HL Deb 01 November 1962 vol 244 cc112-202

2.47 p.m.

Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved on Tuesday last by Baroness Elliot of Harwood—namely, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:

"Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."


My Lords, I rise to resume the debate on the Motion before the House and, as we are all aware, our discussion to-day will be directed primarily to the sections in the gracious Speech dealing with foreign policy. I think that uppermost in our minds to-day will be the two crises of momentous importance; first, the dramatic events in Cuba which led the world to the brink of disaster, and, secondly, the ferocious attack upon India, which throws a cloud over the whole of the great continent of Asia. It is a sad fact that through both these crises can be seen one common factor: the duplicity of Communist leaders. In Cuba there was in the course of a few short weeks a massive build-up of short and intermediate range missiles, which if used could have struck at the main population centres of the United States. While these feverish preparations were in progress, Mr. Gromyko was giving bland assurances to President Kennedy that there were no offensive weapons on the island. A few days later, faced with the Visual and uncontroverted evidence of aerial photographs, Mr. Zorin in the Security Council was pretending that the photographs were forgeries. No wonder, my Lords, that world confidence in official assurances has been shaken, and the conclusion drawn that systems of "on the spot" verification are essential to guard against breaches of faith! Chou En-lai, in his handling of relations with India, has also been guilty of deception, and it is about the crisis on the borders of India that I wish to speak first.

I am sure that we all deplore and condemn China's brutal act of aggression against India and that we are unitedly with the Government in their decision to give full support to India for the defence of her rightful frontiers. India is not a threat to China's security. She is a non-aligned nation; she is a non-nuclear Power. What she is primarily concerned about is to be able to devote the maximum energies and resources to the peaceful development of her economic and social well-being. Now she has been brought face to face with the harsh facts of unprovoked war by her powerfully-armed Communist neighbour. India is, as we all recognise, an important and influential member of the Commonwealth, and I should have thought that all other Commonwealth Governments would not only sympathise with her in her present unsought dangerous situation, but would, like Britain, be anxious to help her in any way they can.

I find it difficult, therefore, to understand why President Nkrumah should tell Mr. Macmillan that he is gravely distressed and saddened about Britain's giving aid to India. He also urges that, whatever the rights and wrongs of the present struggle between India and China, no action should be taken that would aggravate it. He does not appear to recognise that by her military advance into Indian territory China is daily aggravating the struggle. He does not seem to recognise that, if India is left to struggle as best she can, alone and unaided, the situation could be aggravated to the point of a serious military defeat for India. I think it would have been more to the point, and more useful, if President Nkrumah had addressed a letter to the Chinese Prime Minister expressing distress at China's aggression and urging him to withdraw the Chinese forces to the positions they occupied when they launched their invasion of Indian territory, and then to enter into talks for peace.

My Lords, there can be little doubt that India is a victim of China's "double-dealing." I should like to remind the House, first, that both countries were members of the Bandung Conference of 1955. That Conference adopted the five principles of Panch Shila, as they have come to be called. I will cite three of them: first, mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty; secondly, non-aggression; thirdly, peaceful coexistence. While India has loyally abided by these principles, they have become, for China, merely another scrap of paper.

Secondly, I would remind the House that when Mr. Chou En-lai visited India towards the end of 1956 he is recorded as saying that he had accepted the McMahon Line as the border between China and Burma and that, whatever might have happened long ago, in view of new developments and the friendly relations which existed between China and India, he would accept this border with India also. Even as recently as 1960, after the new, extended Chinese claim had been put forward, Mr. Chou En-lai said: The border dispute is only an issue of limited and temporary nature compared with the fundamental question of preserving friendly co-operation between our two countries". In the light of all this, is it surprising, and is it not a tragedy of disillusionment, that, according to The Times of October 25, Mr. Nehru has said that the "massive invasion of India by China" had made India realise she had been "out of touch with reality", and had shocked her out of the "artificial atmosphere of our own creation"?

This ruthless aggression against India must be causing considerable anxiety through South-East Asia. Pakistan cannot remain indifferent to Chinese policy and actions. India and Pakistan have been in a posture of suspicion and hostility over Kashmir, and consequently have not given sufficient attention to the common menace on their Northern frontiers. Prudence and self-interest in present circumstances would suggest that this bone of contention should be put into cold storage until the present crisis is over. At present, the bulk of the Indian Army is in Kashmir and on the Pakistan border. What would be of real help would be for Pakistan to make some standstill gesture or agreement which would enable the Government of India to withdraw large forces from Kashmir for service against the invader. It may be that hostilities will halt when winter sets in, but how serious the situation will be then will depend on the positions occupied by the Chinese. As Mr. Gaitskell, the Leader of the Opposition, has said in another place, if the Chinese were to achieve an outstanding military success this could have very big consequences indeed throughout the whole of South-East Asia, and if they managed to secure control of access to India, so that they were poised at any moment to descend on the plains of Assam, they would be in a very powerful position in any dealings with India in the future.

It is most gratifying to note that Indian requests for military equipment have been promptly met, not only by the British Government but also by the Governments of the United States, Canada and France. It would be good if, as Mr. Harold Wilson suggested yesterday in another place, there could be a concerted policy of lend-lease to enable India to obtain her military requirements, and so ease the financial impact on her economic and social development plans. It could be that one of the motives of the Chinese invasion is to exploit the poverty in India and to force India to transfer resources allocated to economic development over to military expenditure. What would be of tremendous assistance to India in this testing time would be the offer of substantial economic aid, which would enable her Government to continue with their development programme in spite of the urgent demands for increased expenditure on arms.

But, my Lords, I think we shall all recognise that economic and military aid is not, by itself, sufficient. This must be supplemented by diplomatic effort to restore peace on honourable terms. It would seem that, because China is not a member of the United Nations, that organisation cannot take an initiative. It may even not be possible for U Thant to make a personal move. However, an initiative by some of the uncommitted nations may be a possibility. But if there are to be talks obviously there must first be a cease-fire, and China should withdraw her forces to the positions they occupied on September 8. Even this would leave China in occupation of tens of thousands of square miles of land which has traditionally been regarded as part of India.

Now let me turn to the aftermath of the great Cuban crisis. A week ago the world was facing the greatest possibility of world war since 1945—and it would have been a nuclear war. None of us here could have said with certainty last Thursday that a solution would be found to the dispute without a single shot being fired. This is not the time for recriminations We could, if we wished, build up a massive case against the Soviet Union for its foolhardy decision to place nuclear weapons 90 miles from the coast of the United States. I doubt whether any of us can confidently say to-day what were the Soviet motives in taking an action which was certain to lead to the most speedy and energetic response by the American Government. I agree with Mr. Walter Lippmann, who has written that the biggest mystery of this whole affair is why and how Khrushchev ever got himself tangled in a serious military way with Castro and Cuba. But, my Lords, I do not intend to speculate about Russian motives; nor do I want to dwell on the point that President Kennedy decided to impose a partial blockade and to hint at the possibility of invasion without prior authorisation of the United Nations or prior consultation with his NATO Allies. These omissions caused a great deal of uneasiness and criticism has been voiced, not only in this country. It is true that President Kennedy was suddenly confronted with a grave situation, that by his decisive action he achieved his primary objective without a shot being fired, and that, as a result, Western security as a whole has been the gainer. But it might have developed otherwise, and his NATO Allies might have found themselves involved in nuclear war. It is to be hoped that, after the warning of the Cuban crisis, nations will take particular care not to precipitate another emergency that might bring disaster to all. Nevertheless, it must be obvious that the question of prior consultation in the event of any future grave emergency, swiftly arising and demanding swift decision and action, is a matter to which the NATO partners should give early and serious consideration. I leave the matter there for the present.

My Lords, the world is applauding a victory of common sense, and I want to pay a tribute to the statesmanship over the last week-end of both President Kennedy and Mr. Khrushchev. President Kennedy acted with tremendous courage. He did what he thought was right, not only in the interests of his own country but in the interests of the whole of the Western Hemisphere. If he had hesitated, when irrefutable evidence was before him, who knows in what situation the world might have found itself today? He was undoubtedly under great pressure to launch an immediate attack on Cuba. If he had done this, instead of imposing a limited blockade, he might have plunged the world into war. President Kennedy, by his coolness and courage, and his restraint, has shown himself to be a great world leader.

I feel that I must at the same time pay tribute to the decision taken by Mr. Khrushchev, announced on the Sunday, that he would remove from Cuba all offensive missiles and accept United Nations verification. This, equally, required considerable courage, for he will now be open to criticism behind his back, and perhaps to his face, that he has given way to American pressure and enabled President Kennedy to score a diplomatic victory. It must have been made clear to Mr. Khrushchev on Saturday that unless he announced his willingness to withdraw the weapons the United States would either land troops on Cuba or bomb the missile sites. If he had not acted as he did, he would have been faced either with the prospect of a humiliating withdrawal from Cuba, the capture of some of the offensive weapons and possibly the death of some Soviet citizens, or the prospect of carrying out a promise he had already made to Castro that if Cuba was attacked Soviet missiles would be fired. Mr. Khrushchev's decision on that fateful Sunday morning enabled the world to step back from the prospect of nuclear war and annihilation. It would be churlish of us if we did not recognise the wisdom and statesmanship he showed at that critical moment.

Here let me say that I hope that Mr. Khrushchev does not intend to allow President Castro to thwart the agreement he made. It would seem that, in sending Mr. Mikoyan to Cuba, his influence is to be used to get Castro to adopt a more reasonable attitude. But it is essential that the United Nations should be able to verify that the Russian offensive weapons have actually been withdrawn. Unless this is accepted by Castro, another dangerous crisis is likely to boil up in the Western Hemisphere.

There were, however, not only two principals in the drama enacted last week. There was a third: U Thant, the Acting Secretary General of the United Nations. Let us look at the situation on the morning of October 24, ironically enough, United Nations day. Twenty-five Soviet ships were reported to be heading straight for Cuba, with instructions that they were not to change course or permit examination by the United States. A massive American armada was in the Caribbean waiting to stop, search and, if necessary, turn back all ships making for Cuban ports. These ships were under instructions to fire if their warnings were not heeded, and the Russians were under instructions to retaliate. It was at this moment that the Acting Secretary General made a direct personal appeal to the United States and Russia to refrain from any action that would lead to catastrophe. He requested the Russians to divert their ships and the Americans to withhold the blockade—in other words, to avoid a head-on collision. It was his appeal that prepared the way for exchanges between Mr. Khrushchev and President Kennedy which led to the crisis being ended.

My Lords, it is appropriate, I think, that at this stage we should draw up a balance sheet, now that we can survey the scene with more objectivity. The United States has succeeded, first, in securing the de-nuclearisation of Cuba and the removal of threats no more than 90 miles from her shore. Secondly by foiling Soviet attempts to establish bases close to the American mainland she has prevented the balance of power from being dangerously disturbed to the advantage of the Soviet Union. Thirdly, she has reduced the danger that Cuba could itself be a threat to the internal and external security of other States in Central and Southern America; and, fourthly, she has secured acceptance by the Soviet Union of on-the-spot verification of the dismantling of armaments in Cuba. The Soviet Union also can draw satisfaction from the outcome of the contest. She has gained from the United States an assurance that Cuba will not be blockaded or invaded, and, secondly, by reminding the American people what it feels like to have bases close to her frontiers, she may have eased the way, in quieter times, for an agreed withdrawal of strategic nuclear bases in Europe.

But of tremendous importance for the future are the opportunities which are now presented to the world to move forward into a more positive diplomacy and a real easing of international tension. There are a number of openings which, it seems to me, must be energetically explored before any more time is lost. First, there is the Berlin problem. In the course of his letter of October 28, Mr. Khrushchev wrote to Mr. Kennedy that if the tense Cuban situation was liquidated we must also concern ourselves to see that other dangerous conflicts do not arise which may lead to a world thermo-nuclear catastrophe. I think that it would be generally agreed that the most dangerous centre of tension is Berlin. We have all known that it is Mr. Khrushchev's intention to bring up again this question of Berlin and a separate peace treaty after the United States mid-term elections have been concluded.

We welcome the passage in the gracious Speech informing us that the Government will continue, in conjunction with My allies, to seek to achieve by negotiation a settlement of the Berlin question which will preserve the security and freedom of the people of West Berlin. Here again one hopes that common sense will prevail. The settlement over Cuba was achieved by negotiation. President Kennedy did not direct his efforts to destroying Cuba and its Communist régime. A Communist Cuba continues in the non-Communist Western hemisphere. Her independence is guaranteed because there is to be no blockade and no invasion. One hopes that Mr. Khrushchev will bear these facts in mind when discussions are resumed over Berlin. If he does, then it ought to be possible to reach an agreement which will remove tension and bring stability to another area of dangerous conflict.

Secondly, we must make a determined effort to bring the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Conference to life when it reassembles at Geneva later this month. There are several fields in which we should endeavour now to make progress. No more time should be lost in bringing an end to all nuclear tests. The urgency of this was emphasised by President Kennedy in his letter to Mr. Khrushchev on Sunday, October 28. The gap between East and West on this issue is now so narrow that, with reason and restraint on both sides, it should be possible to have an agreement signed and sealed by January 1. Here I would ask the Foreign Secretary whether he has seen the statement in one of the editorials in the Guardian this morning which says: Reports from Geneva suggest that the United States and Britain may soon make a joint declaration unilaterlly binding themselves never to be the first to carry out nuclear tests, under water, in the atmosphere or in outer space, after a given date early next year. Whether the Foreign Minister is in a position to give us any information on these reports is, of course, a matter about which we shall have to wait and see in due course, but I am quite sure that, if that were to be a reliable report, it could have a beneficial effect upon the discussions for a nuclear test ban agreement.

Then both Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Kennedy, in their letters to each other on Sunday, emphasised the importance of general disarmament. Mr. Khrushchev said: I also wish to continue an exchange of opinions on the prohibition of atomic and thermo-nuclear weapons and on general disarmament. Mr. Kennedy replied: I agree with you that we must devote urgent attention to the problem of disarmament as it relates to the whole world and also to critical areas. Perhaps now as we step back from danger we can together make real progress in this vital field. Inevitably, the question of bases will be uppermost in the minds of those gathered in Geneva. The Russians, in their draft treaty, have proposed the abolition of all means of delivery of nuclear weapons and the closing of all foreign bases in stage 1. This, I suggest, is quite unrealistic. It would mean that in the first-stage American forces would withdraw from Europe while Russian forces in massive numbers would remain. The American proposals envisage the dismantling of foreign bases in stages 2 and 3. Surely some compromise can be found here. A distinction should be drawn between troop bases and bases for delivery of nuclear weapons. For example, Thor missiles and some Strategic Air Command bases should be withdrawn in stage 1 in return for comparable reductions of bases, with inspection, on the Soviet side. We need a stage-by-stage reduction of missile sites and foreign bases during the first two stages of the disarmament programme.

The agreement by the Soviet Union to United Nations verification on Cuba, and President Kennedy's reference to the problem of disarmament as it relates not only to the whole world but "also to critical areas", should open the prospect of negotiating for areas of controlled disarmament. Cuba and the Caribbean could be the first, and the area of Central Europe, as outlined in the Rapacki Plan, could be the second. We have always known that the Soviet Union will be more prepared to accept inspection of territory other than its own, and with their agreement to accept on-site inspection in Cuba, we should now really explore the possibilities of effective inspection and arms reduction in Central Europe. Disarmament should be the first test of the willingness of the two great Powers to seek new areas of agreement to lessen international tension, but a further test will be the attitude which both of them will adopt to the United Nations.

I was glad to hear both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary pay tribute, as we also have done, to U Thant, and to hear their renewed expressions of loyalty and dedication to the United Nations. The United Nations and the Acting Secretary-General have had to carry heavy burdens in the interests of peace and I believe that they deserve the thanks and support of all nations. U Thant has played a notable part in the Cuban crisis and I believe that, in doing so, he has won the confidence and gratitude of both sides. I devoutly hope, therefore, that when the decision has to be taken on the appointment of a new Secretary-General, there will be such wide support for U Thant from Western, Communist and non-aligned countries as will ensure the certainty of his election.

Finally, we heard with interest and satisfaction the statement in the gracious Speech that the Government have welcomed the proposals put forward by the United Nations for conciliation in the Congo and that It is their hope that the fair implementation of these proposals may lead to the cooperation of all elements in the Congo in the vital task of reconstructing that country. We had hoped that great progress towards conciliation and co-operation in the Congo would have been made during the months of the Summer Recess, but these hopes have not been realised. I do not want to-day to discuss the causes of the failure to make great progress. I will only say that, given a reasonable attitude of mind and the application of common sense and restraint on the part of all concerned, it should be possible to get an early settlement on the basis of the United Nations proposals, which will give peace to the Congo and enable a start to be made on the work of reconstruction.

3.20 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to continue this debate on the gracious Speech and to support the Amendment which is to be moved by the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition. In rising, I find myself in the rather familiar position of being sandwiched between the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, who always gives us a most thorough and interesting review of the world situation, with which I think no Party in general disagrees, and the Foreign Secretary, whose speech your Lordships are all impatiently awaiting and, therefore, it is only fair to warn him that I may sit down at any moment. But, as I am the first speaker from the Liberal Benches, I should like to refer for a short time to the gracious Speech in general before proceeding to the foreign affairs aspect.

First of all, I should like to associate noble Lords on these Benches most sincerely with the tributes paid from all sides of the House to Her Majesty the Queen and to the Royal Family and the magnificent work they are doing. I think that in the whole history of the Monarchy there can be few Monarchs who have commanded such respect and admiration as Her Majesty the Queen and those around her command for the great work they are doing for this country of ours.

