HL Deb 17 December 1964 vol 262 cc558-90

4.18 p.m.

BARONESS SUMMERSKILL rose to call attention to the need for progress in Disarmament and consideration of the economic and industrial effects; and to move for Papers. The noble Baroness said: My Lords, at this season of the year, when the spirit of peace pervades the land, I feel it is an appropriate time to discuss disarmament. May I, in the first place, welcome to our debates the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, who will be making his first appearance at the Dispatch Box to-day? I am sure that we all wish him well on his appointment as Minister of State with special responsibility for disarmament.

It seems that throughout history people have struggled in vain to persuade nations to sublimate their warlike tendencies. On the other hand, there have been those who believe that war should be regarded as a cathartic and therefore not wholly evil. To-day, the situation has radically altered. Disarmament is essential, not only as a method of avoiding war, but for securing human survival itself. A significant aspect of modern warfare—and on this occasion, when we have present noble Lords who have served so well in our Forces in the past, I find it rather strange that they should not mention this fact—is that it rejects every code governing its conduct, for it is now waged against helpless, unprotected civilian populations. Indeed, President Johnson said this year that the Soviet Union and the United States of America have already produced enough explosive force to equal 10 tons of T.N.T. for every man, woman and child on the face of the earth. It seems, therefore, that the invention of nuclear weapons has created an entirely new historical situation. It is well-nigh impossible to-day for any nation to wage war to destroy an enemy without itself being destroyed in the process.

While this development is fraught with terrible dangers, it also contains considerable hope, if there is an early enough realisation that war as a political expedient is finished for all time. I think—and I believe that there are many like me—there is a universal desire for total disarmament. Indeed, the official policy of both the United States and the Soviet Union is general and complete disarmament. This policy was supported by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers very recently. As a result, we looked with great expectations to the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee when it began its work in Geneva. Unhappily, now that the Report on this year's work is out, it seems that mutual fears and suspicions have paralysed the will of the participating nations, if one is to judge by their failure to achieve results. This year's discussions ranged over the size of the nuclear deterrent and the increasingly pressing problem of preventing the production of nuclear weapons. So little progress was made that even the year-old Test Ban Treaty was not widened to include underground tests. In fact, even while discussions were going on, the great Powers were making underground tests regularly.

This deadlock is a matter of profound concern to the whole world. The eight neutral, non-aligned countries, impatient of this delay, circulated a memorandum expressing regret at the failure to make progress. Nevertheless, it appears to me, having discussed this with many experts in this field and with many representatives of other countries, that they are satisfied, provided that this exhaustive dialogue between East and West, which presumably they regard in the nature of a safety valve, continues. My Lords, this complacent attitude is fraught with danger; for the most pressing international need is the early conclusion of a non-dissemination agreement or an agreement setting up nuclear-free zones.

The non-aligned countries at the Organisation for African Unity meeting in July called for an agreement by which the non-nuclear Powers would renounce manufacture or acquisition of nuclear weapons. Of course we welcome this attitude, as every peace-loving person must do. But resolutions cannot halt the march of events. While the present non-nuclear Powers disavow their interest, the fact is that the nuclear bomb is fast becoming a status symbol which exercises a fascination for the pocket dictator. Meanwhile, the installation of inter-continental missile sites continues, and according to the American delegate at Geneva this year the United States will have by 1965 750 per cent. more strategic missiles than when the current Disarmament Conference began in 1962.

Can we be complacent over this? It seems to me, and I believe, to many others (for I am not so immodest as to stand here and express in a dogmatic fashion views which have not, I think, full support in many quarters), that the abortive discussions at Geneva would have been averted if they had proceeded along different lines. Surely the creation of a permanent peace-keeping force, together with supra-national, judicial, legislative and executive powers, should precede, or take place simultaneously with, the other discussions. Nations should be made to feel that they are already provided with an adequate umbrella before they are invited to discard their raincoats. And if we read the Report of the Committee very carefully we see that the nervousness, the apprehension, of so many representatives in Geneva arises from their fear of what may happen if they disarm too soon.

Therefore, I suggest that the chronological approach has been wrong. We must provide some kind of supranational power (later it will be called, I hope, World Government), if we are to give these nations complete assurance. The preservation of law and order is the first duty of any national Government. Similarly, it should be the first task of a supra-national authority.

The question is, of course: can we achieve an effective permanent peacekeeping force without a complete revision of the United Nations? I say "permanent" force, because we all know that there have been embryo forces which have been set up for ad hoc reasons; but what I am asking for is a permanent peace-keeping force. What I am asking the House—and I hope that others who will take part in the debate will perhaps address themselves to this point—is whether the United Nations, in its present form, is the institution which can establish this force. While the individual members of the United Nations are imbued, I am sure, with a high moral purpose, its deliberations are conducted in an atmosphere of international mistrust. It seems to me that to permit China, with a population of nearly 500 million to be "black-balled" by members of the United Nations is a striking indication of a collective impotence. How is it possible for a satisfactory solution of some of our world problems to emerge while this powerful nation is prevented from making a contribution to our international consultations?

As the Minister for Disarmament may be able to tell us more about the proposed multilateral force he will no doubt be able to elaborate on the Prime Minister's speech in the other place yesterday—a speech which I heard, and which I am quite sure the noble Lord knows much more about than I do. Therefore, I wish to make only one brief comment on that aspect of what I hope will be disarmament, or indirect disarmament.

It is, of course, in the context of the appalling losses suffered by the Soviet Union at the hands of Germany that she views a possible Nato multilateral force. Attempts to dispel these fears—and they have been made from many quarters—were met by the shrewd Russian comment of Mr. Zorin. It was inconceivable, he said, that Western Germany should have agreed to pay 40 per cent. of the cost of the multilateral force if the trigger-finger was to be American, and if all West Germany would be able to do was to hold its ringer on the safety catch. I believe that that comment should evoke sympathy from all previous victims of German aggression.

Now I come to what will happen, and I am optimistic enough to believe that I shall still be alive when it does happen, when disarmament becomes a reality. Of course, there are formidable vested interests which will unite to oppose disarmament on the grounds that it will be accompanied by economic depression and unemployment. My Lords, beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks is not easy, when one considers that the military forces of the world number 20 million and are served by 30 million more engaged in producing goods and services. Let us envisage what could be done in the world by all those scientists and technicians who now devote their lives to destruction. Our own defence expenditure is £300 million a year, which is equivalent to half of the short-fall in our balance of payments.

