HL Deb 13 February 1963 vol 246 cc987-1058

3.1 p.m.

LORD CRATHORNE rose to call attention to the necessity for European unity and the development of the Atlantic Partnership with particular reference to the Eighth Annual NATO Parliamentarians' Conference 1962; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving the Motion which stands in my name on the Order Paper with special reference to the Eighth NATO Parliamentarians' Conference, I am conscious of being at a certain disadvantage this afternoon, because in these days events move with such bewildering speed. In November last, when we held our Conference in Paris, the whole gist of the conversations and anxiety was on the question of Cuba and those few breathtaking days in October when we were all thinking about the Caribbean, which dominated our thoughts and feelings at that time. Indeed, that crisis at that time was so quickly upon us that we hardly had time to digest it and get it in focus. Yet to-day, in the second week in February, as we have our debate here, already these events seem to have dropped astern in the wake of history. Now new problems arise and are in our minds. To mention just two, since we held our Conference in November, there has been the breakdown of the Brussels negotiations, and the Nassau Agreement which took place between our Government and President Kennedy. All this makes any reference to our NATO Parliamentarians' Conference, already three months old, seem rather irrelevant.

So my first task to-day is, I think, to place this Motion in the perspective of to-day's events. So far as reference to NATO is concerned, this will not be difficult. There can, I think, be few Members of your Lordships' House who do not feel, with me, that a critical moment has arrived in the life of the Atlantic Alliance. There have been, it is true, many political crises and developments in the Western world since the North Atlantic Treaty was signed in 1949. To quote just two, the failure of the European Defence Community proposals was a crisis; and the successful establishment of the other European Communities ranks as a development. I give those as two examples. But these events, and others like them, had this fundamental point in common: they took NATO for granted, and it was part of the unquestioned order of things. NATO provided the human fabric for the basic framework of steel upon which all other building activities in the West took place. When fire or tempest swept through the superstructure, this great framework of the Alliance always seemed to emerge fundamentally unscathed; and it has been, since the days when it started, the permanent standing basis of Western collaboration and reconstruction.

Now, for the first time since its foundation, there are indications in some quarters that this basic structure of Western defence is itself being subjected to critical reappraisal, and in particular the fundamental concept underlying all our thinking about the Western defence, which is that the Atlantic Ocean is an asset and not a liability. The Atlantic provides the essential depth of security for our perilous strip of freedom in Western Europe, and not its boundary. This, for the first time since the beginning of the Alliance, it seems to me, is being thrown open to question. A new and alternative reading of history, and indeed of geography, is being suggested—namely, that the North Atlantic represents 3,000 miles of water separating two essentially different segments in the Western world, each of which must work out its separate salvation.

It is upon this fundamental question of our lives that probably this debate will turn during the course of this afternoon, and I should like before I sit down to make further comments on this fundamental question. Before doing so, however, I should like to stress the relative rôle that the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference plays in this drama of events. Many of my colleagues, both from our own country and from the other NATO countries, who have been members of the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference would, I think, agree with me when I say that of the various Parliamentary assemblies which we serve in Europe the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference is uniquely alive and vital. May I analyse this for one moment? I think it is partly due in fact, I would say mainly due—to the presence of North American Parliamentarians: Parliamentarians from both Houses in the United States, the Senate and Congress, and Parliamentarians from both Houses of the Canadian Parliament. They travel over thousands of miles of ocean and continent to take part in our debates. This makes it different from other bodies of Parliamentarians in Europe. But I think it does more than that. It does much, incidentally, to help us think of the Atlantic as a bridge and not as a canyon, because we become more and more together as a body considering the main problem.

But to go on from there—here I am talking, in a way, from the NATO Parliamentarians' point of view, and thus am on difficult ground—I think I am right in saying that up to the present time a great value of the Conference has been its unofficial character. I stress "up to the present time" because I shall say a little more about this in a moment. Because it is unofficial it enables us, the Conference, to invite and receive unofficial visits from officers both of the NATO Secretariat and also from the Supreme Allied Command, who can address the Conference in terms which, being unofficial and off the record, do not have to be approved by the fifteen member Governments represented on the NATO Council.

To give just one example of how this has helped, they can always come and give up-to-date information about events as they are at the time we have our debates and deliberations; whereas if they had been attending as officials and had had to obtain the approval of the fifteen NATO Governments before speaking to the Conference probably everything would be out of date. The outcome of this relationship is that our Conference provides the setting and atmosphere conducive to representatives speaking objectively as dedicated members of NATO, rather than as spokesmen of the constituent countries. If need hardly stress the importance of this in the political evolution of the Alliance, especially at the present time.

My Lords, I think it is true to say that our Conference goes from strength to strength, but it has some internal problems of its own. The chief of these, in spite of the arguments I have been presenting to your Lordships this afternoon, is whether or not the time has now come for members to request their fifteen NATO Governments to make them an official assembly, or whether they should remain, as at present, an unofficial body supported by the Governments of the NATO countries. If we went into the details and arguments for and against this we should be here a very long time, perhaps throughout the night. But to clear their minds of the problems involved, the Eighth Conference (that is, the one held in November), on the initiative of its political Committee, which in its turn had given careful study to the Declaration of Paris, adopted by the Atlantic Convention of NATO nations in January last year, decided in plenary session to set up a Committee consisting of one member from each NATO country to study this whole problem. It is hoped that this Committee will hold its first meeting during the month of March.

The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, who I hope will take part in our debate later this afternoon, is Chairman of the Political Committee, and he may develop this particular point where I leave off. As during this year I have the honour to be President of the Conference, I do not wish to express a personal view of this aspect on our affairs, but I am completely satisfied that a detailed consideration of the problem can do nothing but good. In this way people in all countries will be able to appreciate the problem and then form reasoned views, which can be debated in the Parliaments of the various countries.

Having said that about our Conference, I should now like to revert to the theme upon which I touched earlier: the question of how, in present circumstances, we Europeans should evaluate the North Atlantic in terms of our defence. We know full well that to-day throughout the NATO countries and in their Parliaments there is being debated the problem which has arisen from the disturbing statement made by President de Gaulle at his Press Conference on January 14. My Lords, in my view he made one really fundamental point of substance which, because of its implications for the Atlantic Alliance, deserves the serious attention of us all. He suggested, in effect, that post-war history can be broken down into two quite separate Parts—the dividing line, in his view, being the development and acquisition by the Soviet Union of long-range intercontinental nuclear missiles.

The argument runs that, before these were acquired, the front line of the United States' own national defence was located firmly in Europe; and that the security which we enjoyed in Europe at that time was, in effect, merely a byproduct of the Americans' own vital strategic interests. Since the Russians acquired these long-range missiles, the fact that they could strike over and above the Continent of Europe and the Atlantic Ocean directly at America itself had pushed back the American front line of defence to their own Continent. Psychologically the Americans are supposed to have retreated (so the argument runs) across the Atlantic, and therefore it would appear only a matter of time before they can be expected to do so physically. In other words, Europe was to be thought of as of secondary importance to the United States and we in Europe had become a mere appendix to their main strategic dispositions. So that Europe, it is argued, had better look to its own defences. In support of this thesis, President de Gaulle cited events in Cuba, where, he said, not only was it evident that the United States deployed massive military forces which were in no way earmarked for European defence, and upon which Europe could lay no claim; but, at the same time, our destiny in Europe was tied to events in the Caribbean over which we had no control.

My Lords, frankly speaking, as President of the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference, I cannot accept this interpretation of events. I do not believe that the stationing of huge United States forces in Europe during the last fourteen years has been occasioned solely by the usefulness of our Continent as an extension in depth of the defence of North America. We are, surely, more than just a bridgehead which has been turned by the development of longer-range weapons. On the contrary, I am convinced that the freedom and integrity of Western Europe stands as a major vital interest to the United States as an end in itself. Their own national survival is directly related to the survival of Western Europe in freedom; and I believe that to be as much the case to-day as it has ever been in the past.

On the other side of the picture, we must not lose sight of the prize which would fall to the Communists if control over the whole of Western Europe became theirs. They would have won more than a great concentration of modern industry and skilled manpower. They would, in my view, have occupied the kernel of the neutral and uncommitted world as well. For to-day, in 1963, Western Europe, I believe, outstrips even the United States as the focal point of a world system of trade and exchange, embodying commercial, technical, financial and educational matters, which in itself winds its arteries round every quarter of the globe.

The economies of Western Europe—and, indeed, of many countries in Africa, India, Asia and South America—are even now in certain respects interdependent. Thus, control over the narrower perimeter of Western Europe would at the same time afford the Communists rapid control over the whole Europe-Asian land mass. United States interests in every part of the globe, especially in the Pacific and South-East Asia, would be threatened as never before, and the world balance of power would be tilted crushingly against them. The truth of this argument is, I am convinced, that the freedom of Europe and that of North America stand or fall together.

In support of the view that I am putting forward, I am glad to say that there is no evidence of a contemplated withdrawal by the United States from Europe. Indeed, all the evidence up to now is to the contrary. It was only a few weeks ago that the United States Government strongly underlined and confirmed their commitment to the defence of Europe in the terms of the Nassau Agreement concluded with the Government of the United Kingdom. I do not propose to-day (because I should not be competent to do so; and because my opinion on this matter would be quite worthless to your Lordships' House) to go into the details of the Nassau Agreement, but only into the main conception behind it.

Under this Agreement, the Americans have openly undertaken to assist in the development of a multilateral—that is to say, a multi-national—nuclear deterrent force for Europe. It would seem that in this force American and European units and personnel will be woven together to form part of the general fabric of the Western deterrent, a force which was described by my noble friend the Foreign Secretary in the debate in the House last week as, "the mixed manned force". I hope that he may perhaps be able to say more about this particular project in our debate to-day. But I would say this: that in principle—though here again there may be very many different varieties of view on the details—this Agreement can be interpreted only as another step by which the United States have shown their willingness to involve their own national destiny and survival directly with that of the Continent of Europe.

If I am right in these arguments, it is difficult to understand why the French Government refused to participate in the Nassau arrangements, and one can but hope that they have not spoken their last word on this subject. After all, the North Atlantic Alliance is a partnership of free nations, and it is not—certainly not as yet—a Community. In reference to the Agreement which has been made, the Foreign Secretary last week said—and I should like to quote just two sentences [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 246 (No. 35), col. 612]: The Nassau Agreement demonstrated, I think, the sincere purpose of Britain and the United States towards Europe, and in these matters we see eye to eye. Our purpose was to start in the Alliance a process of thought and action which will result in the European members having greater confidence in it. He then went on in further detail, but that is the fundamental concept of what took place at Nassau.

Again referring to the line taken by the French Government, I would say to your Lordships that we must all earnestly hope that the line taken by the French Government, coming, as it did, simultaneously with an insistence on suspending the Brussels negotiations for British accession to the Common Market, does not represent something more fundamental. President de Gaulle has already expressed his conviction about the diminishing returns from the United States military investment in Europe. It would be disastrous, in my view, if he were now planning to take steps to encourage the Americans to strike their tents and go home. For, what would be the effect on defence of bulldozing the great Atlantic buttress from Europe? It would leave Europe tottering on its own feet—and I use the word "tottering" deliberately; for with Britain excluded for political reasons from the inner core of the Continent, it would be a Europe divided: divided politically, economically and militarily.

Some, no doubt, would try to persuade us that an absentee America would still inhibit the Soviet Union from seeking to expand on the European Continent in such a situation. But I find it hard to share this view. We should remember the lesson of Cuba. If the masters of the Kremlin were prepared to run that risk on the very threshold of the American fortress, how much more would they do so on their own perimeter, in a Europe from which the United States had been persuaded to depart? For, my Lords, we should recall that, while the deterrent no doubt stopped the war over Cuba, it did not prevent the United States from asserting their considerable local military superiority, so radically altering the whole situation there. The same could occur in Europe if once the Soviet Union were left as the dominant military Power on the Continent. President de Gaulle, in this context, drew attention to the effect of the massive Cuban armada, uncommitted to the defence of Europe, which the United States deployed in the Caribbean, thereby thwarting Mr. Khrushchev's plans. But, my Lords, we should surely do well to remember at the same time the shield of their massive forces in Europe—nearly half a million United States Servicemen, quite apart from their ancillary support which President Kennedy deploys on the Continent of Europe to-day.

My Lords, it seems to me that the choice before Europe at this period of time is simply this: whether to pursue, under the protection of the Atlantic Alliance, the steady path of Continental reconciliation and partnership which an enlarged Community would offer; or, on the other hand, to shake free of American protection and pursue the old pre-war path of rival European blocs. To conclude I would say this: that it is not for us to turn our eyes backwards—that will lead our steps blindly over the precipice into the nuclear abyss—but to look forward to a community of nations and the interdependence of men in the defence of their freedom. My Lords, towards this realisation the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference dedicates its labours. I beg to move for Papers.

3.30 p.m.


My Lords, it would be difficult indeed to find a forum anywhere in the world which could discuss the affairs of the NATO Alliance with more authority than your Lordships' House. The noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition was one of the founders of the NATO Alliance. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, has presided, of course, as Prime Minister, over the Defence Committee, and many of us in your Lordships' House, during our conduct of Government, have got the closest acquaintance with all the workings of the Alliance. My noble friend Lord Crathorne and others have kept the links between the national Parliaments close and strong, and to-day he has given us an account, which the whole House has found acceptable and encouraging, of the Eighth Conference of the Parliamentarians. I would add only this: that the whole House is in particular debt to Lord Crathorne himself for the time he gives to the affairs of the Alliance and the wisdom with which he guides the discussions of the Parliamentarians.

To-day the noble Lord has given us an account of some of the ideas which the latest Conference had in mind and some of the resolutions they have passed; and all that he has told us adds up to an increasing interest and enthusiasm by the Parliamentarians of all the member countries which I am sure is very welcome to your Lordships' House. Of course a large part of the discussions among the Parliamentarians is concerned as to whether or not some new institutions should be set up and, if so, what exactly they should embrace. If, for instance, there were to be an Atlantic Assembly, should it include both NATO and O.E.C.D. affairs? Should it, as the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, said, retain its unofficial character or assume some new official status? The Conference has, I think, very wisely, set up a sub-committee of itself together with members of the Atlantic Institute to study these matters, and I shall myself be most interested to hear of their findings.

