§ 3.8 p.m.
§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved yesterday by Baroness Wootton of Abinger, namely, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign.—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I am sorry to say that yesterday, when congratulating the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger and the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, on their speeches I omitted to move the adjournment of the debate, so I have actually exhausted my right of making this speech, and I can speak again only by permission of your Lordships, which I hope you will be kind enough to give me this afternoon.
The compliments have been paid and the courtesies done, and we are now faced with the first debates of the new Parliament. As your Lordships know, it has been decided through the usual channels that the first day should be confined, generally speaking, to Foreign Affairs and Defence—not the affairs of the Church of England, as one might expect. But before I say a few words on those subjects I think you will expect me, as Leader of the Opposition, to make some reference to the position of the Opposition in this House.
Because of the composition of this House and its large Conservative majority—not so large as it used to be, hut, nevertheless, still very big—the Government, if they are a Socialist Government, are placed in a position of there being one House of Parliament which they do not control. I have already seen the question asked how in these circumstances the Conservative Party in this House will conduct itself. I should not have thought it necessary to ask that question, nor indeed do I think that any noble Lord opposite has asked it, since it is within 44 all our recollections that there was a situation of a broadly similar character in 1945–51. Under the leadership of my noble friend Lord Salisbury, the Opposition conducted itself with wisdom and with restraint, and I do not think there was any occasion on which there was a serious danger of a clash between the two Houses.
Now, as then, we recognise that the people of this country have chosen, for the time being, to be governed by the Party of the noble Lords opposite—not, it is true, with anything like the same emphasis as in 1945, when, both in votes and in seats, the Labour Party were in an enormous majority, for now the situation is rather different. Although they have a slender majority of seats m another place, in votes they have by no means a large majority, or indeed a majority at all over the other two Parties. We also notice that, so far from increasing their vote, there were fewer at this Election who voted for the Labour Party than in the previous two Elections. Nevertheless, we recognise that there is this majority in another place, which is the elected Chamber, and we believe also that it is the wish of the majority of the people of this country that the Government should be given a fair trial.
We on this side of the House shall not oppose purely for the sake of opposition. We shall certainly not be destructive in our criticism—and we shall criticise; we shall aim to he constructive. We shall try to improve Bills which are brought to this House in discussion and by amendment, and we shall ask searching questions as to the merits of any legislation brought forward by the Government. If they take up measures which seem to us to be in the interest of the country, they can count on our support, but if their proposals seem to us to he harmful or irrelevant we shall not hesitate to say so, for in all things it will be the aim of those who sit on these Benches to put the interests and welfare of the country before the interests of Party.
In short, we shall do as we did in 1945 and base ourselves on the advice the noble Marquess gave to your Lordships, to the Conservative Party, on a similar occasion when speaking on the 45 Address—and I quote his words [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 137, col. 48]:This is an occasion, if ever there was one, to show statesmanship. If we show wisdom, if we show patience, if we attempt not to oppose the public will but to educate the public to a true knowledge of the facts and to allow the facts to speak for themselves, I think we need not doubt that in due course—and perhaps sooner than we think—the truth will prevail".We shall, of course, co-operate with noble Lords opposite in ensuring the smooth running of the House. No doubt we shall be told later on which noble Lords are to answer for the various Government Departments which do not have a Minister in this House. I remember during the last Session being taken to task on a number of occasions by noble Lords opposite because Members of the Cabinet and senior Ministers did not always answer every debate. But the composition of the Front Bench of noble Lords opposite is considerably less senior than was ours. Instead of three Members of the Cabinet on the Front Bench there are now only two. Instead of nine Ministers or Ministers of State there are only five.
I remember once, during the days of a Labour Government, that a very popular and respected Lord in Waiting, when answering a question in a debate and not knowing the answer, said ruefully, My Lords, I am only a Lord in Waiting". At the time this was considered to be a rather funny if slightly improper remark, but there is a great deal of truth in it; it is very difficult for Ministers who are not working in a Department to answer debates and questions with that knowledge and background which your Lordships usually expect. We must see how we get along, but I feel that noble Lords in the Government will find their work cut out in answering debates on subjects unfamiliar to them for Departments for which they have no responsibility. I must tell the noble Earl the Leader of the House that, though we may recognise the personal difficulties of Ministers, we shall expect from the Government answers which are full, and detailed and knowledgeable to our questions and our debates.
I notice, with gratification, that to look after two of the subjects that were most stressed in the Labour Party's Manifesto, disarmament and the United Nations, we are to have Lord Caradon and Mr. Gwynne-Jones. Naturally, we greatly 46 welcome these two new Members of the House, but I would ask the noble Earl the Leader of the House exactly what role they will play. Are they to be Ministers in the true sense of the word, or merely Government nominees replacing Sir Patrick Dean in New York and Sir Harold Beeley in Geneva? If it is the latter, I am bound to say I think it a pity. Sir Patrick Dean and Sir Harold Beeley are outstanding public servants who have rendered great service to this country in many capacities. They were, of course, helped at frequent intervals by Ministers from the Foreign Office whose special responsibility it was to look after disarmament and the United Nations. I do not see how this new proposal improves on the old system. At any rate, I hope we shall have the opportunity of seeing Lord Caradon and Mr. Gwynne-Jones very often in this House, so that they may be available for proper Parliamentary questioning and so that they may tell us at first hand of their activities as Ministers and not as civil servants.
We have now had a little time to study the Queen's Speech. We know now, regrettably, that the Government intend to go ahead with the nationalisation of steel, a measure so irrelevant to our economic position and our balance of payments situation, except in so far as it may harm them, that it can have been included only to satisfy the Victorian fundamentalists who still abound in the Party opposite. A great many measures are proposed, many of which will cost a great deal of money. It appears that a rise in taxation is almost inevitable. At the same time there are to be cuts, and, if the newspapers are to be believed, the first victim is to be the Concorde. How strange, if it is true, for a Government dedicated to technology and modernisation! All these things, and many others, we shall debate in the next few days and over the coming months, and to-day we are debating Foreign Affairs and Defence.
There is, of course, a great deal in those passages in the gracious Speech which deal with Foreign Affairs and Defence with which all of us would agree. It is rather early to have a debate on the Government's foreign policy and defence policy since Ministers have hardly had any time to get into their new offices and read themselves into their jobs. I think it would be quite wrong for any of us at this stage to press 47 noble Lords too closely on the delicate subject in which we are interested. I do not think it would be fair, and I must say I do not think it would be at all wise, since we on this side of the House hope that a close study of the problems and facts, which is not really possible for those in Opposition, may lead to a change of heart and, perhaps even more important, a chance of policy.
I, for one, am very glad that the first act of the Foreign Secretary was to visit the United States of America and to see the President and Mr. Rusk, since whatever the difficulties we may have around the world—and some of them are very serious—the linchpin of our foreign policy must necessarily be our alliance with the United States and with the countries of NATO. I do not know what happened recently in Washington other than what I have read in the newspapers. But if the Leader of the House or the noble Lord, Lord Walston, could tell us a little more we should certainly be both interested and grateful. Were any decisions taken? Did they discuss the Nassau Agreement? If not, what is the intended timetable of the Government in this matter?
Could we perhaps be told a little more about the situation with regard to the multilateral force? There are, of course, a great many things to be said for and against the creation of a multilateral force in the fields of both defence and foreign policy. Militarily it would add nothing to the deterrent power of the West, and indeed if we contributed to it on the scale originally envisaged, there would be such a consequent shortage of skilled manpower in the Royal Navy that probably quite a large number of ships would have to be paid off. As against this there is no doubt that there is a feeling in certain countries in NATO that they should have some greater control over the use of nuclear weapons in defence of their own homeland. But I do not think we should underestimate the control they already have—the fact that there is a Belgian Deputy SACEUR who is responsible for nuclear weapons, the very elaborate set-up in. Omaha. I think one must debate whether or not greater control than this is possible.
All this is fraught with difficulties, and yet it seems to me—noble Lords 48 opposite will correct me if I ant wrong—that it is quite likely that both the Americans and Germans, and perhaps some others, may go ahead with a multilateral force of some kind. If this happens, can we afford to be left out, and if we are by our own choice excluded what are the consequences of that? At the same time, can we afford the money to go in, and can we take the risk of shattering what hopes there may be of a non-dissemination agreement? There are great difficulties in all this, and I do not, of course, press noble Lords opposite to make any statement about this matter this afternoon. But I hope that before too long we shall have from the Government some more definite information about what their intentions are.
I am glad, too, that the Government have said some quite forthcoming things about the need for Britain to be represented at the start of any negotiations on a new political framework of the members of the European Economic Community. I think that at a later date we should have a rather fuller discussion on all this, and on the Government's general approach to Europe and our relations with the Six, because at present I do not think that my friends and I really know the intentions of the Government. All we can say is, with respect, that in the first ten days of the Labour Government they have managed to antagonise the whole of Europe from Norway to Spain. I only hope that this is a temporary phenomenon.
As a result of the General Election, and the preoccupation of this country with home affairs, we have tended to overlook, to minimise, two major events which took place at approximately the same time—the deposition of Mr. Khrushchev and the Chinese atomic explosion. I imagine that the Ambassador in Moscow, and, indeed, the Foreign Office here in London, have been assessing the likely consequences of these changes in the Soviet Union, and if we can, with propriety, be told anything of their conclusions, it would be of great interest to your Lordships, since on the behaviour of the new Russian leaders depends a great deal.
If it is likely that these changes will bring about a rapprochement between the Soviet Union and China, and consequently an enormous solid Communist bloc of some hundreds of millions of 49 people, then a new situation will be facing the West, and we may have to re-think some of the tactics and the strategy of recent years. If it means a hardening of the attitude against Germany, here again we shall have to be watchful. If it means a wooing of the French and an attempt to detach her from the NATO Alliance—and there has been a small straw, in that I see that the Russian criticism of French policy in South-East Asia has now been amended—then again we shall have to be careful. And although the emergence of China as a nuclear Power in the future has always been inevitable, the explosion a fortnight ago has brought that much nearer the day when she has to be reckoned with as a nuclear Power.
