§ 2.42 p.m.
§ LORD HENDERSON rose to call attention to the International Situation; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Motion which I rise to move enables a wide debate on Foreign Affairs to take place, but as I do not wish to occupy more than a reasonable amount of time, most of what I have to say will be directed to recent activities at Geneva. But before coming to that, I wish briefly to refer to other relevant matters. While East-West tensions have been somewhat eased in recent months, the state of the world is not good: there are many areas of friction and some of danger. At long last agreement has been reached on Algeria, which will end the bitter and costly war between France and the Algerians. We all welcome it. But a settled peace has yet to be achieved, because of the actions of the O.A.S., who seem bent on a last-ditch resistance to Algerian independence. In recent days, there have been incidents of armed conflict between Syria and Israel, and here one hopes that the United Nations may be able to call a halt to actions which can only add further strain to the uneasy conditions in the Middle East.
§ In the Congo, Mr. Adoula and Mr. Tshombe have been meeting, but with what results or what prospects we do not yet know. In South-East Asia, old troubles and new ones give cause for concern. There are unresolved conflicts in Laos, Vietnam and West New Guinea, aggravation of any one of which could endanger world peace. In Vietnam there has been a worsening of the situation. We have been told that the two co-Chairmen do not agree as to the facts of the situation, and that any question of recalling the Geneva Conference must wait until a report has been received from the International Control Commission.
§ In Laos there is still uncertainty, and I must say how disappointing it is that the three Princes have not yet been able to agree on the formation of a Coalition Government based on a policy of neutralism. An outbreak of fighting on a large scale would be a tragic outcome of the Conference at Geneva which has 965 been so constructive. I think we should all express appreciation of Her Majesty's Government and their delegate, Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, for the skill and patience with which these negotiations have been conducted. As regards West New Guinea, mediation and negotiation seem to have taken some of the tension out of the third South East Asia flash-point. From these Benches we fully support the efforts of the United Nations and the United States to help in finding a solution of this problem. I am wondering if an arrangement which might enable both sides to "save face" while ensuring the principle of international supervision of a territory which must be one of the most backward in the world, would not be for the Netherlands Government to bring West New Guinea under the United Nations Trustee System, and for Indonesia to be appointed administering Power. It has certain obvious advantages, and would help to ensure that the Papuan people themselves were given an outlet for their own views on their ultimate future.
§ I have referred to these international problems and danger spots in very summary form. It may be that subsequent speakers will deal with some of them at greater length. But I hope that the Foreign Secretary or the Minister of State may be able to say something about them during the course of this debate.
I think what is at the forefront of the minds of most of us to-day is what is happening at Geneva, where the all-important Conference on General Disarmament is taking place, and where discussions on nuclear tests and on Berlin have been held. It is fortunate that we have with us the Foreign Secretary, who has taken part in the Foreign Ministers' pre-Conference talks, in private talks that have taken place since, and in the plenary sessions of the Disarmament Conference. I should like to congratulate the noble Earl on the distinctive and distinguished part he has played at Geneva. I hope that what he has to say will be less pessimistic than some of the assessments I have read, as, for example, The Times special correspondent's view published last Thursday that
All the signs at Geneva indicate that East-West relations have reached a delicate and crucial point.
§ My Lords, it may be true that there is little prospect of rapid progress on any of the issues under discussion. But did any one of us expect there would be at this early stage? As some of your Lordships may remember, I have expressed the view on several occasions that if and when Soviet Russia has major concessions or compromises to make, they will be made by Mr. Khrushchev personally, and not by those he has described as "bureaucrats". That is why I consider it important that a meeting of the heads of States and of Governments should not be long delayed. I believe this is particularly true of a test ban agreement, which I regard as a most urgent measure of disarmament. I think it would be a world tragedy if failure to get agreement led to the resumption of tests by the United States and later by Soviet Russia.
§ I hold the view—and I have expressed it to your Lordships before to-day—that a test ban agreement was most likely to provide a break-through to general disarmament. I believe that such an agreement, and also an agreement not to hand over nuclear weapons to non-nuclear States, would create a far more favourable atmosphere than has existed throughout the sterile years of disarmament negotiations of the last decade or more.
§ My Lords, however much we may deplore and condemn the action of the Soviet Union in recommending nuclear tests last autumn and in scrapping all the results, the promising results, of the laborious negotiations to conclude an agreement to end all tests under international inspection, it was hardly likely that Russia would now accept the Western proposals for verification which she had resisted and rejected. It is, of course, true that methods of monitoring nuclear tests have made great advances, and that on the basis of national detection systems almost all tests, excepting those conducted underground, can be detected. But, equally clearly, the Soviet Union could hardly expect the Western Powers to accept an agreement to end all tests without any measure of international verification whatsoever. After all, we had a three-year uninspected moratorium which the Soviet Union broke without warning.
§ But even in the field of ending nuclear tests there are some encouraging signs. 967 It is a welcome decision by the Soviet Union to take part in further negotiations in the newly established subcommittee of the main Conference and also that some of the non-aligned countries are to have representatives added to the sub-committee. Then there is also much to be said for the Indian proposal that national detection systems should be supplemented by an international system operating in non-nuclear countries. With detection posts in Finland, Turkey, Afghanistan, Canada and Mexico, could we not have a high degree of accuracy in monitoring tests? This proposal, I suggest, should be very carefully examined by the nuclear Powers.
§ But, my Lords, we must all recognise that it is of the highest importance that any test ban agreement should be effective, and should be known to be effective. That is essential if world confidence in it is to be secured and retained. There can be no doubt that Western scientists are actively engaged in seeking to develop national detection procedures to the point where it will be possible to detect all underground nuclear tests, but they cannot do it yet.
§ Making full allowance for Russian susceptibilities I find it difficult to understand why they should object to a limited number of international verification teams, drawn from the non-aligned and non-nuclear nations, being stationed on Soviet territory and allowed to visit any particular site in order to be able to verify and report whether a suspected incident was, in fact, a nuclear explosion or an earthquake. If the nuclear Powers were loyal to a test ban agreement the number of such inspections should not be numerous, and the result should always be to remove any ground for suspicion that a nuclear explosion had taken place. I recognise that this suggestion differs from the sort of verification teams which the Foreign Secretary had in mind when he spoke at Geneva on March 20: he talked about mixed teams. But it might prove to be a practical compromise acceptable to the Russians, and if there were any possibility of their accepting it would it not be a grave mistake to insist on the inclusion of Western personnel? The Foreign Secretary has stated that Her Majesty's Government are ready to consider any proposals that are put forward regarding 968 verification machinery. I ask whether Her Majesty's Government will consider what I have suggested.
§ My Lords, I turn to the Geneva Conference itself, whose main purpose is to make progress on general disarmament. Surely there is now realisation among the leaders of the great Powers that failure to halt the arms race and start along the road to complete disarmament could spell destruction for the human race. It is my view that this Conference has more chance of making progress than any other disarmament negotiations in the past fifteen years of cold war struggle. It is a good thing, and we welcome it, that the great majority of nations who are neutral and unaligned are represented for the first time. Their own security and economic wellbeing are bound up with the ending of the arms race, and they will be anxious to see a start made with what the Foreign Secretary called "actual physical disarmament".
§ We all welcomed at the time the statement of common principles on disarmament agreed by the Russian and American Governments in September last. This joint statement, together with the challenging statement on disarmament published at the conclusion of the Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in March of last year, provides a yardstick by which we can judge the proposals put forward at Geneva by the great Powers. I am not going to spend time on examining and comparing the details of draft plans put before the Conference by the United States and Soviet Governments. It is for the Conference to work on them, applying itself by suitable methods to the subjects on which there is already broad agreement and to reconciling positions where divergencies continue to exist. The Conference has only recently begun its work, and it will take time to get results. As we know, a progress report has to be made to the United Nations Disarmament Commission no later than June 1, and I think that when that Report is available we may need to have a special disarmament debate in your Lordships' House. There are, however, two or three main points on which I should like to comment to-day.
§ First, we welcome Mr. Rusk's proposal that there should be a 30 per cent. cut 969 in nuclear delivery vehicles during the first stage of the disarmament plan. We on this side of the House have for a long time asked that priority should be given to the abolition of the means of delivery of nuclear weapons, and we are glad to note that both the Americans and the Russians are prepared to start cutting down on these delivery vehicles during the first stage. On the other hand, I feel that to reduce the number of men under arms only to 2.1 million during the first stage, which the Americans expect to last three years, is not going far enough. The Russians, in their first stage, ask for reduction of force levels to 1.7 million for the two great Powers, and these figures, in their plan, include civilian employees. It should surely be possible to find some middle ground between these two figures, and also to find an acceptable complete disarmament timetable between the four years proposed by the Russians and the nine years proposed by the Americans.
Secondly, my Lords, one of the points in the Zorin-McCloy statement of agreed principles was that
all measures of general and complete disarmament should be balanced so that at no stage of the implementation of the treaty could any State or group of States gain military advantage and that security is assured equally to all.
I suggest that that is a basic condition of progressive disarmament. The American proposal for reduction in the delivery system is in line with this principle. But the Russian proposal, that in the first stage there should be not only the total abolition of all the means of delivery but also the withdrawal of all forces stationed outside their national frontiers, clearly violates it. It would mean the withdrawal of all American forces to the other side of the Atlantic while the Soviet forces are not more than 500 land miles away from the dividing line in Europe. To accept this proposal would clearly disturb, and gravely disturb, the balance of military power and security.
Thirdly, I think the Foreign Secretary was absolutely right in his admirable speech of March 20 to say that inspection was the nub of the problem and to urge the search for an acceptable compromise solution. I agree that we cannot expect the Soviet Union to accept during the early stages of disarmament a total system of inspection; but I
equally agree that the Western Powers cannot possibly accept a system of inspection which is concerned only with what has been abandoned rather than with what is left. The Foreign Secretary rightly reminded the Conference that
nations wage war with weapons they possess, not with those they have destroyed.
Unless a middle course is found, it is clear that there will be no progress towards disarmament—and both sides must face up to this prospect at this Conference.
§ My Lords, we warmly welcome the Foreign Secretary's support for the principle of sample inspection instead of overall inspection. There are, of course, a number of proposals that have been put foward for sample inspection. The one that seems most likely to command acceptance is the plan known as the Sohn plan, by Which a country is divided into twenty or thirty zones. Governments would give in advance an inventory of troops, weapons and nuclear devices in each zone, and the international disarmament agency would be given the right to select one zone for sample inspection. This plan should meet the Soviet charge that international inspection means throwing their whole country open to international espionage. We must probably accept that international inspection can never be foolproof and water-tight. It must, however, give the opportunity for enough inspection to act as a deterrent to any country which might have thoughts of breaking an agreement.
Fourthly, it seems to me that the Russian draft Treaty spells out in more detail than ever before the extent of the scope of the inspection system which they would be prepared to admit. Even in Stage 1 they agree to the inspection not only of every factory but of parts of factories engaged in producing rockets, aircraft, ships, vehicles and guns capable of delivering nuclear weapons. This must cover a large proportion of their arms industry and would involve a formidable array of inspectors. Furthermore, Article 14 gives the International Disarmament Organisation the right to
… control the compliance of the States party to the Treaty
in respect of the launching of missiles and any means of delivery of nuclear weapons. I should like to ask the Foreign Secretary whether he agrees that
to control compliance implies the on-site presence of inspectors, and that this goes far beyond the previous Soviet concept of inspecting only the actual destruction and disposal of arms.
I also welcome the re-statement by the Polish Foreign Minister of the Rapacki Plan for the limitation and control of nuclear and conventional weapons and force levels in an agreed area in central Europe. The Times special correspondent wrote that
… of the statements the Conference heard to-day"—
that was last Wednesday—
none perhaps was listened to with more interest than that of the Polish Foreign Minister".
Unfortunately, the Western Powers have always adopted a negative attitude to this Plan. It has never been our view that regional disarmament and the establishment of nuclear free zones should be alternatives to general and complete disarmament; rather should they be complementary to it. We should like to see the Geneva Conference set up a special sub-committee to study the Rapacki Plan and other proposals for regional disarmament, and we should welcome a positive approach by Her Majesty's Government on this matter.
§ My Lords, there are two questions that I should like to put to the Foreign Secretary. First, does he not feel that if steps could be taken for the creation of a United Nations disarmament agency and the bringing together of experts in this field, it would not only help to create a climate for disarmament but assist in important researches that could help to lay the foundations for agreement? Secondly, has the Foreign Secretary anything to say about the way in which China and France could be brought into these negotiations? There is surely something unrealistic about the Conference discussing disarmament in the absence of two powerfully armed countries. Now that General de Gaulle has obtained a settlement with Algeria could he not be persuaded to turn his mind to the broader question of disarmament and associate himself with the efforts now being made in Geneva? I think I am right in saying that this has already been suggested by the Conference itself.972
§ As for China, is it still the case that the Americans are opposed to Chinese involvement in the disarmament negotiations? Do we expect China to adhere to any agreement which may be reached in her absence? Would it be fair to say that a disarmament agreement to which the Chinese were not committed would probably never become really effective because the United States Senate might hesitate to ratify it? Is not this matter of participation urgent in view of recent reports from India that China is expected to test her first nuclear weapons this year?
§ Finally with regard to the Disarmament Conference, I hope it is the intention of the Foreign Secretary to keep up his visits to Geneva and to continue to take an active personal part in its work as leader of the British delegation. I can assure him that we on these Benches would support his absence from your Lordships' House for such a vitally important purpose. Leaders, East and West, including the Foreign Secretary himself, have spoken about general disarmament being the most urgent and important problem of our time. We agree with that view, and we are anxious that this country's full authority and effort should be thrown into the scales on the side of positive disarmament. We want to see the plenary sessions of the Conference kept going, and special groups to which particular problems are referred to be in the nature of committee stages reporting back to plenary sessions of the Conference. The important thing is that it should be made clear to the world that genuine efforts are being made to succeed on disarmament. That, we believe, is the way to reach practical agreements.
§ Finally, my Lords, there is Berlin. The Foreign Ministers spent a good many hours discussing this problem in private. The general impression seems to be that the two sides did not come any closer together. Noble Lords may have read in the Press extracts from a speech made last week by Herr Ulbricht, the East German leader. If the proposals in that speech set the line for the private talks at Geneva, it is hardly surprising that no 'headway could be reported. Noble Lords will remember three essential interests which the West insist must 973 be preserved by any new settlement on Berlin. They relate to Western Forces remaining in West Berlin; to the freedom of the West Berliners to choose their own way of life; and to free access to Berlin. Basic to Herr Ulbricht's plan for access to Berlin is that Western Forces should be withdrawn from West Berlin and replaced by what he termed a "symbolic troop contingent of neutral States". It hardly needs saying that such a condition is unacceptable; and of that the Soviet leaders and the East German Communists are fully aware.
§ But lit is interesting to note the one new idea that was embedded in much that was very familiar to us: that is, the suggestion for the four Powers to act "as a kind of arbitration board" for safeguarding routes, and for Russia to be responsible for settling with the German Democratic Republic any disputes arising out of the use of the access routes by the Western Powers. As I say, it is an interesting idea, and it is worth exploring in the search for agreement on access to Berlin. At least, it seems to be regarded, even in West Germany, as a significant tactical departure from the East German leader's previous position. It obviously would involve some withdrawal from the old demand that East Germany should have full control over the access routes.
§ As I say, this is the only new idea that has emerged publicly in recent months with regard to the German problem. No doubt it was elucidated in the Foreign Ministers' private talks. As Herr Ulbricht has publicly ventilated his plan, perhaps the Foreign Secretary may feel himself free to comment on its proposals. We hope also that he will be able to assure us that it is intended that further probings or discussions, either at Foreign Secretary level or at Ambassadorial level, are to be continued. I would only add that it should not be overlooked that if a real step forward can be taken in the work of the general Disarmament. Conference it may ease the way to progress also in the search for an acceptable accommodation on the Berlin issue. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.15 p.m.
My Lords, I think that your Lordships would agree that it is one of the tragedies of to-day that the 974 words "international situation" automatically bring to mind such words as "anxiety", "tension", "fearfulness" and "hope with prayer". We call this world in which we live a "civilisation", but surely it is the barbarities and ignorances and mistrusts of uncivilised man which have now hideously magnified themselves from their local and paltry significance to universal significance all around us to-day. That, I think, is a sad retrogression; and the result, the international situation, is the sorry picture of uncertainty which we now see over all the world.
I think we should agree that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has once more earned our thanks for introducing, with objectivity and with great clarity, this Motion which stands in his name, and if I do not follow him into all the corners of the earth into which he has delved, particularly in regard to disarmament, which I thought he tackled in great detail and most satisfactorily, so far as we on these Benches are concerned, it is not because I do not consider his points important (for of course they are all most important), but because, in the few observations I wish to make, I should like to touch more on responsibilities than upon political strategies. The Foreign Secretary who is, I think, only temporarily absent from the Chamber, I particularly welcome to-day. We welcome him back. We are glad to have him with us. I should like to assure him, when he comes to read my few remarks, of our sincere good wishes from all sides of the House in the great tasks which confront him and which, I think we all agree, he is performing with great ability and great competence. He comes back from Geneva with particularly welcome news: a small beginning, perhaps one might call it a "little ray of sunshine"—in which I am not referring personally, of course, to the Foreign Secretary.
But, my Lords, this subject coming so soon after our debate last week on Defence, I find it rather difficult to clear my mind of the military implications, as Lord Henderson indicated, which are so closely involved in every diplomatic move. Of course, there is a great difference between to-day's debate and last week's debate. Incidentally, last week, by a majority of three to one, your Lordships' House made the rather surprising 975 decision, as I thought, that the Government's latest proposals provide an effecttive defence for Britain, notwithstanding the universal acknowledgment by all the experts that there is no effective defence at present for any country anywhere in the world. But perhaps it will be comforting to many millions of people of this country who are a little anxious about the future to know that 71 noble and Conservative Members of your Lordships' House are convinced, and have gone on record, that all will be well in the end, for the incontrovertible reason that the Government's Command Paper 1639 says so.
That was last week when, unlike today, we were involved rather with Party lines and Party policies. To-day, we are on rather less contentious ground, so it does not really matter if the various Leaders of the other two Parties continue, rather over-modestly, to protest their mental incapacity to grasp the Liberal programme. It is being grasped easily enough by the electorate. Perhaps we can leave it at that for the time being. I think somebody once said that we could "wait and see". But in Foreign Affairs, so far as my Party is concerned, the cut-and-thrust in British politics is, and must be, far less sharp. All three Parties are united in their desire for our country to take a constructive and helpful part in the buildup of a happier, more prosperous and more peaceful comity of nations; and all three Parties have shown a responsible understanding of the new necessity to abrogate in some degree—not, of course, in the same degree—the old conceptions of national sovereignty.
In home affairs—perhaps I should say, in a few home affairs—we who sit in Opposition are not sorry when the Government come a cropper over some policy which we consider to be mistaken and harmful. With good-natured glee we continue to wish them every sort of failure when we think they deserve to fail. But in Foreign Affairs our opposition is confined to criticism which, even when, as we think, deserved, is genuinely meant to be helpful; and our reproaches over their errors lie, if I may put it this way, with the family, and are never aimed at national disruption or at holding up our country to international 976 disapproval or contempt. I think this is a comparatively new and grave responsibility within our unique, and rather odd, British Party system; and I would judge that all three Parties measure up well and commendably in this loyalty which stems not only from patriotism but also from the new internationalism which inevitably—and I think rightly—lies ahead of us all, and for ever.
The main dividing line between the Party in power and the Opposition is the very obvious one between having information and not having information. In that sense, of course, the Opposition is always at a serious disadvantage and can only struggle to keep abreast of developments as they arise and to plot its course of anticipation by the more static and constant stars of general principle. By having information, I mean that the Government alone have the benefit of the large and complex machinery of Government Departments—which work so excellently well on the whole—and the Government alone can utilise the end-product of this very efficient plant. By "information" I do not mean that the Government are justified in basing their assessments and opinions, as a responsible Minister suggested last week, upon the Daily Mirror.