There are, of course, difficulties which that Committee and all of us will have to face. There are many institutions in Europe already, and if there is duplication there will also be frustration. O.E.C.D. includes neutrals and NATO, of course, does not. NATO is a military alliance, dealing with subjects of which only the fringe can be explored or exposed to the public eye. And there is always, too, the difficulty which the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, himself has faced: the decision has to be made as to whether, if the Parliamentarians' meetings remain unofficial, they should have more freedom to express and advocate their views than if they were an official body tied to the views of Governments and bound up, therefore, to some extent, in coils of red tape. I have distinct views on this matter. I am anti-red tape. I assure my noble friend I have an open—not an empty—mind on these matters and I shall look forward to hearing the results of the Committee's reviews.

On one aspect of the matter I am fairly clear. There has been a proposal that we might have what is called a High Ministerial Council of NATO. I do not, myself, believe this is necessary. As noble Lords know, the Council can meet at any level which it decides. It can meet at the level of Prime Ministers or Foreign Ministers or at the level of the permanent officials; and the formulation of NATO policy is so closely knitted with the formulation of the foreign policies of the different member countries that I think the right way is for Foreign Ministers to meet in the NATO Council whenever necessary. When they cannot collect together they can instruct their permanent representatives on what policy they should advocate in the Council. That is the practical way in which to run the Alliance.

There has been a new proposal that there should be a Youth Council in the NATO Alliance which would stimulate the interest of the younger generation, who I am afraid will still have to be protected by an alliance of this kind, in the affairs of NATO. That may be a good idea. All these matters are very proper matters for discussion and decision; but I am happy to say and to agree with my noble friend that there is no dispute at all, I believe, among the Parties in this House or in another place as to the basic support there is for the conception of the Alliance. It is evident from the evidence that we have in Eastern Europe that Europe would have been in great danger of being overwhelmed if we had remained single and apart. One by one the countries would have been open to subversion, threatened with occupation. If that has not been so it is because we came together in this voluntary act of collective security.

And a reminder comes from Eastern Europe still that the rest of Europe is not immune from the expansion of the Communist Powers—from Berlin every now and again in recurrent crises, and from the propaganda which the noble Lords must realise is directed to-day from the Communist side of the Curtain against the peripheral members of the Alliance, namely, Greece and Turkey. Therefore although there may be differences of opinion on the strategy or tactics of the NATO Alliance, I think there is none as to the aims. If I may borrow the words of my noble friend, NATO has come to be regarded by this country as part of the unquestioned scheme of things.

There is another broad aspect of the NATO Alliance in which I think there is no difference of opinion in our country, and that is its composition. I believe that everybody feels that the NATO Alliance should continue, as it has done from the start, to include the United States and Canada as equal partners with the European members, completely integrated in the Alliance with the activities of the European members, for all the purposes of the Alliance. Perfectly legitimate matters for discussion are how the balance of contribution between the United States and the members of Europe should be made. We can discuss quite legitimately the structure of command and the nature of the political control. Adjustments of that kind can easily be made between the European members and the United States. But the United States' presence in Europe is the best insurance against aggression which Europe has; and, if I may again quote my noble friend, the Atlantic is an asset and not a liability. Those, I think, are the words he used. I do not think there should be any doubt in any quarter that this is the British view.

Of course the Americans have a self-interest in their presence in Europe, and that is quite right. The noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, was quite right in saying that if Europe were overrun by the Communists there would be an immense swing in the balance of power to the detriment of the United States; but he is also right in saying that the United States, in their presence in Europe and their determination to help the NATO Alliance, have a motive far higher and wider than the pure self-interest of the United States. It is in the minds of the Americans—and I am certain that this is true of all parts of the Free World—in many ways the inspiration of free men which must be defended at all costs.

I know that there are some people who feel that the Americans would like to arrogate to themselves all nuclear power. I have heard that said very often, and I have no doubt that in some ways that would be a convenient thing. But I am quite sure also that the Americans are keenly aware of the terrible responsibility that lies upon them in being the sole repository of nuclear power and responsible themselves for the defence of free men everywhere and for guaranteeing their freedom. I must say that I think that this was apparent to me in the Nassau meeting. I think that when the Americans come to their partners in the NATO Alliance they will be quite glad, indeed very glad, if they are able to work out with us a system for the control of nuclear capacity in NATO, to have Europeans to some extent sharing the terrible responsibility which is to-day carried alone by the President of the United States.

There is another aspect of NATO which I think is worth recalling in the context of the NATO Alliance. It is that NATO is an alliance of sovereign States and no member country of NATO is asked to surrender its right to defend its own interests outside the Alliance, should it feel necessary to do so. Therefore, there is no conflict within the Alliance between patriotism and interdependence. The fact that within the NATO Alliance the sovereignty of each partner over its own forces is unquestioned enables us to assign our nuclear bomber force now, and at a future date our polaris submarines, for all purposes of planning and for all purposes (I apologise to my noble friend Lord Conesford) of targeting to the NATO Alliance and SACEUR, while we retain the right to use these weapons independently should Governments decide that it was in the national interest to do so. I hope that the House will feel that the decision of the United Kingdom and the United States taken at Nassau, to place nuclear forces at the disposal of the NATO Alliance—whatever we may say later about a mixed manned force—for all planning purposes, will add significantly to the strength of the Alliance.

As the House knows, the NATO Council is already engaged on a review of strategy. Of course, that is necessary from time to time, as my noble friend Lord Crathorne has said—for one thing, because of the developments on the other side of the Iron Curtain in Europe. The process and perhaps its difficulties are, of course, familiar to the House. SACEUR makes the plan. Then there comes the question of balancing the best efforts which Governments can make to meet the plan against the targeting of manpower and weapons which the military experts estimate. There is nothing strange or peculiar in the NATO Alliance about that, about the measuring of capacity against the targets required by the military, and I have no doubt that it is an exercise in which our potential opponents are also perpetually engaged. In this matter of settling the future strategy of the Alliance, the arguments between the perfectionists and the theorists, I guess, will go on for many a day.

Ought NATO to have a strategic nuclear arm of its own at all, under separate command and separate control from the United States strategic arm? For the future, what should be the balance in the forward strategy between the conventional arms and the nuclear? I think that we must remember that this is a field in which no one so far has any experience at all, a field in which we profoundly hope no one ever will. So we can really be guided only by certain commonsense considerations, when we are thinking in terms of a possible nuclear arm for NATO. When thinking in terms of military and tactical targets and strategic targets, it is necessary to recognise this: in these days they are so inseparable, and if NATO is to have a nuclear arm at all, then it is simply impossible to avoid overlapping from one into the other. Unless people are prepared to face that, NATO could not defend Europe at all.

Then again, if no one wishes to see the proliferation of nuclear weapons—and no one has any intention, I should like to stress, of handing over independent control of nuclear weapons to any country which has not already got them—the best way of proceeding is surely this, which was really the decision at Nassau: first, to try to create a multilateral force. That means that any country which has a national contribution to make should be able to do so, and that all the members of NATO should be able to take part in the planning, managing, developing and targeting of that force. In other words, we may set up some kind of trusteeship committee within the Alliance to do this. And the second part of the exercise would be to examine (because this has never really been looked at) the practicability of a mixed manned force, which, if it were practical, would be the second stage. I feel sure that the Council, because there is within the Council immense good will and a sense of responsibility, will be able to work out a practical plan and will not be defeated by the problems of command and of political control which are presented to them.

When we are thinking in terms of political control of the deterrent, of course there is one question which—let us face it—does present a difficulty; that is, keeping the NATO deterrent credible, because credibility is absolutely the essence of the matter when we are thinking in terms of the nuclear deterrent. Nevertheless, there are certain factors operating here which I think make this problem less difficult than it seems at first sight. NATO is a defensive Alliance. It has no plans for aggression. Therefore, when we are thinking, as we do all the time, in terms of a response to attack, then I think that the question of control and how we could operate the response in face of an attack by the enemy becomes that much simpler, though, of course, it still has its difficulties.

In the last two years the United Kingdom Government have taken a series of initiatives within the NATO Council, of which I think my noble friend would approve. We thought that the Alliance was suffering because there was too little political consultation, because the different members of the Alliance were too little aware of problems which face the member countries, often problems actually outside the area of NATO operations but nevertheless problems in which it is very important that one member should understand the motives for the actions of another. So we proposed in the NATO Council two years ago that political discussion should be more frequent and much less restricted. That is what has happened. I can myself bear witness to the fact that this has been extremely valuable. I do not want to say that when America was faced by Russia with the problems of Cuba the unanimity of the Alliance was due to this fresh political discussion over the last two years, but I think it made quite a contribution to the understanding of the Alliance as a whole as to what one individual member was faced with at that time.

One year ago we went further and proposed to the NATO Council that there should be set up a Nuclear Committee. It was one of the facts of life of the Alliance that only two members owned nuclear strength and power, and yet the rest were vitally interested in what might happen if there were a nuclear war, because all those countries might well have been the target of aggression. Therefore, we felt that they should be brought right into the picture and able to give their advice to the higher command. Well, the NATO Nuclear Committee has begun to operate over the last year, and I think it has made a great difference to the outlook of the members of the Alliance who do not themselves possess nuclear weapons.

The way we looked at it was this. The Nassau Agreement was an extension of these steps and these initiatives which we had already taken in the Council. So I very much hope that the House will approve the general principle of what we were able to do and the initiative that was taken at Nassau, because I think it has the assent of the rest of the members of the Council, and I think it may have a very helpful effect on Germany, who will feel—because there is always this problem of the proliferation of nuclear weapons—that she can take a full part in every aspect of the Alliance without herself ever wanting to construct these nuclear weapons in her own country.

There is so much activity in the Alliance, both on the political side, which has been dealt with by my noble friend, and on the military side, on which I have touched; and certainly the Alliance is very much alive. I have tried to touch on some of the wider problems. But more of the military side of this can most appropriately be discussed when we come to the Defence debate, and, therefore, I have deliberately not gone into a great deal of detail. I would only, therefore, in responding to my noble friend's speech say this. NATO is the framework within which the defence of Europe must be organised—on that we are quite clear. Britain will play as full a part as we possibly can in assisting both the conventional and the nuclear armament of NATO and the extent of our commitments will be limited by only two things—namely, our ability to pay the costs and our military tasks elsewhere in the world. I was glad that my noble friend emphasised that point.

I think that our partners in NATO recognise that the United Kingdom are asked to carry out a rôle in the field of world security, and not only on the Continent of Europe. I do not want in any circumstances to have to abandon the influence that we can wield in other parts of the world. Therefore, I think it follows directly, both from the speech of my noble friend and, I hope, from what I have said, that in the minds of Her Majesty's Government the NATO Alliance is indispensable for the defence of Western Europe and the Western Alliance as a whole; and so long as any proposals in the political field, with which my noble friend dealt, are a real addition to the strength of NATO, they will be given the closest and most sympathetic attention by Her Majesty's Government.

Unluckily, if the House will forgive me I have to go to one of those meetings which I think the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, particularly will understand are inevitable in the business of Government. I hope to be back as soon as I possibly can, but, in the meantime, I can only say that I am most grateful for the speech of my noble friend.

3.55 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure the House is indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, for raising this matter and for the very thoughtful speech which he made, as indeed we are all indebted to him for his activity in the NATO Alliance. I was looking back, and it is curious to-day to think that most people accept the existence of NATO just as they accept the existence of an organised police force. They would not contemplate the world without an alliance of this kind. But one remembers the circumstances when NATO arose. I recall immediately after the war writing to President Truman on the question of the control of atomic weapons and suggesting that a great effort should be made to get rid of national control of these weapons and that they should all be entrusted to UNO. At that time the outlook was more hopeful. Then there arose the threat of aggression from the Iron Curtain countries, and we had to respond. NATO was essentially a response to a threat; it was essentially taking up a duty, which we hoped would be performed throughout the world by UNO but which UNO had not the strength to do. Therefore, we set up the security organisation in Western Europe and this Atlantic Alliance. From that day to this the peace of the world has very largely depended on NATO.

It is really quite unthinkable that we should really try to sever the people of the Atlantic Alliance by suggesting that the Atlantic is a severing thing. It is not. Especially to this country, it has always been our highway. It is a great link between the two great branches of the Western world. The suggestion that America should walk out of the Alliance is really quite absurd, because one has to realise the truth of what M. Litvinov said before the war: that peace is indivisible; security is indivisible. There is no use looking to the limits of a continent to-day, much less a single country; you have to look at the world situation. We are all greatly indebted to those who, like the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, promote thinking on this subject and international intercourse among Parliamentarians, because one does want a lot of thinking on this. It is so easy, particularly for the older ones, like myself, to look back on a past that has gone forever, a past of British navalism, and not to realise the new conditions under which we are working to-day. I suggest that we still have some way to go in working out NATO, and I do not believe we should endeavour to extend NATO beyond the purposes for which it was set up.

That purpose is essentially one of keeping the peace, of defence. I believe that our hopes for the world rest on the extension of the idea of a defence organisation. In due course I hope to see that idea being taken up by the United Nations, and also the idea of a world police force. At the present moment peace is undoubtedly held by the fact that there is this balance of nuclear power between East and West. The time will come, I believe, when we shall all realise the folly of even imagining a nuclear war. But that will not mean that you can just revert to what happened before there were nuclear arms. We have to go further than that; we have to abolish warfare altogether. I believe that the balance between East and West may help us towards that solution.

I am quite sure that a NATO Alliance is a powerful check on the uprising again of old rivalries. Take, for instance, the old rivalry of France and Germany. There are signs that that is going now; that it is something in the past, just as remote as the old rivalry in warfare, which I can remember people said was a natural rivalry, of France and England. All those have gone, and we have to-day the fact of the United States, whose importance derives not merely from the possession of nuclear power, nor from great wealth, but from the fact that in many ways America is an extension of Europe. I am quite sure that America feels that, too. After all, many of her citizens derive from Europe, and they would no more think of cutting off entirely from the family than any of us would from our families and friends. The more we have a unity of purpose between the two great branches of Western democracy, the better.

