HL Deb 17 December 1964 vol 262 cc590-630

6.15 p.m.

Debate resumed.


My Lords, I should like to start my remarks by welcoming the Minister for Disarmament, and by pointing out to your Lordships that he is a unique political animal. He is the first and only Minister for Disarmament in the world. There is in the United States the Director of the Disarmament Agency, but he is not a Minister in the full sense of democratic government. It is something which I think is fundamental to the policy and general direction of the present Government in this country, that it should have invented and set up the first Minister for Disarmament in the whole world.

Yesterday in the House of Commons the Prime Minister stated the new plan for the control of nuclear weapons, in NATO and outside of it, and gave inklings of the approach which may be developed to the problem of reaching an arrangement on arms control between East and West. Both in its objectives and in its detailed proposals, the new plan is the fruit of what one might call the mainstream of study in strategy and foreign policy which has been going on in this country for the last three or four years. There was detectable in it the hand of those official planners who are most directly concerned with the awful and ramifying responsibility of laying down now the criteria which are best adapted to precluding Armageddon then. Cranky and extreme solutions have been avoided, and that is good.

Even better, it was the first frank and upright statement of what every qualified person in this country has thought for a good long time—namely, that the mixed manned surface fleet is (and I quote the Prime Minister), "the least satisfactory way", of achieving Alliance control of nuclear weapons. I think that on both sides of this House we may be glad that this has been said aloud at last. On this side, we may also be permitted to regret that it has never been said before; if it had been, the confusion in NATO might not have gone so far. Because in the last resort one has no right to conceal one's conviction. Among friends, frankness is worth two of that. But that is over now; and better late than never!

These proposals are, in the first place, proposals for arms control within the Alliance. How will they affect the East-West arms control situation? I think, well. The Prime Minister was adamant—in fact, one has rarely heard such outright commitments in foreign policy—that the American and British vetoes on whatever force our two countries might set up would never, either soon or at any future time, be rescinded; and that any system whereby the nuclear Powers contributing might be out-voted, either on firing or on a change in the command systems, was categorically excluded. If that is so, it follows that centres of control of nuclear weapons cannot be held to have proliferated if this plan is adopted. I hope that this argument may be audible to the Soviet Union. I am sure that it will be strongly put when Mr. Kosygin comes to this country early next year. It may be—all those who have travelled much in Germany must face this fact—that these provisions will meet with a negative first reaction there. But there are good grounds for hoping that German second thoughts may be more positive. I shall come in a moment to what those grounds are.

Another facet of yesterday's announcement holds hope of progress in arms control; and that is the Prime Minister's statement that a land-based, mixed-manned element would be preferable to a seaborne one. The Polaris warhead is the smallest and neatest hydrogen warhead in the world. The Russians complain (because we know that their great fear is West Germany, and I think it is easy to understand why) that if we allow German technicians access to Polaris warheads we lift them over fifteen years' technological development in one jump, without any effort on their part. I want to ask my noble friend who is to reply to the debate whether there is anything in this argument. If there is nothing in it, can we not explain to the Russians just why they need not worry about this? If there is something in it, what measures can we take to avoid the (as it were) technical proliferation—not proliferation of command, or of "fingers on the trigger", but the dissemination of technology to countries which are at present non-nuclear? I do not know what weapons the Government have in mind for the land-based, mixed-manned element. Minuteman in the United States, Mace, the improved Pershing—all these weapons are pretty advanced; the warheads are pretty neat. Might the same argument apply to these?

My Lords, the European proposals in the Prime Minister's speech were expected: they covered familiar ground. Not so his proposals for Asia. Here I think we may see the working through of the effects of Mr. Shastri's recent visit. We saw the wish—the strong and justified wish, as yet unclothed in precise proposals—to defend India, a country so closely bound to ours by every tie of sentiment and shared experience, against the threat posed by a nuclear China. The Prime Minister said that there could be an international guarantee of non-nuclear countries in Asia. The idea is a fertile one, a new one, possibly an inescapable one; but, just because it is new, it is worth pausing for a moment to look at some of the features of the landscape into which it has to be fitted.

It has been clear since the signature of the Test Ban Treaty by the great majority of the nations in the world that the small minority that did not sign it—China, Albania, China's East Asian client States, North Korea and North Viet Nam—regarded the test ban itself as a white man's plot. "Look!", they said, "The white men up there in the North, with their Christian and post-Christian culture, their wealth, their industrial technology, their nuclear status, have at last dropped all pretence that their nuclear weapons were being developed to deter them from attacking each other among white men. They have enough nuclear weapons now, and they have turned round to face the rest of the world, holding their vast nuclear arsenal as a joint deterrent against the non-white, never-Christian, technically-backward majority in the warmer countries from ever doing anything they do not like". They see thermo-nuclear weapons as the white landlord's shotgun, and they see the test ban as the lock on his gate.

This is the feeling which induced the Chinese to develop their own primitive, or not so primitive, A-bomb. They claim it is the non-white A-bomb. The line of argument leads straight towards the second cold war, worse than the first because to ideological differences would be added racial differences and differences of wealth. Pakistan says that the Chinese bomb shows that Asians are as good as anyone else. Ceylon says that it is a technological feather in Asia's cap. Algeria had perhaps the most interesting reaction of all. Mr. Ben Bella wrote to Chou En-lai on November 17: Having obtained nuclear weapons by their own efforts, the People's Republic of China has enabled the Asian and African peoples to have the right to participate in discussions about world peace. Where have we heard that argument before? It is our old friend the Top Table. The Algerians recently failed to hold their routine demonstration against the last French weapons test in the Sahara because it might have seemed to conflict with the messages of delight and approval which they had been sending to China about the development of the Chinese bomb.

As for the Chinese test itself, what should we think of it? We tend to think of China as permanently and ineradicably aggressive. My Lords, China is the only nuclear Power in the world which has declared it would never use nuclear weapons first. The United States has not; we have not; France has not. The Soviet Union has come close to it, but has not precisely made that declaration. That China is the only country to have made this declaration is the conclusion of a study carried out by the Hudson Institute in the United States, the results of which I can send to any interested Members of the House.

What is the real nature of this tormenting question of proliferation? What do we see? We see something bad, spreading and spreading. We see a thing which ought not to exist cropping up again and again in place after place over the globe. We see hitherto pure territory after hitherto pure territory sullied by the parthenogenesis of these weapons which are, at best, a great diplomatic worry to us, and, at worst, a mortal danger to all mankind. That is how we see it. We have got the things, and we hate to see others get them. That is natural enough. But if we look at it from the point of view of the other countries, they do not see proliferation at all. They see the other side of the coin. They see monopoly. They see the great nuclear Powers with a source of military and political might which they do not have. They do not see why anybody should have the monopoly of these sources. They could have them, too. They have the scientists, the engineers and the wealth. They have at least as long a history; at least as great a sensation of their own wisdom and rectitude as the countries which have nuclear weapons. They feel that it is their duty to the world to bring their own special national contribution to bear by this means which is within their power as well as by others.

What is America, they ask, that it should be permitted to be a nuclear America, while France or China are not permitted to be a nuclear France or a nuclear China—France with 1,000 years of culture, China with 3,000 years? What looks like proliferation in London or Washington looks like laudable monopoly-busting in Paris and Peking. What looks like monopoly in Paris and Peking looks like laudable proliferation-preventing in London and Washington. It just depends where you stand on the line. There will always be pressure on countries to go nuclear unless and until the existing nuclear Powers begin, in General de Gaulle's words—and he is the person who counts in this, because his is the first country which did not sign the Test Ban Treaty; the first dissident in this whole test ban field—to cease the production and commence the destruction of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery. Proliferation or monopoly-busting cannot be stopped, alas! simply by a treaty among the existing nuclear Powers declaring their intention to stop it. Nobody is helping the new countries to build nuclear weapons; they are doing it themselves. I wish it could be stopped by treaty, but it can be stopped only by an unmistakable, controllable and substantial arms reduction among the existing nuclear Powers.

