HL Deb 23 December 1964 vol 262 cc799-815

2.27 p.m.

Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved yesterday by Lord Carrington: That there be laid before the House Papers relating to the International Situation.


My Lords, I am sure that I can on your behalf welcome the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, here with us—if I may say so, at last. Some of us are perhaps more familiar with him on television, but we are delighted to see him to-day in real life. I am sure he will talk to us about the United Nations, and I feel that a better understanding here of what that organisation stands for is very necessary. It may be that the problem of five hours of geographical distance makes the difference, because it does not suit the way our Press works in this country. But what is true is that there has come about something of a polarisation of views in regard to the United Nations. There are, on the one hand, those who think it a temple in which the angels and archangels alone can walk, and the others who think that it has a vested interest in hypocrisy. I regard it as a growing practical organisation, but I conceive that perhaps the greatest danger is in asking it to achieve more than it in fact can.

There was, for instance, the suggestion yesterday that the Security Council could take action in cases of a threat of Communist infiltration. I do not know whether the noble Lord can put his hand on his heart and say that he thinks the Security Council would act in cases of threat of Communist infiltration; because, if it can, I wonder that it has not done so before. I should like to ask the noble Lord about one division that exists in the world. There are many; but the division I refer to is the one that has fallen into what I would call a form of slang shorthand, the division which we frequently talk about "between East and West". That term is both misleading and dangerous. It is misleading because it really does not mean the East; normally it means exclusively Communist countries; vet, by implication it draws in a range of countries—Persia, Pakistan, India, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan—which not by any stretch of the imagination is it intended to include in that phrase. I also hope that the noble Lord, if he can, will tell us something about the Congo. He is fully aware of the concern of the House about the situation there.

We have had, here and elsewhere, a very important and far-ranging debate. It has left a good many people rather anxious. It is not unnatural that we should have worries: we are living in a time when the range of armaments is not only great but changing very rapidly. It is only twenty years since the first atom bomb was exploded, and how do we know what weapons we shall be concerned with twenty years hence? But there is another reason. We in this country are moving from a position of Empire to a position of a nation. The movement is not by any means complete, and it will go on for quite a number of years. Simultaneously we see a movement of other countries from colonial status into nationhood, and here again it will inevitably take a long time and take place by gradual stages. It is not always easy for us to know just what stage we have reached.

A great deal of discussion took place yesterday on the subject of Europe. Personally, I am not prepared to say that Europe is the most important place at the present time, but if I may comment on one or two things that the Government have said, I do so because they are obviously of very great importance. The Government's proposals are based on two particular principles, first, non-dissemination of nuclear weapons—and, so far as they go at present, they chiefly concern NATO members and are therefore somewhat limited. The second principle is the strengthening of the unity of NATO by sharing control of nuclear weapons.

My Lords, let us be clear that these proposals could not, or, at least, do not, add to the military strength of NATO; indeed, it is specifically said by the Prime Minister that this is not so. So we are not talking about adding to the West's total missile strength. In any case, the credibility of these weapons is reduced. But, in dealing with the military side, I would say only this. I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, yesterday and he did sometimes sound as if he was reading from a Treasury brief on some very obscure point of income tax. I hope that, whatever arrangement is made, the chain of command will be absolutely clear. It is important in all military matters, but it is even more important in matters of nuclear power. I am afraid I must say that, whatever the position is, the responsibility for using nuclear weapons which are in any way under our control must rest on only one man, and that is the Prime Minister. It is no good trying to delegate this to a nameless committee of ambassadors, however distinguished they may be.

Having said that this is not a military matter, let me turn now to the political side and see how we stand. I should like to know something, if I may, about the status of the new force. What is its status? If we lock around the various countries of Europe, we see that this proposal provides quite a lot of advantages to the United States. There will be a European contribution to the deterrent, which is not the case now, except from this country. There will be direct control of all the European deterrents, plus, of course, the United States' own. I find it impossible Co believe that, under the present arrangement, France would agree either to place her weapons under the United States' and British veto or, alternatively, to transfer her force to a new international personality. I think, therefore, that for the moment at all events, France must be ruled out. But when we talk about that, I wonder just what the status of Royal Navy ships would be. Would they continue to fly the White Ensign, or would they fly some other flag? If we could be given any information in this respect we should be very grateful.