We have had experiences of reallocating our services and our manpower. Our experiences after the Second World War provide a useful guide, because we found then that problems similar to those which may be raised by disarmament were no different from those resulting from any major reallocation of resources. It should not be forgotten that the gap in living standards between the developed and the undeveloped countries is widening, with all the ominous consequences. Out defence expenditure is about ten times as big as our overseas aid last year, and a very small part of our savings on disarmament would provide a very big increase, proportionately, in our foreign aid. Moreover, an increase in aid both in money and in technicians, with the general easing of tension, should lead to an expansion of world trade and international investment. Even the most developed countries are finding the cost of scientific research beyond their resources, and cooperation is becoming a practical necessity. I am not blind to the fact that a possible economic disturbance will be the impact of disarmament on raw material producing countries, and the disposal of stockpiles must call for international planning. Disarmament must, of course, cause a great deal of disturbance which will need the careful, planned approach of every country. There are risks of industrial recession, but I believe that by this planning they may be avoided.

My Lords, this is a big subject and I have endeavoured to touch briefly on only certain aspects of it, so that my noble friend the Minister for Disarmament may have plenty of time to enlarge on any points he wants to raise. I wish to say this, finally. We should bear in mind that short-term risks weigh light against the long-term economic advantages of disarmament, and a victory in the field of disarmament is more lasting than a victory in war, and more profitable. I beg to move for Papers.

4.34 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that we are all grateful to the noble Baroness for introducing this subject to us this afternoon, and, more especially, for the way in which she has taken us over the course. I would agree with her straight away that this is an opportune moment for your Lordships' voice, the noble voice of reason, to be heard on this important subject. I think, as the noble Baroness herself said, that this is also an opportune moment because this debate will, in a moment, serve as a launching pad for our new colleague, the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, whom I am very glad to welcome for a short time on the Benches opposite. I shall try not to stand too long between your Lordships and the new, but peaceful, British missile opposite.

I do not propose to follow the noble Baroness down all the avenues along which she has so gracefully taken us. But I should like to say straight away that I agree with a good deal, although not all, of what she has said. I particularly agree with the unpartisan tones in which she has opened this discussion. This is almost too serious a matter for purely Party polemics. It is certainly too serious a matter—and I hope I shall not be accused of making a Party point here—for the sort of treatment which the present Prime Minister gave it earlier this year, when he said that the Tories had never taken disarmament seriously. In any event, I feel it is quite unnecessary for us to create a Party dispute on this matter, since I believe that between the Parties and within the country as a whole, or over a large spread of opinion, there is a fairly wide consensus of opinion on disarmament.

I feel that most people are at one in believing with the present, and, indeed, with the past, Government, if I have the present Government's views on this matter right, that our goal must remain general and complete disarmament, but that such disarmament should not be onesided; that it must be multilateral. I suspect that we all respect the pure Pacifist position, the position which was put so nobly in the 1660 original manifesto of the Society of Friends to Charles 11, in these words: We utterly deny all outward wars and strife, and fighting with outward weapons, for any end, under any pretence whatever; this is our testimony to the whole world. We respect that spirit when we find it, for example, in the unilateralists to-day. Unfortunately, we often find much else besides.

But, my Lords, I repeat that I think most of us in your Lordships' House are multilateralists in this matter. We believe that disarmament must be balanced in all its stages, so as to confer the minimum advantage on one party at the expense of the other as the process goes on, if it goes on; that it must wherever necessary be subject to really adequate verification; and that when completed it must be buttressed by a really adequate enforcing authority. I am sure, therefore, that most of your Lordships agree that that sort of disarmament is a good thing. I am certain that most of us also agree that in the world in which we live this good and desirable end is fiendishly difficult to achieve, and that, until we achieve it, we, in the West as a whole, must keep our guard up and our powder and our alliances dry.

But I think that we are also broadly agreed on one other matter, and that is that we live, all of us, in an exceptionally dangerous world. I believe that the danger can be overstated. I do not myself believe, as the noble Lord, Lord Snow, appears to believe, or appeared to believe, I think, a couple of years ago, in the virtual certainty of atomic war.


My Lords, may I make a point of personal explanation? What I actually said was that if nuclear bombs proliferate, of which at that time I was afraid and, indeed, I am still afraid, then some of them would go off. In fact, I qualified the remark by saying that this did not necessarily mean nuclear war.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for what he has said. In any event, whatever we feel about that, given the hazards of the world to-day, given the need to build into it all the stability and all the confidence which we possibly can, I, for one, accept, and the last Government accepted, the need to do all within our power, failing general and complete disarmament or some real approach towards it, to advance the cause of disarmament and the cause of peace by whatever more partial measures we can possibly get agreement on. It is in that spirit that I should like to make a few comments and offer a few suggestions to the noble Lords on the Front Bench opposite.

The first concerns our machinery for handling these matters within the Government here. The Prime Minister has appointed one of his great and gallant band of Ministers of State to deal exclusively with disarmament. Now whether that is a better scheme than having, as the last Government had, a Minister of State dealing largely, but not exclusively, with disarmament, I do not really know. I think it is a moot point. All I would say is that if the noble Lord is able to make as good a fist of this intractable subject as, for example, the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, was able to in his time, or, for that matter, Mr. Nutting, Mr. Godber or Mr. Peter Thomas, then, so far as I am concerned, he will have done well enough for me. I hope the noble Lord will pass this pretty high test—and I am confident that he will—but, whatever political dividend the Government may possibly have extracted from his much-trumpeted designation, the particular designation he was given, I doubt very much whether this in itself will make a great deal of difference either way.

On structure, I should like to make one particular suggestion. It is now fashionable for the three Ministers of Defence to be given certain "across the board" responsibilities or interest. Without in any way wishing to derogate from the special responsibilities in this field of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, but in order to make quite certain that all the disarmament ends are fully tied together within the Ministry of Defence from their aspect, I should like to throw out at least the suggestion that one of the Ministers of Defence should, so far as that Ministry is concerned, be given" across the board" responsibilities in this field of disarmament and arms control.

I have one other tentative proposal to make as far as structure and organisation is concerned. As many of your Lordships know, a great deal of work on both sides of the Atlantic has been put into the ways and means of monitoring a nuclear test ban. I think that less work has been put into the ways and means of monitoring and verifying a disarmament agreement, or even arms control arrangements. Of course, Sir William Penny's team did some extremely valuable pioneering work on the possible concealment of fissile material. I believe, however, that Mr. Leonard Beaton was pretty close to the mark when he wrote not very long ago: It is time the great preliminary work done in this country on the test ban was put on a broad, strong and professional footing. I believe that the Government should at least consider creating a small research establishment—a little Farnborough, say—probably under the Ministry of Defence but responsive to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, where our expertise in these matters—military, scientific and industrial—could be not only pooled but also developed. I think there is also quite a lot to be said for trying to promote this important research effort on a Commonwealth basis. I noticed what the Prime Minister had to say in another place yesterday about creating a research institute—the awful word "facility" went through my mind—within the Foreign Office. This may, of course, be the answer—I should not in any way wish to dogmatise on that—but I should be very grateful for any explanation of this proposal which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, can give us. So much, my Lords, for the Government structure.