It is these issues which really matter, my Lords. Though we may be occupied from day to day with troubles in Cyprus or Aden or Malaysia, in the end it is our relationship with America and NATO and the Commonwealth, and our and their relations with the Eastern bloc, which are going to decide the future of every one of us. I hope that we may be told this afternoon how the Alliance stands and how the Government see Britain's position in it.
We have over the years debated the pros and cons of the nuclear deterrent many times, and it was, as all of us remember, one of the key factors in the General Election platform of the Conservative Party. I do not intend this afternoon to go into the arguments again, except just to say that I hope that, with the responsibility which power gives, and the greater knowledge which is available to the Government now, and at a time when the French are about to become a major nuclear Power, and the Chinese are starting on that road, they will not choose this particular moment to abandon Britain's independent deterrent.
I, for one, am a little uncertain as to what the Government really intend. What exactly do they mean when they say in the gracious Speech thatthey will make constructive proposals for renewing the interdependence of the Atlantic Alliance in relation to nuclear weapons, in an endeavour to prevent duplication of effort and the dissemination of weapons of mass destruction.I do not know really what that statement means. All I hope is that, before they make any grave decisions, they will 50 ask themselves this question: Do they think that the abandonment by Britain of control over her nuclear weapons will make it more or less likely that Britain will have some say over the control and the use of American or French nuclear weapons?
Let us at least be realists. We on this side of the House have no doubts on this issue, and we believe, too, that it is necessary to keep strong conventional forces ready for any emergency to honour our obligations and commitments around the world. I hope that we shall hear this afternoon from one of the two noble Lords who speak for the Government that they also believe this; that they believe that a base in Singapore is necessary if we are to support our Commonwealth friends in that area; that they consider Aden to be vital to our position in the Middle East, and absolutely essential as a staging post on the way to South-East Asia. For in these two parts of the world we have vast interests and also vast obligations.
I was glad to know that the Foreign Secretary came out firmly in support of Malaysia's position. It is very difficult to forecast what is going to happen in this confrontation of Malaysia by Indonesia. I saw in the newspapers last week a suggestion that President Soekarno was not likely to continue for any length of time as Head of State in Indonesia. It was reported that Dr. Suhandrio was preparing the people for this event and that the jockeying for power had already begun. It is possible, I suppose, that if the Communists gained power in Indonesia we should be worse off than we are now—though not, I think, very much; but it is also possible that a change would be a change for the better. I do not believe that President Soekarno has any intention of coming to reasonable terms with Malaysia, for there are certain conditions upon which the Tungku must insist in any settlement and which are hardly likely to be acceptable to Soekarno.
It does not seem to me likely, having regard to the events of the last year, that any quick solution is probable so long as President Soekarno stays. There is more likely to be a policy of stop and go; infiltrators coming in either on to the mainland, as they did in that inexplicable raid last week, or possibly in 51 Sabah and Sarawak, followed by some sort of bogus peace overtures to keep untarnished the image of Indonesia in the eyes of the Afro-Asians, though I think the image is a good deal more tarnished than President Soekarno would care to realise. Therefore any change of regime would be of vital significance to us. I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Walston, if he knows anything on this matter, could tell us the opinion of the Foreign Office. There is no difference, so far as I know, between the two Parties about the future of Malaysia, or about our support for Malaysia. But I should like to hear something at some time from the Government on their attitude towards South Vietnam and the American commitments in that area, for I do not remember the Labour Party, now the Government, being on record in that particular respect.
Lastly, my Lords, I would say just one word about Cyprus, for this is a matter that has concerned me greatly over the last year. Cyprus has rather disappeared from the front pages of the newspapers, but the problem has not disappeared. I do not know whether Signor Gallo Plaza, the mediator, intends to produce a plan before the meeting of the General Assembly in New York at which the whole Cyprus issue will be raised. I am bound to say that I think that he will be something of a miracle worker if he can find a solution acceptable to the three parties primarily concerned.
One can, of course, do nothing but speculate as to what will be the outcome in the General Assembly, and I do not think that to do that would be either wise or particularly helpful. But there is one thing that I would beg the Government to remember; that is, the importance to the Western Alliance of the Eastern Mediterranean. The defection from NATO of either Greece or Turkey would mean, if not the break-up of NATO, a serious gap in our position in that part of the world. Greece is determined to achieve Enosis; Turkey is against it. I am not entirely sure where Archbishop Makarios really stands. It will be a very delicate task to satisfy the conflicting requirements and aspirations of these two countries. The Turks and the Greeks are proud people with 52 great national traditions, and I hope the Government will do everything in their power to guide the United Nations General Assembly next month, or whenever the subject may come up, to a wise compromise which can satisfy both these old friends of ours.
There are many other subjects which we could discuss, but I think it would be more proper to leave them until another day when the Government have been longer in office. We shall have the opportunity, in a debate on a Motion put down by my noble friend Lord Lansdowne, to discuss Rhodesia next week so I will say nothing about that this afternoon. But to end as I began, in all these matters of Foreign Affairs and Defence the motive which will guide our actions on this side of the House will be the interests of the country; and if noble Lords opposite conduct themselves as I hope and believe they will, then they can count on us to support them in the difficult times which lie ahead.
§ 3.31 p.m.
My Lords, at the beginning of a new Parliament, with a new Government in office, the "usual channels" are sometimes not dredged as deeply as they might be; and I should like to apologise for not realising that the noble Lord, the Leader of the Opposition, would be paying his tributes to the Leader of the House yesterday. I was saving up a fine oration to explain to the Leader of the House what a splendid man he is and what a splendid man also is his predecessor, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough. I will pass those words to them in private rather than keep your Lordships further, but I must apologise to him for my rather short remarks yesterday.
The gracious Speech from the Throne always leaves the Opposition in some difficulty, for there is so little time left to assimilate all the many details in it and to marshal one's arguments for or against the programmes of the Government. But, of course, the pattern of your Lordships' House remains virtually the same as it was before—as soon as those who used to go left by the Bar remember to go right by the Throne, and vice versa. I hope that it is reassuring to the traditionalists, who do not like things to go too fast, to note that at least the 53 Episcopal Bench and the Liberal Party have stood their ground and their seats.
I have maintained many times before—I do not wish to bore your Lordships but I still maintain it—that the function of a Parliamentary Opposition is to support, so far as they conscientiously can do so, the elected Government of the people, and to obstruct only when grave principles, rather than opportunism, are at issue. I am very glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, say that that is going to be the programme of his Party. The approximation of the manifestos of all Parties, and indeed of many civilised countries, towards a humanitarian and more tolerant outlook towards divergent opinions, strengthens my belief and that of my Liberal colleagues that much can be done by supporting this Government. I would say now, as my Leader is saying, or has said, in another place, that, apart from the matter of substituting public monopoly for private monopoly (and two very obvious cases come to mind; and possibly other ones) we hope sincerely to be able to support the present Government in a very wide range of their proposals.
Having said that, I do not intend to make a speech about the details of proposed legislation; but I should like to make it clear that we on these Benches do not consider that this Government have anything like a clear mandate from the electorate in 1964 to proceed far along any very controversial paths. Before they do this, they must look, as I sincerely hope they will look, at their own position and at our electoral system, which really is typically British in being inconsistent, unrealistic, and even whimsical—that is, of course, if they wish to represent the majority of British opinion, as I have no doubt whatever they do. In the 1959 Election, and indeed in the one before, the majority of voters voted against the Conservative Party; and so, of course, being British, whimsical and rather unreasonable, the only thing to do was to install a Conservative Government, which we did. It seemed natural to do so. Last month an even greater proportion voted against the Labour Party. And so, to be consistent, we took the same sort of line: we naturally installed a Labour Government. It is an odd national habit.
54 But by that practice you will see that there are great advantages, because we have a splendidly strong majority Opposition in the country, which ought to cause any Government to refrain from very extreme measures—or, at least, as I believe they term it at All Souls, "going bonkers". It is perhaps regrettable this time that we have not got a Liberal Government in office, because then we should feel particularly safe, with an Opposition of 90 per cent. But, in any case, it is interesting to note that in the recent General Election if only 4 individuals in Brighton and only 15 individuals in Ealing, had voted differently, the whole future of this country might well be different, because the present Government would possibly, or probably, not be in office. This is manifestly absurd, and surely shows up the ridiculous system under which we elect our Parliament.
There is one warning which I feel I ought to give, and I hope that I shall have the support of the Party on my left—it is odd to call them "the Party on my left" when, of course, they are really on my right. There have been slight indications in the Press—though not brought out in the gracious Speech, and not mentioned by any member of the Government—that, for the sake of convenience, the Government might be considering some minor retrospective legislation. My Party and I are totally and irrevocably opposed, as a matter of principle, to any retrospective legislation whatever. Such a step, it seems to us, would potentially—not immediately I am sure—open the door to the sort of action taken by the Nazi and Fascist Governments, and we would oppose it at every stage.
Of the action already taken by the Government, as Lord Carrington has pointed out, it is too early to say very much. We support their obvious concern for the enormous unrepresented mass of people in Rhodesia, and we endorse the strong line which unfortunately they have had to take. They have our support in this and our good wishes for a peaceful and equitable settlement of this immensely difficult problem.
Similarly we support, but with very considerable reservation, the drastic step of reverting to import tariffs as a temporary measure to ease the national financial situation; but it is difficult to 55 understand why the temporary nature—and I emphasise the word "temporary" of those protectionist and anti-international measures (as they are), with a definite and short time limit, as we are told they are to have, was not made much more clear. Nor is it easy to understand why a lack of diplomacy and discretion and prior consultation has been allowed to bedevil our foreign relationships in such a hamhanded way as it has. I do not understand what the gap has been between the very experienced and reliable Departments of the Government—all Governments—and the new Ministers. There seems to have been some sort of lapse there which I much regret.