In regard to Italy and Germany, they will be entitled, as I understand it, to share the United States' veto and the control of weapons. Superficially, I find it hard to believe, if they really want to have nuclear weapons, that they will be content with merely sharing a veto; and if they do not want nuclear weapons then, of course, it seems that these proposals are unnecessary. With regard to the other NATO countries, I do not think, from the evidence I have, that they have any very strong views at all on these proposals.

I should like to ask this question. What are the advantages to the United Kingdom? I think we should have a fairly clear picture of the advantages that flow to us. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said that we get away from the tyranny of the phrase "independent deterrent". I accept that. That is internal Party politics, and I think it is a perfectly good reason so far as he is concerned. What else did he say? He said that we should have a more sophisticated system of control. Frankly, I find it a little hard to believe that under the present arrangements the sophistication is not adequate. If in any way it is not, then it certainly ought to be.

I suppose the real answer is that we should get a better and more consolidated Alliance. If the Government want to try to get that, I shall be happy because I think this is an important step. But let us be quite clear that if we do not get a more consolidated Alliance, then there is no point at all in this scheme. But I would throw out this question: Are we wise to try to consolidate this Alliance at the nuclear level? The real problem is that American assistance to Europe has been at such a high level since the end of the war, since the end of Lend-Lease—what has been called the most unsordid act in history—that it has brought Europe near to the position of being a military and economic satellite of the United States. That is unhealthy for us, for America and for the Treaty. We are trying at the present time to get out of that situation, and in that France is taking the lead. The Americans recognise that, and want to get round it.

I wonder whether it really is best to try to do the sharing at the nuclear level. It is, of course, important—and I accept this—that we should have the fullest discussion on the broad problems and details of nuclear strategy. I welcome this, but I wonder whether it is not more important to have a fuller sharing of arms programmes generally; in other words, a proper implementation of interdependence. Up to now, the United States has not bought in Europe anything at all that she really needs.

If I may take the example of the aircraft industry, we have a research and development organisation which is too big for our production, and therefore it costs too much. If the Americans were prepared to share in this field, to let us take certain fields while they took other fields, then I think there would be a greater feeling that the Americans were much nearer sharing with us in every way. We have been asked to give the proposals "a fair wind", and I accept the principles on which they are based; that is, sharing and non-dissemination. But the Government must show that what they are doing is strengthening the Alliance. If they cannot show that, then these proposals do not carry very much value.

There are a number of speakers this afternoon, but I should like to turn shortly to what I think is a more important field, the world outside Europe. The Prime Minister has said—and we welcome it—that this country must continue to play a world rô le. I should like to say that I think this rôle has been admirably stated by the Secretary of State for Defence—and I will quote his words, because they put it well: … to contribute to stability and peace in that third of the world where political stability is most deeply threatened."—[Official Report, Commons, Vol. 704 (No. 36), col. 612, December 17, 1964.] I would contrast those words with the words used in one of our more popular weekly journals, which said this: There is a function that Britain can perform on the West's behalf East of Suez which no other European country can". My Lords, the words "on the West's behalf" are, I think quite objectionable and damaging. The people who are most interested in stability in South-East Asia, or elsewhere, are the people who live there; and they are the people we are trying to help to do, if I may say so, their own job. This is where our rôle lies.

I should like, also, to quote what I think was one of the most important things the Prime Minister said last Wednesday, and that it is the fifth purpose for which the Atlantic Nuclear Force was formed—namely, to consult and discuss possible contingencies anywhere in the world which could give rise to the possibility of nuclear weapons being used."—[Official Report, Commons, Vol. 704 (No. 35), col. 435, December 16, 1964.] These words are very far-reaching, and it is, as I say, the most important sentence of all. It may be premature to expect to get much information of what is intended but these words could have the greatest possible significance. This, of course, conflicts with the suggestion to which my noble friend Lord Carrington referred, that less sophisticated weapons could be used in other parts of the world. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, yesterday talked about the jungles of Malaya. He may or may not know that even there, among the Indonesians and the Vietnamese, there is used a more advanced type of rifle than is at present to be found in the British Army. I think we must be careful about saying that in these areas we could get along with less sophisticated weapons.

In passing, I may say that I was very glad to see the great unanimity with which support for Malaysia was expressed in all parts of both Houses, which seems to have extended from Mr. Zilliacus to that stout European, the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn; and that represents a pretty wide bracket.