Accordingly, our criticisms of foreign policy, as they occur, and sincere as they are, are in some instances, of course, tentative; and as a noble Lord said from these Benches last week, we certainly do not think that the Government are always 100 per cent. wrong. That remark, I realise, referred to the defence programme, but I would apply it with even more emphasis to the Government's foreign policy, in general terms. But I was a little saddened to hear from the Labour Benches, when those words were uttered, sounds that I interpreted as disapproval, that we, as an Opposition Party, seemed to be rather letting the side down or confessing weaknesses by admitting any sort of merit whatever in the present Conservative Administration.
That brings me back to the theory of responsibility. While I do not wish to reduce this debate to a Party level, I wonder whether I may be permitted to claim that the Liberal Party, as their increasing support clearly shows (and I am not boasting or throwing my weight 977 about) are more and more representative of the normal responsible voter who is tired of unadulterated recrimination. He readily admits that both the Labour and Conservative Parties have very good points, but the only trouble is that they have too many bad ones. That view, which I share, gives to the Opposition a critical duty. A broad division of responsibility between Government and Opposition, particularly in foreign affairs, is that the Government try to give a picture of the nation to the world at large; while the Opposition try to give a picture of the nation to the Government, much as the Government may think that unnecessary, though, indeed, it is fundamental to democracy.
Apart from the maintenance of an independent national nuclear deterrent, which we on these Benches consider to be the main obstacle to building up a proper and necessary front of conventional armaments, I would, on the whole, on Foreign Affairs, give the Government possibly a G.C.E. "pass"—but only at "O" level, not at "A" level. I think they still have some shaky subjects which need a lot of revision and concentrated homework. There appears to be a latent weakness, which needs careful revision, in the subject of the United Nations. There was a recent speech by our usually admirably liberal Foreign Secretary at Berwick-on-Tweed which caused a few million gasps of apprehension throughout this country and throughout the forward-looking world. We hope that, like Suez and Cyprus, this speech may be charitably pigeon-holed. But we must remember that Berwick-on-Tweed—a charming town—enjoys perhaps a slightly baroque and unworldly atmosphere, having, if I am correct, declared war on France in the Napoleonic era, though it has not yet got around to making peace. I understand that, technically, Berwick is still at war with France, so that opinions expressed there may perhaps be taken with a grain of snuff as being internationally not quite up to date.
My Lords, after yesterday's debate on the widespread implications of the Central African question, and in view of the number of speakers in to-day's debate on world affairs in general, it is unnecessary, as well as quite impossible, to try to cover the whole field which is opened up by the Motion before us. But, generally speaking, we are not happy, and I do not 978 think the people of this country are happy—and they cannot be happy—about the glasses through which the Government see world problems. They are not rosy glasses, and one would hardly expect them to be; but we think they should be transparent glasses, because it is so much easier to see through them.
We are not clear what is the Government's attitude to various questions. What is their attitude, for example, to our old friend and Ally, France, which is now going through such agonising difficulties? There was a time when we and France together, in straits of near-desperation in 1940, very nearly became a single great European nation. What a wonderful nation that would have been if it were in existence to-day—if only Mr. Churchill's inspired and visionary plan had gone through! As for myself, as an admirer of that lovely country, with its unparalleled heritage of culture, art and beauty, I am grieved that, somehow, we seem to have drifted into the coldness of rather aloof formality, when we have basically so much in common. Of course, there are economic and political difficulties, but then there always have been.
Of course, too, the head of the French Government has a Gallic conception of national sovereignty and prestige. But he is not the first to hold such views. I feel that in the past, our Government would somehow have found the initiative and the ingenuity to overcome superficial icicles and superficial reservations, because we had a genius for doing that sort of thing. As I said a moment ago, I hope that that genius is indeed now peeping through the clouds at Geneva in the person of our Foreign Secretary. But, with that ray of hope excepted, the same sort of psychological lassitude appears to bedevil too much of our diplomatic participations in too many directions.
The noble Lord has dealt extensively with disarmament, which I suppose is the biggest question in our minds today. Then comes the question of Berlin, about which he also spoke. We know it to be undemocratic, illiberal—probably the worst of the satellite countries; but we do feel that, in our tradition, we should find some way of getting over this problem. I feel that the attitude of the people of this country is: where do we go from here?
979 Then there are less urgent matters. There is the constant difficulty of Formosa and the Chinese Nationalists, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, mentioned, we have always with us the difficult question of China. We have what is called a United Nations Organisation which as has been said before, surely means a comprehensive United Nations. It is quite unrealistic to ostracise a country of 600 million people—and, of course, with its tremendous potential for development. Nobody knows what China will he like in 20 years. What is the Government's attitude to Cuba? I do not suppose they can have very much of an attitude, but we should like to know how they would like us to think about it. What about the very important and wealthy States of South America? We are very glad to see His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, at the moment undertaking such excellent pioneering as an ambassador of a new sort of relationship. Are we going to follow that up? All this seems to me to be unclear, and I think people want to know the precise path the Government is following.
Apart from the urgent problems which are day-to-day anxieties, there are some countries to which I think we should give much more attention. I have the impression that when Burma left the British Commonwealth (I hope I am not being indiscreet) in many places there—and the noble Lord, Lord Spens will know more about this than I do—there were heart-burnings and sorrow and a deep affection for the British. In some places, I believe—and I say this quite unofficially—there was some regret that that division had to be made. Are we following up that warmth of affection for this country, my Lords? I cannot help feeling that it is being allowed rather to die, to wither. It is kept up to some extent by British industrialists who are doing good work out there, but I do not feel they are getting national backing in the way they should.
The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, also touched on Indonesia, a place which I had the honour of visiting a few years ago—and I was staggered to find what a place it was. Unless one is an expert in geography, in sociology, it is quite impossible to recognise the vast extent 980 of this country, the vast richness of it. The potentialities there are enormous. They have any amount of labour and they have clever people at the top, but since their break with Europe and the white people there has been a tremendous gap of technicians in the middle which we apparently have not sought to fill at all. There is enormous opportunity there. Again, some industrial people have taken up this opportunity to a point, but in my inquiries, which I admit were five, six or perhaps seven years ago, I was sorry to find that the answer was, "Well, as regards British material and machines, we do not take them because they never deliver on time. The price is too high and, frankly, even the quality is not as good as Japanese, German, Russian or American."
My Lords, what we seek from the Government is not so much a change of aim and objective in this country's foreign policy as a change of approach; a change from defensive conventionality towards more inspiration and more originality; a change from adapting, to to-day's world problems, old methods and prejudices to welcoming with enthusiasm the new opportunities in which national talents of all countries may develop both individually and separately, and in new groupings, rather than being suppressed and canalised into old competitions and rivalries based almost exclusively on two things—the power to buy and the power to destroy.
The world is understandably obsessed by the dominance of two great Powers with whom we as a nation cannot possibly compete either in arms or in gold. But I, for one, refuse to admit for a moment that that situation either relegates us to a position of inferiority or unimportance or, on the other hand, demands that we should try to continue a hopeless material competition which, if continued, may well lead to bankruptcy. We have our own genius of a great commercial tradition; of diplomacy, initiative, resource and dependability, quite outside the ranges of balance of power or material might. And, above all, I think we still have a national reputation for integrity.
For these reasons I am not happy that we should seem to acquiesce, almost automatically, in nearly everything that 981 comes out of Washington; and to condemn in principle, and without sufficient foresight and close examination, everything that comes out of Moscow. Surely, our aim is neither the domination of the Western Powers as such nor the obliteration of the Communist Powers. Is it not that democratic ideals and philosophy should be allowed to flourish and prosper, unencumbered either by power politics or by hostile ideologies? For this reason, and in furtherance of this aim, we must wake up to and accept the new groupings which are arising under the surface of the old conventional moves and counter-moves. These groupings will increasingly spill over the old borders of class, of nationality, of religion and of geography, and I think it is for us to seize upon the opportunity for a contribution which we and all other nations can give, according to our particular talents, cultures and traditions.
The European Common Market is, I suggest, only one manifestation of what is coming. We must be ready for similar regional groupings in other parts of the world, politically, commercially, and intellectually. For it is this new uprising of more internationalism and more cooperation, and of less contraction into limited sovereignty, that will give this great country of ours a magnificent opportunity to prove once again its undoubted potentiality and value.
§ 3.35 p.m.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF HOME)
My Lords, this debate has been opened by two speeches, one from the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and the other from the noble Lord, Lord Rea, representing the Socialist and the Liberal Parties. The House always expects, and always gets, from Lord Henderson one of those very thoughtful reviews of international, affairs which help us in our deliberations; and to-day has been no exception. I am grateful to him for the way in which he has approached these most difficult and challenging problems with which our country is faced. During the course of what I say, I shall answer many of the points which the noble Lord raised in his speech.
We have had from the noble Lord, Lord Rea, a speech which was, perhaps, slightly aloof and detached from some 982 of the bigger aspects of world affairs; and he was very solicitous for the Conservative Government of to-day. I do not grudge him one little passage of rather pleasantly patronising post-Orpington optimism, but I should like to say to him that the result of the Orpington by-election arrived just in time for me to say to Mr. Gromyko that I hoped that the Liberals would do well in the Russian elections. The noble Lord referred to Berwick-onTweed—and I could engage in a long debate on the part which Berwick-on-Tweed has played in the national history of this country; and the part which it played, indeed, in the rivalry between Scotland and England, and between Britain and the Continent. But I will be content to-day to say to Lord Rea that Berwick-on-Tweed once elected a Liberal, although I assure him that it has completely and permanently recovered.
My Lords, in this debate I think the functions of the Government spokesmen have to be to some extent divided. I will, if I may, leave to my noble friend Lord Dundee the problems of Algeria, of Laos and of Indonesia, and other problems which have been raised by both noble Lords. I will concentrate, as I think the House would wish me to do, upon what has happened at Geneva during the last fortnight. That has been made easier because I was requested to do so by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson; and the noble Lord, Lord Rea, of course, says that disarmament is one of the biggest problems with which this country and the world is faced. Therefore, I intend to deal with the questions of the possibility of a nuclear test ban; the possibility of arriving at a general agreement on disarmament, and with the problems raised by Berlin. There are other matters which engage the attention of a Foreign Secretary, but I am sure that if we could solve those problems that I have listed, then the world would be a happier place, and men would be able to go about their daily business with much more comfort in their minds than they do to-day.
The word "principle" is very much overworked, but I think that one principle is valid in respect of disarmament, whether it is applied to nuclear tests or to more general disarmament. That is 983 that, whether arms are to remain at a high level or whether they are to be reduced progressively to lower and lower levels, the balance of strength and power in the world should not be significantly changed. My Lords, the world as it is may be a precarious place in which to live, but the point of absolute danger would be reached if one side or the other were to gain a decisive advantage in the arena of nuclear power. I will begin, then, with the nuclear test ban, and the prospects for such a treaty.
The latest statement, as your Lordships are aware, is that which was made by the President of the United States on March 2, when he said, with great reluctance, that unless a satisfactory nuclear ban treaty was concluded within the next few weeks, the West must resume testing. Why did the President say that, and why did the Prime Minister of this country concur? I think the reasons are now widely understood in this country. They are these. From the last massive series of tests which the Russians carried out they gained most valuable military knowledge. Mr. Khrushchev has boasted that the Russians have a weapon, a rocket, which comes in at the window when it is expected to come in at the door. That may be an electioneering way of saying that the offensive weapon is on top. So far as we know, the balance of power has not been transferred to the Soviet Union by reason of the last series of tests which they have conducted. The Soviet Minister of Defence said only the other day that, for the purposes of argument, he would be willing to assume that at this present time the two sides, East and West, are comparatively equal.
But, my Lords, the point is this: if the Russians had another series of tests while the West forebore to test, or if the West were to sign a nuclear test ban treaty which it was possible for the Soviet Union to evade, then the balance of power might well be reversed. Although there is great concern in the West, and although there is great concern at Geneva among the neutral countries who are at the Disarmament Conference—and, indeed, further afield—that the West may find it necessary to resume testing, yet nobody could 984 sleep peacefully in his bed for a night if the balance of power were changed and this blackmailing and offensive power transferred into Communist hands. I think there is a sober realisation of that now in the Geneva Conference, and, indeed, further afield.
For this reason, my Lords, Mr. Rusk and I, at Geneva, decided that we would make a supreme effort to try to achieve a nuclear test ban at this time, when the balance of power is approximately equal and before both Russia and the United States use their resources on a mountainous scale to achieve either more lethal weapons or the anti-missile missile. Your Lordships, I think, know that after three years of the most patient negotiation—and, indeed, until September last—a test ban treaty was actually in sight. I think it is worth reminding your Lordships, if I may, how that agreement—an agreement on seventeen clauses, I believe it was, and endless schedules—was arrived at.
That agreement was based on, and stemmed from, the joint recommendations of the scientists of eight nations. Now, my Lords, who were they? They were Poland, Roumania, Russia and Czechoslovakia, Britain, France, Canada and the United States. Those scientists agreed both on the principle of inspection and on the nature of machinery for inspection; and the report of those scientists from both East and West was adopted and agreed by the Governments of the United States, of the United Kingdom and of Russia. Therefore, my Lords, until September last the Russian Government had approved the principle of inspection. Indeed, they had gone further: they had conducted negotiations for eighteen months on the actual practice of inspection within the Soviet Union.
So, my Lords, the Conference on the nuclear test ban did not founder on the principle of inspection—not at all. It broke down on the number of control posts, where the difference was between twenty proposed by the West and fifteen asked for by the Russians, and upon the number of persons who should actually be in those control posts, whether in each case it should be thirty or whether it should be ten. My Lords, we do not want inspection for its own sake in this 985 field of nuclear tests: but we do want the minimum which is required to build up confidence, because without confidence there will not be any test ban treaty.
My Lords, what, therefore, are the minimum conditions? I think they are these: first, that countries should be able to tell when an explosion occurs in the territory of another—that is the problem of detection and location; secondly, once there has been a noise detected but unexplained, there should be the right to check it for what it actually and really was—in other words, verification to tell whether an explosion was a nuclear explosion or whether it was an earthquake. As I shall say to your Lordships in a moment, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to tell at the moment, in certain geological formations, whether an event is, in fact, an earthquake or an explosion. But, without the ability to detect, neither side will have confidence in the other; and without the right to verify, the way is clearly open for evasion—and this is a matter in which no country responsible for its nation's security can take a risk.
Therefore, I should like to say a word to your Lordships about both the problem of detection and the problem of verification, and about the attitude of the United Kingdom Government, to make it crystal clear, if I have not already done so in speeches at Geneva. So far as detection is concerned, we will accept any system which our scientific advisers assure is is adequate. There has been much consideration of the matter to which the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, referred: of whether what are called national systems—that is stations situated outside the Soviet Union—would be sufficient in all cases to detect; and there have been suggestions that this is so. I should like to clear up any uncertainty. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said that, as he understood it, it was impossible to-day to say that these national detection systems would detect any noise that happened inside the Soviet Union. That is our up-to-date advice. Whatever may happen in three or four years—and, undoubtedly, the scientists are making considerable advances in this respect—at present there is no scientific basis for saying that one can rely solely on detection 986 systems outside the Soviet Union. My Lords, you cannot tell. As I understand it from our scientists—and they are very good in this field—there is no way at present of being certain whether a noise is an explosion or an earthquake.
Now it may be that instruments will be improved. At present the Russians challenge our scientists. They say that it is possible to be certain, to detect all noises, and to identify them as between earthquakes and explosions. I said to Mr. Gromyko in Geneva: "If that is so, Will you please allow your scientists to come and talk to ours, and will you please allow them to bring their instruments with them?" My Lords, I am bound to tell your Lordships that I made that proposal and that there was no response. I repeated it, and it was refused. If Mr. Gromyko had been able to accept it I think it would have been something which would have made a very real advance, and might have enabled us to employ the national detection system; but without their co-operation it is very, very difficult.
But, my Lords, there is a simpler point still. With the best instrumentation in the world, I am afraid there will be disputes about facts. There will be explosions about which there will be doubts. There will be explosions for other purposes which some may believe will be of military importance. What happens if there is a noise in Russia which we, or the United States, think is a test and the Russians say that it is not, or vice versa? Who is to decide? If there is no impartial body to judge, then the side which is in doubt will have no option but to resume testing, and in fact you will not have a test ban agreement which is worth while.
This dispute about facts is not, I am afraid, academic. When I arrived in Geneva, the Russians were dropping metal chaff in the corridors. It was dropped by six Russian bombers from 10,000 feet and the corridors were full of metal chaff for four to six hours. I told Mr. Gromyko of this. He looked me straight in the eye and said that this did not happen at all. My Lords, this did happen. I could produce many, many witnesses to prove that it happened. This is a very serious conflict of opinion on fact. In the absence of a verification 987 system in the context of nuclear tests, what is to prevent the Russian Government from looking us straight in the eye and saying exactly the same thing? My Lords, face to face with this recent experience, the Russians can hardly blame their neighbours if they want proof that what they say they will do is actually done. And what can I do, my Lords, except come to Parliament and advise that we should insist on the minimum of effective verification? At the present moment I do not see how I can do anything else, although, of course, if the scientists gave us a different foundation for action, I should welcome it wholeheartedly.
My Lords, I went further. In an attempt to discover from the Russians what would be the absolute minimum of verification, I asked Mr. Gromyko some questions. Would he accept a team of neutrals, plus others, to verify unexplained events? On this point the International Disarmament Organisation, to which I shall come in the field of general disarmament, is, of course, a United Nations body. The United Nations consists of a number of member nations, and therefore ideally an international team should consist of representatives from those different nations, to be chosen by the Secretary General. Therefore, that was the first question I asked him, to accept a team of neutrals plus others; and the answer was, No. I then asked him: would he have a team consisting of nothing but neutrals, although they must be qualified as inspectors of this kind of event? And the answer was a still more emphatic, No. Indeed, Mr. Gromyko summed up this part of our conversation by saying that he would accept no control, no verification, and no espionage.
My Lords, I do not give up hope; we must go on trying. But I am bound to say that I can see no logic in the Russian view, in view of the fact that they conducted negotiations for two years which were based on the principle of inspection, and indeed on the practice of inspection. The charge of espionage cannot be supported. At risk of wearying your Lordships, I feel I must tell your Lordships what this proposal of minimal inspection on the 1961 plan would involve. There would be 180 988 control posts in the whole world, and 20, or perhaps fewer than 20, in the Soviet Union. The staffs would all be known to the Soviet authorities. Apart from that, there would be Soviet technicians and administrators with them, and as many observers in each control post as the Soviet Government required.
So far as the mobile units are concerned, which would be based upon Vienna and would be an organ of the United Nations, they would rarely have to visit any area in Russia other than the seismic areas in the East and the North-East, and these areas are rather less than one-tenth of the whole Soviet Union. Teams could go into those areas only if events had been located by objective scientific criteria within a limited area; and this was actually Mr. Khrushchev's own suggestion a year, or a little more than a year, ago. I do not think that by any stretch of the imagination could this inspection machinery really be called a device for espionage. Now time is running out, and we will try at Geneva, and we will try in our contacts with Moscow, to see if we cannot, even yet, get an arrangement for a nuclear test ban. But I must leave Parliament to judge who is to blame if we have not got one up to now. My Lords, I do shrink from the prospect of testing, but I do not shrink from the judgment of honest men.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, may I just ask the noble Earl one question? Is he now satisfied that twenty units is the absolute minimum that is necessary to carry out this plan?
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, twenty was the proposal which we made in the last edition of our draft treaty on the test ban, but we were perfectly willing to consider with the Russians whether it might not be fewer. But now the answer is that there should be none at all.