If I may refer to one or two aspects of the gracious Speech, I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, that it seems to be the product of a tired Government, lacking somehow in vitality, and it does not give us a lead in any particular direction. There is nothing striking on which we can lay our hands. It does not even refer to things on which we should like guidance. Strikes and industrial disputes are hardly mentioned; and they are very important just now. We want to get out of this habit of talking about sides. The employers are still largely represented by the Conservative Party and the wage earners by the Labour Party. But that is completely out of date. The Liberals have thought so for some hundreds of years, and I hope that the other Parties will come to think so, too. There is no mention of the immigration laws, which are causing anxiety in large parts of the Commonwealth. There is no mention of prisons, though the overcrowding of our prisons is of importance. But possibly the most important things, housing, education and pensions, are given a passing reference. The Government, in the gracious Speech, promise that they will continue to give attention to these things. I do not think a promise of that sort is enough, because if they did not continue to give attention to them they would no longer be in power.

There is also no real mention of foreign policy in general, the topic that we are discussing this afternoon. What sort of lead can we be given about our relations with foreign Powers? In previous gracious Speeches we used to be told that our relations were quite satisfactory with foreign Powers. There is a lot of communal interest in many ways between ourselves and France, Italy, Indonesia and Burma—particularly Burma, at the moment, with the great threat hanging over her in the Far East. We should like more detailed information about the Government's general policy and direction. On foreign policy in general, I think it is a happy situation that the Government's foreign policy is really very much what the foreign policy of the Labour Party would be were they in power, or of the Liberal Party. There is a big overlap and that I think is no unhealthy sign.

But there is a rather confusing change in Party images. The Labour Party now seems to be waving the flag of Crown and Empire and looking after the Blimps and taking up a line which seems to be diametrically opposed to the line that they have had for the last fifty years. They are, I believe, advocating an independent policy—or does that mean dissociation from our Ally on the other side of the Atlantic, or a partial dissociation? That seems to me rather a volte-face on the part of the Labour Party. On the other side, in the Conservative Party there is an equally extraordinary change, but it is a change which we Liberals are becoming used to, because our clothes are always being stolen. They say now that they look to the future, not to the 1,000 years of history. I am not quite sure what the word "Conservative" means. But surely in its good connotation it means that they should be regarding the last 1,000 years of history and looking to the future as well. It seems to me a great upset of their traditional rôle. Though I have no authority here, I am a little worried about the real true-blue, right-wing Tories. Where are they to look now? We as Liberals hope to legislate for every Party in the country and every shape of opinion, and we feel that we have a certain responsibility even for the smallest minority. It may be that we shall ask Colonel and Mrs. Blimp to come under the Liberal banner in order that they may not be completely overlooked.

The thing that we particularly want to get from the Foreign Secretary and the Government is an adjustment in the Government's views on the deterrent. As the Leader of my Party said in another place yesterday, we used to be told that without the national deterrent, the independent British deterrent, we should enter the conferences of the world naked. We have a national deterrent, but, as he said, we are not asked to the conferences at all. It seems to me that this national deterrent is a pure waste of money; it does not take us, naked or clothed, into the conferences, and should in future be regarded as an overrated fig leaf. There is a psychology of deterrence. We are all immensely grateful and relieved that what looked to be a situation of complete disaster within a few inches of our heads has improved. Personally, I am not convinced that that was due to the theory of deterrence. I think it was due to Almighty Providence more than to any nation or any ideology or any man. Although I yield to no one in my admiration for President Kennedy and his pluck, boldness and persistency, I think it would be fatally wrong to crow over that as some sort of victory and point out the failure or setback that has perhaps come to the other side.

This has been a sort of game of chess; it may be played again, and to be too jubilant over any embarrassment which may have been suffered by Mr. Khrushchev seems to me to be most impolitic and most unwise. I wonder whether we should not consider, not for this moment but in general, why Cuba, within 90 miles of that great nation, America, is Communist. There is great food for thought here. And I believe, thinking of Europe, the Middle East and the Far East, where such things have occurred and may occur, we ought to analyse and take precautions so that there is no further accretion to the Communist cause among other countries of that size and nature. I agree with the Foreign Secretary about the United States firmness and the specious excuses which some people are putting up for the Russians. There is no comparison between the bases established in Europe and those established within such a short distance of the American continent.

However, I think it is futile now to continue this policy of power bluff. I do not think deterrence as a principle has ever been worth very much and we must really work again for disarmament far more than for deterrence or arms racing. This unfortunate catastrophe, or near catastrophe, Which has happened has, to my mind, given a considerable boost to the prestige of the United Nations. The United Nations has not been successful yet, but it certainly has not failed and it is interesting and significant that all eyes were turned to the United Nations saying, "Help us in this tremendous international trouble which none of us can deal with." Of course, it was an extraordinarily difficult position for the Americans, who were in a position in which they have never been before. Their attitude was, I think, comparable to that of General de Gaulle in France, who says that there is a natural feeling, if your enemies are right on your frontier aiming their weapons at you, to act independently for the sake of your own nation, no matter what the results may be. Here, America had this trouble on her very doorstep and was prepared to obliterate Britain, Europe and the world, if necessary, rather than that Americans should be put to this terrible tragedy. We may not like it, but it is a natural reaction that we have to face.

The whole tragedy about this business of Communism and the balance of arms is really ignorance among the vast populations of the countries concerned. At the moment we cannot hope to touch the millions of Chinese behind their borders. But it still strikes me, as I have said before to your Lordships, that we are not making enough effort to bring these people up to a greater state of knowledge, if we possibly can, not only in our country but in the Iron Curtain countries—to a greater state of knowledge of what peace and the bringing together in tranquillity and prosperity really mean. I have observed before in your Lordships' House (and perhaps I may be forgiven for saying it again) that the world is divided into believers, atheists and agnostics, and the chief difference is that the agnostic is prepared to admit that he might be wrong.

Whether we are believers or disbelievers in Communism or anti-Communism, do not let us rule out the fact that in generations to come there may be an adaptation of our very hard acceptance or non-acceptance of these principles. I beg Her Majesty's Government, if they can, to restart and redouble the efforts which were made in the past over the wireless, particularly to the people of the Iron Curtain countries and those who do not feel as we do, to improve their knowledge of the world situation. If they will only do this we shall be going some way towards understanding and disarmament and peaceful co-operation together in the world.

3.31 p.m.


My Lords, I know that the mover and seconder of the humble Address will acquit me of discourtesy at not being present when they made their speeches. I have since read them and, if I may, I should like to congratulate the noble Lady and my noble friend Lord Dynevor, and join with all those who said, quite truly and genuinely, what a great contribution they had made to this debate on the Address.

I am grateful, too, as always, to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, for opening the debate, and I shall answer many of the points he made. As I listened to him I made a note of them, and I hope to answer them or comment on what he said and also, of course, on the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Rea. The debate on the gracious Speech is only a few days old, but I must say that the noble Lord seemed to have forgotten about a lot of it when he said we did not give a decisive lead on any matters concerning foreign affairs. When I look at it I see that we have said that the improvement of relations between East and West is one of the most important aims of the Government policy—as, indeed, it is one of the aims of the Liberal Party—and that we maintain and increase our support for the United Nations. We talk about strengthening the NATO alliance and, indeed, we give a lead saying that if we get the right terms we should go into the Common Market. I am rather surprised that the noble Lord did not mention that, because I should have been pleased to have congratulated him, for it is about the one subject on which all members of the Liberal Party are agreed.

Our debate, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, indicated, has been dominated inevitably toy the experience of the last ten days, When the world was faced at best with an exercise in brinkmanship, with nuclear arms as the playthings and, at worst, with a nuclear exchange. When we are so near these earth-shaking events, I think it would be foolish to draw any very final conclusions, and I thought Mr. Gaitskell, if I may say so, was wise to warn us against that in what he said in another place the other day. But I would, by following what the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has said, make a few reflections which I think have a certain validity and, first of all, call attention, as he did in this opening remarks, to the facts of the case.

The facts of the case are that the two greatest Communist countries have been on the move at the same time, both with the object of improving their military strategic position. This, I do not believe was collusion. I dare say it is a coincidence but, nevertheless, it is not chance, and for this reason: because these moves in thus military context arise directly out of the doctrine that was laid down in the meeting of Communist Parties of the world in their Conference in November, 1960, in Moscow, when they justified what they called "wars of liberation". These wars of liberation were said to be justifiable means on the road to world Communism.

The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, speculated to some extent, and doubted whether it was possible to state with certainty the objectives of the Russians and Chinese, and I agree that one must be careful. But, nevertheless, you can state the objectives with some certainty. The Russian exercise in Cuba was to some extent a reaction to a situation they found there, and if you look at Russian policy you will find that they always take advantage of any trouble spot and do what they can to make that trouble worse, because that suits the general purpose of Communism, which is to stir up trouble wherever they find it. So it was partly, I believe, a reaction to what they found on the spot. But the main purpose, of course, was overwhelmingly this: to test the will of the United. States to react against an act or threat of force. The House will appreciate the gain there would have been to the Communist world if the United States had in fact failed to react in the strongest possible way. This point has been made before, and inevitably I must indulge in a certain amount of repetition. But if the President of the United States had failed to act and, I repeat, in the strongest possible way, no ally of the United States would have believed in United States' protection. That is the first point.

The second is this. Russia to-day has not very many of the inter-continental ballistic missiles, but if she was able to get medium-range and intermediate range ballistic missiles right up against America's shore, covering every American city, turning the flank of all America's defences then when Mr. Khrushchev turned to put the pressures on Berlin, on Iran, on the Middle East, on Australian Guinea, or wherever they might find an opportunity to act, then he would be bargaining with all the weapons trained on the heart of the defences of the free world; and that is not his position at the present time. Therefore, if there had been a success Russia would have achieved two things. They would have out-flanked the United States deterrent, which is the defence force of the whole free world; and, in doing so, they would have completely distorted the balance of power on which the peace of the world depends.

When one turns to the Chinese, they are inspired by the same doctrine which was laid down in the Conference of Communist Parties, to which I have referred. But they are not affected by its limitations, and they do not accept the limitation which Russia accepted. They have always refused to agree not to use war as an instrument of policy, because they have held that it was justifiable, even if it turned into a world war. I think again that one can assess the Chinese objectives with some clarity. The first aim, I would think, is this: by the use of force to compel the Indians to make a frontier agreement which would put the Chinese in a better strategic position than they are to-day; and to leave them in a position with their military forces where they can isolate Bhutan and, if necessary, Nepal, and, holding that flank, debouch, if they so wish, into the Indian plain at a later date.

In such a situation, faced with an aggression against India, the Prime Minister found it impossible—and the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has agreed with him to-day—to hold that the rôle of Britain should be one of mediation between India and the Chinese. You do not, as a letter pertinently and pointedly said in The Times the other day, mediate between the burglar and his victim. Therefore, we supported the Indian decision to defend their rightful frontiers, and supported the stand that they have consistently taken, that every dispute can be solved by negotiation, but never under the threat of force.

In that respect, therefore, I agree with everything that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, said from the Opposition Benches, and he will have noticed the debate in another place yesterday in which we have said that we are in the closest touch with the Indian Government in their resistance to this Chinese aggression. Therefore, as I review the facts of the situation as they were explained to your Lordships by the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, the Communist doctrine of November, 1960, which said it was legitimate to wage wars of liberation, holds, and I can report no change. Our country must be aware of that if we are ourselves to remain secure.

But in this matter of exposing Communist intentions, I am bound to tell you, my Lords, that the Foreign Secretary of Britain labours under considerable difficulty. The British people are decent people and they find it almost impossible to believe evil of others, and still more difficult to believe that we in Britain may be one of the main targets of the Communists; and even more difficult to believe that when a situation of danger is stimulated in, let us say, Berlin or Cuba, there may be an instant reaction demanded if the whole security of the free world is not to be lost. But if the Foreign Secretary harps on this subject he is at best thought to be a bore and at worst thought to be carrying on the cold war unreasonably against the Communists. Happily, I think the great majority of the people last week understood the British Government's unwavering support for the United States; but they really must understand who are their friends in the world and who are not. I must say that those whom I would generally regard as the intellectuals have done the best they could to blur that question.

How can we equate the Russian action, which, under cover of a vast deception, put offensive nuclear weapons into a new area in the world where they have never been before, and the American decision to get them out? How can anyone really fall for the specious proposal that you should swop or bargain a base in Turkey against a base in Cuba? Have people really forgotten why the base in Turkey was put there? It was put there because the conventional arms of Russia, soon to be backed by nuclear power, were nibbling and gobbling up the countries of Eastern Europe one by one and they were quite offensive. No one knows better than the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, that that was the reason for the NATO alliance.

There is one more thing one ought also to remember. We sit in Europe covered by every kind of missile directed at us from Russian soil. If you do a bargain between one base and another on this basis you will not get rid of one Russian base pointed at Europe but lose one of your own bases. I am going to return to this in a moment. But have people really so soon forgotten Hungary?—so soon forgotten the East Berlin wall? I have a great respect—I must not show any disrespect, anyhow—for intellectuals but I must say that I am moved to found some Chairs of Horse Sense in some of our universities.

There are certain lessons to be learned from our experience. I think it is true that on this, the first occasion when a great Power has sought to upset the balance of power and to gain military advantage from the threat of force, the deterrent has deterred; and that is what it was designed to do. But, my Lords, equally there is no denying that the world was afraid, and afraid for good reasons. We relied, and, as it has turned out, rightly, on one man acting responsibly and another man acting with discretion. But that is a very precarious guarantee for the peace of mankind. I recognised and expressed in this House in July that a situation had arisen when we should either blow ourselves to bits or agree that we had to negotiate all our difficulties. Even before the final terms of settlement of the Cuba dispute are decided, the other day the United States and Russia, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, reminded us, began to talk about the prospects of disarmament; and that is why the Prime Minister in his message to Mr. Khrushchev selected the two problems on which we thought we ought to be able to make progress after this great convulsion, and that was progress on a nuclear test ban and directives which would enable the first stage of disarmament to begin. And, as the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has reminded us, we have the machinery ready for us, both in Geneva in the Disarmament Conference and in New York, and we believe now that the way may be open.

I do not necessarily stick to this order but I believe it is the kind of order that these problems should be taken in: first of all, a nuclear test ban, in which two offers are already open to the Russians: one, a complete ban with the immediate inspection of underground tests; another, a ban in the atmosphere, in the sea and in outer space, which would save the world from fall-out. I believe we could adopt a scheme—and this would be, I think, the sensible way—in which to cover defensive bases against any surprise attack. That scheme is ready drafted and could be put into operation. I believe we could—and we have already voted for the Irish resolution to this effect—adopt the scheme for the non-dissemination of nuclear weapons. We could, if the Russians were so willing, arrange a non-aggression pact between the NATO Alliance and the Warsaw Pact; and we could also agree—and this is very important because the development of satellites is bringing this right into the forefront of the military field—on the demilitarisation of outer space.

But, of course, in these questions there is one great question mark which hangs over the whole, whether it is a nuclear test ban, or disarmament, or measures against surprise attack. That question is: will the Russians allow verification? —because it is idle to deny that as a result of the mammoth deception of which they were guilty and to which they confessed in the Cuban episode Russia's word cannot be taken. We have to verify that they will actually do what they say they will do. Therefore, quite early on—and I think it is fair to warn your Lordships of this when we are looking forward to new initiatives in the field of disarmament—this question of verification will once again come right to the fore. I hope that, having admitted the principle and asked the Cubans to accept it, they will be willing to do themselves what they have proposed for others; but I must warn your Lordships that there is no certainty that they will do so.

Again, it is very tempting, after the shock of Cuba, to argue that you should abolish all nuclear weapons in the first stage of disarmament and abolish foreign bases too. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, gave us a very timely warning, because after the experience of the Chinese invasion of India it is quite clear that it would not only be useless but very dangerous if you were to abolish nuclear weapons only and the only result of that were to be to put the world at the mercy of the biggest battalions. Therefore, I think that the principle holds which was agreed by the Americans and the Russians when they were talking about disarmament last year, that at all stages of disarmament the balance of strength must be preserved. But I would say that within that principle we could go to Geneva willing to be flexible, willing to adopt any practice proposed by the Russians so long as it preserved the principle that the balance of strength would not be disturbed.

The noble Lord, Lord Henderson, observed with satisfaction, as I think did the noble Lord, Lord Rea, too, the rôle of the United Nations. We believe that the United States was right to go to the Security Council. We are grateful to the Secretary-General for the way in which he has interpreted the Charter and its proper rôle, which is that of pacification, in a dispute of this kind. The noble Lord, I think very wisely, did not make an issue of consultation before the American action. I know it can be done. But he touched on the time-table of this act of the Russians, and I should just like to remind the House of it. On Thursday Mr. Gromyko went to Washington to tell the President—and this was one of his main purposes—that no aggressive offensive nuclear weapons were going to be put into Cuba. On Friday the President went off to the west coast on his political purposes. He came back on Saturday to make a final evaluation of the photographic evidence, which proved irrefutable, that the offensive weapons were there. It was known that a convoy full of more of these materials and weapons was about to approach Cuba. I do not see what any head of Government could have done otherwise than act and go to the Security Council. I am glad that the noble Lord did not make an issue of this, because not only do we here have no complaint against the President of the United States and the action he took—he is scrupulous about consulting us in all these matters and consulting the N.A.T.O. Council—but he had our fullest support in the handling of the situation all the way through.