I am particularly encouraged by the growth of an interchange between Parliamentarians, because our Parliamentary systems differ on either side of the Atlantic, at least so far as the United States is concerned. The important thing is that we should understand each other; and that holds for the Continent, too. In all these plans one gets one is always brought to the fact of the different way we look at things. One noticed that in all the discussions on the Common Market. There was the fact that our Parliamentary systems were different. You may have the same ideas but they do not bring you together if your way of looking at things is quite different, although you both hold the same general principle of democracy.

To-day NATO is one of the great supports of the United Nations. We want an extension of that. I look at NATO as something permanent and not something set up just to deal with a Russian menace. Even if that menace were removed, NATO would still be needed. Maybe NATO would be extended, but it would still be needed, because the fact is that we have got away entirely from the old conception of national defence. We are all believers in collective security now. I can remember when collective security was dismissed as midsummer madness. Now I think of the midsummer or March madness of anybody who is opposed to collective security. Therefore I think people merely do mischief to talk as if America's presence on the Continent of Europe were some plot by the Americans in order to control Europe. It is a necessity from their point of view, and from our point of view.

I welcome the discussions that are going on in NATO. I hope that we shall be rather wary of setting up too much machinery. There is a great deal to be said for doing things in not too rigid a manner when it comes to this kind of work. As the Foreign Secretary said, you may get tied up in too much red tape. It is the spirit that matters in this, much more than getting a whole lot of elaborate rules. I welcome very much the work that is being done in seeing just how far or how near we can get to working together. We should beware of thinking that we can work out a kind of full-fledged Parliamentary system for NATO. I do not think you can do that, any more than I think at the present time you could do it with the British Commonwealth. It is something which has to grow gradually, and the main thing is these contacts. I should like to repeat what I said when I started, of how grateful I am to the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, for all the work he has done, and for bringing this matter before your Lordships' House.

4.8 p.m.


My Lords, at the beginning of his speech the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, said that he was somewhat at a disadvantage in moving his Motion to-day, because of the rapid movement of world political events in recent months. I believe, rather, that that is what has made the Motion so singularly opportune. After, or in the midst of, the disappointment of recent political events, it is refreshing to renew our sense of that great reality, the Atlantic Community.

The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, reminded us that we have come to take that for granted. So, indeed, we do, thanks to the creative work of the noble Earl and others. He urged us not to be too highfalutin in our claims for NATO. He reminded us that NATO has the distinct and limited rôle of being a defence Alliance. But I am sure he would agree that a defence Alliance cannot be just that alone, without the commanding of a great volume of common understanding among the peoples who are defending, and also a common realisation of that which they are called upon to defend. Let me here quote some powerful but very true words of the Paris Declaration of the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference. It describes the Atlantic Community thus: It is a powerful, moral and cultural community in which are concentrated the classical beauty of Greece, the judicial sagacity of Rome, the spirit of our religious traditions, and the scientific achievements of modern times. This is a reality that goes far deeper than contemporary politics and to-day's debate recalls us to it.

My Lords, we ought not to let political disappointments of this or any moment cause us to forget how very strong already are the ties between our European countries. Take France and ourselves. I have opportunities of seeing something of the relation between the French and ourselves in a way which is small, yet, I think, very significant. Throughout the year, except in the coldest weather, thousands of French people come to our shores for a day's outing to Dover and Canterbury, spending some hours in Canterbury and returning home in the evening across the Channel. Indeed, I suppose that many more French people visit Kent in the course of the year than perhaps visit the rest of the United Kingdom in all. It is impossible to talk to our French visitors, as I often seize the opportunity of doing, without realising that they know our two peoples to be fast friends, and they come to our old City of Canterbury because they know that it is a symbol of a unity which has its roots far back in history, and they realise that there is a real bond between our modern city and many cities and towns through France. I mention this trivial bit of experience as it is a small and genuine sign of that unity of culture and history which just goes on. It is not so much a matter of putting it in the perspective of current politics, but rather of our seeing current politics and understanding them in the light of these continuing realities that will not easily be destroyed.

My Lords, we must go on helping our countries within the Atlantic Community to know one another as well as possible—and this is no platitude. The Report of the last NATO Parliamentarians' Conference mentioned universities, and this is a realm in which there is a great opportunity. The exchanges between students and teachers in our countries achieve much, and we want more and more of these exchanges. For instance, why should not each of our own universities adopt some foreign university and become allied to it? This is already happening to some extent, and it needs to happen more. It does not depend upon any political decisions, yet its effect upon the new generation, and therefore upon that background from which the political decisions of the future are going to spring, may be considerable.

Let me add, my Lords, just one word about the rôle of the Christian Churches in all this. If our country had gone into the Common Market it is certain that the Churches would have found new opportunities in the fostering of unity between our countries and communities. Yet, Common Market or no Common Market, the Churches go on with the great role of fostering the many cultural and spiritual links between countries and communities, and I am quite certain that the recent ups-and-downs of politics, to-day's debate and the activities of the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference will be to us a great stimulus to go on doing all we can with our own contribution from the Churches to this task.

I would join with other noble Lords in paying tribute to the NATO Parliamentarians' activities and to the leadership within it which the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, has been giving. It was my privilege, as I think he will remember, to take a very small part in the Atlantic Parliamentarians' Conference in London in 1959; and the Paris Parliamentarians' Conference mentions innumerable matters, some of which, without being political and while seeming to be trivial, add up to what could be a great activity in bringing our peoples to greater knowledge of one another in depth. I welcome this Motion wholeheartedly and feel sure that good will come of our considering these matters in the total context in which they need to be seen.

4.15 p.m.


My Lords, my noble friends on these Benches and I would like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, for putting down this Motion, and I personally would thank him also for his fine leadership of the British delegation to the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference. I am grateful, too, to the Foreign Secretary for his interesting speech, and for the firm assurance he gave at the end as to the support Her Majesty's Government will continue to give to NATO. I should also like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne on his Presidency of the Conference. This is, I believe, the first time that a fellow countryman of ours has had the honour of being President. It is an indication of the esteem in which he is held by his fellow parliamentarians from the fifteen NATO countries. The term "President", I may explain, is used in the Continental sense, not in the British sense, so that Lord Crathorne is, in fact, both what we would call the President and Chairman of the Conference. I feel that only Britain could produce a man who is at one and the same time President of such an important international body, Senior Steward of the Jockey Club and Chairman of the Committee on Sunday Observance.

My Lords, the debate to-day will, I am sure, be read with the utmost interest by delegates from all the NATO Parliaments, to whom reports undoubtedly will be sent by our efficient executive secretary, Mr. Labberton. We are here to-day because of NATO. We owe our existence, so far as terrestrial or matters of this world are concerned, to our support and membership of NATO. The organisation has been dealt a severe but not, in my opinion, fatal blow by President de Gaulle. At all costs we must sustain the Alliance, in spite of France. French people are so cultured and so cultivated, yet they seem to have no inherent genius, either for politics or for plumbing. Up to now, as the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne has said, the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference has been an unofficial body—one of those elastic descriptions which mean so much or so little; as much or as little, in fact, as the various NATO Governments desire to give to it.

When I first attended the Conference in 1957, as a delegate from the British Parliament, its functions were felt to be an opportunity for parliamentarians to get to know one another, and to hear two or three speeches from the civil and military officials connected with the organisation. Gradually, through the years, it has changed. It is now coming to regard itself, and to be regarded, as an international consultative assembly; and it is beginning to expect to be treated as such by all. The debates have changed greatly: they are more precise. The speeches are far shorter, I am glad to say; they are more practical and more realistic. There is more debate, and the opportunities for asking questions are eagerly seized upon.

In the earlier stages of the organisation's existence it was concerned mainly with military matters, under Article I of the Treaty. In fact, in 1957 I was, in a half-hearted sort of way, called to order for mentioning and drawing attention to the needs of the under-developed countries. Nowadays, of course, we spend a great deal of time at the Conference on the problems of those same countries. Gradually the balance righted itself, and now much study is being brought to matters under Article II of the Treaty; that is to say, the further development of peaceful and friendly international relations by strengthening their free institutions and by promoting conditions of stability and wellbeing, the sort of aspirations of which the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, has so feelingly spoken this afternoon.

At the 1962 Conference last November, interesting reports were made, and important resolutions were passed by the various Committees; and of those we shall no doubt be hearing an account this afternoon by some of your Lordships who were members of them. But in the few remarks that I intend to make I wish to confine myself mainly to the work of the Political Committee, of which I am Chairman. The Political Committee has as its Deputy-Chairman Mr. Nils Langhelle, a well-known and distinguished European statesman who is Stortingspresident, or Speaker, of the Norwegian Parliament, and leader of the Norwegian delegation. The Rapporteur is Representative John V. Lindsay, a member of the House of Representatives from New York and a very able parliamentarian, full of enthusiasm for the ideal of the Atlantic Community and willing to put in a great deal of hard work to achieve this end.

The Committee's Report, as the most reverend Primate indicated, dealt mainly with the recommendations of the NATO Citizens' Convention which met in Paris in January, 1962, and was responsible for "The Declaration of Paris". This Declaration Senator Fulbright, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States Senate. has recently described as a significant document, and he has written that its ideas are part of the bright vista that lies ahead. As the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, and I, with the noble Earl, Lord Dundonald (I think they are the only ones in your Lordships' House at the moment), were signatories to the Declaration of Paris, I think we can feel proud that two such very eminent figures as the most reverend Primate and Senator Fulbright, one from each side of the Atlantic, should have expressed themselves in this way on our work in Paris in January, 1962.

If we examine the reports and recommendations of the Political Committee in the light of recent events, we see how important they are. The first event, of course, was the historic speech by the President of the United States—a speech which for some reason received far too little notice in this country—on the steps of the Hall (I think it is Independence Hall) at Philadelphia on the 4th July last. He made that speech at that place to an assembly of Governors of the States of the United States because it was in his mind an important speech. In that speech he called for European Union and Atlantic Partnership. Just imagine! If in 1914 or 1939 the then President of the United States had made a speech like that, there would have been no First War and no Second War. And I think we should attach full importance to this declaration. The President meant every word of what he said. We must give full weight to it.

The second important recent development is the Conference in December last in the Bahamas between the President of the United States and our Prime Minister. To-day the Foreign Secretary recalled and supported the agreement in the Bahamas between the two leaders that the purpose of their Governments with respect to the Polaris missiles must be the development of a multilateral nuclear force in the closest consultation with other NATO Allies. They also agreed on the importance of increasing the effectiveness of their conventional forces on a world-wide basis. I should like to say, here and now, that my noble friends on these Benches and myself are not opposed to the NATO multilateral deterrent, if it is thought necessary by those who have the full information, provided that a realistic system of political control can be worked out. And it was most heartening to hear the Foreign Secretary to-day on this question. Usually, this question of political control is rather laughed at, but I thought that the Foreign Secretary to-day gave particularly strong arguments showing the practicability of it; and certainly we in the Political Committee will give much thought, as we are already giving much thought, to the credibility of the deterrent, which is so important, but also, at the same time, to the extension of political control of it.

So far as Britain's retention of the independent nuclear deterrent is concerned, we on these Benches are against it. We do not feel that it is independent, and in our opinion it is not deterrent. It also has the unfortunate characteristic that it is highly expensive. We now contemplate, in fact, with horror, a situation in which China, India, Egypt, Israel, Cuba and other countries—by no means all of whom necessarily have the same sort of sense of responsibility that the United States and Russia have—might also obtain these terrible weapons. In these circumstances we feel that it is the wrong sort of lead to give to the world. We feel that it is better to confine the nuclear deterrent to the two giants, to build up our conventional forces for NATO, and to press on with the general disarmament proposals. Your Lordships will recall that the Foreign Secretary himself to-day referred with distaste to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and we feel that if Britain gives up its own so-called nuclear independent deterrent it will give a lead in the direction which the Foreign Secretary himself has submitted to your Lordships to-day as desirable.

For these reasons, we welcome the assignment of the V-bomber force to NATO, and we think that the United States will be quite prepared—as indeed President Kennedy indicated in 1961—to make available to NATO from the United States resources such deterrents as are necessary, thus taking away from us the strain of the nuclear part of the weapons of the NATO Alliance and enabling us to devote our resources to increasing the conventional forces. We urge the building up by this country of comprehensive forces, and particularly of fast airborne mobile troops, both for our NATO commitments and for our other commitments overseas; and we believe that the weapons and supplies should be stockpiled abroad, as recommended by General Norstad, the late Supreme Commander, Europe. Perhaps this would be more suitable to a Defence debate, but I may add, in parenthesis, that we look with some concern at the proposed reduction in the Gurkha forces. We believe it is quite wrong at this time to do away with these magnificent troops, who are also, happily, of course, one of the main exports of their country. We believe that we should retain them as they are part of the conventional forces of this country.

The Report of the Parliamentarians' Conference set out the thinking of the Political Committee, and subsequently the Conference, on the future development of the Alliance, with particular reference to the international Parliamentary institutions required, and endorsed a number of important recommendations of the Declaration of Paris. This situation, which was touched upon by the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, and also referred to by the Foreign Secretary, is, I believe, or should be, of immense interest to your Lordships, because there is at the present moment a multitude of separate international institutions in the Atlantic Community. There are the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, W.E.U., O.E.C.D. and NATO. Each of them is controlled by a separate body, if controlled at all. There are no formal means of co-ordination and no common Parliamentary institution. The Report held that two international Parliamentary bodies, and two only, are needed in the Atlantic partnership—namely, a European Parliament and an Atlantic Assembly—and both of these should develop out of existing institutions. So, if I may refer to one question raised by the Foreign Secretary, it is not intended by us to create any new institutions. One of the objects of our proposal is to reduce the existing proliferation to two.

The recommendations pursued these matters in more detail and urged member Governments to take action upon them. As the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, said, the Conference accepted the Political Committee's recommendation that he should set up a special sub-committee of the Conference to submit recommendations for a Consultative Atlantic Assembly to evolve from the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference. The Committee was also required to consult and report upon the creation of a permanent High Council at ministerial level, an Atlantic High Court of Justice and an Atlantic Council for youth education and culture, so far as these suggested bodies might affect the constitution and functions of a Consultative Atlantic Assembly. There is, I may say, quite a body of opinion in the Community and in the Organisation which supports the view of the Foreign Secretary with reference to the permanent High Council. But all these matters will be considered by the sub-committee, and in due course no doubt they will report upon them.