Next, G.C.D.—general and complete disarmament. As I understand it, since the Statement of Principles was agreed between the Soviet Government and the United States Government in September, 1961, the respective positions have been explored in depth and in great detail, both inside and outside the Geneva Conference, to which the noble Baroness referred. It would be idle to suppose (and she did not) that we are near agreement—that agreement which has alluded the world for a great many years, certainly since the days of the late Lord Cecil. Nevertheless, I am quite certain that we must continue to peg away at this matter, with all the determination at our command. We must do so, not only, of course, because of the importance of the prize itself, and of the perils to the world in which we live: but also, more regretfully, if only because we cannot, in my view, permit the Soviet Government the bonus of presenting itself as the only true believer in complete and general disarmament. But, equally, we must peg away, chisel away, at this without abandoning any of the essential safeguards—balance, verification, and ultimately an effective enforcing authority; and needless to say, failing that, the safeguard of the Western nuclear and conventional armoury.

My Lords, I have here one small but, I think, not entirely unimportant suggestion which again I should like to proffer to the noble Lord. I am no expert in this subject, and I may get some of the technicalities wrong; but, as I understand it, the Soviet disarmament plan, the 1962 plan, provides in Stage 1 for the complete abolition of all nuclear armaments; and this, as I understand it, is quite unacceptable to the West. The American plan, for its part, provides in Stage I for a 30 per cent. cut in armaments, both conventional and nuclear. I am inclined to think that this provision for a rigid proportionate cut may have proved an obstacle to possible agreement in this area of negotiation.

The West, of course, has a great preponderance in nuclear missiles and in their delivery systems. The Russians may conceivably feel that a proportionate cut might leave them, in this field, dangerously naked. For their part, both by reason of numbers and, more especially, because of geographical position, the Soviet bloc have a preponderance on the conventional side. There again, a strict and rigid proportionate cut could impair the conventional military equilibrium in Europe. Now any proposal to achieve strict parity, whether conventional or nuclear, in Stage I is clearly not "on", as I understand the position. But I would, very tentatively, suggest that it might be possible to make more progress in reducing the mutual disparities than the present American proposals permit. At least I think the idea is worth examination. So much for general and complete disarmament.

Then, my Lords, as the noble Baroness has said, there are the so-called collateral measures—measures of partial disarmament, of arms control and so on. I felt that the noble Baroness was a little unkind in what she said about the Geneva Conference. Of course 1963 was something of a annus mirabilis in this particular field, with its agreements (not all negotiated directly under the umbrella, but influenced by the Geneva Conference, and endorsed by it) on the partial test ban, on putting space out of bounds for nuclear weapons in orbit, on the Hot Line, on the cut-back in production of fissile material, and so on. I agree that, compared with 1963, 1964 has been a singularly barren year. We can only hope that 1965 may be a better vintage, because these partial measures can, in my view, do a great deal to give more stability to our unstable world and to create the climate in which progress towards the great goal of complete and general disarmament may conceivably be possible.

So I hope that the noble Lord will be able to tell us that the present Government, like the past Government, are determined to make as much progress in this collateral field, with actual and concrete plans, as the Soviet inhibitions about verification, for example, will permit. I hope he may be able to tell us where he feels that progress is most desirable and most likely.

May I, meanwhile, put my personal list to him so far as these measures of partial disarmament are concerned? There is the possible establishment of observation and control posts on both sides of the Curtain in order to provide safeguards against surprise attack. As noble Lords will recall, this was proposed by the Russians themselves three years ago. Could we not now propose, and, in view of their own Memorandum of three years ago, could not the Russians now accept this: to set up at least a working party of the Geneva Conference to study and negotiate this particular matter?

Then there are the important American proposals for a bonfire of obsolescent bombers and, more lately, for a freeze on the number and characteristics of strategic nuclear vehicles. A proposal to burn dead-beat, old bombers may on the face of it appear "old hat", but it could have important consequences in preventing proliferation. The supply of modern and, indeed, not-so-modern equipment—especially equipment that can be used for the conveyance of nuclear bombs—can have a dangerously de-stabilising effect. The supply of Soviet TU16 old bombers to China, for example, would have precisely that de-stabilising effect. As I understand it, these American proposals, both sets of them, have not, as it were, got off the ground as yet. Is there anything that the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, feels can be done to assist their take-off?

Thirdly, my Lords, there is the possibility of a really complete nuclear test ban treaty. I trust that this will be kept right in the forefront of these discussions and given a very high priority by the Government and by the noble Lord. The gap here, as I see it, is really very narrow. I think that when both sides broke on this point the West were prepared to accept a minimum of seven on-site inspections of possible underground tests and the Russians were fluctuating rather fuzzily, between nil and up to two or three. I am convinced myself that some verification by inspection is essential here if only on the wider grounds of mutual confidence. But if I am right in thinking that scientific opinion on this is becoming a little bit more flexible on the other side of the Atlantic, could we not once again here try for some sort of compromise? In any event, I trust the present Government, like the last (and this is becoming rather a refrain on my part) will do all in their power to convert the "try" of the partial test ban into a full goal.

This brings me logically to what is perhaps the most important collateral, if it be collateral, of all: non-dissemination, an agreement to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, to which, in my view, the noble Baroness attached great importance. I had intended to deal with this at some length since, like many others, I have shared the nightmare that I believe haunted the late President Kennedy and which he put in these words only in July of last year: I ask you to stop and think for a moment what it would mean to have nuclear weapons in many hands—in the hands of countries large and small, stable and unstable, responsible and irresponsible, scattered throughout the world. But, my Lords, we had yesterday in another place a very important statement by the Prime Minister which bore closely on this matter. It is being debated this afternoon, again in another place, and we shall be discussing it next week. I should, therefore, at this moment merely like to draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that at the present time, and as I see it, there is no would-be nuclear Power—no non-nuclear Power with immediate nuclear ambition—whose nuclear appetite is totally insatiated. All five have tested, albeit in the Chinese case, I suspect, with a fairly Heath Robinson device. I think this is a unique period in our modern world history and one not without certain opportunities; especially when we reflect that these five are those Powers either possessing or claiming permanent seats in the Security Council. At this moment it seems to me, at least, that the Irish Resolution offers a way forward if it could be embodied in a firm inter-governmental agreement and coupled with effective nondiscriminatory guarantees to all the non-nuclear Powers whether in Europe or elsewhere.