Lord Henderson, having raised the rôle of the United Nations, expressed his gratification that the Prime Minister and myself had expressed our support for the organisation. We have one great anxiety, and that is the financial state of the body. Early next year it will find itself in great difficulties and unable to make both ends meet, and the reason is clear; it is because the Soviet bloc will not pay a penny towards either the policing of the Israel-Egyptian frontier or the operation in the Congo; nor will France pay for the latter enterprise. I should like to tell the House—I think your Lordships have read it in the newspapers—that we have always paid our assessments to the United Nations, and, what is more, the other day we bought our 12 million dollars' worth of bonds which we had been asked to take by the Secretary-General. We support the ruling of the International Court of Justice that members should pay their assessments to sustain the organisation, for unless they do there is a grave danger that it will break. As to how the United Nations will be financed in the future, that is a subject now before the Fifth Committee, and I will keep the House informed about any recommendations, because it is one of the most urgent matters in front of the United Nations now.

Again, the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, mentioned the question of the Congo in connection with the United Nations, and I hope that after two dangerous and frustrating years we are at last in sight of a solution. The proposals for national reconciliation made by U Thant have been accepted by the Congo Central Government and the Katanga authorities, and Commissions are now being set up which are working out solutions under various headings: a permanent cease-fire to replace the truce; the integration of the Congo national Army, and the division of revenues between the centre and the provinces. The only element that has not been so far seen, at least by us and I think by very few, if at all, is the new Federal Constitution. Of course, that is really at the centre of everything, and that must be produced because it is the essence of a settlement. But it has been prepared with the help of the United Nations experts, and I hope that when it is produced it will prove acceptable to both parties.

Meanwhile some practical progress has been made on a number of points. One of the things which we were very anxious to see was the flow of the export of copper from the Katanga mines and factories to Leopoldville, and the Lula-bash Bridge has now been reopened so that the route of rail and river is once more restored. The telegraph and telephone services have again been restored and are open, and Mr. Tshombe has agreed to pay over 2 million dollars to the Central Government, which is taken as an indication that he accepts the obligation for a fair division of revenues and foreign exchange with the Central Government. Therefore, if the new Constitution is satisfactory I should hope that the Congo might settle down in peace.

Most of my reply to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, and the noble Lord Lord Rea, has inevitably centred around the problems raised by Cuba and China. If the Russians will now abandon force as an instrument of policy, then all things will become possible. We can exchange the armed co-existence, which is all there really is to-day, for active co-operation. I think the House knows that that is my desire. While I feel obliged to keep reminding the country about the basic purposes of Communism, nevertheless I still believe what I said here in July: that there are increasing numbers of Russians who have little use for the cold war and are working their way out of the fetters which were put upon them, physically and intellectually, by Marx and Stalin, and that there is a change within the Soviet Union. For our part we will not surrender the territory or the souls of free men, but we will go to meet the Russians in conciliation as soon as they give their word and as soon as their word is proved in action.

3.58 p.m.


My Lords, before offering a few remarks on the foreign situation, may I say a word of regret for the passing of a very old friend, Lord Winterton? I had been his friend for nearly forty years, and I miss his presence here very much indeed.

We have listened with very great interest to the speech of the Foreign Secretary. I think there is one point on which he did not quite bring us up to date, and that is the position of the Secretary-General with regard to Cuba. I gather he took a team over there hoping to leave some of that team for the purpose of verification, and that he has come away without leaving anybody.


My Lords, perhaps the noble Earl will allow me to intervene. I quite agree that it is immensely important. The reason I did not say anything about it was that I had not the latest information. I understand now that the Secretary-General, Mr. Mikoyan, Mr. Kuznetzov and Mr. Adlai Stevenson are all conferring about this matter in New York. I thought it better not to speculate. The noble Earl is quite right: it is very important that these bases should be dismantled and should be seen to be so.


I am obliged to the Foreign Secretary. The fact is that we have been in a most precarious situation. It is quite doubtful whether we are yet out of it. One gathers that Castro is being most obdurate. How much pressure his friends can bring on him, we do not know. It would be a great mistake for us to sit back and think that all is well. We are still in a most anxious position about Cuba. We are still in a most anxious position on the Indian frontier. I think that the Foreign Secretary is right when he says that there was not necessarily collusion between the two Communist Powers. We have to look rather closely to try to discover the reasons for their action. I should be inclined to agree with the Foreign Secretary with regard to Russia's having a natural policy for making trouble. We ought always to remember that we have to look around and see where they can get justification in their own eyes for causing trouble. There, I think, we have to look rather far back. Unfortunately, the long support given by our American friends for the Baptista régime really gave such a possibility, and I myself think that their action has not been altogether wise with regard to Castro—that Castro was driven into the arms of the Russians. I think it a mistake in all these matters to take action which tends to bring your potential enemies together rather than keeping them separate.

I think the same thing applies to China. China, being kept outside the United Nations, feels no obligation whatever to act in the way in which we are trying to get the rest of the world to behave. But it is a little difficult to determine whether, as a matter of fact, this action on the Indian border is dictated by strategic considerations. It may be merely that the Chinese, having for years suffered under Western action, feeling themselves stronger, now want to assert the position of the Chinese Empire as it was at its height: for instance, they have gone into Tibet. They may believe that China once extended almost into Bhutan and thereabouts. Therefore it cannot be just a strategic attack; it may be a kind of national pride. At any rate, we are absolutely right in supporting our Indian friends. Although the situation is still dangerous, it is not so pressing as the Cuban situation, because, as I understand it, those who know that difficult country say that owing to the weather any fighting will be quite impossible in another fortnight.

I think it is worth considering what advantage can be taken of this situation. One advantage, I think, is the fact that Mr. Nehru is waking up to realities. He has for a long time tended rather to hide his head in the sand. He ought by now to realise that there is no such thing in the world as neutrality; you have to be the aggressor or against aggression, and if you do not stand up against aggression you are helping the aggressor. The second thing that strikes me there is that for a long time we have had a singularly fruitless quarrel between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, I tried my best years ago to bring these two nations together. If they had been standing together I do not think the Chinese would have attempted this action. The fact is that they are weakened by standing apart, and standing against each other. This question of boundaries, if it really is only a question of boundaries, is obviously a justifiable dispute; and if China belonged to the United Nations nothing would be more simple than to refer the dispute to The Hague Court. It is a dispute of fact and could be settled. That is one disadvantage of keeping China outside the United Nations. If we want to get an effective world peace we must have the United Nations conterminous with all the principal countries of the world, and the folly of leaving China outside is emphasised.

One might also, I think, remind our American friends, who are quite justifiably disturbed by the arming of Cuba, that the Chinese have equally been disturbed by having a hostile Power in an island or islands just off shore. It is always so easy to think that one's own case differentiates itself from the case of other people. From the Chinese point of view, Formosa and the off-shore islands must appear just as offensive as Cuba does to the Americans.

I think one of the advantages of the trouble we are in—I will not say "that we have got through", because we may not have got through it—is that it has enhanced the prestige of the United Nations. The world owes a great deal to the Secretary-General for his action, and it is a matter for congratulation that our friends the Burmese should have supplied the Chief Secretary. But can we not take advantage of this to go rather further? Perhaps I have bored the House more than once on this matter, but I am an advocate for a world organisation and a world police force and for the rule of law. I should like to see some initiative taken now in the United Nations for strengthening and reforming that organisation. Quite possibly, there may be a number of countries that have not been sufficiently impressed by the danger. There is the South American bloc. Hitherto, they have been quite outside a danger zone. Maybe they will wake up, perhaps even take an initiative to work for the rule of law.

I was interested in what the Foreign Secretary said about the steps towards disarmament. But disarmament by itself is not enough. It is almost as futile as suggesting by itself the banning of nuclear weapons, because, as the Foreign Secretary said, if you ban one weapon you only promote another—ban the nuclear power and you come back on to numbers. I should like to see real effort being made towards building up a world police force. But if we cannot do that, could we not do something in our own Commonwealth—a Commonwealth force in being, with the units arranged for posting and everything ready for disturbances of this kind? I do not much believe in a hurried scramble to get some sort of assistance to India. It would be far better if we had units in the various Commonwealth countries and plans for their use wherever danger threatens. I think we might set an example to the United Nations in that way.

A further point is this. Surely it is time that we made efforts to get something substantial in the way of a United Nations organisation. The United Nations is not strong enough to deal with matters of the kind that have arisen. It has done something, but not enough. I believe that many countries—I have spoken with their nationals—would look forward with a great deal of satisfaction to an initiative from the British Government for strengthening and reforming the United Nations. After all, it is a long time now since we formed the United Nations in San Francisco. We did the best we could at that time; it was in the pre-nuclear period. I am sure it is time that they had an overhaul.

I was glad to hear what the Foreign Secretary said about change. There have been some very interesting articles on the change that is taking place in Soviet Russia. I think that a certain number of people are too apt to think that there is no change there. But change is going on all the time. The fact that they were grossly deceptive over Cuba may not be regarded as merely a Communist procedure; it may be rather more a Russian procedure. The Russians have always indulged in this kind of thing. If we are allowed to look at history—although we are warned we should not do so—particularly the history of Russia, we find that over and over again there have been very curious instances of attempted deceptions. It may well be that there is this struggle now going on in Russia, possibly also in China. We have to hold on now, but we do not want to have many more periods like this. While we hold on we must have positive action, and it must be world action, to build up a united world with the rule of law, and with the rule of force in the background—and that force only in the hands of the United Nations.

I do not myself believe that we shall get very far on the theory of two great Powers fully armed keeping the peace. I do not think that that is the way out. I think we ourselves have to act, as well as others. And do not let us be afraid to act by saying that we are only a litttle Power. We are not. We have great power. Remember, we are still the centre of the Commonwealth; and, judging by the way negotiations are proceeding, it is quite a good hope that we shall not be forced into the Common Market and therefore not destroy the Commonwealth. But while we still have the Commonwealth, before we are tied hand and foot to the Continental Powers, I should like to see an initiative taken by this Government for the peace of the world.

4.15 p.m.


My Lords, we have, as usual, had extremely interesting and thoughtful speeches this afternoon from the noble Earl, the Foreign Secretary, from the noble Lords, Lord Henderson and Lord Rea, and from the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, on the extremely disturbing course of events of which we have been witnesses during recent weeks in more than one part of the world. My Lords, there is very little in what most of them said to us from which, I imagine, any of us would dissent. It would be fascinating, if I may say so, to follow up at an appropriate time some of the ideas which the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, has adumbrated for the future. However, to-day I do not propose to follow earlier speakers this afternoon into the wider fields which they have covered, except, if I may, to express agreement with every word spoken by the Foreign Secretary.

My purpose in rising is only to draw your Lordships' attention very briefly, if your Lordships will forgive me for entering on ground which has already been so well covered by the Foreign Secretary, to one particular, but I believe to us highly important, aspect of the recent crisis in Cuba. In general, I imagine that every one of us, whether we take part in this debate or not feel a sense of strong relief; for though the Cuban skies apparently are not even yet completely clear (and the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, referred to one particular cloud which is still on the horizon), I think we can already say that we are emerging into a situation more satisfactory and hopeful for the future than at one time seemed to be by any means possible.

This is certainly not a time—and I agree with every noble Lord who has spoken about this—to crow over anybody's victory or anybody's defeat. The result must be regarded very much as a victory (I think Lord Henderson used the term) of common sense, and a remarkable achievement of statesmanship: first on the part of President Kennedy, who has immensely increased his reputation, and also in a sense (and here I agree again with the noble Lord, Lord Henderson) of Mr. Khrushchev. For whatever may be said about the attitude of the Russian Government in the past on other issues, and whatever may be their attitude over other issues in the future (and we do not know that yet), on this particular occasion, at any rate, once they saw the abyss of nuclear war yawning before them they allowed themselves to be guided by counsels of wisdom and restraint; and for that we must all be profoundly thankful.

There is, however, one thing which has emerged from this crisis and which must be extremely disturbing to any serious student of international affairs. It is the astonishing lack of understanding, to which the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary has already referred, which has been exhibited by a wide section of the British Press and public with regard to the true nature of the issues which were involved by the decision of the Russian Government to set up sites for atomic missiles in Cuba. We in this country are rather apt to pride ourselves on our national flair for taking a wise and mature view of world events and to compare ourselves rather favourably in that respect with other countries. But, my Lords, we certainly did not exhibit that flair to any marked degree on the present occasion. It was not merely the boys and girls of Midhurst Grammar School, who may be forgiven a measure of immaturity; many people of much more mature years—even such varied commentators on public affairs as Lady Littlehampton and Canon Collins—could genuinely see no real difference between an American rocket base and a Russian rocket base, wherever these might respectively be placed. To these people they were all just rocket bases. And, that being the case, for the United States to object to the Soviet's setting up a rocket base in Cuba, when they themselves already had rocket bases in Britain and Turkey, was to these people sheer hypocrisy.

But, my Lords, surely both they and others like them—and there are quite a number of them—omitted this one vital consideration which cannot, I think, too often be emphasised. The real importance of nuclear rocket bases, like other armaments of all kinds, resides not in the weapons themselves but in the policies of those who set them up. That is something which it is essential to take into account, especially in the present instance. For this is just one of those cases where the policies of the two countries most immediately concerned—the United States and Russia—differ diametrically one from the other. The policy of the United States has been, ever since the war, and still is now, to maintain the status quo. It is for that purely defensive purpose, and that purpose alone, that their rocket bases in Europe have been set up. The policy of Russia, on the other hand, has been, and is, aimed deliberately—and I doubt whether they themselves would deny it—at altering the status quo; and, of course, in the present highly sensitive state of the world anything that is calculated materially to alter the status quo is fraught with danger. Considerably to alter the status quo, as I think the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary said, is bound to have the result of upsetting the very delicate and uneasy balance of power, by which alone at the present time world peace is being preserved.

What, indeed, have we most to fear in Russian policy? It is not that it is Communist. That, in this particular context, is irrelevant. It is that it is expansionist; and large-scale expansion, as I think the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary in effect said though he did not mention that particular word), is the greatest of all the enemies of peace in this modern and highly integrated world of to-day. Older men among us, at any rate, my Lords, ought sorely to have learnt that lesson once and for all from our experiences with Hitler in the years between the wars. There is one other lesson, too, that I think we ought all to have learnt from our own personal experience. It is this: that the only comparatively safe time to deal with expansionism is in its early stages. Each time one gives way to it, it becomes more difficult to deal with next time. How often have we said to ourselves: "If only the peace-loving nations had checked Hitler at the time of the reoccupation of the Rhineland! If only we had done that, the Second World War might have been avoided altogether." And that, I believe, is the position with regard to Soviet Russia to-day.

The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, suggested, if I understood him aright, that the United States might in the past have been partly responsible for the situation which has developed in Cuba. No doubt that is a question on which different views could be held. But I, at any rate, believe that this particular crisis of last week has been just such as crucial a moment as the reoccupation of the Rhineland in 1936; and if the United States Government had not cheeked Russian expansionism now, they might never have had another opportunity without a war. If they had acquiesced supinely in this Russian spearhead right in the Western Hemisphere, pointed straight at their hearts, the Soviet Government would have gained the impression that there was no point to which they could not safely go, and they would have pressed forward their policy of expansionism to a point where the United States simply had to make a stand. And then, inevitably, as in 1939, we should have had war. Now, my Lords, I think we all hope there is a really good chance of war being avoided.

Of course, there have been dangers, grave dangers, in the course which President Kennedy adopted—dangers now, we may hope, happily avoided. But if he had allowed Russia to have her way on the present occasion, he and all of us, I repeat, would have been faced, sooner or later, I feel sure, with the choice between Russian domination of the world and another and yet more terrible world war in the worst possible conditions. Such, my Lords, I believe profoundly is the main lesson that we all have to learn from the present crisis. Now that it has, as we all hope, been surmounted, it may well be that the nations of the world will embark on a new attempt to remove the causes of war, and we must all greatly hope that they will do so.

But I would emphasise just one point. With all deference to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, it is ultimately, I believe, not individual issues—issues like Berlin, Cuba or even, with all deference to the noble Lord, Lord Rea, armaments, nuclear or other—that cause war. They are merely the symptoms of a far more deep-seated disease. What causes war is, I am sure, unbridled expansionism for whatever reasons, whether they be ideological or frankly imperialistic; and until there is an end to the spirit of expansionism in the world—whether by the rulers of Russia, China, Egypt, or wherever it may be—the danger of war will persist. My Lords, while no doubt future discussions on the more limited issues—Berlin, disarmament, what you will—may be useful, it is, I believe, still to the eradication of the spirit of expansionism, and its replacement by a spirit of co-operation, that the efforts of all the statesmen of the Western and Eastern blocs alike must now be directed. So alone, I believe, shall we pass safely through these turbulent tide races to the calmer waters of enduring peace.

4.28 p.m.


My Lords, one of the by-products of the great Cuban crisis has been the raising of comparisons between the installation of Soviet missiles in Cuba and the installation of NATO missiles in Turkey. I do not propose to rehearse the arguments about all that, except to say that, to my mind, the differences between the two cases very far outweigh any supposed likenesses that there may be. But, my Lords, there is one decisive fact—a fact of politics, a fact of power politics—which does distinguish the two cases: the fact, namely, that while the United States did react at once against the installation of offensive weapons in Cuba, the Soviet Government did not similarly react against the installation of such missiles in Turkey, or anywhere else. The Soviet Government no doubt had their own good reasons for that, and I will not speculate as to what they were. But I can imagine circumstances where the Soviet Union might well have had no alternative but to react, even in the present power situation.

We have seen how in 1956 it needed no more than a disposition on the part of the Hungarian Government to cut adrift from the Warsaw Pact and to take up a truly non-aligned position, for the Soviet Government to mount an invasion and to crush that Government by force. But let us consider another case, a hypothetical case, a case more germane to the Cuban case—one which one knows will never happen but which will nevertheless illustrate the situation.