Let us consider what it is that causes the development of nuclear weapons in country after country at all in the first place. It is not the desire to threaten and bludgeon and blackmail: we must face this. Why did this country and the United States together develop the first nuclear weapons in the world in the 1940s, during the war? It was because, in the middle of a world war, our intelligence was not good enough to assure us that Germany was not developing nuclear weapons. We feared the Germans were. So we followed the first rule of military planning, which is to plan for the worst eventuality, and went ahead. The Soviet Union knew well enough that the United States had nuclear weapons; and therefore developed their own. Britain, and later France, developed their own independent forces later because the Soviet Union had, and they did not wish all the deterring of Soviet attacks on them to be done by a country 3,000 miles away—namely, the United States. China de- veloped nuclear weapons because an American nuclear fleet had been steaming up and down a few miles off their coast for fifteen years—that at first, and later perhaps because their former friend, the Soviet Union, had become their sworn adversary and was a nuclear Power. If India develops them it will be because China has. If Indonesia does—and we must pay attention to the fact that the Indonesian Government is now stating its intention to develop them—it will be because of the British nuclear base in Malaysia. We are familiar enough with the pressures in Germany; and so on down the line.

This brings me back to Europe. I do not believe that, in the long run, we can get forward by dealing with disarmament (East-West arms control), or with the question of alliance control of nuclear weapons, or with the question of a Central European settlement, by itself. I believe the only way we can get forward is by handling all three things together. We are conditioned by a rather rigid triangle, the three sides of which are: our purposes in NATO, why we are in it at all; our relations with our adversaries, the Russians and their Allies; and our relations among ourselves. Our original purpose in NATO, and we can remember it well enough, fifteen years ago, was to prevent the Russians from walking to the Pyrenees, which they could have done. We have achieved that purpose; they can no longer walk there and, realistically, they have lost interest in the idea.

But we must look now to the unification of Germany and the demolition not only of the Berlin Wall but of the whole Iron Curtain. This cannot be done by war; it is better that some Germans should be oppressed than that all Germans should be dead. We cannot do it by threat of war; the Russians now have an invulnerable retaliatory capacity and their nerve is just as good as ours. We can do it only by negotiation, and that means removing, if we can, the incentives which cause the Russians to be so stubborn.

What are these incentives? Why do they maintain an odious and ridiculous tyranny in East Germany? Is it because they are so blind they think it is the Garden of Eden? Obviously not. Is it because they are so proud of Communism that they must make it appear that 17 million Germans adhere to it, besides all the other people? Hardly. Is it not rather because they need the defensive depth? Do they not hang on there and prop up Ulbricht for the very same reason that they shot down unarmed workers in Budapest in 1956? Is it not because they dare not allow Western bomber and missile bases to be set up so many miles nearer to the Soviet heartland? If this is so, it leads us straight to the second side of my triangle: relations between the Eastern and Western Alliances and the possibility of balanced arms reduction, which is the subject of this debate, and the duty of our new Minister of Disarmament.

Many ideas about how to begin reducing arms have been canvassed at Geneva and elsewhere and we have discussed some of them this evening. Most of them run into one or other of two obstacles: either Russian unwillingness to permit foolproof inspection, or West German unwillingness to permit geographical discrimination. I think there is one possibility which would involve neither inspection of the type the Russians refuse nor discrimination of the type that the Germans fear. It was a possibility mentioned very briefly in passing by the Prime Minister in another place yesterday, and mentioned rather more fully by my right honourable friend the Minister for Disarmament in your Lordships' House this evening.

Early this year President Johnson proposed a verified freeze on strategic nuclear delivery vehicles. He proposed that no more missiles of over 500 miles range and no more bombers of over 25 ton weight should be brought into service, and that no new types of either should be introduced. Could we not now go further—and there are indications that these matters are being considered in Washington and here—and propose the actual destruction of so many delivery vehicles, perhaps an equal number on both sides? That should be all right provided the numbers are not too big—perhaps defined in the same way, missiles of over 500 miles range and bombers of over 25 tons. We might even agree on the overall number and allow each side to choose what type to destroy. You would need no verification for that beyond the quite painless inspection of the actual destruction at agreed places. Such a plan would begin to point towards the achievement of that condition of balanced low-level secure deterrence which all qualified students recognise to be the best way out of the present East-West arms race.

This brings me to the third side of the triangle: our relations among ourselves in NATO and the new British proposal of the Atlantic Nuclear Force. If the Russians were allowed to choose which actual delivery vehicles to destroy they would obviously not destroy any of the 500 which could reach the United States (because the United States have nearly 4,000 which could reach them; and their little 500 are too scarce to destroy). They will obviously destroy some of the 2,500 they have which can only reach Europe. And if they bring their numbers down there can hardly be any reason for us to think of entirely new nuclear forces on our side, whether the seaborne M.L.F. or any other increase in our weapons, including the present national American build-up in I.C.B.M.s and submarine-borne Polaris. If we are reducing the overall size of our nuclear forces and if we are faced by a Soviet threat which is itself being visibly reduced, as it would be under the plan, I think we may solve our own difficulties within Nato—and I am thinking of France—a good deal more easily.

My Lords, let me wind up by repeating my good wishes to the new Minister for Disarmament who was not here when I said it originally and by taking up one point which the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, made in his speech—and this is the crux of disarmament itself—about the pattern of reduction of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles. He said that the Russians proposed in 1962 that all nuclear delivery vehicles should be abolished in Stage I of general disarmament. So they did. But this is not what they now propose. In September 1962, Mr. Gromyko in the United Nations proposed that a small agreed number of I.C.B.M.s, anti-missile missiles and anti-aircraft missiles should be left outstanding on both sides until the end of Stage II. In March 1963, Mr. Tsarapkin, in Geneva, proposed that these agreed minimum deterrent forces should be subject to international inspection directly on the launching pads; and in September, 1963. Mr. Gromyko, again in the United Nations in New York, proposed that these forces should be left outstanding until the end of Stage III; that is, throughout the disarmament process. The Soviet Union, in other words, proposed agreed balanced low-level minimum deterrent forces throughout disarmament.

I think my right honourable friend the Minister for Disarmament put his finger on it when he said that it might indeed be necessary to get away from the idea of proportional reduction; and for myself I warmly welcome his statement that he would pursue this idea energetically in Washington. He is, if I may say so, the younger brother of a very strong man indeed; and when you are seeking to negotiate a reduction in strength as between a very strong man indeed and just a very strong man—and I refer to the United States and to the Soviet Union—it is obvious that the first initiative must come from the very strong man indeed.

6.40 p.m.


My Lords, in thanking the noble Baroness for having originated this debate on what is, I should think, the most important subject there is, and in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, on his maiden speech in your Lordships' House, I am only sorry that I shall have to strike the one discordant note in this harmonious debate, and I ask your Lordships' tolerance with my heresy.

It is a rum world. I have observed, not in the small square circles that I move in, but in more intellectual orbits, that it is quite acceptable to affirm that there is no God and that religion is a kind of dope, but one is given a very old-fashioned look if one suggests that the United Nations Organisation is not the hope of the world and disarmament a dangerous folly. Yet a careful study of the origins of the last world war and a comparison with the present times have convinced me that we have been, for over 40 years, barking up the wrong tree, which we are now being invited to climb. The cat is not there, my Lords. Over 25 years ago, I thought it might be; but I have learnt that it is in another part of the wood, and there can only be a frightful accident if we persist.

This whole subject has become clogged with clichées. Mark them early, my Lords, and cut them down when they grow, because they breed like fungus and they stifle thought. Shun misleading analogies about fire brigades and police forces, as though the world were a well-conducted English municipality. Sentiment, and ethics, too, have added to the mental confusion. I take it that our real objective is peace; if possible, with good will, if necessary, without it; that the means must be political; and politics has rightly been called the art of the possible, not of the desirable or of the virtuous. I was a little startled to read the other day in a leading article in The Times—and the same thing has been said in your Lordships' House in other words—that what everyone desired was disarmament. Not I, my Lords—not unless it brings peace. Disarmament is only a doubtful means; it is not an end, and it leads to almost certain war. For mercy's sake, do not make a creed of it!

