, but I believe that the greater need is for, I will not say the training, but the mixing of folk from this country who have trade union, local government and perhaps political experience with the ordinary workers in those countries, to give them a general background of the activities in Britain, perhaps staying with them for some time, and setting the scene for guidance in their development of democratic government. I would hope that the Government, through some agency in this country, could arrange for such persons to go to Latin America, and to be able to make a contribution to them in the difficult time through which they are now passing.
My last point is that of industry and commerce. Here, again, because of the new development there is great scope, and there is great need for capital because, as I said, they are developing countries. The only complaint against Her Majesty's Government which I met with throughout the Continent was that which came from British industrialists and commercial interests who rather felt that the British Government were not doing as much as they might to help them in the job they were doing there. Well, my Lords, complaints about Governments not doing as much as they might are not uncommon even in circles other than those in which British industrialists operate in foreign parts. I was impressed by the industrial and commercial interests in those countries, but they face great difficulties and need all the encouragement that Her Majesty's Government can give them.
Perhaps one ought not to mention names, but there was one interest in Brazil which had established a factory in a newly developing industry in that country, the maintenance of aircraft engines. That company was servicing its sales from this country to the Latin-American countries, developing local 1063 labour, creating a great impression and doing a great service for the exports of this country in view of the immediate service they were able to give after purchase in the South American country concerned. I feel that there is very great scope in this field if British industrialists and commercial interests grasp the opportunities. One has to admit, of course, that there are risks. These countries are not as stable as investors would like, but, if we play our part in developing their stability, I think that investment is worth while. My Lords, I apologise again for diverting the debate from the line it had taken up to my intervention, but I believe that the Latin American Continent is of great importance. It is concerned in the matter of world peace, because the way it goes, whichever way it is, can have its effect in that hemisphere. I hope that, as a result of the inadequate contribution I have made, Her Majesty's Government will be able to state, in general outline, their policy towards this great Continent.
§ 5.12 p.m.
THE EARL OF DUNDONALD
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, for introducing this Motion at this time. It gives some of us an opportunity to draw attention to matters in certain parts of the world which possibly escape our attention, due to the spotlight being turned on elsewhere.
Like the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, who has just resumed his seat, I should like to say a few words this afternoon about the continent of South America. Before I do so, I know that your Lordships would wish to join with me in expressing our most grateful thanks to his Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh for undertaking the strenuous tour he made round the whole of that continent earlier this year. Many of us were upset that the reporting of this most important trip was not presented more fully in this country, particularly in the daily Press. This had an adverse effect in those countries in which the movements of His Royal Highness were well covered and reported. Frequently some time elapsed—many days, on some occasions—before there was any mention in our daily Press of what His Royal Highness was doing. Visitors 1064 from the South American continent mentioned this point to me while they were over here, and asked: "Is our country not important enough for the British Press to record what Prince Philip is doing in our country to-day?" However, those of us who were following His Royal Highness's movements and who have some knowledge of the Continent know what a magnificent job he did as a special Ambassador from this country, particularly in the business sphere.
My Lords, in dealing with South America one must look beyond the day-to-day ups and downs—in fact, I think this is in the vein of Lord Lindgren's speech before me. One must view the continent in a time scale of years, if not of decades. All these countries gained their independence from their outside masters a relatively short time ago—in fact at varying dates during the nineteenth century. For 250 years before that they were ruled by Spain and Portugal by appointed administrators. Spain and Portugal looked upon these countries solely as a source of wealth, and young men went out there, not to settle, but to get rich and then return to the mother country. With the vacuum which was left after the departure of the original owners—due to the complete lack in those countries of people trained in government and administration—it is remarkable that the countries have evolved as rapidly as they have; but it is still going to take some time before some of them can take their place in an orderly manner in the world.
When I last spoke in your Lordships' Chamber about South America I stressed the seriousness of Communist infiltration—a matter that has been well covered this afternoon by the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren. During that debate I suggested the need for improvement covering the direct exchange of news between this country and that continent. I mentioned that frequently news about this country was relayed to South America via the United States, and vice versa, and in the process often became distorted. It is very heartening now to learn that Reuters, in spite of many difficulties, are managing to extend their services and representation in South America from the one office they had in 1065 Brazil when I last mentioned this subject. Their economic news service is being operated now in Chile and Argentina, and they are slowly developing their direct news service again. They are rightly taking the long view.
I also mentioned that I felt that the British Council should adjust their allocation of scholarships in order to give certain countries there a larger slice of the cake. According to the statistics issued by the Standing Committee of the London Conference of Overseas Students in October, 1960, the total number of students in Great Britain during the beginning of the academic year, 1959–60, from all countries in South America, was 323, out of a total of 16,440 from foreign countries and an overall total of 47,520 from all countries including the Commonwealth and United Kingdom dependencies. These figures cover all types of student, whether sponsored or paying their own fees. This means that the percentage from the whole of the South American continent studying in this country, in relation to other foreign countries, was only 1.9 per cent. of the total; whereas, to take three examples only, the percentage from Israel was the same;1.9, from Egypt, 2.3, and from Western Germany, 11 per cent.
My Lords, I feel that these priorities are wrong, and that this continent of South America, which by the end of this century, if calculations are correct, will contain 600 million people—which is equal to the combined populations of North America and the whole of Europe—should have a larger share of the cake in regard to overseas students studying in this country. I am not in any way casting any reflection on the British Council, who are doing an excellent job within a limited budget. But I do feel that the British Council should be authorised, or enabled, to allocate more sponsored scholarships in this country for students from South America.
Now, my Lords, a few words about the present and the future. Everybody is naturally extremely distressed and disturbed about the recent turn of events in Peru, where the armed forces have taken over control of the country and have taken President Prado into custody in a warship off Callao. I understand that the result of the election was indecisive, and that the armed forces intend 1066 to run things until new elections are held next year. This is indeed an unfortunate state of affairs.
No one who is concerned with doing business with countries in South America finds it easy, but the rewards can be great, provided, as I have said, that a long-term view is taken. His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh put the matter very simply and clearly when addressing the governing body of the Federation of British Industries on his return from South America earlier this year. He said that they wanted "know-how". Bit by bit, as factories for the local manufacture of products are set up in those countries, tariffs are automatically imposed, discriminating against the importation of a particular product. A shining example of what is wanted in that continent is the £30 million Mantaro hydro-electric project in Peru, announced in the Press here on July 7, in which this country will participate and benefit to the extent of about £14 million. This project will surely survive the present state of affairs in that country, as Peru has always honoured her engagements in the past. The English Electric Company and George Wimpey are the two British firms concerned in this project, in association with the German firm of Siemens Schuckert; and the long-term credit financing for the British participation is being arranged by a remarkable syndicate under Lazard Brothers, consisting of 38 other British banks, insurance companies and pension funds.
Here, my Lords, is a remarkable achievement for the mutual benefit of Peru and this country, which I understand took a very long time to conclude. Apart from the financial aspect of this contract, it is vital to ourselves and other countries of the Western world to help these countries in South America to raise their standards of living and to catch up with the more advanced standards of ourselves and others in the West. As the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, has mentioned, all these countries have, to a greater or lesser extent, vast raw material resources like oil, iron ore and other metals, apart from, and quite undeveloped in relation to, the development of their existing products such as coffee and beef; and it is vital to ourselves in the West that in the future 1067 these vast raw materials should not go into the wrong hands.
Before concluding I should like, to add just a few remarks on a subject covered by the previous speaker. Our relations with these countries have always been friendly, and in some cases the bond of friendship is very strong, so we have good will. It has been mentioned that the various Government agencies in this country, such as the Central Office of Information, the Foreign Office and the Board of Trade, do their job of looking after official visitors to this country very well. I agree with that, but I feel that, in addition to what those agencies do, supplemented by Canning House who do an excellent job, and the various Latin American societies who play their part, there is a gap. Businessmen coming over here are usually well looked after by industry, but this gap, in my view, includes influential people in these countries, who are not able to visit us and learn of our ways. They include trade union leaders, certain professional people and, sometimes, newspaper editors, particularly of the local provincial papers. They cannot come over here as members of Parliamentary or business delegations, or as students.
I should like to ask her Majesty's Government to consider whether the labour and commercial attachés in those countries could be instructed, or could be asked, to endeavour to facilitate and encourage visits of that sort to this country, having first ascertained from the counterpart organisations here—the newspapers or the trade unions—that they can receive visitors of this type. I personally have been told by several provincial editors in South America, when I have been there, that they would very much like to come over here, learn about our ways, and report well of us, but they were anxious to know that when they arrived here they would be looked after, and would be able to find somebody who could speak Spanish or Portuguese.
§ 5.26 p.m.
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, I agree very much with all that has been said about Latin America by both the last two speakers. I, too, was recently there—not on a wide trip; simply in Chile—and was very much struck by the decline 1068 there had been, in the contacts of all kinds between our country and theirs, over the last lifetime or couple of lifetimes. I very much hope that anything that can be done to increase contacts between ourselves and Latin America will be done. But it will not be a one-way job only. While they probably have more to learn from us than we have from them, there are things that we could learn from them, particularly of Brazilian architecture.
I want to speak generally this evening about NATO. It is generally accepted that NATO is the foundation of our Whole foreign policy; but if the foundation is split or is laid crooked the house will not stand. My Lords, I believe that this in the case. It seems to me that NATO is crooked, and lit is certainly split. No more blame attaches to our Government for this than to any of the others, and less than to some. But I should like to see our Government do what it can to take the European arms situation in hand before it is too late. And by "before it is too late" I do mot mean before a generalised turn for the worse, but before the very concrete danger of nuclear war, which we can all imagine all too clearly, and which I believe is at present being made more likely by NATO'S courses.
First of all, we should master the two dangers of economic drift and what I call pipe-line inertia. By "economic drift" I mean doing something, not because it will make the world safer, not even because it will make NATO stronger, but because it will save us foreign exchange. We have, for instance, the story that last year we asked the Americans to keep the B.47s in England because we wanted the dollars spent by their crews, and that this year the Americans are insisting on withdrawing them because they want to save those dollars. I think it is generally known that our Government is concerned by the way the Americans are "hogging" the European arms market, to our exclusion. The Americans have induced the Germans to buy 15 hundred million dollars' worth of arms in two years; this more nearly covers the costs of keeping American troops in Germany than earlier levels did. Secretary McNamara has recently raised from 25 to 50 per cent. the differential which the American Defence 1069 Department is prepared to pay in order to have components of weapons systems made in America and not abroad. Are these the best decisions which could have been taken? I do not know, but it makes one uneasy. We are talking here of the life and death of millions. Is our Alliance so superficial, that we must compete with each other on an exchange control level?