Finally, my Lords, there is peacekeeping, a subject on which the noble Baroness spoke so persuasively. Our ultimate goal here is clear. If we are to have general and complete disarmament the essential condition must be the establishment of a world authority with, under its control, a military force with nuclear teeth—and I do not think that this could possibly be avoided—not subject to any veto and able to enforce, if need be, that disarmament. We have only to state this condition to realise how extraordinarily difficult it will be to achieve it. Meanwhile, if we are to carry, as I believe we must, the French and the Russians in their present mood, we should be wise to confine ourselves to a more modest approach than that which the noble Baroness was urging. We should be wise to think, in my view, at this stage in terms of only a peace-keeping and not an enforcement body—a United Nations "fire brigade", in short.

With this in mind, I trust the noble Lord will be able to. confirm that the Government will back the hopeful initiative which certain other Governments—such as the Canadian, the Dutch and the Scandinavian Governments—are taking in this field; and that we might be prepared to take something of an initiative ourselves. Could we not go just one step further here? Might we not take the initiative in suggesting that the United Nations might now set up, under a chief of staff, a small staff for contingency planning? And might it not be possible to embody under this staff some permanent but essential cadre for communication and signals, for example? This is a modest step. I hope myself that the Government will be able to take it or prevail on some of our friends to take this if it is more desirable for a non-member of the Security Council to take this particular initiative.

My Lords, that is all I have to say on this subject. I have tried to suggest some disarmament avenues which the new Government might explore. In so doing I have No 1llusions that progress here is going to be at all easy. Even with the full-time intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, I am convinced we are not in for an easy ride in this matter. I am sure it will not be easy to achieve that break-through in disarmament which the Government dangled before the electorate not so long ago. But provided that the Government do not, in search of an agreement, attempt to surrender any of the essential safeguards of our position, which if surrendered will make disarmament a hoax and a snare, I trust that they, like their predecessors, will continue to chisel away at this hard and unyielding material; because success in this field, even partial success, could ease the way to a saner and stabler world than that in which we unfortunately live at present.

5.0 p.m.


My Lords, it is with a sense of some humility that I ask your Lordships' indulgence on this occasion. I am deeply aware of the privilege and of the great responsibility that fall to one who is called to address your Lordships' House for the first time, especially when one's first contribution is made from where I now stand. Like many others before me I have been impressed with the unfailing kindness and courtesy of the welcome given by your Lordships to those who arrive here, often with some apprehension, to share in your deliberations. It is a moving and a heartening experience.

I have listened with admiration to the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, whose approach to the problems of disarmament was as thoughtful and as stimulating as might be expected from so distinguished a Member of your Lordships' House. I shall try to deal with most of the points she has raised, although in the matter of permanent peace-keeping forces, I do not propose to go into much detail. This is, at present, more a problem of international policing than of disarmament and arms control, although I am aware, of course, of the importance of an efficient peace-keeping organisation in a disarmed world. I understand that my noble friend Lord Caradon hopes to address your Lordships' House fully on this subject very soon. So, with your Lordships' indulgence, I shall not spend too much time on that aspect of the problem.

I have listened with equal attention to the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, whose graceful speech displayed the perception of one with the deepest experience of international and strategic affairs. He and the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition are among those who have contributed greatly to British influence in the world in recent years, and their views command our fullest respect.

The noble Baroness, Lady Summer-skill, and the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, have raised some urgent and important issues, and your Lordships will wish me without delay to set out some of the thoughts and the plans that will guide Her Majesty's Government in their approach to the great problems of disarmament to which they have referred. Let me begin by the briefest reference to my own appointment. It has been the subject of some misunderstanding, and occasionally of rather ponderous jocularity in some quarters.

It is quite wrong to suggest, as some people have, that I am at the head of a new Ministry, with a new establishment of civil servants and all the ponderous infrastructure of a new organisation. This fallacy was brought home with some force to an old friend of mine from overseas only a few days ago. He appeared in my office in a state of some exhaustion, having failed after a long search of Whitehall to find the Ministry of Disarmament. He was saved from total disintegration by a telephonist at the Foreign Office, who answered his inquiries in the end, so I am informed, with the words, "Yes, we've got him here!"—whether the announcement was made in triumph or despair is not recorded. It is, of course, just as wrong to suggest, as some other people have, that there has been no change, except in name, from the arrangements that were in force under the previous Government.

Let me say at once that I shall seek to make no partisan debate of the problems of disarmament. Indeed, I should be ungracious and unperceptive if I did not pay tribute to the patient and untiring contribution which the delegations from this country have made to international disarmament negotiations under the previous Administration. The aim of disarmament is not the prerogative of any one political Party. But it is important to be clear that for the first time, under the present Government, there is now a Minister of State for Foreign Affairs whose sole responsibility it is to deal with arms control and disarmament: to give his full time, thought and impetus to new initiatives in these matters; to support the efforts of the noble Lord who represents Her Majesty's Government at the United Nations; to lead the experienced and extremely capable British delegation at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva; and to be prepared to travel the world to discuss disarmament with the Governments of our Allies, and, when the occasion arises, with the Governments of other countries as well.

This, as the Prime Minister made plain yesterday in another place, is a measure of the importance that Her Majesty's Government attach to disarmament and arms control; and not only that, but to the need for a new approach to the ideological confrontation that has kept the world in a state of tension and often of naked fear for so many years. We shall make the new approach that is being asked for; but first we must create the machinery to do it. It might be appropriate then at this point to mention some of the ways in which we are trying to mobilise and concentrate the intellectual and other resources available to us. The first concern is the relationship between disarmament and defence. It is not true to say, as some military theorists have said, that disarmament is simply one of a number of strategic options. Disarmament is very much more than that. But it is true to say that no disarmament policy makes sense if its implementation places the safety of this country or its Allies in peril. It is equally true, and just as important, to say that no defence policy which makes disarmament more difficult can ever be acceptable.