Let us imagine that the United States has established an ascendency over the Government of Finland. Let us imagine that, in concert with that Government, it has suddenly established offensive missiles near the Soviet frontier. Can anyone think that this entirely new threat to Soviet security in one of its most sensitive areas would not have provoked the Soviet Government to instant counter-action of some kind, whatever the risks? Indeed, it would take less, very much less, than that to cause the Soviet Government to bring the heaviest measures of coercion upon Finland. And does anyone think that, if the Soviet Government had had the equivalent of Castro in Finland, they would have been as forbearing as the United States Government have been?

That brings me to the essential difference between the position of the United States and the position of the Soviet Union in regard to Cuba—and it is that difference, I think, which has made possible the escape, the fortunate escape, from the most dangerous phase of the crisis. That difference is this: that it was a vital interest of the United States that there should not be offensive Soviet missiles in Cuba, whereas it was not a vital interest of the Soviet Union that there should be offensive missiles in Cuba. That difference made it possible, even likely, all along that there would be a Soviet retreat. Now accidents may happen, human follies may be committed, but, in general, it may be supposed that an all-out conflict is not likely to be engaged unless on both sides there is a vital interest at stake. That was not the case in Cuba; and from that point of view it seems to me the Berlin situation is inherently more dangerous than the Cuban situation. There it may be said that two vital interests do confront one another.

Of course, it may be asked: in what does a vital interest consist? And the answer is not easy to give. In the past, we ourselves here have regarded at as a vital interest that the Low Countries should not pass into the hands of a hostile, great European Power, and in defence of that interest we have, if need be, gone to war. We have also regarded it in the past as a vital interest, though not perhaps such an immediate one, that the road to India should be kept open, and in defence of that interest we have repeatedly found ourselves opposed to Russia and closely engaged, first with Turkey and then with Egypt. Of course, it may be argued, and I think historians do argue, whether these interests were ever quite so important as, at the time, we thought they were. In fact, it may perhaps be said that an interest is vital to us if we feel deeply enough that it is vital to us; and if we say strongly enough that it is so. From that point of view, neither of these two past vital interests continues to exist for us to-day in the same form.

However, my Lords, for the United States, Cuba is to-day no less important than it has been in the past. Throughout the history of the United States, from the foundation of the Republic, there has been an obsessive pre-occupation with Cuba. It was over Cuba that the United States went to war with Spain in 1898. And side by side with this special preoccupation with Cuba there has been the Monroe doctrine. That document was what we should now call a unilateral declaration of policy. It was one which grew in significance in the American mind as American power increased. It was never accepted expressly by the world outside. It is that doctrine which the Soviet Government has now deliberately tried to smash by aggressive action; and the Soviet Union has indeed, it would seem, achieved some breach in the doctrine in that the United States has been brought to give assurances against the invasion of a Soviet-dominated Communist State established on its doorstep. But, as I read the documents, these assurances seem to be conditional upon the removal of Soviet missiles, under verification, and it is a question how far these assurances are valid for the present situation only and how far they extend to the long-term future. I do not propose to try to answer that question.

In view of all this, it is easy to understand why the United States Government felt it could not tolerate the sudden establishment of this grim Soviet menace—remember, the word "grim" is Mr. Khrushchev's own word—in such a sensitive place near its seaboard. In the light of all that, my Lords, I can find nothing to complain of, and everything to applaud, in the action which President Kennedy took. He has calmly and resolutely withstood a deliberate attack upon the security of the United States and of us all in the Free World, and for that he deserves our gratitude and all the support we can give.

But, my Lords, the moral is clear. As the Foreign Secretary has said, the deterrent has deterred. The moral is that until there can be a satisfactory agreement on disarmament, which we should now more than ever seek, it is essential that the United States should not fall behind but, indeed, if possible, should maintain her superiority over the Soviet Union in the decisive armoury of the deterrent, whatever that may prove to be in the unceasing course of innovation in technique. Only so can we avoid the rôle being reversed, but with this difference: that the superiority of the United States does not threaten the existence of the Communist régime in Russia, while a decisive superiority of the Soviet Union would not be consistent with the continued liberties of the Free World.

My Lords, in this crisis the United States has rightly had the full support of Her Majesty's Government, and in this the Government have deserved better of the country than the attitude displayed by a great part of the British Press—an attitude which, with some few, honourable exceptions, has been quite lamentable. They have nagged and nagged, and they have smelt of appeasement. The same is true, as the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, has said, of certain sections of the British public. Her Majesty's Government are also, I think, to be commended for the influence which they have exercised behind the scenes since the crisis arose, and not least for the support which they have given to the United Nations—which, in this instance, has been beneficially fulfilling the role which is proper to it, and which it alone can fulfil. I would, if I might, add a word in tribute to the Foreign Secretary. The grievous burden which the Prime Minister and he have borne is one which we do well to recognise with sympathy and gratitude.

Finally, my Lords, there has been a good deal of talk about consultation. The cry for consultation has become a kind of obsession in all kinds of places, but on this the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, has spoken with characteristic moderation and wisdom. It is true, of course, that among allies consultation is a proper duty. Allies should consult in their day-to-day concerns. In graver matters, affecting peace or war, they will in fact consult, as Great Britain and France did in 1914 and in 1939, if they need each other's support in pursuit of common action. But there can be occasions when consultation is hardly possible, and perhaps not even desirable.

In this present case, the United States Government was faced with a sudden emergency. It had to make up its mind with great speed about the action which it would take. No one who has not seen statesmen at grips with such a problem can easily imagine what a strain this places upon them and upon their advisers. Now, if the action is one which they can take on their own without help from others, if it is one which involves a supreme test in the contests of power, is it surprising that those responsible should feel that there is neither time nor occasion to burden themselves with the time-consuming process of associating others with their decision? For, even at the best, consultation is a burden.

I well remember how in the Foreign Office in 1940, when we stood alone, we said to ourselves, "Well, at least we can now get on with our own policy. We have no allies and do not need to consult anybody." If you consult, you either seek advice or you seek agreement. What advice or what agreement could the United States Government have expected to gain, if it had consulted others in the heat of the Cuban emergency? If the President had said to us, "Here is the emergency in which I am placed. The alternatives are either to ban or bomb or to impose a blockade, complete or limited, or merely to go to the United Nations. Which am I to choose?" could our own or any other Government have taken the responsibility of advising or restraining the United States in a matter which, however much it might involve the world at large, was primarily and immediately and essentially a matter involving the security of the United States?

Are there not occasions when it is better not to consult and not to be consulted? If, under advice from others, the United States had hesitated or delayed, we might not have had the alleviation which was in fact achieved and the world might still have been in a state of extreme crisis, if not worse. Say what we will, the power situation to-day is such that there can be occasions—I think that they would be very rare occasions—when our fate must lie in the hands of the United States Government. That is the price we pay for the supreme benefit of the United States alliance. We may perhaps draw comfort from the fact that, although the United States may have made mistakes and sometimes serious mistakes, nevertheless it is true that in the graver issues which have arisen since the war—the European recovery programme, the Berlin airlift, the North Atlantic Treaty, the intervention in Korea and now in the Cuban crisis—their actions and policies have been inspired by firm resolution and wise statesmanship.

4.44 p.m.


My Lords, we have just heard a good and useful speech from the noble Lord, Lord Strang, speaking with a rich background of experience in foreign affairs at the official level, and I am glad that he has addressed the House to-day. We have had a debate up to now in which there has been a substantial measure of agreement between all who have spoken. There are slightly different ways of putting things, but, on the whole, your Lordships' House—and the House of Commons—are fundamentally united about the course the Government have taken and about the course President Kennedy has taken. For my own part, I should like to salute President Kennedy for his action, for his firmness and his calmness; and I would also salute, perhaps in slightly less degree, Mr. Khrushchev, who undoubtedly, at the end of the rapid exchange of correspondence with the President of the United States, took a line which, in the circumstances which he may have had behind him in the Kremlin, was courageous, wise and sensible.

This was an extraordinary crisis on the edge of very grave trouble, which lasted from the Monday midnight until Sunday afternoon. Over that short period, the world was naturally anxious. But at the end of it decisive conclusions were reached, firm decisions for which some of us had been waiting for a long time, because we were worried about the absence of a firm stand against aggressive policies in various parts of the world. Now we hope—we still cannot be sure—that it is all over for the time being. There may yet be difficulty with Dr. Castro, and there may be difficulties of another kind. But as things were left on Sunday afternoon, there was, and there remains, no reason why the bases in Cuba should not be dismantled and the material taken back to the Soviet Union. And that will be the end of this episode. Let us hope that Dr. Castro will bow to the inevitable. He ran a revolution, not uncommon in the Latin States of America, which was supposed to be for freedom, but if my memory serves me rightly, there has been no popular election since, and a number of his colleagues and friends who bravely stood with him in the revolution have either been sent to prison or destroyed, and the cause of freedom has not blossomed forth.

I think that President Kennedy was right: the Cuban bases must go before the final end of the blockade or of aerial Observation. The Soviet Union, in spite of the flat denials from the Russian Foreign Secretary, took its opportunity of exploiting trouble and building up a considerable menace to the security, not only of the United States but also of the whole of the Western Hemisphere. This was enough for the United States. What emerges from this crisis is that without truth and good faith in the relationships between States peace is bound to be insecure, even apart from the question of the balance of armaments between nations. Truth and good faith form perhaps the most valuable element in the maintenance of friendship and confidence between the nations of the world.

What are the lessons of all this? I do not think there is any point in seeking further to humiliate Mr. Khrushchev, after he has bravely gone through last Sunday's crisis—because he may have trouble of his own at home in this matter. So it is not a question of shouting victory too much, or of rolling the other side in a humiliating mud. It is a question of trying to get out of this situation some advantage for the peace of the world. Let us hope, therefore, that out of this grave experience good may come. I say again that truth and good faith are the most important element.

But surely the long-drawn-out negotiations on disarmament and nuclear testing at Geneva ought now to move on; and surely it is time, particularly in the light of this experience, that the Soviet Union and their friends should be willing to talk real business about disarmament and nuclear weapons. I think it is a mistake to say that nuclear weapons are the only dangers in the world; the other weapons also have their dangers. So it is desirable that we should seek general all-round disarmament. I would beg of the Soviet Union to come into these discussions for the purpose of making them succeed, and not for the purpose of seeing that they do not succeed; to come in with sincerity, so that something may there be done. Even from the point of view of Russia this is most desirable. The economic and financial burden of armaments and of maintaining all this big apparatus for stirring up trouble in other countries of the world must be exceedingly costly to the Soviet Union, and it has to be carried, as our own expenditure on defence must be carried, on the productive labours of the people by hand and by brain. It is an enormous burden on a country like Russia where, though the standard of life has probably improved, it is still well below that of the Western countries. Therefore, in the name of the Russian people, who I am sure are a decent, peaceful people, I would beg the Soviet Government to enter the further discussions about disarmament at Geneva, or wherever it may be, genuinely and with sincerity.

Surely it is not necessary for the artificially created crisis about Berlin to be pursued by the Soviet Union. There really is no crisis about Berlin; there has not been a crisis about Berlin. There is a manufactured crisis, manufactured entirely by the Soviet Union and the East German Communists; but it is not a real crisis. If you ask me whether the Berlin administration, and, indeed, the general German administration, with its division, is logical and tidy, I answer that it is not. But this arises from the carving up of Germany, the carving up of Berlin. That is really where the sin is. If only we could get unification of Germany and Berlin these problems would solve themselves. But we ought not to proceed on the basis that there is a real, genuine crisis about Berlin. There is nothing of the kind. It is, as I say, a manufactured, artificial crisis which ought never to have been created.

Now, my Lords, what are the lessons for us at home? I think that in this period of less than a week during which the trouble over Cuba took place our people, as a whole, kept their nerve. And I believe that one of the most important lessons to come out of it is that we should keep our nerve in these difficulties; we should keep a firm upper lip. Neurosis, people getting hysterical, marching around with little banners, is not the way to protect the peace. That is the way to lose the peace, and possibly to create war. Yet a lot of that was done. When I was last in the United States I read a book, which I now have at home, called When the Kissing had to Stop. It is rather far-fetched, I admit, and improbable. But it is possible that in our country we might come to destruction, from the point of view of our Constitution and liberties, and might become a satellite of a totalitarian State. It is therefore profoundly important that we should keep our nerve. I would recommend people to read that book: it is, I think, a good and useful book.

During the week we have had parades and demonstrations. There is one point that I should like to make, with great respect, both to television and to the Press. I do not want to quarrel with either of them: I do not think that any of us does: we like co-existence between ourselves, as politicians, and television and the Press. But when these little demonstrations and processions take place—attempted disturbances outside the United States Embassy; attempts to have deputations to deliver protests of one sort and another to the Prime Minister; the sit-down businesses about nuclear weapons—what is the purpose? The purpose is to get publicity for these little movements, behind which there is a campaign for nuclear disarmament, and behind which also is the Communist Party, which is probably infiltrating the campaign for nuclear disarmament. Naturally, they live (I do not blame them) on publicity and advertisement.

I remember that when I was very young the Daily Express, which was not then owned by Lord Beaverbrook, ran a great campaign on the menace of Socialism. I was one of the Socialist young men who "spouted" at the street corner, and enjoyed it. We loved this campaign on the menace of Socialism; in fact, when there was a danger of its running down and stopping, we ourselves used to send anti-Socialist letters to the Daily Express, to keep it going and to illustrate how the Socialists were gaining ground and how the country was threatened by this terrible thing. These people are doing the same thing, but not as ably as we did. They want advertisement. Almost before they start their procession, when they have just announced it, there is ample publicity for them on television and in the newspapers. If they march about with little banners, bannerettes or labels, they are sure of having pictures taken and of getting publicity. And if they have a tussle with the police (and all our sympathy in this matter is, I think, with the police) then that again gets publicity, pictures and more writing up. I do not blame the Press for reporting these things, but why do they want to splash it so much and give these people the very prominence they are seeking?

Television is just as bad—and in this respect there is nothing to choose between the two channels. They think it is news. Any silly fool walking around London in a procession with a label on him is news, because it is abnormal, irrational and silly. But anybody who makes a sensible and constructive speech about the political or international situation is not news; it is dull. This is what we are suffering from. The consequence is that people abroad are getting a totally exaggerated idea about the importance of these people, and our people at home are also likely to be misled. Then, again, both television channels had some discussion on the situation by various persons, and they had to find some British personality to take part. I forget whether or not there was more than one British personality, but what I do know is that the B.B.C. got for Britain Mr. Kingsley Martin. If he enjoys anything more than another it is criticising the British and their Allies. The I.T.V. beat the B.B.C. They brought Mr. Sydney Silverman to express a British point of view. Good gracious! are there not any other politicians with average sense, or are there not some other silly politicians with more presentability than these two? Why must they go out of their way to produce, to use a modern word, an "image" of our country which is not true of our country?

These are the kind of people to whom the Foreign Secretary was referring. He did not know quite what to call them, and the best word he could find was "intellectuals". It may be that that is the best word. I have my views about them. The curious thing is that although the British Press of all colours either went clean off the rails about this matter or wobbled in an anæmic fashion all over the shop (I could name two newspapers who are expert at that, but I have enough trouble on my hands without naming them). The Daily Express, which is traditionally rather pro-Communist in foreign policy, somewhat anti-American, and distinctly anti-German, kept its nerve, stuck it, and saw the thing through. As a frequent critic of the Daily Express, I want to say that they deserve congratulations on this particular episode and I hope they will try to live up to it. The New Statesman, which one expects to be wrong, was not entirely right, but it was much more right than I should have expected it to be in the front page article, evidently written by John Freeman.

Then we have had some politicians. There is Mr. Grimond the Leader of the Liberal Party. He made a speech and in the course of it—this was not a speech in Parliament, so I am entitled to quote it—he said: It is true that the murderers of Hungary should not be in a strong position to condemn interference by America in neighbouring states. Nevertheless, the Americans are seen now to be taking forceful action to prevent something being done to them that they have done to the Russians for a long time—that is, the placing of nuclear bases near their frontier. Why cannot Mr. Grimond try to be impartial on behalf of the Western Alliance? I cannot ask the Liberal Peers because, bless their hearts, they are not here. But why cannot he be reasonably impartial? The sites of the Western Powers are part of the NATO organisation, and the sites of the Communist Powers are part of the Warsaw Pact organisation. In that respect they ate on a level. In any case Turkey was in grave danger, and we should be a poor lot if we were to desert her in her time of need. There really is no analogy. In Cuba, as in Berlin, there was the creation of an artificial and wry dangerous crisis. That was done by the Soviet Union putting these dangerous weapons into that country, and I think the leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party, even though a small one in another place, ought to be more thoughtful about it.

The Cuban episode of the Soviet Union, and of Cuba itself, was aggressive in intent and in purpose. It took place, moreover, in the country of what is substantially a Communist dictatorship, it has been said, very naturally, that there should have been consultation by the United States with her Allies, particularly NATO and ourselves. I am all in favour of consultation. I think that if consultation is practicable and it does not take place, then it is not good. I should have liked to have had consultation. But let us be realists about it. Here were these weapons, coming in at a great rate. Moreover, they were being fixed at a great rate, ready to fire. Every day made it materially more dangerous; and once the process of consultation had begun we should have been lucky if we had got through the consultation within a week, and it might wall have been more. By that time it might have been that from Cuba there could be pointing at the heart of the United States, and of the Western Hemisphere in general, weapons that would have made it impossible for the United States freely to negotiate about the situation. Therefore, while I like consultation, I think that in this particular circumstance the President was justified in going ahead. In any case, he has come through all right, and every nice person is happy about the result.