By "pipe-line inertia", I mean the tendency to accept automatically the weapons and the deployment of weapons which was arranged five years ago, perhaps by a predecessor Government which may not have foreseen how the world was going to be in five years' time. There was the recent complaint from the head of Rolls Royce, that the British Government is not prompt enough to cancel misconceived defence contracts but may drag on at the mercy of an outdated decision. Industry does not lightly complain of contracts not being cancelled.
Then I have asked a number of Americans who ought to know the answer what really lay behind Mr. McNamara's cloudy speech of last month, with all its implications of an American first strike. I am convinced, or nearly convinced, that it was this. He ordered the colossal number of 900 Minutemen because they were ready to come out of the pipe-line. They were cheap, simple and efficient. Then he had to find a strategic doctrine to justify them, so he abandoned the better strategy of finite deterrence based on the Polaris submarine and adopted the counterforce strategy which he defined in his speech. That is the way NATO is conducted, but it is not the way it should be conducted. A Government worthy of its people does not order or deploy weapons merely because they are available: it does so because they are needed.
Let us look now for a moment at the threat in response to which NATO grew up. No doubt there is a threat; the Soviet Union is armed and is antidemocratic. But how strong is the threat? Do we really feel threatened? Are we in urgent need of the greatest possible military strength and coherence? We have only to look at what happens. For five years and more France has not in fact contributed more 1070 than a token strength to NATO: the might of that State has been used against the Algerians. Yet Russia has not attacked. There is at present open, almost clamorous disagreement about what NATO strategy should be; the Alliance is all over the place. Yet Russia has not attacked. The mere existence of the present disagreement and disarray is proof, I think, that we do not really feel threatened. If we did, we should close the ranks quickly enough. We talk as if we were besieged and harried by an implacable enemy, but we show by our actions that we know we are not.
It is in times of relative East—West calm like the present that we can learn most about ourselves, that we can see our differences most clearly, and thus lay the bases of useful policies. Because differences there are, permanent and inevitable ones, and they underlie most of the day-to-day political bickering and haggling which distinguishes NATO at the moment. We should not be dismayed by this. We shall get nowhere if we pretend that the interests of all NATO countries are identical or coterminous. They are not: they are overlapping. They overlap more when the pressure is on from the East and less when it is off.
To name only a few of these inevitable differences, which must be recognised and allowed for, West European countries can always think of neutralism; the United States cannot—there would be no-one for her to be neutral between. Again, the United States can contemplate defeat in a Western European theatre of war; the Western European countries cannot. Again, we in Britain look like "Anglo-Saxons" to continental Europeans, but we look like Europeans to the Americans. Because of our position and history, we shall always lean towards the maritime, far-flung type of strategy; and, because of theirs, Germany and France will always lean towards a massive, monolithic forward strategy. Again, when an American says to a European, in the context of NATO, "You must be flexible", he means, "You must play your part in a graduated deterrent posture within the Alliance". But when a European hears the word "flexibility", he reaches for 1071 his independent deterrent. And, looming over all the differences, there is the different way of regarding the mammoth weapons of our time. America, and Russia, too, with their great unpopulated spaces, may distinguish between the counterforce strike which takes out a missile and the retaliatory strike which burns a megalopolis; between the strategic strike which lobs 5,000 miles and the tactical strike which lobs 300 miles. In the huddled antheap of Europe, counterforce means the suburbs of Leicester, and tactical means the city centre of Hanover. We cannot compose these differences between the NATO countries, which are part of the geography and the history of the world: we can only allow for them.
Against this background, my Lords, we talk a lot about preventing a spread of nuclear weapons, but so far as I can see it has already happened. Every country in NATO, according to SHAPE, holds weapons capable of delivering nuclear shells or bombs. Some of them—one thinks of Norway, Denmark and Canada—have so far refused to have the actual bombs on their territories; they reckon they could be brought in quickly enough in a crisis. Others, including the central bloc of Italy, Germany and this country, already have the nuclear weapons on. the spot.
Take Germany. There is a joint German-American weapons development programme, which includes categories of weapons with a nuclear capability. Germany holds the nuclear rocket called "Mace" which has a range of 600 miles—well into Poland. The Luftwaffe is changing over from F.84's to F.104's. Both of these are dual-purpose planes—in other words, they are, if one wants them to be, atom bombers. The Lockheed F.104 is built under licence in Germany by a Canadian-German-Italian-Japanese consortium. The Luftwaffe is building up from the present level of about 200 planes to a target of 600. The first unit to convert to the F.104 is commanded by an East Prussian officer—that is, a refugee from the Eastern territories. I am not saying that he is going to start a nuclear war tomorrow, but what a choice, politically speaking!
The German Army also holds the "Honest John" missile, a nuclear means 1072 of delivery. I am not sure whether it yet holds the nuclear mortar called "Davy Crockett", but if it does not there is not much doubt that it soon will. It is two years now since Adenauer said:We must give all the NATO forces the same arms as the Russians have, or we might as well give them bows and arrows.Now all these weapons are kept separate from the warheads and bombs and shells by the famous American sentry and his key. But I have yet to talk to a soldier—British, German, Italian or whoever he may be—who has not worked out for himself how easy it would be, if occasion arose, to overpower that sentry and fire. It would be rather easy. The Americans know this, and that is why, eight years after the Act of Congress which instituted this sentry arrangement, President Kennedy has gone back to Congress for 23 million dollars to develop a remote control electronic lock for nuclear weapons. There are also in Germany, of course, the American and British Armies, both armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons. I believe that, in order to buy German support for their policy of not helping de Gaulle to build his own nuclear weapons, the Americans have put more nuclear weapons on German soil than the French could have made in about fifteen years.
Then, France herself. In order to force America to give him the "know-how" and the control he wants, de Gaulle has refused to go along with the Berlin negotiations; has boycotted the disarmament talks; has kicked the NATO Tactical Air Force out of France, has removed his own air force and his Mediterranean navy from NATO control, has refused to accept I.R.B.M.'s on French soil, and has even refused to permit the completion of a chain of defensive NATO radar stations on French soil. In order not to seem by so much as a wink to countenance his independent nuclear force, the Americans have refused to sell him bits and pieces for it which they have agreed to sell even to the Belgians.
My Lords, it is too easy simply to remark that de Gaulle is holding the Western World up to ransom; that he is neglecting his duties and demanding more than his rights, and so on. He has one thought, and one only: to keep 1073 France in existence—and he is not the I only one with that thought among European statesmen. He was called in to preside over a nation in complete disintegration—and that is not too strong a word for it. France, at the moment, does not really exist as a country. Its Government is not even capable of making peace with a victorious enemy: the decision had to be endorsed months later, by the O.A.S., before it could take effect. France plays no part in NATO: it cannot. It is hardly there, politically. De Gaulle knows how much this is due to the two and a half German occupations France has suffered in the last century. If I interpret him aright, he is determined that, whatever else may happen, France shall not again be occupied. Way back in 1948 he was already blaming United States and British strategists in the Western Union for planning to defend Europe from across the Channel and behind the Pyrenees. Ever since that time he has made French NATO bases and communication systems dependent on forward strategy.
He also has an obscure fear that the United States and the Soviet Union may destroy Europe and partition the rubble. He has done some calculations—and I would not conclude that the "through the pores" calculations of a wily and stiff-necked elder statesman were automatically less good than those of the computers which the Americans use—and has come to the answer that the right continuation of this policy is to have an independent nuclear deterrent. This gives him not only the power to fire if the Americans do not fire, but also the power conspicuously not to fire if the Americans do. De Gaulle is the product of a vanquished continental power in extremis, just as Mr. Duncan Sandys as Defence Minister was the product of a victorious island power intent on an easy way of life; but the result is very much the same.
So, my Lords, what happens if we do nothing? De Gaulle or his successors get their independent strike force. They get Mirages, which are the medium-range bombers, they get Polaris-type submarines by 1969; and they get tactical nuclear weapons which they deploy in Alsace, as Mr. Messmer said in a recent interview. We may really take it for 1074 granted that the Germans will follow suit. It is true that they are prevented from doing so by an old treaty; but would we hold them to it in a new situation? I doubt it. We should not forget that the industrial plan of Euratom is based on dual-purpose reactors—that is, reactors which produce weapons, grade fissile material—that it includes gaseous diffusion plants, and that there is nothing in it to prevent the Germans from learning what they can from the operation of these plants. After the Germans, the Italians, who are already producing weapons grade fissile materials from the reactors they have. Then Benelux. And then East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, India (who may be doing it already), Israel, Brazil, and so on and so on, until mankind reaches the condition I once described as that of catatonic porcupines: so many defensive pincushions paralysed with fear glaring at each other across every frontier in the world. Egypt has already bought a German scientist and developed I.R.B.M.s.
It is the justified fear of this ridiculous and dangerous future which has given rise to the present crisis in NATO At the Athens meeting, the Americans agreed to tell NATO Governments where on their soil American nuclear warheads were kept, and offered six Polaris submarines to NATO The first measure does not go very far. The second has turned out to mean no more than the transfer of six out of the proposed 40 Polaris submarines from one American admiral to another; they are already fighting about it in Washington. So the idea of a joint European nuclear deterrent has arisen. How seductive it sounds; how full of all the good democratic values of "mucking in", of internationalism, of sacrifice for the common cause! Herr Strauss, the German Defence Minister, is for it.If atoms and sovereignty belong together",he has said, using his own particular shorthand,then why should countries be prepared to give up one without the other?A large sector of American administration opinion is for it, provided it does not escape a good measure of American control. President Kennedy's recent speech about a Declaration of Interdependence, following up the American Declaration of Independence, can be 1075 read to favour it. Short-sighted, staunch Press columnists are all for it. Let us take a recent formulation from the New York Times:A combined European force that would include the British and be linked with the American within a reconstituted North Atlantic alliance".Include, linked, reconstituted—they give one a good feeling over the breakfast coffee, but what do they mean? What could they mean?