From this, it follows that there must be the closest possible and continuous harmony in the formulation of defence and disarmament policies. To an encouraging degree this already exists; but we are strengthening it and developing it, at every point and at every level. There is constant liaison among Ministers and officials of the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence on these problems. I note with interest the noble Earl's sug- gestion for certain changes in responsibilities among the Ministers of the Ministry of Defence. And to help us down the labyrinthine ways of science and technology, we already have the enormous benefit of the advice of Sir Solly Zuckerman, whose deep knowledge of the military uses of nuclear power is equalled only by his unrivalled insight into its appalling dangers.

But it is not only within the official establishment that we intend to mobilise our resources. In the universities, learned societies and institutes of this country there are men of many intellectual disciplines—scientists, economists, mathematicians and historians, who are capable of casting new light on some of the problems that face us. We shall see that their contribution is not wasted. The Government have indeed already put in training two plans to this end. The first is the establishment of regular contact with these outside experts, so as to make available to the Government the views and advice of eminent men and women outside the Government who have devoted much of their time and thought to these matters. I shall thus have ready to hand a panel of advisers, to whom I can refer from time to time—either individually or in groups, or at seminars we shall arrange at various universities to discuss broad issues of disarmament and arms control policy. Those qualified and willing to assist in this way will be invited to do so irrespective of Party.

The second plan, which is already well in hand, is the establishment in the Foreign Office of a Research Unit specifically to deal with disarmament and arms control. This unit, working under my direction, will engage in the sort of deep research which we have already heard mentioned and which is beyond the resources of a small official department preoccupied with the urgent matters of day-to-day policy and under the constant pressure of international negotiations. This Research Unit will be made up partly of officials experienced in disarmament matters and partly of economic and scientific and other experts brought in from outside the Foreign Office. They will work, of course, in the closest cooperation with other Government Departments—especially with the Ministry of Defence—and they will keep in close touch with universities and learned societies, both in this country and abroad. I hope that this move will be welcome to the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, and to your Lordships' House.

If I may make one final reference to the machinery of disarmament policy, it is to the paramount need for continuous consultation with our Allies. This means discussing our plans fully within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and especially among the four Western Allies (the United States, Canada, Italy and the United Kingdom), who are members of the Disarmament Committee. As your Lordships may be aware, I have recently had talks in Washington with the other three members of the Western Four. The discussions were most valuable in defining the lines of approach that offer the best chances of success in the United Nations and at Geneva.

In passing, it may be of interest to report that while in Washington I took the opportunity to make my first official contacts with the American Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and with its Director, my opposite number, Mr. William Foster. I noted that one of the more fanciful Press reports from Washington alleged that I began my conversation with American officials by asking them when they were going to start getting serious about disarmament. In the unlikely event that anyone should get the wrong idea from this rather hilarious picture of how international negotiations are conducted, let me say that I was immensely impressed with all that I saw and heard in Mr. Foster's organisation. Nowhere in the world is such a weight of serious intellectual and scientific effort brought to bear on the problems of disarmament.

But this is not to say that we can leave it all to the United States. We in this country have an important and specific rôle to play: we have our own ideas for initiatives designed to break the stalemate that has (it must be admitted) frozen serious disarmament negotiations for the past year or so. The Americans and cur other Allies have made it clear that they welcome these initiatives—and we shall, of course, put them forward in full consultation with our Allies.

Let me now, my Lords, turn to the problems that we face. I will not take up valuable time in rehearsing the whole history of the confrontation between the Western Alliance, on the one hand, and the Soviet Union and its Allies, on the other. It is enough to say that these two great groups of Powers continue to glare at each other across the centre of Europe. And if the confrontation sometimes seems less precarious and the atmosphere less tense, these occasional relaxations have done little to halt, or even significantly to reduce, the apparently uncontrolled speed of the arms race. Each side now has a great stockpile of nuclear warheads; each side has between 2,000 and 3,000 strategic nuclear delivery vehicles—aircraft and missiles of varying ranges; each has over 3 million men in its ground forces. And the huge resources of money, equipment and skilled manpower locked up in this immense military apparatus are a constant reminder of the way in which they might, in a saner world, be organised for the good of humanity.

Figures are notoriously unreliable, and when they involve a large number of noughts, often totally uninformative. But I think it worth saying that our best estimate of world expenditure on armaments is that it is now running at about £50, 000 million a year—that is, at about 8 or 9 per cent. of the world's total output of goods and services. Most of this is, as I have suggested, involved in the confrontation between Nato and the Warsaw Pact, where the main concentration of weapons takes place. But a disquieting factor is the rapid increase of military spending in the under-developed countries, who can least afford it. The defence budgets of African and Asian countries are growing at an alarming rate—much faster than those in Europe and North Amercia. Unless some measure of international agreement can be reached, this crippling and wasteful spiral is bound to continue.

All this is depressing enough, and on its own might seem to call for drastic measures. But the whole situation has suddenly, within the last few months, been complicated by a new development. I refer, of course, to the explosion of a nuclear device by China—and not, I may say, such a Heath Robinson device as has been suggested. It was not unexpected, but the fact that it has actually happened has brought with it a new and real danger. India is now under the severest political pressure to engage in a nuclear weapons programme in an attempt to redress the balance. I think I should say here that the calm determination of Mr. Shastri's Government not to be stampeded into sterile competition with China in this field deserves the highest praise and the wholehearted support of the rest of the world.

But let there we no mistake, my Lords: this is the most urgent and immediate problem that now faces us. There are many countries that are scientifically and industrially capable of creating a crude nuclear weapon, not in decades, not in years, but in months from now. Once that door is open, it may be impossible ever to close it again. What, then, are we in Britain and the West to do, first to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons, and then to halt and put into reverse an arms race that, quite apart from its appalling dangers, is using up nearly one-tenth of the world's resources?

Let me first deal with the matter of the economic and social implications of disarmament mentioned by the noble Baroness in her opening speech. It has often been suggested that, especially in highly industrialised societies, the process of conversion from a military to a non-military economy would inevitably involve unemployment and recession. This argument hardly stands up to serious examination, even if we assume the Russian timetable for general and complete disarmament in five to six years. As your Lordships have already heard, at the end of the last war we easily surmounted a much greater problem, in two years. Between 1944 and 1946 Government expenditure was cut by 55 per cent., while national expenditure as a whole fell by only 4½ per cent. In the same two years, 7¾ million people were demobilised from defence industries and the Armed Forces.

The problem now is much smaller, and there is a wide variety of demand—from capital development to overseas aid—into which resources released from military programmes could be diverted. The aim in the transition period would, of course, be to ensure that there was no damage to the economy. We should have to increase civil expenditure to replace military budgets. So far as Britain is concerned, it seems to me that it would be open to us to stimulate expenditure in at least three areas that spring to mind at once: private consumption; public investment in health services, roads and education; and, of course, as the noble Earl has said, in aid to developing countries. I think we can turn to the specific problems with good reason to believe that our national economy would be much healthier in a disarmed world.