It so happens that the conversations on the test ban treaty coincided with the meeting of the Geneva Conference which was called together for the purpose of general disarmament. Here I can give a rather more optimistic report, although anybody who displays optimism after thirty years in the field of disarmament conversations probably 989 qualifies for a lunatic asylum. Nevertheless, I feel a little more hopeful in this wider field. The Conference has opened in an atmosphere of sober realism; and although some of the speeches of the satellites make one feel as though one were in a gramophone record shop, nevertheless I hope one will recover from that. Because the Conference has done certain things which are positive and useful.
We have been able to agree upon our procedures; and the Conference has accepted that its task is to write down on paper a practical programme of complete disarmament from start to finish. It has accepted that task. It has before it a Russian draft treaty worked out in great detail—I must give the Russians credit for that—and the United States has laid on the table the latest version of what I might call the Western plan. I will put in the Library of Parliament, if I may, Mr. Rusk's speech of yesterday, because I do not believe that there has been a more important statement made by the representative of a great Power than Mr. Rusk's programme for positive disarmament, which was laid before the Conference yesterday. Therefore, our task in Geneva will be to compare the Russian draft treaty with the United Stales plan, to select those portions which agree with each other and to reconcile those which do not, and, in the result, to produce a master plan, adopted by and sponsored by the Conference itself.
I should like to remind your Lordships of the principle which must govern general disarmament: that is, that the balance of strength must be broadly maintained at every stage of disarmament. If the Russian plan, as it is at present presented, is subjected to this test, then it fails, and it fails for the reason given by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson: that at the first stage—and it is a very short stage; fifteen months—both nuclear delivery vehicles and bases overseas have to be eliminated and destroyed, but, at the same time, Russia is left with very large conventional armies. I need not elaborate what this would mean, because the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has already said what it would mean. To the West, it would mean that while Russia had very large armies in a central position, very well placed, the United States, Canadian and 990 British troops would have to come out of Europe, the deterrent would be eliminated and the NATO Alliance thereby would be bare and scattered, while the conventional Soviet forces would be concentrated in large numbers with conventional arms.
Often we are apt to think and talk, quite naturally, of a confrontation between the alliances of East and West—the Warsaw Pact and the, NATO Alliance—but that is not the only conception that we have to bear in mind. For instance, in a disarmed world in which Russia is left with comparatively large forces, how do we secure the safety of the smaller countries on the periphery of Russia? It not only a problem between the great Powers; the smaller Powers are very much concerned. And the conclusion we have drawn—and I think it is a valid one—is that the best way to preserve a balance of strength, although always at lower and lower levels, both in the alliances and in respect of those countries in their relations with each other, is to have a series of cuts in arms right across the board rather than in one category at one fell swoop. Therefore, the objective which we have in mind, which I think comes clearly out of Mr. Rusk's very detailed programme yesterday, and for which we should work at Geneva, is for cuts right across the armaments board with a view to taking the offensive capacity out of national armies.
Yesterday, I suggested at the Conference an approach which might have some appeal and which again was hinted at in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. The Russian plan covers disarmament in four years. The United States plan covers it in nine years. What should Conference do? I suggested that it should aim at a continuous programme of the destruction of arms within a practical time limit, with periodic checks to make sure that the arms destroyed are not replaced.
I think very often that we are prisoners of words. The American plan proposes that at this stage we should have a 30 per cent. cut. The Russians are afraid that the process of disarmament will stop at stage one and will not proceed. The problem, therefore, is how to proceed from nought per cent. to 100 per cent. through the American 30 per cent., and so on to the 50 per cent. and 70 per cent., until we get the 991 programme complete. Analogies are always rather dangerous but perhaps the analogy here is of a relay race, in which every lap is checked in but immediately the succeeding lap begins.
In the field of general disarmament we may be again up against the problem of verification as we are up against it in the field of nuclear tests. As I understand it, the Russians agree that the arms which are selected in any stage to be destroyed should be inspected. The rest of us are concerned—and I think properly concerned—that the arms which are destroyed should not be replaced from the factory. Both the Russian and the United States plans propose that there should be an international disarmament organisation which would be responsible for seeing that disarmament is completed and conducted in an orderly way, and much will depend on when this international disarmament organisation comes into the picture.
As I understand the Russian plan at present, the international disarmament organisation comes into the picture only either when the whole disarmament plan has been completed or when one category of weapons has been completely destroyed. If the international disarmament organisation can be brought into the factory at an early time, so as to supervise the transition from arms production to civil production, that would be an enormous contribution to the solution of this problem. And if we could add to that what the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said appealed to him, the sample inspection—that is, inspection by zones, in which a country is divided up into a number of squares, one or two of which are selected each year for inspection and which, after they have been inspected, are assumed to be typical of the whole—if we had an international disarmament organisation in the factory and inspection by zones, then we have a system which I think that we could really say goes so far as it is possible to go to prevent evasion of a disarmament plan which has been accepted and approved.
And if we could do that, then we could get the confidence on which general disarmament could proceed. The United Kingdom is prepared to adopt any comprehensive plan within the principles 992 agreed by the United States and the Soviet Union and within the principles announced by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said, always bearing in mind the two main principles in both expositions: that the balance of power should not be disturbed and that inspection and disarmament are inseparable.
There are a series of other matters which are complementary to disarmament and we have decided to take these while the Conference on the main subject is in progress, because we believe that if agreement could be reached between West and East on these problems, it would create an atmosphere in which a general disarmament Conference would be much more likely to come to a successful conclusion. I will only list them for your Lordships this afternoon; otherwise I should take much too long. There is the problem of outer space, the schemes to prevent surprise attack, the non-dissemination of nuclear weapons to other countries and the declaration by other countries that they do not wish either to manufacture or to receive them, the possibility of an agreed transfer of fissile material to an international authority (an offer already made by the United States—this is of tremendous importance); germ warfare, and the possibility of declarations of non-aggression between the NATO alliance and the Warsaw Pact Powers. We are going to work our hardest in the Committee of the whole Conference to see whether these measures can be adopted, because we think that they would help in the general field of disarmament a great deal.
Incidentally, if—and I am not committing myself now—a Summit meeting were required, these suggestions could provide the occasion for it, because it would enable the Heads of Governments to have something constructive to do; and if the Heads of Governments must meet, I am anxious that they should do something constructive when they come together. It is, as I say, almost foolish to express any optimism, and I cannot yet answer for the Russians whether they really want disarmament or not. It may be all an act. But we must give them the benefit of the doubt; and if they do want disarmament, then the latest addition of the Western plan, 993 coupled wth the Russian draft treaty, provides an opportunity in which we should begin the physical process of the destruction of armaments, and begin it soon.
I do not often trouble your Lordships and I am going to detain you for a few moments longer in order to deal with the problem of Berlin. When I arrived in Geneva there was the problem facing us of the Berlin corridors in which the Russians had dropped this metal chaff. I thought it necessary to talk very sternly to Mr. Gromyko on this, because it was in a different category from any other harassment the Russians have yet chosen to do. I told Mr. Gromyko that the last time this was done was by the Russians and ourselves against the Germans in the war; that this was something you did to an enemy, and not a friend; that if our planes had crashed as a result of this Soviet action in the corridors they might as well have been shot down by the guns in the corridors; that this kind of harassing must stop, and that I relied on Mr. Gromyko to stop it. I regretted having to talk in this way, but it seemed to me it was inconceivable that this sort of practice should be maintained and that we could go to Geneva and negotiate in good faith on disarmament. Mr. Gromyko, as I have said, denied this incident; but I noticed that the practice was stopped.
Other harassing annoyances proceeded. The Soviet have been tabling military flights so that they are designed to coincide exactly in time and height with advertised civilian flights by the Allies through the corridors. If this was not so dangerous, it would be childish. I hope that these activities will cease, because we want to talk the substance of a settlement with the Russians over Berlin. I am glad to say that I was able to have useful talks with Herr Schroeder in Geneva, and there were many talks between Mr. Gromyko and myself, between Mr. Rusk and Mr. Gromyko and between the three of us together. If your Lordships consult the pages of Punch you will see how these things are conducted. But they are not entirely humorous, because these continuous hours of frank talk in that way, which I think have never been managed before with statesmen of the Soviet Union, are useful. You cannot keep up propaganda for 994 more than a certain time, and at a point in the talks propaganda is dropped and you get down to the serious talk on the merits of the proposition.
In New York we had had some success in convincing Mr. Gromyko that Berlin was dangerous and that much the best solution would be to sign a treaty between the four Powers responsible for the city without handing over the fortunes of West Berlin to the whims of Mr. Ulbricht. At Geneva we had some success, I think, in persuading Mr. Gromyko that he must not try to use the settlement between the four Powers as a device for whittling away the essential conditions about West Berlin which I have mentioned time and again to your Lordships: that the people should have a life of their own choice; that so long as they want Allied troops in the city they should be there as their guarantors; and that there should be complete freedom of movement, with no interference in and out of the city. We want to try to convince Mr. Gromyko and the Russian Government (and I think we made perhaps a little progress) that such a settlement would be genuine; that it would not mean that we should try to either menace the Soviet Union or use the city of West Berlin as a springboard for hostile action; that there was no desire to infringe the authority of the D.D.R. in the area they manage, and, indeed, that an international access authority was quite compatible with the authority of the D.D.R. Government; and that, provided these necessities and intentions are accepted, it should not be difficult to reach a settlement which respected the rights and recognised the interests both of East and West.
We told Mr. Gromyko that we should like a settlement which was a settlement in perpetuity; but that if that was impossible, then we should like a modus vivendi; because we have to learn to live with the Berlin problem without the crises of the last three and a half years. If we could do that, we told him, and come to an arrangement over Berlin, it would make it so much easier to come to many wider agreements with the Soviet Union on other matters which would contribute to a lessening of tension and the better prospects of peace and coexistence between us.
I agree with everything the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said on the problem of 995 Berlin, but I would advise caution in two respects. The East German proposal for an access authority to arbitrate about matters in dispute in the corridors deserves careful study. I would not dismiss any proposal that is made. But as it is, it is conditional upon the withdrawal of the Allied troops from Berlin. It has no power of enforcement of its own, and its activities are subject to the whims of the D.D.R. The West have proposed an international access authority for the corridors, and I think it is right that such an authority must have clearly defined powers. The second word of caution is this: that the harassing really must cease, because if you want an atmosphere of calm negotiation, continual harassing in the corridors does not contribute towards it.
If I had to make a balance sheet of the Geneva discussions over Berlin, I would say that from these continuous discussions—which we must study with the greatest care, because there may be within them new ideas that we can adopt and from which we may arrive at a settlement—there is a just perceptible gain. Therefore, my general reflections, I think, after hour after hour and day after day going round and round in conversation on these matters, which in (normal conversation one would hope would be settled in a matter of weeks, are something like this: that the conversations were not wasted, because they have been serious; they have been punctuated by humour and the temper was good.
The Russians do not want war; but they want peace on Communist terms. They say that they want co-existence; but they want their own interpretation of co-existence. I suppose we must accept this tension, and, indeed, tension may be part of our human condition: it may be a pre-condition of progress, and that without tension we stagnate. But it is neither wise nor good when great nations artificially stimulate, for political or ideological reasons, tensions which are, in any case, natural to life. It is dangerous for those nations who promote the tension, because it can boomerang on themselves. It is possible—and we have learnt this over the last few months—to co-exist and to co-operate.
996 The noble Lord mentioned the problems of Laos. I must say here and now that although Russia and China were gravely at fault at the beginning, it is not the fault of the Russians, nor the fault of the Americans and ourselves if we do not get a settlement in Laos. Working together for the last few months, we have gained confidence in each other in this respect, and if the Laotian Princes would come to an agreement, then the future of Laos, and a neutral Laos, would be secured, and co-existence in this field of activities would have been made a reality.
But it is not true co-existence to negotiate over Berlin and then to provoke action in the Corridor. Nor is it true co-existence to negotiate for years over a nuclear test ban and principle of inspection and then, without warning, to scrap it all in favour of the greatest series of tests the world has ever seen. These issues of Berlin and of tests and disarmament bring us in some respects very near the point of no return with the Communist world. They are at the heart of the East-West conflict, and they are very near the problems of survival of the Western World. Therefore, it is enormously important that the decisions which we take should be right, and the agreements which we make are agreements which will stick. If we could turn the curve of armaments downwards, as the graph of armaments turned downwards the spirits and hopes of man would rise.
Therefore, I will go back to Geneva whenever it is useful to do so, although we have the most competent team there. Nobody in the world knows more about I disarmament now, or is more devoted to achieve it, than Sir Michael Wright. Mr. Godber, the Minister of State, will, of course, conduct the discussions well, but I should like to enlist the support of Parliament and, through Parliament, the people, to fashion a policy which the noble Lord, Lord Rea, has justly reminded us in this respect, in the field of Foreign Affairs, should have the unanimous support of the nation.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ LORD ROBERTSON OF OAKRIDGE
My Lords, I should like to start by making a remark which will not, I hope, be regarded as impertinent or cheeky coming from a "new boy." It is a remark 997 with which certainly not everybody would agree, even among your Lordships. It is this. Sitting here on the Cross-Benches and listening to the speech of the noble Earl, the Foreign Secretary, listening to the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and especially that of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, I cannot help reflecting what a sensible arrangement it is—indeed, what a wise arrangement it is—that our Foreign Secretary sits in the Upper House of Parliament. In the first place, surely it must be right that such a busy man, carrying such a load should be insulated, as far as is reasonably possible, from the hurly-burly of Party politics; and, secondly, here in your Lordships' Chamber one hears foreign affairs discussed with an objectivity and impartiality which must be very difficult in another place, where Party politics necessarily dominate the scene. I hope that is not regarded as impertinent and that it will not bring down on my defenceless head the awful wrath of the Observer. Anyway, I have said it.
As regards disarmament, the noble Earl has brought back his report to this House, and therefore, through it, to the nation. It has not been an entirely pessimistic report, but he has said that there is no concrete progress yet. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has said that he is not surprised at that. I am not surprised, though for a somewhat different reason. For two frustrating years I sat as a very junior member of the United Kingdom Delegation to the Disarmament Conference in Geneva, under the chairmanship of the father of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. That is true of a number of noble Lords sitting round me at this moment. The lesson that I learnt—and I believe they would agree with me—is that the attainment of real progress in the direction of disarmament is not likely, not probable, save when certain basic political decisions have been taken to establish the necessary atmosphere of concord and trust which is an essential preliminary. In those days the problem with which we were dealing was not the technical problem of how to disarm, but the problem of Germany, what her future status was to be, and her role in Europe. Until that had been solved discussions which went on in the sort of Committees I attended were a waste of time.
998 Is there not perhaps a pretty close analogy now? The same problem in a different guise is really dominating the scene, and I believe that until progress is made on that front, on the very crucial question of Berlin, it is unlikely that there will be marked progress on the disarmament front. It is often said that if nations would agree to throw away their arms there would be no war, and that that is the way to get peace. I personally think that that is a fallacy, and that peace must come first and then the technicalities of disarmament and the military considerations will fall into place quite easily. Of course, any nation, one would think, would be mad to reject a ban on nuclear tests. And yet the Foreign Secretary has to tell us that the Soviet are making difficulties, to say the least of it, about adequate inspection. They say that national inspection should be sufficient. We do not think so. The question which they do not answer is: why do they object to a reasonable measure of inspection? Why all this nonsense about espionage, which neither they nor anybody else believe? The answer is, of course, that they object because they know very well they have something to conceal. That is the fact, and it seems a pity that that fact does not penetrate, for example, the minds of those boring people who will lie about our streets and create unnecessary work for our over-worked and over-patient police forces.
There is another point about inspection to which the Foreign Secretary has referred. Verification will be needed, not only for a ban on atomic tests, but also on certain aspects of disarmament. The Russians tell us that we can come and look at a bonfire of the weapons being destroyed. Of course, that is not nearly enough for many aspects of disarmament, and that is why I personally hope that Her Majesty's Government will stand absolutely pat on this question of minimum verification, and never yield on that point.
The Foreign Secretary was able to tell us that possibly there was a glint coming through the clouds on the subject of Berlin. I think it is clear that the Russians will not sign a proper agreement on Berlin unless they really want one. That is true of ourselves, of course. 999 They will not sign an agreement on Berlin just to please us or the Americans, or even the Germans. They have certain reasons of their own, no doubt connected with their pre-occupations in Eastern Germany, which would make it convenient to them to have a settlement on Berlin, but I believe they will be very loth to give up the advantageous position they enjoy there so long as they think that they can push us around in Berlin just as they please without getting any sharp reaction. We have been hearing from the Foreign Secretary of some of the things they are doing, and so long as they think they can push us around without a sharp reaction they will be reluctant to give up that nice position.
While reflecting on that, I should like to suggest that the criticisms which seem to be pretty current just now of the tough American attitude in Berlin should be tempered with this thought. In particular, I venture to express a doubt as to whether personal attacks on General Clay in Berlin are really very wise. General Clay is not just a retired general—that is a term of opprobrium to which I am fairly allergic myself—but is, as a matter of fact, the personally chosen, personally trusted representative of the President of the United States. He is also a very considerable figure in the American business world and has even been accorded that strange American tribute of a ticker-tape welcome through the streets of New York. Therefore, I should like to suggest that one should be careful about this. It is not usual to hear or to read of sharp attacks on the accredited representatives of foreign Powers, especially of a friendly Power.
If there is to be an agreement on Berlin, not only must everybody want it but they must want it badly enough to make some pretty big concessions. As I said when I last had the honour of addressing your Lordships, this is no time to be discussing the concessions we might make, but it is certainly the time to be finding out whether the Soviets are prepared to make those very important concessions which will be necessary to fulfil the conditions, to which the Foreign Secretary has referred, concerning the freedom of Berlin and its communications and our right to have some troops there. I agree 1000 very much with the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, as I expect the Foreign Secretary does too, that these concessions will be forthcoming only at Summit level. I think that such concessions are seldom made by any nation in an open conference. They are made only in direct heart to heart talks between men who are endowed with the fullest responsibility to speak on behalf of their nation.
In our case, of course, that can be the Foreign Secretary; and, in fact, being so immersed in the whole thing, he is probably better equipped for dealing with the matter than anybody else at any level. But it is not the way the Russians work and I do not think we shall get an agreement below Summit level. So when the question of a Summit comes up, I personally join with the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, in hoping that it will be very seriously considered. May I venture to say that five years of negotiating with the Russians brought me to the conclusion that they do not like their invitations to meetings to be turned down. It makes them suspicious and generally makes their behaviour worse, which complicates the whole situation still further.
It is said, of course, that at a Summit meeting there is an opportunity for propaganda. But is propaganda really so frightening even when accompanied by a shoe tattoo? Or it may be said that failure at the Summit makes matters more serious than they were before. But does it really, I wonder? Or does it merely show up the seriousness of the situation, which is perhaps not such a bad thing? Those are the thoughts which I felt I should present to your Lordships this afternoon, and, just to sum up, they are these. I venture to express doubts whether there will be real progress on the disarmament front until some basic political agreements have been reached on the German problem, particularly on the problem of Berlin; I do not think that the necessary concessions on Berlin will be made save at a Summit in spite of its inconveniences; and I feel that the role of this country is so to steer things that the Soviet come to the Summit prepared to make those necessary concessions and that our Allies also arrive in a flexible frame of mind. Among our Allies I certainly 1001 include France, though I know the difficulties. However, I do not think that anybody can accuse President de Gaulle of being completely inflexible after his great success in achieving agreement over Algeria. These are very difficult matters, of course, and very critical, but I personally—and I think here I share the opinion of all your Lordships—am very happy to think that these difficult and critical matters are being handled by a man so wise and so strong as our present Foreign Secretary and I wish him all success.