There is a precedent for his action. Unless my memory serves me falsely, Korea was a precedent where the President of the United States acted without effective consultation. He decided. I remember that our Government met; we were told, and we decided to follow on the Presidential line. But my recollection is that there was nothing in the nature of real consultation. We were informed. Here again that was a dangerous situation, and the President went to the United Nations straight away and reported it, which was the best thing he could do. Therefore I do not think that is a real point to make against the President in the circumstances with which he was faced. He reported to the United Nations straight away and asked for an immediate meeting of the Security Council, which was right; and the Security Council met.

I want to echo what other noble Lords have said. The world is indebted to the Secretary General of the United Nations for acting with calmness and initiative, and I am glad to know that the Government take the same view. It may be said that before the United States took action they should have gone to the Security Council for authority to do so. Legally, this is a very arguable point both ways, as, indeed, is much of International Law. I am not myself convinced that the President's action was illegal from the point of view of International Law, and particularly from the point of view of the Charter of the United Nations. But it is not a material point now, because we have passed it. If America had gone to the Security Council while the weapons were still coming in, and being fixed up, there would have been a good deal of talk and discussion; and almost certainly the Russians would have vetoed any effective action. So that might have been a means of getting into trouble, rather than getting out if it. We have faced this test; now we need, and the Free World needs, firmness, calmness and foresight, using every opportunity for promoting world peace and security.

Then there is the story of India and China. It does not require much to be said about it, except to express our own horror and indignation at the naked aggression, at the untruth and the cynicism of China in this matter. This is not the stuff out of which good relations between countries can be built. Heaven knows! Mr. Nehru had taken great pains to be good friends with the Communist countries, including China and the Soviet Union. He had tried hard. He had pursued a line or a policy of non-alignment with either the West or the East, and it may be recalled that President Benes, in Czechoslovakia, at the end of the last world war, took great pains to conciliate the Soviet Union, and to be good friends with them, because he felt that that was necessary in the situation—and I can understand it. The result was that, when he formed a Coalition Government, which included a Communist Minister of the Interior, it was not long before the Communists were on top and the dictatorship was going ahead.

So it is indicated that this action of China is in direct defiance of the five Bandung principles of co-existence and peace; it is in sheer defiance although they had solemnly promised to observe these principles. There has been a betrayal of India, who sought to be good friends, by Chinese expansionist imperialism. I am glad, as we all are, that our own country and the United States are giving to India all practicable aid, provided that India requires it and wishes to have the aid which can be sent along. The lesson for India, I think, is that she must be strong and not run the risk of being caught napping. Being strong, in the military and economic sense, does not mean having an excessive number of bureaucratic controls; only a proper number is needed. No doubt the Indian Government and the Indian people will ask themselves—and it is for them to decide—whether the policy of non-alignment is wise and whether it has paid dividends.

All of this situation, both in India and in the Western Hemisphere, reminds me of Hitler, when he was playing up, taking liberties one by one, and feeling his way. Then there were people trying to find excuses for Hitler: if only we had not done this; if only we gave him that, he would be satisfied. It was not true. The more he got, the worse he was. There is a certain similarity between these totalitarian régimes. Hitler and the Soviet Union signed a pact of friendship on the eve of the Second World War, but that pact of friendship did not save the Soviet Union from invasion by Hitler's armies. There was deceit the other way round.

What we need, above all, is a real, vigorous and healthy United Nations; a United Nations with claws, and with a real sense of fairness and justice, and not so much prejudice in judicially examining sources of international friction. If we can get that, nations will want to go with their troubles to the United Nations, instead of being dragged there—which would be a good thing. But, apart from all these things, we need effective collective security in the Free World; and what all the world needs, above all, in the relationship between States is good faith and truthfulness all round.

5.14 p.m.


My Lords, such eloquent tributes have been paid by men much more experienced than I am that I will not cover ground that has already been covered. I will only add in one sentence my humble praise to the President of the United States, to our Prime Minister, to our Foreign Secretary and to the British public as a whole for the sound nerve with which they met the crisis of the last week.

I have hesitated for three years to say what I am going to venture to say now because I do not think it will be happily received, but I feel so anxious about the future that it is in me to be bound to say it at some time. I think that there is a tendency in the world for statesmen and politicians of all nations to keep the fires of controversy burning long after they should be allowed to die down. There is no absolute justice in the world; nor have wrongs which have been effected in the past all been righted. Yet there comes a time when events which have caused acute divisions among mankind must pass into history; and it is all a question of, when do they pass into history?

In 1773 the American Colonies refused longer British suzerainty, went into rebellion and, thereafter, established themselves as a free people. Look at the warm friendship between Great Britain and the United States to-day. Think back to the bitter feelings which must have been held on both sides of the Atlantic in 1773 and probably for ten, twenty, thirty or fifty years thereafter. In 1707 Scotland and England were united and they are friendly enough now to meet in one Parliament and to have the utmost of close economic, political and social relationships. But think how harsh must have been the feelings on both sides of the Border for ten, twenty or thirty years after the conquest of Scotland.

There are trouble-spots in the world—I think the Foreign Secretary himself used the word "trouble-spots" to-day. I can think of three. Berlin is one, China is another, and, in a slightly different sense, in a much smaller setting, South Africa is the third. I want to make the briefest possible comment about these three. The Berlin salient is one which no soldier would regard as tenable. It is tenable only if you look upon the nuclear weapon as a possible means of compelling a system or an occupation there. Why are we so concerned, so long after the war is over, to maintain what was a temporary arrangement? Why do we not let the facts of life about Europe pass into history and recognise them? I suppose it is because there is a feeling that East Germany should not be under Russian suzerainty or Russian protection or embodied in the Russian sphere of influence. I suppose that is the reason; and I suppose the only possible hope of remedying that situation and bringing Germany together in one country is to retain some tenuous hold upon a temporary arrangement made for four Powers to remain in Berlin or part of Berlin.

But does this fit in with the facts of life? Is it anyone's intention to try to free Hungary from the Russian's suzerainty? Is it anyone's intention to try to free the Baltic Provinces or the Balkan States which in my lifetime were free but which have now become, I would say, historically part of the Russian sphere of influence? Is anyone going to war for Latvia or Hungary? I do not think so. Then why for East Germany? It seems to me so unrealistic to suppose that the nations of the world would rise up to defend Berlin that we run the gravest possible risks in constantly reiterating our intention to do it. I say this with great hesitation, but it is because I believe this is the right time, when there may be a hope that statesmen can negotiate or arrange somehow or other that we get out of this impossible obligation.

I now turn to China. I do not blame Her Majesty's Government over China, because we do recognise them and we do trade with them. But there is no argument that I can think of why they should not be a member of the United Nations. Not even their recent rape of India disqualifies them for that. Nothing that they have done is different from things that others have done Who are members, and senior members. It is simply because the Americans have got a bee in their bonnet about it. We are friends and partners with the Americans and surely we ought to say it is useless to go on discussing world affairs in this world committee without the largest nation being in the committee. It is just as simple as that. China is not part of Mars or Venus or another world; it is part of this world, and it is the most populous country in this world.

Now I turn to this smaller item, South West Africa. It is almost fifty years since General Botha conquered German South-West Africa. Then there was a phase during which this territory was a Trust Territory under the League of Nations, and never at any time throughout all that fifty years did South Africa render proper account of its stewardship to the League of Nations or the United Nations. One Government after another knew about that. Nothing was done about it. But fifty years has now passed. This territory is geographically, economically, politically joined to and associated with the Republic of South Africa. It is better that it should be so. Nobody else can manage it so well or so adequately, or even at all. Can you imagine that Britain would enter in there as trustee and be acceptable? Can you imagine that America would, or Russia, or Germany, or the Afro-Asian Group? All these ideas are quite crazy. The South African Government would not accept it and there would be war—perhaps a limited war, but there would be war. This has ceased surely to be a matter which adults can make controversy about; it has become a matter of history. Britain does not account for her behaviour in Gibraltar to the United Nations. Russia does not account for her behaviour in Latvia or other of the Baltic States. It seems to me that we unnecessarily keep these fires of controversy burning, and it is time we abated these trouble-spots in the world and let them go by.

Perhaps I may say one brief word about the gracious Speech of a minor character so far as the great affairs of state we are discussing to-day are concerned; but I hope I may be forgiven for that because I do not want to speak twice or thrice. There is a line in the gracious Speech which mentions the war pensioners, whose interests have been a care of mine for many years. I rejoice at that and I thank Her Majesty's Government for having inserted that line. What they have said is that during the year they will be considering the raising of pensions for ex-civil servants, ex-military persons, and they say that the war pensioners will also have their case taken into account. I only want to express my gratitude for that and to say that there is a case, which I will not make now, but which can be elaborated and will be put before Ministers by the British Legion, the Royal Air Force Association, St. Dunstan's and other societies who co-operate in this matter, and I hope Ministers will listen to this case and, before the year is out, will have dealt with it.

I will just remind the House there are three-quarters of a million war pensioners. Some 24,000 of them die each year; the account which the taxpayer has to meet on their behalf is falling. Therefore it would be possible this year, as it was two or three years ago, to bring their pensions into line with the rise in the cost of living that has taken place and the rise in the standard of living that has taken place, without imposing a harsh burden on the Treasury. Talking about the standard of living, I would add this one rather significant fact. The Ministry of Labour has just made a survey of the standard of living—not the cost of living, but the standard of living—in the homes of Britain, and has published the report, which shows that in the average home in Britain 13s. 6d. a week more was spent last year than in the previous year. The standard of living has risen by that amount. It is the Government's policy to see to it that war pensioners enjoy not only changes in the cost of living but also changes in the standard of living which are enjoyed by the people as a whole.

I come lastly to the briefest possible word about two other subjects which are joined together. Again I apologise for saying it in this debate, but it will avoid your Lordships' hearing a second or third speech next week or the week after. First, one word about the Common Market. I want to declare that I believe we shall be going into it. I hope we shall be going into it, because I feel that Britain's strength will be all the greater when she is in it and that thereby she will be better able to help her friends in the Commonwealth. I do not therefore subscribe to the view that we are in any way letting our Commonwealth friends down when and if we go in. The days of Joe Chamberlain and Beaverbrook and Ottawa are passed. The pattern of trade has changed. It is no longer true to imagine that this home Island can make manufactured goods and exchange them in the Commonwealth for raw materials. The Commonwealth has grown up, and that is why we must go in. There is also another reason, closely related to foreign affairs. It is that I believe a third force in this world, whether for economic or strategic or political reasons, is desirable. That third force must be Europe, and Europe would be incomplete in that sense without Britain.

But if we are going into the Common Market we must have some little more assurance than we have yet had about our home agriculture. I therefore want to call attention to one other sentence in the gracious Speech in which we are told that miscellaneous provisions will be made. Many farmers would think that a statement by the Government as to how they are going to preserve a stable and powerful agricultural industry should be made. Many farmers will feel that it cannot be dealt with by miscellaneous provisions. I therefore ask that, sooner or later, and the sooner the better, a proper statement about agriculture be made, as to how it is proposed and intended to see that the greater wealth and stability which agriculture has enjoyed these last ten or fifteen years shall be maintained when we enter the Common Market.

5.29 p.m.


My Lords, charges and counter-charges about Cuba will obviously echo round the world for many months to come. They are not the most interesting part of the situation. The most interesting part is the lessons that can be drawn from that terrible crisis about what should be done next. But before coming to that aspect I should like to mention three points about the charges and counter-charges which arise out of this debate.

First of all, the Foreign Secretary, in opening the debate, said that the Communist addiction to wars of liberation, their belief that they are justified in fighting wars of liberation, was something which was still there and which was exemplified by the recent Russian and Chinese actions. I must say that I do not understand how this can be right. If I am correct, the Communist doctrine is that a war of liberation is a war by colonial people to free themselves of the colonial Government—something on the model of Algeria, Angola and many such. Cuba and India are not under colonial government, and are not therefore, I should have thought, in need of what the Communists call liberation.


My Lords, I know that this can go on and on, but of course the Chinese, in their propaganda now, are accusing India of being an imperialist Power. I am afraid that it is most strange into what the Communists are led as part of their doctrine.


I am obliged to the noble Earl. I did not know that fact. I take it they accuse the Indians of oppressing tribesmen up there in the north. Of course there is no end to that, I agree.

The second point, which I want to touch on lightly, because it is an explosive and unpleasant one, is the equivalent between the Russian intermediate range ballistic missiles in Cuba and the American ones in Turkey and elsewhere. The point has been made often in this debate that Turkey joined NATO because the Russians were "nibbling away" in Eastern Europe. That, I should have thought, in regard to Persia is perfectly true. But the American missiles were not put in Turkey at the time Turkey joined NATO; they were put there much later. The balance of force is equal on both sides. We have in Turkey 15 missiles of about 1,500 miles range. In Cuba, we have been told, there were 30 Russian missiles of about 1,500 miles range. That is not very much difference.

Again, on the point about offensive and defensive weapons, which has given rise to such great bad feeling between America and Russia, I think it is worth going into this aspect for a moment. The distinction between offensive and defensive weapons can really be maintained only by dint of ignoring the all too familiar word "deterrent". If the Russian missiles in Cuba were offensive, so are the American ones in Turkey. If the American missiles in Turkey are defensive, so are the Russian ones in Cuba. The Russian missiles in Cuba appear so far to have deterred an American invasion of Cuba; and we must believe that the American missiles in Europe and Turkey are deterring Soviet conventional aggression in Europe.

The Cuban affair, it seems to me, was a rather normal bit of the arms race. Let us follow it back for a little. Five years ago the Russians had a technological break-through when they made the first inter-continental missile. The Americans had to do something. This was a threat to them. They answered by bringing intermediate-range missiles into Europe and Turkey, in order to redress the balance. Within the last year the Americans have had a break-through in the arms race by developing the rather cheap and quick-firing inter-continental missile Minuteman, and ordering the enormous number of 900 of them to join the 700 which are already projected for the submarine-borne Polaris force, making 1,600. Once again there had to be an upward spiral in the arms race. The Russians had various courses they could take. I do not want to delay by going into what they were. They chose the same way as the Americans had chosen two or three years ago: they brought intermediate-range missiles on to the territory of a forward ally so as partly to redress the balance. The American reaction, as we all know—and for which, in my opinion, we may all be grateful, was extremely sharp, and they have had to take them out again.

Various good effects may come from this after all. First of all, there is the scare itself. I think that when we look at the deadlock in regard to disarmament we can agree that we needed scaring a bit on both sides to get on with that. Secondly, there is the painful but, let us be frank about it, educational effect on the Americans. They have felt now, if only for a few days, what it is like to have nuclear missiles close in to the territory of their own country—some-thing the Russians have been living with for several years. In my view, the course taken by the British Government in this crisis was the right one. Her Majesty's Government backed American action, but they offered no ships for the blockade. I have not seen that any Western European Government took a different course. They all backed the American action, as befits loyal allies, but offered no ships for the blockade.

You will have noticed that General Norstad at the height of the crisis made a radio broadcast in which he went to some lengths to explain that, though American troops under national command throughout the world had been alerted because of the crisis, American troops under his command and NATO command in Europe had not been so alerted. I think there can be no clearer indication of the fact that the European allies in NATO and the United States in NATO felt that their interests in this crisis were not exactly the same, and that the European countries were not therefore prepared to pledge their existence in the defence of this American interest which they did not entirely share. If that is so, all the European countries, including this one, will be more aware than before of the possibility of the same thing happening in reverse in the future. They will be more aware of the possibility that the United States may not be willing to pledge its existence, its cities and its people for a European interest which they do not entirely share.

What effect will this have? I think it can have only one effect: it will tend towards the development of a Common Market nuclear force and an independent West European nuclear deterrent held in command by the countries of Western Europe. This concept our strategic commentators are beginning to call the "Dumbbell" force of nuclear weapons apart from NATO, but of roughly equal size and co-ordinated, but not identical in operational use. It would not be impossible for the Six, powerful industrial nations, to build such a thing. They have a population base and an economic base which is roughly comparable in size to that of the Soviet Union and the United States, who have already built such a nuclear force. Their nuclear technology is approaching the condition of that in the Soviet Union and the United States, so that there would be no absolute obstacles on that score. It can be done, and I think that the events of the last week can only make it more likely that it will be done.

Though it would be fairly easy for them to build such a thing, I think it would be extremely hard for them to deploy it. If they get it they face exactly the same problems of command that we have already in NATO—namely, whose finger is to be on the trigger, and, much more important than that, what is to cause him to press it? It is the same problem. It is the problem of whether one country, or even one city, will agree to pledge its entire existence in defence of the interests of another. It is quite different from the way alliances used to work before the nuclear age, when you simply pledged your army, a certain number of your young men, for the interest of another State which might be only partially shared by your own country. It seems to me that the pledging of entire populations is something which can happen only if there is a precise identity of interests between the allies. I think we should be perfectly frank about the fact that this is never going to happen. By definition it cannot.

So it seems to me that in the E.E.C. nuclear force which we may expect there will be at least the same degree of confusion as there has been in NATO, possibly even greater, because having a better interest you will get a lot of weapons lying about, and nobody will know if he is to fire them, at whom he is to fire them, or even on what provocation. We should think about this when we in this country consider going or not going into the E.E.C, or upon what terms we should go in. If we go in, of course we should be able to exert a very good deal of control over the new E.E.C. force, if it came into existence, especially at first—and the early days are what count in setting up a system. We have a great deal of know-how which they do not have, and though they would be able to get such know-how by their own researches, it would always be quicker and easier for them to ask us for a solution to a technical problem. If we can tell them, we can ask in exchange about the measures of control in which we might be interested.