But I do not want to attack. This is not the time for attacking. Delicate negotiations, as Lord Carrington has said, lie ahead with many foreign countries, and I do not think we shall do any good by trying to probe too far at this moment. But I offer to Her Maesty's Government our sincere good will towards them in this foreign field, and at the same time our earnest hope that beyond the detail of domestic ameliorations, which they have put so much in the forefront of their Manifesto and of the gracious Speech, they will be the first Government for two generations really to grasp the evil weed of poisonous industrial relations, restrictive practices and monopolies, and to abolish what I call the false and wicked Berlin class wall which hinders, at every turn, our prosperity, our incentive and our progress.
The motto of my Party, three generations ago, was "Peace, Retrenchment and Reform". I see no reason to discard this. Peace and Reform are, of course, now the common aims of all Parties. Retrenchment—an honest Budget, honestly balanced—is not mentioned in the gracious Speech, nor in the Manifesto; and it should no longer be bracketed with expediency. We are to have a "little Budget" next week. I hope we shall be given some explanation of where all the money is to come from for all these schemes, some of them very fine ones, and that we shall be given full details and know that we can live an honest life and look each other and the world in the face in regard to our financial position.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (THE EARL OF LONGFORD)
My Lords, I notice that since our debate began my noble friend Lord Alexander of Hillsborough has taken his place. Some of us, including the Leader of the Opposition, tried yesterday, however inadequate we may have felt our words, to represent something of our feeling about the noble Earl. He may not yet have had time to read those remarks, but I am sure the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, the Leader of the Liberal Party and the rest of the House would wish me to put definitely on record, in the presence of the noble Earl, that we all consider that he has rendered magnificent service to this House and the country by his leadership of the Opposition in the last nine years.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, Hear!
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I am sure that all of us on these Benches are very grateful to both the noble Lords who have spoken for the tone of their speeches. I ventured to suggest yesterday that we could take useful lessons in brevity from the noble Lord, Lord Rea. All of us could do that, except perhaps my noble friend Lord Attlee, who in this respect, as in a good many others, stands alone. I am very glad to think that he is going to address us later.
I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Lord, Lord Rea, will forgive me if I do not provide an immediate detailed reply to a number of important points which were raised, particularly in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. The main topics of our debate to-day are, by agreement, Foreign Affairs, Commonwealth Affairs and Defence. Commonwealth Affairs will be dealt with ministerially by Lord Taylor, and Foreign Affairs by Lord Walston, and Lord Walston will also deal at the end of the debate with any other points outstanding. Economics will be handled to-morrow by Lord Rhodes and by my noble friend Lord Champion, our new and greatly valued Deputy Leader of the House. Other Home Affairs will be covered on Tuesday by my noble friends Lord Stonham and Lord Lindgren and the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, who will certainly need no help from me; indeed, I think it will be the other way round. We are 57 certainly lucky to have him as our senior Cabinet Minister in this House.
I am glad to think that other noble Lords who have given us much help and inspiration in recent years but who are not members of the Government will also be speaking in this and subsequent debates, particularly my noble friend Lord Silkin, to whom the Labour Party owes so much. Indeed, it can be argued that on these Benches—but it is a matter of opinion—we shall be even richer outside the Government than we shall be inside the Government, and, if I may refer to my noble friend Lady Summerskill, even more beautiful.
I shall try to offer a few general thoughts, without trespassing unduly on ministerial speeches to come, and I shall conclude with a few words, highly un-provocative I should hope, about the House of Lords in the immediate future. However, before I deal with other matters, may I try to answer one particular point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, concerning Lord Caradon and the future Member who is still at the moment Mr. Gwynne-Jones. I have not got official information about this, but, to the best of my belief, we shall, alas!, see little of Lord Caradon in England. I think he will he serving this country abroad most of the time; hut I hope we shall see a great deal of the noble Lord who is now Mr. Gwynne-Jones. That is as far as I can carry the answer. I must not try to compare the quality of the Ministers in the present Government in this House with those who formed the Government recently; but, as regards quantity, if anybody looks into the numbers and tries to add them up, I do not think he will see very much difference. I think I am right in saying that in the last Government there were 21 Ministers of one kind or another, counting Lords in Waiting, who I agree, having been one for quite a while, should not be treated with the contempt which is sometimes their portion; and if we, so to speak, fill up our ranks here we shall probably have 20. I agree that perhaps one should leave out Lord Caradon, to be fair, so that makes 19.
On the other hand—and I am sure I shall not be misunderstood by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington: he himself has been performing very important duties in the Foreign Office; he speaks 58 this afternoon, for example, with very intimate knowledge of certain matters which I believe he has been handling himself—for good or for ill, the House will see much more of me than they saw of him. They may not feel that is a very good exchange and that half of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, was really equal to a complete version of myself, but that is speaking in purely quantitative terms again. And Lord Champion will be with us far more than the noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham, was. I am not making any points of comparison here except quantitative ones. He will be much more with us than the noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham, was able to because of those important duties which we understood detained him in the Central Office. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, our invaluable Chief Whip, will be taking quite a part in debates; that again is quantitative. The former Chief Whip, while he was most acceptable to the House, did not speak very much, so we must regard the change as something on the positive side. So if one adds it all up I think your Lordships will find that quantitatively—and that is the only aspect I am trying to establish just now—the House will be just about where it was so far as the Government Front Bench is concerned.
The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, who is in charge of Air matters and will preside over our Defence arrangements in this House, is representing Her Majesty in Chile and I may take leave personally, therefore, to offer a few observations on Defence policy which might have come better, and certainly more expertly, from him. If anyone suggests that these observations of mine about Defence are rather general, I hope that that will be counted at this stage for righteousness. Certainly the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, gave me an excuse here. He very generously said that he hoped we should not try to be too precise in view of our recent arrival in office, and the right honourable gentleman who leads the Opposition elsewhere urged strongly and it seemed reasonably that the Prime Minister would be wise not to rush his decisions on Foreign Affairs and Defence. If I speak somewhat generally I hope for a certain measure of indulgence.
59 First, then, a few very general observations about Defence. Some of these things have been policy for some time. Some of these points are very familiar, but perhaps your Lordships will allow me to restate them. One of the first acts of Her Majesty's Government when we took office less than three weeks ago was to make quite clear our unswerving loyalty to NATO. The Labour Party has always wholeheartedly believed in collective defence, and NATO is the most potent instrument of collective defence which the world has ever known. Of course, Lord Attlee, with a great deal of help from Mr. Ernest Bevin and the right honourable gentleman Mr. Alexander (now the noble Earl, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough), was perhaps the leading architect of NATO and therefore it is only natural that we should stand by that very firmly.
All reasonable men must hope that in the long run the peace of nations can be entrusted to an international authority and I am glad to think that Lord Attlee will speak later this afternoon about world government, which must be the only satisfying aim. But until we reach an end of that kind nothing is more essential to world peace than the continuing vitality of NATO and here certainly there is no possible shade of difference between the Parties. But the eternal vigilance demands a continuing reassessment of NATO, and that undoubtedly is going on very actively at the present time without the principles, of course, being in any way called in question.
In regard to nuclear weapons, there has been evidence over the last few years of a general desire to strengthen the Alliance and to broaden the participation of non-nuclear countries in the decision-making processes, these processes being taken further by the decision of a number of interested countries to consider in detail the proposal for a mixed-manned force. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, raised that question, very naturally, and was good enough to say that he was not expecting a positive answer this afternoon. Clearly this whole idea—and he himself mentioned the advantages and disadvantages—has implications which affect the whole nuclear organisation of NATO, and it is 60 clear we cannot postpone a decision indefinitely. We are clearly nearing the point at which decisions will have to be taken.
We have also reached a point of decision on the future of our own nuclear weapons against the background of the development in the Alliance on which I was touching. It is easier to put the question than give the answer, but the question is how best our existing weapons can be controlled and deployed in the interests of the Alliance, which are our interests. In general terms, I am sure we should all agree with what is said in the gracious Speech about the need to renewthe interdependence of the Atlantic Alliance in relation to nuclear weapons, in an endeavour to prevent duplication of effort and the dissemination of weapons of mass destruction.I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, that one can say these things but that much more content and significance has got to be given to them. But I am grateful to him for saying that he does not expect anything very definite to-day.
I am sure that before leaving Defence your Lordships would wish the Government, with your approval, to send out two messages. The first should be to those who rely upon us, whether in the Far East or elsewhere. We should assure them that we have stood with them in the past and we stand with them still. Secondly, we should send a message to those on whom we rely, the men and women of the Fighting Services. It is a message to this effect: "You are serving the world well, as well as our own country, in peace as in war. You may be sure that we will not let you down." I am sure that, quite irrespective of changes of Government or emphasis of Party, those messages will go out from this House.
My Lords, I have been in two minds as to whether to mention Southern Rhodesia at all. Obviously, the situation is very delicate, and it is far better to say nothing than to say anything which could make matters worse. I am not quite sure whether the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, will be speaking on that subject to-day, but if he were to speak on it in spite of the debate next week it might seem to him hardly courteous if I had simply ignored the whole question. 61 So may I just say at this stage that it is heartening to find that this issue is in this country being handled in a nonpartisan way. The Prime Minister's invitation to Mr. Smith remains open, and we hope it will not be long before we can talk over the whole position with him. I say something rather than nothing only to emphasise the real gravity of this matter, as we all fully understand.
Now may I make a few remarks about the economic situation, trespassing as little as possible on the debate to-morrow and the ground to be covered by the spokesmen for our Ministers then? There is nobody in this House, if I may say so, unless it be the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, or the late noble Earl, Lord Jowitt, from whom I have learned more about Parliamentary behaviour than I have learned from the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury—and I have learned a good many other things from him besides Parliamentary behaviour. I could not resist the temptation, therefore—because on any moral issue or question of taste I should be glad to be guided by him—of refreshing my mind as to what he himself said in November, 1951, on the King's Speech. The Conservatives had just come back to power, and he himself had just resumed the leadership of the House after six years as Leader of the Opposition, so his situation, though his standing was vastly higher than mine at this moment, bore one or two points of resemblance. If he will allow me, therefore—and I just had the chance to mention to him yesterday that I was going to refer to his speech—I shall read one or two sentences from what he said at that time.