A NATO or European deterrent—and the objections are common to both, though the advantages are not—could be any combination of three things. It could be the international "fire brigade" armed with tactical nuclear weapons which General Norstad proposed in 1960. It could be the land-based system of I.R.B.M.s which Secretary Gates proposed the same year. Or it could be a system of Polaris submarines under joint American control. The first two failed to run in 1960; but the pressure of de Gaulle's independent national force was not then so great, and they might run now. The third has yet to be tried as a concrete proposal.
The use of nuclear weapons fired from dry land means escalation if they are small, and retaliation whether they are small or large. A joint international land-based strike force thus requires the Government of country "X" to accept retaliation against its own soil for weapons launched in defence of country "Y". If it does not require this, if the weapons are to be launched only from the soil of the attacked country, then there is no need for a combined force. National forces would do just as well. Can we expect a British or French Government, let alone a remoter one like the Turkish or Greek Government, to accept the destruction of its cities for the defence of Hamburg or Hanover? If we can, then we can equally well expect the American Government to accept the destruction of its cities for the same purpose. But it is precisely the fear that the Americans would not do so, or that the Russians might think they would not, which is leading to the development of independent national deterrents, starting with our own.
All right, one may say, then let us have a European or NATO Polaris force; that will not invite retaliation because 1076 the Russians will not know what to retaliate on. But this is open to another grave objection, which also applies to land-based forces, incidentally. If there is to be real international control, there must be a prearranged plan. There cannot be consultation between 15 Governments, or six, at the last moment; it must come earlier. But just think of the political difficulties of getting this agreement, perhaps especially in a time of low tension like the present. Although the Russians would not know what to retaliate on, as wall as they would know in the case of a land-based force, yet they might very well decide to retaliate on the most convenient bit of the land theatre to them, probably Germany. And the fifteen, or six, Governments will know that as soon as they sit down to arrange the plan. Advance planning only brings on the difficulties sooner; it does not remove them.
Again, let us suppose that by a miracle there was an agreement when to fire, how many rockets would be fired, and what they would be fired at. It would have to be a document as long as the Rome Treaty, or longer. Is it conceivable that the Soviet intelligence service should not get hold of a copy? Is it conceivable that the Russians should not then be tempted to do the things it says will not lead to the firing of Polaris missiles, and stop short only of those which it says will? A deterrent posture must combine credibility with vagueness. It must be credible that the things will be fired, but vague about what will provoke the firing. It is difficult for one nation even now to achieve this combination; it would be impossible for many acting in concert.
There is talk now in Washington of the precedent of the Marshall Plan. Then, as the House well remembers, Secretary Marshal said that the United States would send great civil aid to Europe if the European countries clubbed together in return and made a combined indent. Mr. Bevin and Monsieur Spaak and others at the time saw what this "most unsordid act" would mean, and took up the invitation. Therefrom flowed great good. But it does not follow that proposals bearing a superficial resemblance to that good plan are necessarily therefore good. Great military aid from America in the form of nuclear warheads issued against a 1077 common European indent would run head on into the contradictions I have been outlining. We try in NATO to behave as if we had a common strategic interest, but, as I have said, we have not. We have a common hope: that is, not to be overrun by Communism. But our fears are distinct. They are: if we are German, that Germany might be overrun; if we are Turkish, that Turkey might be overrun; and so on. When it is not happening, we regard our common hope. But when it is !?
My Lords, we cannot yet agree even to a common tariff. We cannot agree to the abolition of passports. We are working on it, but we cannot agree yet. We cannot yet agree to a common Parliament to determine the political facets of our day-to-day life, and although we are working on that one, it is not getting very far. How can we possibly agree to a common death? The Frenchman or the German will not believe me when I tell him my name; he must have a piece of paper to prove it. How can he believe me when I tell him that I am willing to see my family, my friends, my city and my country utterly destroyed for his sake? We shall not agree on this joint deterrent force and I hope it is not long before we stop fiddling around trying to.
The contradiction is inherent in the development of nuclear weapons themselves. There is a plain logic here, and I believe it is only a traditional momentum which stops our seeing it. The unabated proliferation of independent nuclear forces increases the danger of war, and the most discussed means of checking it, a European or a NATO deterrent, cannot be achieved. What, then, is the answer? It is disarmament—disarmament by all nations in all categories of weapons. This will be very hard to get and it will raise as many problems as it solves. Changes always do. But they will be problems which do not threaten the lives of hundreds of millions of people minute after minute every day, as the dissemination of nuclear weapons throughout the Northern hemisphere does.
Although I have already detained the House too long, I should like to speak for a moment about three particular facets of the disarmament negotiations. Before I do so, I would welcome the 1078 hopeful words which the Foreign Secretary spoke about the test ban at the beginning of this debate. We in this country, and perhaps in this House especially, tend to believe that it is the Russians who are holding up progress on disarmament. I believe that just about half the holding up is being done by the Russians, perhaps a little more—not, I would say, so much as two-thirds. We applaud the Foreign Secretary and the British Government when they ask the Russians to stop holding things up and get on with it. I do not need to go through this, because it has the solid support of all Parties and of all sections of opinion in this country. But, for myself, I should applaud him even more if he were sometimes to ask the Americans to stop holding things up and get on with it. He has told us himself what good opportunities he has of talking to the Americans about this, on the basis of our special position in Washington.
I refer to three things in particular. America can land more megatons on the Soviet Union than the Soviet Union can land on America. The American proposals for a 30 per cent. reduction of means of delivery of nuclear weapons at each stage would thus take the Russians below their minimum intercontinental deterrent level early in the process of disarmament, and keep them there for several years, while the Americans remained above. I would ask the Foreign Secretary whether he would accept such a thing with regard to our own V-bomber force, which operates on keeping a minimum deterrent level. If not, can he expect the Russians to accept it? And if not, is he urging the Americans to change that proposal?
Secondly, inspection. We in the West rightly insist that we must have knowledge of what arms are left at each stage of disarmament as well as of what are destroyed. One article of the Soviet draft treaty provides that from the very beginning of disarmament, from the very first day, from the signature of the treaty, warships may not be sailed beyond territorial waters, military planes may not fly beyond national frontiers and vehicles having a military application may not be put into space. Of course, it is all part of the proposal for withdrawing bases and we 1079 tend automatically to dislike it, but it also—and here is the point—provides that the inspectorate shall ensure the compliance of parties to the treaty with these prohibitions. How can inspectors do this without being present at ports, on airfields and at missile launching sites? And if they are present in those places, how can they avoid getting a pretty good idea of what arms levels are at any moment in existence? I would ask the Foreign Secretary whether the Government have had studies made of what level of inspection at ports, airfields and missile sites would give us the certainty we need about retained arms levels at every stage of disarmament. If not, have they asked the Americans to make these studies? Because I believe that until such studies are made, we in Britain cannot honestly claim that we are doing all we can to get disarmament.
Lastly, about the West's whole strategic posture and its relation with disarmament, Secretary McNamara has abandoned the counter-city retaliatory strategy in favour of a counter-force strategy. Counter-city strategy demands no intelligence; we all know where Moscow is. But counter-force strategy does. We shall have to find out where the troop concentration or rocket base is before we can hit it. Will this new strategy not make the Russians more reluctant than ever to permit general inspection during disarmament? And have the Government pointed this out to the Americans?
Well, NATO exists for our security. It is not providing that security. Indeed, our security is visibly diminishing month by month. The moral is not to dissolve NATO in despair, nor, on the other hand, to keep thoughtlessly plastering over its inevitable cracks. The moral is to set NATO on the right path to increasing our security by giving it, for a start, a disarmament committee at a high level. It is interesting that this proposal—a NATO disarmament committee—was the only thing which could be agreed in the military committee at this year's Konigswinter Conference, to which British and German people of experience and judgment went. If disarmament is the only way out of this deadlock, we must start by equipping existing structures to face that new situation.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, I will not attempt to follow the noble Lord who has just spoken, in his complicated but extremely interesting venture into the realms of nuclear disarmament, though I think that the arguments that he has pronounced show that until things become clearer, we have to hang on to our own independent nuclear deterrent. I agree that General de Gaulle's attitude is rather annoying and that over Berlin Dr. Adenauer is rather obstructive, but I do not wish to talk about the nuclear deterrent.
Any debate on foreign affairs at this time is rather a venture into the unknown, because until we know on what terms we are going to join the Common Market we cannot say how things will shape. If we become full-blooded members of the Common Market, presumably we shall abide by the Treaty of Rome, and that is bound to alter our foreign policy to some extent. I agree that this is not a debate on the Common Market, but I was interested in what President Kennedy said the other day, in his address at Philadelphia. He envisaged extremely close association with the Common Market and appeared to think that America could be a member of the Common Market. That is a very attractive idea and I only hope that it could come about, although it appears to me to be impracticable. But if there is any such possibility, surely there is a far stronger case for having our own Commonwealth closely associated with the Common Market. What I am afraid of is that if we join the Common Market and it does not go according to plan, there is not going to be any jobbing back; we shall have lost our protected Commonwealth markets, because they will have reorientated themselves with America and perhaps Japan.
I shall not be here on Wednesday. I hope the Government will approach this whole matter of the Common Market, as I am sure they will, with the gravest caution. I personally am all for it economically; I think it offers most scintillating possibilities. What I am afraid of is that, if the people of this country do not accept the challenge of and the competition from Continental labour, we many get great unemployment, with its 1081 social consequences. But we cannot job backwards; and I hope that the Government, through their information services, will explain the position to the country.
Other noble Lords have covered Europe and the Berlin question, with which I am sure the majority of the public are becoming rather tired, and I should think that Mr. Khrushchev is rather sick of it, too. But Mr. Khrushchev has other fish to fry at the moment. He must be very worried by the rather primitive approach' of China to world revolution. He is also at the moment rather concerned in the South-East of Europe. He made a speech at Varna the other day from which it would appear that Yugoslavia is going to enter the Moscow fold again. I do not think Marshal Tito's Communism has been a great success. His return to Moscow will be camouflaged, and I do not think it will foe reported in the Press from either side.