But it is not only Malaysia with which we are concerned. We are concerned with Australia and New Zealand; and Australia's anxieties at the moment are very real. It is right that at this time we should not forget the contribution which both Australia and New Zealand made, first in 1914-18 and again in 1939-46, to maintain stability in Europe. To anyone who has forgotten this, I would recommend the admirable documentary being produced by the B.B.C. at the present time, which I believe is one of the finest things they have ever done.

The big difference between South-East Asia and Europe is, I think, that in Europe we have military stability and are trying to get political union, whereas in South-East Asia military stability has not yet been achieved, and until we are nearer to it, it is no good pretending that we can get things simply by talking.

One feature in the speeches from the Government from which I derived great pleasure was the close confidence they have in the United States. This is of tremendous importance. I may say that if we wish to test our friendship, the test will come as to whether we support their policies, as I think we must, in South-East Asia. We are there theoretically in a very different position. Unless we can support them there I do not believe they will regard ours as very deep friendship.

In that area there is sometimes a conflict between peace and justice. It is sometimes difficult to decide which policy to support. I would say that at the present time peace is by far the more important. I am for this reason glad to hear that there will be some additional contribution, of a civilian character, to Vietnam, and I think that this may help to make our position clear. The United States is playing a difficult rôle there; but it must be made clear that the people of South Vietnam, for all their differences of opinion, do not want to be taken over by the Communists. And who can blame them for that? They, like other countries, are going through a difficult phase of changing from a Colony to a nation. Although we are in a very different position from the United States in South-East Asia, I do not think that our objects are any different. Our objects are equally to maintain integrity and independence in the growth of small nations. This, I am convinced, is just as much the object of the United States as it is ours.

I would only make one other point. A great deal has been said about the fact that being a nuclear Power does not add to the diplomatic strength of this country. Quite frankly, I thought that the passage on this subject in the Prime Minister's speech in another place was the least convincing. He quoted various organisations with which we are associated, such as CENTO and SEATO; he referred to Berlin, and I suppose he might have added the Security Council of the United Nations. It is true that we were there because we were on the winning side 20 years ago. This may be an echo from the days when our balance of payments was so favourable that we could run a two-Power-standard Navy. But this, after all, is hankering for that nostalgia of the past which we were told yesterday we should forget. These are not the things that matter to-day. That is the position we have inherited from an Imperial past.

What are the things that count to-day? There is, of course, the Test Ban Treaty; and there are the conversations we have had about the exchange of materials to do with nuclear bombs between the United States and ourselves. This would have been impossible if we had not also been a nuclear Power. There is the Nuclear Force itself; and our word would not have been heard there had we not been a nuclear Power. And, not least, there is this new-found enthusiasm which everybody has for China. China has been there for a very long time, and those familiar with China know that she has been important for a long time. But there has been quite a different atmosphere since China has become a nuclear Power. I mention this because I think it is important that we should continue to exercise influence. If we cease to be a nuclear Power, I doubt if we shall exercise that influence which I believe is for the good of the world to-day.

2.48 p.m.


My Lords, the field covered by this debate is so vast that if one is to speak briefly one must select one or two topics and treat them somewhat summarily. That is what I propose to do. My first point is that in the world as it is to-day there is a field for active diplomacy. There is decreasing rigidity in the two confronting political and military systems. Within the Western grouping there are differences of outlook and policy. Among the Communist Powers there is the deep rift between Moscow and Peking, and among the other States the development of what has been "polycentrism". Nor are the great body of the so-called non-aligned States of one mind.

To take one recent example only, there were the contrasting views of Kenya and Nigeria at the United Nations about the rescue operation in the Congo. Where there are differences of this kind there is scope for skilful and resourceful diplomacy. Such diplomacy, it seems to me, relies for its success upon a correct, realistic diagnosis of the forces which are at play, upon a reputation for fair dealing, upon a careful concern for the general interest as well as for the national interest. But it will also call for a touch of adroit manœuvre in the handling of a situation. In spite of the disturbing international consequences of the imposition of the import surcharge, I think that the more recent diplomatic initiatives of Her Majesty's Government are to be welcomed: and if they can help to repair the damage of the surcharge they may well be fruitful.