The object of the recommendations, in short, is to substitute democratic for bureaucratic control; to take the initial steps in the Atlantic Community which your Lordships' forbears took over 500 years ago in this country so far as England is concerned: that is to say, we want to know what is happening, what is demanded of us in the shape of funds, how they are spent, what policies are proposed, and how they are carried out. The arguments are met by those who oppose the development of an Atlantic institution of this nature, by counter-arguments which would put to shame leading officials or advisers of a Plantagenet king. Indeed the Tudors, however much they might feel attracted by them privately, would have loudly repudiated them if presented by one of their secretaries. Indeed, he might have regarded himself as lucky to get away with his ears intact or his nostrils in one piece, had he made such arguments in public to Henry VIII or Elizabeth I.

Nevertheless, in spite of these reactionary objections, progress has been made. This year the Conference was addressed by the Foreign Minister of France, the Acting Secretary-General of NATO, the President of the European Economic Commission, Professor Hallstein, the Supreme Commander, Europe, the Deputy Supreme Commander, Atlantic, and the United States Under Secretary of State, the Hon. George W. Ball, who flew the Atlantic especially for the purpose at President Kennedy's request. All of them except one answered questions.

Our application for membership of the European Economic Community has been refused, or at any rate it has not been accepted. Nevertheless, Britain must strive for the political unity of Europe. We must remember that we are still in the Atlantic partnership, and thus an Atlantic Consultative Assembly is more essential than ever. It is vital to clothe with flesh and blood the conception of Atlantic partnership as called for by President Kennedy, the Prime Minister and others, but which as yet exists only as an ideal. In conclusion, I urge Her Majesty's Government to consider carefully the recommendations of the Conference which were made last November, and in due course to consider the recommendations and the highly important developments that we have been discussing, and in particular the evolution of an Atlantic Consultative Assembly from the present NATO Parliamentarians' Conference.

4.36 p.m.


My Lords, we are all most grateful to my noble friend Lord Crathorne for raising this vitally important question this afternoon. As he rightly said, we have to debate it in the light of the startling events that have taken place during the last three months —in fact, since he had his NATO Conference of Parliamentarians. But, as the most reverend Primate said, this may well be an advantage. Events do move quickly in the world to-day and we must learn to keep up with them. In fact, we are all rather in the position of the Red Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass—we have to run jolly fast in order to remain where we are, in view of the pace of events to-day.

The sombre background to the European situation remains. I have reminded your Lordships of it often enough. There was the fatal refusal to join the Coal and Steel Community; the equally fatal refusal to join the E.D.C.; the implacable hostility of the Foreign Office under the late Mr. Ernest Bevin and the noble Earl, Lord Avon, to the Council of Europe and everything it stood for; the rejection of the Strasbourg Plan; and finally the refusal of Her Majesty's Government to take part in the negotiations which resulted in the Treaty of Rome, or to take the Common Market seriously until it had become a reality—and a most prosperous reality at that. By the time de Gaulle came to power we had missed the boat. And for my part I shall never cease to believe that our deliberate rejection, for a decade after the war, of the leadership of a united Europe, which we could have played a decisive part in shaping, was one of the great mistakes in our history. Indeed the historians of the future may well compare it with the policies which lost us the American colonies in the reign of George III, and, with them, the chance of an Atlantic union which might well have prevented both the First and the Second World Wars; with the policies that lost us Ireland in the reign of Queen Victoria, and those which lost us India between the wars. But it is no good going back over all that. They are great landmarks in our history, and tragic mistakes from which we shall not recover quickly.

To-day, we face an entirely new situation, brought about by one man—and we all know who that one man is. Judging from the speech we have just listened to from my noble friend Lord Ogmore, one would not have thought that President de Gaulle existed. One would have thought that everything was gay and happy in the European parlour, that in NATO everything was going swimmingly; whereas in fact, as the Foreign Secretary himself had admitted, NATO is at the moment in the greatest possible danger.


My Lords, with great respect, that is the very point I made. I cannot remember the exact words, but I said something to the effect that we had suffered a shattering blow though not a fatal one.


I would agree with the noble Lord about that. In fact he has taken the words of my peroration out of my mouth. I think we must consider President de Gaulle for a moment in the light of this situation. In order to take any kind of objective view, we have to remember that there is also a background to his hostility towards what he calls the Anglo-Saxons, which the present Prime Minister saw at first-hand and of which I caught only glimpses. My Lords, he is a proud, difficult and great man. And he was not very well handled during the last war, either by the President of the United States or by the Prime Minister of this country. We inflicted upon him first Admiral Darlan, then General Giraud. The Prime Minister was much more patient than the President, who referred to General de Gaulle as "our mutual headache".

My Lords, I vividly remember, after the invasion of Europe, obtaining the permission of the Speaker in another place to move the Adjournment of the House on "a definite matter of urgent public importance"—namely, the refusal of the Allied High Command, of His Majesty's Government (as it then was), and of the United States Government to allow General de Gaulle to land on the shores of France. I remember the Prime Minister coming down and saying that it would not be in the national interest to hold a public debate on this subject at that time, and that he would have it only in secret session. I therefore withdrew by Motion; and, in fact, General de Gaulle was permitted a few days later to land in France. But I should like to point out to your Lordships that he has forgotten none of this, and nor should we. There is a background of real grievance in President de Gaulle's mind.

I think I must make some reference, because it has done us so much harm, to the invincible reluctance of British politicians to read books—particularly books by foreigners. This is really the root cause of many of our troubles. If any politician in this country had taken the trouble to read Mein Kampf we should all have known precisely what Hitler intended to do, and subsequently did, nearly twenty years before he did it. And if we had read de Gaulle's Memoirs—it is not difficult reading; he is one of the best prose writers in French living to-day—we should have known two years ago that he would not have us in the Common Market on terms acceptable to us, and it might have made a considerable difference. However, perhaps it is too much to expect politicians, and certainly Ministers, to read books in large quantities, particularly those in foreign languages. We have to make the best of it, but it would have been helpful on those two occasions.

That being said, I think we should take issue with President de Gaulle on the basic issues which he has now raised, in the certain conviction that his conception of the modern world is out of date and wrong, whereas ours, by comparison, is up-to-date and right. The Carolingian empire which he envisages is not for us, and never will be. I would say, particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, that he does want the Americans out of Europe. He said in Paris only a few days ago that he had been saying this for ten years. So that, apart from not reading, we do not even listen very often to what these foreigners say—which is again, I think, a pity. But he does want them out of Europe; and this would, in effect, involve the break-up of NATO as we now know it. We do not want either of these two things, and I think we should make it perfectly clear we are at great odds with the French Government on these matters.

In August, 1949, I remarked to the Council of Europe that insistence on absolute State sovereignty was one of the principal causes of the evils of our modern world, and that the only solution of this problem lay in some merging or pooling of national sovereignty. This, I venture to suggest, is what the whole argument is really about. The argument should, in my submission, be sustained at a high level. Above all, we should avoid falling below the level of events by making ourselves look silly. And, my Lords, at this time I think I must say that I share the view of practically the entire British Press that the decision of the Government to prevent Princess Margaret's visit to Paris was below the level of events. The excuse given was so flimsy that everybody saw through it at once, and it was then admitted that it was not valid. It presupposed that all the Counsellors of State would simultaneously have influenza six weeks hence, and nobody could believe that. I think it gave the impression abroad that we were being a bit petty, a bit peevish, and certainly not living up to what the Foreign Secretary told us we ought to do, which is not in any circumstances to turn our back on Europe.

De Gaulle is now asserting that a segment of Western Europe can attain full sovereignty, under the leadership of an intensely nationalistic France, through the possession of nuclear weapons. I do not believe that is true; and I think it is extremely important that this country should put forward the antithesis, which is, quite simply, that you cannot conduct 18th century diplomacy with nuclear weapons, and that we still have to come to terms with life as it is in this second half of the 20th century. It has been said by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and with absolute truth, that nuclear power is indivisible—indeed, defence in the modern world is indivisible. The leadership and ultimate responsibility of the United States must be accepted because the United States have, in fact, the monopoly of nuclear power in the West. De Gaulle fears the absorption of the European community in "a colossal Atlantic Community under American dependence and direction", to quote his own words. My Lords, that is exactly what I personally want and, I venture to suggest, what we should all want. For us there is no alternative to the Atlantic Community, in political, military or economic terms. An independent British nuclear deterrent is really no more credible than a French one, and does not in fact exist because the tactical tie-up between our Bomber Command and the American Strategic Air Force is so close that separate action on the part of either is neither credible nor possible. I believe that it would add nothing to our security, and little to our influence in council.

Our aim should therefore be the total integration of our own deterrent into a multilateral nuclear force—in other words, a NATO force—under the ultimate direction of the United States, but with a shared responsibility for planning the policies and strategies which will govern the use of that force, and which we do not at present possess. I was extremely interested to hear the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs say this afternoon that the impression he got at the Nassau Conference was that the President himself would be glad to have somebody to share this awful responsibility with him. So it really remains to work out the methods by which this can be done. I think that it will take time. We do not have it yet, but I think that one of the most important things on the political agenda of this country, and of the Western Alliance, at the present time is to see how we can devise machinery which will give us a share in planning the policies and strategies which will govern the use of the multilateral NATO nuclear force, accepting at the same time that the ultimate responsibility and control must devolve upon the United States.

That really was the real meaning of the Nassau Agreements; and it need not involve any great proliferation of international organisations, which, I entirely agree with both the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and the Foreign Secretary, should be avoided. I think it was Mr. Herbert Luthy who wrote a very good book on the state of France about ten years ago. Having come down to have a look at Strasbourg, he said that the Foreign Ministers of Europe appeared like actors on a revolving stage which had got out of control: every day they appeared against a different backcloth, playing a first act which never came to an end. That, my Lords, was the impression which at one time Strasbourg gave, with all its endless Councils of 15, 7, 5, 6, Central Unions, Western Unions, and all the rest of it; and we want, at all costs, to avoid that. I think that in the kind of—shall I say?—reorganisation of NATO that most of us would like to see, and have in mind, we none of us want to see a whole fresh set of councils and committees set up. If anything, we want to reduce them, and to make those which do remain more influential and more powerful.

My Lords, in the long run de Gaulle will be beaten by events, because the concept of a European Community no longer makes sense except in the context of a wider Atlantic Union, and it is for this that I think we now have to strive. Here, I utterly agree with my noble friend Lord Crathorne; and it is interesting to reflect that Herr Strauss, the so-called very nationalistic German Minister of Defence, said before he resigned that he thought the time for a European balance of power had gone for ever, and that he saw the future in terms of a Germany which was a component part of Atlantic policy. So, my Lords, it is. I have often remarked to my German friends—and I am glad to say I have many—that every time they have turned East, every time they have indulged in the Drang nach östen, which did not start with Hitler, they have ended in disaster; and every time they have turned West, to the seas and the oceans and trade, through, for example, the Hanseatic League, they have ended up with prosperity and success. That is where I believe the great majority of the German people are looking today. I do not say that Adenauer, who seems to have been hypnotised by the power of President de Gaulle, is altogether looking there, but I think the Germans really are looking at the seas and the oceans, as we should be doing, and as the Netherlands and the Belgians most certainly do.

My Lords, we may have lost an Empire, but we ourselves remain the pivot of an oceanic complex in terms of both politics and trade. To join a Third Force Gaullist Europe would cut us off from all this, and would be suicidal for this country; because our past greatness was built up on world trade, without which we should in truth become no more than an "off-shore island". If President de Gaulle now wishes to retain in his own hands the power to burn several million people to death, that is his affair. He will never use it, because if he did his beloved France would be incinerated within twenty minutes. If he seeks to add a German nuclear force to that of France, under German control, he will not succeed for one simple reason: the Russians will not permit it—and they have the power to prevent it—and in my opinion the Russians would be right.

In conclusion, just a word (and it will be only one word; but it does arise in this context) about East-West trade. I have spent a large part of my time during the last eighteen months on the other side of the Iron Curtain, from where, in fact, l have just returned; and I am convinced that there are great possibilities for an expansion of East-West trade, and great opportunities if we care to take them. I think the Board of Trade—and I should be grateful if the First Lord in his reply would say that he will ask the President of the Board of Trade about this—should push very hard for it, and be quite firm with the United States about oil and strategic lists which may have had validity some years ago but which are now completely obsolete.

Some months ago I was taken to see an extremely up-to-date factory in Roumania which manufactured ball bearings—one of the best, so the experts said, in the world. It was only after I had seen it that I was told that ball bearings were upon the strategic list, and that therefore we were prohibited from exporting them, although they made just as good and rather better ball bearings than we did. I think that this nonsense had better now come to an end. I firmly believe that the greatest hope of relaxation of tension in the immediate future between the NATO and the Warsaw Powers lies in an expansion of trade. Russian oil will come into this country through one source or another in any event, because there are many companies, some foreign, which will see that it comes in, although we may not know a great deal about it. We might as well do it at the official level, and use it as a bargaining factor, as an example, for Russian purchases of our ships.

In any case, a considerable national effort in order to do all this is called for on our part. Whatever figures you take—economic growth, productivity or exports—our record in recent years has been rather pitiable, by comparison with that of the Common Market countries. We enjoy much goodwill in countries on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Why is it that the West Germans have by far the greater part—about 70 per cent.—of the trade? We have the goodwill, as I said when I got back last year. They have the trade partly, of course, because of the extreme German efficiency—and to that we can only take off our hats and try to emulate it; they are extremely efficient. But there is also a wisecrack on the other side of the Iron Curtain that the British give seven years for delivery and seven months' credit, as against the Germans' seven years' credit and seven months' delivery; and there is a sharp difference between the two. Of course, that is a gross exaggeration, a ridiculous exaggeration; but there is just that element of truth in it which makes one uneasy.

I saw something of the shipbuilders in Moscow, because the Russians are wanting to build a lot of ships at the present time. I saw them from Germany, I saw them from Denmark, but I did not see many from this country. I think we ought to be there: we ought to be sticking around. That is the only way we can get trade in the end—by always being present, always asking, always suggesting, always negotiating. In that way you get it. This is undoubtedly what the West Germans are past masters at.