What then are the possible initiatives to which I have referred? Your Lordships will perhaps have remarked two terms that have been much used in what I have had to say so far—"disarmament" and "arms control". I think it important to appreciate and to maintain the distinction. Measures of arms control—sometimes called, in the jargon of international negotiations, "partial" or "collateral" measures of disarmament—are designed to reduce tension and increase confidence, particularly between the Soviet Union and the Western Alliance. They are the sort of measures that are meant to limit the growth and spread of armaments, especially of nuclear weapons, and to reduce the risks of war by accident, surprise attack or by some sort of miscalculation. It is only by these measures of arms control that we can hope to establish an international climate in which actual measures of disarmament—that is to say, reductions of existing weapons and armed forces—can take place.

The first and, as I have said, the most urgent of these measures (the noble Lady said it with some force in her opening speech, and the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, also referred to it) is an agreement to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons. As the Prime Minister promised yesterday in another place, this will be the very first of our preoccupations in the coming disarmament negotiations. We shall work, together with the United States and our other Allies, to secure a firm agreement binding the nuclear Powers not to transfer to non-nuclear Powers either nuclear weapons or the information needed for their manufacture. Of course we shall ask the non-nuclear Powers to bind themselves not to manufacture or—and this is very important—to seek control of nuclear weapons.

A very serious obstacle to any agreement of this sort in the past—and this has already been mentioned—is the repeated accusation by the Soviet Union that proposals for multilateral nuclear forces in NATO themselves involve the transfer of nuclear control to non-nuclear countries. Whatever the views of Her Majesty's Government are on the current multilateral force proposals, we do not accept this Soviet view. I think I should state quite clearly that one of the basic requirements for nuclear control within the Alliance—one of this Government's basic requirements—is that such an arrangement should be seen clearly to involve no dissemination or transfer of control to any non-nuclear Power. Beyond that, I am sure your Lordships will not expect me to elaborate further on what the Prime Minister has already said on this subject in another place.

The next of our aims is to extend the provisions of the present partial nuclear test ban, to which the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, referred, to include underground tests. It is doubtful whether any of the nuclear Powers any longer gain any real advantage from these tests. They are unlikely ever, in fact, to upset the balance of power between the Soviet Union and the West. But they are a serious loophole in our defence against the spread of nuclear weapons, because it is by no means out of the question, in the present stage of technological development, that a country wishing to make nuclear weapons could now do so with underground testing alone. There would be no need to test in the atmosphere or in space or under the sea. The difficulty about this, as we have heard, has been the difficulty of inspection. The West has always insisted that a comprehensive nuclear test ban must be verified by the provision of some sort of physical inspection of suspicious underground events and explosions. Now the Soviet Union reject this. They did, as your Lordships have heard, indicate their readiness to accept a small number of inspections, but they subsequently withdrew from that position.

We believe that the technique of detecting and identifying underground nuclear tests by seismological means has now developed to a stage at which only a very small number of inspections would be needed—a far smaller number than the number of seven which was the last to be presented by the West in disarmament negotiations. We think that the number can now be much smaller, and we see some hope of persuading the Soviet Union to accept this. There are signs that they may be interested in a proposal of this sort. This is an area where, above all, British influence, backed by the seismological research programme of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, will be very important in promoting an early solution.

At the same time as we try to stop the spread of nuclear weapons from country to country, we must also put an end to the steady accumulation of weapons in Nato and in the Warsaw Pact that do not add to the security of either side. It has been estimated, for example, that since 1962 the United States has trebled the number of its strategic nuclear missiles, and they go on growing, as the noble Lady has said. President Johnson and his Administration are fully seized of the danger and waste of all this. President Johnson, as we have heard, has also proposed his freeze—an agreement to stop the production of nuclear delivery vehicles. But the Soviet Union did not react very favourably to this because they said it would involve inspection without disarmament, which is always anathema to them.

One of the possibilities that we now think worth while examining is a proposal to link this freeze agreement with an agreement to destroy agreed numbers of existing nuclear weapons and delivery systems on either side—perhaps starting with the obsolescent bombers and then going on to more modern missiles. This would, in effect, be the first step in general and complete disarmament. It would be a part of the first stage in the controlled elimination of all missiles, bombers and all armed forces.

I agree with the remarks of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, about the difficulties in the present rather inflexible Western line about insisting that weapon reductions in the first stage of disarmament should be carried out on a percentage basis. Quite clearly, it is important not to present the Soviet Union, at some stage in the procedure, with an intolerable sense and reality of inferiority, and I believe that there is room for flexibility here. This is a line that I am following up very energetically with my American colleagues.

Those are only three of the lines of inquiry that we shall be following in New York and Geneva and the other capitals of the world in the days to come. These initiatives that I have outlined may seem to your Lordships to be modest enough, but let us remember that even a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. The truth is that there is no single dramatic stroke that will transform the world of nuclear stalemate into a world of peace. So long as the structure of international relations is based upon the concept of the sovereign nation State, so long is there likely to be recurring conflict between them, and so long is there likely to be armed force and the threat of its use to achieve national aims.

Our final objective, of course, is world government, with the reins of international peace-keeping firmly in its hands. But (his is scarcely to be achieved in our generation. To bring about any change in this system would be a matter of long and patient endeavour. It will demand a deep and universal knowledge, not only of the political and social pressures that bear upon the peoples of the world, but, perhaps more important, of the uses and limitations of military power. It was, I think, Captain Liddell Hart, one of our most distinguished military thinkers and a prophet largely without honour in his own country, who first brought an old aphorism up to date when he wrote: If you want peace, you must understand war. It seems to me clear beyond a doubt that the arms race has now passed into a phase of near lunacy and that there can be no relaxation of those vicious tensions unless the race is stopped and put into reverse. While we contemplate justifiably all the real difficulties that lie in our way, let us be quite clear about one central fact: there is No 1nsurmountable barrier, technical, scientific or economic, to the achievement of a disarmed world. The barrier is political; it is one of will. If the nations of the world want disarmament, they can have it. We must really look beyond the limited horizons of the sort of cynics who say, "When disarmament is possible it is not necessary, and when it is necessary it is not possible." I reject this counsel of pessimism and despair, and Her Majesty's Government reject it utterly. We must break into this circle somewhere. Her Majesty's Government believe that, although the safety of Britain and her Allies must be paramount in all our negotiations, this safety can be assured with a much lower level of armaments and armed forces, and that some substantial measure of disarmament is essential if the political deadlock is to be broken.