The Prime Minister's visit to Washington, his projected visits to Bonn, Paris, Moscow and again to Washington; the Foreign Secretary's visits to Washington, Bonn and Paris, and his projected visits to Warsaw and Prague, and the President of the Board of Trade's visit to Peking—all these, if they have behind them a clear objective and a just sense of international relationships, may help to confirm the Atlantic Alliance, to reassure the non-aligned States and to work towards a relaxation of tension with the Communist Powers. But when one speculates as to the possible success of these objectives, one has, I think, to draw a distinction between the field of the Alliance itself and the field of relationships with the Communist Powers.

In the field of the Alliance, the Government have taken a far-reaching initiative, explained at great length the other day by the Prime Minister in another place, and criticised strongly in both Houses. I am not for the moment entering upon the merits of that initiative. I am saying, rather, that if one is aiming at positive results in the present state of the Alliance, that is, procedurally at any rate, the right way to go about it. Whether the Prime Minister will find a place in which to deposit the British nuclear deterrent, whether he will get anything in the way of an increased voice in Washington in return for its renunciation, whether he will in the end have to participate in a mixed-manned nuclear surface fleet, whether he will retain the British bomb East of Suez, and whether we shall, at some time sooner or later, find the French independent deterrent standing in the place of the surrendered British deterrent, no one can say.

The objective will, I suppose, be a clear and coherent agreement which will chart a course for the future; and there is nothing, I think, in the character of the Alliance which should discourage the Prime Minister from making the attempt, difficult though the attitude of France may be. I confess that, on the merits of the case, I have not hitherto been convinced that it would be good policy to surrender the possible independent or individual use of the British nuclear weapon. Nevertheless, I think that the Government's present initiative should be supported. The operation is still in its early stages and many crucial questions remain to be explored. Let us wait and see what it brings. So much for diplomacy within the Alliance.

When one comes to the question of relations with the Communist Powers the situation is different. We may somewhat relax our tension with Moscow, or take steps towards a rapprochement with some of the East European States. But the main issues, such as the issue of Berlin or the issue of the future of Germany, will not respond to these diplomatic procedures, and concrete and substantial agreements are not to be expected. But here the situation is, nevertheless, not hopeless. Even though express agreements cannot be reached there are such things as tacit understandings, and these are more likely to come about where the parties are super Powers, in what is recognisably a highly dangerous situation. On grounds of self-preservation they will see a common interest in keeping the peace and in preventing explosive issues from erupting into conflict.

I do not know what goes on behind the scenes between Washington and Moscow, but it would not surprise me if there were tacit accommodations between them which have been responsible for the achievement and maintenance of the easier atmosphere which has prevailed and which has relieved us of the more immediate anxieties. This principle of tacit agreements may apply also in the sphere of disarmament. We have had our debate on disarmament and I will try to make my point only in passing. In the course of his most enlightening speech, which I heard and which I reread with increased admiration, the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, explained the distinction between arms control and disarmament. In the sphere of arms control international agreements seem to be possible. We have already had one—namely, the Test Ban Treaty; and Lord Chalfont indicated some other possibilities in this field. But in the complex and recalcitrant field of disarmament, the prospect of express agreement is a good deal more remote.

But here again, as in the sphere of major differences in the world, we need not give up hope. Side by side with the tacit understandings in the political sphere we may have individual decisions in the field of disarmament, which are, if I may employ a contradiction in terms, tacitly concerted, or, as the noble Lord, Lord Walston, called it yesterday, "disarmament by mutual example". Governments will take these decisions when they think that the prevailing international atmosphere will allow, when their judgment of their security will permit, and when their economic situation so demands. If I mistake not, we have seen such individual acts on the part of both Washington and Moscow. And it is here, I believe, that our best hope of early steps towards disarmament will be found, rather than in the long discussions that go on at Geneva and elsewhere. Let us by all means go on talking and not be discouraged, but let us hope for self-limiting initiatives from the greater Powers which will come about of themselves. They will come about the more readily if, in the domain of policy, we work unremittingly for an easing of the strain.

I have said that this is the time for active diplomacy. There is one place where this is badly needed—namely, in Anglo-French relations, of which Lord Gladwyn spoke with great eloquence yesterday. Anglo-French relations over the centuries have never been easy; they have always needed to be cultivated and nurtured. They have been punctuated by periods of war, by periods of entente and of alliance. There have often been rivalry, misunderstanding, resentment and assumptions of superiority, political or military on one side, intellectual on the other; something akin to condescension on our side, and pride and wounded self-esteem on the other. What Winston Churchill did for us during the war, President de Gaulle has done for France since the war. To-day we stand as equals best qualified, if we could find a way to do so, to speak together for Western Europe. We are deeply divided on policy. Our own special relationship with the United States sticks in the French throat. They complain that we never say "No" to the Americans. The special Anglo-American relationship is a reality. It has persisted since the War of Independence; it was not invented by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. It still exists to-day, as has been shown within the last few weeks. In the last resort we hold to the Americans, and in the last resort they rely on us.