Two main false assumptions in equaling peace with disarmament are, as I think, that the signature of a nation on a covenant is of any lasting value, and that the United Nations Organisation can control a powerful delinquent any better than could the old League of Nations. History teaches us that international agreements are for fair weather only, and that the breaking point comes as soon as the wind changes and national interests are thought to be at stake. The precipitants of bad faith, as is well known, are temptation and opportunity—in other words, the prize and the occasion, a conjunction all too common in international affairs. Our friends, as well as our enemies, will break their words as soon as it suits them. And so will we. If we British, reputed to be one of the honestest nations in the world, can break nine covenants without warning on a mere economic pinch, cannot any other nation break one when it judges that its very life and liberty are threatened?

Macaulay wrote: How large a proportion of the blackest crimes recorded in history is to be ascribed to ill-regulated public spirit. We daily see men do for their Party, for their sect, for their country, for their favourite schemes of political and social reform, what they would not do to enrich or avenge themselves. My Lords, let no one underestimate the elemental power of nationalism, now, more than ever, boiling all over the world.

In my view, the way to the heart of the problem of peace lies through the layers of human motives and reactions, seeing clearly what they are and getting them in the right order. In all natural tasks, wherever possible one should work with the grain, and not against it. If love of country is a profounder emotion than love of peace—and I am very sure it is—then to make plans on the opposite assumption seems to me to be simply asking for trouble. Since international law, overwhelmingly enforced against any State, however powerful, is only a dream of the future, sheer terror may be the only thing stronger than this monster of selfish patriotism. And now, for the first time in history, we are given our chance, if only we use it intelligently.

Where reason has failed, modern scientific inventions are beginning at last literally to put the fear of God into the nations, and that may force them, as nothing else has yet done, towards keeping the peace. We should make good use of that fear. There is nothing ignoble in that suggestion. If our real desire is peace and not just a disarmament covenant, we must renounce all sentimental and ethical dogmas and get the natural motives in their correct order, never forgetting that the moment any nation decides that its vital interests are threatened no pact on earth is going to hold it.

It is not easy to find words or similes to demonstrate the peculiar danger of a disarmament pact, but it seems to me that the problem might be clarified in this way. Reverse it. It seems an absurd hypothesis, but suppose the nations agreed, instead of disarming, to promise to rearm to a certain high level. Then, what if one or more powerful States were tempted to break the agreement, say, for economy's sake, and did so? The peace of the world would not be endangered, because the power would rest with the armed majority, the peacekeepers, and they could penalise those members if they chose. But reversing this again to an agreement to disarm, if then only one powerful State decides to rearm, where lies the power then? Not with the disarmed and law-abiding majority, but with the armed and lawless minority of one, and it is then a choice of war or appeasement.

When former treaties of alliance have been broken, the situation for the betrayed has been bad enough; but what is uniquely dangerous about a disarmament treaty is that you start in the last ditch, and when the treaty is broken, as it will be, those who are betrayed are left without any means of defending themselves. It is that fact that puts such a treaty in a fatal category of its own. Now that is an intensification of the sort of thing that happened in the 1930s.

As for the United Nations Organisation, devised to be the guardian of the rights of nations, the defender of the weak against the strong, it is very easy to be derisive about its failures. They are too tragic to be mocked. I have to mention it, however, if only to remark that if it is to be charged with the task of controlling and inspecting the weapons of the world when total disarmament shall have begun, then, as in the sorry case of the League of Nations, which could only be strong with the weak and weak with the strong, it is just not up to the job, nor, as at present constituted, ever can be. Many other valuable jobs it can do, but not that one; and we should be mad to entrust our people's safety to such hands. I will say no more about that, for it is only indirectly concerned with this debate.

It is because, between the wars, we based our policy on a fantasy of good will and covenants that we got into the mess that we did. I am fairly certain that the last World War was made more likely by the existence of a protracted Disarmament Conference and an overestimated League of Nations. That war was quite impossible on paper. For, in addition to the Locarno Treaties of 1925—so full of guarantees and such good will, with everything ship-shape and Geneva fashion—there was the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, by which first 15 and ultimately 62 nations solemnly pledged themselves to outlaw war. And the League was there to ensure their implementation. It did not take long, my Lords, for the human law of national self-interest to overthrow the paper law of international faith and co-operation, and for great States to run riot in the face of world opinion, which, as a moral force, was then supposed to be the greatest deterrent to aggression known to civilised man. Is it not pitiable, my Lords?

It may be asked why, if this is true, the bloody lesson of the inter-war years has never been learned. I think the reason is that in 1939 this country was so profoundly shocked by what had come upon it that there arose a compelling emotional need for a satisfying explanation. This need was supplied by ignoring the facts of the faulty system upon which the peace of the world had been built (systems are relatively dull things to get angry with; you cannot hurt their feelings) and, instead, offering the names of a few guilty politicians. So far as I can remember, these men were also called evil. The British temperament is said to luxuriate in moral indignation. The consoling myth was gladly accepted; and it stuck. So the real lesson was shirked; and here we are again, asking for another one. Shall we never learn?

I mentioned the danger to clear thinking from sentimental jargon and crude ethics. Public opinion reasons in deep ruts scored by the repetition of emotive words and phrases, where the obvious is commonly mistaken for the actual, the golden casket containing a carrion Death chosen in lieu of the leaden casket with the true image. I respect, but do not share, the view of well-meaners who see these terrible new weapons of war as moral rather than political issues. Certain spokesmen for Christianity see in them a blasphemy against the Almighty, spokesmen for humanism a blasphemy against humanity. These things, they say, are wicked and will destroy us and our children; therefore, they must be forbidden. An individual need set no limits to his personal piety; he may take for his motto, if he pleases "My conscience, right or wrong", and nobly damn the consequences—to himself. But a Government cannot afford to neglect any means of making secure the defence of the Realm, however repugnant those means may be. The Government are the trustee of bodies, not of souls. And, by the way, which weapons are to be named less odious than which others? And why? Which war, with its agony and corruption, was not altogether loathsome?

My Lords, I say again that the goal is international peace, not the arbitrary banning of one weapon as being more inhuman or destructive than another. My underlying theme throughout is that a treaty that certainly cannot be kept is too dangerous to sign. It is also, if I may say so, having just criticised the moralists, immoral; for good faith ought to be the unbreakable strand in public as in private relations. Would that it were!

I now draw your Lordships' attention, with some diffidence, to another line of thought, in an attempt to reconcile this long enmity between conscience and devastating armaments. It is very far from being original, but, owing to its antiquity, it may have been overlooked. Nothing", said Hamlet, is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so". My knowledge of science is scanty, and I may be at fault, but I cannot ever see any new discovery as evil in itself, even though its primary purpose appears to be one of causing pain; and to seek to halt the progress of invention in any direction seems to me impious, shortsighted and, in any case, futile. Even where we cannot discern anything but evil, it is not my experience that evil must necessarily come of evil. Often I have found it otherwise. I am now wading out into theological waters where I may quickly get out of my depth. But the spectre of morality has been called up, as it always must be, to attend this debate, which is implicitly about peace and war, about life and death, and we cannot avoid facing it. The older one gets, and the more one tries to understand metaphysical problems, the more one finds oneself coming up against a paradox. And that, I believe, my Lords, is as it should be in this world.