The noble Marquess said in November, 1951 [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 174, col. 48]:No doubt, … the former Chancellor of the Exchequer … gave considerable information as to the broad picture. But I must frankly say that, when we saw the inside of the Government machine, we found a situation even worse than we expected. We found the cupboard even baler.What are the hard facts of our position? … The grim truth is that the country has been sliding down a very slippery slope … and if the late Government had remained in power and continued the policy on which it had embarked, with no modification, the tendency is that within a period of a year or two, or a few years, our reserves would have been exhausted, our credits would have gone and 62 we should have faced something closely approximating a complete economic collapse.Thus spoke the noble Marquess in November, 1951. The noble Marquess hits much harder than I do, and he sometimes hits closer to the belt. At any rate, I can only say that if the present Government wanted somebody to draft a forthright and rather merciless statement of the situation as they saw it when they took office, and the need for drastic action, they might well call on the noble Marquess, and he might not have to alter his former language very much. So he has a rough idea of how we found things when we arrived on the scene. At any rate, it is universally agreed that drastic action had to be taken at the present time. The Government's immediate steps have been very well received in this country, and it has been made plain, I think, that they certainly do not represent any curb on production—"Stop-Go", or anything of that sort. One must hope that our friends abroad will come to realise that it is not any sort of British humbug but that it is the naked truth that these steps are essential for our British recovery, and that, in a very genuine sense, they are taken in the ultimate interest, not only of our own people but of the trading community of the world.
The Government's measures can perhaps be divided for purposes of discussion into short-term economic measures, long-term economic measures and social measures, but the distinctions are to some extent artificial. One distinction which was drawn yesterday by the right honourable gentleman the Leader of the Opposition elsewhere, and, though not exactly formulated in this way, possibly indicated by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, was a distinction which I am bound to say we regard as fictitious. He drew a distinction—these were not the words used by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington; these were words used by the right honourable gentleman who leads the Opposition elsewhere—between measures inspired by concern for the nation and measures inspired by what the right honourable gentleman the Leader of the Opposition called Socialist doctrine. That distinction between honest measures, so to speak, and wicked partisan measures inspired by doctrine—I do not know for what reason; some sort of Lunatic reason, I suppose—is to us quite unreal. If noble Lords opposite credit 63 us (and I know the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, does) with sincerity, they must realise that, in our view at least, our Socialist doctrine is the philosophy and programme which we believe is best for our country and, incidentally, for the rest of the world.
So we cannot for a moment accept this idea that there are some measures meriting approval, for which we can be patted on the back and which are in the interests of the country, but that there are others which are inspired by lower motives. We used to hear something to this effect in the old days, when steel nationalisation was debated during the time of the last Labour Government. I hope that this particular distinction by the right honourable gentleman the Leader of the Opposition in another place will not be drawn during our debates in this place.
But we certainly do agree with those who consider that the emergency measures already announced are a temporary device for enabling us to put our house in order. It is very important to explain that to foreign countries, who are naturally disturbed at first sight; and it is important that our own people should realise that, too. In the long run, we are anxious to be judged by the criterion of how far we have provided the conditions for promoting greater efficiency. In the end, whatever some of us may say by mistake, so to speak, in speeches, the Government do not produce goods and services, but they do provide the conditions in which goods and services are produced. And we shall be content to be judged by the test of whether we provide the conditions which stimulate greatly increased efficiency.
Most of us are aware by now that an effective incomes policy—not just a wages policy, but an overall incomes policy applying to profits and rents as well—is a sine qua non of real economic achievement and most of us here—at any rate, we on these Benches—are aware that no such policy is likely to be forthcoming, and cannot be expected, unless this country is governed in the years ahead on principles of much more obvious social justice than ever before. So economic and social measures go forward, in our view, hand in hand, each resting on the other. But I should make 64 it plain that there are some immediate measures of what I would call social compassion which must be immediately provided, in cases where the distress is greatest, without waiting for overall economic improvement.
My Lords, these will be my last words and I return to something that was said by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, about the affairs in this House. We shall, all of us in public life, and particularly in this House, be very busy in the coming year. We in the Labour Government have been given a mandate to govern. We have a responsibility for governing this country. We should be betraying this country if we failed to govern according to our lights. The Conservatives in 1951 (and I am not going to become involved in these statistical arguments although I have a great many figures by me, and I may return to them), as the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, pointed out in a letter to The Times the other day, considered that they had a mandate to govern, although they had polled fewer votes at the Election then than had the Labour Party. In fact, quite rightly, according to their lights but not according to ours, they went on to denationalise iron and steel and to carry through a number of other controversial measures. The Labour Government, and any Government in this situation, would rightly meet with contempt if, having told the public that they would do certain things if elected, they went back on their word and failed to do them.
The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, in that same eloquent speech of November, 1951, ended by asking for co-operation. He said: [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 174, col. 64.]:I hope most sincerely that we may rely upon the present Opposition … to help us"—the Government, of course—so far as lies in their power, to guide our country out of these troubled tide races into the calmer waters of peace and prosperity that lie beyond.That was well said. I address the same hope to the official Opposition in this House to the Liberal Party, whose Leader to-day spoke to us in such an encouraging spirit, and to all other Members of your Lordships' House.
We in the Labour Government are, in our own eyes, under a profound obligation to see our legislation through; and 65 circumstances have left us far from helpless. I appreciate that there are difficulties of decision, not by any means negligible, which may confront the Opposition and which may at times trouble their consciences in the years ahead. But I repeat the hope that their co-operation will be forthcoming—and certainly nothing I- as been said to-day to suggest the contrary—and I underline the assurance that the constructive assistance of the official Opposition, the Liberal Opposition and every Member of your Lordships' House, based as it will be on a wealth of knowledge of experience, will be always more than welcome to those of us who have the responsibility of government.
§ 4.4 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, in rising to intervene briefly in this debate I should like, first of all, if I may, as an old Leader of the House, even what I think might be described as a genuinely antique Leader of the House, to congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Longford, most warmly on his accession to that proud position. I am sure that he will be a worthy successor to the noble Earl, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, whom we are all so glad to see this afternoon.
The Leadership of the House, indeed, if not a bed of nails (like, I understand, some other posts), can at no time, I think, be described as entirely a bed of roses. For if there are very fine blooms, there are also always attaching to it, even in the quietest of times, quite a number of extremely sharp thorns. That, no doubt, must especially be true in the present situation when there is a majority for the Government in the House of Commons and for the Opposition here. But, as the late Lord Addison, that great Leader of the House, showed, the business of this House can, with good will on both sides, be worked quite successfully, even in these circumstances. And I am sure that if any man can follow that tradition it will be the noble Earl, Lord Longford. He, at any rate, I am sure, will find no fractious Opposition here, for he has a multitude of friends in all Parties and, I think, no enemies. As for his quotation from my speech in 1951, I have nothing to withdraw about it. I still think that it was an admirable and extremely accurate description of the situation. But he, of course, is at complete liberty to 66 draw any deduction he likes about the present position. Now perhaps I may return to the position of the House of Lords.
It was our fashion, as some noble Lords will remember, in that 1945 Parliament to which I have already referred, to refer to ourselves, rather smugly, as a Council of State; and in the present situation, when the main Parties in another place are almost equally divided, that would seem a very appropriate spirit for us to continue to conduct our affairs. A good deal, of course, must depend both on the measures which the new Government introduce and also on the spirit in which they introduce those measures.
In 1945 we were faced, in one sense, curiously enough, with an easier problem than now, for the Labour majority in another place, as the noble Earl. Lord Attlee, will remember, was far larger than it is to-day, and it was therefore possible for us who belonged to the Opposition to make it our broad guiding rule that what had been on the Labour Party programme at the preceding General Election should be regarded as having been approved by the British people. Therefore, as your Lordships will remember, we passed all the nationalisation Bills, although we cordially disliked them, on the Second Reading and did our best to improve them and make them more workable on Committee stage. Where, however, measures were introduced which had not been in the Labour Party Manifesto at the preceding Election, we reserved full liberty of action.
I hope that it may be possible for us to adopt in your Lordships' House rather the same practice on the present occasion; although, as the noble Lord, Lord Rea, truly said, this time it is no doubt much more difficult for us to decide what has been approved by the electorate when there is so small a Labour majority in another place and when, in addition to Conservative voters, there were, I believe, about 3 million Liberal voters who may or may not have approved individual items in the Labour programme. However, as I see it, we must just do our best, with every desire to make our bicameral Constitution work as it was meant to work.
In preparation for this exercise, I, like, I am sure, other noble Lords, have been 67 trying to do my best to make out what the Labour programme really is, not only by poring over the gracious Speech itself but also by re-examining the Labour Manifesto at the Election and, in addition, by listening to a long but fascinating interview, last Sunday week, I think, which the new Prime Minister gave to a representative of the B.B.C. I believe that it was one which had been recorded last February. It was a kind of apologia pro vita sua—in which he developed the whole of his philosophy of life and the measures which he contemplated to give effect to that philosophy—a most interesting interview. He was actually extremely fortunate in his interviewer, who was much more friendly than most of his breed, and he was given an opportunity to develop all his views.