But I see one danger there. Marshall Tito, as the Communist leader of the neutralist bloc, has gainer footholds in Africa and Asia which can now be placed at Mr. Khrushchev's feet. It is in Africa and the underdeveloped countries generally that we have to meat the greatest challenge from the Soviet, and the return of the prodigal son in the form of Yugoslavia will be a great help to Soviet policy in these areas. It appears on the surface that the Soviet nations in the underdeveloped areas have had a setback lately. We should be particularly vigilant as to this, because one can always foe sure that if international Communism has a setback, or appears to have one, it will redouble its efforts to keep the Soviet pot boiling. African nationalism is now running strongly, and probably Marxism does not make much strong appeal to the average African at the moment. But there is always Russian money, which is readily available, to make up for any lack in Marxist fervour; and money, from whatever quarter, is always popular in Africa.
Mr. Khrushchev is frequently stating that while capitalism and Communism exist in the world there can be no quarter between the two systems. In Bulgaria, on May 17, Mr. Khrushchev stated that as long as both capitalism and Socialism 1082 exist, as long as we do not have a uniform society, which means a Socialist Communist Society, we shall go on having struggles. That is a rather depressing outlook; but we have to base our foreign policy regarding Russia on that outlook. While there is this attitude of mind running through the leaders of Soviet Russia, there is no area of the world where we can relax for one moment; and especially is this so in Africa and the underdeveloped countries.
To succeed in Africa, I think the first essential is for the United States and us to pursue the same policy. This, of course, has not always been so. The bonds between us and America are so strong—they are bonds of Mood, tradition and history—that they can. never be torn asunder. Therefore, I think we should sometimes do some straight speaking to America, and remind them that, after all, we are really in the position of brothers: we the older brother and America the younger one. If you have straight speaking between brothers it should really make the relationship stronger.
It appears to me that often the United Nations and America do not act according to our code or our experience. I do not say this is always so, by any means, with America, but it appears to have been so up to date with the United Nations. Every nation stands or falls on its morality. We are in danger of doing a disservice in the sphere of international affairs by being too diffident in pressing our own ideas and ideals. I hope, most fervently, as I am sure we all do, for the ultimate success of the United Nations, the development of its outlook and its ultimate achievements. But we must realise that at the moment it does not stand for any clear policy, and seems to be making little serious attempt to do so.
We have heard several speakers to-day. We have heard the Foreign Secretary and the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. We have heard the noble Marquess say how U Thant described the members of another State as clowns, and I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, who said that he did not think the Foreign Secretary gave the United Nations great dignity by his speech at Berwick-on-Tweed. But it is not for us to give the United Nations a sham dignity. The only organisation which 1083 can give the United Nations dignity is the United Nations itself. It would be extremely wrong to bolster it up by lies.
The great trouble with the United Nations is that it has been playing politics, and by doing so it has been indulging in acts of the worst type of colonialism. It astounds me. One can speak about that subject for a long time. I was extremely pleased to hear the Foreign Secretary saying a word for our colonial record. Our record has always been based on non-interference in internal affairs. After all, it was handed down to us from the Roman Empire. If we take our record in India, it probably stands as one of the wonders of the world in administration within that vast subcontinent of nearly 400 million people. We governed it with 100,000 white men, or perhaps 120,000, if you count the officers of the armed forces. But if you had had the United Nations there, imagine the chaos!
I say that by far the most important thing in international affairs is to try to make the United Nations work. We have been doing our best to do so, but the United Nations will have to be basically reorganised. Of course, there again we come up against Russia. For instance, if we had a rule that members who had not paid their subscriptions could not vote, surely Russia could not object to that. I also think that voting in the General Assembly ought to be altered. It could be on the basis of population, which I quite agree would probably put us at a disadvantage; but we are at a disadvantage anyway with all these small Afro-Asian nations having an equal vote.
The other aspect, as I see it, is that any nation joining the United Nations ought to have a period of apprenticeship. It degrades the whole system, to have this buffoonery and partisanship which goes on. I think the greatest need of the United Nations is to build up a corps of experienced administrators for underdeveloped countries. We have unlimited talent in this country. We have district commissioners from Africa, and other colonial administrators who have retired, but owing to the anti-colonial basis, I do not suppose the United Nations can employ them. But if only the United Nations could get over that and build up a corps of these men, who, with their fine records, could be as devoted to the 1084 United Nations as they have been to the United Kingdom, I think it would be an excellent thing.
I am always saying that I think it is quite absurd that China is not a member of the United Nations. One keeps on saying that. America will not have it, and so that is that; but it is honestly perfectly absurd. I also find the attitude of America extremely odd on the question of Communism, because if you go to America and put a big label on yourself saying, "I am a Communist" and proclaim it to the world, it acts like a red rag to a bull. On the other hand, if you are a Communist and you go under another label, they do not appear to see through the façade, and they take you at your own worth. In the United Nations in the Congo there were several officials there who were backed up by America but who, of course, were fellow travellers of the Communists and who were Communists. I cannot understand this attitude of America. Perhaps it is stupidity, but it seems to me extraordinary.
Before I end, I should like to say something—perhaps it does not quite come into foreign affairs—about this great craving for education in Africa. Our universities here are of course full to overflowing. We can therefore take only a limited number of Africans. To come to a university here, an African must have a certain standard, but I wonder whether it would be possible one day to have a university in this country entirely for Africans. You could then have the barest minimum standard of entry. There are now a great number of Africans going behind the Iron Curtain for their education, which is not a very healthy thing.
I should like to pay a tribute to our Foreign Secretary. We are most fortunate in having a Foreign Secretary who has the merit and the drive to say what he really believes is true. I do not believe we have had such a fine Foreign Secretary for a very long time, and I do not think words can express my appreciation of him. I should just like to quote, as this rather expresses the attitude of the Foreign Secretary, what Coleridge said:The strength of England is in the morality of England".And thank God that we have a Foreign Secretary who appreciates that.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF HUNTINGDON
My Lords, I should like first to say that I owe the House an apology, as I was down to speak earlier but an unfortunate event prevented my getting here; and I should like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, for allowing me to speak before her. It was my loss that I also missed the speech of the Foreign Secretary which I should have liked to hear.
I should like to say a few words on three points, the first of which is China. As we all know, China has had a succession of bad harvests. They are suffering terribly from famine and other disasters internally; but bad harvests, famines and floods are no new thing in the history of China. They have survived before, and I have no doubt that they will survive again. A nation of over 600 million population, industrious, hardworking, ingenious and united, is, in my opinion, bound to be one of the leading countries in the world, if not the leading one, within a very short space of time. And, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has said, the idea of trying to keep China out of the United Nations, of the West turning her into an outcast, is so ridiculous that one really cannot imagine how this state of affairs has continued.
It has been suggested that the reason is that the United States backed the wrong horse—and it is very difficult to admit your mistakes. They have lost millions of money, and millions have been put into propaganda for the Chiang Kai-shek dictatorship in Formosa. But I am sorry that this country has not long ago publicly taken up the cause of China and tried to obtain for her her rights; to get her as a member of the United Nations and give her her rightful seat on the Security Council. I read in a newspaper recently that we are going to do some public action about this at the United Nations. I am very glad of this, but it is very late because I fervently believe that a great deal of the Chinese aggression, which we all deplore, against India and Tibet, arises partly from two causes.
One is the internal difficulties brought about by bad harvests and famine; and the other is the general hostility of the Western World. History has shown us 1086 only too well how a Government, faced by difficulties at home and frightened by foreign aggression, commits acts which are alien to its real character and often embarks on aggressive adventures, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. The French Revolution is a very good example of this; of people who were suffering tremendous hardship, difficulties, and hunger; who were threatened by foreign enemies all round; who committed terrible atrocities at home and started on military adventures abroad which threatened the Whole of the then civilised world of Europe.
I think, my Lords, that if we were to show less hostility towards China we might have a less aggressive attitude on their part. But I am going to propose something that goes slightly further than the normal idea of helping her to her rightful place in the United Nations. Could not the West, or this Government—and I hope other Governments, too—offer a great gift of help to the Chinese people? This not only would be humane, ethical and Christian but, I think, might, in the long run, reap a great dividend. I think that some friendship in their great misfortunes might well repay us in the years to come. Certainly we cannot ignore China, and no problem of the East can be settled without Chinese help.
The second of my three points is briefly to say a word about the other great trouble spot of Germany. I do not wish to say anything which might make negotiations more difficult in coming conferences. At the same time, I think that, for our own safety and from our own point of view, we should be foolish to close our eyes to what is happening around us. The situation in Berlin is a very complicated one which has many more facets perhaps than we always realise. There is, for instance, the religious facet. The Chancellor, Dr. Adenauer, is continually stressing the importance of the unification of Germany—that Eastern and Western Germany should be one. I wonder whether he really wants the mass of Protestant votes that would come over from East Germany if that were actually brought about? I wonder whether the West German citizen in Berlin would be altogether happy if the wall were removed to-morrow. I do not 1087 know. It certainly is a source of friction and puts us in an impossible situation.
I was talking to an observer—not an Englishman—who has been living in Berlin for some time, and I am glad to say that he was very much struck by the extraordinary correctness and discipline of the English occupying troops there, and also of the French, and, strangely enough, the East German troops. I gather that very few Russian troops are seen over there. He said that the American troops, for whatever reasons, were continually going up to the wall and being as provocative as they could; singing the "Star Spangled Banner", throwing things and so forth. He wondered whether this is just exuberance or policy. If it is policy, what do they want to gain by it? He was interested in it; but it is a source of a very difficult situation.
The Germans have always been, from earliest times, hardworking, efficient and, one must confess, extremely warlike. In fact, I think I am right in saying that the only period when this has not been the case was the Thirty Years War, when all the nations of Europe made what is now Germany into a desert, and for a short time Germany did not threaten her neighbours. We have protected ourselves for a long time by a balance of power in Europe. We have always seen that, whichever was the predominant nation, we at least had an alliance which would be effective to protect us. That has always been the British policy, and I am very surprised that people have not taken particular note of the recent development of the Grand Alliance being formed by France and Germany.