Before I sit down, I just want to say that I do not see any reason for undue discouragement, still less for despair. The stars in their courses point to greater European and Atlantic unity as the essential prelude to the kind of world order that the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, wants so much to see and has done so much to promote; and not even de Gaulle can fight the stars. He can fight almost everybody else, but not the stars. My Lords, our future remains in our own hands, but, as The Times rightly remarked in a recent leader, that future will not be decided by the kind of bombs we have, but by the kind of people we are.

4.58 p.m.


My Lords, may I offer my personal congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, not only for his speech this afternoon but on his appointment as President of the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference; and also to my noble friend Lord Ogmore on his chairmanship of the Political Committee? This is indeed a powerful position in which Members of this House have found themselves in this Conference.

I should like first of all to be rather domestic. The question has been posed whether this Conference should be raised in status; whether it should be made an official body like some of the other assemblies in Europe. I can speak with some experience of this Conference. I have done my stint; I am no longer a Member, and I can therefore look back with some disinterest. My own feeling is that it would be wrong to give it any official standing. But that does not mean that the Conference could remain as it now is.

I think the strength of this Conference is not in its plenary sessions where we have, in the main, fixed debates with members reading their speeches; the real strength lies in the committees. These committees are free of this fixed direction of point. They approach a resolution in a most objective manner. But, unfortunately, these committees meet on an average once, or at the most twice, a year. And I am afraid, from my experience, that there has never been sufficient preparation for them; nor do I believe there is sufficient contact with the officials of the organisation to give advice or information that could guide the discussions of these committees. I should like to see closer connection between the Conference and its committees with the officials of the Conference.

I think something further needs to be done, and this can be done by Her Majesty's Government. As I have said, I am now disinterested and I am well aware of the financial burden some members have when they attend these Conferences. But the burden falls very much on members like the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, or even the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, or the rapporteurs who are in the other place. This burden calls for a fair number of visits to Paris and it becomes especially heavy. I would hope the Government would consider some way in which they could relieve this burden on the members. I wonder whether when the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, was preparing his speech he really contemplated the shattering events that took place during January. We know of the effects of the failure of the Common Market, but we have also seen the resignation of the Canadian Government on matters of NATO policy, and one is sorry to hear of bitter feeling between the North American Governments in this matter. Germany is still very far short of meeting her mili- tary commitments; France militarily, at very best, pays lip service; we ourselves (and the Government know the attitude on this side of the House) would like to see greater effort to give military support to NATO. NATO is a military command, and if we look at the resolutions of the Military Committee we see that their main one is that NATO should adopt what is called a "forward strategy", that in the event of hostilities or an attack by the Soviet we should deny to the Soviet any land or area of the Free World.

I wonder whether NATO is deployed in such a way that it can adopt this forward strategy. We are far short of the total divisions required in Europe by the Supreme Allied Commander. We have, in fact, 22 divisions, most of which are to-day undermanned. The American divisions in the south are the best equipped and up to strength, but those divisions are, in fact, behind the best natural barriers to attack; they are least vulnerable. It is in the north, the best tank country, where there could be rapid movement by Soviet forces, that NATO weakness lies. We talk of forward strategy, yet we are barrack room deployed. Our forces in the north are, in the main, deployed on the availability of barracks. The main German contingent are at present to the south of the British Forces and, if they were to adopt this forward strategy to meet attack it would mean they would have to pass through our own lines of communication to the north. I do not think that that is possible. I do not think the Supreme Allied Commander believes it possible.

We must face the fact that for many years to come we shall need a NATO military force in Europe, and I think we should be well advised if we tried to redeploy these national forces as soon as possible. Obviously this could not be a complete changeover; the dislocation would be far too great. But I think we should endeavour over the next two or three years to bring our forces more into line so that, if we are to move forward to the frontiers, we can move forward on a broad basis without having to cross our own lines of communication.

The Report also rightly deals with the question of the mobile reserve. This was felt to be necessary by the Supreme Allied Commander in order to give strength to the flanks, the weakest part of NATO—namely, Norway and particularly Greece and Turkey. But this mobile force is at present very weak. It consists in the main of seven battalions, and those battalions are now taken from our main national contributions. I would hope that it would be possible for the NATO countries certainly to double that mobile reserve in the next twelve months, and that it would be a force trained permanently for that type of operation. I would hope that the Government would consider whether one of the brigades which we have in this country as part of our central reserve and which is committed to NATO, could be trained specifically for that task. I think it would be very good not only from the NATO point of view but perhaps in meeting our own problems in the Far East.

Our military forces need a lot of attention. In the air, what we now have is rapidly becoming obsolescent, and by that I do not mean that the aircraft themselves are necessarily becoming old and out-dated but the runways are so vulnerable. And I think (and I express my own opinion here) that there is a considerable case for bringing Polaris submarines into NATO, so long as those submarines are for tactical purposes, to replace aircraft that are now becoming obsolete.

What has always bedevilled the discussions in NATO, certainly during the last year or so, has been the question of nuclear control. The President of the United States and the Prime Minister have made the suggestion of a multinational force, which is worthy of consideration. I cannot myself believe that it is possible to have a crew of many nations in a Polaris submarine, but it would be possible to create a squadron of Polaris submarines to which countries would contribute complete crews, which would be integrated firmly into a NATO Polaris force. These crews would operate in the same way as the aircrews the Americans have produced at Supreme Air Command, and with them we could build up a responsible élite force. It may be possible to have crews in which the commander is from a different country from that of the crew, but I cannot believe that it is possible to have a crew from different nations operating a ship of such complexity as a Polaris submarine.

But even if we obtain this multinational force, do we really meet the fundamental nervousness of Europe about nuclear weapons? The Europeans are fearful that the Americans, who now control, may escalate too quickly. But if NATO has a force, we shall not avoid that position. I think that the only benefit of this type of force is that it could be used if the United States failed to escalate. As the Foreign Secretary said this afternoon, I frankly do not believe that the United States would fail to meet their obligations to Europe, but if it would make Europe happier, and able to get proper political control, then I should not be against bringing a Polaris fleet into NATO. But a good deal will have to be done in regard to political control.

Obviously, the theme of this debate is Atlantic unity. I would draw your Lordships' attention to the preamble of the resolutions of the Political Committee, which speaks of Atlantic unity and not only European unity; of world peace and not only European peace. These resolutions were accepted unanimously by all the parliamentarians in the Conference. We now have what would appear to be a very serious threat to NATO—not just the collapse of the Common Market talks, because the unity of Europe is not based on that alone, but the French attitude to NATO. There are rumblings in Paris, suggestions that France not only wishes the Americans out, but also wishes to see the end of NATO. I believe that we must react with all the strength we have to these suggestions. We must not permit the French to obtain the initiative. That does not mean that we should criticise and attack the French on every occasion, but we should certainly see that our friends in the Alliance, particularly the countries in the Common Market, fully understand and appreciate that it is essential that NATO continues, as it is to-day, an Atlantic Alliance.

The failure of the Common Market talks has been a great blow, but, as has been said in your Lordships' House and in the House of Commons, it is not the end. European unity is still possible if the countries of Europe are prepared to develop their trade not on any narrow front. We can play a big part in this, and I hope that we shall do so. What really concerns me is this talk about a third force. It has been said in your Lordships' House that a third force—that is, France, and maybe other countries who may wish to join her—is not practicable. It has been said that it is a dream. I think that we should be very foolish if we took that attitude. General de Gaulle may have made mistakes; but he is a General, and he plans. He has shown in the past that, while he has made his mistakes, he still moves forward and has achieved many of his objectives. His objective is clear, and it is possible that he will have already made his dispositions towards it.

I am particularly concerned about rumours I have heard from Europe about the Franco-German Treaty. This is a Treaty of friendship and this is something that we all welcome, because when France and Germany are friendly that reduces at least one possibility of a future European war. But there has been some suggestion that there is a special codicil to this Treaty, in which France and Germany have agreed to co-operate in the development of a nuclear weapon. If this is the case, while I would not say that Germany has broken her Treaty, I would ask the Government whether it would be possible for Germany to assist in producing vehicles for carrying warheads without breaking her Treaty. They could do so as the agent of France. If these rumours are going about, adding to all the other rumours that are causing serious disquiet, among not only ordinary people but the Government, and if there is no truth in them, then I hope that the French and German Governments will come out very firmly and say that there is no such agreement. If they did so, they would set a great many fears at rest.

My last point is in relation to Resolution No. 6 of the Economic Committee. One of the great difficulties in the future will be how countries like the United States or this country will be able to maintain their military contributions to Europe. We spend £70 million a year in foreign exchange on maintaining our present forces. In the long term, this will increase. This is a burden that we find very difficult to bear, and I hope that the countries of NATO will be able to find some way of alleviating the heavy burden placed on the United States and on this country. Resolution No. 6 of the Parliamentary Conference is to that effect. I should like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, whether he has any information as to the arms purchases made by the German Government during 1962. If my memory serves me correctly, they undertook to buy £50 million to £60 million worth of weapons in this country to assist us in our foreign exchange. My last information was that orders for only a marginal sum had been placed.

I think that NATO would be well advised to set up a banking account into which NATO countries should on an annual basis contribute their currency to an amount to cover the foreign exchange costs of the countries who may be involved in it, and from that sum a NATO purchasing committee should be able to place contracts in the countries concerned where there is money available to help meet the costs. At the present moment, this method of trying to persuade one country to buy your artillery or your aircraft in order to meet your costs only raises frustration and difficulty, and it will continue. It is no good. Certainly it will not help a policy which I think NATO must adopt as soon as possible, and that is a greater standardisation of weapons. If NATO is to buy weapons merely to cover some country's foreign exchange, it is difficult to see that the right weapon is bought or that it is bought in sufficient quantities.

As to the future of NATO, so far as this country is concerned, there is the short-term aim; that is, to work with our NATO Allies to show to them that we are loyal. Perhaps the best way we can do that is to bring our own contribution up to strength as quickly as possible, to show to our NATO colleagues that we will stand by NATO through thick and thin. But in the long term, as the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, said, what really will count is our own economic strength to withstand the strains of this heavy military commitment. If we do not do that, but fall behind, then our contribution to NATO will be bound to suffer; and if we do not stand by NATO militarily, particularly at this time, then NATO will be in a dangerous position. NATO has maintained the peace in Europe, and I am sure will continue to do so, but only so long as there is confidence in the partners of the Alliance to stand together and to be truthful to each other.

5.26 p.m.


My Lords, I wish to speak for a short time this afternoon in support of the Motion by my noble friend Lord Crathorne, which, as many of your Lordships have already said, has arrived at a most opportune time. My noble friend and subsequent speakers have covered the political recommendations of the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference in November last year, but a great deal has happened since then between ourselves and France, and concerning France's relationship with the United States. NATO and the military machine of SHAPE have been the bulwark of the West since 1947, and the present dissension between ourselves and France, and also between Europe and the United States, over our wishing to join the Common Market (a dissension which we hope is temporary) must not be allowed to weak en the NATO Alliance. In fact, as other noble Lords have said, we must now press for extra harmony. And from the practical point of view, it is good to notice how the joint work is proceeding between the aircraft industry in this country and Sud Aviation concerning the development of the supersonic air liner.

In January of last year, at the Atlantic Convention of NATO nations held in Paris, it was recommended that The NATO Parliamentarians' Conference be developed into a Consultative Assembly". This idea has gone forward, and your Lordships have heard about it this afternoon. It is moving along; but, in my opinion, too slowly. Events in Europe have been moving so fast that I think we should now ask Her Majesty's Government to invite the other NATO countries to agree to speed up the proposed subcommittee work with the idea of developing this consultative assembly at the earliest opportunity. I feel that, in order to get this, we should for the moment omit the neutrals and confine it to the NATO countries. Further, your Lordships will have noticed that the Dutch were reported in the Sunday Telegraph of February 3 as suggesting, after the breakdown of the talks in Brussels, that NATO headquarters should be moved to London or to one of the other of the capitals of the Common Market countries. Why should not the NATO Consultative Assembly at some later date, when it is set up, be in London?

Before moving on to another matter, I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to the remarks made by the Supreme Allied Commander Europe concerning the submarine threat, as reported to the Military Committee at the meeting in November. I mention this because I consider the subject important in relation to a matter I am going to mention at the end of my speech. He said: There are about 150 long and medium range submarines operational in the Northern Fleet. Some are nuclear-powered and some are armed with ballistic missiles, others with cruise-type missiles. All these vessels have free access to the high seas and, except for the ballistic missile boats, which, it is believed, would initially be deployed against North America (the Soviets as of now having insufficient ICBMs) all threaten Allied Command Europe. The threat is of two types. First, that posed against the Strike Fleet in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. This is serious and immediate, as it may effect the execution of that part of the nuclear strike plan which depends upon carrier-borne aircraft for delivery. Second, the threat against shipping: apart from certain special targets, such as East-hound laden tankers, the sinking of which may have an immediate effect, attacks on shipping could seriously reduce SACEUR'S long-term capability to wage war. SHAPE believes, therefore, that submarine deployment against Allied carrier forces in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean will have priority. The enemy's numerical capability, however, is such that he could deploy a proportion of his submarines against shipping at the outset, probably against important specific targets. After the nuclear exchange, or if the carriers are sunk, an intensive anti-shipping campaign can be expected. In Recommendation IV of the Military Committee, recommendations were made to deal with that. I have mentioned SACEUR's remarks in relation to the submarine threat in connection with the point I now wish to make concerning the independent nuclear deterrent, about which we have had various of your Lordships' views this afternoon.

I listened very carefully to the speech of the Minister of Defence in another place on January 31, to my noble friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the debate in your Lordships' House on February 6, and also to my noble friend to-day. There is one question which, to my mind, has not been answered; and that is, why Her Majesty's Government have agreed to equip us with Polaris submarines in place of other weapons which are now in use and which can be further developed, and also why these weapons may be chosen for the "mixed-manned" fleet proposed for NATO. I think that most of your Lordships are agreed that Britain needs her own independent nuclear deterrent. We are all aware that Skybolt did not work properly, and that Polaris does, and exists—although I understand that the models being discussed for NATO are still on the drawing board.