Many of us know that there is a far greater Power than nuclear power: a Divine Power, which ordained this lesser power's discovery for purposes unknown to us at present. Why then should we rashly cast the gift away? Believing that we are through all eternity in the hands of God, I should have thought that quite a large body of Christians would have reached a wiser conclusion than the one to be reached only through pure reason: the wiser one that God's values are not our values, His justice not our justice, and that it is one of the best observed of His mysterious ways to allow apparent evil to be done in order that greater good may prevail. Shakespeare knew the truth of it when he wrote: We ignorant of ourselves, beg often our own harms, which the wise Powers deny us for our good. Nuclear power, electronics, space exploration and the colossal supranational expense of these undertakings all seem to me to be pointing the way towards the unifying rather than the dissolution of mankind, so long as we do not lose our nerve and try to stop their guided development. We cannot yet see far enough ahead to know the exact shape and scope of their benefits. Many can only see disaster or stupidity in what they very imperfectly understand. I have read that some scientists themselves are distrustful of the future. I think a little more faith is needed. Having quoted from Shakespeare, may I quote from Bacon too? We ought not", he writes to attempt to draw down or submit the mysteries of God to our reason; but contrariwise to raise and advance our reason to the divine truth. And it depresses me to see that on the subject of this nuclear deterrent public opinion is not being shaped to conform with this timeless piece of wisdom.

My Lords, I now wade back to the material shore where I can tread more firmly and reach my conclusion. I did not intend, by counselling a more reflective approach to these frightful problems, that nothing more need be done than sit down and leave the keeping of the world's peace to an invisible council of angels carrying out Heaven's decrees. There is, as usual, no final solution, only an awful choice of constantly recurring risks. I wish I could observe more power for good and less for harm in the United Nations Organisation. But I cannot. The best chance I can see of keeping the peace of the world for the time being is to use what was made for a sword, not as a ploughshare so much as a shield—I refer to the nuclear missile: to let birds of a feather continue to flock, as their nature is, together, in defensive alliance with others of like mind and morality; for each great group to stand firm and, I believe, safe under its nuclear carapace (I am not denying the terrible risk, nor overlooking the immensely high insurance premium of money to be paid) until such time as the human race can be trusted to disarm itself and keep itself disarmed, or until the marvellous advance of science somehow performs the miracle for it.

At present there is no sign whatever of such a state of trust existing, and in my view, with all respect to the noble Baroness, to call attention to the need for progress in disarmament in these conditions is to invite something worse than a repeat of 1939, and bring us all to annihilation. In the highly unlikely event, however, of such an insane covenant ever being signed in our lifetime, there is a kind of gruesome consolation in the fact that we shall not be the laughingstock of posterity, only because there will not be any posterity to laugh.

7.2 p.m.


My Lords, I always feel encouraged to take part in a debate on a subject so urgent as disarmament, because it gives me an opportunity to learn more about it, both before and during the debate. Certainly my noble friend Lady Summerskill "hit the jackpot" when she initiated this debate at this particular moment. Both the speeches of my noble friends Lady Summerskill and Lord Chalfont, the Minister for Disarmament, were more than usually informative and stimulating.

May I here, as a rather new Member of this House, add my humble congratulations to my noble friend Lord Chalfont on his speech to-day? I found myself very much in agreement with the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, in practically everything he said. He was, of course, being more knowledgeable, more experienced and more cautious than I feel about this subject. But I disagreed with him on one point. He queried whether it was very good to have a separate Minister for Disarmament. I think it is very good indeed. It gives a psychological boost to this subject which I believe is very necessary at the moment.

I am sure that we each have our individual methods of research—and mine is often a short cut one, a crib—to become more knowledgeable about subjects about which we do not know a great deal. I have tried to pick the brains of anyone who is well informed on disarmament. Experts are not always available, but there is often some kind of authoritative person ready and willing to discuss his pet subject, and generous with information. But when talking with various people who have made a study of disarmament, I found that we were continuously talking not so much about disarmament as about rearmament. In the last decade rearmament has filled the picture all over the world. In fact, disarmament and defence are inextricably bound together, and run parallel to each other. No country will begin to disarm before it has reached what it considers its needs are; and each country thinks that it is the only judge of what its needs should be; and that is usually saturation point in its defence.

So, my Lords, as arms are equated with power, nuclear strength has become, as everyone has mentioned in this debate, a status symbol. One would have thought that Governments without nuclear weapons would heave a sigh of relief and get on with increasing their national prosperity. But they cast envious eyes on those who possess them, so that the spread of nuclear weapons—a bad thing in itself—is bedevilled by national ambitions, as well as by irrational and rational fears.

We have the position now in which the Disarmament Conference, recently at Geneva, and now in the United Nations, patiently negotiates for a reduction in armaments, taking a few steps towards it, while the big Powers and the rest of the world press on with great strides in rearmament. It is the case of the tortoise and the hare. All the same, it is imperative to keep this small haven of sanity in our wildly irrational world, this Disarmament Conference, working and active. Though its achievements have not been spectacular, they are none the less achievements, and not negligible when it is the peace of the world that is at stake. We have taken some steps towards disarmament, like the partial Test Ban Treaty, the "Hot Line"—better, after all, than the cold war—and the decision to cut back fissile material.

But apart from these things, the Conference is a platform, a platform for propaganda, and for propaganda to reduce arms. The Russians know this only too well. Taking this important aspect into consideration, it is here, I think, that the Prime Minister has made one of the most felicitous appointments in the Government—that of Lord Chalfont as Minister for Disarmament. I cannot think of anyone with better qualifications, with better testimonials, so to speak, for the job. Lord Chalfont was a soldier, so he cannot be accused of being a starry-eyed idealist, with no practical experience of war. More than that, he is an expert on defence, and has been writing on the subject for years. No expert in this field can afford to dabble in wishful thinking on these matters, and on top of all these qualifications my noble friend is a Welshman. Your Lordships may think that this is irrelevant, but the Welsh have a gift of speech which will, I hope, come in very handy when talking to the Russians; and I am pretty sure that Lord Chalfont will be a match for them.

Here I must for a moment pay a passing tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, whose courageous stand years ago at the United Nations was so good for our morale. The stumbling blocks of disarming nations spring from the fears, imaginary as well as real, about defence. Some people argue that we in Europe have maintained peace for nearly 25 years because of the West's superiority in nuclear strength. These weapons are very costly, and though no price is too high to pay for peace, we should not accept indefinitely a situation of sky-high, nuclear pile-up. If we go on increasing defence expenditure at the rate we have been doing, we shall be subverting our economy in the name of defence. To-day, our economic position is more vulnerable than our defence position. Our industries need more modernisation and automation; but this, again, is costly. A balance has to be made between defence and economic progress. In fact, the day has come when disarmament, defence and economic progress, this triumvirate, must not be considered except as a whole—in peace time, that is.

We have shed many territories, but we still retain many commitments; we wish to give aid to developing countries; and we ourselves have to become more competitive. How can we succeed in doing any or all of these things and keep our special position in the world, a position which I think is well worth keeping, if we do not take all these three things into consideration at a time?

We in Britain may have economic difficulties, but we have prosperity, too. What of other countries like India, for example, where they have great defence problems and no prosperity? How can they arm themselves and survive? One of the crucial objectives of disarmament is to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. We have no power to do this, but we try by exhortation. Exhortation is all very well, but it carries with it great responsibilities. If we wish to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to such countries as India we have an obligation to go to her aid if she is in trouble, say, with China.

In all discussions on disarmament we tend too much to concentrate on the big Powers. We say to ourselves that there can be no significant reduction in arms until they decide on a significant reduction. Meanwhile, as has been said in this debate, in many parts of the world re-arming is going on all the time. I think we should give more thought to this. Even if the prospects for general and complete disarmament are not yet in sight, it is most important to give every support to the Disarmament Conference and to keep the prospects of disarmament floodlighted for people everywhere. The Conference should always be ready for a change in the international climate so as to take immediate advantage of the change. Efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons must never be relaxed. It is encouraging to think that America gave no help to France, and neither did Russia to China, in the development of their national nuclear bombs. Fortunately, it is easier to produce nuclear weapons than to deliver them. The Egyptians, even with the help of German scientists, have so far not been very successful in this.

To-day, my Lords, if we are serious about disarmament, the goals are reductions, control and destruction. As the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, pointed out, we have come to a complete impasse about nuclear arm;. When we think coldly and logically about their possible development it leads us straight into science fiction. We read that some nuclear weapons are buried deep down in concrete, underground, so that, in the event of a nuclear war, when cities are destroyed these remain unmanned but intact. This is lunacy. The time is ripe for a new appraisal, a bold new move, not just a freeze but a dissolution of these terrible weapons—not, I may say, unilaterally, but multilaterally.