It is extraordinary that these old hereditary enemies, who have apparently hated each other for centuries, should now be getting together. Very soon we shall see the skill and wealth of West Germany developing the German and French military forces, and, no doubt, developing the French nuclear weapon. Is that a thing, my Lords, that we can look on with comfort? Have we any reply? Have we the guarantee of the Americans? Perhaps the noble Earl who is to answer this debate will tell us whether we are relying on America if 1088 anything goes wrong; and, if so, what guarantees we have. Because I believe that possibly in the future we may find ourselves in a very difficult position. What can we do about this? I suggest there are only two things we can do: either we ourselves have to get into the Grand Alliance, and hope that we can play the game so that we are not threatened, or we must build up another alliance ourselves. We cannot sit, an isolated island, and watch these great Powers become the most formidable power that Europe has produced for many hundreds of years.
As for Berlin, what can we do about that? I suggest that the answer here, which has been promoted on several occasions, is to make it a free and independent city. It is the only thing we can do to solve our problem. We are in an impossible situation in this beleaguered town with the Russians owning all the territory round about, and able at any moment to threaten us and make things uncomfortable. Yet we cannot withdraw without letting down the Germans and losing face. If, however, we were to make it a free city, guaranteed by all sides; if, as someone has suggested, it should become the headquarters of the United Nations, in one stroke that would solve the Berlin problem. I would ask her Majesty's Government whether they would consider those possibilities rather more closely than they have done so far.
My last little point, my Lord, is the Congo. I think there is here a very difficult problem, as many noble Lords have mentioned already. It is a dreadful situation. It may well be that parts of the Congo and other parts of Africa may go back to bush; that it may resume the old tribal life, which I agree had its points, though it also had its disadvantages. Some people, perhaps, would like that. But I believe that, so long as Africans are sincerely trying to build up a society which is at once organised, civilised and relatively humane, we must help them to the best of our ability. That is, I think, the one debt the white man can repay to the African. The African leaders are sometimes rather difficult. They are so buoyed up with the feeling of nationalism, of freedom obtained when they do obtain it, that they are very apt to get rid of 1089 the white advisers who could help them, and I think they are perhaps relying very largely on playing off East and West and getting enough funds to run their country.
It is possible the East and West will not play the rôles allotted to them. But in this particular case of the Congo we all know the real difficulty which is that Katanga, that Province, has all the mineral wealth, and unfortunately this wealth has been developed, promoted, and enjoyed by foreigners. That really is the basis of the whole trouble. I read in the paper, I think it was this rooming, that Mr. Tshombe has said that it is all very well but the wealth of Katanga, even if it were used for the Congo, would not be enough to support and make viable the Congo State. That may be true, but surely it is more true that without the wealth of Katanga the Congo has not a Chance. It cannot begin to be a country.
It seems to me if you are going to do anything at all about this, you must ensure that this wealth of the Katanga Province is available to the Central Government to help the development of the whole Congo. That is the whole crux. What can we do about it? It is a difficult situation. I can understand the difficulty of Her Majesty's Government with a great many British interests in Katanga; a lot of the wealth is owned here. The last thing the Government would want to see would be those assets dwindling or destroyed, which is very understandable. But unfortunately, of course, this puts Mr. Tshombe in a very strong position. He can use tremendous blackmail if he wishes to. If anything is done against him he can say, "All right. I will destroy the wealth of Katanga"—and I think that blackmail must be resisted. The building up of the Congo is so much more important that it must be done, and without that wealth Katanga would not exist overnight. Mr. Tshombe knows as well as anybody else that the people who would suffer the most from any destruction would be Katanga itself. That is why I think that we must in future not be blackmailed into halfhearted support of the United Nations. Because one might say that this is the worst thing that has happened in the whole Congo debacle.
1090 The United Nations has often made mistakes and it has had failures, but it has had successes too. As many speakers have said, it certainly is the one hope of the world now. It is the only universal organisation for which all nations have respect. If that goes down, the world will go back into a very bad condition. To me the worst aspect of the whole Congo affair is that the view has gained ground abroad, however justified or unjustified, that the British Government have not been behind the United Nations in the Congo; that when British interests are threatened the United Nations is not to be supported. I beg of Her Majesty's Government that they will alter their outlook on that, because I think that if this is not done, if the United Nations is not supported, it will be not only a disaster for the Congo but a disaster for us. And it could be effected now, because you could economically blockade Katanga very easily; there are many methods. One which has been suggested has been to block the two railways. If necessary this must be done. If necessary the United Nations must be supported with force. I believe that, if we do not, there will be chaos not only in the Congo but ultimately in a large part of Africa and the world.
§ 6.38 p.m.
§ BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD
My Lords, I rise at this late hour not to make a long speech but to make a small contribution to the debate which has been so ably introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. How fortunate we are in this House to have on both sides of the House, both the Opposition side and the Government side, two speakers to whom we listen always with tremendous interest! I cannot say that I always agree with the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, but I should never not listen to him or fail to give his speech great attention and thought.
Up to now we have had a most interesting debate which has roamed far and wide. I think the speech of the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary was a great encouragement to us. Everyone, I think, has congratulated him on the splendid way in which he has been conducting negotiations on our behalf now for two years. His great patience, and his transparent honesty and straightforward way of putting our case, have 1091 added tremendously to the influence which we have in the foreign affairs of the world to-day. But I believe that we are also indebted to the Prime Minister. His patience, his refusal to be put off by even the most unfortunate behaviour of Mr. Khruschev on occasions, has been of great use and value to the Foreign Secretary in his work. Furthermore, his knowledge of General de Gaulle, his friendship with him in the war and afterwards, and his knowledge of President Kennedy, are assets which add tremendously to the influence and value of the Government in the world to-day. I think we are very much indebted to the Prime Minister for what he contributes to the discussions on Foreign Affairs.
If the European situation seems to press us most immediately, that is not to say that other matters referred to by other noble Lords are not equally important. I have had some opportunity in recent years, as a delegate to the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference to meet many of the Members of Parliament of the NATO countries and also to listen to General Norstad addressing those Parliamentarians. His devotion to the Fifteen-nation defence force and his belief in the NATO Alliance have been an inspiration to those of us who have had the good fortune to hear him many times, and I personally deeply regret his resignation as Supreme Commander. No doubt his successor will be very good. The United States have produced some very remarkable Generals in the last years, but it would be hard to find a man who is both a great American and a great leader of Europeans. It must be most frustrating for someone with such single-minded belief in a united force to have to deal with fifteen nations, one of which at present is proving most difficult.
Nevertheless, this Alliance, the most effective that has come out of post-war diplomacy, is still the strongest bulwark against Communism. I do not share the view of the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon (I think it was), who thought the NATO Alliance was perhaps less valuable and less important. In fact, I believe that it is just as important as ever it was. It has achieved not only a united defence, but, among other things, the keeping of the American forces in Europe in peace time, something which has never 1092 happened in any other period of our history, and the bringing into the Alliance of the new forces of the West German Federal Government. I think it is probably the latter which is the most significant at the moment.
The noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, spoke about the period between the two wars. If in the years before 1914, or in the years immediately after the First World War, an alliance such as Dr. Adenauer and General de Gaulle have brought about, could have been established, the twentieth century might have been utterly different. I do not share the fear of the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, that this alliance may be a great danger. It will only be a great danger if it is not part of the NATO Alliance. But it is, in fact, part of the NATO Alliance, and this strengthened and new relationship between the French and German nations, enemies for so long but now allies in rebuilding Europe, is, I am sure, an asset to the Free World. The rebuilding of Europe has, of course, also been helped by the establishment of the European Economic Community, which your Lordships are to discuss next week and which I shall not talk about to-day.
Nevertheless, here in Britain it has been most difficult, I think, for the ordinary people of the country to understand What this new Europe is really like, as quite often one hears Germany referred to simply in terms of the horrors of war, and of Nazis, ail of which we know quite well and recall vividly in our memories. But those of us who have the opportunity of going to Germany, and of meeting the people of the new Federal Republic, know that there is something quite different in the West German Republic to-day. Many Members of another place, and some Members of your Lordships' House, have had the opportunity of attending annually an Anglo-German Conference held at Konigswinter on the Rhine, attended by leading Members of Parliament, economists, industrialists and journalists, both German and British. I believe that this Conference, to which the noble Lord, Lord Kennet briefly referred, has done a great deal to bring about a new understanding between leading people in our two countries.
This Conference started immediately after the war, and I was a member of 1093 it in those days. I well remember how difficult it was to find a level of discussion between the two sides which could lead to any kind of mutual understanding. The Germans were either utterly miserable and unable to look up, or sullen and difficult, and we on our side could not establish a genuine relationship to discuss the future. Gradually this suspicion has been overcome, and we now meet every year, and we discuss in the friendliest and most straightforward terms the ways in which we can mutually improve relationships and find ways to help to lay the foundations of a new Europe. It is not always the same people who meet, but different people from much the same groups. On our side no fewer than fifty Members of Parliament from all Parties who have become Ministers or members of the Opposition Shadow Cabinet have all been taking part in the Konigswinter Conference; and on the German side, equally important men and women have taken part. These meetings have been, and still are, most valuable in bringing about good will and greater understanding, and we are much indebted to the German organisation which makes these meetings possible.
I have felt on occasions that the ordinary people in this country get a wrong impression of what the Federal Republic is like, and exaggerated reports appear in the Press of hostility to German NATO forces in training here, and of troubles with young British soldiers in Germany, troubles which would occur anywhere if soldiers were bored. These reports encourage a wrong attitude to the Federal Republic, suspicion rather than acceptance of an Ally in the NATO Alliance. It is to the future that we must look, for the past we cannot alter. In the future the defence of the Free World is against Communism, whether it is trying to influence us peacefully or by force.
Many noble Lords have referred to the problem of Berlin. The defence of Berlin is a defence against Communism, a defence of freedom. It is not because it is a German city, but because, beyond the horrible wall, lies a captive country under Communist domination; and to allow that type of Government to advance is to allow the Free World to be defeated. I have heard people say that they would not fight for Berlin. 1094 But that is not the point. Berlin happens to be one of the places exposed to Communist attack. It might be another city in another part of the world. In fact, often it has been in a different part of the world: in the Far East, for instance. At this moment it happens to be Berlin. Wherever it is, I believe that we must stand firm and refuse to be pushed out by force. Even though there appears to be a complete stalemate at the present moment, things never remain completely static. We have heard from the Foreign Secretary, and also we read in the newspapers this morning, of the discussions at Geneva that are going on at this moment between Mr. Rusk and Mr Gromyko, and that may well bring some influence to bear upon Mr. Gromyko. The Foreign Secretary has told us this afternoon of three possibilities which might take place in Berlin. I am sure we are right not to weaken in our present position, but to endeavour to get some permanent solution to this almost insoluble problem.