§ 4.36 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MONTGOMERY OF ALAMEIN
My Lords, I think that the noble Lord who was due to speak before me is not here, so I will take his place. It always seems to me that the two most important debates in your Lordships' House are those connected with Foreign Affairs and with Defence. A viable Defence policy must be within a sound political framework, and therefore the two fields of Foreign Affairs and Defence are interdependent; and it is from that viewpoint that I should like to speak to-day.
I listened with very great interest to the remarks of the Foreign Secretary, and I would give it as my opinion that he is the best Foreign Secretary we have had for years—whether that, coming from a soldier, is any comfort to him I do not know. But I will say this: that we Service Chiefs know very well that the higher direction of war and Defence policy in peace must be in political hands. But I would also say that we often find it very difficult, very difficult indeed, to get from our political masters a clear-cut statement of the political objective, of the aim on which the foreign policy of the Government is based. Without a clear, long-term aim it is difficult, I might say almost impossible, for Service Chiefs to make to the Government firm recommendations of the size and shape of the Armed Forces—recommendations, that is, which are to be of any value.
Let me give your Lordships an example in war time. During the late war, when it was clear that the Allies were going to win—which I reckoned would be in 1943, when we had knocked Italy out of the war and had opened the 1002 Mediterranean for our shipping—I asked a Minister who was visiting me what was our object. He replied, "To win the war". I did not accept that. My argument was that at that time the winning of the war could be taken as settled. But my attitude was: what was the good of winning a war unless we finished in such a posture that we were well placed to win the ensuing peace? Until that happened, nothing much could be done, since in war, unless there is a very close marriage between political policy and military strategy, that war becomes merely a matter of useless slaughter; and that is going to be more so in a nuclear age.
A nation goes to war for political purposes; and political considerations become paramount when it is clear that you are going to win. It really is the Clausewitz doctrine in reverse. He said, "After peace comes war." We would say, "Yes, we see that. But do not forget that after war comes peace." In Hitler's war we failed in that respect. We won all right but we lost it politically, vis-à-vis the Russians. We knew that they were going to be the big problem in the post-war years; we knew very well that Stalin was determined to fasten his grip firmly and ever more firmly on Eastern Europe, and we practically invited him to do so. So far as I am aware, no political directive was ever issued to General Eisenhower, prior to the Normandy landings in June, 1944, nor at any time afterwards. The outcome was left to the Generals, who were given no political guidance; and the result can be seen in all the problems and turbulence of post-war Europe since the Russians walked out of the Allied Control Council in Berlin at the end of 1947.
Let me give you one more example, this time from peace. When the Suez operation was being teed up I was in Paris and in close touch with the French Chiefs of Staff. The Prime Minister of the day asked me if I would come over here and see him, which I did; we had some conversation, and after that I said to him, "Will you tell me what is your abject? What are you trying to do?" And he replied, "To knock Nasser of his perch". I said that if I were his military adviser—and I made it very clear that I was not—that object would not do. I 1003 should need to know what was the political object when Nasser had been knocked off his perch, had been "hit for six", because it was that which would determine how the operation was best carried out, what was the best disposition for our Forces, and so on. In my judgment, it was the uncertainty about the political object of our leaders which bedevilled the Suez operation from the beginning. So you can see the very great need of the Service chief to know exactly what is in the mind of his political masters and to-day I would plead their cause very greatly.
I would add that we Service chiefs know very well the terrific problems which face a Foreign Secretary in this respect, especially when he is handed the sort of political "dog's breakfast" of the post-war years. We know that the path of public duty is rugged and strewn with rocks. We know that the right course is not always clear. The Foreign Secretary may often have to compromise. How to keep the ship of State on its true course in the murky seas of world politics: that is his great problem. In the Foreign Affairs debate in your Lordships' House in October last, I said as follows [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 233 (No. 122), col. 359]:The basic trouble is the suspicion and mistrust which each side"—East and West—has towards the other, and until that suspicion and mistrust can be lessened and finally removed …—it will be difficult to discuss Berlin or disarmament, at Geneva or anywhere else, nuclear or otherwise. That looks like happening; and I agree very much indeed with what my noble friend, Lord Robertson of Oakridge has just said on that matter.
Where does the trouble lie? Sir Winston Churchill once said to me:If you want to look forward you must first look at the past and learn from history".In fact, if you want to plan the future you must know the past. Everybody knows that the trouble lies in Germany. I am not certain that everybody is clear that it was exactly the same in 1919, but the conditions of the problem then were quite different. In 1918 both Russia and Germany were defeated, but the results of the two defeats were quite 1004 different. Russia disappeared from view. Her existence was ignored by the victorious Powers. Germany remained united. The German Army had been defeated in battle and was in full retreat, but it had not been routed or destroyed, nor did we go to Berlin, as many of your Lordships here well know. It was very difficult in those days to determine from the outside the extent of Germany's collapse. I often think that what led to Hitler's war was the decision taken a few days before the 1914–1918 war ended, to grant an Armistice to the German Government, and that was concluded with the German Government and not with a military delegation, as happened in 1945.
The fact that Germany had decisively defeated Russia in the East had a tremendous effect on the pattern of the years between the wars. Russia fell out of Europe and ceased to exist as a great Power. That was greatly to Germany's advantage because there was no great Power on her Eastern frontier. I do not think it is too much to say that the most important thing about the Peace Treaty of 1919 was the fact that it was concluded with a united Germany. Germany had only to secure modifications or shake it off altogether to emerge as strong as she had been in 1914; and that is what happened. In fact one can say that the Kaiser's war, the 1914 war, left the German problem unsolved: if anything, it made it more acute. The old balance of power which had helped to restrain Germany had broken down. Russia had withdrawn; Austria-Hungary had vanished; only France and Italy remained, both of them inferior in manpower and in economic resources. It followed that nothing could prevent the Germans from overshadowing Europe, even if they did not plan to do so, and that is what happened. A united Germany with a strong central Government remained. Hitler came to power. He freed himself from the Versailles Treaty; he shook off Locarno and the scene was set for World War II.
In the late war, the 1939–45 war, it was different. The Allies ended Hitler's war by going to Berlin. Germany was divided and remains so to-day. The Russians fear the Germans very greatly. They will not agree to a united Germany in any way. One has only to go to 1005 Moscow, and talk to Khrushchev, and with Marshal Malinovsky, the Defence Minister, and the Russian Chiefs of Staff, as I have done, to find that out. Nor will they agree to any disarmament so long as we build up the military strength of Federal Germany, whose Army will soon be the most powerful in Europe. Remembering what happened in 1919, and in the inter-war years, I suggest to your Lordships that we must give up the cry of "a united Germany", at least for the time being.
What else should we do? How can relations be improved between nations who ought to know better than to fear and prepare to fight each other? I suggest the first thing is that we on our side must have a long-term aim or strategy; and the best aim I can put forward is to try to get the armed forces of Russia back into their own country. It might take ten years to do that; it might take more. But we could work slowly towards it. And do not forget we have now had sixteen years with no aim at all. That is how I should like to see it done. It is not easy.
I put this problem recently to a most able French General, the most able in the French Army—and I know most of them. He agreed that the aim was right, adding that we were getting nowhere by sitting in the same posture year after year, achieving nothing and getting no nearer to a peaceful solution of our problems, just waiting on events. But he also said, "Who will give us a long-term aim? Who will have the courage to suggest a completely new approach to the solution of our troubles?" I believe that the first thing to do is to lower the temperature in Berlin. In my view there are far too many Russian and Allied troops in that city. There are American and British soldiers on one side of the "wall" or whatever the frontier is, and Russian and East German soldiers on the other. They do not like each other and that makes for friction.
It is absolutely essential to have NATO troops in Berlin as a token that we mean business. That is basic. But why should not NATO be represented by West German troops? Federal Germany is firmly in NATO. Why cannot we suggest to the Russians that their troops should leave the city, and that British, American 1006 and French troops should also leave the city, leaving in Berlin only Embassy guards? The garrison troops in Berlin would then be of East Germany and West Germany. I do not think German troops are likely to be hostile to each other; they all speak the same language. They soon would be talking to each other across the frontier and exchanging cigarettes. I know the soldier pretty well. He will not stop smoking cigarettes. However much my noble Leader might try to frighten them about the danger of lung cancer, they like cigarettes. No harm can come from such a proposal. Indeed, it has great possibilities. It will certainly lower the temperature in Berlin. On no account do we want troops there from neutral countries, only German soldiers, and in their own parts of the city. Surely another way to lower the temperature would be to open up trade with the German Democratic Republic, and with the satellite States of Eastern Europe.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, would the noble Viscount allow me to interrupt? I am most interested in this argument. He says that the presence of West German troops in Berlin would lessen tension. But of course he knows that one of the strongest objections that the Russians have is of any contact between Federal West Germany and Berlin. This is one of the basic objections of the Russians. I should like to know how the noble Viscount would get over it.
§ VISCOUNT MONTGOMERY OF ALAMEIN
I have said that I think the noble Earl is the best Foreign Secretary we have had for years. I have no doubt he would get over it. I wonder whether that suggestion has ever been made, together With trade with the Eastern group of nations in Eastern Europe. I should have thought that a further way to reduce the temperature would be to give de facto recognition to the East German Government. It is a fact; it is there to stay. I do not think Khrushchev could ever allow the East 1007 German Government to collapse; the shock to the Communist world would be too great. It does not follow that because you recognise a State you agree with what it does. If we only recognised States that we approved of many of our Missions abroad could be closed down and we should save a lot of money.
I suggest that if we had the courage to put forward a more positive approach towards peace in Europe we might get somewhere without in any way damaging the Western cause. I remember very well a remark made in the Foreign Affairs debate last October by my noble friend Lord Gladwyn, who said:What is good for the Russians is not, under all circumstances, necessarily bad for us.I think that was one of the most wise remarks made in that debate; and that, I think, might be well noted by those who are trying to solve our problems to-day.
§ 4.56 p.m.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, I think that the only advantage of retirement, which I share, of course, with the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, who has just resumed his seat, is that one perhaps has a better view of the wood, as opposed to the trees. It is thus possible to take time off from one's gardening, or perhaps I should say from one's weed-killing, to make statements of considerable profundity, which may or may not be welcomed by those who are struggling to cope with the problems of the cold war and our defence policy and so on, but which I hope may possibly be of some use.
Of course, it is normally part of the game to keep one's end up by suggesting that in the active part of one's career one was usually right. I am afraid that I was not always right myself. For instance, as regards Europe I freely confess that it was only about ten years ago that I began to think that we should eventually have to associate ourselves more and more nearly with our neighbours on the Continent. At the time of the Conference of The Hague in 1948, I remember very well that I was still of the opposite way of thinking, which was that we could get by with our so-called special position as chief 1008 partner in the Commonwealth and chief ally of the United States. I have since revised that view.
But I might also say that in one thing I have been at least consistent since 1945 —namely, in my belief that the Third World War would not take place. I seem to remember telling the noble and gallant Viscount. Lord Montgomery of Alamein, that soon after the Coup de Prague in 1948, when I had the honour of being his political adviser. I am not sure whether or not the noble and gallant Viscount agreed with that at the time. Anyway, I am profoundly grateful to him for his remark about my remark; and at any rate in that respect we have something very much in common.
After my retirement at the end of 1959, I elaborated my views on this point in a pamphlet called Is Tension Necessary?, published by the Daily Telegraph, which sought to relate the balance of terror with the so-called territorial status quo. Rightly or wrongly, that remains at the base of my argument to-day and colours my entire thinking. In a word, it is not death which is the danger; it is defeat—or, in other words, a balance of terror is much better than no balance at all. That was, of course, the basis of the profound thought of the Foreign Secretary, which he explained in his admirable speech this afternoon.
I still believe that there will be no general nuclear war. All this brandishing of the bomb by Mr. Khrushchev does not mean that he plans to drop it; it means exactly the reverse. It is, of course, terrifying to think of a satellite with a 300-megaton bomb on board, coming up on the United States at 20 miles a second from the South and, without the slightest possibility of any warning, being exploded in the stratophere 100 miles up, thus creating firestorms which would sweep over the entire country. It is terrifying, until one reflects that even if the "hardened" bases of American nuclear rockets did not escape the firestorms, second-strike bombers from outside the United States and bombs fired from polaris submarines would certainly destroy a great deal of the Soviet Union in its turn.
Why does Mr. Khrushohev brandish the bomb? We can only guess. I think 1009 it is for two major purposes. In the first place, by holding out the hope of its abolition, as part no doubt of some favourable disarmament bargain—favourable to him that is—the thinks he may put off, and maybe postpone indefinitely, the fatal day when America will have as many very large land-based rockets with megaton warheads as he has. In other words, his real objective, I think, is to put off the American tests. In the second place, he is determined to make use, if he can, of his temporary superiority in large rockets to secure political advantages as regards Berlin.
The present manœuvring at Geneva can, it seems to me, be interpreted in the light of these major objectives. How otherwise can it be interpreted? There is little reason to suppose, I am afraid, that Mr. Khrushchev wants a genuine disarmament as such. It might well suit him, I do not deny, to have to spend less money on armaments, but he does not welcome inspection, as we have heard to-day, in the Soviet Union—he does not welcome it in regard to either tests or general disarmament. Moreover, I think we must also realise that general and comprehensive disarmament, as I think it is called, does imply World Government. I do not know whether any of my noble friends on that side of the House will dispute that, but I think it is profoundly true; and nobody, I am afraid, can seriously imagine that we are near World Government at the present time, though it may come rather sooner than some people think.
So Mr. Khrushchev's principal aim in this field—I regret to have to say it, but it is true—is to put the West at a disadvantage and to preserve Russia's weapon superiority for as long as possible. It may be that he also hopes for some "break-through", as I think it is called, which will result in his possessing an effective anti-missile missile; for this would enable the Soviet Union to wage a world war without being exterminated in their turn, and would put them in a position where they could make use of their great superiority in trained men and so-called conventional weapons. But in spite of Marshal Malinowski, I think there is little reason to suppose (here again I may be corrected by the experts) that such an achievement—which would indeed upset the 1010 balance of terror and the so-called status quo—is likely to come about in practice for many years, if ever. Disarmament for the Russians must thus be looked upon as a sort of holding operation. This would not appear, however, to exclude certain joint space operations or marginal achievements of which the Foreign Secretary has spoken. Perhaps the most helpful would be some cooperation in the direction of space.
More important, I think, from the point of view of policy is the second presumed objective—namely, the wresting of concessions from the West on the crucial question of Berlin. Why is it crucial? Why cannot the Russians be content to leave things as they are? We may well ask. Having divided Berlin into two parts with a wall, why not just let the three Western sectors "wither on the vine"? These are not very easy questions to answer. But there is no doubt at all that the whole of Russian foreign policy—and I am sure, Lord Robertson of Oakridge will confirm this—centres on Berlin. There must, therefore, be some logical reason for this phenomenon. To understand their state of mind it is not a bad thing—and here I am sure the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, will agree with me—to try to put oneself in their shoes.
My Lords, the Russians are probably more frightened of the Germans than of anybody else. We may think that this is absurd, but, after all, there are still between 80 and 90 million people of German race in Europe, and if they were ever reunited, with the whole West presumably behind them, they might well be tempted—so the Russians no doubt argue—to resume the Drang nach Osten which got them into such trouble under the monstrous Hitler regime. No need, I think, as the Russians see it, for the Germans actually to attack the Soviet Union, for by the very fact of reunification they might well take Russia's place as the chief economic influence in the lives of the 100 million or so Eastern Europeans on the Western marches of the Soviet Union. The rest, the Russians no doubt would think, would follow.
It is possible that to exorcise such a nightmare—and we must remember that the invasion and occupation of most of European Russia in 1942 had a profound traumatic shock upon them—the 1011 Russians feel impelled to strengthen the regime in East Germany by all means in their power; and if at the same time they can increase their influence in Western Germany, so much the better for them. Possibly, too (though if they do it can be only for psychological reasons), they may really feel that if they are to do this at all they must do so soon, before the West German generals, as they say, get the atom bomb. Never, in any case, will they permit German reunification except under their direct and strict control, and quite possibly not even then. Their idea is, and must be, that the Germans as a whole must be disarmed and placed firmly under Soviet influence—in other words, communised. They cannot disarm the West Germans without running the risk of a world war, but they may perhaps think that they can increase their influence in West Germany by gaining some advantage in Berlin without running such a risk. I think the calculation will be made very exactly, because fundamentally the Russians are an extremely cautious people. But the effort to obtain some further concessions on Berlin by some means or other is undoubtedly the first Soviet consideration. Everything else, I believe, is subordinate to this.
One of the immediate results of any substantial concession by the West on Berlin might well, of course, be the weakening of the West German position in the European Community or in the Common Market. That could be a major victory for the Russians, and a major defeat for us. But we must also think what might happen if they cannot get any concessions at all. It seems to me that in that case, and in the long run, they probably will sign their famous treaty with the D.D.R. Then the danger obviously would be that the East Germans might be tempted to commit some rash act in the belief that it would not necessarily result in nuclear war. And in this their judgment might be less good than that of their allies. To sum up, I should say that in Europe the Russian objective was fundamentally defensive and designed, above all, to restrict the real and potential power of Germany, but that it could easily become offensive if the West shows any signs of disunity or disarray.
1012 Elsewhere in the world, however, their objective is frankly offensive, for it involves weakening the West by all possible means in all the emergent or uncommitted countries, and in creating situations which might deprive the main industrialised and non-Communist countries of their principal sources of supply. So far this policy has not been particularly successful. There has been one, major victory, Cuba; but elsewhere the forces of Communism have so far been kept in check. In the Middle East, in spite of the alarms of four years ago, Iraq has not fallen under the direct influence of the Soviet Union; neither, of course, has Iran or Egypt or Arabia. In Asia generally, the Indian subcontinent remains, on the whole, firmly anti-Communist. In South-East Asia the position, I should say, has at least been well maintained.
But in Africa the Communist offensive has definitely failed. Ejected from Guinea, suspected in Ghana, rejected in Nigeria, condemned even in Ruanda-Urundi, the agents of Moscow had possibly their worst reverse in the anarchic Congo, when for a moment at any rate they appeared to have the ball at their feet. All over the African continent the Communist mystique now seems to be on the wane. The West ought to realise this and profit by it by being especially well disposed towards the new African nations who are trying, in the face of such great difficulties, to find their political feet. Only in South America does the situation appear to be really serious, partly perhaps owing to an inability on the part of the old possessing classes to contemplate any serious reforms and partly owing to the low prices of certain raw materials on which the economy of these countries primarily depends. I must say that I should hope (and this is a point I should seriously like to make) that in the negotiations now proceeding in Brussels the danger of undue discrimination against such raw materials—that is from South America—should be constantly borne in mind, in the light of what might happen in that Continent if things went wrong.
If this, broadly speaking, is the general picture, how can we in this small island best help ourselves and, indeed, our Allies in the whole Western World? I 1013 agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Rea, said: that we should never minimise the part that we can play—small island though we may be—and the influence that men like the Foreign Secretary can exert in the councils of the Allies. I think the answer to this question must involve both foreign policy and defence; and, indeed, the one is not intelligible without the other.
I would very briefly suggest the following approach. On disarmament—I include the whole business of tests and disarmament, generally—we should not, whatever the temptation, lower our guard on inspection. I am sure that our present Foreign Secretary will not be tempted to do that, but it is a general recommendation. I fear that this will probably result in there being no agreement; but if the Russians have a change of heart, nobody would be happier than I. If anybody could persuade them to undergo such a change of heart it can, I am sure, be only the Foreign Secretary. Who knows? Those long and patient conversations may eventually bear fruit over the years.
In Europe we should recognise that, if we cannot secure agreement on alterations to the present set-up in Berlin, which do not undermine our fundamental position in Berlin, it may be a question of coming up against the D.D.R. This will be a dangerous situation, for they might be tempted to go too far. It may, therefore, be wise not to reduce (which, incidentally, would he contrary to our treaty obligations) but rather to reinforce our troops in Germany, and to equip them, so far as possible, with the most modern "conventional" weapons, on the assumption that a clash not involving nuclear weapons is at least possible. And, if that is so, we should be in a position with our Allies to fight in the neighbourhood of the existing frontier.