Before noble Lords on the other side go into paroxysms of patriotism about our independent deterrent, they should read very carefully what the Prime Minister said in another place yesterday. The concept of World Government still smacks of day-dreaming, but is the idea of world annihilation any more real? I think, my Lords, it is easier to conceive of a time when the United Nations will have the power to maintain peace-keeping forces in the trouble spots of the world, on the borders of Israel and Egypt, let us say, or in Cyprus or the Congo, so as to give the festering hatred time to heal. This seems to me a much more desirable aim than the ever-increasing production of more destructive nuclear arms. I can see a gleam of hope for the world in a more powerful and effective United Nations Organisation even if it is a distant one; but I see no future in the continuing build-up of powerful armaments. So the sooner we get down to serious disarmament the better for all of us; and when the destruction comes of nuclear arms and it begins I hope that I shall be invited to the party.

7.15 p.m.


My Lords, I stand here rather in the same spirit as my noble friend Lady Gaitskell, since I am not an expert. But I have been listening to this debate with the greatest interest and I have been amazed at the professional language and the vocabulary, a special language of its own kind, almost a mystique, that has grown up around the problems of armament, disarmament and rearmament. But I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, for putting down this Motion because it gives me an opportunity to thank her for introducing what must be a discussion of a vital subject, and also to offer two handshakes to my noble friend Lord Chalfont, the Minister for Disarmament. The first handshake is one of welcome and of congratulation for his very interesting opening speech. The second handshake is one of deep sympathy, a sympathy that has grown throughout the course of this debate as I considered the kind of job that the noble Lord has landed himself in for. It seems to me it is a job which is both heartbreaking and yet one of the most important facing the Government or any politician anywhere.

I have watched for some time the discussions that have gone on about disarmament; watched, shall I say, as a deeply interested observer though not an expert; and I have been rather interested by the kind of Parkinson's Law which seems to be operating in this field. The law goes like this: the more you talk about disarmament, the more you rearm; the more speeches you make about disarmament and the more paper and ink and documents you turn out about disarmament, the more arms you create. Thus, for example, in 1962 it was estimated that the world was spending £45, 000 million per year on arms. In 1963 this had risen to £50, 000 million per year. During this time, of course, the Geneva Disarmament Commission was meeting and there was a considerable amount of discussion in the Press and elsewhere about disarmament.

My Lords, I am not a cynic in these matters. In fact, although, as I would tell the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, I was a soldier, I am still, I think, a bit of a starry-eyed idealist. That may explain some of my feelings on this subject. For example, last week I went to what was an extremely interesting lecture in one of the Committee Rooms here on the Economic Consequences of Disarmament, a subject which was touched on in several of the speeches to-day, and I could not help feeling that it was so unreal. The speaker, who was very able and very clever and had obviously mastered his subject beautifully, described what would happen, what we should do and the kind of problems we should have to solve if, to-morrow, disarmament was declared, so to speak, and we had thousands of men to retrain into other jobs, and so on. That was his brief; I am not blaming him; it was a brilliant lecture of its kind, but it was unreal.

It was made a little more unreal for me, I must admit, because behind him all the time he spoke was a massive action picture of King Alfred, sword in hand with a very brawny arm, calling on his soldiers to defend England against the invading Danes. This talk of disarma- ment being declared tomorrow, and of having this kind of economic problem, seemed to me to be about as real as if at 12 noon on Christmas Day this year the nations of the world suddenly decided they would put the Sermon on the Mount into operation as a programme of action, instead of as a beautiful text which one reads now and then. We know that this will not happen. To me it is a tragedy that it will not; and I speak as a humanist. Disarmament will not come like that either. It is going to be—and I was glad to hear my noble friend Lord Chalfont saying this—a painful, back-breaking, inch-by-inch progress towards some kind of sanity. I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, that if he can bring us back one small victory, one tiny hint of a victory, in this field, he will have done more than almost anyone I know to achieve peace.

I spoke a moment ago about the complex language and vocabulary which has grown up around this subject and which seems to me to have been over-complicated and sometimes to have wiped out the reality of the type of problem with which we are dealing. Let me put it this way. The world is crying out to-day for more teachers, more scientists, more hospitals and more food. For the cost of one single new prototype bomber with full equipment we could provide one year's salary for a quarter of a million teachers. We could equip and build 30 science faculties for 1,000 students, we could build 75 fully equipped hospitals each with 100 beds, and build 50, 000 tractors or 15, 000 harvesters—for the cost of one new prototype bomber. I will put it another way. I have been speaking in this debate something a little over five minutes. During this time while I have been on my feet the world has spent approximately £100 per minute on armaments: that is a total of £500. In the same time, in that five minutes, six children have died in this world for lack of food, through hunger and malnutrition—six children while I have been on my feet!

The strange and frightening thing to me is that nobody wants this to happen; everybody has good will about it; everybody sees the terrible danger in this vast stockpiling of arms. We get proposal and counter-proposal—you destroy so many, we will destroy so many, you do this and we will do that. Nobody seems to move on it and the arms bill keeps rising. It is as if the world were in the grip of some terrible, terrifying insanity and madness. I think perhaps the historians in the distant future, if there is a distant future, will write of our times in this way, seeing us as madmen and primitives. They may admire much of our art and culture and philosophy, but shake their heads at these other barbaric tendencies we show, just as we admire much of Roman civilisation but abhor its barbarities. And these future generations will have full reason to do so.

Here I would make a comment to the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley. He asked, what weapon is more moral or less moral than another. I hope I shall be able to tell him. The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation and the Federal Radiation Council of the United States Government and Professor Linus Pauling, a Nobel Prize winner—two very distinguished and authoritative Government bodies plus one distinguished scientist—have calculated that the bomb tests carried out in this world so far, and which we banned just over a year ago, amounting to 600 megatons, will in the course of time affect 16 million children so severely that they will suffer gross physical or mental defects or death. It is calculated by the same sources that about 1 per cent. of this total will be stricken in the first generation—about 160, 000 children. But the damage will continue, with only a slight decrease, for generation after generation for thousands of years. I would say this. If you fire a rifle bullet you kill somebody opposite; you do not affect, except perhaps indirectly, future generations. But what we have already done in this world is to sentence to mutation and slow death thousands upon thousands of children in future generations. We may well speak of the sins of the fathers being visited on the children unto the fifth or sixth generation.

One 20 megaton bomb detonated in the atmosphere or on the surface of the earth will, it is estimated, cause gross damage and mutation to about 500, 000 unborn children. This is the price—and I think it should be written up in letters of fire above Lord Chalfont's desk at Geneva or anywhere else—future generations will pay for the testing of one single H-bomb. But we, the fathers and the mothers of this generation, have not escaped entirely; the same sources tell us that 2 million human beings now alive will die five, ten, fifteen or twenty years sooner than they would have done because of the high energy radiation liberated in the bomb tests, which tends to produce cancer. Many among us have been robbed of life by these tests.

Looking at these facts, and they are facts, we may well think that the treaty was signed in the very nick of time and that humanity checked itself on the very rim of disaster. But the madness continues, and the frightening thing is that it develops a kind of rationale of its own, like a lunatic who is convinced that he alone in the entire world is sane. I read an article in last Sunday's Observer which spoke about what quantity of armaments is enough. It was a very intelligent and good article. It said: All the people I talked with assured me that the human species was destined to survive, come what may. Perhaps the most authoritative assurance was given me by General Glenn Kent (of the United States Defence Department …). General Kent, a quiet-spoken pleasant man told me 'Even if we did nothing to protect ourselves enemy attacks would be unlikely to kill more than 70 per cent. of the American people'. In fairness to General Kent, it is his job to calculate these things. But it sent shivers up my spine. For once you argue that anyway there will be 30 per cent. left and we can start again, then you open the way to the argument that a nuclear war would not be a complete disaster; you open the way to an adventure that could cripple and mutate the earth and its peoples for a thousand years.