And what did I find? I found that much of his policy, in its broad aims, was not easily distinguishable from that of any other Party—better social services, more education, more houses, more leisure, more culture. Well, we can all subscribe to these aims. Whether the methods which he proposes to adopt are calculated to be the best to achieve these ends is, to use a French phrase which used to be popular in the League of Nations, "une thèse au moins discutable." But, at any rate, I found from that interview that Mr. Wilson is not a Marxist. He says that clearly in the interview to which I have referred. He is not even, at least if I understand him right, an enthusiastic supporter of the application at an early date of Clause 4. For, in answer to perhaps the only indiscreet question the interviewer asked, he replied, in effect, that the fact that a man wanted to keep Genesis in the Bible did not necessarily mean that he believed in Adam and Eve and Noah's Ark; and as he clearly regards Noah's Ark as an agreeable myth, I think we may fairly hope that he puts Clause 4 in the same category. No doubt he may still say that he is in favour of Clause 4 in principle. Yet, as my grandfather, who was Prime Minister at the beginning of this century, used to say, when a man told him that he was in favour of something in principle, it generally meant that he was against it in practice.
All this is encouraging to the extent that it means that if the new Prime Minister lives up to his profession, it 68 may be easier for your Lordships' House to play the part it did in the 1945 Parliament, though it is not quite clear how those redoubtable experts, Dr. Balogh and Dr. Kaldor, fit into this picture. It looks a little, from recent appointments, as if the official Civil Service, which we have always up to now regarded as the best in the world, is being by-passed. However, we must just keep our fingers crossed about this.
There are, of course, it must be admitted, certain questions on which there are very wide differences between the Conservative and the Labour Parties—I am not certain of the Liberal Party. There may be, I think, a wide measure of agreement over the broad purposes of foreign policy, as regards the conflict between East and West and so on. Probably we are all of us broadly agreed on that. But on the general attitude of the Labour Party, for instance, on defence and, in particular, on the independent nuclear deterrent, there does indeed seem to be considerable difference between the Party of noble Lords on that side of the House and the Party represented by us on this side.
To the Labour Party, as I understand it—and that view has not been altered by the remarks of the noble Earl, Lord Longford—the nuclear weapon appears to be not only wickedly extravagant but wicked in every other way as well. It appears to be unnecessary and also undesirable that we should have anything so evil in our own national possession and under our own direct control. That, I understand, is the broad general view of the Labour Party.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I do not like to interrupt the noble Marquess, but I do not think that is putting the Labour point of view at all correctly.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I hope that some later speaker will expound it. Certainly I took that to be the meaning, like the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, of that sybilline utterance in the gracious Speech about the interdependence of the Atlantic Alliance in regard to nuclear weapons and the necessity to prevent reduplication of effort. I understood that to mean that there must be joint control of the nuclear weapon and that we 69 ought not to keep it entirely in our own hands. But if, at a later stage in the debate, I am told I am wrong, I am sure it will be a great relief to us all.
To the Conservative Party, on the other hand, the nuclear weapon, though odious in itself, is a regrettable necessity for us at the present juncture in our affairs, and that is certainly the view which I personally share. I cannot speak for my Party as to the reasons for their view, but my own view, to which I have already referred, I must confess is not based on any great moral principle. It is purely practical and based on such experience as I have had in a fairly long life in politics. Nor has it, I think, been falsified by recent events.
No nation, I believe, can expect to make its voice effective in international affairs unless its policies are backed by great physical strength. One may think that one is standing on impeccable moral grounds; but unless one can command physical strength to back one's policies, no one will listen to a word one says. And especially is that so if one aspires to he what used to be called a Great Power. I do not know whether the Labour Party aspires any longer for this country to be a Great Power, but I certainly do, and I believe, for purely practical reasons, that that involves us in having the nuclear weapon.
Of course, physical strength is not enough in itself. One must have, if I may so express it, not only guns, by which I mean generically weapons, but guts as well—and brains, too. If one has all three, one can bargain on equal terms; but if not, if one has guts and brains, these in themselves are not enough. A policy of guts without guns—even of guts plus brains without guns—at the present stage in human development is not likely to be effective. It is all very well for the Party of noble Lords opposite to say, as they do in their Election Manifesto:Peaceful co-existence can only be achieved if a sincere readiness is combined with a firm determination to resist both threats and pressures".But what use is "firm determination to resist all threats and pressure" if we have nothing to resist with?
Certainly it will not be done by merely re-creating a conventional Army on a 70 voluntary basis, which I understand noble Lords opposite are suggesting. A voluntary Army, I agree, may be excellent, even at the present day, for what may be called police work. Indeed, it has done, as we know, most valuable work of this kind, even within recent months, in Central Africa, Malayasia and Guiana. But for the purpose of enabling us to speak effectively in the councils of the world or of restoring our influence in the United Nations in competition with such countries as Russia, China and even the United States, we might almost as well have a force of voluntary, well-trained bowmen.
No, my Lords, to have a foreign policy that commands the respect and attention of the modern world, which—let us face it—is perhaps as power-policy-minded as at any time in history, it must be backed by physical force, and that means, for a Great Power, I repeat, the nuclear weapon. And that is true, I believe, in spite of the existence of U.N.O. That is perhaps the main difference that divides at any rate the Labour and the Tory Parties in foreign policy and defence.
Now I would come for a few moments—I do not want to keep your Lordships long—to a subject on which I, and I believe other noble Lords on these Benches, continue to feel strongly. I refer to the policy of Her Majesty's Government on Imperial affairs and, in particular, to their policy on Rhodesia, to which the noble Earl, Lord Longford, has already referred. I have troubled your Lordships so often on this topic that one might feel that one should be chary of raising it again. But recent events really make it necessary.
I am sure that I am not the only person—indeed, my postbag tells me this—who has been shocked by what one can only call the ferocity of the ultimatum which was levelled by our new Prime Minister at the Government of Rhodesia. It may be retorted to me that my own Party were in favour of a warning, and that this particular warning has at any rate been effective in its results. It may, indeed, be—I do not know—that it has helped to postpone the crisis. But make no mistake, my Lords: the savage brutality of that message—which to me savoured, if I may say so, of old-fashioned colonialism at its very worst—and, in particular, the use of the word "treason", as applied to the loyal 71 Rhodesians, is going to leave a legacy of bitterness which it may take centuries to erase and is likely to make a final solution of this thorny problem more difficult than it was before. I know I shall be told that the American Government supported the action of the United Kingdom Government in sending this ultimatum, and that it is not for me to criticise the actions of another Government. But I cannot help thinking that George Washington must be turning in his grave at the enthusiastic support that has been given by his country to the dragooning of colonists by a Home Government thousands of miles away.
As I see it, there is really only one bright spot—and it is a bright spot—in this grim picture. It is the fact that, if Mr. Smith has drawn in his horns, Her Majesty's Government seem to be drawing in theirs too. I read a speech by the Colonial Secretary, Mr. Bottomley, which he delivered on Friday last, October 30, couched in very different terms from the original ultimatum. He said, if he is reported correctly:There will be no attempt to stampede Mr. Smith into hasty action by demanding the release of the African Nationalists or by calling a Round Table Conference. What we wish to see is a solution reached through discussion and negotiation. We hope to see a peaceful transition to African majority rule in Southern Rhodesia. But we do not"—and I beg noble Lords opposite to remember these words—wish ourselves to stipulate how this might be achieved or when that stage should be reached.That is a very different tune from the rhodomontade of the previous Tuesday and we must all welcome it. And if it means that the Government in this country, at any rate, might be ready to consider a continuation of the existing situation—as was suggested some months ago in a letter to The Times, signed not only by me but a number of other noble Lords—and the question of independence can be left in abeyance for the time being, at any rate, that might produce a breathing space out of which something more permanent might emerge. I believe that, at present, this is the best chance. I am not going to say any more to-clay, for I understand that there will be another opportunity at an early date of discussing the subject.
72 Now, my Lords, I have done. I should have liked to say something about home politics, but this, I know, is not the day that has been allocated for that. There is, however, one last word that I should like to say—and I hope that it will not be regarded as unduly frivolous. Those who are admirers of the writings of Beachcomber in the Daily Express will remember the election address of Capt. Foulenough when that redoubtable personality stood for Parliament:I will lash out in every direction and clear up this mess.Far be it from me to compare the new Prime Minister in any way with the doughty captain, but that does seem to be rather his present mood. I hope, if it is not impertinent for me to say so, that he will be able to weigh his words and actions with rather more circumspection than he has shown up till now.
The Government seem already, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has said, to have got across in quite a short time the Common Market countries, the European Free Trade Area countries, France individually on a different topic and also Spain, South Africa, possibly Portugal and Rhodesia—all of them countries which might be worth millions and millions of pounds to our export trade. It would be a very sad thing if we came to the end of the first 100 days, of which the Prime Minister has spoken in such moving terms, and it found us still indeed wrapped in the mantle of our own self-esteem, but friendless and alone in a distrustful if not actively hostile world.
§ 4.26 p.m.
§ EARL ATTLEE
My Lords, I am speaking to-day as a Back-Bench Member. For the first time for 41 years I am completely free from responsibility. I am neither a Minister, nor one of the official Opposition, but merely an old, Back-Bench Member. I do not want to detain the House for more than a few minutes. I am not going to follow the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, on Rhodesia, other than to say this. His objection to the use of the word "treason" as applied to the possible action of the Rhodesians reminds me very much of the attitude of the Conservative Party to Lord Carson and his friends. When they waged war against the King, because the Government were a Liberal Government they did not regard it as "treason". 73 Conservatives, in their own view, never commit treason; they always merely justifiably protest against somebody else's action. I do not want to follow that up. To my mind, the Prime Minister was quite right to s peak very directly to the Rhodesians and tell them exactly what they were doing. I think this met with general approval, not only here, but in the Commonwealth.
The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, has spoken of the difference between the Parties on the subject of the nuclear deterrent. I wonder whether he can tell me—so far no one has—when and in what circumstances a nuclear deterrent might be used by this country. It is said that we are never going to use it; and if we are never going to use it, it is not going to deter. I noticed that Mr. MacNamara in the United States made a statement saying that, even if America were attacked by a nuclear Power, she would still have strength to hit back and use a nuclear weapon against that Power. It is not a very satisfactory result all round. It would not be very satisfactory if this country were destroyed, but from some ship somewhere we were able to inflict disaster on another country. It would not be much satisfaction to those who were dead. I have yet to hear a responsible Conservative tell me when an independent nuclear deterrent could be used by this country. It is generally agreed that we should not he the first to start the use of nuclear weapons. If so, there would not be any of this country left after we had been attacked. We should have only the remote satisfaction that in death we were not divided.