I think, my Lords, that this would be something which would really impress the Russians, and would result in their getting into a frame of mind in which a Summit Conference could be held, which would not result in failure, as last time, or in quite undesirable concessions by the West. In any case, I feel that if concessions are to be made—and some, after all, are conceivable—let them he elaborated first at 1014 some lower level than heads of Governments—perhaps Foreign Secretary level. There are various concessions of which one can think. I heard the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, refer to the Rapacki Plan. I have always been in favour, in a general way, of some modified Rapacki Plan, perhaps applying to nuclear weapons. I think the moment has now come when that might be reinvestigated.
In the rest of the world, I would not lay any great emphasis on bases and striking forces. If we have to put the effort of any available troops into defence, I should like it to be in Europe. Therefore I would not lay any great emphasis on bases and striking forces designed to protect immediate interests. I doubt whether, in the long run, such interests can be protected by such means. I would not, of course, give up the bases we already have at Aden, Singapore and so on; but I should be inclined to let them "tick over" and not spend any more money on them at the present time. I believe that everything depends on the relations we establish with the successor States, and on the help we can give them, with the chief object of inducing them to remain in the Free World.
You will observe that I am a Westerner, my Lords, because I believe in the essential truth of what is now apparently a rather discarded maxim—discarded, I think, even by the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein —which is "Strengthen the base". Our base is no longer these indefensible islands; it is Western Europe. Here, we can keep the adversary out by the threat of the great deterrent, and also, if that should fail, and if we have the will, by conventional forces, too. The base is nevertheless now in danger. It can be divided by simple political pressures if, owing to intransigence on the part of the Six, or sheer boneheaded atavism at home, we are not able to join the European Economic Community. It can be undermined militarily, in the event of incursions with which we are unable to cope, owing to the inadequacy of our conventional means, and our possible reluctance to use nuclear weapons, which would almost certainly result in our own extinction. It can just fail economically, owing to a collective failure to grant 1015 sufficient powers to some central authority for the purpose of developing full productive capacity. In other words, the base could quite well cease to exist. But if it goes, it is quite useless to imagine that we could carry on somehow, however many aircraft carriers and troop carriers we might have in the Indian Ocean. We should simply be sunk, and in a very short time we should be part of the Soviet Empire.
My Lords, in all earnestness I would beg the Government, whether they are discussing Space, or Laos, or Berlin, or disarmament, or the Common Market, or the Cold War, and whether it be at the highest or the lowest level, never to lose sight of this great and overriding consideration, on which, as I see it, the future of our country, and indeed of the whole Western World, directly depends.
§ 5.16 p.m.
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, I have just come back from Geneva, where I had the opportunity of talking to many members of delegations from both East and West, and their military and technical advisers. I say this to add weight to the compliment which I want to pay to the Foreign Secretary, and I hope that his colleagues will forward it to him with undiminished vigour. I think it was the most remarkable, excellent and constructive speech we have heard in this debate, and I know from the conversations I have been having in Geneva that the work he is doing there is equally excellent and constructive. It is therefore in the context of cordial support and approval that I shall proceed to pick one or two small holes in what I take to be Government policy at that Conference.
There are, of course, three Conferences going on in Geneva; one on Berlin, one on the test ban and one on general disarmament, which is what it is all supposed to be about. I believe that progress on all of these, and progress is necessary on each and every one, depends on relating them to each other in a realistic way.
The thing about the Berlin affair is that there is always a Berlin affair somewhere or other. At the moment, it looks very large and very dangerous, and so indeed it is. But if a solution 1016 were found, and if there were no disarmament, within a few months another such crisis would arise elsewhere in the world; and it could be in any one of twenty places that we can all think of. That is not to say that the Communists, in their state of original sin, will simply choose to create another crisis to keep us running; it is to say that it is in the very nature of an ideologically-divided world, armed to the teeth, that there will always be a major geo-political crisis somewhere or other. If we are to get action on disarmament, it is quite crucial that it should not depend on a solution of the Berlin problem. The whole purpose of our wanting disarmament is to allow us to have problems and crises like Berlin without running such a dreadful risk of blowing humanity off the face of the earth.
I was particularly struck by the very full account—I think the fullest yet given—given by the Foreign Secretary of the chaff in the corridors, six bombers, filling the corridors with this stuff. What a business it was, and what an awful risk to take! I noticed that the Foreign Secretary said that the Russians had never admitted it had happened. Of course, they never admit, when Soviet spies are caught, that they are Soviet spies. They never admit anything. It is part of their political procedure that they can never be wrong. I would put it to the Government as a possibility, though, that this was an action taken on a fairly low level by the armed forces, without the knowledge or approval of the Foreign Ministry. It is possible; and, if that were so. It would be just one more proof, if any were needed, of the frightful danger of conducting major political crises in the thick of the thermo-nuclear arms race. How easily that could have led to shooting, and how easily could the shooting have led on to what we all fear most!
To put it in shorthand, the progress of disarmament depends on not allowing it to depend on a solution to the Berlin problem. One would even be tempted to say that the assembled negotiators in Geneva should not even mention Berlin to each other; that they should look to another conference at another place at another time: but that would not be practical. They are all there at a high level, and it would be absurd not to use 1017 the opportunity. But it would be tragic if they were to make progress on the main point depend on a solution to this one. It is often said in the West: "Suppose we did disarm. The Russians and the East Germans could then take West Berlin with a force of Konsommols armed with hammers and sickles". But if they did, we could defend it with a force of Boy Scouts each rubbing two sticks together. And, if the two sides were not content with this sort of war, they could restart the arms race. That is precisely what disarmament is about. Nothing is lost; you can always get back to where you are now.
Before proceeding to the test ban, which is the main point on which I wish to ask critical questions of the Government, I have two very minor points on general disarmament itself, both arising out of the Foreign Secretary's speech. They are the following: in speaking of Sohn zones, of zones of inspection for general disarmament, he said that the inspectorate should select the zone to be inspected. I believe it is rather important that the zone should not be selected by anybody but that it should be drawn out of a hat; because there would always be the suspicion, with a selected zone, that the inspectors had intelligence of the most militarily sensitive zone and were choosing that. You will be more likely to get agreement from the Russians if it is understood at the start that Sohn zones are to be drawn out of a hat, by mere chance.
The other point is about balance on the way down. The Foreign Secretary very rightly blamed the Russians for proposing that American bases should be withdrawn from Europe in stage one, saying that this would conflict with joint agreed principles and would create a major imbalance during disarmament. This is so. but I think he ought, in all fairness, also, to have mentioned—and I do so now—that there is an American proposal on the table which equally conflicts with this balanced reduction. It is the proposal that each State should turn over 50 metric tons of weapon-grade fissile material to peaceful uses. Fifty metric tons is probably one-seventh of the American stockpile and about one-third of the Russian stockpile. It is therefore an unbalanced proposal.
Let me now turn to the test ban. I want to pick holes in the Foreign Secretary's 1018 argument on the following basis. He said that we must have the absolute minimum of inspection. My Lords, I want to ask the following question: the absolute minimum to be sure of what? Need we necessarily be sure that no nuclear bang ever goes off? The argument is as follows. There is, of course, a deadlock on the test ban at the moment, because as we all know the Russians will not permit inspection on their soil unless and until there is a great deal of general disarmament going on all round. The United States are proposing to test shortly. We cannot blame them. The Soviet Union tested last autumn, and, in doing so, broke—not the moratorium, as has been said in this House and as is often said in the West: Eisenhower broke the moratorium more than a year before, when he took freedom to resume testing at his own sweet will, although he never did resume testing. What the Russians broke was their own word, when Khrushchev said, "We will never be the first to test". They were, and the result is very much the same; the arms race is continuing again. The Americans will test in a few weeks.
At this point I wish to go into rather more detail than has yet been done in this debate and to ask the Government to correct me if I get any of it wrong. The Western position will probably turn out to be the following, when it is clarified. We shall insist on twelve to twenty on-site visits a year on to the soil of the Soviet Union, of which only three need be in militarily sensitive areas. For the rest, we shall probably be content to rely on existing monitoring arrangements, with the addition of those agreed in the abortive test ban treaty, which could he built on Western and neutral territory. But we should still insist on these few, these very few, on-site visits for inspection.
Now why is this? This absolute minimum inspection is not to make sure that tests do not happen in general—most of that is looked after by existing monitoring arrangements: it is to make sure that no underground nuclear bang of less than 50 kilotons takes place, because monitoring systems outside the Communist camp cannot with certainty identify all underground nuclear bangs under 50 kilotons. I 'believe I am right 1019 in saying that they can identify underground nuclear bangs above 50 kilotons, and that they can identify all nuclear explosions under the sea, in the atmosphere and above the atmosphere. We therefore insist on this difficult thing to make sure that there are no underground tests below 50 kilotons, and the Russians refuse us this right, calling it espionage. Now I hope that this will not become—that this will not be allowed to appear to be, even—a matter of principle, that we should insist on this inspection; because principle is not at stake in this matter. What is at stake is the security of our lives, which is a matter of very concrete technical and military detail.
Why have a test ban at all in order to stop people testing? Why do people want to test? In order to get an advantage or to keep an advantage in the arms race by finding out about weapon design. In what fields do we want to find out about weapon design? President Kennedy has made a very long and full declaration on this point, and I think the facts are pretty well known to all the world. There are four such fields.
They are, first, the development of an anti-missile missile system. Secondly, there is the possibility of creating a sudden surge or flux in the electrical conductivity of the atmosphere, which would cause the wiring in the warheads of attacking missiles as they come down to fuse, and thus cause those missiles not to go off. This is a defensive measure. Conversely, there is the possibility of shielding the warheads of attacking missiles against such an electrical flux, so that they would go off in spite of the defensive measure. This is an anti-defence measure, or a measure of offence. Thirdly, there is the possibility of so placing and so timing nuclear bangs that they would black out the radar systems which are used to detect the arrival of attacking missiles, and to distinguish between armed missiles and decoys. This is an anti-defence measure, or a measure of offence. Fourthly, there is the possibility of improving yield-weight ratios, of getting a bigger explosion for weight, in all types of nuclear weapons from small battlefield shells to multimegaton rockets. This is of general application, offensive and defensive. If any attempt is to be made to do these things—and the Americans fear the 1020 Russians are attempting all of them, and they know they are attempting some—tests are needed.
I think we need not mention a fifth possibility which is sometimes talked of—that is, of putting a satellite in stationary orbit over the other side with such a colossal nuclear weapon in it, maybe 500 megatons, that it would burn the earth underneath without ever leaving its orbit. Such a weapon cannot, by definition, be tested, and therefore its development cannot be prevented by a test ban. Moreover, it would probably be rather easy to shoot down.
Let us, then, consider these four possible break-throughs. Can one develop an anti-missile missile system by testing underground? Obviously not; it would be necessary to chase missiles all over the sky with other missiles. Can one learn how to create this electrical flux in the atmosphere, in order to put out missiles coming down through it, by testing underground? Obviously not. Can one learn how to black out radar with a nuclear bang by testing underground? One cannot say that it is absolutely impossible, but it is certainly a fantastically slow, expensive, and inefficient way of doing it. And the idea that such a thing could be learned by underground testing more quickly than we could achieve general disarmament is not a realistic idea. And fourthly, can one improve yield-weight ratios by testing underground? Well, this one is different. The answer is: Yes, one can.
But what will happen if one does? How would it affect the balance if yield-weight ratios were improved? They cannot, even theoretically, be more than doubled over what they are now; and in practice no doubt they cannot even be doubled. What difference would it make to the world if a thermo-nuclear rocket were developed which, when it burst over London, would kill people, not from Dartford to Slough, but from Gravesend to Reading? What difference would it make to the world if British artillery in Germany were able to fire, not 2½ "Hiroshimas" on to concentrations of enemy troops, as they now can, but 5 "Hiroshimas", out of each weapon? It would make no difference.
So why do we insist upon those inspections for small underground bangs? 1021 They would not upset the balance of terror in the world. You would not get dreadful science-fiction innovations out of them; and, moreover, they do not kill people. They do not deposit radioactive elements in our bodies, preferring the youngest bodies. They do not load the common genetic stock of humanity with an ineluctable burden of disease, sterility, and early death.
I suggest to the Government that they examine the following possibility: to trade our insistence on these small number of on-site tests against the Russian refusal of Sohn zones for general disarmament. I believe that this would be a good bargain. I do not know whether such thoughts have ever struck the Government—I expect they have. I do not know whether, when such thoughts have struck them, they have swallowed them or bitten back their words for fear of allowing a breach to appear between ourselves and the United States. If they have, I wonder whether the Government should not reconsider this.
The fact is, my Lords, that there is a conflict in the United States which we have to face. We have to decide where we stand. The House will remember how President Eisenhower, in his last speech to the American people before he laid down his office, spoke of the growing power of the military-industrial complex which, he said, threatened the peace of the world, and which would in time threaten the very fabric of civilian democracy in America. A very high official of the American Government said to me the other day that there were strands of opinion in Washington to whom it seemed that the greatest danger in the world at present was the danger of accidental peace. I hope that there will be no question of our Government, even by silence, identifying itself with this strand in American policy, instead of with the other strand which holds that the greatest danger in the world to-day is that of accidental, or even intentional, war.
Another American official recently said to me: "Do you know that we spend as much time puzzling whether the United Kingdom is sincere about disarmament, as we do about the Soviet Union?" Now, that is a striking thing to say. The Foreign Secretary, in his speech, wondered whether the whole 1022 Soviet attitude towards disarmament was not "an act". There are people in the world who wonder whether our whole attitude towards disarmament is not an act. If the Government are not convinced that those few on-site inspections are necessary for the future of mankind, and for that only, I hope they will say so, and will say so publicly, for the benefit of the neutrals, if for no one else.
§ 5.36 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
My Lords, at this stage of the debate I am sure it would not be expected that I, in my capacity, should tread upon the ground that has been traversed by so many of your Lordships, or attempt to deal with the issues which the Foreign Secretary has set out for us with such candour and clarity. I hope first, however, on quite a different tack, to express on all these issues the deep concern of the Christian Churches throughout the world. I say "throughout the world" advisedly, having in mind, first of all, the meeting only a few months ago of the World Council of Churches, which took place in the heart of India, where no doubt it was reminded that the two major conflicts of our own century had issued primarily from the West, and that the scientific advances which make our world so unsafe to-day had also come from Western skill and knowledge.
Their counsels, of course, were on other matters concerning the welfare of the world and the peoples of the world in all of the countries which they represented, but irresistibly they were brought back, as all such counsels are, to this predominant need for peace. They issued an appeal to the Governments and to the peoples of the world which their delegates (and I was not one of them) were charged to take home with them—to the Governments, of course, in particular, having in mind the immense responsibilities which rest on them at this time, but also to the peoples, since they too, in their own public opinion and in their own support of this or that policy, will have a particular part to play.
I am not going to detain your Lordships with the actual terms of that appeal. It was, as one might expect, to denounce war as the main and common enemy of mankind and to call upon 1023 us, as your Lordships have debated to-day, to seek means to end the arms race. But beyond that, it called upon us to seek means by which we could substitute reason for suspicion and confidence far fear in our relations one with another. I mention that only because there is something significant in an international situation in the meeting of these Churches together where they met. Some of them are national Churches; some of them are international Communions. Representatives of the Russian and other Orthodox Churches sat side by side with representatives from the Western countries, and from all alike emerged, of course, this same immense longing for some release from this menace of war which we have been debating, and a recognition of the issues which rest upon the shoulders of Governments. It would be barely possible for any Christian assembly to-day, whatever the subject on which it was meeting, not to be drawn back to this priority of world peace. But, of course, our ways to-day are coloured no doubt by our own national divisions.
The Christian Churches on the other side of the Iron Curtain also debate this matter. They organised a peace conference at Prague, I believe the first of many, in which as one might expect, the deliberations were coloured by the sentiments of Eastern Europe and where there might be a real suspicion of propaganda, but nevertheless evincing underneath this immense sense that, if we are considering at all the wellbeing of man, we cannot get away from these complicated issues of peace and war which are before your Lordships to-day.
I stress this simply because there is a far deeper fund of support and prayer and good will for your Lordships' deliberations than is always vocally expressed, and indeed a readiness to accept a great amount of sacrifice, and even of risk, so that we may be lead out of our present impasse. It is not my business or within my power to deal with the intricate questions that are before us, but I should like to say something upon the psychological approach to them which lies behind so much of our deliberations. The correspondent of one of our great Sunday papers, reporting last Sunday, said: 1024Both sides are still practising what the Americans call 'a policy of maximum distrust.' To try to move both America and Russia from this policy to one of equivalent security based on reasonable risk has been a private British endeavour.We have heard something of that endeavour to-day and we would all assure the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary of our support for that endeavour, hoping that his wisdom, patience and resilience will not be exhausted and that he will go on and on until some of the distrust is broken down at the conference table.
There is also distrust, or something approaching it, a lack of heart, in the present mood of our own people here and elsewhere in the Free World. I suppose that the apathy, or at least the scepticism, that comes in when we are thinking of the world situation has been induced partly by the complexities of the issue. Most of us are not competent to understand them and many of us are not too likely to attempt to do so. The long process of discussions that has gone on and the many set-backs that have occurred, over the last few years, and which still occur, have encouraged a mood of fatalism which leaves the bulk of individual people feeling that they are helpless to do anything about it or to think anything about it. There is a real bewilderment about the arms race. Is it a race of both sides to reach a point of reasonable equality from which disarmament can start, or is it a race to preserve some superiority which has already been obtained?
The kind of frustration in the minds of people set up by all this is seen especially in the younger generation, whose idealism or restlessness cannot find some adequate cause upon which to fix itself. They feel that they must stand up to all this—and promptly sit down in Whitehall. It is tragic if that is the only possible expression of public support that Christian youth can give in this whole field of problems. Those who are Christians, and others, are waiting and hoping for some creative step to which we can give our whole support and which would help us to feel at the present time, not that we are standing by at the death pangs of our civilisation or anything like that, but, instead, that we may hope we are at the beginning, at the birth pangs, of something new on an international scale.
1025 Behind all this distrust there is surely still a considerable amount of common ground. There is a desire on both sides in this rapidly changing scene not to let some particular situation topple us all over into a major conflict. There is a recognition on both sides of the prospects which peace could open up to us and in which we alike could share. We would hope that some constructive presentation of policy, such as was asked for by the noble Lord, Lord Rea, at an earlier stage in the debate, could be given which would help us to think, not so much in terms of preserving or defending something which we have inherited as in terms of creating something that is new.
I believe that our own Government have a great opportunity in this regard. I, and many others as well, do not believe that their influence and authority are to be measured merely by their nuclear power or even, for that matter, by their own individual possession of it. After all, although in many cases it may seem to add some weight to our presence at the Conference table, if it is argued that it is the possession of the individual nuclear weapon that gives us our primary power, then that is a two-edged argument. It is to limit Mr. Rusk and the Conference to one of three important factors which they should now consider: how we may avert the spread of this? But if we are arguing about its possession as a primary factor in our defence, then others, too, will be tempted to seek it for themselves.
I do not believe that our influence is based upon that, but much more upon the persuasion and vision we can bring to these problems. I should hope that any reasonable risks which have to be met would be asked of us. It is indeed a matter of risks; not risks of security, but, I suppose, a balance of risks. There is a risk in the ending of the disarmament race and there is a risk also—perhaps in the end a greater risk—in a continuance of the armaments race. But I believe that this country is ready for risks if we can see where they are leading. I was interested to see that in an inquiry which the United Nations associations promoted throughout the country they posed the question: Would you be prepared to accept the risks arising out of imperfect inspection arrangements 1026 as an alternative to the continuing arms race? And 94 per cent. of half a million people answered, "yes".