One of the other points which has been raised is the question of the United Nations and the Congo. I have no firsthand knowledge of the Congo, but I have first-hand experience of the United Nations. I think it is a mistake to think of the United Nations as a supranational Power with independent force. It is, in fact, nothing of the kind; it is a vast gathering of independent nations, and its strength must be the strength of agreement and good will. It cannot be the strength of armed force. To me that is a contradiction in terms. That is why I do not agree with the way in which the Congo policy is at the present moment carried out in the United Nations. I do not agree with what Lord Huntingdon said just now about this. I do not believe that it is possible to force a situation on that country, and I do not think that the United Nations is in a position to deal with the situation by force. It can be done only by agreement; it can be done only by discussion. If we do condone the use of force, even though that force may be called United Nations force, we are doing something we shall bitterly regret. Looking back on the years when I was in New York, I know that the success of the United Nations intervention between Israel and Jordan and other Arab States, for instance, was achieved 1095 by world opinion persuading both sides to agree to an international force to police the frontier—not by force but by agreement. I myself have seen the small group of national soldiers, Scandinavian, Indian and others, wearing their own uniforms, but identified by the blue beret of the United Nations, keeping a watch on the frontier between Arab States and Israel. They carry arms but never shoot, and for many years the border has been comparatively peaceful.
This kind of force, which operates by good will, is the only force the United Nations can operate. The fact that in the Congo neither side is prepared for interference by the United Nations seems to me to make this operation of force impossible; and if one side or the other starts firing it will do great harm and injure the influence of the United Nations as a mediator in world affairs. Much prestige was lost by the United Nations' vote on Goa; it is only too easy to foresee what will happen if armed intervention is encouraged anywhere. Nobody could be a stronger believer than myself in the United Nations, in its Charter and in the methods by which we can bring about the influence of the United Nations. Despite its many defects, its operation must be through discussion, through talking, through peaceful persuasion and not by shooting. Talking is sometimes a valuable method of letting off steam; it gets rid of many quarrels, if the parties go on long enough and do not resort to force. If, however, force is to replace discussion, and patience is to be overruled by action on ill-designed resolutions, then the influence of world opinion and of the United Nations will get less and less and all our hopes of a new order will be destroyed.
The United Nations is the great meeting place of East and West, of Communist as well as of non-Communist States. It has an immensely valuable part to play, but it is a part that has to be played without, rather than with, the use of force. I think the Foreign Secretary is right to draw the attention of the nations to the shortcomings of member States, particularly Communist States, who neither pay for nor support many of the activities of the United Nations. We helped to draw up the Charter (I think that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, was himself in San 1096 Francisco helping to draw up that Charter); we support the United Nations Agencies and their work; we pay our share of the finances, and we have the right to say when we think the decisions they are making are unwise.
My Lords, we have had a most interesting debate this afternoon. The Foreign Secretary ended on an optimistic note; and, with him, I feel confident that, with the will to succeed and the patience to carry on, we shall get somewhere—which we shall never do if we embark on any kind of United Nations military action.
§ 6.54 p.m.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, we have had quite a long debate, and I do not think I shall be too long in putting over what I have to say. First of all, I want to thank my noble friend Lord Henderson for the manner in which he introduced this debate. As the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said, it is exceedingly convenient for your Lordships to have a debate at this moment in our Session. I think Lord Salisbury was probably right when he said that the manner of the message we got from the Foreign Secretary to-day was, on the whole, encouraging to us as we go away to our vacation in these difficult world circumstances. I should like to thank the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary for his speech, and to say that I agreed with him fundamentally on several points he made. I have never hidden either from the House or from my own side that when one comes to discuss peace and to try to arrange for negotiations, it is always a very great mistake to ask for a policy which you cannot support with the strength which has been given you by your country. I thoroughly agree with the actual words which were used by the Foreign Secretary when he asked for that proper strength to be accorded. I did not feel very sure that the defence policy of the last eleven years has actually left him with the particular strength which is useful and right in the circumstances—certainly not, having regard to the amount of money we are spending upon it.
The Foreign Secretary is indeed to be congratulated on the settlement which was obtained in the Laotian difficulty. I was not quite sure, as I listened to other 1097 parts of has speech, whether we do not perhaps make a little too much of the impossibility of ever getting the Russians to make a move on towards the goals we want to reach. I liked the part of his speech where he said he thought his further talks with Mr. Gromyko and those which Mr. Rusk has had give a little more promise here and there, and certainly it was a very good policy to have patience and to pursue these endeavours for as long and as far as possible. But I think that perhaps I myself have been guilty at times in the old days, when we were trying to build up something like a defence of the Free World, of falling into the trap of perhaps putting all the blame all the time upon the Communist side. I thought that the mixture of the two things by the Foreign Secretary this afternoon, if we study it carefully, will perhaps show itself to be about the right mixture. I hope he Will have another look at his language on one or two points on that matter to see whether he does not, on the whole, agree with me. The attitude he took with regard to our colonial position was, I thought, about right.
I listened very carefully to the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, this afternoon. If I may say so, he gave a most excellent introduction, during the first five or ten minutes of his speech, to the rules of the United Nations Organisation. I wanted him to get on more with his attack. Perhaps he is going to circularise his speech somewhere for his own purposes; anyway, it would be very good. But looking at the whole difficulty in the Congo, I must say I felt that he had perhaps been won over a little too much from the point of view of those who back Tshombe in Katanga. I think so. I may not be in regular receipt of the whole of the information the noble Lord receives from that particular side of the controversy, but certainly if we look at the actual needs of this great country of the Congo and at the fundamental necessity for the wealth and the resources of Katanga to be available in the resettlement of the whole territory, then I must say it appears right for us to support any operations agreed upon by a majority of the United Nations Organisation to achieve a peaceful solution. If both he and I read to-morrow What the Foreign Secretary said upon that par- 1098 ticular point, I do not think we shall disagree.
Certainly we ought not sometimes to be uttering an unnecessary criticism—and I support my noble friend Lord Henderson on this—in regard to the operations of the United Nations if, in the meantime, we have to make progress with all of them in getting the kind of peaceful settlement we want. The actual actions they took must, of course, be checked and corrected when they can be corrected, but we should be in a very much poorer position than we are now if any action—or perhaps lack of action—taken meant we were in danger of breaking up the United Nations altogether. I am very anxious for that Organisation to be maintained, and to be maintained with the proper strength to be able, at some time or other, to have some means of defence against aggression, so that that power will not necessarily be in the hands of great and powerful nations but in the hands of an Organisation which, over the years, has been built up with patience and is likely to have right judgments in defending world peace. At times I do not think they have reached that situation at present.
May I say a word or two about the question of arriving at peace in these matters, which was mentioned by the Foreign Secretary, whose remarks seemed to come in two pieces, one after the other straight away: first peace, and then peaceful change. I have thought a lot about that in my fairly long political life, and I have seen a number of changes. We often said in the old days, when we were very powerful, controlling great territories and hundreds of millions of people in countries other than our own native country, "You stop this and you stop that. Peace first and then we will talk about things". Yet we have come to this stage in the development of the Commonwealth; in fact, we have had to do a lot of things before we got peace. So I would ask the Foreign Secretary, in as nice a way as I can, to have a look at a bit of our own Commonwealth history, and see whether that is not the case.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, for convenience I think I said "First peace and then peaceful change", but I would agree that they are almost inseparable: 1099 that peaceful change must run along the whole time. I think I did add a sentence, which the noble Lord will see, if tomorrow he reads what I said, that, really, peaceful change was a prerequisite of progress. I think it will be clear in the Report. But I agree with him.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, it seemed to me, in my long life, that sometimes, because we could not get exactly the peace we wanted with some recalcitrants, we left for too long the opportunity of making real progress towards the kind of freedom that we want to see in the world. If you can get that kind of freedom, usually you can get peace in another way.
Another thing I want to say is this. We have heard a great deal about the North Atlantic Treaty Oranisation, and its position in Europe for the defence of the Free World. We cannot very well turn a debate on foreign affairs in general almost into a specific Defence debate. I noted what was said by the noble Baroness who has just resumed her seat, about the present feelings and opinions expressed about General de Gaulle and Dr. Adenauer and the like. I think myself that there are at least dangers in the situation, which seemed to be revealed by these conversations. The noble Baroness is so charming and always so well disposed to other people that she might easily be mistaken about the actual result of this situation. I know that between 1933 and 1939 many people thought it was not a bad thing to have Mussolini in Ethiopia, and Hitler rising to power in Germany. So one must not be too easy about these things.
I listened this evening with great interest to my noble friend Lord Kennet, too. It was a most learned speech upon the up-to-date position of NATO, far more learned than I could hope to make because I do not have time, in this busy life here, to cover all the details and technicalities that he dealt with—and, if I may say so to him, at a speed so immense as to be remarkable. I will read his speech in detail, but I should like at once to say this to him. As we in the Labour Government found the position at the conclusion of the Paris Peace Conference in 1946, there was 1100 nothing in Europe to stop Communism as a world Power progressing through Europe, and probably without firing a shot. Because America was disarming hand over fist, and we were working for demobilisation much more slowly to an ordered plan agreed by all Parties, we could have held on for the time being, but we had nothing with us. Therefore the land mass position of Europe would have gone by default, by blackmail, if some Power had appeared suddenly at the Paris Peace Conference with what we now call satellites, but which clearly were indicated to us as having been acquired during the war as a new extension of the Communist empire. That was the situation, and we had to gather people, to set up means of both political and, if necessary, military defence of a situation which would otherwise have been impossible.
So when I come to study the words—and very clever words many of them were—this afternoon about the situation and exactly what is likely to happen, I would merely say to the noble Lord: remember that many hypotheses, cleverly thought out, which you put forward in a speech like that, may not be the ones that will, in fact, appear in the future. It may sometimes help to avoid the dangers foreseen, but on other occasions it may mean spending all the wrong money, all the wrong effort, in trying to prevent (I expect the noble Lord agrees with that, from one point of view) these hypotheses from becoming a real danger. I shall read the noble Lord's speech with very great interest, but I would just ask the noble Lord to be careful and steady about how he forms his final views when putting forward proposals.