I want a note of realism to come into this whole question of defence and foreign affairs. We have to realise that we are living in a different world to-day. It is absolutely useless still to have one's mind on old-fashioned ideas about warfare. The warfare that we had in 1940 is out of date, just as much as the warfare we had in 1914. Lord Allenby was probably the last of the great cavalry generals, and tie noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, may well be the last of the ordinary generals of the field.
Of course, the advent of the nuclear weapon has entirely changed the whole position. It is a thing of a different kind.
74 If you have countries with an overwhelming nuclear force, like Russia or America, it is no good saying, "We will have our nuclear force as well, or we cannot make our voice heard." It is time we realised that warfare is out of date and that national armaments are out of date. I think the Government were well advised to have appointed a Minister of Disarmament. But, in my view, disarmament can take place only where there is a sense of security, and so long as we have an anarchic world we can have no sense of security.
Therefore, I believe that the most essential part of the gracious Speech is the proposal for doing all we can to strengthen the United Nations. It is time that the United Nations were considered again. We did our best at San Francisco to build up an organisation for a peaceful world. We had to do that on the basis of independent sovereign States. At that time there was no nuclear weapon. To-day one must look at it in a different light altogether. I think that to-day there is a far better prospect in the world than when we took office in 1945.
I do not know exactly what is the set-up of the present rulers of Russia. I think it is certainly not going back to Stalin. The world saw an immense step forward when Stalin was replaced by Khrushchev. At once some degree of softening began, some realisation of the need for co-existence, which was a great advance over Stalin. To-day we may well have an Eastern country, Russia, that is looking to take its place in the world, because there is also another Eastern country, China. Unfortunately, China has just begun to enter the nuclear sphere. Before that grows, I think there should be an approach in the United Nations for reforming the United Nations as the effective world force, equipped with the means of arbitration, equipped with the weapons to enforce decisions in minor matters, and equipped to deal with the future of the world and the enormous economic and social problems that face us.
To-day, I believe that an enormous advance as never before in the history of the world is possible. We have departed from the time of hunger. We know there is the possibility of feeding 75 all the people of the world; we know there is a potential power for a higher standard of life throughout the world. The main problem to-day is not to go back to a domination by Europe, but to reach out to see that Asiatics and Africans are given their full share of the civilisation which has been created largely by Europeans.
I believe the world is waiting for a move forward. I am quite sure that initiative by this Government in the sense of creating an effective World Government would be welcomed by all the smaller countries of the world, and by the larger countries as well. I do not believe that it is any longer a Utopian dream. I believe it is the only realistic, up-to-date outlook, and I hope that this Government may take it. I see no reason why there should be any difference in policy between two sides of the House. I was asked by someone on our own side, with regard to our foreign policy, whether we are going to have a complete change. I said that there are things you do not change. You do not change the facts of geography; you do not change the fact of strength in armaments, and you do not to-day change the fact of the possibility of the destruction of civilisation whatever your policy is—and the policy for this country is for us to survive.
Let us leave out the idea of great Powers. We have got away from the days of power now. The advent of enormous power has rendered power politics in the old sense futile. We have to look at what we can give to the world. My faith is that this country can still give an enormous amount to the world by setting an example, and by showing that in the world as a whole we can do what has been done already in our Commonwealth—get a united action and cooperation between black and white, and brown and yellow. That is the service this country can do for the world, and I believe that if we had this initiative coming from his country, backed by all Parties, it might well be a great service to the world, and now is the opportunity.
§ 4.37 p.m.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition has already referred to the change in the character of ministerial representa- 76 tion in this House with which we are now faced. There are only two members of the Cabinet in your Lordships' House and four other Ministers, or Ministers of State, two of whom have not yet taken their seats.
So far as two of the topics which we are debating to-day are concerned, namely, foreign affairs and Commonwealth affairs, we have only two Under-Secretaries of State to reply to our debates and to represent the views of your Lordships in their Departments and in Cabinet committees. I would say right away that, however much we like and admire the great qualities of the two noble Lords—and I should like at once to pay tribute to both of them—it seems incredible that in these two crucial spheres, which cover half the gracious Speech, there is no senior ministerial representative in your Lordships' House to speak on behalf of those Departments. Of course, in saying this I am excluding for the moment the two Ministers of State in the Foreign Office who are to be based in New York and Geneva respectively.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? I think perhaps he did not follow quite closely what I tried to say about Mr. Gwynne-Jones. I gather that he will be here a great deal. I tried to distinguish between his position and that of the noble Lord, Lord Caradon. There is no comparison between the positions of those two gentleman.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, I was coming to that. I note the fact that the noble Earl the Leader of the House had drawn a distinction between the two, but I was going on to point out that, so far as Lord Caradon is concerned, his appointment, at any rate, is a new development in peace time. All of us remember the Ministers of State in the Middle East, and the Resident Ministers in Algiers, West Africa, and the Far East. Indeed, I myself had the honour of serving for some time under one of them, the present Lord Chandos, when he was Mr. Oliver Lyttelton. But even then, in the heat of war, he found time to return to report to the House of Commons from time to time on his activities in the Middle East, and I venture to hope that, in spite of what 77 the noble Earl has said, Lord Caradon will seek to do likewise.
I feel, for example, that the noble Lord might well have remained here for this particular debate and might have taken his seat beforehand. There was, surely, no violent hurry for him to leave for New York, in view of the fact that the General Assembly does not open until December 1. Here I should like to say, if I may properly do so, that I feel that the overnight displacement of one of the most senior diplomats of this country who has served us brilliantly, without fear or favour, in the United Nations for many years did not make agreeable reading. I can only suppose that it was done in that way "pour encourager les autres".
As I say, I regret to learn that the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, will not be here more often. He is personally a friend of mine, and I admire many of his qualities. But at the same time I must be frank with your Lordships and say that I am doubtful whether he really was perhaps the most suitable person for appointment as Permanent British Representative at the Security Council at a time when Rhodesia is one of the crucial issues under debate. In October, 1962, when Sir Hugh Foot (as he was then) was a member of the British Delegation to the General Assembly, and our Representative on the Trusteeship Committee, he resigned because he said he could not support the British Government's policy on Southern Rhodesia. The crux of that policy lay in the British Government's view that the United Nations had no right to interfere in Southern Rhodesia's affairs and that the British Government itself was precluded from interfering in the internal domestic affairs of a territory which had never been a Crown Colony and which had been self-governing for 40 years. I should like to ask the noble Lord who is going to reply on behalf of the Commonwealth Relations Office whether, in fact, the appointment of the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, as Permanent British Delegate at the United Nations involves any change in the above policy.
My Lords, as I hear that we are to have a debate on this subject of Rhodesia on Wednesday of next week, I wish to make only one comment to-day. I should like most strongly to endorse what my noble friend Lord Salisbury 78 said in regard to the message, which amounted to an ultimatum, sent by the Prime Minister to the Government of Rhodesia. I must say that in all my diplomatic experience I cannot recollect a more offensively worded message addressed to a friendly country, let alone to one of our great self-governing territories. I can only say that all my up-to-date information from Rhodesia leads me to believe that, far from having the effect which Mr. Wilson intended, and now claims, this message has served to harden opinion behind Mr. Smith's Government in a way nothing has done before.
In my young days in the Foreign Office I used sometimes to be asked to help in drafting the foreign affairs section of the Speech from the Throne. Year after year we regularly started that Speech with the phrase: "My relations with Foreign Powers continue to be friendly". No such phrase figured in the gracious Speech to which we listened yesterday. I suppose that it is not surprising, considering the times in which we are living. But I fear that it would have been in any case totally inapplicable this year, having regard to the steps which the Labour Party have taken, both before and since the Election, to embroil themselves with foreign Governments, notably those in Europe.
This is not the occasion to debate the economic affairs of this country for we shall have an opportunity to do so to-morrow. Everyone recognises the fact that the country was faced with a difficult and possibly critical situation, which required drastic measures. But surely in taking these measures, the ultimate effects of which, incidentally, are still quite problematical, it was not necessary for the Government to offend at one and the same time against GATT, EFTA, UNESCO, the Common Market, and our Commonwealth friends, and to violate the Anglo-Irish Trade Agreements, all at the same time. Above all, this was done without any prior consultation and in the face of the most formal agreements with EFTA and GATT.
Having regard to our already unfortunately disturbed relations with France, and to our equivocal position in regard to further British association with the progress of European political and economic 79 union, I can hardly imagine a step which could have done so much damage both to our good name and to our own interests. Nor is it only in Europe that this will be felt. The Commonwealth countries will be hit just as hard, including some of the developing countries with which the gracious Speech claimed to seek to foster closer collaboration and consultation.
My Lords, in one respect the Prime Minister certainly remains true to form. We all know his almost pathological antipathy towards Spain. It was exemplified last summer in his denunciation of the so-called "Spanish frigates deal" which led to the loss of valuable orders to Britain. One of the first actions of the present Government, scarcely a week after the Election, was to cancel British participation in the joint Anglo-Spanish naval exercises which have been taking place in the Mediterranean, to our great advantage, for many years. These exercises, which are to be followed by similar large-scale American-Spanish naval exercises, were all part and parcel of plans for the defence of the Mediterranean in the event of war.
I feel bound to ask the Government whether this cancellation of the Anglo-Spanish naval exercises was merely a further example of prejudice on the part of the Prime Minister, or whether, in fact, there was some sound reason for it. The official statement described the manœuvres as "inopportune". All I can say is that immediately following the cancellation it was announced in the Spanish Press that Spain was about to complete an agreement with the United States on the construction of frigates, presumably to take the place of those which were to have been built with British help under the previous arrangement. With the balance-of-payments difficulties with which we are faced to-day, it seems all the more extraordinary that the Government should persist in this short-sighted and prejudiced attitude towards Spain which has already cost us millions of pounds; and the total, over the years to come, would have amounted possibly to hundreds of millions.