To carry this into a different field, I believe that the desire to be able to look forward comes partly from a desire to be beyond the immediate question of disarmament. There is still before us the question: what would follow if, under Providence, our efforts in this direction were successful and the plan for progressive disarmament were achieved? Here, again, I would submit that this country, with its own particular responsibilities throughout the world, has an opportunity of leadership which is unique. The goal of peace, towards which disarming is a primary step, must surely be bound up with the strengthening in some way of a world authority which is capable of demanding the respect and the co-operation of the nations and of becoming in time the instrument by which the ever-changing situations and peoples can be adjusted. On the whole, people are inclined to take too narrow a view of peace, a view of its being the absence of war or of the shadows it throws; but peace is a relationship, a continuing, changing relationship, between peoples, which will need adjustment and scrutiny, and that will not be possible unless there is some effective centre of authority and influence which the world will acknowledge.
There is a real bewilderment in this country as to where the United Nations stand in this. There has always been a considerable weight of indifference, here and no doubt elsewhere, against which the United Nations have had to contend. It is bound to be unpopular in some quarter or other if it takes a strong line; and in recent years, as we know, it has been strongly under fire over the Congo—I would say, to a disproportionate extent. At the present moment, it is impossible not to have in mind the tragic experience of its predecessor, the League of Nations, whose foundation and idealism steadily crumbled away in the hard life of national ambitions. It might be possible for the United Nations to take the same course, more slowly, but perhaps as surely; and we all here recognise how infinitely tragic this would be. If the United Nations were to falter and fall apart, a cry of real despair 1027 would go up throughout the world. For here is a second attempt within 50 years; a bolder attempt, and one coming at a time when the interdependence of nations is far more obvious than it was in the 'twenties. If it were to fall, we should be put back for a century or more.
Leadership at the present juncture must depend partly on our attitude to the United Nations. There will inevitably be criticism; arid, of course, that has its place. All our institutions—our Government, our Church, our way of life—are freely subject to criticism, and, indeed, very much profit from it. But there is abroad a kind of criticism which is not so much of us as of them: a nagging type of attack which is steadily undermining the popular confidence in this international instrument. It is, indeed, right to scrutinise its workings, to point out all the weaknesses of its present constitution, or the prejudices which are brought into its council chamber, and the cross-currents and moods of the different peoples who are its members, so long as we are aiming at something better. But there is a kind of criticism which rejoices in its failure and, if it speaks of reform, wishes to reform it not in terms of making it stronger but of limiting and curtailing its activities.
Meanwhile, sometimes it does not seem to get a fair Press. Its weaknesses, which are very largely imparted to it by its constituent members, are magnified. And all the time there is a tendency to play down, or take for granted, its already well-established record of service in many fields—as a world forum, as a neutral observer or arbiter in local disturbances, and, most obviously, as the one main source of supply in many forms of world service which does not have—or should not have—any political labels attached to it. I should hope that our Government would give unequivocal support to the United Nations. That would not mean an approval of all its policies, but a championship of it as the new fact of our time, the fact which recognises the interdependence of nations and which can be the embryo of an authority without which the solution of our more immediate problems would be in vain.
1028 May I take the matter one further stage, in the hope that we may have something to look forward to? We are aware, I think, of being spiritually on the defensive, and we should like to look forward creatively, even if it does seem unrealistic to ask at this stage what would happen: what would be the other objectives, for instance, to which the resources which disarmament would release can be turned? The international situation is more than a series of situations: it is the whole complex of States, rich States and poor, free and less free, old and young. So long as the basic differences between them are so glaring, we shall limp from one situation to another, killing off one hydra head and finding two in its place. Yet the differences between us must be measured in terms of human beings and how they have to live.
I fancy that the nice calculations of balances of power and of statistics, of armaments and expenditure, tend to obscure the human aspect of this problem. I suppose that the mere thinking in terms of massive retaliation, and of the armaments that can affect such indiscriminate destruction, tends to blunt our minds and depersonalise the whole situation. Yet the whole situation would be put in better proportion, I believe, if more thinking were addressed to the peoples concerned and to their economic needs.
If, or should I say when, disarmament came about—and we all hope that it will—great resources now spent on armaments would be released. We should no doubt have to do some uneasy adjustment with the industries concerned, though that would not, I hope, be an insuperable obstacle. We should have to lift our people also out of the rut in which they think only of some immediate relief from the cold war. Obviously, if relief comes, there will be in all countries internal concerns, welfare, education, relief from taxation and the like, which will clamour for a further share of the national income. And yet it would be a betrayal of our responsibilities to the world if the more powerful countries, when relieved of the heavy burden of armaments, allowed themselves to slip back into a more intensive concern for themselves. If it is only self-interest that inspires our efforts towards peace, then there will be no 1029 peace; and I almost dare to say that in all the realism around us we could do with a little dash of idealism and of hope for something to look forward to.
The problems of aiding the poorer under-developed areas of the world, which are now so much more vocal and effective in their influence, are so acute that they require a strategy of help that is commensurate with their needs. It is not enough to hope that more will be done when the coast is clear. I believe that the formulation of more drastic programmes now would put fresh heart into those who are working for peace. The need sits heavily on the consciences of countless people now, and some imaginative planning would find them ready for sacrifice. We have had some good evidence of this world concern over refugees; and we shall, I am sure, have it again when the campaign against world hunger is launched. Burt, my Lords, there is still something unreal in the comparatively small efforts which voluntary aid can achieve, when the nations themselves are devoting so much of their collective resources to the unproductive manufacture of armaments.
Unfortunately, the phrase "Peace offensive" has been borrowed for propaganda purposes elsewhere. But there is nothing wrong with the idea of it. It is good that the United States should have invited the U.S.S.R. to cooperate in space research; I suppose it is good that they should co-operate even in making a film, because this might be a marrying of two different cultures. But it would be better to propose co-operation not only in space research but also in more earthbound researches. My plea is that, even at this stage, our country should be making it quite clear that it is planning beyond the cold war to the real making of peace. That would rally men who are at present despondent; it would infuse something healthier into an atmosphere tainted by tests; and it would do something to vindicate the claim to moral leadership which we should like to see reasserted.
§ 5.59 p.m.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, after the momentous matters which the House has been discussing this afternoon, I hope I may be forgiven if I revert to the question of Katanga. I do so 1030 because, in spite of the general improvement in the situation in the Congo, of which there are signs, the position in Elisabethville, according to my information, still remains a source of great potential danger. If in my remarks I seem to the right reverend Prelate who preceded me to be criticising the United Nations, let me assure him that I do so only because in this instance I think we must do everything we can to prevent a recurrence of another incident with ensuing hostilities in Katanga, and also perhaps to enable the United Nations to learn some lessons from the mistakes of the past.
A fortnight ago we had a short debate in which I urged Her Majesty's Government to press United Nations headquarters in New York to set up an independent judicial inquiry into the behaviour of the United Nations troops in Katanga. I was glad to find support for this proposal on both sides of the House, on the understanding that such an inquiry would include all atrocities committed in the area by whatever persons. I should like to ask my noble friend who is to reply to this debate what further action Her Majesty's Government hope to be able to take in this matter.
Meanwhile, I have been trying to analyse the causes of the excesses committed by the United Nations troops in Elisabethville. In the first place, there were, of course, the inevitable incidents of war, particularly of war in a built-up area. But behind this—and this is basic to the whole set-up of the United Nations operations in the Congo—there was the sheer inadequacy of the United Nations command; improvised communications, planning and intelligence; in some cases the total lack of experience of some of the commanders in actual war; the appalling difficulties of language and, above all, the absence of clear directives. Obviously, this is not entirely the fault of the United Nations.
I do not want to reopen the question of the events which led up to the United Nations attacks in September and December, but it is quite clear, the more one examines this whole problem, that there was no clear directive on either occasion from New York; that instructions received from the United Nations Secretary-General were given their own 1031 interpretation in Leopoldville, and a different interpretation again was given to them by the United Nations civil and military command in Elisabethville. In the September fighting the United Nations civil officials on the spot were Dr. Conor Cruse O'Brien and Mr. Tomberlaine. I do not propose to go into their actions—I think the facts speak for themselves. On the other hand, I have no doubt whatever that in December Mr. Ivan Smith and Brian Urquhart, who were then in charge of the civil side, were doing their utmost to prevent excesses. But I am afraid it is quite clear that they had very little control over the military.
An informant of mine in Elisabethville, an American clergyman, told me that when his house was being subjected to heavy bazooka fire he managed to get through on the telephone to Mr. Urquhart who told him that Mr. Ivan Smith had just telephoned to United Nations headquarters to try to prevent this, but he could not do so as they had lost control of the troops. I think—and I say this with regret—there is some reason to criticise General Raja, the Indian Commander in the Elisabethville area, who appears to me to have been too rigid and, indeed, perhaps too ruthless a type of man to entrust with this very delicate operation. How otherwise can one account for the decision to throw into a civilised city, in the second stage of the December battle, Ethiopian troops, who are notorious throughout the world for their raping, looting and mutilation as part of their normal conduct of war?
Behind all this there seems to me to have been a kind of vindictiveness towards the Belgians, and even more towards the Katangese and, of course, in particular to President Tshombe himself. This seems to have derived, to some extent, from feelings of loss of face or prestige resulting from the September fighting when the United Nations troops were glad to accept a cease-fire. This came out very strongly in my conversations with people in Elisabethville. There also seems to have been a curious callousness in the attitude of the United Nations forces towards the Katangese themselves, the gendarmerie and the civilian population. In the fighting, especi- 1032 ally in September, they seem to have been treated more like animals than human beings. That is all the more remarkable when you consider that the military action was in very great part inspired by the Afro-Asian bloc. This certainly was the opinion of many impartial observers on the spot, including both British and Americans.
I should now like to turn to the wider question of United Nations intervention in Katanga, both in the North and in the South. I think we are entitled to examine these matters since, after all, Her Majesty's Government are now being asked to take £4½ million of United Nations bonds, in addition to our assessment of £2½ million for operations in the Congo in the next eight months. This, of course, is in addition to the large contributions already made by Britain to the Congo operations. It seems to me that, as the second largest contributor to the cost of the whole of these operations, surely we are entitled to have our say. Incidentally, the cost is enormous compared to comparable British operations of the same kind. I was told in Elisabethville that a Swedish soldier was getting as much as £21 a week in the Congo, and the notorious Baluba camp outside Elisabethville costs 1 million dollars a month to maintain. The supplies imported from the United States cost as much at $2.50 a kilo for delivery alone.
The original reason for despatching United Nations troops to the Congo was in fact, if not in name, a sop, if one can call it that, to other Congolese political leaders who had accepted detachments of United Nations troops in their towns and cities, and who felt that the Katangese should do likewise. Complete peace and quiet reigned in the whole of Katanga at that time. It was also intended to be in some manner a reassertion of the unity of the Congo and the repudiation of Katangese secession. Under the original agreement between the late Mr. Hammarskjoeld and President Tshombe, it was, I understand, to be a merely token force with the official aim of preventing civil war. At a later stage by the resolutions of February 21, 1961, when the hunt for the mercenaries was on, the functions of the force, by then greatly strengthened, were extended to the apprehension of the mercenaries. 1033 This led directly to the September hostilities and, after the resolution of November 27, to the December fighting.
Behind the whole United Nations policy towards Katanga there seem to me to have been two motives. The first, and perfectly legitimate, object, was to ensure the enjoyment of the wealth of Katanga by the Congo as a whole. I must say that I feel pretty sure that if there had been no mineral deposits in Katanga there would not have been the same great objections to President Tshombe's secession as we have seen. But at the same time there was another motive, and it is a rather sinister one, which seems to have played a certain part in these events. Katanga was, and in fact still is, a completely non-racial community, in which blacks and whites are working harmoniously side by side.
Politically it is entirely under the control of the Katanga Government, and to suggest as some people do, that the Union Miniére is a State within a State, or has any direct influence on political affairs in Katanga, is complete nonsense. President Tshombe himself, who is a man of great stature and integrity, enjoys the whole-hearted devotion of his people and is respected and trusted by the Europeans of many nations living in Elisabethville. Immediately after the so-called "hold fire" in December, Ethiopian troops moved into the great Lubumbashi smelter and refinery on the outskirts of Elisabethville. When I was there in February they were still in occupation of these installations, which are essential to the whole copper production of Katanga and had been closed down for two months, with 1,800 African workers unemployed.
Then, when I was there, a further critical situation developed through the demand by the United Nations to send military forces to the two great mining towns of Jadotville and Kolwezi with, as Dr. Sture Linner, the United Nations civilian head in Leopoldville, said, the right of "absolute freedom of movement". The ostensible reason for this demand was the rounding up of a few dozen remaining mercenaries in this area. In fact, President Tshombe had already agreed with the United Nations authorities on the establishment of two commissions for this very purpose comprising officers and civilian officials of both 1034 parties, with full liberty of access to all localities; and these commissions had started their work. I understand that the demand for the despatch of this military force of a battalion each to those areas came from General Raja and, in return for this, the United Nations authorities offered to withdraw the Ethiopians from the Lubumbashi smelter.
Had President Tshombe accepted these proposals, with their, to me, rather unpleasant aroma of blackmail, it would have given the United Nations a complete physical and financial stranglehold over the Katanga Government; and that, no doubt, is what they hoped to achieve. In fact, President Tshombe rejected the proposals but, fortunately, wiser counsels prevailed and they were not pressed. I am glad to say that the Lubumbashi smelter was shortly afterward reopened. But had these proposals been pressed, there is no doubt, to my mind, that it would have led to further fighting, in the course of which undoubtedly Elisabethville would have been occupied in a few hours, with, I am afraid, a repetition of some of the horrors of last year.
But that would not have been the end. President Tshombe is not a man who would have given up, or will give up, without a struggle. He would certainly fight, and he will fight again if driven to do so. Moreover, if he lost the towns he would, I believe, resort to guerrilla warfare in the bush. This would make it impossible for the United Nations or the Congo Central Government to get control of Katanga or its resources. It would also undoubtedly involve a campaign lasting possibly for years, at huge expense to the United Nations. One has only to consider the time and money it took us, with large and fully-trained forces, to bring the Mau Mau movement under control in country which is not very different from Katanga. But, more than this, such action would have resulted in not one single ton of copper coming out of the country. Even if the United Nations authorities had succeded in getting the mines and the smelter going again, President Tshombe could have made it quite impossible, and could do so again to-morrow, for any copper, and indeed any other minerals, to move by rail.
1035 In short, the United Nations would, by their own act, have frustrated the whole original object of securing the use of the mineral resources of South Katanga in the interests of the Congo as a whole. Fortunately this time good sense prevailed. But, having seen something of the situation, and having regard to the previous actions by the United Nations and the highly inflammable position in Elisabethville which is an occupied town, one cannot ignore the possibility of another incident occurring at any time.
The best hopes of a solution lie in an agreement between Mr. Adoula and President Tshombe and the early withdrawal of the bulk of the United Nations troops from Southern Katanga. President Tshombe is still conferring with Mr. Adoula, but we have seen little indication in the Press of the progress of the talks. No doubt they cover a very wide range of topics, including the withdrawal of the Central Government troops from Northern Katanga and the restoration there of law and order. Here, it will be remembered that the troops of General Lundula, the Chief of Staff in Stanleyville, were able, with United Nations support, to occupy the town of Albertville and for a time also the town of Kongolo. It was in the latter town that occurred the appalling massacre of 21 European missionaries last January.
President Tshombe himself is convinced that if he can negotiate freely with Mr. Adoula without interference from the United Nations, the British, the Americans or anyone else, he can reach agreement. I only hope and pray that this may be so; but I fear that one of the difficulties may be that behind Mr. Adoula—who, I understand, is himself a reasonable man—there may be certain Communist influences, notably Mr. Gbenwe, the Deputy Prime Minister, and other elements in the Stanleyville régime. Then, again, obviously resisting any settlement in Northern Katanga is Mr. Jason Sendwe, the leader of the Balubas, with their notorious youth wing, the so-called "Lumumba Youth Without Mercy." We must all hope and pray that these negotiations succeed. If they do, and if Mr. Adoula is able to assert his authority in Orientale Province as well as in Kivu and Kasai, then at last we can really hope to see an end to this 1036 problem of the Congo. But one cannot ignore the possibility of failure, and if so all the dangers in Elisabethville itself will reassert themselves.
It is for this reason that I would most strongly urge my noble friend to bring these facts to the notice of the Secretary-General and beg him to use all his authority with the local military and civil authorities in Katanga to prevent the recurrence of incidents leading to hostilities. That is the only real way in which we can avoid this danger in Katanga and secure the return of peace to the inhabitants of that area.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, we have listened to many speeches this afternoon, all of them full of interest and all of them dealing with urgent matters of the moment. I think it is right that they should have done so because, after all, it is on the decisions taken in the immediate present that the welfare of this country and the world will depend in the next few years. But I should like, with your Lordships' permission, to turn away somewhat from the immediate towards a problem which, though less urgent, is, in my view, no less important. I am encouraged to do that partly by the words of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, in his thoughtful and entertaining speech in which he mentioned the continent of South America and the island of Cuba, and also by the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester, in which he so rightly pointed out the contribution which this country, through its foreign policy, should be making not only to the absence of war but to the positive wellbeing of people in other countries.
I think there are two reasons why it is right that we should do it. The greater one, of course, is that it is our duty, in so far as it is possible for us to do so, to help other people. And the second reason, perhaps less worthy but still not to be entirely ignored, is that unless we in the West, we in the democracies, take action of that kind in many areas in the world, in those countries we shall find some Communist leanings arising. And if we ignore what is happening in those other areas, the position of this country, and the position of the West in ten years' time, if we are able, through the efforts of the Foreign Secretary and 1037 others, to avoid war before that, will be made far harder.
It is difficult to talk in general terms about an area as vast as the Latin American Republics, stretching as it does from the Northern Caribbean down to Cape Horn. There are many countries; there are many peoples; there are many different aspects of government. I should like to dwell, very briefly, on two of those countries at the extreme limits—at one end, the Argentine, and at the other, Cuba. They both suffer, as indeed do all the republics of Latin America, from the difficulties of an over-rapid move away from an old-fashioned economic system into a system which is more in keeping with the desires of the mass of people to-day.
It was not so long ago that throughout those countries one found—indeed, in many of them one still finds—grave and gross maldistribution of wealth; enormous riches on one side, and abject poverty on the other. It is only natural, when that takes place in the world today, with the communications with other parts of the world, where people can see what is going on, read what is going on and have visits from people who tell them, that there should be movements to effect a redistribution of wealth. That happened in the Argentine, under Peron. I am not for a moment defending what went on there, but there is no getting away from the fact that when the Peron regime came to an end a very large number of people were far better off materially than they ever had been before, and better than they had any hopes of being until he took power. I know that in achieving that result there were grave hardships, brutality and acts which none of us can condone. And, what is more, at the same time as that was going on the economy of the country was brought to the very edge of ruin—in fact it was ruined.
When Peron eventually was pushed out by the military forces of the country—not by what is normally thought of as the military forces, a reactionary gang who wanted to restore the old regime, but by something much closer to people who wished to see a democratic Government in that country—the economic state of the country was very parlous indeed. With the best will in the world, it was impossible for the post-Peron Government to continue with the standard 1038 of living that had been enjoyed, simply because of the complete using up of the capital of the country under Peron himself. That has, quite naturally, led to tensions which we are now seeing erupting at this very moment: that is what is happening in the Argentine to-day.
To the north, in Cuba, something very similar has happened with the Castro regime. Whether, in fact, Castro has from the beginning been a Communist, whether he wished to have a Communist Government in his country or not, there is little need to argue here. My own view is that he did not so wish. But the effect of the policies of himself and of the outside world, including, more than any other, that of the United States, is that Cuba has now become a small foothold for Communism in the Caribbean area, uncomfortably close to the United States and not all that far from Curacao and the rich oil-bearing country of Venezuela—a rather sinister development.