For us to be able to do this would require the revision of the United States McMahon Act. That Act of course covers us and means that at the moment we cannot tell nuclear secrets to European Powers, because we have learned so many under the umbrella of that Act. It is not unthinkable that the Americans should revise the McMahon Act. I have in mind the speech by Mr. MacGeorge Bundy, Mr. Kennedy's chef de Cabinet in Copenhagen a few weeks ago, when he said that if it really appears to be the best solution to have a E.E.C. nuclear force the United States would not necessarily continue to put obstacles in the way, as is the case with the development of French forces.

If, on the other hand, we do not go into that force—which I believe is coming, whether we like it or not—we shall be weaker militarily than if we did go in. Here is the crux of the matter. I think we can all see the logic in being a disarmed nation in a disarmed world. This would be the best. I do not believe that this House needs to be reminded of the advantages of being a strongly armed nation in an armed world. I can even see the logic of being a disarmed neutral nation in an armed world, though I have never thought it good logic, and, in a week when India is suffering as she is, it seems even more foolish than usual. But I can see neither rhyme nor reason of any sort in being an armed nation weaker than is necessary in an armed world.

Let us see what this world would look like. We have an E.E.C. nuclear force roughly comparable to the Russian and American ones. We also have Britain with an independent nuclear force, which may or may not even continue that long. We should be not one small nuclear Power among two big ones; we should be one small nuclear force among three big ones, and probably with two other small ones as well, namely China and India, if things go on as they are now—unless China can be brought into the United Nations and pulled off India's back by the pressure of that organisation.

The point is that this E.E.C. force is going to tend towards neutralism, as the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, pointed out in a different context. Europe will want its nuclear force only in order to contra-distinguish itself from the United States, because it is afraid the United States would not do with the American nuclear weapon precisely what Europe wanted it to do in all circumstances. It wants, therefore, to have its own force, to take its own decisions on what issues are and what issues are not worth the devastation of European territory, and to do so with no more consultation with the United States than the United States had with Europe last week.

This is an extremely gloomy prospect. I think that a world with five or six nuclear forces would be infinitely more dangerous than the present one. Each Power would have its own ideas about a settlement of the cold war and about how to get disarmament; each Power would have its own conflicting assessment of the objectives and instabilities of each other nuclear Power, which assessments might be correct or incorrect. The danger in the world is going to go up by an algebraical function in such a case. Wherever we turn, if we continue according to the logic of the nuclear arms race, we find worse and worse situations. Therefore, it seems to me that the conclusion to be drawn, as has often been said before in this debate, is that we should seek, with unprecedented vigour, to finalise the measures on disarmament.

I believe that a good first measure, as the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary has said, would be a test ban, because an agreement is already so very close. We have put forward two other measures, a partial ban and a complete ban, with inspection. I think that the latter is preferable, because it would carry a much greater weight of feeling in the world if one could be sure that no tests were being carried out. The difference at the moment between having and not having a total test ban is absolutely minute.

There is general agreement among technicians of all the countries concerned in the test ban negotiations on the two following rather complicated propositions. First, it is not now possible by national means to be perfectly certain on all occasions of detecting every small underground nuclear test. It is conceivable that such a thing could be done by cannily inserting it between the pre-shocks of an a-typical earthquake, in certain well-known and rather small areas, in soft soil. The second proposition is that the number and size of tests which could be concealed from national means of inspection is so small that such a thing could be done only infrequently; and even if it were done it would carry such a risk of detection that no military advantage would accrue to either side from doing so. To put this in practical terms, the Soviet Union would not be harmed by one or two on-site inspections a year; the United States would not be harmed by forgoing twelve or twenty on-site inspections a year.

There is here an opening for Her Majesty's Government. If they agree that what I have said represents a reasonable statement of the present situation, as I hope and think they do, a very great effect could be achieved by their getting up and saying so publicly. It might be possible to get a proper test ban without that; but if it is not obtained within a week or two of the resumption of the negotiations, I would ask the Government most earnestly to consider that possible course of action.

Another one, which was mentioned by the Foreign Secretary, would be the demilitarisation of space. I believe that this may not be a matter for expending very great effort, because any such arrangement would involve the presence of United Nations inspectors at rocket launchings. Since all the rockets used by both sides—and this applies particularly to Russia—for peaceful purposes are identical with the rockets used in nuclear missiles, the United Nations inspectors would be bound to see the construction and performance details of those rockets; and this the Russians fear might mean giving military intelligence to the United States. The Russians are extremely unlikely to agree to this, and to the inspection we shall need. Therefore it seems to me much better to concentrate first on a test ban, and secondly on disarmament itself, which now holds better hopes of progress than ever before.

During the Recess, in the disarmament talks at Geneva, the Soviet Union, in a speech made by Mr. Gromyko in New York made a very considerable concession. It is a rather complicated and technical matter. It involves the abandonment of their position that all the means of delivery must be destroyed in stage 1 of disarmament. This is something which, from our point of view, is extremely good, because Western opinion has always regarded it as an impracticable proposal. It is an extremely hopeful fact that the Russians have now abandoned it. Their concession should be met as soon as possible by a corresponding concession from the West, which would be to agree upon what is called the transitional minimum deterrent of I.C.B.M.s carrying over beyond the end of stage 1. On inspection, as the noble Earl, the Foreign Secretary rightly said, it all depends on whether they will permit any. It is indeed, a hopeful precedent that we have for the first time in the history of this arms race heard one of the Mr. K's say: "Because I trust your assurances, I will withdraw my nuclear missiles, under U.N. supervision". Of course, this does not mean that he is going to admit U.N. inspectors all over Russia, but it is something quite new that he should have said that. With these advantages—one concession in the bag from the Russians, one concession to be hoped for very shortly from the Americans, and with the first sign of agreement to inspection and a measure of control—it may be possible for us to snatch disarmament from the jaws of death.

5.51 p.m.


My Lords, I think in this debate, which has turned on foreign affairs, I find myself in greater agreement with the bulk of the speeches made on both sides of the House than is usual in these cases. My motive for intervening in this debate was originally this. I greatly admire the action taken by the President of the United States in the recent crisis in Cuba, and I believe that Her Majesty's Government have been absolutely right in the support that they have given and in the policy that they have followed. I should not have thought it necessary to intervene to express those sentiments, were it not that I wanted to say something else that has been said by several speakers. I do not think that in any period I can remember I have been quite so disgusted with the attitude of most of the British Press, both daily and Sunday papers, with certain exceptions, at the height of the crisis. I find myself in complete agreement with what was said by my noble friend Lord Salisbury and my noble friend Lord Strang. It has also been said to some extent by my noble friend the Foreign Secretary, but he is always a great deal more tactful than I am. It is no surprise to me to find myself in complete agreement with the whole of his speech, and with an admirable speech he made yesterday, which is reported in some organs of to-day's Press.

My Lords, I have been for over a quarter of a century a Member of Parliament, and I cannot remember an occupant of the office of Foreign Secretary in that period who has shown more courage, more wisdom and more ability than the present occupant. But he has another quality which is as rare as those that I have named. He says what he means and nobody misunderstands him unless he wishes to. That seems to me a very valuable quality in anybody, but quite invaluable in a Foreign Secretary.

The attitude of the public, or that portion of the public that I criticise, was inspired largely—let us face it—by fear. They suddenly realised the fact that ought to have been obvious for some time, that we live in an extremely dangerous world. As a result of the action—first the threat of Russia, and then the American President's response—the world obviously might have had to face the greatest disaster that they have ever had to face, and few people were unconscious of that danger. Indeed, I am told that one lady, who takes a leading part in nuclear disarmament, thought the danger was so imminent that it was her duty to flee for safety to Western Ireland. As a result of later developments, she thought it was safe to come back to be a nuisance to the police.

Of course it was very dangerous, but the first assumption with which I am going to quarrel, which underlies some of the criticisms made, is the extraordinary delusion that there would have been less danger if the President had not acted. That seems to me to be the most fantastic delusion. So far from the world then being safer, the world would have been, in my opinion, in an infinitely more dangerous position. I mentioned, at the beginning of my remarks, my agreement with three of my noble friends who have spoken from this side of the House or from the Cross Benches, but I am bound to add that it is a long time since I found myself in such warm agreement with a great deal of what fell from the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth.

My Lords, why do I say that there was this great danger? I want to draw attention to some of the facts about the cold war. My noble friend the Foreign Secretary said something—and this seems to me the very basis from which one must start—about the danger of the Communist doctrine, and the course that the Communists follow. He quoted a comparatively recent conference which justified wars of liberation. There was a question by the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, in the speech which he has just made, and my noble friend intervened to explain to the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, the point which he had in mind. He gave the example of China calling India an imperialist Power.

But, my Lords, I wonder if I may give two other examples. I have no doubt they are familiar to the House, and the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, will have often read them. Nevertheless, I do not think they have been recently quoted in Parliament, and I think it may be worth doing. The fact is that it is no use pretending that we do not know what the Communists are after, because we do. We can find out what they are after by two independent methods, and they both give us the same result. I have said this again and again in both Houses and in the country for longer than I like to think, but I repeat it once more. We can tell what they are after by reading the sacred books of their dogmatic, secular religion, and seeing what they say they are after. It is quite as dangerous to ignore their sacred books and to assume that they do not mean what they say as it was to assume that Hitler did not mean what he said. But the second method will give us an equally certain result. Perhaps, as an aged lawyer, I might quote again the admirable principle of the English Common Law, that men are presumed to intend the natural and probable consequences of their actions, and by observing the actions of the Communist Powers over the years we can be quite confident about what their intentions are.

Now let me read two passages. I have not read the latest English version published in Moscow of Problems of Leninism, so I do not know whether either of these passages has been modified. I do not think the first has, at any rate, and I doubt whether the second has. These are my two quotations: We are living not merely in a State but in a system of States, and the existence of the Soviet Republic side by side with imperialist States for a long time is unthinkable. One or the other must triumph in the end. And before that end supervenes a series of frightful collisions between the Soviet Republic and the bourgeois States will be inevitable. That is my first quotation. The second is this: The world significance of the October Revolution lies not only in that it constitutes a great start made by one country in causing a breach in the system of imperialism and that it is the first centre of Socialism in the ocean of imperialist countries, but also in that it constitutes the first stage of the world revolution and a mighty base for its further development.


Could the noble tell the House what are the dates of those quotations?


NO. The first is Lenin, but I am afraid I cannot tell you the dates. All I can say is that the last time I bought this volume, which is still obtainable in London—it is a volume published in Moscow called Problems of Leninism—it contained these quotations and I should be surprised if they are not still in the sacred books.


Would the noble Lord clarify his definition of a "sacred book"? For instance, is the Declaration of the Twentieth Conference of the Soviet Communist Party, which contains the explicit abrogation of the inevitability of war, a sacred book?


I expect that is very valuable; and I was going to add that I am not saying in the least that these are necessarily principles which are accepted without modification. The leaders run backwards and forwards; but that is what many Communists believe and are taught to believe. But whatever has gone or whatever stays, all the evidence shows, so far as I know, that the idea of world conquest has not been abandoned.

That brings me back to the nature of the cold war—and I am going to make a plea for some rather more serious thinking as to what is meant by the cold war. Such is the confusion in the public mind that there is no agreement on whether they wish to make it warmer or colder. The other day, when it was seen that the world was becoming more dangerous, one of the papers said: There is a real danger of a further freezing of the cold war". I therefore want a little clarity. Let me say, about the cold war, that it is very unpleasant. It is a war, and it is a war in which it is very important that the anti-Communists shall not lose. Of course it is unpleasant, and of course we should like it to end—on one condition: that it is followed by a real peace. If the cold war can end in a real peace, there is no one in any Party or any section of the House who would not welcome that ending. But there are two things that have hitherto been seen to be obviously worse than a cold war: one is surrender to Communism, and the other is the transformation of the cold war into a hot war. Those things have hitherto been thought to be even worse.

My Lords, I make no apology for having reminded the House of some of the principles of Communism and of some Communist actions. The first thing that really fills me with disgust is to see some of these easy critics and commentators on the President's action talk about American obsession with Communism—obsession with the thing that has enslaved a great part of Europe. The noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, reminded the House of Berlin. Few weeks pass without people being shot while attempting to escape over the wall, or trying to escape elsewhere over Communist frontiers, and being caught either in the barbed wire or by frontier guards, or even by explosion of the mines on the frontier. I suppose some of our more comfortable Sunday Press would think that these people are so mistaken in trying to escape that they are obsessed with Communism; they ought to be contented with their lot; it is really rather silly of them to find life so intolerable that they incur death to escape from it. My Lords, I have not much sympathy with those superior people who use that type of expression. Are these people obsessed with Communism, or are they men and women, like ourselves, who find life under Communism intolerable?

What has President Kennedy done in this crisis, and why did he do it? I think he came to the conclusion, which I am convinced is a right conclusion, that in the cold war, which must be waged until we get a true peace, any further substantial surrender anywhere to the Communists would increase our danger and should be avoided. One of the few things in the speeches made in this debate with which I emphatically disagree was the astonishing suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, that really the Western position in Berlin should be abandoned. I do not propose to argue it. I do not believe there is any other noble Lord in any section of the House who takes that view. The case against it has been often so admirably stated by the present Foreign Secretary and others that I propose, with the leave of the House, not to deal with that at all. I think the President thought, and thought rightly, that another surrender to a Communist increase of power would be entirely wrong.

I forget exactly who it was, but I think it was my noble friend Lord Salisbury who mentioned Hitler's occupation of the Rhineland. I remember that very well, because I was at that time a Member of the House of Commons, as was the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth. I remember so well the letters that I then got, above all from members of the Party not at the moment represented in this House: the Liberal Party. Liberal after Liberal wrote to me and said, "I hope that the Government are not going to interfere by force with the Germans' going into their own country". The fact that it was in breach of their treaty obligations did not matter.

I mention the occupation of the Rhine-land for this reason. While we may differ very much in different quarters of the House on a great deal in pre-war policy, I believe most of us have come to the conclusion that that was possibly the last occasion when Hitler could have been stopped without war. There may have been a few later occasions when it lay within the power of the nations to alter the date of the outbreak of war, but that was probably the last occasion on which it was possible to stop it. We must not yield any more ground whatsoever to Communist aggression. If we do we are lost. That does not mean of course that I do not desire better relations and peace when it is obtainable. But, my Lords, I can only say, speaking for myself, that I have never thought, as a matter of religion or of philosophy, that the duration of life was more important than its quality.

My Lords, much has been made in this debate about the deception practised recently in this matter, and the Foreign Secretary, the Prime Minister, and others have said, quite rightly, that in these matters we cannot rely on the mere words of the Russians without testing their truth. I do not think we should be too astonished or work ourselves up too much about this deception, because it is a fact, I believe, that the Communists do not even profess to think it wrong. I could give other quotations from the Problems of Leninism, advice to Communists as to how they should get into Parliament in order to destroy Parliament from within. There is nothing new in the practice of deception by the Communists. It is part of their deliberate creed.

A recent example quoted by my right honourable friend the Lord Privy Seal in the House of Commons yesterday was the resumption of nuclear testing. That, after all, was fairly recent; or, to take an example from China, given in the speech of my noble friend the Foreign Secretary and I think in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, in opening the debate, the attack on India was in breach of principles agreed between the Communist Government of China and the Indian Government not so very long ago.

I say, therefore, that the President was right to act and right to act effectively. That brings me to the question of deterrents and the very odd views that seemed to be held on the subject by so many of our newspapers. Apparently they suddenly became conscious of the fact that deterrence by nuclear weapons was dangerous. This seems to be their discovery: it is quite right that this country and America and our Allies should be deterred; we should be deterred by the fear of nuclear weapons, but it is really quite intolerable to assume that the Communists might be deterred. They should never be threatened. Now the greatest of the contributions of the President of the United States recently is that he has at last improved the world's atmosphere by a perfectly simple step. He has said that the threat by the Communist aggressors that they may indulge in a holocaust may add to the risk but that does not mean we should be deflected from our duty. That is the contribution that the United States under their President has now made. It does not, in my opinion, make war more likely. It makes war less likely, because if we gave up point after point, if the Americans had conceded Cuba, in the end somebody would have had to fight. It is far better to face the risk before the odds against you have become intolerable.

China and India have been mentioned. Perhaps some of the noble Lords remember when Tibet has been debated, and the Communist action in Tibet. How many fellow travellers have made a case for China! But, surely, now we and the Indians, in particular, have rather more knowledge of why the Chinese were invading Tibet. It is far better to stop these things at the beginning—Obsta principiis, if I may use a classical phrase without being suspected of being an intellectual. We have given some praise to the President and to the people and to Her Majesty's Government. I give none whatever to our Press in most of its organs, and I am thinking both of the daily and the Sunday Press. There were a few honourable exceptions. Neither do I admire the crowds endeavouring to make a nuisance of themselves in front of the American Embassy, though none of them would have dreamed of protesting outside the Chinese Embassy, because any act by Communists is apparently legitimate to the people in those processions. The Press is much more harmful than these processions for the perfectly simple reason that nobody looking at those taking part in those processions, nobody looking at the crowd in the Central Lobby a day or two ago, could possibly think they were a typical section of the English public. You have only to look to see that they could not do very much harm because nobody could regard them as typically English. But when you get a section of the Press taking the line that——


My Lords, the noble Lord is talking a lot about the Press. I do not disagree with that as a general thesis, but I think in fairness to the Press he should tell us what newspapers he has in mind.


Very many of them. But just as a start: The Times, the Guardian and the Observer——


My Lords, the noble Lord is making frightfully wild accusations. Will he tell us what the newspapers have done wrong? I am sure we journalists are always wrong. But he has not made himself completely clear.