In spite of the moving words of the noble Lady in her opening speech, it may, I think, be too much to hope that many of us here to-day will live to see a world from which fear and suspicion, and the dreadful squalor of nuclear blackmail, have been totally banished. But we shall all have failed most miserably and unforgivably if we do not bend all our efforts to bequeath to our children the heritage of a world liberated from the fear of nuclear annihilation. We can succeed because we must succeed; and, with God's help, we shall.

5.30 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord who has just spoken has already been warmly welcomed from both sides of the House to his place on the Front Bench and, in adding my own good wishes to him, I should like to congratulate him in our name on his maiden speech here. I suppose that it is only right to say that, of the many subjects in which a Bishop ought to be interested, disarmament would take at least a very high place, and I have listened with the greatest interest and edification to what the noble Lord has said. I was glad that to some extent the House filled up as he rose to his feet, although, unfortunately, owing to the lateness of the hour, it is not as full as it ought to be for such a statement as we have heard from him. We recognise that we should expect from him, despite the mysteries surrounding his office, a very deep experience and deep thought which he has exercised for a long time in this whole field; and he has given us the benefit of this to-day in a very lucid and, I was going to say, a very disarming way. I would only add that we shall look forward to his contributions to us in this and other ways and on many occasions with the greatest anticipation.

My Lords, I am sorry for him that the deep and rather involved subject through which he has taken us has to be followed at first remove by a few remarks from one on this Bench who cannot, obviously, be expected to follow up in that particular vein. I would wish to be brief and to catch something of the note of general importance and urgency in this subject which the noble Baroness has imparted to it in her opening and very able speech.

I should like from this Bench to assure the Government, as they are seeking new ways through our impasses, of a very strong body of thoughtful support from the Churches in a field which has exercised their minds and consciences over a very long time. Perhaps I might recall a resolution which was sent last autumn from the British Council of Churches to the then Government. It spoke, as your Lordships have done already, of the increasing stocks of nuclear weapons in the world; of the dangers of a further spread of them with the consequent waste and expenditure of human resources upon them; and said that it is convinced that these are an offence to God and a denial of His purpose for man, and that only the rapid and progressive reduction of these weapons, their submission to strict international control and their eventual abolition can remove this offence, and that no policy which does not explicitly and urgently seek to realise these aims can be acceptable to the Christian conscience. There is nothing new or startling in this statement; nothing with which probably all noble Lords could not from their own hearts agree; and if I refer to it now it is because we recognise that here may be a moment when the Government, as they have said they are seeking some new initiatives, can get, if not a real foothold, at least some niche in the wall of this situation into which they can get their fingers.

As the noble Lady has said, this is a quite monstrous and scandalous situation with which we have become all too accustomed. The massive build-up of armaments, out of all proportion to any needs of peace-keeping in the world and, as the noble Lady has reminded us, with the power to destroy the whole human race if that were the object, is something which in itself is so inconceivable that it is only familiarity that has made us accept it. This build-up has gone out of all proportion to the desperate needs of so much of the world in economic amenity and survival; a world which is being deprived of the kind of resources we can give because they are being spent in this way.

It may be true, as the noble Lady has said, that we are on the whole too complacent about this. Public opinion is very fickle; it flares up for a moment and very easily dies down. I think that at the moment so many people have the impression that we have to be reconciled to this existing and very costly stalemate and must even give up expecting any serious change. We are, as the noble Lady said, on the eve of a great festival, but it would appear that most people are more busy preparing to celebrate the festival than to consider ways of establishing peace on earth at the present time. It may be in part that they have given up hope over these long years of patient negotiations which, in their eyes at least, seem to have produced so little effect. What we would hope for at the present time, if we are to stir them out of their acquiescence in our own quandary, is some ray of hope, even a small one, some suggestion that we are beginning to get somewhere. For these reasons I am sure that all of us, certainly from these Benches, welcome the efforts which the present Government are making to take some new step forward. No doubt next week will be the time to discuss more fully some of the proposals which the Prime Minister in another place has outlined.

I would, secondly, say that we would hope also, as the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, has said, that so far as possible our approach to this whole question of disarmament could be as much tripartisan as possible. But we cannot disguise the fact that there are certain cleavages, and the Government may have to steer a course between Scylla and Charybdis in some respects.

We have been reminded that there are those who will always find the solution only in renouncing unilaterally our share in nuclear weapons, and thereby in our alliances which depend on them, and therefore they would see any new approach which did not go this way as suspicious and to be opposed. That attitude may be taken up on the grounds of conscience or on grounds of economic consideration; but the longer we go on in our present stalemate the more fuel we are adding to those opinions because the more difficult it will be to unseat people from them. On the other side, of course, there are those who are so jealous, it may be, of the image of our own national independence that they cannot tolerate any steps which might seem to diminish in any sense our own independent power, especially of the possession of nuclear weapons.

Obviously it is always difficult for anyone to claim to express any opinion but his own, but if I might quote from the thoughtful and representative councils of the Church, we would not market either of those views. We would not accept unilateral renunciation as the wisest kind of contribution to peace. But, equally, we would state that we should be acutely concerned about any policy that seemed to cling unrealistically to national independence in the nuclear sphere. Perhaps I may quote again from the Council in Bristol last year: The Council believes that Britain should express her willingness to forgo the claim to independent nuclear action if thereby more effective machinery could be established for shared control of the deterrent in any part of the world and so the proliferation of national nuclear forces could be halted. This view we put in the name of the Churches before the last Government, and we begged them, as we would beg again, that it might be received in a non-Party way. We would renew this plea to the present Government. In so far as they have indicated they are aligning themselves more in this direction, I think we take fresh heart.

Perhaps most of us would recognise that some of the considerations that urge the retention of an independent deterrent are less convincing now than they were, and that it is more difficult to find British interests in any part of the world which are only British interests. But the arguments against seem to grow stronger, and while I am not going to press this myself of course at this moment, I would say they are more strong as we consider the main objectives that we have in hand. These have already been stressed by all three of the speakers.

One of the nearer of these objectives is, of course, the avoidance of proliferation in nuclear weapons. We would recognise that the danger to the world is more likely to come from the smaller or less committed or less responsible nations possessing the bomb than from the main nuclear Powers. That adds a particular urgency to the present situation with regard to Asia. But our ultimate objective, of course, is not non-dissemination, not even reduction in armaments, but their total subjection to international control, through which alone elimination can ultimately be made effective.