In that situation two things are necessary. The special relationship does not exclude dissent or plain speaking. Nothing could have been closer than the co-operation between Churchill and Roosevelt during the Second World War. Yet no one could have spoken to Roosevelt in blunter terms than Churchill did when vital British interests demanded it. It should be a part of our active diplomacy to-day to speak our independent minds to the Americans without hesitation, when circumstances require.

Another part of our active diplomacy should be this. However deep the divergence of policy with Paris may be, we should go out of our way to inform, consult and cultivate the French, and to promote in every possible way Anglo-French co-operation in the non-political field. From this point of view the technical co-operation on the Concord project is of outstanding value, and its termination would be a grave set-back. Political relations are only part of international life and not necessarily the most significant part. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, had something to say about that yesterday. Why cannot Great Britain and France liberally exchange their experiences in these other fields in which they are both so rich? I have said that the times call for active diplomacy. Such diplomacy requires for its success, apart from diplomatic skill, two things. It requires the backing of a sound economy and it requires the support of a united national voice. I speak now deliberately for a moment or two as a non-Party Member of your Lordships' House. Since the war our economy has been precariously and lurchingly poised on a tightrope. No Government of either Party has succeeded in curing its inherent instability. The Labour Government in 1951 and the Conservative Government in 1964 left their successor a seriously deteriorating situation to clear up. We are to-day in disturbing financial and economic difficulties. How far this is attributable to the Conservative heritage and how far to the present Government's own conduct of affairs, it seems to me profitless to inquire or to argue. Nagging and bickering will do no good. Whatever the cause, the facts which we face are lack of confidence abroad and uncertainty at home.

How are these facts to be cured and our economy to be restored to health? The first and essential thing is that the Government should have behind them so far as possible a united national voice. This calls for leadership on a national basis, with a minimum of Party or sectional overtones. When a Party comes to power fettered by pre-electoral pledges, not all of them well considered, this is difficult. But could not the Prime Minister find a way to strike this note? Could we not on both sides have a truce to Party rancour and forget about Elections for a while. A united voice would improve our standing abroad; it would help our diplomacy to prosper; and it would serve to restore confidence in our economy. It is easier for this readjustment to take place in this House than in another place; but even there also an attempt should be made to find the elements of a national consensus, however temporary. Nothing less will serve.

3.5 p.m.


My Lords, the fact that my name appears in a somewhat elevated position on the list of speakers in your Lordships' House this afternoon, has deprived me of something to which I was looking forward, and that was to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, upon his maiden speech. The noble Lord and I have entered into strenuous controversy on many occasions in another place, and therefore we found in the past that there was some limitation to the number of times we were able to congratulate each other on our respective points of view. I was hoping that this would be a new experience, and one which I particularly should have enjoyed. But perhaps there are some advantages in congratulating him in anticipation in case the old Adam in either of us is not yet dead. But he can be assured that, so far as I am concerned, nothing could give me greater pleasure if I do so on another occasion.

The noble Lord, Lord Strang, has said that any debate on Foreign Affairs in your Lordships' House is bound to be a far-reaching debate. That was true of yesterday, and will be of to-day as well. I can only add a further personal point of view, realising that it is charged with all the imperfections which limited knowledge of a private citizen imposes. What this debate is intended to achieve is to enable us to place our finger upon the key problems confronting British diplomacy and British strategy. At this stage a correct diagnosis is, I would say, more important than a prescription for a possible cure. If our effort in world affairs is less effective than any of us could wish, this springs from two sources. Here I follow very closely the arguments put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Strang. The first is the continuing instability of our economic position at home, and the second, the apparent divisions which exist in public opinion in Britain covering many aspects of both Foreign Affairs and Defence policy.