I suggest most strongly that we in this country cannot simply say, "That is no concern of ours. We are busy with the affairs of Europe; we are busy with Berlin, with disarmament, with hydrogen bombs and all the rest if it. We shall leave that to the United States." We must not leave it to the United States. I am not critical at all of their policies as they are carrying them out at the present time. I think that the Conference at Punta del Este, the Organisation of American States, is an admirable move; and I believe that its objective of putting capital into those countries, assisting a slow movement towards democracy such as we know it, is exactly what is needed there.
But, my Lords, it cannot be left entirely to them. What is more, they, naturally, through this organisation, must deal directly with the Governments of all those countries that are there at the present time. In that way they cannot avoid being closely connected, in the eyes of the people of those countries, with the regime as it stands to-day. We all know how very unstable South American Governments tend to be, and it is very unlikely that the majority of those with which the United States is to-day working so closely will still be there in another four years' time. And 1039 when they are moved out, and other Governments come in, the United States is going to find itself, in the eyes of the people, so much identified with the regime that has gone that it will be very difficult for it to continue its good work with the good will of the fresh Government and of the people.
That, my Lords, is where I think we have a very big role to play. After all, we are not starting from scratch in those areas. We also have a long tradition, a much longer one than the United States, both in the Caribbean and in South America. There are still great areas in Patagonia where English is the normal language spoken; where the estates are owned, the farms managed, the frigrificos run by English people, who speak English even though they may not have been educated here. We have the good will and the tradition that goes with it, and we also have the great investment that we made in opening up those countries, in the railways and all the rest of it. So we are not coming into that area as strangers or unwelcome old acquaintances: we are coming with a store of good will and with a store of experience. The same applies in the Caribbean. We have there our own colonial possessions, as well as many contacts from older days.
I would make one more point in dealing with that area. We have recently been discussing the future of the British West Indies, and we know now that at least two of our former Colonies, Jamaica and Trinidad, are shortly to become independent countries—still in the Commonwealth, but independent. Jamaica is a large island not very far from Cuba, not entirely invulnerable to any contact with Cuba. Trinidad, though an island in the Caribbean, is less than ten miles from the mainland of South America; and politically it is far closer to South America than to the West Indian islands.
I do not think it is too fanciful to envisage a situation in which, sooner of later, when Trinidad gains or is given its independence and is responsible for its own protection, there might arise there a Government not entirely unlike that which has arisen in Ghana; where the ranks of the Opposition are some- 1040 what ruthlessly suppressed; where there could be an underground movement of the Opposition attempting to overthrow the existing Government, and where, in that case, with Venezuela, not a very stable country, less than ten miles away, there might be a movement on the part of the Government of Venezuela to come to the rescue of the democratic forces which were being so ruthlessly suppressed in Trinidad.
That is hypothetical; I am not saying that it will happen. But I am suggesting that it can happen. And if it were to happen at a time when Venezuela's present relatively liberal Government had been pushed out and been replaced by a far more authoritarian Government, we should then have a situation in which the whole outlook for peaceful development, along the lines of Western democracy, in the Caribbean, reaching down into South America, would look very different indeed from what it does to-day. At the Northern end there would he Cuba, with Castro, or whoever may succeed him, and at the Southern end Trinidad, joining on with Venezuela, with a similar form of Administration.
So, my Lords, while it is clearly right that the greatest amount of thought and discussion should be devoted to those matters which your Lordships have discussed to-day, I ask you also to bear in mind that there are these other areas where failure on our part to take thought and action now may well lead us into serious difficulties in the years to come. On the other hand, positive action on our part at the present time will go a long way to making into a reality the image which we in the West should like to create in other countries.
§ 6.33 p.m.
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, although it is rather late in the evening I do not think it is too late to congratulate the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary on one of the most remarkable speeches he has made; and I should very much like to associate myself with the noble and gallant Field-Marshal in the particular view of the Foreign Secretary which he expressed. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will indeed be able to evolve the kind of master plan of general 1041 disarmament which he has mentioned, in association with Mr. Rusk and Mr. Gromyko; and I am glad that he seems a little more hopeful to-day than perhaps he has been in the past, so far as general disarmament is concerned.
I do not propose to detain your Lordships for more than a moment, but I feel that I owe the House a few observations regarding our relations with the United States and the Soviet Union, particularly in regard to space. Your Lordships will recall that during the debate on space research which I initiated last December, I told your Lordships that Mr. Geoffrey Pardoe, who is Chairman of the Technical Committee of the British Space Development Company, and I had been invited to the Soviet Union to meet their scientists and to discuss some of the peaceful uses of space. This was to be a completely unofficial visit. As several of your Lordships have asked me what happened during that visit, I thought I should say that in fact it has not taken place. I greatly regret that it has not been possible for us yet to accept that invitation. However, I understand from a message from the Soviet Embassy this morning that the invitation is still open, and I hope that it may soon be possible for us to go, especially in view of the talks (which I think began yesterday) between the United States and the Soviet Union upon how, jointly, they can engage in certain peaceful space projects.
In the light of these American-Soviet talks, I am rather sorry that it was not possible for someone—I do not say Mr. Pardoe or, still less, myself—to go to Russia earlier this year, for I feel that we might then have been in a stronger position, and perhaps could even have given some assistance to our American friends in bringing about these talks. However that may be, I think we should all welcome these meetings and the hopes which they carry for peaceful cooperation in that field. I will not go into the five proposals which the President has made. Your Lordships will recall that each of them has suggested that the Soviet Union and the United States should undertake the experiments together, and not merely on an independent basis with an exchange of findings at a later date.
While no doubt there may be general agreement that we cannot afford to par- 1042 take in outer (I underline the word "outer") space projects with these two great Powers, we should, I believe, urge to be included or represented at any meetings in which problems about space communications are concerned. Your Lordships may remember that my noble friend Lord Swinton, during the Defence debate last week, referred to the highly important contribution which our scientists in this country make in regard to the nuclear deterrent. When I was in Washington recently I found that the same applied in respect of the work which we are doing on the peaceful uses of space research. In many cases the fundamental theories and calculations of our own scientists and technicians were forming the basis of practical American work, especially, as I say, in communications.
I am sure that we all welcome the proposals which were recently announced by the British Space Development Company, advocating a Commonwealth space communications scheme. I am sure that we all hope that the Commonwealth Space Conference, which I think is opening in London this week, will produce a decision to go ahead with some such Commonwealth communications scheme. No doubt this will have to be supplementary to the communications satellites launched by the United States, but it would seem to me to be most important that there should be close contact and co-operation between the technicians in all three Powers, including the U.S.S.R. The United States will no doubt have several of these communications satellites in orbit during the course of the next few years, whereas it seems doubtful whether, even if a "Go ahead" signal were given to a Commonwealth system of satellites, this could come into operation before 1968. I might say in parenthesis, that I hope that the European Launcher Development Organisation, with its British first stage, may be the customer of the British Commonwealth in launching the Commonwealth satellites.
If the demand for space communications is not so great in the Soviet Union as it is in the British Commonwealth, or in the United States—and undoubtedly it is not, because the number of telephones in the Soviet Union is infinitely smaller even than that in this 1043 country—I feel that technical cooperation with the U.S.S.R., if it has not already been done, should be commenced as soon as possible. I am not asking that it should be Mr. Pardoe or any of his associates who should go on this visit, but I feel that experts specialising in this field should take advantage of the apparent willingness of the Soviet Union to have discussions in this matter. Although it is true that there has been some co-operation with the Russians in regard to the tracking of satellites from Jodrell Bank—I think Sir Bernard Lovell was discussing this in America only last week—I feel that such co-operation should be extended to include a wider range of peaceful applications in the uses of space.
I hope your Lordships will not think it inappropriate of me to raise this question in this debate, but no one else, I believe, has done so. I think it must be agreed that if really effective cooperation can be achieved in the same way as, to some extent, it has been achieved in an agreement between this country and the U.S.S.R. on the peaceful uses of atomic energy, one cannot help feeling that there would be a considerable improvement in the international climate. Meanwhile, we can only wish our American and Russian friends good fortune in their space talks, talks which I see have also been warmly supported by the United Nations, but I hope that this country will not be left out.
One of our major problems to-day, as we have learned well during this debate, is the achievement of test bans and eventual nuclear disarmament, but the disarmament conferences, as we have also heard, have got bogged down on the question of the control posts and the numbers of people who will be manning them. Is it not too far-fetched to express the hope that, if we were able to achieve some form of co-operation in the use of satellites between our countries, the necessity for such control posts on the ground would no longer arise? We may be looking rather far ahead, but I was interested to hear the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, mention the fact that certain opinions have been expressed that we have now developed the monitoring devices to such an extent that it is already possible to detect nuclear explosions 1044 in any part of the world. But I noted that the Foreign Secretary maintained that they are not so effective as that.
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Earl? I put in the same qualification as the Foreign Secretary did, that the scientists are not yet in a position to be able to detect all underground explosions.
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
I hope, my Lords, that in the course of the next months or years a device will be perfected—and I wonder whether earth satellites could not also be used to assist such detection. I do not want to pose before your Lordships as a prophet, still less as a scientist, but I feel that in years to come it may be through space that the great Powers on this earth will be brought to co-operate and harmonise their policies. This may sound unduly hopeful, your Lordships having heard what the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary has said about his recent talks with Mr. Gromyko, and the number of "No's" he received in reply to some of his questions and the fact that the Russians will not accept even facts which are well established. I realise this, and I realise too that at present effective verification on the ground may still be necessary.
Will your Lordships permit me to say one word about trade questions in general? I feel we should all warmly welcome President Kennedy's offer of an all-round 50 per cent. cut in tariffs. It is true that certain industrialists over here have told me that in the case of some of their products where the American tariff is at present very high, such a cut, if made, would mean that American tariffs would still be high; whereas if we in the United Kingdom or in Europe made such a 50 per cent. cut, in some cases our tariffs would be down to a very low percentage indeed. I have also been told—I have not seen any specific detailed figures myself; I was hoping that the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, who is to reply to the debate, might have access to some—that, taking the average of all imports into the United States, the tariff level is still considerably higher than those obtaining in Europe and this country.
However, it seems to me to be clear that if the Americans were able to make 1045 this substantial cut, and if the Common Market could also lower their outer tariff wall by 50 per cent., some of the problems—especially in so far as they relate to imports into Britain from the Commonwealth—might be considerably eased and it would make it less embarrassing to us vis à vis our Commonwealth friends if in fact we did become members of the European Economic Community. All in all, my Lords, I feel that the United States is economically so strong that it could afford to lower its tariffs more than any other country.
Finally, one word, if I may, about Africa. I hope your Lordships will agree that, whatever political controversies may exist about questions of national sovereignty, it is most important that friendly relations be established with the new emergent African States. This is not a question of political propaganda, but simply one of multiplying, as I have indeed said before, the contacts with other friendly countries—every kind of personal, cultural and economic contact. A great majority of the new African independent countries are outside of the Commonwealth and are almost an unknown world to the majority of us—as indeed we are to them.
While I appreciate that the Government can do much by establishing friendly diplomatic and commercial relations with these countries, I am delighted to learn that the new Council on African-British Relations is being formed, under the chairmanship of Sir James Robertson, who was formerly the Governor-General of Nigeria. This, I hope, will stimulate and strengthen our mutual interest in each other, including especially those numerous former French territories which have not before had many links with this country. I was glad to hear that the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs approves—the did not say so in this debate, but I know he has said this on another occasion—of the setting up of this new Council, and I hope that your Lordships also will endorse this very worthwhile effort.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, we are once more indebted to my noble friend for having introduced this subject in his usual inimitable manner. We are obliged to him for two reasons: first, because I have never known him in better form 1046 than he was in to-day; and, secondly, because by introducing this debate he brought back from Geneva the Foreign Secretary, who was able to give us an interim account of his activities in Geneva. May I personally say how glad we are to see him, and to see that he has survived the innumerable dinners at which he conducted his diplomacy? Knowing something about Swiss dinners, I should imagine that they were as great an ordeal as the diplomacy itself.
My noble friend made an admirable survey, in which he covered Europe and South-East Asia, and other noble Lords have brought in Africa, and even South America, all of which are, of course, very important, indeed. But I think, by common consent, the debate has ranged over the negotiations at Geneva in recent weeks. The noble Lord, Lord Rea, made what was, I suppose, rather an understandably "cocky" and patronising speech, under the guise of an independent approach. Frankly, I did not think that he was contributing very much to the debate. He was not very helpful in guiding us on the course we should adopt and, while we do not grudge him his short period of triumph, I wish he could be a little more constructive in his remarks and give us the benefit of the great liberal views which should be the outcome of the Liberal revival.
If I may say so, the noble Lord, the Foreign Secretary, made a most admirable statement. He was frank, and he gave us a revealing account of the negotiations which are taking place at Geneva under three heads. Obviously, it was an interim report and could only be that, but it places me, at any rate—and I suppose most people who take a responsible view of this debate—somewhat in a dilemma. First, it is very difficult to make any critical observations or even suggestions which might be at variance with the line which the Government are taking at this stage, because nobody wants to put a spanner into the works or to make negotiations more difficult than they already are; and it is quite obvious, from what the noble Earl has told us, that the negotiations are not particularly easy. One does not want to say anything which might encourage the Soviet Union to believe that pressure is being exerted in this country to make concessions which, if they held out long enough, we might be 1047 prepared to make. So I feel a little inhibited in the observations I am about to make. In some ways one harks back to the days of the war when we had Secret Sessions, when we could really say what we liked, and if we wanted to be unduly critical we could never be accused of saying anything which would he harmful to the country. But, of course, that is out of the question to-day and I am not even recommending it; I am merely harking hack, with a certain amount of nostalgia, to the Secret Sessions which we had in those days.
I want to come on to the three main headings under which the discussions at Geneva have been taking place, and to make a few observations on them which I hope will not be unhelpful. First, may I deal with the cessation of nuclear testing? Obviously there is at the moment difficulty in getting any kind of agreement on a means of verification and control. The Soviet Union allege that they are afraid of espionage, and I wonder whether we are asking too much, and making too great demands on the Soviet Union, as to the amount of inspection that we really find necessary. The noble Earl reminded us that the previous Geneva discussions broke down on, among other things, the amount of inspection that the opposing parties thought necessary. We are insisting upon twenty units and the Soviet Union were prepared to agree to fourteen. I wonder whether we were not asking for more than we really thought was justified at that time, and whether some compromise would not have been possible then. Obviously, if we had been able to compromise on some lower figure there would have been a great advantage to this country. Is it really true that the Soviet Union will not permit any form of verification to-day? Are they departing from what they were prepared to agree to last year—that is, fourteen units?
I have had sent to me a statement which I have no doubt most noble Lords get. This is the Anglo-Russian News Bulletin, and there is a statement in it that—The Soviet Union wants to have proper guarantees that the disarmament commitments agreed upon are strictly fulfilled, that there are no loopholes in them for forging weapons of aggression in secret when the process of 1048 general and complete disarmament has already begun. Our country is not going to take anybody on trust, least of all the states which have established exclusive military groupings … nor do we ask anybody to take us on trust either. The Soviet Union is a convinced advocate of strict control over disarmament.I should be grateful if the noble Earl could find himself able to comment on that statement, because it seems to be somewhat at variance with the attitude which Mr. Gromyko appears to have taken up during the present discussions in Geneva.
I should also like to ask the noble Earl who is going to reply this question: if the Soviet Union are insisting on having no verification at all and no control, does that mean that they are willing to accept no control on our part, too; that is to say, that they are not asking for any kind of verification against our carrying out tests? They are evidently taking the view that it is possible to say whether tests have taken place, without actually having any verification in the respective countries. I suppose it would follow from that that they are not asking to have any units in this country at all. I should be grateful if the noble Earl could tell us whether that is the case: whether they are willing to forgo verification, both as regards this country and the United States. If that were so, it would be a very remarkable fact.
The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, in what I thought was a most stimulating and highly technical address, of which I should imagine few noble Lords in this House would be capable, took the view that we were somewhat exaggerating the importance of verification and control. Indeed, I believe he went so far as to question whether it was really necessary at all, in view of the present state of knowledge. I appreciate that the noble Earl takes a different view, but, in the view of the Government, how far do they think we are from being able to have immediate knowledge of any kind of nuclear explosion? The Soviet Union are issuing a statemont—I have no doubt the noble Earl has seen it—to the effect that they deliberately set off an underground explosion in order to see whether this would be discovered by us, and that it was discovered immediately and reported on the very next morning. So, 1049 they say, there is really no need at all for all this paraphernalia of verification and control. I should be grateful if the noble Earl could elaborate on the real danger that would face us if we went some way towards meeting the Soviet Union.
The second heading under which the discussions have taken place this afternoon has been general disarmament. That is by far the most important question with which the noble Earl is dealing in Geneva. I need not enlarge upon the very great value that a disarmament agreement would mean to the whole world; but even a partial agreement would encourage everybody to get closer together and to pursue the kind of discussions which the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, proposes should be held. Any kind of discussion, any kind of negotiation, would be advantageous, and even only a short-term agreement for a limited form of disarmament would he of immense value from that point of view as well as from many other points of view. On the other hand, it has been stated that, if no agreement is arrived at and we proceed in the way we are proceeding, then by 1966 our armaments will have been doubled, and that is something which I shudder to contemplate.
I was glad to hear from the noble Earl that we are making some progress, and I would emphasise the great importance—I need hardly emphasise it to the noble Earl, because he has given evidence of it in his speech this afternoon—of flexibility. Obviously, especially in one's public appearances, one has to strike an attitude and make a statement as to what one's position is; but in the course of negotiation, especially when one is negotiating privately, one must be prepared—all parties must be prepared—to depart from the extreme position one has taken up in one's public appearances. If I had any criticism to make as to the Government's past method of negotiation, I would say that they have shown a certain lack of flexibility, and, having taken up a position, have been somewhat reluctant to depart from it. I must confess that, having heard the noble Earl this afternoon, I am impressed that that may not be the case to-day, and that we do not necessarily stand on every word that we utter in our public appearances.
1050 May I give just one example of this? The Soviet Union have put forward proposals for general and complete disarmament over four years. That may be optimistic; I do not know. The proposal of the United States is nine years. I do not know whether economic questions enter into this problem. There was at one time a fear that too-rapid disarmament might create economic difficulties in all the countries which are engaged in heavy armament. I understand that there has been a report by a United Nations Committee which has rather disillusioned those holding that view, saying that it is possible for the various countries to absorb the manufacture of arms into peaceful production, and that it need cause no particular difficulty. But is that possible over a period of four years, or would a four-year period create exceptional difficulties which a nine-year period would not? I wonder whether the noble Earl could say something in reply about that. But, subject to that, are there any insuperable difficulties—technical, military difficulties—in carrying out disarmament over as short a period as four years, or is there some minimum period below which it is quite impracticable to carry out complete disarmament?
The noble Earl, in the course of his speech, talked about the condition that there should be equality, roughly, in the arms of the two sides. Has that always been the case? If it is the position today that, so far as nuclear weapons are concerned, the noble Earl takes the view that the two sides are roughly balanced, and if he also takes the view (which I think he did in his speech) that the Soviet Union gained great advantage from carrying out its recent tests, it would seem to follow that before they began these tests they were at a serious disadvantage, and that they carried out these tests for the purpose of getting into balance with our own nuclear weapons. If, now, the United States is contemplating proposing or threatening to start up tests again, would that not result in a further imbalance, which would certainly induce the Soviet Union to start again? If so, we are starting up the same old course of testing and counter-testing without end. I should have thought that, since the parties are in balance, there was no need for another 1051 new round of testing. Surely we have enough weapons on either side to cause all the destruction that anybody could wish to carry out to his heart's content; and surely the addition of further weapons, or of more powerful weapons, could not greatly affect the situation.