We must add to this the decision of the Portuguese Government to allocate a £47 million building programme for submarines and destroyers to French shipyards at Nantes, solely as a result of criticism, by leaders of the Labour Party in another place, of the supply of arms to 80 Portugal. We must also consider the possibility of the cancellation of orders in South Africa which again, I am informed, may run into tens of millions. One can hardly be surprised that foreign countries are looking askance at the new Labour Government, and that workers in the British shipbuilding and armaments industries are growing restive.
The gracious Speech laid emphasis on the Government's intention to give increased support to the United Nations. But what sort of United Nations is it to be? Is it to be one in which the double standards that have prevailed during the past few years still persist? Is it to be one in which self-determination is denied to Gibraltar because the inhabitants want to remain British, and in which self-determination is denied to Nagaland because they want to split away from India? Is it to be a United Nations which countenances attempts to expel Portugal or South Africa from international bodies because of their domestic policies?—which, incidentally, in racial matters are completely contradictory to one another. Only yesterday a vote of the General Conference of UNESCO decided that Portugal should be expelled from the Annual Congress on Public Education. A resolution to this end was moved by Afro-Asian and Communist delegates, in spite of the fact that a similar motion was declared to be illegal at a conference in Geneva last July. Yesterday the British delegation voted against the motion. Will they do so in future and against similar motions at the United Nations and other bodies?
I cannot forget the fact—and I am not in any way criticising the noble Lord, Lord Caradon—that when, as Sir Hugh Foot, he resigned in 1962, he said in a Press statement:To sum up, my faith in the United Nations is based on my faith in the newly emerging nations—in the Afro-Asians.My Lords, I am afraid that I am a little more sceptical. In my experience, some of the Governments of the newly emerging nations, like other Governments, are good and some are bad. There are some that we can trust and some that we cannot. We must be discriminating in these matters. In general, I think that we must rely, at the United Nations and elsewhere, on our true and 81 trusted friends, whether they be in the United States, in Europe, or in the Commonwealth. There is no substitute for them.
The gracious Speech referred to Her Majesty's Government's aim to reduce East-West tension. With this we all agree, and on it fully support them. But do not let us forget that whatever success we may meet with in this East-West detente on major issues, the long, creeping process of undermining of independent African, Asian and Latin-American Governments by what I can only call imperialist action of the Soviet Union and of Communist China is steadily going on, and indeed increasing. We must be constantly on our guard, and I beg Her Majesty's Government, in reaffirming, as they do in the gracious Speech, their determination to support the defence of the free world, to bear in mind that agreements with the East will be far harder to achieve if the countries of the Communist bloc have, little by little, swept the non-aligned countries of Africa or Asia or Latin America under their control.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS AND FOR THE COLONIES (LORD TAYLOR)
My Lords, may I begin by saying just one personal word? I should like, as the first former Opposition Back Bencher to speak in this debate, to add my tribute to that very charming tribute made yesterday by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the good, kind words said by my noble friend Lord Longford, to our dear former Leader, Earl Alexander of Hillsborough. He has led us in the wilderness and led us jolly well, and with his Bible and his copy of Ralph Waldo Emerson he has taught us to try to be good servants to your Lordships, to serve God and honour the Queen and speak the truth from our hearts—and long may he be spared to keep us on the straight and narrow way. I should like also to thank my noble friend Lord Silkin, the former Deputy Leader, for if Lord Alexander of Hillsborough taught us the broad sweep, Lord Silkin taught us the arduous details of careful Committee work on which an Opposition must base itself if it is to be effective. In so far as we succeed it will be their training that 82 makes us successful, but in so far as we fail it will be our fault alone.
Your Lordships are always very kind to maiden speakers from this Box. Today I would ask your indulgence for three special reasons. The first thing I did when I entered my new office was to look at the C.R.O. list to see who my predecessors were, and it gave me a most terrifying shock. I find in my very junior capacity I am following humbly in the steps of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, and the late Prime Minister, all of whom have spoken for this great Department of State, the Commonwealth Relations Office, in your Lordships' House. To turn a little further back, I find, when our Department was the Dominions Office, the name of my noble friend Lord Attlee, and here he was a few minutes ago still going strong 22 years later. He tells me he addressed fourteen meetings during the Election campaign. As a matter of fact, I followed in his tracks and I found he was doing two school meetings a night, which really is a wonderful thing.
It is quite clear that I have got to mind my P's and Q's. The only crumb of comfort I could extract from the C.R.O. list was the fact that the first Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, our dear old friend Lord Addison, was at least a graduate of my profession—though, I am afraid, from the wrong hospital—and I reckon what one doctor can do another can try to do, and despite the somewhat disparaging remarks about our being only Under-Secretaries of State, we will do our best.
The second reason why I must ask for your indulgence is that I come to this subject absolutely new, with a virgin mind you might say. Your Lordships have listened patiently to many very long speeches from me on health and welfare, on housing and education, on water supply and blood alcohol; but, if we ignore two debates on population problems, you have never had to listen to me before on Commonwealth Relations or Colonial matters. When the Prime Minister asked me if I would do this work, you could have knocked me down with a feather, and I could only stammer out something which came from the heart. I just said, "I love Canada." It might have been India or Pakistan or 83 Australia or New Zealand, but it so happens that Canada is a country where I have worked. I do love Canada and when the plane touches down in Canada I feel I am home; and I hope I shall soon feel I am home when it touches down in India or Pakistan or elsewhere in the world. My third problem is one to which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and his noble friend not unnaturally referred: that we are relatively thin on the ground, not perhaps numerically, as my noble friend Lord Longford pointed out, but in status and income; and indeed we are perhaps a little interested in that Report that may be coming one day, but that is another matter.
In the last Parliament your Lordships were served by two Ministers of State for Commonwealth Relations and for the Colonies, the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, and the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne. Now you are limited to one Under-Secretary of State, and not only that, but I have to speak for the Minister of Overseas Development as well. So I must ask your Lordships to remember that I am serving two masters and one lady master, and I must ask your Lordships to remember that I am their voice, perhaps a small voice; I am a junior Minister only. But there is one good thing in this situation: we are all four of us old friends; indeed, we were all elected to Parliament on the same day in 1945, and I can assure you that four hearts beat as one, four minds think as one, and I will try to serve them all as faithfully as I shall try to serve your Lordships' House. I am also detailed (or "conscripted" might be the more true term) to answer for the Ministry of Health. I would beg of your Lordships to limit the number of Health Service debates we have before Christmas.
I feel not all of your Lordships will have read every word of the Labour Party's Election Manifesto, and I must therefore quote two sentences:We believe that the Socialist axiom 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need', is not for home consumption only.Accordingly, Labour will create a Ministry of Overseas Development.84 That pledge has already been fulfilled. Two days ago I spoke to the new Minister of Overseas Development and she gave me this message for your Lordships. I may say I took it down as she spoke it and we polished it up a little between us afterwards. This is what she wanted me to say:Our new Ministry incorporates the old Department of Technical Co-operation. But it is much more than this. It will look after all capital aid except defence aid. It will be our job to make sure that capital aid and technical and voluntary assistance are planned and developed together. Money without the necessary experts to spend it swiftly and wisely is useless. Experts without the money to back them up are equally useless. We have got to see that the developing countries receive from us all the help we can afford to give. But it must be a planned war on poverty and disease and ignorance. Only if it is planned can it hope to be successful.Many of your Lordships may not know my right honourable friend the Minister of Overseas Development. She is a lady of great dynamic energy, and I am delighted that our first woman Cabinet Minister in this new Labour Government should have charge of this great human enterprise where the needs and sufferings of women and children are perhaps greatest. I have a private and personal reason to rejoice in Mrs. Castle's appointment because she happens to be a near neighbour of mine. Your Lordships may have seen a newspaper map of Hampstead Garden Suburb showing the homes of the new Cabinet. Well, Hampstead has a rival in Highgate. We have two Cabinet Ministers, Mr. Denis Healey and Mrs. Castle; two Under-Secretaries of State, my noble friend Lord Stonham and myself; and we also have our dear friend and adviser in all our troubles, that younger elder statesman, Baroness Summerskill. I am sure we should all like to congratulate her on the election to the House of Commons of her daughter, Dr. Shirley Summerskill.
Just in case Hampstead still thinks it is top suburb, we in Highgate have in our cemetery the mortal remains of Karl Marx. My two other colleagues, the Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations Mr. Cledwyn Hughes and Mrs. Eirene White at the Colonial Office, both come from Wales, so they know well the needs and aspirations of the smaller nations. And when I am away, as must sometimes I fear be the case, they have 85 undertaken to help any noble Lord who has a detailed problem which needs to be dealt with urgently.
Now, like Puck—a rather substantial Puck—in A Midsummer Night's Dream I have toput a girdle round the earth in forty minutes.But my noble friend Lord Longford has said that if I exceed 25 minutes he will follow the example of the late Viscount Addison when my noble friend was a young man, and pull my coat tail to make me sit down. So it is going to be a rather lightning tour. First, the good news. Eleven days ago Northern Rhodesia became the new independent Commonwealth Republic of Zambia, and we all give the warmest possible welcome to this new member of our society. When Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal handed the Instrument of Independence to President Kaunda he declared that Zambiawas founded on respect for all peoples of all races, all colours and all religions.That is the spirit of the Commonwealth itself. My right honourable friend the Commonwealth Secretary was there in Lusaka to wish Zambia Godspeed, and just the day before he was able, with President Kaunda and the President of the British South Africa Company, to bring about a settlement of the future of the mineral rights in Zambia. In this speedy and timely settlement my right honourable friend tells me that he was greatly helped by his long experience, particularly in trade union negotiation—and I would think that is no bad training for a Commonwealth conciliator. Thus, we have achieved a happy ending to a long and sometimes bitter story, and Zambia can march forward as a fine, free, democratic African country.