Obscurity must be one of my greatest faults, but examples have already been given by my noble friend Lord Salisbury, my noble friend Lord Strang, and others in this debate. I shall be very happy to look up the files to give further examples to the noble Earl, who knows a great deal about the Press.

My Lords, let me give examples of my complaints of the Press. First, there was great criticism of the President, on the grounds, so far as I can make out, that we were now living in a period of great danger; and then they proceeded to consider whether a possible way could be found in which Russia might profit from what they were doing in Cuba. The bright thought occurred to The Times, I think rather earlier than it occurred to Mr. Khrushchev, that a deal might be made over the bases in Turkey. That has been so well dealt with by the Foreign Secretary, by my noble friend Lord Strang and others, that I shall say no more about it.

Yesterday and to-day the Foreign Secretary made a great plea for rather less of the intellectual fringe and rather more horse sense. I agree with him entirely. I rather regret that the word "intellectual" has come to mean what it now so often does. Perhaps I may recall to my noble friend the time when this word began to become a term of disrespect and abuse. Several years ago, when I was speaking in another place on Communism, there was one of those crypto-Communist conferences, in some country behind the Iron Curtain, which called itself a "Conference of intellectuals." Just imagine going to a conference so labeled! It seems almost unbelievable. It drove me to give a definition of "intellectual" in that speech. I said that an intellectual was a man educated beyond his intelligence.

When I study these intellectuals, I do not know which astonishes me more, their conceit or their cruelty; their conceit when they think that they are the only people who object to a holocaust of the human race, that they are the only people who dislike war. It never occurs to them that their policy may conceivably be wrong. I often feel like addressing them with the most famous saying of Oliver Cromwell. It is their conceit that is astonishing, if they do not know what the Communists are after. It is their cruelty that astonishes me, if they do. Whatever else we do for the future of the world, we must really not forget the millions behind the Iron Curtain, who are living a life which they do not like and from which they wish to be delivered. Of course I agree that we do not wish that their deliverance should come about by war, but, in any settlement we make for the future of the world, we ought not to forget their existence.

May I give one example of the conceit of these intellectuals? I see that one of them, a man whom I like on personal grounds, Sir Stephen King-Hall, who writes books on nuclear disarmament and so on, and who always corresponds in the Guardian and elsewhere whenever there is a crisis, has written a book explaining that we ought to throw away our arms (I think I am being fair to him), and admitting that, as a result, we might be occupied by the Communist Powers; but, he said, after a few generations they would get very tired of that—especially with the News-Letter being conducted in an able manner. For those of us who thought and said that what he advocated was nonsense, he had a brilliant phrase: he said that we were unable to pass the thought barrier. I am unable to pass the thought barrier. In other words, I continue to think.

I do not believe that future historians, when they write about our epoch, will criticise President Kennedy or the United States for recognising the danger in 1962 and making the appropriate response. The criticism will not be that they acted too soon; the criticism may be a regret that they did not act before. America bears a heavy load of responsibility for what was done at Yalta, which I believed at the time, and have believed ever since, to be one of the great disasters of history; but in subsequent years, as my noble friend Lord Strang has pointed out, America has played a noble part in defending the Free World and in helping it. One cannot point to the countries that America has subjugated or threatened. I believe that in the action which the United States, under President Kennedy, has recently taken, they deserve the gratitude of mankind.

6.26 p.m.


My Lords, first of all may I apologise to your Lordships for not being in my place when it was my turn to speak? Your Lordships spoke more briskly than had been expected. I must also say that I speak with great diffidence this afternoon, after the severe strictures which my noble friend has thought fit to level against my profession. Indeed, I hardly dare open my mouth. All the same, I will do my best, and I shall be brief.

I want, with humility, to say a few words about the Indian situation and the lessons which I think we may and should learn from it. I think that we have now seriously to question the wisdom of the granting to India of her independence in 1947–48 and that we should learn from what happened then. At the time, your Lordships will remember it was called an act of statesmanship, an act of faith, and so it has remained in the eyes of many, though not of all of us. It was probably not economically possible for us to remain in India—I do not know; I am not an economist. But the results of that grave step are before us now and they are infinitely alarming and perhaps infinitely terrible.

The thing started off badly. It was said of a certain general in the First World War, probably untruly, that on hearing of the casualities in his division as the result of an offensive, he remarked, "You cannot make an omelette without breaking a few eggs". Do you know how many broken eggs there were at the time of partition? Do you know how many people died?




The noble Lord opposite is more informed than I am. Some say one million; some say two million. It has never been assessed, because it was not assessable. But in contrast to it, Hiroshima was a triviality. I happened to be in Delhi just after the East Coast floods in 1953. My Indian friends were full of sympathy. "How many British people died and how many Dutch?" they asked. "Nearly 400 people altogether? How dreadful! You have our fullest sympathy. Let me see, how many Indians died in the Bengal famine and during partition? Was it three million? Was it four million? We don't know exactly—but, of course, they were only Indians."

Yes, the thing began badly, but thereafter it was rather better. True, there was that tiresome business about Kashmir, and some of us felt rather indignant about Hyderabad and Goa. But, by and large, everything seemed quite promising, and, after all, India was in the hands of that great apostle of peace, Mr. Nehru. He was above war and from his great height he seemed sometimes to regard us Westerners as rather naughty, rough boys, always quarrelling with each other and making rude noises. We were prepared to accept this, because obviously he was so much better than us and so calmly convinced that everything was all right and India was safe.

Now, suddenly it has happened. Out of a seemingly clear sky, the Chinese have pounced, and who is sure where they will stop? The Indians do not seem to be quite ready, and they do not seem to be doing very well. In their dire necessity they have called upon us to come to their rescue, which, of course, we must and no doubt will do. But may they not wish, perhaps, that by their side there might stand once again the great British Army of India, which for many hundreds of years kept them safe from their enemies; and may they not be regretting that it is no longer there? For many years now Poona has been a joke, and to many people the British record in India has been a ridiculous and shameful thing. But are there not many people in India to-day, and here, and perhaps even on the Benches opposite, who would wish that this great act of statesmanship, this great act of faith, had never happened, and that the benevolent British Raj had not been allowed to disappear? I ask this question, in all sincerity and in all humility, particularly of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and Lord Mountbatten, the architects of Indian independence. I ask them further this: do they believe that the Indians will be—and they might find themselves in this position—happier and better off under Chinese tyranny? Finally, I ask them whether this act of faith may not, in fact, have been an unwitting betrayal?


My Lords, I wish the noble Earl would make his question about the responsibility of my noble friend Lord Attlee and Lord Mount-batten rather more clear. I am the only remaining member of the party of four—Lord Wavell and the three members of the Labour Cabinet—who drafted the basis of the independence, which was not largely amended, except in one respect that I mentioned yesterday. I should like to be clear, therefore, What the noble Earl wants answered.


I am saying that the Government of Britain and their advisers at that time were responsible for giving India its independence. I wonder very sincerely—I hope the noble Viscount will believe that I am sincere about this—whether this was in fact the right thing.


Perhaps I should take the noble Earl back even further, to when this House was led in 1935 to pass the legislation for complete independent self-government of India by the late Lord Templewood. There is the situation. In fact, if the noble Earl wants to know the real position in, 1946, it was this: that the political situation in India was such, as we were assured by the military authorities, that if we had wanted to prevent the implementation in principle and in spirit of the Conservative Act of 1935 we should have required at least an additional five divisions of troops on top of the strength at that time. That was a view expressed to me personally. We feel that we did absolutely the right thing in giving them independence; and, in fact, if it had not been done in that way it would have come in another way, and instead of being within the Commonwealth they would have been outside of it.


I am sure it was a difficult decision and that economic and military considerations came into it; but I still wonder whether the step could not have been avoided and whether it is not now coming home to roost. I am sorry to put this so simply, but partition meant the death of millions of people; and how many more millions may not die now in the great holocaust which hangs over the subcontinent?

You may say, my Lords, that so far I have done little but to recriminate, blame and to cry "Ichabod". But this is not the purpose of my speech. What I seek to do—what I think we should all seek to do—is to draw a lesson from these sombre occasions. The first is that this is still a wicked world and that, given the opportunity, the thugs will always win. I fear very much that the Kingdom of Christ on earth is still not with us, and as long as human nature remains as it is it is not likely to be with us. Victory goes to the strong. Toughness pays, and "Blessed are the meek" was not written of this world. It is all very sad, and we may feel that mankind has not progressed very far in the last century. But there we are: those are the harsh realities, and we can only accept them and do what we can to stand up before them lest we too should perish. My Lords, let us be strong.

Next—and this is, at least, equally important—I suggest that from India we may learn this lesson: that in our passionate desire to give the colonial peoples still with us their independence we must be very careful not to go too fast. We acted with good faith and fine motives in India. It has gone wrong, and it must never happen again.




I think the noble Lord will agree that this is at least a possibility. The Indians, we believed, were politically mature; but in the last resort they were shown to be naïve idealists; their philosophy let them down.


Last week I was in India, and I may say that the Indian people were reacting to this aggression as I believe this country reacted in the past. They will face this, and will do so because their own independence is at stake; and they will fight for it.


Will they not be fighting for it because, as the noble Earl, Lord Attlee said, they are waking from a dream? The impression that I have from my Indian experience, which I admit is quite small, is that the Indians, under Mr. Nehru, believed that love, reason and soft words would in the end conquer all. They were wrong, and they are paying the price. Let us promise ourselves that in the case of those for whom we are still responsible we will not make the same deadly, cruel mistake.

6.37 p.m.


My Lords, the debate seems to have taken a rather odd course in the last hour. I will deal with one or two of the points in the fury of the noble Lord, Lord Conesford—a furious intellectual, if ever there was one, I thought. I was not sure whether he was being entirely serious or pulling our legs, but I acknowledge that the noble Earl, Lord Arran, was in fact very serious indeed, and I will try to deal with one or two of his remarks, Since they were obviously directed at my noble friends on the Opposition Front Bench. First of all, however, I should like to apologise, and particularly to the First Lord of the Admiralty, that, unfortunately, I shall have to slip away in order to give some prizes away. I do not know whether perhaps the House should receive prizes for sitting through this lengthy debate. I should particularly like to apologise to the First Lord, and—because this is, in a sense, although we might not have noticed it, meant to be a Defence debate—I should like to express my sympathy over this very agonising spy case. Although this is perhaps not the time to discuss it, I wish to tell him that there is no Minister, and certainly no Minister in a Defence Department, who is more highly regarded by this side of the House than he is.

My noble friend Lord Henderson introduced this debate in his usual masterly, steady and fair style. This is what we have learned over many years to expect from him. We have had quite an interesting variety of speeches. There have been some very statesmanlike speeches, particularly, as I think the noble Lord will agree, from this side of the House, and some rather odd ones. We had a quick run about on the Liberal Party policy from the noble Lord, Lord Rea. He went very fast and covered the Queen's Speech; and I must say that a Liberal Party Queen's Speech would be a fascinating one in present circumstances. We learned in the end that the Cuban crisis was not solved by President Kennedy or by Mr. Khrushchev but by Almighty Providence, who no doubt keeps an eye on the Liberal Party wherever they may be found.

I should like also, in passing, to refer briefly to the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Arran. No doubt he spoke from great intensity of feeling, and there is great agony of mind particularly among those who carried the responsibility for Indian independence. I would say that it was not simply one argument. There were political arguments, and there were all kinds of arguments for it. But I think the best argument in favour of it was given by my noble friend. It is that India is a nation and that India, having made a gallant attempt—and the Prime Minister spoke most feelingly about it in another place—and having tried other ways found that they failed and found themselves threatened by war. If they have not got all the power they want they have got some, and I shall have a little more to say about it when I turn to that small part of my speech which is concerned with defence.

I was very interested, as was the House, in the Foreign Secretary's analysis of the situation. I do not agree with it all, and there are one or two aspects of it to which I should like to refer. I am not quite sure why the Foreign Secretary kept on harping on intellectuals. He talked about intellectuals at the Institute of Directors' Conference. This probably goes down rather well there, although I do not know; I do not know whether he thinks it goes down well in this House. He has one intellectual, and possibly they are all intellectuals, on the Front Bench beside him. I do not know that it is really helpful to set up an attack on egg-heads, or intellectuals, in a situation which, if it needs anything, needs some really clear thinking and, indeed, intellectual qualities.

I think the Government and certain people may be accused of naïvety. As I think the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, made clear, they are surprised that Communist countries tell lies. I would commend to his attention a book which I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, has read, The God that Failed. The noble Earl has read it, too. It is a series of stories or articles by ex-Communists whose god had failed. There is an extraordinarily interesting article written by Silone when he went to Moscow on a delegation, and when a rather naïve British Communist trade unionist, when discussing the line of propaganda to be taken, said, "Oh, but that would be a lie". This was regarded as the funniest thing ever. Stalin personally rang up practically everyone to tell them of that. Although we hope that there is a change, and I am quite sure there is—and my noble friend Lord Kennet was perfectly right in referring to the fact that the Communist scriptures are in part being re-written—their ethics have not been changed completely yet. I think this is a factor we have to take into account in our dealings. This does not mean that we must not deal with them, because we have to deal with people who have different views and different approaches. It may shock us, but it is a reality, and it is certainly reality in the present situation.

We have had two striking examples in foreign affairs lately in Asia and in Cuba. I am not sure that I fully followed the Foreign Secretary's argument about the attitude of America and what our view would be if missiles were trained on us. Of course they are trained on us, and we have to learn to live with the fact that if they are not trained as heavily on America at the moment as they are on Russia, they very soon will be, and the fact that Russia ultimately will have enough I.C.B.M.s to do just what could be done from Cuba will, of course, be no reason for a counter action. I do not think this argument is one that can be followed. But there is unquestionably a tremendously strong psychological argument, and in the same way that Russia, with infinitely greater brutality, moved into Hungary, for reasons which were extremely intelligible in terms of power, so America took much more moderate steps, which I do not think anyone is entitled—although some people have done so—to call a wanton aggression.

It has been a successful move, and it is quite obvious that the overwhelming majority of Members of this House and, indeed, of this country, have approved President Kennedy's extremely moderate, but firm, leadership. Where I do not go along with some of my noble friends is in approving of Mr. Khrushchev's courage. It seems to me that Mr. Khrushchev has been extremely successful. I remember talking not long ago to the noble Lord, Lord Strang. It is not customary to quote conversations outside the Chamber, but we agreed that one way or another Russia stood to benefit from this operation, whatever happened. They have. They have obtained, so far as we can tell, a guarantee for Cuba. It will no longer be possible without a real risk of breach of faith against the United States to permit pirate or other operations against that country. I would salute Mr. Khrushchev for his cleverness, although I do not approve of it.

It is true, as the noble Earl said, that the Communist countries are on the march in one way or another. I think the area that is of most concern to this country must be Asia. There is only one small point in the Near or Middle East to which I should like to refer, and which has not been discussed in this debate, and that is the Yemen. I am a little bothered at the attitude of the Government, and of many people in all Parties, to the situation in the Yemen. There is no doubt that the previous Government in the Yemen was one of which we should disapprove as strongly as we should disapprove of what may be being done in Communist countries. The same thing must apply to Saudi Arabia as well— both countries where slavery is still practised. Whereas we should not seek to overturn them, I hope we shall not make the mistake which may have been made by America and Cuba in assuming that any new régime which comes into these Arab countries will automatically go into the Communist bloc, and will automatically operate contrary to the British interest. Indeed, the British interest may be better served if we welcome any advance towards a more reasonable and more progressive Government in those countries. I do not want to develop this theme any further, because we have great responsibility in Aden, and we have responsibilities to the rulers there. But I think we ought not to give that support uncritically.

To turn to Asia, there is quite strong feeling, and indeed growing feeling, in this country that we ought to do what we can to give support to India. In parts of the Commonwealth emerging into independence we have certain defence responsibility. We have responsibilities, for instance, in the Caribbean, which may, incidentally, involve us in a bit of trouble before we are finished with that area. But it is obvious—and I think the noble Earl, Lord Arran, would feel this as strongly as any of us—that we should give all the help we can to India. We can give them help not only by a form of lend-lease and by shipping arms, but by ensuring that the status quo is maintained in South-East Asia. There is talk of reduction of our Forces in South-East Asia. There has been a lot of talk about the reduction of garrisons, and of trying to get the men necessary by cutting down our Forces in Singapore and giving up bases. I happen to be someone who believes that our overseas bases are extremely important in the world to-day, and particularly the one in the Indian Ocean.

My Lords, there is a likelihood that there will be a further "nibbling" elsewhere—and I must explain that I am talking about the Middle East and Far East, rather than the Mediterranean. There is talk of reductions. Surely it is absolute folly at this moment to proceed with this proposal to reduce the Gurkha forces by, I believe, as much as 50 per cent. Surely this time we must ensure that such forces as we have available are as strong as possible, and that they are in the right place. Some of the reports of the Kuwait operation are already becoming known, and perhaps we can be told how far the lack of acclimatisation seriously affected the operational effectiveness of our forces in Kuwait. But it is quite clear that merely shipping troops out into an area at short notice (and that is an old military doctrine which we do not seem to have been able to get over), expecting them to be effective, is dangerous. We do not want to see a repetition of the sort of situation that took place during the war in Singapore when troops were shipped out there only in time to have to surrender to the Japanese. We need therefore—and I just touch on this aspect of defence—to ensure the maximum mobility (and we shall press the Government on this question of naval and air mobility), and we need to be able to reinforce quickly with troops, at least enough of whom are in the area and ready for action, immediately it is necessary, whether in Siam or wherever the threat may come.