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, may I, for a second, seek to reassure my noble Leader that it was not in the least my purpose to say that it was wrong to set up NATO at that time; only to question whether NATO was at present on the right course.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I only just wanted to say how things may happen.
The noble Baroness was discussing the possible great goodness of General de Gaulle, and the great goodness of Dr. Adenauer—both very old men like myself, by the way, so that their particular influence may not be there very long, and 1101 I would not rely too much upon this. But when we come to look at the possibilities we have to guard against, we must also think of past experience. If it is said that NATO is essential for the defence of the Free World, why does General de Gaulle insist now that his navy must not be under the orders of NATO, must not join NATO, in the general defence? Why have so many of the troops, upon which we depended for our NATO strength, been withdrawn? Why was there this special meeting, with a great display of armaments, and parades of military, and German and other tanks, in France? Why have General de Gaulle's dicta been laid down, with regard to what he can allow and what he cannot allow in a collective NATO defence? I think there was something in what my noble friend Lord Huntingdon said upon that point: that this is a position that we shall have to watch very carefully in the future. Having lived through 1939 in the other House, I think we need to take very great care indeed.
I was very interested in the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, and I am sorry that he has had to go. But I must say that his words sounded to me vary human. After all, in a debate such as this, when we are thinking of what steps ought to be taken to maintain peace, whether the right weapon is a nuclear bomb, gas, or powerful armaments and so on, we make great judgments about sin and the like. But, certainly, I thoroughly agreed with him about the people who think that, somehow, we are going by human effort to build up a world feeling; by human effort we are going to have a World Church; by human effort we are going to bring in a Millennium. We have not quite measured the standards by which we really ought to be working under the law that we get. from the Moses Room, with Moses coming down with the law and all the rest of the fulfilment of the scriptures upon which we base our free and Christian life. We had better take the whole of it, and not just the bits we think we want to build upon. So I agree very much with the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, on that. If it were the nation which was going to be punished, I do not think it would be found any less guilty of national sin because it determined to 1102 starve a nation out, as the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, said, instead of using a nuclear bomb on them. We want, therefore, to look at our real desires in these matters very carefully indeed.
I was very interested in the points that were made by my noble friend Lord Lindgren and by the noble Earl, Lord Dundonald (which I did not hear, but which I had reported to me), in respect to the position in South America and the Latin countries. I have had a good deal of information in the past ten years or so about South America. I was very worried about it in certain parts. There was a great deal of intolerance, partly based upon religion, and a great many divisions between the Christian faiths out there; but in Colombia and in other places now there is a much improved situation, so far as I can gather, in that respect. My noble friend Lord Lindgren spoke about the trade union position, and I thoroughly agree that you are not going to get a successful build-up of strong States, growing in both agricultural and in industrial production, without having a successful trade union organisation.
Then I should like to say a word to my noble friend Lord Huntingdon about his speech. I was intensely interested in his reference to China. We as a Party, since the time when the late Ernest Bevin, have recognised the Communist Government in China from the first, have recognised it as a fact, and have always pleaded for China to be admitted to the United Nations Organisation. It is particularly significant at the present time, when we are thinking of judging ourselves and judging other people in regard to international affairs, to consider the fact that, when China is aggressive against Tibet and on the borders of India, we could actually be taking her before her fellow judges in the United Nations Organisation, if only the people had been willing to have her in. We have pressed all the time for China—the real China, the factual China, the majority China—to be in the United Nations. If she had been, we could then have taken this position before the United Nations, for it to be dealt with there.
But it is unfortunate, of course, that India herself is still in default of the 1103 decision of the United Nations with regard to Kashmir: and there is the situation. I do not know what the Foreign Secretary proposes to do—I do not know that he can do very much at the moment—to get this matter running into a proper channel, but it would be a very good thing, in my judgment, if India were to agree to support very strongly, as I hope she would, any resolution that we might propose for the admission of China to the United Nations. Then, if she were also to put herself right with the United Nations in carrying out the suggestions made to her about Kashmir, I think we might get a better feeling all the way round.
I just wanted to say a word or two about the remarks of my noble friend Lord Huntingdon concerning the Commonwealth. It sounded, in a way, almost fantastic, and yet the old truth is absolutely right: if you do not grow flowers, fruits and beautiful things, you soon grow weeds and a desert. If we cannot keep the Commonwealth in a good relationship and in contact with us, so that they feel they can come to us when they want advice and all the possible help we can give them, and if we cannot have unity between us, then there may be a very different state of affairs in the Commonwealth. But that may apply also to contain other countries who are in the same need of development and strengthening as even members of the Commonwealth themselves. However, I hope that When we come to discuss the Common Market next week, for example, we shall still be thinking of the need for maintaining our Commonwealth; and if the noble Earl is then able to speak from the point of view that I hold rather strongly on it, I shall greatly welcome his assistance.
I should have liked to say a great many more things, but I am quite sure that the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, would much rather that I finished on that note. I would say that, generally speaking, we have been pleased with the presentation of the position in foreign affairs made by the Foreign Secretary to-day; we hope that he will take note of the other matters that my noble friend Lord Henderson put before him, and perhaps will let us know if there is anything more that can be done.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF DUNDEE)
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend the Foreign Secretary, who I hope will join us again before many minutes, I should like to thank the noble Viscount for the very generous tribute which he has just paid to the Foreign Secretary's policy—or at least to his presentation of it to your Lordships in this debate. The debate which we have had on this Motion, which was moved with his usual ability and charm by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has been very wide and disconnected, but to me, and I think to most of your Lordships, it has also been very interesting. I think your Lordships usually like, a little before the Summer Recess begins, to have a debate on foreign affairs which covers nearly the entire area of the globe and a great multiplicity of subjects which are too numerous to be embraced within the compass of a single speech.
Two of the subjects which your Lordships have discussed this afternoon might, although we must all hope that they will not, develop into a serious crisis before Parliament reassembles in the Autumn. One is Berlin, the other is the Congo. I propose to conclude my remarks, which I hope will be very short, with a few words about both of them, but before I do so I should like to try to answer one or two of the perhaps less urgent but not necessarily less important questions which various of your Lordships have raised. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, asked one question which my noble friend did not have time to answer: about the possible time of withdrawal of our troops from Thailand. Our forces, as your Lordships I think will all recognise, were sent to Thailand in response to a direct request from the Thai Government, who felt themselves threatened—and, my Lords, there is no doubt at all that they, together with the forces of our SEATO Allies, have been a stabilising influence in that area.
I think we must see how things develop before we can make any decision about a withdrawal. The Laos Agreement is only two days old, but no one will be happier than Her Majesty's Government to see things quieting down in this area, and to reach the point when the Thais will no longer feel that they need the 1105 support of our Forces. We do not want them to stay there a moment longer than is necessary. We are in consultation on this question with the Government of Thailand, and also, of course, with our own Allies.
My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, and others of your Lordships, including the noble Viscount who has just spoken, referred to the question of China. Lord Huntingdon said chat the exclusion of China from the United Nations was so ridiculous that he could not understand how it was allowed to go on. The noble Earl is no doubt aware that the Resolution last December to introduce China was defeated in the Assembly at the United Nations by 48 votes to 36, with 20 abstentions; and I am glad to see that the noble Earl admits the possibility that some acts and resolutions of the United Nations Assembly may be so ridiculous that we cannot understand how they are allowed to go on and how they are allowed to take place. I hope the noble Earl will admit that occasionally the United Nations Assembly, which we all desire to support, may be capable of doing equally ridiculous things in other parts of the world as well as in China.
The Government's view is that the facts of international life require that the Peking Government should be seated in the United Nations, and on December 15 last year our delegate at the United Nations voted in favour of the resolution, Which incidentally was a Soviet resolution, to seat the Peking Government, which resolution was defeated. In explaining his vote, our delegate made it clear that, in our view, this vote did not compromise the sovereignty of the Island of Formosa, which we regard as undetermined, and therefore it follows that the question as to who should represent Formosa in the United Nations is also undetermined in the event of the Peking Government's being admitted. The question of Chinese representation will no doubt be raised again at the next session of the General Assembly later this year, and the United Kingdom Government will continue to seek a solution as fair as possible, in the circumstances, to all parties. We think, as I have said, that China ought to be admitted.
1106 I should like to mention one consideration which might make exclusion a little less ridiculous than it might otherwise be: that China has, so far as we know, not abandoned the doctrine that war is inevitable; and we should like to know, when she demands entry to the United Nations, whether she is making that demand entirely on her own terms, or whether she is prepared to make concessions to the rights of others. Does China agree that membership of the United Nations must be based on mutual respect and on the principle of peaceful co-existence? And, does China really seek the good will of those who are prepared to extend it to her?
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, is it proposed to put all those questions to her again before a further vote is taken?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
No, my Lords; I think these are questions on which we shall have to decide without making a direct diplomatic démarche of the kind envisaged by the noble Viscount. They are questions, at the moment, which in the long run only China can answer.
§ THE EARL OF HUNTINGDON
My Lords, may I ask whether the vote of Her Majesty's Government would still be in favour of China's being admitted to the United Nations?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
Yes, my Lords; I thought that was implicit in what I have just said.
The noble Viscount, in his remarks, commended those of your Lordships who have raised the subject of South America in this debate. I am very glad he did. I was most interested by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, who has explained his inability to remain until the end of the debate. I was particularly interested to hear about his recent visit, on behalf of the trade unions, to various South American countries. And my noble friend Lord Dundonald also focused his speech on Latin America, which I thought was a very fitting thing, for his family name of Cochrane is one which is known and admired in all the Latin American Republics, and has been for something like 140 years.
1107 The noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, spoke about Communist influence in South America and of the need for help to develop the underdeveloped parts of South America so that they might become prosperous and able to enjoy the four freedoms. I very strongly agree with the noble Lord's line of argument on this subject. I do not think it is realised that this subcontinent of between 200 and 300 million people is probably more important in the war of ideas which is now going on in the world than, perhaps, either Africa or Asia. There is, as the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, said, a great gap between the rich and the poor which all friends of Latin American countries must seek to help them diminish. Incidentally, I am glad that the noble Lord, who evidently observed matters very closely when he was there, mentioned the part which the Church in South America is playing in the direction of social reform. It is, I believe, one of the strongest influences on the side of social progress.