I felt the same cold shiver when I read last night that there was a proposal to place nuclear minefields along the border between East and West Germany. It seems to me that this is a most monstrous suggestion and would be a most monstrous provocation, because the Russians and the Germans will no doubt decide to go one better and so we shall escalate. I felt the same horror when I read that the German Social Democrats, people of a Party I support, at their conference recently had behind them a map of Germany showing their pre-war frontiers; and at the conference it was stated that they wanted their territories back, but of course intended to get them by peaceful means. I believe them and I believe in their sincerity. But this is opening the way. The first thing is talking about peaceful means, the second is warlike means. This again is a provocation to Russia and Poland and other countries. I am sure the one thing we have to avoid is provocation, and I include any suggestion that West Germany should have a finger on the nuclear trigger.

I was tremendously impressed with what the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, said in his speech about the need to look at the arguments from the point of view of the other countries, and when we talk about our being the nuclear Powers and therefore we rule the world, they look at it from the point of view that we have a monopoly and they want to get in on it. The hour is late and I do not want to go on at great length. I believe that the points that have been outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, would make a tremendous beginning. I should like to see greater emphasis on the idea of a world peace-keeping force, and no doubt this will come.

I want finally to touch on just one point, and it is this. I do not think disarmament is a problem that can be solved only at Government level. I believe it is quite clearly the concern of every thinking human being. Therefore, I would say that I should like to see Lord Chalfont and the Government make it part of their job to organise some kind of campaign for mental disarmament. It seems to me that this is an aspect of the problem that we forget. We leave it to the politicians to argue about in committees and conferences, and in the meantime the same kind of propaganda continues in our schools and elsewhere. In the schools, in the history books, there is no positive education about the virtues of peace, but plenty of positive education about the glories of our past triumphs. I am not suggesting for one moment we are bringing up all our young people to be young soldiers, but I do not think very much good is served by stressing the tremendous warlike victories of the past. We ought to have a look at our history books and other lessons in order to see whether we cannot introduce this idea of mental disarmament. I should like to see us free ourselves of some of the encumbrances that we have in this particular area.

We automatically say, and assume immediately, that the Russians are our enemies; that they are the people we are going to fight with, in a nuclear war or any other kind of war. We automatically assume various other kinds of things about other groups and other peoples. I think this is wrong. In my view we do not want this kind of automatic warlike thinking. I should like to see this aspect of the problem looked at, because if the Minister of Disarmament is going to be successful he needs behind him the strength and power of an organised movement in this country, of the whole of the people of this country, who not only want him to manœuvre his way to disarmament, but want to help him, by massive support, to achieve it all over the world.

7.31 p.m.


My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, replies I should like to say just a few words. I shall not keep your Lordships long. This is a subject in regard to which one is liable to allow emotions to overcome one's sense of reasoning. I am glad that during the debate this evening there has been little sign of that. I entirely agree that disarmament is a desirable thing. Indeed, I think the only noble Lord who has not taken that view this evening is my noble friend Lord Baldwin of Bewdley; but I think that probably he does, in his heart of hearts.

The point is: How are we going to achieve it? Unfortunately, it is impossible to force human beings faster than they can go at a particular moment. There are some, of course, who would do it in a highly dramatic manner—by throwing away all our weapons and beating our swords into plowshares. That, no doubt, would be in accordance with the Christian principles of "turning the other cheek" and so on. We would open our shores to our enemies, or to anybody who wanted to take possession of us, and, when they came to our country, we would shake them all by the hand and say, "Welcome to you, brothers. Take whatever you wish, and have it as your own. If you wish for a home, do come into my house". But that sort of thing is not practicable at the moment. We know perfectly well what we, as individuals, should do, but we cannot force our fellow countrymen to be subjected to things like that.

One is apt to forget, too, that armaments have two purposes, aggressive and defensive. If arms are made for aggressive purposes, of course no condemnation is too great. But is it really so old-fashioned, so "square" (if I may use the term), to wish to defend one's own country? Is: it so extraordinary to wish to remain English, and to wish for one's fellow countrymen to have their freedom? The noble Lord, Lord Willis, spoke about our automatically assuming that the Russians are our enemies. I do not think there is anything automatic about it. One has only to look at their actions over the past generation or more to realise what their intentions are.


My Lords, is the noble Lord assuming that in the course of the past thirty years or so, there has never been any expression of aggressive intent towards Russia, so far as Britain is concerned?


My Lords, there has never been any expressed aggressive intention by them, I agree. But one does not know what lies behind that; and there is no doubt that this country would be a most valuable outpost for anybody who wanted to take control of Europe. I cannot help looking back to the days, just after the last war, when the Russians took control of some central European countries in a way that was positively sadistic, simply by murdering their Prime Ministers and replacing them; by imprisoning the police and by other such methods. I do not think that there is any great reason to believe to-day that the leopard has greatly changed its spots. Although I think it is important that we should remain on good terms with the Russians, I believe that we shall do so only while we remain at equal strength, so far as arms are concerned.

The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, quoted China as having said, "We will not use it first"—meaning the nuclear weapon. They may say that; but who is to believe them? I think that could equally be said by almost any nation. One may say, possibly, that inspection is the way to prevent further trouble and the further manufacture of arms. But who is to inspect a country the size of Russia? First of all, would they permit it? Secondly, how on earth could one cover a country of that size and find out whether arms were or were not being manufactured? I agree entirely that, in the end, disarmament is a desirable thing, provided that it is multilateral; provided that every country takes part in it. But it will take a long time, and I do not think we can possibly force it. My noble friend Lord Jellicoe mentioned a world authority. I think that that, too, will take a long time, because nations who have a strongly independent nationalist feeling are not likely to obey a world authority.

I personally found one of the most reassuring speeches of the evening that of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. May I join with other noble Lords in congratulating him on a really striking maiden speech? I do not think I need make the conventional remark, that we hope we shall often hear him again, because, as he sits on the Government Front Bench, that can be taken for granted. Certainly I am one of those who look forward to hearing him again. This has certainly been an interesting debate, but I do not think that we can afford to shut our eyes to the facts if we want to defend our country.

7.40 p.m.


My Lords, it is seldom that a Peer feels it right to speak "off the paper", and at this late hour I apologise for so doing. I will not keep your Lordships long. I have, however, been somewhat provoked into venturing to contribute one simple idea to this debate. It is this. A State is a moral person; a State is bound by the laws of morality. One of the laws of morality is that the means and the end must be proportionate. Thus, it is right to light your pipe with a match; it is not right to light your pipe with a £5 note. Means and end must be proportionate.

We have to-day principally been discussing the atomic bomb, and we must ask whether any conceivable end could be proportionate to the vast destruction which the dropping of an atomic bomb upon a large inhabited city would cause. That is a question which every man must ask of himself. I have no doubt what the answer must be. However, it is said that the atomic bomb would be morally legitimate if it were dropped on heavy concentrations of troops (supposing that the strategists of a nuclear age permitted such concentrations), or upon aerodromes, or upon rocket sites. The answer to that is, in my judgment, that escalation to atomic bombs on cities is almost inevitable. Moreover, we have received no assurance whatever that the atomic bombs of the polaris submarine are in fact to be targeted only upon such military objectives.

We have then to consider, as a moral problem, whether it is right to possess atomic bombs without any intention of using them. This raises a problem of ethics of considerable complexity. I myself would say that it can hardly be right to threaten to do evil. To do that is to express a conditional readiness to do evil which cannot be reconciled with Christian ethics, or indeed any system of ethics. I therefore support the right reverend Prelate in what he has said. I have ventured to intrude these arguments on your Lordships not so much with a view to convincing your Lordships' House, but that I may have my say in the debate which is likely to occur at next year's session of the second Vatican Council, wherein there is a possibility, if not a likelihood, of a condemnation of all atomic weapons.

7.44 p.m.


My Lords, certainly I would not venture for a moment to impugn the sincerity of the noble Earl who has just spoken, but I must confess that I find his argument not very easy to accept. In particular, I do not see how he can square with his reading of history his idea that the State is a moral being. I think that idea, if it was not invented, was at any rate nurtured and developed by German philosophers in the last century.