My Lords, what is wrong with our existing V-bomber force equipped with Blue Steel, both of which, I am firmly advised, can be considerably improved? Why are we about to embark upon a decision in favour of these expensive under-water monsters, of which we shall have only about five under our control? I understand that they must be detectable and, this being so, they must be appallingly vulnerable. We have our independent nuclear deterrent which we are prepared to make available to NATO. This is a most important British contribution, and should prove to the Alliance that we are prepared to be good Europeans. When, and if, our Polaris submarines are built, it would surely not be difficult for their movements to be detected, particularly in relation to the remarks SACEUR has made, which I have quoted, about the Russian submarine fleet. Is this not a "Maginot line" thinking, of building a fortress with a super-gun, and imagining it to be completely indestructible? With our bomber force equipped with the right weapons, and the development of our bomber force, and with ground-to-air, air-to-air or air-to-ground weapons, we are maintaining two proven essential military principles—namely, those of mobility and flexibility. Our bombers can be operated at short notice from bases throughout the world, and could provide the concentration of effort necessary from widely separated bases.

One further matter to which I would refer before I conclude, is an article which appeared in the Sunday Telegraph of last Sunday, under the heading "New Look at Polaris" concerning studies now going on relevant to the NATO mixed-manned Polaris fleet. It stated that the Americans have still not made up their minds whether they favour surface vessels or submarines—the surface vessels being cheaper and quicker to make. It was further stated that, however manned, and whether surface or below, these vessels would each have an American marine detachment on board holding the key to the firing mechanism. I trust that Her Majesty's Government will be able to give us a clear statement on why the Polaris submarine is about to be accepted as our independent deterrent against all corners. If Her Majesty's Government cannot make that statement to-day, perhaps they could make it in the Defence debate which we shall be having shortly.

5.36 p.m.


My Lords, my chief reason for saying a few words in this important debate is that, as some of your Lordships may perhaps be aware, I am a Governor and a member of the Policy Committee of the Atlantic Institute in Paris—as we all know, the brain child of Lord Crathorne's NATO Parliamentarians. This body is now beginning to find its feet and is embarking on a series of long-term studies, many of which should be of real value to the Governments concerned, and perhaps even to the NATO Parliamentarians. But it is a fact—and here I am revealing no secret, I think—that the chief study which is now proceeding, that is to say, a study of the long-term organisation of what is vaguely called our Atlantic world (a study incidentally now presided over by Lord Franks who has just become a Governor of the Institute), is based on the assumption that the United Kingdom would fairly shortly become part and parcel of the European Economic Community.

The idea of a partnership between the United States (in association, of course, with Canada) has up to now, as we all know, been the general vision of the future as seen from the Institute's headquarters on the Seine. Much thought has been given to the possibility of working out this partnership in concrete terms through such existing instruments as the O.E.C.D. in Paris or otherwise. Now, as it seems to me, all this will have to be changed, and if the objective of increasing unity in our Western world is to be achieved it will clearly, for the time being at any rate, have to be achieved by some other method. Lord Franks, therefore, so he tells me, is now trying to produce other solutions based on the assumption that, even if the United Kingdom cannot for some years actually join Europe, the French Government will nevertheless not oppose, or may even facilitate, the conception of some machine for producing the maximum of economic co-operation between the industrial complexes on both sides of the Atlantic in the interests of the free world as a whole. I can only say that I hope he is not being too optimistic.

But General de Gaulle has himself put it on record—and I think this is what the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, pointed out—that he is opposed to any Atlantic community which would embrace France and, so far as he can help it, all the countries of the Six. He says he is against it. So there is a danger, to say the least, that he favours a tightly-organised European Economic Community, "inward looking" as the saying goes, the whole constituting a sort of Greater France, temporarily, at any rate, within the military alliance known as NATO, but apparently looking towards the day when American and British troops will be withdrawn, the French nuclear deterrent built up, and Greater France thus capable of undertaking its own defence on the basis of a completely independent foreign policy.

That this is the idea can hardly, I think, be denied. If it were not so, then the President would hardly have incurred the odium of actually vetoing our entry into the E.E.C., desired as it was by all the other members of the Six. But if it is persisted in, still more if it is passively accepted by the European Economic Community as a whole, then it clearly makes nonsense of any Atlantic planning whatsoever. Nor is it in any way consistent with the maintenance of the whole Western Alliance. It is true that the French President apparently contemplates, so he says, our ultimate association with, or perhaps our incorporation in, this "Greater France", but that moment will come, it seems, only when the Americans have totally withdrawn from Europe, when we have severed all special political connections with them. ceased to be "outward-looking" and ceased, I suppose, to be the principal partner in the Commonwealth, the dissolution of which, for all practical purposes, would no doubt be a tacit condition of our entry.


My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord would forgive me? We could perhaps replace Algeria.


That is a thought, certainly. All this may seem fantastic to your Lordships and no doubt it is fantastic to a considerable extent. In particular, I do not think we shall ever be put in the extremity in which it is apparently thought that we shall be put one day. But the possibility, to say nothing more, of an "inward-looking" European Economic Community of the Six only, from which the Americans may one day withdraw, is not fantasy—and here I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd: we must look out. It is a horrid possibility, and I do not know why people here generally are not more frightened of it than they appear to be. One thing leads to another and if the reluctant Five have to accept a French veto for our exclusion, I think they may perhaps, after a little while, have to follow French leadership in other directions as well.

What can we do to prevent this sort of development? Of course, we must do everything we can to strengthen NATO, and nothing that I am going to say means that I do not agree with what has been said by the Foreign Secretary and other noble Lords on this particular point. But I feel—this is only a suggestion, but there may be something in it—that we should be well advised to take some political initiative in order to make it clear that the sort of Europe which we should like to join is not only a simple Customs Union but a living community of a new type suited above all to the needs of the twentieth century.

Towering figure though he is, General de Gaulle, as it seems to me, has not really come to grips with our modern age. His vision of a Greater France has no doubt great historical parallels, and if we came in I suppose he might suspect that we were following in the footsteps of Henry IV or even aiming to restore the Angevin Empire. But what we want to think about is not the past but the future, and more particularly to encourage our many friends on the Continent who were so helpful to us during the Brussels negotiations. We want to encourage them to believe that the majority of this nation really want in these days of the hydrogen bomb to form a solid Western Alliance comprising on the one hand America and Canada and on the other hand a genuinely united Western Europe, which is an entirely possible thing.

I think that the recent admirable speech of the Foreign Secretary in Brussels was a great help in this direction, and what I suggest, very tentatively, is something more in this direction of encouraging the Five. Could we not, in other words, give evidence that what we are thinking about is in terms of some European Council of Ministers that could, subject, of course, to the overriding needs of the Alliance, take real decisions, even in the field of foreign affairs and defence? I do not say that in these fields, at any rate for a long time to come, there should be any question of overriding the larger members of a new European Political Community. But suppose we suggested a small and workable Council, say of four permanent members and two non-permanent members, which took decisions again, shall we say, by a majority of five, including the votes of the permanent members; that, I think, would be a very considerable step forward, and I do not think it is anti-democratic or a solution which would be designed to suppress the interests of the smaller Powers. Not at all.

There is even good reason why, if we did that, the nuclear deterrents, such as they are, of the United Kingdom and France should be put at the disposal of such a body as I have described, while also having a rôle to play in the NATO Alliance, under which they would, of course, come in the event of a general war breaking out. I believe that this might be a more practical way of strengthening the Alliance than the so-called multi-national and multilateral force, which I suggest may come up against very real practical difficulties. I know, of course, that all this will be discussed in the debate on Defence and this is not the time to develop this theme.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord just one point? Is this council he is considering a council within NATO, in which the United States would be a member, or is it a council merely for European countries with the United States excluded?


The essential thought is that if we want a community which is also a political community, and the Government have, in fact, said the political community is what they want, then that political community must be something: it cannot be nothing. If it is something, then it must have some political direction. This idea would be the way of getting political direction of such a community in a concrete form, and of taking decisions within the framework of the Alliance. We should all, of course, be members of the NATO Council, too.


Of the Atlantic Alliance.


Yes, of course. Another suggestion which I should like to put forward for consideration is a plan for a political commission to assist the Council, consisting of independent experts both in foreign affairs and in defence, who would advise the Council of Ministers and look at things from a European as opposed to a purely national angle. I cannot myself see why this would not be something designed to further European unity and in no way a danger. There would be no suggestion of the Commission's taking decisions at this stage. It might take the form of a secretariat with a Chairman or President sitting in with the Ministers. He would be, if you like, a European conscience on the assumption that we had formed anything of the kind.

Finally, I think we ought to say that we are in favour of extending the powers of the present nominated European Parliament, which might even one day be directly elected. A number of proposals were put up to this end by the United Kingdom Council of the European Movement in Munich last summer. These are well worth studying, and if the Government could say they were in favour of the method proposed it might encourage our friends on the Continent of Europe. I think the production of some such scheme would encourage our friends and prevent them from falling willingly into the Greater France scheme, which, if achieved, would undoubtedly result in a collapse of the entire Western Alliance. Perhaps there might be discussion of such ideas in the Western European Union. Of course, I do not ask the Government to say to-day whether they think these ideas are good or bad, but only to say that they will take them into consideration.

Some people, not your Lordships, sometimes ask, "What is the point of a Western Alliance nowadays? Is not NATO perhaps rather out of date? Why should Mr. Khrushchev think of invading Western Europe, even if the American troops are withdrawn and no more reliance can be placed for the defence of Western Europe on the American nuclear umbrella?" Mr. Khrushchev may indeed have his difficulties with the Chinese, but it must be remembered that both he and Mao Tse-tung agree on one thing, at any rate, which is that the capitalist or free enterprise system should be buried as soon as possible and that all means are legitimate for that purpose. The only dispute between them is that, whereas Mr. Khrushchev says nothing should be done to undermine free societies which would be likely to result in nuclear war, Mao Tse-tung maintains that if necessary even this risk should be taken. But to think that if American troops were withdrawn Western Europe could successfully depend for its ultimate protection on a few French Mirage aeroplanes, which would be destroyed in the twinkling of an eye before they left the ground, is, to say the least, to harbour an illusion. What would be more likely to happen in practice if American troops were withdrawn would be that in some way neutralist and pro-Communist Governments would gradually take over the seats of power in Western Europe one by one.

What I would maintain, therefore, is that we should never cease to say that in our view the only political set-up by which the West can continue to be defended is the creation of some workable European association, of which we should be a part and which would be firmly embodied in the Western Alliance; to make it clear that, in our view, such an entity would not be an old-fashioned Empire of any kind but a modern democratic and up-to-date community; and not, out of pique or panic, to take any measures which would frustrate the achievement of this great end. I have an odd feeling that we may be getting down to the construction of such a community a good deal sooner than we think.

5.53 p.m.


My Lords, the Motion moved by the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, begins To call attention to the necessity for European unity …". It is upon this part of the Motion that I wish particularly to speak. I do not expect a reply from the Minister speaking later this afternoon for Her Majesty's Government to the suggestions that I shall make, but I do ask that they should be given careful consideration before the meeting next week of the EFTA Council at Geneva. But before I come to these suggestions perhaps I may say a few words on some of the implications which seem to me to arise on the other part of the Motion.

As the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, as well as my noble friend Lord Ogmore, hold important and influential offices in the Council of NATO Parliamentarians, may I, with great respect, ask them to use their influence with their unofficial American colleagues to make haste slowly in trying to use the NATO Treaty—I will not say to impose upon Europe, but to over-persuade Europe to accept an American conceived and directed plan for its future, political as well as defensive. There may have been special urgency which justified or excused the pressure which was exerted by the American Administration in the early days of the NATO Treaty, but the pressure for their pattern then alienated the Swedes and left serious misgivings in the other Scandinavian countries. Recently the apparent lack of American interest in countries which could not conform to the American pattern for defence, such as Switzerland and Austria, has adversely influenced the discussions for wider European unity.

In my view, there are a number of lessons which any American Administration has to learn before it can be of assistance to the Europe of to-day, which is bubbling with ideas about its own future. The first is that Europe is deeply concerned about its organisation for development in what most Europeans believe will be a time of peace in Europe, provided that the problems centred round Germany are not mishandled. Although Europe has to live with its Cubas, we do not share the same atmosphere of overhanging doom, of which one cannot fail to be conscious in the United States as one reads the notices there displayed: "When you hear a steady blast of three to five minutes, leave your room, lock the door and follow the instructions of your wardens" and so on.

Most Europeans do not wish the pattern set for defence to override or hamper their freedom for political experiment. The hope was that while the United States was co-operating in the economic field, through O.E.E.C. (now O.E.C.D.), Europe would be left free to try to find its way back politically to life. Pressure of any kind has always stirred the very individualistic Europeans to resistance, and some of the means which are talked about to encourage acceptance of the American plan for Europe are felt by many Europeans to be undesirable because they could have disturbing effects, and possibly prejudice and endanger the settlement of the most difficult and dangerous of European problems—namely, those which centre on Germany.

The second lesson which I think the Administration in America must learn, if European reaction is not to prejudice future co-operation, is the meaning of "partnership", of which they talk rather freely. I wonder whether Americans should not ask themselves if they are prepared or, indeed, ready for such a step. The third lesson is that Europe (and by Europe I mean a majority of individual citizens in Europe) do not feel, whatever Americans think they ought to feel, such a sense of gratitude or obligation to them as Americans in general consider they deserve. Most Europeans, as the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne said, believe that American concern for Europe has been inspired primarily by the fact that they have since the war regarded their own first line of defence as being in Europe. This is shown to be true in European eyes by American lack of interest in any country or any movement which does not fall into the pattern of this conception.

Further, most thoughtful Europeans on the Continent, up against the cruel facts of the division of Europe, the partition of Europe, look back upon a series of American political decisions since the end of the 1914–18 war from which they feel Europe is suffering. That of recent years much American advice, even if considered clumsy by Europeans, has been prompted by good intentions is accepted in this country, but the judgment of Continental Europe is much more realistic, more caustic and more severe. Until we have achieved greater unity in Europe, I feel that we are likely to confuse this first fundamental necessity (both to Europe and it appears to be also to the United States) if we indulge in too much vague discussion of Atlantic Union, if this means extending it beyond common defence into the general field of politics. With great respect, in this matter I agree entirely with what the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said. With these few words of caution, may I now turn to the first part of the Motion?