The first subject is not a matter for debate on this occasion, except to recall that the late Ernest Bevin once said that if at that particular time he had been able to know that there were 20 million tons of coal available for export his negotiating power would have been very greatly strengthened. Internationally, Britain's position will obviously reflect directly upon the strength of sterling. I would think that it is in the field of our economic policy and economic prospects that the political battle in this Parliament is likely to be fought. But the second of the problems, that is the division of counsel in our relations with countries beyond our shores, is one which is strictly relevant to the matters which we are discussing this afternoon. I have the impression, rightly or wrongly—and this has increased as a result of the discussions which have taken place both in this House and another place and in the country at large during recent weeks—that many of the issues which at the present moment provide a basis of controversy are not real issues at all.

Let us take, for example, the problem of Britain's future relations with Europe. I am convinced that at the present time there are forces at large which neither the Government, nor the Opposition if it were the Government, could control even though it wished to do so. This makes it inevitable that Britain should, within the next decade, resolve the problem of its relation with Europe and, on whatever conditions may be appropriate at that particular time, become part of the European community in its widest sense. I think that in many ways influential sections of political opinion here in Britain lag behind industry and the business world, who are already, and have been for some time past, making their dispositions to ensure a continued close association with the developing, integrated economy of Europe. I believe that such forces will make their impact upon political opinion and will carry us, along with those other forces of history, into achieving what an increasing number of people here in Britain, regardless of Party, wish to see achieved.

I do not think, either, my Lords, that the problem of the developments in Africa, to which my noble friend Lord Salisbury referred yesterday, provides to opinion here in Britain any real or serious issue of controversy. My own feeling, whether it is right or wrong, is that Africa is not the key continent, so far as the confrontation between East and West, between our Christian civilisation and Communism, is concerned. Although it is true that Russia and China, in particular, are fishing in those sadly troubled waters, what is happening there is the result of the changes in the political balance of power in that continent, and arises, as I see it, from the long-standing tendency towards violence and disruption which has been part of the history of great areas of Africa over a very long period of time. One hopes that means will be found of bringing about stability, and an ordered life, for the people of Africa as soon as possible, at any rate in those areas that are troubled by insecurity and rebellion at the present time. But I do not think that this is part of the context of the East-West confrontation. I think it is perhaps a sadly logical development of the events that have taken place internally in Africa over the last few years.

I am doubtful, too, my Lords, whether there is any strong controversy, so far as public opinion, and indeed political opinion, in this country is concerned, over the development of our policy in the Middle East. Indeed, in none of those areas, it seems to me, are to be found the real problems that lie ahead of us at the present time. I believe, rightly or wrongly, again (and the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, referred to this in his opening speech this afternoon), that they are to be found in the nexus of situations which stretch from the Indian-Chinese border, in the North, to the Timor Sea, in the South. I am glad that the noble Earl went out of his way to mention the problems facing two other Commonwealth countries, Australia and New Zealand, which up to now have been fairly well insulated from the trouble spots of the world but to-day are clearly becoming more and more involved in a difficult and possibly dangerous situation. It is there that much of the strength that we shall need to have at our disposal may well have to be deployed; and, if that occasion arose, whatever the context might be, there would not, I think, be any strong controversy here in Britain.

What I am really bringing myself to the point of saying is this. So far as my experience has gone (and this is borne out precisely by what the noble Lord, Lord Strang, has said), the strength of Britain abroad depends not only on the economic situation here in this country but also on the capacity of the Government of the day, of whatever Party it may be, to speak for a united country on whatever the issue may be under discussion. There is a great deal to be said in the national interest for achieving as large a measure of bipartisanship in Foreign Affairs as is possible. In the long run, it is in the interests of the existing Government that that should be the case: it is also in the interests of a succeeding Government, when the time comes for it to take over responsibilities for conducting our relations with other countries in the world.

I hope, my Lords, that, despite the very substantial domestic difficulties which exist, the leaders of the Opposition will think carefully about the Prime Minister's proposal to discuss with them matters relating to Defence. I think there are definite signs that under the impact of experience, even after a matter of only six weeks, the policies of the present Government are beginning to moderate and change. The receding tide of electoral controversy is leaving increasingly clear areas of common ground, and I believe that during the next six months or longer, with the experience of the realities of power and of the forces abroad in the world, these areas will become greater. I therefore hope that out of this debate, and out of the experience of the difficult situations experienced by the previous Government, the present Government and any succeeding Governments, it will be possible to establish an increasing measure of bitpartisanship in the foreign field. This cannot but be, in my submission, to the continuing advantage of this country as a whole.

3.20 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this debate be now adjourned to receive a Message from the Commons,

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