It comes from St. Thomas Aquinas.


It may be that it originated there, but it was nurtured and developed by German philosophers of the last century. That idea led us directly to German militarism and, I think, to the two world wars. I do not want to dispute with the noble Earl, whose sincerity I respect completely.

I should like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, for initiat- ing a debate which has been, for me at any rate, one of the most fascinating I have ever listened to in this House or in another place. I am only sorry that I was not here to listen to the speech with which she began, but I have listened to some interesting and most stimulating speeches. Two most remarkable speeches, if I may so differentiate and particularise, were the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont—and I should like to congratulate him on it most heartily—and the other speech which impressed me very deeply, as I think it impressed the whole House, even those noble Lords who did not agree with it (and I do not entirely agree with it myself), namely, the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley. In his choice of words, in his processes of thought, he reminded me very much of someone I heard speak very often, someone who on his day was the greatest orator of his day. I mean, of course, the noble Earl's father. Like the noble Earl, I remember the futilities and fatuities of the discussions on disarmament in the 'twenties and 'thirties. I agree with him that they led, or at any rate the frame of mind which engendered them led, directly to the Second World War.

But I feel that our discussion this afternoon has been on an entirely different plane. I even go so far as to say that, listening to the noble Earl, I did not feel that there was that antithesis, that dichotomy, between what he was saying and what the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, had said which the noble Earl supposed there to have been. What struck me most about the speech of Lord Chalfont was its moderation, its realism, and its determination. I remember that in the debates on Disarmament to which we used to listen before the war there were only two sides to the question. There were the cynics, who thought the whole exercise was futile and evil. On the other side there were the idealists who believed, as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, does not believe, that the whole difficulty could be resolved by a single dramatic stroke.

I do not think to-day, either in this House or in any section of opinion, there is the same futile reaction to the problems of disarmament that there was then. We are all less hopeful, but more realistic, and, I hope, more determined. I hope that I shall not disappoint the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, if I say that he did not seem to me to be cynical There was so much truth in what he said, and there was, too, a little hope—indeed as much hope as we are entitled to. I cling to the words with which he concluded his speech: "Birds of a feather cling together". I think that that is where our salvation lies; that is where our hope for disarmament really comes from.

As the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, said, the barriers are not technical; they are political. I think that two of the real political obstacles to disarmament and peace are, first, status, to which the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, devoted part of a very interesting speech, and, secondly, fear. Both of these ideas, if one can call them that, stem from the same source: the conception of national sovereignty. Those underdeveloped countries, to which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, referred, who are now reaching after armaments themselves, want them as a status symbol to prove that, in spite of a great deal of evidence to the contrary, they are really sovereign nation States; and the rest of us cling to armaments because we are afraid.

I agree very much with a great deal of what the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said. He, too, said that the real issue was sovereignty, and that the need was to establish in the world the rule of law. Where I cannot follow him, and what I cannot understand in him, is his belief that he is going to get away from national sovereignty through the United Nations, because, as he himself pointed out, the United Nations is itself based upon the principle of sovereignty. I think I am right in saying that that great man, Marshalissimo Stalin, insisted on these words being inserted into the Charter: the national sovereignty of peace-loving States. I do not see how an institution which was born out of national sovereignty, which has been an arena for the propagation of conflicting national sovereignties, can possibly lead to the rule of law and the dilution of national sovereignty for which the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, was asking.

The second point on which I differ from the noble Earl is this. He said, "You must have a world authority. Nothing less will do." I think he is ask- ing for the impossible. I do not see why we cannot take it step by step and stage by stage. It is a very long business, as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, said. We shall not see a solution in our day. It is doubtful if our children will see any real solution in their day. Our grandchildren may see something like a solution dawning, if they are lucky. But why cannot we start with building up again the idea of a European community, then go from that to the idea of an Atlantic community, and then go from that to the idea of a world community? I remember a passage in Gibbon which is no doubt familiar to your Lordships. I cannot quote it exactly, but it is something to the effect that the statesman may enjoy seeing the peoples of Europe at each other's throats, but the philosopher may justly feel that underlying all this civil war there is a community of interest which unites the civilised world against the uncivilised world.

I am not suggesting now the building up of just another bloc, a civilised bloc against a barbarian bloc. I am suggesting that the only road to disarmament and the only road to safety is through getting away from this idea of the sanctity of national sovereignty. My noble friend Lord Baldwin of Bewdley said, "Love of country is stronger than love of peace." I think he is right; it is stronger. What I am suggesting is that, surely, we have now got to a stage in our development where we can extend our country to wider frontiers, and extend our love of country without diluting it. If we cannot do that, I see very little hope, either for the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, on his mission on which we all wish him well, or for the world of civilised men.

7.57 p.m.


My Lords, the hour is rather late, and after I had heard the opening speech of my noble friend Baroness Summerskill I thought the situation on all the major issues had been made so clear that there would probably be very little debate, except on some of the means to achieve objects which were desirable and on which I thought the whole House was agreed. I noticed at that moment, also, that the fog which had invaded the Chamber began to lift, although it seems to have come back with a good deal of evidence lately. The atmosphere was particularly clear, also, when my noble friend Lord Chalfont and, indeed, the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, were speaking. I must confess that in some of the later speeches we have heard, starting with the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, I began to see why there was such difficulty in arriving at agreement in Geneva.

However, I should like very briefly to deal with some of the points that have been made, and will then return to those rather wider issues referred to by the noble Lords, Lord Somers and Lord Coleraine, and, indeed, by the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley. My noble friend Lord Chalfont has been so highly congratulated, that there seems no need for me to add to it. But this is one of those occasions when I am quite sure that the House really meant its congratulations. I find it difficult to find words to congratulate a new Member of this House, and a new Minister, which would be adequate to his achievement. I must admit that he had a very good lead-in by my noble friend Lady Summerskill, and I think most of the points that she dealt with have been discussed pretty fully.

I am inclined a little to regret that in this debate we have not been able to go more fully into the peace-keeping forces. Standing at this Box, I, naturally, do not criticise the Government, nor those who organised the debate. It is, of course, very difficult to draw the line. But it soon became very apparent that to use the phrase popular in defence circles, the "seamless robe of disarmament and of arms control" one must include, for the sake of completeness—and it is even material to it—the question of peace-keeping. This also brings up such subjects as alliances, the ultimate shape of peace-keeping forces, and, indeed, the more immediate issues of which we have had examples. I think it is true (I believe it was the noble Baroness who said it, although it may have been another speaker) that one of the great tragedies at the present moment, despite the criticisms we have heard of the United Nations Force in the Congo, is that the real nature of the alternative has been shown by the absence of the United Nations Force in recent weeks.

The noble Baroness, Lady Summer-skill, also regretted the absence of China from the disarmament negotiations. Of course, it is very definitely the policy of the Government that every effort should be made to bring the Chinese into negotiations in the disarmament field, just as it is that they should be admitted to the United Nations. If we are to make a significant advance with disarmament agreements—and, indeed, ultimately with peace-keeping—the Chinese must be brought in. But it must also be pointed out that, so far as Geneva is concerned, the Chinese have at the present moment made it very clear that so long as they are not members of the United Nations they will have nothing to do with the disarmament talks which are being held under the aegis of the Eighteen-Nation Conference. So long as they prefer to remain outside, we must, of course, press on in our discussions with the Americans, the Soviet Union and the other nations; and, as my noble friend Lord Chalfont has shown, we hope that it will be possible to make useful progress.

My Lords, I think that, despite the very clear understanding of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, who I think, in matters of nuclear weapons, is not quite typical of his Party, judging by some of his wiser remarks in the past, as well as to-day, there is a difference—


My Lords, I wonder whether I might interrupt the noble Lord for a moment. I do not think that there is anything which fell from my lips to-day which was in any way heretical.