Frankly, I am amazed by much that has been said and written in this country since the break-up in Brussels. Take, for instance, the statement from a letter to which prominence was given recently in the Financial Times. This letter said this: The united Europe policy for which we have been fighting has the backing of hundreds of millions of people on the Continent, who see in it the great hope of ensuring the preservation of peace and democratic freedom in Europe. If true, this would be plain and simple enough to fit in with the American plan, including political union. The truth is, of course, that there are in Europe a number of groups with different ideas on European unity, some of which would welcome our co-operation and some of which are strongly opposed to our entering into any Community, because they think we would not accept the principles or the rules upon which they wish to build it. President de Gaulle a few months ago dropped his particular Treaty of Political Union, which required unanimous decisions, because of opposition, much of it from those who did not think this treaty went far enough in the direction of European union.

I am sorry for the check at Brussels, but I believe that the shock may turn out to have been quite salutary, provided we refrain from embittering future relations between this country and any member of the European Economic Community. We must not mistake the personal sympathy expressed by many on the Continent over the abruptness of the break-up for a conviction that we should be easy partners to live with in a European Community. If I may be forgiven for interposing a personal note, I should like here to pay tribute to the great kindness shown to me when I was taken to hospital in Strasbourg during the recent Assembly meeting. May I take this opportunity of thanking all those there who went out of their way to show their personal interest and sympathy, including the Prefect and Strasbourg's distinguished Mayor, as well as the hospital authorities. I do not forget the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, who led the British delegation and who was also extremely kind.

My Lords, the analysis which I have tried to make of the situation as I see it, was necessary as the background for the suggestion I now wish to press with all the energy I can muster. It is that Her Majesty's Government should immediately propose to our EFTA partners an extension of the EFTA Treaty, to provide a common "European" citizenship and the immediate setting up of an Assembly parallel with the European Parliament of the Economic Community. Personally, I should prefer this to meet in Geneva, but I see no reason why the existing European civil servants established in Strasbourg and Paris should not also serve this Assembly. It should report to the Council of Europe, as does the European Parliament. The Council of Europe would continue to search for a basis of wider unity in Europe, and I am sure would, in time, succeed in bringing about a merger of this EFTA Assembly with the European Parliament. Naturally, I should like the noble Lord who is to speak later for Her Majesty's Government to be able to say that this suggestion will not only be carefully considered, but will be placed on the agenda for next week's EFTA Council meeting in Geneva. I have reason to believe it would receive support from at least some of our partners in that organisation.

We need now, I think, to give a great deal more thought to the fundamental issues, political as well as economic, involved in the emerging Europe. If I may say so without causing offence, I should like to compliment the Lord Privy Seal not only on the part he played in the negotiations in Brussels, but because he seems to me to have got through to the core—that is, to the "institutional conception", of the Treaty of Rome. He even projected the institutional pattern on to the political screen rather more clearly than the authors of the Treaty of Rome dared to do before the idea had been tried out on the economic level. This, in my view, is immensely important for the future, particularly if Her Majesty's Government consciously made a decision to commit themselves to an institutional structure upon which to build the political unity of Europe. I should much like to know whether Her Majesty's Government were keeping up with the Lord Privy Seal, He was certainly going beyond what the present French Government are willing to do, in spite of its protestations of faith in the Treaty of Rome.

It seems to me that what was implied during the discussions in Brussels by the Lord Privy Seal opens the way for the setting up of institutional machinery as a structural basis for politically unified decisions, at least in EFTA. If we succeed in getting results there, we shall then have shown the way, by our example, to greater political unity in Europe. No doubt for good reasons, while we were negotiating with the Community we felt that we should hold our hands in EFTA. I think it was right to negotiate with the Community, as the Treaty of Rome declared itself to be an open Treaty; but there was always the danger that the quite different national agricultural interests of France and Germany, as compared with our own, would prove too explosive for an agreement in present circumstances. We should not lose sight of the fact that, whereas in Britain only 4 per cent. of the labour force is engaged in agriculture, in France it is no less than 20 per cent., a fact which must influence any French Government.

I am glad that Her Majesty's Government are already giving thought to the agricultural problem that faces us in this country. The answer to the particular riddle of European agriculture as a whole probably lies in a longish transitional period on both sides of the Channel prior to the achievement of a common policy. But for the moment the question of negotiations with the Economic Community is shelved and our hands are free. I believe that we should now make something really alive with our EFTA partners as a base, individualist, European, moving about freely among each other, without passports, without customs, without restrictions between ourselves, exploring the world, giving out ideas and picking up ideas everywhere. Now we must create and build; and if we do it well we shall, by keeping the door always open, attract support from all who desire wider unity in Europe, although for the moment some may seem a little unsure of the path.

6.10 p.m.


My Lords, as one who attended the last meeting of NATO Parliamentarians in Paris, I should like to follow other noble Lords in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, for his admirable leadership of the Parliamentary team which went out from this Parliament, and also in congratulating him on his election as President of the Conference of NATO Parliamentarians. I think it is an honour to this country that the Parliamentarians of fifteen NATO countries decided to elect an Englishman; I think it is also an honour to this House that the Englishman they chose happens to be one of our colleagues.

My Lords, I agree with the most reverend Primate that this Motion is peculiarly opportune and well-timed, even though the circumstances may not have been foreseen at the time it was put down on the Paper, because it follows so soon after the French veto at Brussels against our entry into the European Economic Community. For it is now clear, as many noble Lords have reiterated, that the motive of French policy is to create a Europe in which neither Britain nor America plays any very important part. This attitude of France is, I believe, the most serious threat to NATO since its inception in 1949. The noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, emphasised this when he said that it challenged the very conception of NATO as an alliance spanning the Atlantic between North America and Western Europe. This basic thought was also expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Boothby.

French policy not only weakens the military strength of NATO by depriving it of French support for the NATO forces in Europe and for a future multi-national or multilateral nuclear deterrent. Far more serious is that it discloses the determination of France to break up the Alliance by excluding the American forces and their bases from the Continent. The General is pursuing a will-o'-the-wisp third force in Europe, as was pointed out by the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary in our last Foreign Affairs debate, to hold the balance between Russia and the United States.

The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, painted a grim and realistic picture of what the General's Europe would be like, but, of course, this is a personal policy. I am quite certain that it is not supported by a very large number of eminent Frenchmen, and, as was well said in a Sunday newspaper, it could be successful only if the General became both omnipotent and immortal. If this policy is bound to fail, as I am sure it will in the long run, in the meantime it could do a lot of damage to the Alliance. Our European partners have certainly shown no sign of wishing to exchange President Kennedy for President de Gaulle. The real danger (I do not think this point has been made before in the debate, so whether it is right or wrong it makes it possible for me to introduce something new) to the unity of the Alliance is not that France will divide us from Europe or the Six from the rest of Europe, but will divide Europe from the United States.

It is in regard to the impact on opinion in the United States where the point of danger arises. There is already an influential group of senators in Washington who have suggested that American policy should be altered if Western Europe moves in a Gaullist direction. They would like the Administration to consider the desirability of withdrawing American forces from Europe. In support of this view they point out—with unquestionable accuracy, I think—that most of the European countries are failing to contribute their quota to NATO, while the United States is imperilling its balance of payments by keeping its agreed quota of 400,000 men on the Continent of Europe. The American forces alone have a standard of equipment and training that fits them for immediate combat, and this is being paid for by the American taxpayers. To these considerations—and this is a further consideration which has not been mentioned by the senators, but which must be in the minds of many Americans—should be added the fact that the time can now be foreseen when I.C.B.M's and Polaris missiles will make European bases unnecessary for the strategic requirements of the United States.

However, my Lords, in spite of these isolationist pressures which are already beginning to appear, there is no sign at all of isolationism in the policy of the United States Government. Indeed, the agreement at Nassau for the assignment of three Polaris submarines to NATO, which I believe will be operational very shortly, shows that the Administration is involving itself to an even greater degree in the defence of Western Europe. The pressures to which I have alluded are bound to increase unless we play our full part in the Alliance. The defection of France has made it more important than ever before that this country should not go on d ragging its feet about the British contribution to NATO. The best answer to this incipient American isolationism is to show America that we have the strength and the determination to carry out all our military obligations in Europe. And the best answer to Gaullism is to show our European partners that we are worth more to them as an ally than France. In military terms I believe that this means two things. First, the strengthening of the conventional forces we have assigned to Supreme Allied Command in Europe; and, secondly, active participation and cooperation in the preparatory steps now being taken for the formation of a NATO nuclear deterrent, national and multinational.

To start with the second proposition first, personally I welcome the Government's decision to assign our V-bomber force to NATO, and to do the same thing with our Polaris submarines when we get them. So long as we have a national nuclear deterrent (and this is not the occasion to enter into the merits of the case, which no doubt will be discussed during our forthcoming Defence debate) it should certainly be available for the strategic purposes of the Alliance. I believe that it is the Government's intention—indeed the Foreign Secretary has said so—to integrate our national deterrent with this multi-national nuclear force when NATO comes into the possession of it. I was going to ask the Government some questions about this, but most of them have been answered by the Foreign Secretary and I have no doubt that the noble Lord who winds up will have more to say on this subject. So perhaps I may be allowed to curtail my remarks by leaving this matter to the noble Lord who follows me.

I do not think anyone imagines that this addition to NATO'S nuclear armoury will free NATO from dependence on the enormous capacity of the United States, and it would be a great mistake to over-estimate its military value. In fact, I have heard many people say that its main value will be psychological and political rather than military, although that clearly is a matter of debate. But, in any event, this nuclear deterrent will give to NATO countries that cannot afford the luxury of a private deterrent (that is, the great majority of them) a sense of sharing in the nuclear power of the West. It may even prevent some countries, such as West Germany and, possibly, at a later date, Italy, from trying to acquire their own nuclear weapons. Everybody wants to stop the spread of these weapons, and the fewer the number of countries which have them the better chance there should be of an agreement to limit these weapons to their present possessors.

But there are two dangers, it seems to me, that must be avoided if the NATO deterrent is to be worth having at all. The first is cost. If the cost to European countries is so great that it means a large addition to their defence budgets—and I wonder very much which of them will be able to increase their defence budgets—and if the cost is so considerable that it results in a further cutting down of their already inadequate contribution to NATO'S conventional forces, then I think the value of the deterrent is very questionable indeed. The other consideration is this. If NATO has a deterrent, as the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary pointed out, it must be credible. It will not be credible to anyone if there are fifteen fingers on the trigger. Whether or not the word of command will continue to rest, as it does at the present time, with the President of the United States, there must be agreement about a system of unified control. In other words, control cannot be left to a committee, not even if it is a committee of Prime Ministers. There must be one man to give the order to fire.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Earl for a moment? He would make a distinction, I take it, between control and policy?


Certainly. I make that distinction between control and policy; and, as I see it, the great advantage of the proposed multi-national deterrent is that it will give the European partners in NATO a much greater say in policy. But I think that these two factors of cost and control have to be very carefully thought out and very clearly thought about by both us and our Allies if we are to be quite certain that the advantages of the multi national nuclear deterrent to NATO are going to be greater than its disadvantages.

I cannot help regretting myself that all this publicity and talk about increasing the nuclear strength of NATO has been diverting attention from what is in fact its Achilles heel—the weakness of its conventional forces; and I am very glad that my noble friend Lord Shepherd (I think he was the first speaker in the debate to do so) laid his finger on that exceedingly important point. The military weakness of NATO is not lack of nuclear power, because the United States has plenty of that; it is lack of equipment and trained men for the land, sea and air forces in Europe on which we are relying to prevent a nuclear war from breaking out. We should, I am sure, be giving a higher priority to fortifying their strength and efficiency than to organising a nuclear deterrent. The risk of a nuclear war in Europe cannot be lessened so long as we can continue to depend, as we do now, on the use of tactical nuclear weapons, with inevitable escalation. We shall be obliged to use nuclear explosives until our conventional forces are strong enough to hold a conventional attacking force—and that is not the position at the moment. My Lords, the only country whose divisions in Europe are fully manned and equipped for limited warfare is the United States. The rest of us are lagging far behind, and the total ground forces under SACEUR, as my noble friend Lord Shepherd pointed out, are nowhere near the safety minimum of 30 divisions. I believe the target is 36 divisions by the end of the current year.

I think we are suffering a little—it struck me during the debate—from the fault of national complacency about what we are doing in NATO. National complacency, like self-complacency, is very difficult to recognise by those persons who have it, and it seems to me that we in this country are much to blame for not setting a better example to our European partners, in our failure to bring B.A.O.R. up to the American standard of efficiency. B.A.O.R. is short of almost everything—personnel, artillery, transport and communications. To take the shortage of personnel, I cannot imagine why the Government suppose you can make a brigade ready for battle by flying out men from the strategic reserve in this country after fighting has begun somewhere in Eastern Europe. By the time these men have flown out, by the time they have joined their units, and by the time they are trained in their new units, the Russians will be on the Rhine. It will be much more expensive to keep more men and more supplies in Germany, and this will add a heavy drain on our balance of payments; but without them the British Army of the Rhine cannot be effective.

I know that the Government are in a dilemma, although it is a dilemma of their own making. The decision to buy Polaris will add enormously to defence expenditure over the next ten years, and this additional expenditure will, of course, be in a hard currency. To find the extra money, they will have to increase taxation or to spend more on defence at the expense of the social services, or to reduce their defence expenditure overseas—and here is the risk—including a cut in our forces in Western Europe. That would be one way of doing it, and there is a risk it might be done in that way. But if the Government were to choose the latter alternative, I should say now that we should regard it as a betrayal of the Alliance, and would resist it to the utmost of our ability.

No doubt we could make savings—and that is always what the Government look to first; it is the easiest way of doing these things—in our current defence expenditure overseas. One of the best ways of doing this would be to get the NATO countries to standardise the equipment of their armed forces (and I am glad my noble friend Lord Shepherd made this point, too), because not only would it be a saving to us but it would greatly increase the efficiency of the NATO forces. But no amount of economising, of cutting clown necessary expenditure, will cover the extra cost of having both a private Polaris and a streamlined combat-ready British Army in Western Europe, and what I am afraid of is that the financial commitments of the Government will make it more and more difficult for us to pay our way in the Alliance.