My noble friend Lord Dundonald deplored, I think rightly, the failure of the Press not only to cover the recent visit of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh as well as one would have liked, but also to pay much attention to South American affairs at any time. One hundred years ago we were all greatly interested in South America, and had a great many investments and commercial interests there. And we still have, although, of course, they have been depleted by our having to realise nearly all our foreign investments in two world wars. Still, our interests in South America are very great indeed, economic as well as political; and the possibilities of increasing trade there are also bright. We are one of the biggest markets in the world for some Latin American products, such as minerals from Chile and certain temperate agricultural products from the Argentine. We have strong traditional ties with the Latin American countries, dating back to the beginning of the last century, and they need continual maintenance and repair if they are to survive in a thriving condition. I need not remind your Lordships that nearly all Latin American countries are at present in a state of rapid change and development. There 1108 would be no greater mistake than to regard these Latin American countries across the Atlantic as being in any way insulated from the main currents of international politics.
My Lords, we want to help; and although the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, criticised, perhaps with some justification, certain features of the execution of American aid in Latin America, I think that one of the greatest and most imaginative projects of this century is President Kennedy's plan, which is called "The Alliance for Progress", of massive American aid to help South American countries towards economic progress with liberty. As those noble Lords who have spoken about it this afternoon have urged, we should like to help as much as we can. It is true that our balance of payments at present is not great enough to enable us to do much in quantity, but we are anxious to do what we can. In recent years, we have expanded greatly our cultural and information efforts in Latin America. Lately we have also started a plan for technical assistance, costing between £70,000 and £80,000 a year at the moment; but, as my noble friend Lord Dundonald pointed out, what the South Americans need perhaps more than anything else is the know-how to use their resources, and I am glad that we have now been able to make this initial effort in the field of technical assistance. Together with the University Grants Committee, we have also been considering ways and means of expanding the scope of Latin American studies in British universities. I hope that we may be able to make an announcement this autumn about a practical first step towards this end.
The noble Lord, Lord Colyton, began his observations with certain criticisms of the United Nations which I will not pursue at any great length. I agree with my noble friend when he said that Article 73 of the Charter is being violated, at least in spirit, by the activities not only of the Assembly, who have altered their own rules in order to suit the momentary wishes of the majority, but also of the Committee of Seventeen, who in our view, are trying to interfere with matters which under the Charter are really ultra vires.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I have written them down, but may have got them mixed up ! But I agree with what my noble friend said on this subject, in particular with his statement that they had no right to interfere. I am afraid that they have done a lot of harm in their efforts to interfere with a country like Southern Rhodesia, which has been fully self-governing since 1923.
My noble friend went on to deal with the question of the Congo and was supported in this by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and other noble Lords. The noble Marquess said that we were within easy reach of the fence, if not actually sitting on it. I was not clear about who was on one side of the fence and who was on the other, but certainly our intention is to try to reconcile those in the Congo and our own friends, whose views about what should be done are not completely in harmony. I think that my noble friend the Foreign Secretary made plain what our objectives are. We want a real Federation in the Congo. We think that the Leopoldville Government ought to agree to a genuine Federation. We also think that Tshombe's Katanga Government ought to agree to a fair distribution of the revenues. We do not say that this would make all the difference that it is represented as making, but we think that Mr. Tshombe ought to agree to an equitable division of the proceeds of taxation from Union Minière and the other Katangan industries between the Provincial and the Federal Governments when the new constitution is worked out.
We also think that there will have to be some international plan through the United Nations for giving economic and technical aid to the Congo as a whole. How right my noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood was when she said that the greatest successes of the United Nations had been when they acted without using force. I think that that is very true here: We have never concealed from Parliament that our appraisal of the situation in the Congo does not always coincide with that of some of our friends and allies in the United Nations, but I think that our objective is the same: our objective is a peaceful solution. We are doing our best, though I must repeat what my noble friend said: that our influence in the Congo is not great and is often apt to be exaggerated by our 1110 critics. We are doing our best to persuade both parties, particularly the Government of Katanga, through the mediation of our Consul there, to do what we believe is the best thing for the sake of Katanga itself, for the sake of peace and for the sake of the Congo as a whole.
Our Consul has seen Mr. Tshombe and explained that we regret the suspension of his talks with Mr. Adoula and expressed the hope that Mr. Tshombe would resume discussions as soon as possible. I would mention that Mr. Tshombe has just nominated the Katangan members to four commissions, to the establishment of which he and Mr. Adoula agreed during the recent talks in Leopoldville, for examining the practical aspects of the integration of Katanga into the Congo. These commissions deal with the military, fiscal, economic and monetary and communications aspects of integration. It is our hope that they will be set up and start working as soon as possible. So far Mr. Adoula has declined to nominate his members, on the ground that he is dissatisfied with the terms of reference. At the same time, Mr. Tshombe has offered to make available to the Congo Government 100 million Congolese francs and said that he was ready to begin discussions again in Leopoldville with Mr. Adoula. It is our earnest hope that the talks may be resumed as soon as possible, although I am afraid that the noble Marquess has some ground for thinking that the situation does not seem to be getting any better at the moment. We can only go on doing our best.
I would repeat that this is something which does not depend on what Great Britain does. We must make it plain to all our friends that a solution cannot be reached by force or warlike methods. U Thant came over here and had discussions with my noble friend the Foreign Secretary; and he said that he did not intend, and had no mandate, to use force except for the purposes of self-defence or stopping civil war in the Congo. We earnestly hope that moderate counsels may prevail and that peaceful methods, and not anything else, may be used.
The other noble Lords who spoke towards the end of the debate returned to the question of Berlin, which is perhaps the question most greatly fraught 1111 with danger to the immediate peace of Europe. A fortnight ago I had the privilege of visiting Berlin at the invitation of Herr Brandt, the Governing Mayor. I also went to the Federal German Republic. What impressed me most of all in Berlin was the spirit of the people there—their cheerfulness, and even gaiety. I think it showed that when people are isolated and cut off, as they are; when they are living in a continual state of tension; when they know they are defending what is right against what is wrong, it makes them wonderfully cheerful, happy and confident. I was glad to see that the delegation of Members of another place from the Party opposite, who went there a week before I did, evidently received the same impression and spoke about it very well in another place as soon as they got back.
That delegation also received the same impression as I did about the wall, and, what is equally horrible, the strengthening of the barbed wire barriers round the perimeter of West Berlin from whose vicinity so many houses and families have been removed by the Communists in order to make it less easy for anybody to get through. This wall is a horrible and wicked thing. I think it is an example to the whole world, which I hope the whole world will take note of, demonstrating that the Communist Government in East Germany seems unable to survive without the brutal murder of so many men, women and children, whose only crime is their desire to go from one part of their own city to another. I thought of this when the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, was talking about the Committee of Seventeen. I wish that some of its members, who have gained their own political freedom and their own civilisation from British colonial tuition, would spend their time going and looking at Berlin and other parts of the world which are under the tyranny of Communism. I think they would spend their time much more profitably from their own point of view, as well as that of the world, if they would pay more attention to the places where real tyranny exists, and waste less time passing harmful resolutions on matters which do not concern them.
What will happen in Berlin is, of course, uncertain. Some people believe 1112 that Mr. Gromyko and Mr. Khrushchev mean what they say when they say they are very soon going to create a crisis by recognising East Germany. Others think that they will merely "put the heat on" by some new kinds of interference with access. We cannot know what will happen: we must be prepared for anything. But our position is clear: we intend to defend Berlin, if necessary. We insist on three principles: freedom of choice for the 2 million people in West Berlin, our own right of free access to the city and the right to maintain Allied troops in it. These principles are mot negotiable, and if the Russians should interfere with them, then they, and they alone, will he responsible for the consequences. But we can assure both Russia and the world that we shall not be the side which will create a crisis. We intend to act with firmness, but also with patience.
We must not be guilty of wishful thinking. It may be that we shall have to live with this problem and this danger for a very long time. On the other hand, the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, began his speech by suggesting that we might sometimes be too pessimistic about the possibility of living on easier terms with the Russians. The successful conclusion of the Laos negotiations is of great importance to the world. It is particularly significant, I think, to note Mr. Khrushchev's comment on those negotiations. He said that they demonstrated that even the most complicated and difficult questions of international disagreement were capable of being solved by negotiation. Although those words of his may seem to be quite inconsistent with his words and his actions in other parts of the world, I think they may perhaps afford some ground for hope that the idea of peaceful co-existence—this negative idea of peaceful co-existence, which in the mind of Russia usually means any hostile action short of nuclear war—may some day develop into a more positive co-operation with our fellow human beings behind the Iron Curtain, which all of us, and I think many of them, too, are longing to see.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, may I ask him one question? He used the phrase, I think, that "our interests in the Congo are not very great".
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I did not say "our interests"; I said that our influence, our ability to persuade President Tshombe to do what we want, is not very great.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, I think I can say, on behalf of all the speakers who followed the Foreign Secretary, how grateful we are to the noble Earl for the attention he has paid to our speeches, and I would thank him personally for the answer he gave me to the question I put on the withdrawal of British and other troops from Thailand in the near future. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, reminded us that we have been accustomed for many years to have a debate on foreign affairs in this month. I think that he and I were really the originators of that regular practice. The noble Marquess was then followed by the present Foreign Secretary, before he became Foreign Secretary. The noble Marquess, and I think all Members of your Lordships' House, will agree with me that we are very fortunate now that our foreign affairs debates take place in the presence of the Foreign Secretary, who is able to come here to give us first-hand information of what has been happening. He came back yesterday from Geneva, and we have had to-day an up-to-date record on how things are proceeding on urgent problems. We are glad that we have the presence of the Foreign Secretary at these debates. I should like to say how much I enjoyed listening to his speech to-day, and how much, with one 1114 or two slight exceptions, I agree with him.
I would say a final word. I noted the remark of the noble Earl that during our Recess there might be two spots which might develop into danger spots—Berlin and the Congo. I hope very much that in neither case will this happen. I see no reason myself, despite the complexity of both problems, why they should develop into danger spots during the Recess. The Foreign Secretary has stated our case on the three points which the noble Earl mentioned, and there is agreement on both sides and, indeed, throughout the House. I hope that when we come back it will not be to a situation of gravity either in Berlin or in the Congo, but to situations which are considerably better than they are to-day. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.