I should much prefer to think that the noble Earl's views, rather than some which we have heard from other noble Lords, particularly on other occasions, represent the views of the Party opposite. But I was, of course, referring at that moment to his long-term views on the future of nuclear deterrents. That is why I thought my noble friend Lady Gaitskell, in her extremely clear speech, in which she chastised the Opposition for their devotion to the independent nuclear deterrent, would have been unfair if she had been looking at the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe. But I am sure she was looking very much in the right direction, as was perhaps apparent from some of the subsequent speeches.

My Lords, this question of China brings up in a big way the problem of non-dissemination. The Chinese nuclear test has underlined how vital it is that the creation of additional nuclear capabilities should be prevented. The most urgent task in the field of disarmament and arms control must therefore be the conclusion of an international agreement that will achieve this purpose. As my noble friend Lord Chalfont made clear, it certainly is the policy of Her Majesty's Government, as I believe it was the policy of the previous Government—and let me also add my tribute at this point to the work done by the previous Government in regard to this matter—that an agreement on non-dissemination should be found that could be supported by nuclear and non-nuclear countries alike.

It is at this point that I am inclined to disagree with my noble friend Lord Kennet, who, I thought, in an interesting speech, got caught on the horns of a particularly difficult piece of dialectics when he attributed different postures or different positions to the two concepts of dissemination and monopoly-breaking. My Lords, I am a little more hopeful in regard to the attitude of those very countries to which he referred, whether they be African or Asian, in regard to this matter. I am sure that, although he put his proposition in extreme form—and it was valuable to put it in that form—he would agree that the meetings, both of African countries and indeed of the so-called Non-aligned Conference, give rather more ground for confidence than the rather stark proposition he put before us. Something like fifty Governments at the Non-aligned Conference in Cairo in October declared their willingness to sign an international agreement not to acquire their own nuclear weapons; and, before that, many of the same Governments, meeting as the Organisation of African Unity, made a similar declaration. But, of course, with every day that goes by, while the main nuclear Powers maintain their monopoly the greater is the danger of the disappearance of that willingness which exists. This, of course, has been well illustrated, as my noble friend Lord Chalfont made clear, by the dangers of the exploding of the Chinese nuclear weapon.

This brings me to the question of peacekeeping arrangements before we find a more thorough solution of the problem along the lines advocated by many speakers, and especially by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee. Until that day, I would agree with those who say that any too rapid advance to disarmament without providing adequate security could in fact be more dangerous to peace. None the less, it is the view of Her Majesty's Government that the development by good will and energy—the energy that my noble friend Lord Chalfont and, indeed, the Prime Minister have shown—of new forms of alliance, and particularly the Atlantic nuclear force, which may be a model for further developments East of Suez, is an immediate contribution to the prevention of further dissemination.

There is a particular point to which I should like to refer in regard to dissemination which the noble, Lord, Lord Kennet, mentioned when he asked about the Atlantic nuclear force, whatever form it might take, or a multilateral force. I do not propose to go again through the very full explanation of the Government's views which was given in another place yesterday by the Prime Minister, but it would not be true to suggest that, in accordance with British policy in this matter and the aims that we seek, the security and safeguarding arrangements for any nuclear warheads would be such that non-nuclear countries would be able to have access to design data. This is a point of some importance which the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, with his extraordinary depth of knowledge in regard to these matters, interestingly raised.

The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, made some interesting remarks about the machinery of Government. I do not propose to go further into that to-day beyond saying that, of course, by far and away the most striking and important proposal is not just to ask another Minister in the Ministry of Defence to take an interest in the subject, but it is the appointment of my noble friend Lord Chalfont with the sole responsility. I am sure he would agree with that. I appreciate that in putting forward his suggestion he was well aware of the fact—and this is a point which I should like to emphasise—that the Ministry of Defence officials and the staff officers are completely at one with their colleagues in the Foreign Office and elsewhere in wishing to press forward to disarmament. It is a happy thing that there is very little within Whitehall or Governmental organisation in this country which is other than wholly in favour of disarmament.

I should like now to turn very briefly to the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley. The House fully accepts his sincerity in this matter. He started a little unfortunately by criticising the defenders and advocates of disarmament by saying their remarks were clogged with clichés. I started to make a list in the course of his speech, but I ran out before he had finished. I noticed, however, that both he and the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, used that particularly dangerous phrase "History teaches us." It may be that both the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, and the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, have a peculiarly bitter view of certain consequences of recent historical actions. But I think they ought to widen their reading. And I think particularly—and I am sure he will not mind my saying this—that the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, should widen his reading. I am sure that he did not think that Thomas Aquinas was a 19th century German political scientist.


Nor did I think that St. Thomas Aquinas had a great experience of the modern nationalistic State as it has developed since the 16th century.


He was 13th century.


I should like to suggest that it would help the noble Lord and the noble Lord, Lord Somers, if they, and indeed the whole House—and I hope the noble Earl, Lord Iddes-leigh, will not mind if I say this—refresh themselves with re-reading Thomas Aquinas.


Hear, hear!


I should expect support from my noble friend on this matter, and would suggest that both the noble Lord, Lord Somers, and the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine—I will not say "fell into heresy"; I would rather put it that they had not done their homework. But if the attitude, particularly of the noble Lord, Lord Somers—and everybody has a high respect for him and is delighted when he speaks, for no one sits more faithfully throughout debates than he—were typical of his Party, that would be one reason why no great progress has been made in regard to disarmament. I do not happen to think that his attitude is typical of his Party any more than I think the attitude of the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, is typical of the Cross-Benches. It is a great advantage to have these different points of view in this debate, and we welcome them. But I should have thought there is common measure among a large number of us in this matter, and that phrases like "Leopards do not change their spots" are not really helpful to the study of a subject so extremely complicated as disarmament.

I do not think it is "square" to wish to defend our country or to remain British; but I also hope that we shall remain alive along with other people in the world. The important thing, it seems to me, is not merely the teachings of history, but what is going on in the world to-day, as my noble friend Lord Willis exemplified, in regard to children and the effect of nuclear tests. Nor do I believe that in this matter we should distinguish between "birds of a feather"—unless we are all "birds of a feather"; and I suspect this really is the case. Does the noble Lord wish to intervene?


Yes, my Lords, I agree with the noble Lord: but I think we should be certain that we really are "birds of a feather".


My Lords, I must say that on the whole I prefer to revert to a rather more taut form of thinking. It was at this point that I found that the intervention of the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, with whose views in theological matters I am not in agreement, came to me like a breath of fresh air and clarity into a discussion of a kind that is always liable to be bogged down by phrases like these very cliches to which the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, so strongly objected. I think that in this debate, for the introduction of which we are all grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill—and we are grateful also to all noble Lords who have spoken; and especially I should like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Chalfont—there has emerged a pretty clear view among the majority of the speakers, and indeed among; all noble Lords, with the exception of the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, that a determined approach to disarmament is desirable. We hope very much that we shall be able to proceed, as to a large extent we have done, on a non-Party basis; but I believe that this Government will bring a greater degree of determination to bear on this. And if we do I am sure that no one will welcome this more than the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe.

8.17 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to thank all the noble Lords who made a contribution to this debate. While it was not a fascinating debate (although I recognise that the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, was paying us all a compliment by using that expression), I want to say that it was a useful debate. It was useful to our new Minister for Disarmament, who we hope will read all the speeches and consider all the suggestions that have been made. I agree with my noble friend in his attitude at the Dispatch box. We love his modesty, his sincerity and hi:; sense of dedication; but I must say that I am married to a Welshman, and therefore am biased.

But, having said that—and I am sure he would not respect me if I only flattered him—I want to tell him that he omitted to refer to my most important point. I attach such importance to a peace-keeping force, a permanent world peace-keeping force, that I hope he will consider the whole matter, and that in the long days he has in these various countries discussing with other people he will not just say that this is impractical. I want to remind noble Lords that practically every reform in this country was at some time said in this House to be useless to pursue because it was impractical. Therefore I bring to his mind this suggestion, which in my opinion and also in that of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and in the opinion of many wise people, is a practical approach. Again, I want to thank all the noble Lords who stayed until this late hour for their contributions. With your Lordships' permission, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.