Now we all agree—and this agreement is shared by all Parties and, I think, by all noble Lords present this afternoon—that NATO is the most important of our Alliances. The security of our own island is inseparable from the security of Western Europe, and Western Europe depends, whatever the General may say, on the support of the United States. What we are asking the Government to do is to show by their deeds, and not just by their words, with which we are in full agreement, that they are prepared to pay the price required for us in this country to carry our fair share of the NATO military burden.

6.29 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to join the chorus of thanks to my noble friend Lord Crathorne for giving us the opportunity once again of having our annual debate on NATO. It is always an occasion which produces thoughtful and constructive speeches, and this occasion has been no exception. I may say that I myself found the speeches very enjoyable, which is an agreeable thing for somebody who has to listen to all of them and to wind up at the end.

I sometimes think that in this country we fall into two opposing attitudes about NATO. Some, people are very much inclined to take NATO for granted, and assume that without any effort or thought on our part the Organisation will run smoothly and perform its proper function. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, drew attention to that aspect of it in his speech earlier on this evening. Or else—and I am glad to say that this has not been the theme of any of the speeches in the House this afternoon—others bemoan the disarray into which the Western Alliance has fallen. I think it is true to say that a very large proportion of those taking part in this debate have, at one time or another, been NATO Parliamentarians, and they certainly do not fall into either of those two categories. They are greatly to be thanked for the hard work which they have put into NATO, without reward and at much personal inconvenience.

My Lords, I noted what my noble friend Lord Crathorne, and also the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, and others, said about the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference. I would agree with them about its value in stimulating discussion and in the interchange of ideas. I agree, too, with what the most reverend Primate said in his speech: that there must be increased understanding generally among NATO countries as well as understanding about defence. We must also look to that, and I will certainly bring to the attention of the right quarters the suggestion he made about using university places to promote better understanding. I hope, however, he will forgive me if in my speech I stick largely to matters of defence.

My Lords, looking back over the past thirteen years, the achievements of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation have been quite outstanding. It is a very ordinary thing for Alliances in time of war to be successful; there is then both a definite and a limited objective to be gained, and the spur to co-operation is the prospect of defeat if the Alliance fails. But there are very few examples of continuing and successful military Alliances in peace time. Your Lordships will remember that NATO was born in that peculiar twilight era when the war was over but a new and perhaps even more formidable threat to our way of life had emerged. Yet it was a threat and not an actuality; there was no active war to cement the fifteen nations together. One can discern, looking back over these years, how at times, and particularly when the cold war had melted a little, differences of opinion developed within the Alliance. Yet, my Lords, the astonishing thing is that over this long period of time the Alliance has not only held together but has greatly strengthened in military power and deterrent potential. And, of course, it has been successful in its main object of preventing the domination of Europe by the Communists and deterring war.

When NATO is taken for granted, or there is despondency about the disunity in the Alliance, we must remember that it takes an act of will and a sense of mission and purpose to hold fifteen different and diverse countries together. I think that all fifteen of us have been outstandingly successful in doing so. A very important witness who can confirm what I have said is General Norstad, who drew a very vivid picture of the transformation that NATO had brought about in the international scene in the time he had been there. I think what he said is worth quoting: I came upon the NATO scene in Europe not long ago—twelve years in fact—at the time when it seemed that fear was breeding apathy and inertia. The question in 1951 was not whether war would come, but when. What month of that year would the Red Army move? Problems continue to loom large and sometimes ominously on our horizon but one thing is certainly clear; behind the shield which our strength and our determination have proved, men have shaken off their burden of fear. Our force, looked at in the political and military context of to-day is a significant one; it is a force to be reckoned with on the land, on the sea, and in the air. My Lords, I think I might say here that the success of NATO has been due in no small measure to the succession of Supreme Commanders of the Alliance, and I pay my tribute to General Norstad and his predecessors; and I am sure it will prove to be true of General Lemnitzer. Nevertheless, there are, of course, as the Foreign Secretary and others have mentioned in their speeches, great issues which remain to be decided and to be threshed out: nuclear weapons and their control; and, not least, perhaps, the problem of France, which the noble Lords, Lord Boothby and Lord Gladwyn, have drawn to the attention of your Lordships. But the situation which faces NATO today is quite different from that of 1949. In those days, as General Norstad said, the greatest threat to Europe lay in the Red Army, not supported at that time by any nuclear capability. Rockets were then in their infancy. The medium-range ballistic missiles—let alone the inter-continental ballistic missiles—were years in the future. The American monopoly of the atomic bomb was the decisive factor in preventing world war. All that has changed. Both the Americans and the Russians have the nuclear capability of inflicting crippling damage upon each other. Nuclear weapons have evolved from the large, cumbersome, free-falling atomic bomb to tactical nuclear artillery, short-range rockets, nuclear depth charges, rockets with a range of 8,000 miles. And your Lordships will remember Mr. Khrushchev's speech in East Berlin the other day when he spoke of the development of a nuclear device too powerful to use in Europe.

So, my Lords, it follows that NATO, as a living institution for the defence of the West, has to adapt itself both to Russian capabilities and to Russian intentions. It has to change its techniques on defence and its weapon development. It is on the ability to adapt itself in a changing environment that the future of the Alliance depends. I would venture to suggest that it is debates of this kind, full of ideas, constructive ideas, and constructive criticism that give the organisation its spur to keep up to date.

But, as has been mentioned by several speakers this afternoon, there has been one very significant advance in NATO thinking in the last two or three months. Hitherto, the military plan for the defence of Europe by the forces of NATO has been complemented by the independent nuclear power of the United States and Great Britain. There has been some consultation about targeting with SACEUR, but the other NATO countries have had no say in the use or otherwise of long-range nuclear forces. The Agreement at Nassau sets out to change this. It sets out for the first time to give NATO a strategic, nuclear force of its own; and when this has been organised, countries on the mainland of Europe will share as owners in a nuclear force and will have a say in its use. I am sure that this is absolutely right, although there are of course difficulties about political control, and there are difficulties about the next stage and about multi-national manning. These things have to be settled in NATO itself. But I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, when he says that this problem is soluble and must be solved.

I believe that the decision of Her Majesty's Government to assign to NATO the V-bomber force, and subsequently our Polaris submarines, is a great step forward in the evolution of NATO and a most imaginative gesture. As your Lordships know, it is a decision which has been very widely welcomed throughout the whole of the Organisation, although I have seen some criticism in this country. For example, there was recently in the Press an article speculating on why we were assigning the V-bombers to NATO and commenting on the increased cost of this. The reason—and it is a perfectly straightforward one—for assigning the whole of the V-bomber force to NATO is simply that if you are going to go to war, or make plans to deter war, you do so with all the forces at your disposal. We wish to increase the strength of the Alliance as much as possible in the face of the Russian threat, but without prejudicing in any way our own national interests. Because Her Majesty's Government have the absolute right to retain these bombers for our own use, and we have the ability and the intention so to do.


My Lords, may I ask whether, until the V-bombers are brought into NATO, integrated with Strategic Air Command and so targeted, it is anticipated that they will be retargeted, or will they remain much as they are at present, but under NATO command?


Of course, my Lords, this is a matter for discussion. As the noble Lord will appreciate, this is in the very early stages. But certainly SACEUR will have to be consulted about the targeting for V-bombers, and not only "SAC", as it used to be in the days before they were assigned to NATO. We shall also remain able to deploy V-bombers in support of our obligations and commitments outside Europe. There is no question whatever of relinquishing our independent right to use our deterrent. There will be no increase whatever in cost, because the bombers will remain stationed in the United Kingdom on our existing airfields, under British command and using British logistic support.

I must say I find the criticism of the decision which has been voiced in some quarters in this country rather surprising, since the more usual complaint is that we are not contributing enough.

This brings me to the question of the British Army of the Rhine, which was raised by the noble Earl. Lord Listowel. As your Lordships know, we are, under the Brussels Treaty, expected to maintain B.A.O.R. at a strength of 55,000 men. As I have previously explained to the House on a number of occasions, during the turnover from National Service to all-Regular forces, we are for a period unable to meet this commitment in full, although there are at the moment some 53,000 men in Germany. The recruiting figures during the past year or so have greatly improved—much to the surprise, I think, of a number of your Lordships who, a year or two ago, were in the habit of making rather gloomy speeches about the number of men it would be possible to attract into the Regular Army. This improved recruiting will enable us to bring B.A.O.R. up to its Treaty strength much sooner than we had thought possible, and it is our intention to work up to the figure of 55,000 men by about the middle of next year. In an emergency we can bring B.A.O.R. up to war strength in a matter of a few days.

There has also been some criticism of the equipment of B.A.O.R., and the noble Earl himself voiced some criticism. I should like to emphasise, although I do not want to go into this in great detail because I think it more suitable for another occasion, that there is a substantial re-equipment programme in being. This includes a new tank, Army personnel carrier, high mobility carrier and the surface-to-air guided weapon Thunderbird II. I can assure your Lordships that as a result of this programme, B A.O.R. will be a very well-equipped force, by any standards. I think it right, too, to say, as did the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, that the obligation to keep 55,000 men in the Army on the Continent of Europe as well as a substantial Air Force, places a very onerous burden upon this country, a burden which we have loyally borne over these last years. Not only is it a completely new departure for this country to keep in being these Continental forces, but it has cost us over the foreign exchanges £70 million a year at a time when our economic position has been difficult and our obligations round the rest of the world have not greatly diminished.

For the Americans and ourselves are the only members of the Alliance with defence commitments which are worldwide. We alone are members of the three large regional pacts—NATO, CENTO and SEATO.

We have as an imperial inheritance the vital bases at Singapore and Aden. We have a particular responsibility for the maintenance of peace in the Persian Gulf and in Arabia. We have defence commitments in Malaya, and defence arrangements with Australia and New Zealand. As trade grows between Europe and the rest of the world, so does the importance of our sea communications grow, and the Royal Navy, together with our Allies, maintains a large maritime presence, ensuring that peace and the rule of law at sea are preserved. To do this we keep a substantial presence around the world, and I believe that the NATO countries are coming more and more to realise that this presence contributes in a vital way to the containment of Communism.

The noble Lord, Lord Boothby, said, if not in these words then by implication, that it is not possible nowadays to isolate the world in watertight compartments. Instant communications, supersonic aircraft, nuclear weapons—all these have made the world too small a place for parochialism, in defence and foreign affairs, as well as in other matters. The containment of Communism is the business of the Western Alliance as a whole. A Communist victory, a Communist step forward in the Far East, is as much a danger to the NATO countries as it is to those closer geographically. In containing Communism round the world, we have played our full part. Since the Second World War British forces have been involved in over 40 operations, ranging from small skirmishes to major operations such as the Korean War or the long-drawn-out security operation in Malaya. No one can say with certainty where the next area of trouble will be. The only certainty is that it will be somewhere: and in the Government's view the world-wide role is just as essential a part of our NATO strategy as the forces we contribute to the Organisation itself; and certainly just as essential a part of the defence of the Free World against the Communist threat. We have therefore to balance our contributions to NATO and our world-wide commitments in deciding the allocation of our Forces.

The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, asked me about the amount of money spent so far by the Federal German Republic under the agreements whereby they undertook to spend some 600 million Deutschmarks a year for two years in this country. I am afraid that I cannot give him the exact figure; but, of course, we are in constant touch with the German authorities on this matter, and I have no reason whatever to suppose there is any likelihood that they will fall down on their obligations.

My noble friend Lord Dundonald expressed some doubts about the choice of Polaris as our independent deterrent. Perhaps it would be more suitable if we went into that question in detail in the Defence debate: but may I just say this now? Submarines have a life of about 20 years. If our first Polaris submarine comes into service in 1968, that submarine will still be in service in 1988, far longer than any V-bomber with a Blue Steel could be expected to be credible. As for vulnerability, I should be the last to say that a break-through in the detection of submarines will not become possible some day, but certainly not now; and there is no doubt that at this moment the Polaris submarine is the most invulnerable second-strike weapon we could possibly possess.

I will most certainly draw the attention of my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade to what the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, said about East-West trade. I do not think that he will expect me to comment on this at the moment, except perhaps to say this: that we have to take into account NATO and COCOM in all these matters, in which the United States play a very large part.


My Lords, if the noble Lord will forgive me for one moment, he does, I am sure, realise that as a result of the breakdown of the Brussels negotiations it is very necessary for us to discover new markets.


Indeed I do, my Lords. I am merely pointing out that there were other considerations as well. But I will certainly pass on what my noble friend has said. I, too, agree with what my noble friend Lord Gladwyn said about the valuable work of the Atlantic Institute. The relationships of the Atlantic countries are changing to-day with very great speed, and these changes raise enormous political and economic problems that will have to be watched. Governments, as the noble Lord knows, are perhaps too often occupied with day-to-day questions to think very far ahead. I think that an independent body like the Institute, which has official support, can look much more freely into the future and suggest more imaginative answers to long-term problems than any other sort of body. It was for this reason that the Government welcomed the founding of the Institute and have given it support over the last two years. We await with interest to hear the results of its initial researches.

I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, would expect me to comment in detail on his proposals, but I will see that they are studied carefully and that he receives an answer in due course.

So, my Lords, let me end as I began. I am not surprised or dismayed by the criticisms that are voiced from time to time about NATO, or its strategy or its equipment. I believe it is necessary that we should discuss these things openly and without reserve. A debate of this kind is recognition that the Alliance is vital to our safety, and the Supreme Allied Commanders in Europe and in the Atlantic should note that this debate is an indication of the interest and importance which we in this country attach to NATO. I repeat, as has so often been said before, that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government in the future, as in the past, wholeheartedly to support the Alliance and to make our fair and proper contribution towards it.

6.51 p.m.


My Lords, I do not feel at this stage that there is anything I can add to our debate other than to say that I think it has been an extremely good debate and to thank noble Lords in every part of the House for their contributions to our deliberations. I should especially like to thank the most reverend Primate for joining in the debate, and, on behalf of the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference, to tell him that, although our discussion to-day was bound to centre around the wide aspects of defence, there is a cultural committee in the Conference, which is very relevant to the exact points he raised. I think this debate has been unique in that everybody who has made a contribution has a special background of experience, which was so beneficial to our consideration of this important subject. Finally, I would say how grateful we are both to the Foreign Secretary and to the First Lord of the Admiralty for finding time to take part in the debate. My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.