I do not know what the outcome of the Indian operation may be. It may be another Korea on a gigantic scale. It may be that the United Nations will be enabled to act in some way. But in these operations I should like to ask the First Lord what price and what value he thinks our independent deterrent really has. I have been a supporter of the British deterrent. I think we were quite right to have it, and the fact that we have it is one of the main arguments for keeping it. If we take a fresh look at the situation, and the way it has developed over Cuba, can we really believe that we are ever likely to wish to use our share of the deterrent, or am independent deterrent, in the present world? If we are not, then let us face the consequences and recognise that our real need is for the maximum military forces we can produce of the right kind; not just Polaris submarines, not just atom-bomb-carrying strike aircraft, but the sort of forces the Government have so repeatedly said we ought to have to prevent a cold or a warming-up war from developing into a really hot nuclear war.

I would only refer again to what the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary said: that the Communists are on the march and that pressure will increase. The policy that successive Governments of this country and America have followed since the war is right; namely, that we contain those pressures where they begin to overspill. That has worked in the past; and, provided that we can keep our nerve—and I can see no reason why the West should not keep their nerve: the Americans kept their nerve during the recent operations—and provided that we continue also to give some real thought to the question of disarmament—and by thought I do not mean just a question of talking: I mean thinking in the sort of terms about which the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, spoke; in the terms the Americans are talking about, with a special Minister and special departments looking at disarmament with the other side—I am still personally hopeful that we shall get through without the threat, which has been so terrifying to so many people in the last week or two, of a thermo-nuclear war breaking out.

6.56 p.m.


My Lords, I think that all your Lordships will agree that we have had an extremely interesting afternoon's debate. It falls to me to wind up for the Government this evening, speaking with particular relation to defence; because after what my noble friend the Foreign Secretary has said and after the almost unanimous speeches which your Lordships have made this afternoon, there remains very little to be said about the subject of foreign affairs. There was, I think, almost complete unanimity, from the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, who opened the debate, with one exception, I think my noble friend, Lord Arran, to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for whose kind remarks I am most grateful, who ended the debate. It is perfectly true that the only mention in the gracious Speech of the Armed Forces is the sentence in which it said that the Armed Forces will maintain their contribution to the prevention of war. But the passages which come before—on the situation in Cuba, on the invasion of India by the Chinese and on the Berlin question—all have a considerable bearing on defence and our defence policy.

It is, of course, only six months or so ago since we had our last full-scale debate on the 1962 White Paper on Defence. In another six months we shall have another opportunity of discussing the Government's policy on Service Estimates. So this is not an appropriate moment, and your Lordships will not expect it, for me to embark on a full review of our Defence policy or, indeed, to announce sweeping changes so soon after the plan which was outlined in the 1962 Statement on Defence. But it is, I think, a good opportunity not only to remind your Lordships of the main lines of the Government's policy but to underline them in connection with current happenings.

They were three. First, the maintenance of the independent British contribution to the nuclear deterrent forces of the West. There was a good deal of criticism of this earlier on, not only in this House but in another place, and it has been repeated this afternoon by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton. I said in the debate last March [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 238; col. 534]: We have, I believe, to thank the nuclear stalemate—the policy of the deterrent, if you will—for the fact that war has been averted. But nowhere throughout the last five years has the world been entirely at peace. From China to Cuba the cold war has been waged relentlessly. How much nearer the brink we appeared to be a week ago than we did last March! But there can be no doubt that the sort of situation which we have been watching in Cuba could as recently as 20 to 25 years ago have had only one outcome. It is a classic example of a situation which, before the advent of nuclear weapons, would have surely led irrevocably to war. The fact that it has not done so is a tribute not only to the firmness of President Kennedy but also to the acknowledgment of both sides that the risks and consequences of nuclear escalation are unacceptable. Nuclear weapons are terrible things, but only if they are used. Their very existence and the knowledge of their effects may well ensure that they never are used. We intend, therefore, to maintain our contribution to the Western strategic deterrent fortified by all experience in our conviction that by doing so we are in fact helping to maintain peace.

But of course at the same time we must do everything we can to ensure that these terrible weapons are never used.


My Lords, would the noble Lord allow me to interrupt? I do not know whether he has deliberately changed an argument that we have made from these Benches and in another place. It is not that we seek to destroy the nuclear balance in the world or, at the moment, abolish atomic weapons; and I entirely agree that this is, in fact, a justification. It is purely in terms of the British contribution to world peace and the most effective contribution that we can make that we criticise.


We debated this at some considerable length some six months ago, and I can only repeat what I said then: that is, that the Government believe that the contributions the British make with the V-bombers, Blue Steel and subsequently Skybolt, are considerably adding to the deterrent power of the West, and that is our justification for going on with it.

I was saying that at the same time as possessing these awful weapons we must do everything to ensure that they are laid aside, not nationally but universally as part of a general disarmament agreement between East and West. It was said in the Statement on Defence last February that our object remains the achievement of general and complete international disarmament, to be attained by stages, subject to effective control", and giving first priority to a nuclear test ban treaty effectively verified and controlled.

Your Lordships will know the Government's record in our negotiations, not only since February but over the years before. We have tried every reasonable possibility of reaching agreement and we are still trying, in New York at this moment as well as in Geneva. We have supported our American friends in their sweeping proposals for a first stage reduction by 30 per cent. of virtually every type of armament right across the board. On nuclear tests we have offered the Russians a comprehensive treaty banning all tests in all environments, with the minimum but necessary amount of verification; and in case that was not found acceptable, a treaty limited to tests in and above the atmosphere and under water for which no verification is necessary. These are the ones that are potentially the most harmful and at the same time the easiest to detect and identify.

So far we have got nowhere, except perhaps that we should count as progress both the fact that we are still meeting around the conference table and the fact that the insincerities and evasions on the other side have been made plain for all the world to see as the talks have dragged on. Our hope must be that the sudden quickening of the tempo of the cold war which we are witnessing in Cuba and China to-day—and here I very much agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, said: who knows where else it may break out tomorrow?—may be the prelude to a new realisation by the Russians of the appalling risks they have been taking and of the urgency, in their own interests as well as that of mankind, of reaching agreements on world disarmament. I quite agree with the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, that disarmament is not enough; there must be world order and rule of law as well.

The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, in his speech this afternoon, and Wayland Young in two articles that he wrote in the Guardian, has made some very interesting suggestions on this subject. I would agree with much of what he says, but not all. I do not think many of your Lordships, for example, would agree that the Russian operation in Cuba has been constructive and adroit. I am sure that it was a rash and provocative act and that when Mr. Khrushchev realised the risks into which he was running better counsels prevailed. In fact, as the noble Lord says later, common sense and forbearance have been shown and a first hopeful precedent has been set.

I would emphasise to the noble Lord, if it is necessary to emphasise it—I was not entirely sure what he said this afternoon—that the Prime Minister has explained very carefully that his message to Mr. Khrushchev on October 28 was intended to range the British Government squarely and publicly with the President. The Foreign Ministers of the six countries of the European Economic Community, after a meeting last week, also declared their support for the United States. It is no more true that this affair will lead European countries to doubt that the United States would support them in some future crisis. The fact that the Americans were ready to use their deterrent power can only increase its credibility. The House, I think, should notice that when the question of bases in Turkey was raised President Kennedy was not willing to bargain the interests of European defence against those of American defence, and no one can fail to understand the significance of this.

The noble Lord made certain suggestions in the course of his speech about disarmament. I will, if I may, refer them to the Foreign Office where they will be looked at in the right quarter. He also made suggestions in his two articles. I know those are being looked at at the present time.


My Lords, the noble Lord said that Her Majesty's Government had tried many things in the disarmament negotiations. Could he name something that the Government have tried that had not been previously or simultaneously tried by the United States Government? My point is lack of initiative.


My noble friend reminds me that there was an initiative started at the Prime Ministers' Conference last year.


My question referred to Geneva.


My Lords, of course we take initiatives at Geneva and make our proposals, but by and large they are put forward as joint initiatives with the Americans and ourselves and our allies. I think it is the best way of proceeding. If you take the area of anti-surprise attack, I can remember we made many suggestions and we have more to make, but we do not always make them public as our own; they are Allied suggestions.


I imagine the more suggestions the noble Lord makes, the more pleased we shall be to look into them, if they are constructive and useful ones.

As I was saying, the first plank of our defence policy has been to continue the contribution to the nuclear deterrent of the West. I do not believe for one moment that in the negotiations ahead of us, which will inevitably be based on cold, hard practicality, the hand of my noble friend the Foreign Secretary would be strengthened if, under a cloak of moral superiority or for the sake of economy, we discarded the powerful contribution we make to the Western deterrent.

The second main line of the Government's policy has been that we must maintain our contribution to the conventional forces of NATO in Europe. 1962 has been a difficult year for the Army, and we have had to take special measures, through the Army Reserve Act, to keep up the strength of the Army in Germany. Even so we have not been able quite to fulfil our current obligation to Western European Union. As I said in May, as regular recruiting builds up, and provided the favourable trend at that time continued, we should go on as soon as possible to meet our full obligation. I am happy to tell your Lordships now that indeed the favourable trend in recruiting has gone on and figures for the last six months or so have been extremely encouraging.

It is not necessary for me in this House to emphasise the importance of NATO. In the course of his farewell visit to this country last week, General Norstad said that he considered that the North Atlantic Alliance was more closely united now than a year ago, and that a year ago it had been closer than the year before that. I am sure that this is true, and not least because of General Norstad's own efforts over the years to bind the NATO forces under his command into a more effective unity. I am sure I am expressing the feelings of everyone in this House in recalling the debt which the Alliance owes to General Norstad personally. His task has not been an easy one. In strengthening the defences in Western Europe he has had to face difficult problems and he has needed great diplomatic as well as military skill to reconcile conflicting interests. In all that he has done he has put NATO first, and it is because of this that he has earned the gratitude of all the Western nations and rendered them such an outstanding service. Your Lordships will have learned with interest that the North Atlantic Council have decided that General Norstad should remain the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, until the end of the year in order to provide a more satisfactory overlap with General Lemnitzer in these critical times. I am sure this will be invaluable for both generals.

Among NATO'S most important obligations is its endorsement of the Three Major Powers' guarantee of Berlin. The defence of Berlin rests primarily with ourselves and our French and American allies, but the rest of the North Atlantic Alliance stands behind us in this. Recent events have shown quite clearly the extreme danger of any measures on the Soviet side to interfere with Western rights and interests, and this has particular point in the case of Berlin.

Here I must disagree most sharply with what my noble friend Lord Fraser of Lonsdale said. The Russians must realise, if they did not do so before, that any attempt to force the Western garrisons out of Berlin would be a most dangerous adventure. The garrisons have no offensive purpose; they are there to maintain the freedom of the West Berliners to live their lives in the way that they have chosen. They do not, of course, constitute a NATO base, since the grounds for their presence in Berlin predate the formation of NATO by several years. Once the Russians can realise that we are not to be pushed out of Berlin it should be possible to discuss a settlement of some of the major European problems without offending against the real interests of either side.

The third main line of our Defence policy, but by no means the least important, has been the maintenance of a world-wide military capability centred on three main bases—in Britain, in Aden and in Singapore—from which we aim to cover all the areas which are vital to our interests as a nation, and at the same time as many as possible in which a threat to the peace and stability of the world might arise. It seems to me that this world-wide military presence is the one distinctive contribution which this country, with its Imperial past and its present Commonwealth links, can offer to the Western Alliance, and indirectly to NATO, in the struggle against Communism which is going on throughout the world.

In the last few weeks we have seen events in opposite parts of the world—Cuba and India—either of which could, if not held in check, spark off a nuclear war. And in the Middle East too, a new uncertainty has arisen as a result of the changed régime in the Yemen. Who, a year ago, would have dared or cared to predict that the two great nations of Asia, India and China, would slip into a state of undeclared war with one another? Who, six months ago, would have forecast the fall of the Yemen Government? Who, six weeks ago, would have foreseen the direct confrontation of East and West in Cuba—and above all the possibility of a limited war at sea; all with incalculable consequences for the peace of the world? The lesson here is surely that as we look into the future we can be sure of nothing—neither where, nor when, nor how the next threat to our security will develop; and we must be continually on our guard to meet it, by land, air and sea. I am sure events of the past few weeks have underlined the wisdom of the steps which the Government have taken, and are continuing to take, to build up a balanced defence force.


My Lords, I referred yesterday to the extraordinary decline in the strength that the Government have at their disposal since eleven years ago. The difficult conditions that may arise and which the noble Lord has quite rightly referred to must make us think of having a really strong force in those directions. In 1951, we were charged by the Party opposite with having let the Forces down. Now you have only about one-third of what was available then.


My Lords, I think that the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition, whom everybody remembers as Minister of Defence, and more particularly, perhaps, in the office which I now have the honour to hold, forgets that some little time has passed since 1950 when he held the office of Minister of Defence and when we had something like one million men under arms. He is not, I imagine, supposing for one moment that the economy of this country could possibly stand having one million men under arms to-day. What this Government have done is to rely on all-Regular, highly mobile, specialised and versatile Forces, and there is no doubt that the fire power which we can produce to-day is much greater, man for man, than was possible in the days when the noble Viscount was Minister of Defence.


My Lords, might I ask the noble Lord one question? He said that the economy of this country to-day could not stand what it could ten years ago. Does that mean that it is far weaker to-day?


My Lords, I do not think it was really necessary for the noble Lord to make that debating point. What I was saying was that the economy to-day would be very unlikely to stand one million men under arms. I certainly should have thought it most undesirable to do so, and I am surprised that the Labour Party should advocate it. If the threat to this country were clearly defined——


My Lords, I should make this point. I do not advocate a strict number of men at all, but in the circumstances in Which we have been placed, in Which the United States were able to act with such promptness and which might apply in other regions where we would be even more directly concerned, I am among many people in this country who feel that we have not the Forces we ought to have. We have not said that we should have one million men or that we have not got better fire power. But I think this matter needs attention.


I agree that it is necessary that we should have Regular Forces which are capable of intervening all over the world, which are balanced, are Regular and have higher fire power, and which are mobile and versatile. That is what the Government have been trying to do over the past few years.

My Lords, if the threat to this country were clearly defined, as it has been almost throughout history up to the last war, it would be a comparatively simple matter to tailor our defences to meet it. But the threat which faces us to-day, in the cold war which is being waged all over the world, is infinitely varied and we must be prepared to answer it in cooperation with our allies in whatever form it may take. This is why we have felt it necessary to make a balanced contribution to the forces of the Western Alliance; why we are maintaining land, sea and air forces; a conventional as well as a nuclear capability, and the ability to act alone in defence of our own national interests, or in concert with our allies in defence of the free world as a whole.

Of course the maintenance of this balance imposes a heavy burden on our economy and one which is unlikely to get any lighter as the cost of weapons and equipment, and even of manpower, continues to rise. As a nation we are spending over 7 per cent. of our gross national product on defence. This is a higher proportion than any other country of the Western Alliance except the United States of America and possibly France. It is hardly realistic to suppose that we could devote much more of our national income to defence; and the problem which wild face the Government in the months and years to come will be how to preserve the necessary balance and how to keep the rising cost of modern, versatile Armed Forces within limits which this nation can afford. It has been said that we are trying——


My Lords, may I ask what we fear of the Soviet Union, if the United States and ourselves are both devoting a higher proportion of our national product to Defence?


I should have said "in the Western Alliance". I am sorry that I left that out. I should have said a higher proportion in the Western Alliance, not in the Soviet Union.

It has been said that we are trying to do too much: that we should abandon the independent nuclear deterrent; or that we should withdraw from our world-wide commitments. My noble friend, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, suggested in one of our debates earlier this year that we should concentrate less on Europe, where the danger of war was least because of the direct confrontation there of East and West. There is an infinite variety of opinions as to what we should do, or not do. But, my Lords, would it really be wise or safe amid the uncertainties which were exemplified by the events of the past few weeks, for us to forgo any of the aspects of our national defence to which I have referred? I do not think so. I believe that the greatest risk that we can run in the cold war is to reveal a gap in our defences, for in this we should be inviting our enemies to catch us off balance.

I have already emphasised the importance of NATO in the West; as your Lordships know, the Government have pledged their full support for the alliance. It seems to me that we must concentrate, as the Government have been doing, on streamlining the Armed Forces, on making them more efficient, and on welding them together into a single powerful and mobile offensive and defensive weapon. We must also eliminate everything that is not absolutely essential to our policy. Painful decisions will have to be taken. The cancellation of Blue Water was one of these.

However, the fact that major war has been averted during the last twenty years is, I believe, due not least to the contribution which this country has made to the military strength of the free world and our determination to support the various defensive alliances to which we belong. The unity and cohesion of the Free World which was shown over Cuba will be tested again. We must foster this unity. Only if we do will the threat to our way of life from the Communist bloc be contained. This means, among other things, that the chain of alliances for the defence of the Free World—NATO, CENTO and SEATO, in all of Which we are playing our full part—must be preserved and strengthened.


My Lords, I was absent for a few minutes during the noble Lord's speech, but did he, in fact, reply to a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, in regard to the Far East bases? Can we take it from the Government that daring this period of acute tension, with the aggression of China against India, Her Majesty's Government will maintain the existing garrisons at their present strength? And will they reconsider their decision to reduce the strength of the Gurkha brigades which have made so great a contribution to defence in East Asia?


My Lords, I did say in the course of my remarks that the third main plank, but not the least important, of the Government's defence policy was the maintenance of Aden and Singapore.


Yes; but does that mean to say you are going to continue with reductions of the existing forces in those areas?


There is no reduction of the existing forces in that area.


My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Long-ford, I beg to move that this debate be now adjourned.

Moved, That the debate be now adjourned.—(The Earl of Lucan.)

On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.

House adjourned at twenty-two minutes past seven o'clock.