The avoidance of dissemination and the advance towards shared control in arms must go hand in hand. The fact that two countries, France and China, show no disposition at present to surrender their independence in developing and possessing these weapons seems an argument not so much for adhering to their example, with all the confusion and danger it is creating, as for pressing ourselves for some greater measure of shared control. But where do we begin in this? It is difficult to see how we can logically, as has been outlined, propose a self-denying step to other countries which we are not showing a degree of readiness to accept ourselves. It would seem at the present moment that there are new opportunities for leadership before us which are not in any sense bound up with our own armaments, but rather with the ability that rests with us to create some newer degree of shared control, out of which perhaps this wider agreement can later spring. If I understand rightly what the Prime Minister said in another place yesterday, he is reaching in that direction.

Lastly, while apologising for intervening on a very technical question with some rather different observations, may I urge that in this subject we pose the question as widely as we can to that public—that is, the nation—which will ultimately have to provide the will, as has been said, behind the political decisions? Most of the questions relating to disarmament are themselves so intricate and so technical that most of us tend to give up in despair. And yet behind them there are serious moral decisions which a country would have to make, and we ought to see the country is aware of these and prepared to make them. It is a moral question, for instance, how far any nation is entitled in our modern world to claim for itself sovereign rights independently of others when the interests of others are inevitably at stake. This must apply especially where there are weapons whose power of destruction can be indiscriminate. It is also a moral question how far economics should be allowed to affect policies on armaments.

The noble Baroness has called for far closer and more detailed planning, and I am very glad indeed she has, for we have already been reminded painfully in another context that relations between countries, which are to some extent underpinned by trade agreements in arms, can embarrass us greatly and even colour, if not direct, the kind of decisions of policy which we have to make. This is something we cannot set aside in our considerations of disarmament. There is a third kind of choice which a country would have to make. How far would it be ready to use its own strength and resources, which if they are not any longer in the first rank of power are still very considerable, to promote interests for the peace-keeping of the world which might not in any particular sense affect it? The problems of disarmament, in other words, cannot be separated from the need to which reference has been made for machinery for international peace-keeping forces. The noble Earl referred to this. I hope some of us would go further than he in pressing on.

For we are at the beginning, but only at the beginning, of this question. To take a glaring example, the situation in the Congo might have been so very different if there had been in existence a peace-keeping police force which was already established and already recognised as genuinely international and therefore genuinely neutral. It should appear quite absurd in our modern world, and tragic too, that possessing as we do vast forces capable of world-wide destruction, we cannot address ourselves more effectively now to the creation of even a small force which might be mobile and ready to intervene and put out "fires" and stop them from spreading, or at least stay the hand of those disastrous acts of disorder and atrocity which we have been witnessing lately.

Ultimately, of course, we must have more than a small peace-keeping force, but some new initiative surely could be taken now to make a beginning with it. This might affect our pockets and our decisions, and we should welcome it. This opens a whole field of United Nations reform, which I dare not enter into now. I was greatly heartened in hearing in another place that the presentation by the Government of a new policy towards nuclear shared control, within NATO and outside it, was coupled with promises of a much more serious effort to build up the effectiveness of the United Nations, as itself, in the end, the guarantor of peace.

5.45 p.m.


My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend Lady Summerskill for introducing this subject. It is entirely a non-Party political subject. No one Party has a monopoly of knowledge or enthusiasm. I am also grateful that we have to-day a Minister for Disarmament. I should like to congratulate him on his maiden speech and to wish him all success. But it seems to me that we have to look on this subject from a very wide angle. I am all for making progress in reducing armaments, in getting agreement for the banning of weapons; but no one of those actions is going to be any use unless it is possible to set up some security for the ordinary nation.

I thought the right reverend Prelate struck the right note in his speech. That is really the essential thing. That is what is forgotten by the advocates (one can understand their attitude) of "Ban the Bomb!". My Lords, "Ban the Bomb!" takes us back to 1929. "Ban all kinds of advanced weapons" takes us back to about 1815. Ban all explosive weapons, and you go back to the sword and spear; but that means only that you are back to Genghis Khan. Unless you can get the rule of law in the world, you have not made any real advance. Therefore, while I welcome the appointment of my noble friend the Minister for Disarmament, the essential point to attack must be the United Nations.

I think the right reverend Prelate was quite right in drawing attention to the need for an international force, which has been effective in many places, even though it has been only an ad hoc force. We ought to have had, right after the last war, a fully equipped force to prevent bushfires and minor outbreaks. I think we might have got it if the present danger had then loomed as large as it does now, had it then been the danger of world destruction. But when we formed the United Nations at San Francisco we were still tied and bound by the conception of the absolute sovereignty of the individual nation, and we pledged ourselves to assist in the preservation of world peace really in the hope that the U.S.A., the U.S.S.R., the "big boys" of the world, would keep order.

Since those days we have had the Stalin period; we have had the emergence of China; we have had the vociferations of sovereign States. As a result, we have not had what we should have had—a peace-keeping force. Still less have we had a world authority to control it. We want a peace-keeping force, but it must be under control; and that control must be a world control. Certainly, I do not think we shall get it with the United Nations as it is.

Therefore, in my view, it is within the forum of the United Nations that action is needed for building up an authority which could control a peace-keeping force. The authority must be a wide one; it must be effective. It must not be just European or American; it must be Asiastic and African. But unless you can get an authority like that within the United Nations you cannot have effective control of an international force; and that is what is needed. You will never get disarmament without a security force of some kind; and that force must be internationally manned. The world will not sit down under the idea that the peace of the world must be kept by one or two big Powers. We need a say for every nation.

If, as we know now, war is out of date, incredibly wasteful, with a danger at all times that, somehow or other, we are slipping into world destruction, surely we ought to be taking the initiative. I believe that Britain, as head of the Commonwealth, is specially fitted to take the initiative towards creating a world peace force, and a world authority limited, for the time being, to controlling just that one thing.

At the present moment everyone realises that there is need for world cooperation in all sorts of directions, but the one I would emphasise is the one essential, the control of world sovereignty in armaments, in the right to make war. That limitation of sovereignty must be imposed by all on all. That is my view.

I reckon that unless within a generation we can get that, the world will inevitably go round to chaos. Therefore, while welcoming my noble friend's appointment, I say: have international action on the widest possible scale, on the stage of the United Nations, for getting rid of the fetish of national sovereignty which threatens the destruction of all of us.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do adjourn during pleasure for the Royal Commission.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House adjourned during pleasure.

House resumed.