Finally, my Lords, I want to say a word or two about Germany. My noble friend Lord Kennet suggested that it might be possible to exaggerate incidents, and even that the case to which the noble Earl referred might be one for which the Soviet Union officially had no responsibility. I do not know: the noble Earl doubts that. But I suppose it is just conceivable, is it not, that some official, out of an excess of zealousness, might have carried out this little enterprise without official authority? I do not know. Certainly the noble Earl was quite right to talk to Mr. Gromyko in the strictest possible terms about this. No one could possibly complain about that, and we are all very glad that it had the desired results.
There is one respect in which I found myself in disagreement with my noble friend Lord Kennet. That was when he said that he did not think we should concern ourselves over much with Germany. I think that Germany is the key to the whole position.
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, may I intrude for a moment to correct what may be a misunderstanding? I did not mean to imply that we should concern ourselves less with Germany in any way, only that we should not make disarmament dependent on a solution to the German problem.
§ LORD SILKIN
Of course, my Lords, that is rather a different point. I imagine that if we effectively solved the disarmament problem, that would solve everything. We should find that such questions as Germany would fall into place. But I want to emphasise the fact that the Russians genuinely fear Germany. There may not be very much substance or justification for this fear, but during the short visit I paid to the Soviet Union a few months ago I did find that the fear of Germany was absolutely sincere and universal. I agree that, in many ways, one imagines one is listening to a gramophone record: people there are 1052 always talking about general and complete disarmament in such terms that one appreciates that it is something that had been drummed into them. But I have no doubt whatever that their fear of Germany is sincere. Moreover, it is no good trying to prove to the Russians that they have no justification for that fear: it is almost an obsession. And it would be even more so if there were the remotest possibility of Germany being supplied with nuclear weapons, or of Germany being reunited. A great deal of water would have to flow under the bridges before the Soviet Union would contemplate for one single moment the possibility of the reunification of Germany.
In the meantime, what should he our attitude towards East Germany? The noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, referred to the possibility of the recognition of East Germany. The noble Earl, Lord Home, did not refer to that at all to-day, although he said something about it in an earlier speech. I should be grateful if we could be told, if it is desired so to state it, what is our attitude. Of course I do not wish to press the Government to say anything that might be embarrassing, but if it were possible to make a statement as to our attitude to the recognition of East Germany, I should be very interested.
My own view, which I have stated before, is that not only would some form of de facto recognition be useful to be able to throw into the common pool, but from the point of view of West Germany it might even be advantageous. After all, it is much easier to talk to people, and to bring about some kind of friendly relationship which might in due course lead to reunification, if you recognise them than if you refuse to talk to them at all.
From the point of view of negotiating a settlement with Germany, I wonder what is the Government's attitude towards the possibliity of a de facto recognition of East Germany. I know that my noble friend and I have discussed this question of de facto recognition before. He is perfectly right: a de facto recognition has no legal significance. "De facto" recognition can mean a great deal; it can mean very little. But it does mean, at any rate, 1053 that you are prepared to talk when necessary. The exent of the de facto recognition might be a question for discussion, but at least in my own view it would be desirable that we should afford East Germany some form of de facto recognition, which would be valuable in enabling us to get on terms which one day, as I have said, might lead to the possibility of reunification—which, in spite of the objections of the Soviet Union, I think is ultimately inevitable—and it might well eliminate one of the sources of danger in Europe in the years to come.
As I said earlier, I have felt somewhat inhibited in this debate, and I hope that what I have said has not been unduly harmful. I am sure the whole House will be encouraged, on the whole, by the qualified optimism of the noble Earl. He certainly did qualify his optimism, but it is a long time since I have heard anything even as optimistic as his qualified optimism. And there are other grounds, too. The negotiations have gone well. As the noble Earl said, they have been conducted with good spirit and humour, and in very agreeable conditions. I am also encouraged by the contacts which are about to take place between the United States and the Soviet Union on outer space and joint research. I wonder whether the noble Earl who is to wind up could give us some information as to whether there are any developments with regard to that, and as to the scientific talks to which the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, has referred as valuable, and the fact that the Soviet Union is encouraging these researches, is asking for them, and is inviting the noble Earl to go to the Soviet Union. I think that all these things are encouraging signs and lead one to believe that it should not be impossible to arrive at some form of agreement which would relieve the tension which exists at the present time.
I can only tell the noble Earl that all of us wish him well in the superhuman task which confronts him, and we hope he will stand up well to it. If he succeeds, much will be forgiven, and forgiven his Party. I feel that he will have helped to give to the world a new hope and a new spirit which will far transcend the political differences which exist in this country or in other countries, and it will be something which will have 1054 enormous consequences for every human being throughout the world.
My Lords, perhaps I may be permitted a word of personal explanation. The noble Lord has referred to me personally in terms which I think may be interpreted as rather offensive and unparliamentary. I should only like to say that I put questions to the Government, presumably for the same reason as the noble Lord, for guidance and because Her Majesty's Government are in possesion of more authentic information than either his Party or mine.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I should like to say that I bad no intention of being personally offensive to the noble Lord, for whom I have a great liking and respect, but he will not mind my criticising the spirit of his remarks in this debate. I feel fully justified in doing so.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF DUNDEE)
My Lords, I am anxious to see peaceful relations between the Labour and the Liberal Parties and I should like to say that I greatly enjoyed the speeches of both noble Lards, Lord Silkin and Lord Rea. The speech of the noble Lord, Lard Silkin, was very helpful. He asked me to reply to only a few detailed questions. I do not know that I can reply to all of them. With regard to outer space, the Committee which has just been set up between the Americans and Russians is now sitting in America to discuss this matter; but I cannot say, because I do not know anything about it, the progress which it has made.
I do not think I can give a definite answer to the noble Lord's question about de facto recognition of East Germany, partly because it is such an indefinite term. It has no legal meaning. As the Foreign Secretary pointed out last autumn, we have a great many practical dealings with East Germany, and in one sense it may be argued that that constitutes some sort of de facto recognition; but this, of course, is one of the questions which will have to be discussed during the coming months. Whether the Russians would consider it as a concession of the slightest value to their point of view or not, I do not 1055 know, but I do not think that we can say anything more definite about it at this moment.
The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, also asked a few questions about the Russian attitude balanced against our possible insistence on verification, both about nuclear tests and about the general question of disarmament. So far as nuclear tests are concerned, Mr. Gromyko's present attitude is absolutely at variance with the newspaper article which the noble Lord read out. With regard to general disarmament, we certainly remember that at the United Nations in New York last autumn the Russians had a proposal that, if we accepted their particular plan for disarmament which involved abolishing all nuclear weapons first, leaving them with an overwhelming conventional superiority, and abolishing conventional weapons a year or two later, they would accept complete nuclear control to see that nobody rearmed again. We did not think that that was quite a satisfactory attitude. I do not know whether in theory they proposed that control should begin after disarmament has been completed or whether it should be applied during the process of disarmament, which would seem to us to be essential, but that is a thing which we shall have to find out. We shall do our best to see how far we can go in meeting the views of the Russians in all these matters.
The Russians have said lately that they had let off an underground explosion deliberately, not because they wanted a test, but just to see whether we would detect it or not. We did immediately detect it. But that really is not the point. The point of verification is not to find out that people have clone something wrong, but whether they have done anything wrong. If there is an earthquake or other disturbance which has the same effect on our instruments as an underground explosion, naturally we should assume that it was an underground explosion, and the object of verification is to find out whether that is so. The real purpose of verification is not to find out whether people do something wrong but to prevent the breaking of a test ban by misinterpretation, which at present is quite likely in certain geological circumstances.
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, before the noble Earl passes from that point, could he tell us how large that underground explosion was?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
Not so far; the Russians did not say how big it was. They merely mentioned it as a matter of interest to us that they had let it off to see whether we could detect it. It is not the point whether it was big or small. The point of verification is whether it is an underground test or not. If any country insisted on saying that there was no test, how could we know? And the point of going to see afterwards is to prove that they were innocent and not to prove that they were guilty.
The noble Lords, Lord Henderson and Lord Silkin, and all noble Lords who have spoken, have been in general agreement with the Foreign Secretary's speech, which has been widely and cordially accepted in all parts of the House. There have been really no criticisms of it, except for some interesting scientific criticisms about nuclear testing by the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, to which I shall refer in a few minutes. I do not think it is necessary to say much more on the general themes of Berlin, and the opposition to a nuclear test agreement or to disarmament, which were the main subjects covered by my noble friend. Although he referred only briefly to Algeria, Indonesia, Vietnam and Laos, the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, indicated that he would like me to give a little information about them. The noble Lords, Lord Rea and Lord Walston, both spoke on South America, as did my noble friend Lord Gladwyn in another context, and the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, returned to the question of Katanga. I will try to be as short as I can in giving the information for which the noble Lords have asked.
The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, was anxious, as I think we all are, about the danger of conflict in South-East Asia between the Indonesians and the Dutch over West Irian. Last autumn, at the United Nations Assembly, the Netherlands delegation tabled a resolution, which we should have been quite willing to support, proposing the institution of a United Nations trusteeship as a possible solution to the New Guinea problem. That resolution did not secure the necessary support and it was withdrawn 1057 in favour of another resolution by various African States, which envisaged an interim international administration, if no solution was reached by direct negotiations. We also supported that resolution, which went to a vote; but I am sorry to say that, although it got a majority, it did not get the necessary two-thirds majority. Therefore, no effective resolution on the subject has been passed by the United Nations.
The Indonesian Government have always made it clear that a proposal for trusteeship or international administration is unacceptable to them. As your Lordships know, we do not approve of warlike threats on the part of Indonesia, but we are most anxious, from every point of view, for the sake of world peace and for all other reasons, to see an acceptable solution of this question, and we were very glad indeed when it was decided to hold talks between Dutch and Indonesian representatives in the United States. They are being held under the chairmanship of Mr. Bunker, a former Ambassador from the United States to India. The object of these talks was to reach agreement on the agenda for substantive negotiations. I am sorry to say that for the moment the talks have been suspended. However, we hope that this is only temporary, and I understand that the Indonesian representatives who have withdrawn have given some reason to hope that the suspension will he only a temporary one. I am sorry that there is no better progress to report on that matter.
In regard to Laos (which was mentioned by my noble friend towards the end of his speech) we think that the Russians are doing their best at Geneva, as we are, to get an agreement, and it does entirely depend on the three Princes, who have not yet agreed. If only they could agree—and there is no really cogent reason why they should not—then I think their decision would be endorsed by both ourselves and the Russians at Geneva, and this troublesome matter might be settled. I do not want to say anything in criticism of any of the three Princes, but I wish that they would make more progress in getting together and forming a Government.
On Vietnam, we have never tried to conceal that a very dangerous situation 1058 exists in South Vietnam which could threaten stability in the whole area. It is not a spontaneous insurrection against an unpopular Government: it is undoubtedly fomented, organised, supplied and directed from North Vietnam. Your Lordships will also remember the outrageous air attack the other day on the President's residence by aeroplanes flown by revolutionary officers. In these circumstances, it is not surprising that the Vietnamese should have appealed to their friends for help, and that the United States should have responded. But their assistance is not the cause of the trouble; it is a reaction to it. And the United States have made it plain that their aims in South Vietnam are limited to the restoration of peaceful conditions. President Kennedy has said that if the North Vietnamese will stop their campaign to destroy the Republic of Vietnam, American measures would no longer be necessary. And Mr. Rusk has made it plain that the United States have no combat units in Vietnam and have no desire for bases or other military advantages.
I was glad that the noble Lord. Lord Rea, and also the noble Lord, Lord Walston, referred to South America. I agree very much with the noble Lord, Lord Walston, that it is a continent to which we do not pay nearly enough attention, both on political and on economic grounds. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Rea, who mentioned the Duke of Edinburgh's tour of the ten South American countries and of British Guiana, which is now almost at an end. I think your Lordships will agree that to do all that His Royal Highness has done in so short a time is a very remarkable feat. The visit has been an outstanding success. This success has been made possible by the Duke of Edinburgh's vitality and charm, and his enthusiastic interest in the South American scene; and it has been reinforced by the warmth and hospitality accorded to him by the people and Governments of Latin America. I think that, for the Lat n Americans, Prince Philip's tour has powerfully strengthened their links with the United Kingdom, which go back in many cases 150 years, to the date when they first won their independence, and which have, in our view, in late years become much too slender. In this country, I hope that the tour will 1059 serve to jog people out of their complacency; because there are too many people here who have for too long neglected this area, which is not only a market with immense potentiality for trade, but also a vital link in the Free World; and, as your Lordships know, it is very directly exposed to the dangers of the cold war.
The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, referred to the need for paying a more just price for the primary products on which so many Latin American countries are entirely dependent; and, of course, that applies to most backward countries in the world, who are, as a rule, dependent for their exports and for their livelihood on the world price of primary products. I happen to have given an address a week or two ago to a body of economic diplomats in London, and I was particularly impressed by one piece of information with which the Board of Trade supplied me for the purpose of that address. It was that if the price of primary products were to fall by only 5 per cent., that fall would entirely wipe out the whole aid to underdeveloped countries which is now being given year by year by the United States, Britain, France and Germany, amounting to thousands of millions of pounds a year. I asked then if I could be informed by how much primary product prices had fallen since 1954, and the answer was not 5 per cent., but 10 per cent. So your Lordships see that since 1954 the economic loss which these underdeveloped countries have suffered simply by this fall in the price of primary products is twice as much as all the economic aid they are now getting from richer countries. And we call that favourable terms of trade.
Of course, it means that we get some of our raw materials cheaper. But it also means that we have to give large sums in economic aid, which have the effect only of mitigating the poverty which is being caused by the fall in prices. In addition, it means that these countries cannot buy our exports. And it adversely affects what are called our invisible exports, because it means that our investments in so many of these foreign countries in all kinds of commodities do not pay any dividends. This is a matter which I cannot in a debate on Foreign Affairs pursue any further, 1060 but I think we shall have to try to find some international solution which will put a floor into the price of primary products, in the same way that countries in Europe and North America put a floor into the price for their agricultural products.
This is a very important thing for the Free World, because the threat which faces the Free World is not only a military one. We must not only develop our physical defences; we must strengthen our political and economic cohesion to meet the challenge. We have not only the military organisation of NATO, but also O.E.C.D. which is designed to build up the economic cohesion of the Free World; and its work, which is the coordination of economic policies and the promotion of economic growth and of development aid, and the discussion of scientific trade and agricultural problems, can play a great part in creating a more interdependent, stronger and prosperous Western world. I think this point which has been raised by noble Lords to-day is one of the most important things which this organisation must consider.
My noble friend Lord Colyton returned again to the point which he raised in a debate a week or two ago about Katanga. I was interested again to hear his own experiences. I do not think I can give him any further reply than I gave him then, but in view of the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, both took part in that debate, I will see whether their comments could be submitted to the appropriate authorities in New York for their information, which I think might be helpful to them.
I thought, if I may say so, that the noble Lord. Lord Kennet, made a speech of great interest on certain scientific aspects of nuclear testing. Since the Foreign Secretary was not here when he began, perhaps I should say that he described my noble friend's speech as being excellent, constructive and remarkable. So I think his criticism of it was limited to this one matter. If I remember rightly what he said, his argument was that the new tests which are now proceeding are concerned with four objectives: first, to try to find an anti-missile missile, secondly, to try to work out some kind 1061 of anti-missile umbrella or shield in the atmosphere; thirdly, to invent some kind of missile which would interfere with this anti-missile defence and, finally, to increase the weight-yield ratio in nuclear warheads. It is a little complicated. I do not know whether your Lordships saw the other day one of Low's cartoons, in which he depicted the noble Earl, Lord Russell, and a number of nuclear disarmers crouching on their haunches before an anti-missile missile and saying to each other with a bewildered expression, "Do we sit or stand for this one?" They would be still more bewildered, perhaps, by an anti-anti-missile missile. The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, spoke with great knowledge which I myself do not share. He was very confident that, except for the last objective of increasing the weight-yield ratio in the nuclear warhead, underground tests were no use and that all the other tests have to be done in the atmosphere, which could more easily be detected. I am not sure the matter is quite so simple as it appeared to be from the noble Lord's speech, but my noble friend the Foreign Secretary has said that we will accept any method of minimum inspection which is guaranteed as safe by our scientists. And, of course, we will always consider any arguments of this kind which are put forward to us and we are very glad to do so.
I am a little cautious about its possible effect on the Russians, for several reasons. I hope your Lordships do not think this is too pessimistic, but as they agreed to verification last year before the conference broke down—and I do not think that it broke down because we could not agree on the exact amount of verification; I think it was because they decided about a year before that they were going to have new tests anyhow; in fact, they must have done so because it takes a long time to prepare these tests—I cannot believe that if they wanted to ban nuclear tests now they would allow a point like this to stand in the way of agreement. It is our duty to try. We must not assume that the Russians may already have decided, whatever anybody else does, that they are going to have another series of tests in any event. I hope that is not true, but all the indications seem to point towards it.
1062 With regard to more general disarmament, if they are so unreasonable about harmless methods of verification as to nuclear tests, I wonder what their attitude will be towards verification of real comprehensive disarmament, whether it is to be carried out in four years or nine years. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, asked whether there was any economic reason for the difference. I do not think so. I think it is purely what is practical. The essential difference between our plan and the Russians', as we have pointed out many times, is not the number of years it takes, but the fact that we want to disarm in all branches of weapons, nuclear and conventional, by stages. I think that is the basis of the Commonwealth plan and the plan which was adopted by the United Nations Assembly last September; whereas the Russians, as I have already pointed out, want a policy of destroying nuclear weapons first, and then conventional weapons.
We must not be pessimistic. We have this Conference at Geneva, and we intend to go ahead and make what we can of it. We are not without hope. I would recommend to your Lordships that, besides hope, we should also cultivate the virtue of patience, which is perhaps of even greater value. Hope is necessary, because despair is a grave sin. We must always have hope. But patience is sometimes an even greater virtue than hope, and it is a virtue which usually receives its reward.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, I should like to express gratitude to all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. My noble friend Lord Silkin referred to the various Continents that had been visited by different speakers in their speeches, and I think the questions which were answered by the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, showed that a variety of matters apart from the Geneva issues had been touched upon. I am grateful to the noble Earl for answering the questions which I myself posed in my speech, and I am sure that other noble Lords are grateful for the answers the noble Earl has given to them.
I think this debate, whatever good purpose it has served in other directions, served the good purpose of giving the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary an 1063 opportunity to speak at the end of the first phase of the Disarmament Conference and to give us his assessment both of what has taken place and, to some extent, of the prospects for the future. Like other noble Lords, I think we were all impressed by the controlled or cautious optimism which he expressed, especially in respect of the general Disarmament Conference; and his suggestion of taking the two main plans, the American and the Soviet plans, and hammering out a draft agreement, seems to me, and I think to most noble Lords, a practical way of making progress. As I said in my opening speech, there must be a report to the United Nations Disarmament Commission in due course. When that has taken place there will be an interim report and maybe at that stage we can have a further discussion on disarmament.
I should like to add my own appreciation of the speech of my noble friend 1064 Lord Kennet. I am sure the House realises that he is an expert on disarmament. He is very highly informed and I must confess, quite frankly, not having a scientific mind at all, that I was not able to follow the points he raised. But I feel sure that, in the light of what the Foreign Secretary has said, practical suggestions like that will be considered by the Government and no doubt referred to the scientific advisers to the Government to give some reaction as to their value. When in a debate of this sort a noble Lord who obviously has special knowledge makes practical suggestions, I am sure it is a good thing that they should be noted and that the Government should undertake to look into them. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the Motion standing in my name.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.
§ House adjourned at ten minutes before eight o'clock.