Next, I want to say a word of thanks for the kindness and understanding with which our friends in the Commonwealth and the Colonial Territories have received the emergency economic measures which Her Majesty's Government had to apply immediately on assuming office. They are indeed good friends, in fair weather and in less fair weather, too. Sometimes inside our society one of us finds himself in trouble. There are still selfish and stupid people in this world who believe that physical power gives them the right to destroy the free- 86 dom of others. In times past when we stood in danger our Commonwealth friends rushed to our aid with no questions asked. They stood with us and fought, and sometimes died, for freedom, often far from their homes—until at last the day was won.
Now it is the other way round. Many people cast lustful eyes on the newer members of our Commonwealth, and until we can make general disarmament a reality and the United Nations a sure shield for us all we have an obligation to come to their aid whenever they call for our help. This is what has been happening in Malaysia. But we can do this only if we are properly prepared; and not least among these preparations are the bases and the staging points on the way to the danger areas. We would beg all our Commonwealth friends to realise that our power to help them in their times of need may depend on these bases and staging points. Our society, our Commonwealth, menaces no one. We are one people, whatever the colour of our skins. We hold to certain fundamental freedoms, not the least of which is that each of us should be able to order his own affairs according to the general wishes of our people. On the maintenance of this fundamental human right there can be no compromise.
I find it hard to speak without emotion about the Commonwealth. Last April, in The Times newspaper a gentleman signing himself "A Conservative" wrote a set of most controversial articles. I do not know whether he is a member of the Conservative Shadow Cabinet; but, if so, I am certain that his is a lone voice when he says that the Commonwealth "has really become a gigantic farce". That is pernicious rubbish. The Commonwealth is a society of friends bound together by a common language—our wonderfully flexible English language—and a common tradition of belief in individual freedom under the law, democratic government without corruption, and a multitude of ties, industrial and educational, scientific and technical, professional and commercial. We are a family of nations who do most things in much the same sort of way, and, like all families, we sometimes have our little rows. But we also like family gatherings. I have to say that a week to-day I must leave your Lordships' House for just one such gathering, in Jamaica.
87 I was a little worried about the date of the proposed debate on Rhodesia, which I learned about only this afternoon, and which is exactly a week today. I will certainly do my best to postpone my departure, but, as your Lordships will see, we have here a slight dilemma. The gathering to which I have to go is the Annual Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Our delegation is already in the Islands in the Caribbean, but I felt that I must stay behind for this important first debate of the new Parliament on Commonwealth affairs in your Lordships' House. I have to lead our delegation at this Conference, but I am fortunate that our branch of the Association had already chosen as the deputy leader my old friend, and my old boss, Lord Morrison of Lambeth. When we won the Election my noble friend offered to step down, but our friends in the Opposition would not hear of it; so I shall be greatly helped and guided in our work by one of the greatest Parliamentarians of our time. I will do my best to come back as soon as I can; but in my absence my noble friend Lord Walston will answer for Commonwealth and Colonial affairs in your Lordships' House, and I am sure that he will do it very well indeed.
I want to say a few words about colonial affairs. Many of your Lordships knew and loved the father of my right honourable friend the new Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr. Anthony Greenwood. How proud he would be to see his son in that great office! My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies tells me that it is his task to work himself out of a job—and it is not a bad way of describing it—as quickly as he can. Let me go back for one moment to the Labour Party Election manifesto. There is a section called, "The End of Colonialism"—and that, in a word, is our aim. We want to speed our remaining Colonies on the road to free self-government, just as the first majority Labour Government sped India, Pakistan and Ceylon on this great road. Since then many more colonial territories have become free nations. But let us remember that many of the Colonies which remain are very small indeed, often very isolated and some are alas! very poor. So they need help—help wherever possible to form themselves into groups so that they can 88 live on their own. They need help in economic and social planning; and help in developing full, free-working, democratic Governments. They are little countries with big problems, and I should not be at all surprised if we do not hear a good deal more about them as this Parliament proceeds.
Soon we shall have the Gambia Independence Bill. Then there are to be the elections in British Guiana which will be held on December 7. We are hoping that it may prove possible for a team of impartial observers to visit British Guiana to see that the elections are conducted in a fair and free manner. Your Lordships may have read in the Press of the meeting in Barbados last week of the Chief Ministers of the islands which are sometimes called "the little seven". They have reached a large measure of agreement on the kind of Federation they want. This is good news, but we must remember the sad fate of the last West Indian Federation, and all move a little cautiously.
At the C.P.A. meeting I hope to meet for the first time some of our friends from "the little seven", including the Chief Minister of Antigua. Afterwards the Colonial Secretary has asked me to go to Barbados to see the Governor, Sir John Stow, in his capacity as chairman of the Regional Council of Ministers—that is the group of Ministers who have been working on the plan for the Federation. I hope also to meet the Premier, Mr. Barrow.
In Aden State the General Election held on October 16 has resulted in the reappointment of Mr. Baharoon as Chief Minister. He has formed his Cabinet with eight Ministers besides himself. They have been sworn in at the beginning of their term of office which, if it runs its full course of five years, will mean that we shall see Aden emerge into full independence as part of the Federation of Southern Arabia. My right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary hopes to visit Aden in the near future to familiarise himself with the problems before the Constitutional Conference which was foreshadowed in the report of last summer's South Arabian Conference. I am very glad that he is going, because it is quite a difficult problem. Clearly, there must be flexibility in working out the ultimate destiny of these 89 remaining Colonies. Some which become fully independent may prefer to leave us altogether. But I hope—and I am sure that all your Lordships hope—that most of these small countries may of their own free will ask to continue as members of our free Commonwealth society.
Both from the Commonwealth and from the colonial territories there comes a never-ending stream of visitors—Presidents, Sultans, Ministers, politicians and many more. I venture to ask your Lordships to be even more generous in giving up your time to meeting these visitors and showing them some of the things in which I know that you and they are particularly interested. Last week, for example, I saw the Sultan of Brunei. He is very interested in revolver-shooting. I knew that the noble Lord, Lord Swansea, was captain of our shooting team at the House of Lords, and Lord Swansea very kindly looked after him and hoped to take him down to Bisley. This is a good thing. We have the Minister of Health of the Maldive Islands here. My noble friend Lord Llewelyn-Davies, who is an architect, has designed what is probably the best small island hospital in this country. It is in Alderney, and we have been trying to arrange for the Minister of Health for the Maldive Islands to go to Alderney to see this small hospital. If he cannot go there we are going to take him to Harlow. I shall trespass on the good will of your Lordships more than in the past, because in this simple work of common relationship, common interest-building, it helps the Commonwealth to he an even better Commonwealth than in the past.
I now come to the toughest and most difficult problem which faces us at the present time. I am grateful to the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, for having been very restrained in his remarks about Southern Rhodesia: it has enabled me to cut my brief by two-thirds, which is a good thing. My noble friend the Lord Privy Seal, the Leader of the House, has outlined our broad approach to this problem. I am almost sure that almost every noble Lord agrees about the whole approach. We welcome the support of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, for the general policy of Her Majesty's Government. As my noble friend Lord Longford said, the result of the action we have taken has been to give a pause, a pause which gives 90 us all, whether in Britain or in Southern Rhodesia, the first thing we need, which is time—time to think things over quietly, and then to begin to talk them over with Mr. Smith and his Government.
The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, was very critical about the warning statement. Well, there is a little hit of history behind this. The Conservative Government had sent a warning of the consequences of a unilateral declaration of independence, as it is sometimes called, to the Southern Rhodesian Government months before the present Government sent its warning. But the people of Southern Rhodesia had not been told what was in that message; they did not know the consequences. There seemed to be a great danger that an irrevocable step would be taken without the Southern Rhodesians' knowing what the result would be. Mr. Smith had told our Prime Minister that, while he felt it was important to have talks as soon as possible, he would not be able to visit London until after his referendum on November 5. In this situation, and in the absence of any assurance from the Southern Rhodesian Government that no declaration of independence would be made, we felt it was our duty to act. So we issued publicly the warning statement of which the House is aware.
I must emphasise, my Lords, that there was no hostility behind this statement. It was not a threat; nor was it an interference in Southern Rhodesia's internal affairs. Southern Rhodesia can be made independent only by an Act of this British Parliament, and we simply wished to place the full facts before all the people of Southern Rhodesia. Our action has been strongly supported throughout the Commonwealth, and by the United States and many other countries, which have been watching the trend of events in Southern Rhodesia with concern. In Rhodesia itself it has resulted in people seriously taking stock of where they might be heading. That is an improvement. Nothing can be settled by acting against the law, or by violence from any quarter; and when people are deeply worried or over-anxious there is always this risk.
If this problem is to be resolved, it must be tackled by constructive discussion. This is what we want. We hope that Mr. Smith will soon come to London 91 for talks in just this spirit. Like the previous Government, we must be satisfied that the basis on which independence is granted is acceptable to the people of the country as a whole, and Mr. Smith himself accepted this. We hope, as the Commonwealth Secretary has said, to see a peaceful transition to African majority rule in Southern Rhodesia, but we do not seek ourselves to stipulate exactly how this might be achieved or when the stage should be reached. We are ready to explore any line of negotiation which may lead to a satisfactory settlement.
I should like to add this comment. We in Britain have many tics of kinship and friendship with Southern Rhodesia. We remember their help in the war. We remember how many of our airmen enjoyed Southern Rhodesian hospitality under the Air Training Scheme; and Mr. Smith's old chief, Lord Malvern, was a graduate of the hospital where I trained as a student. We know that Mr. Smith is a Rhodesian that he was born there, and went to school there; and it is his homeland just as it is the homeland of all the other people of Rhodesia. When he comes to Britain, as I am sure he will, he will meet, in oar Prime Minister and our Commonwealth Secretary, two good men and true; men who speak simply and clearly in a way which I am sure he will understand and respect. We want to see a great future for his country inside our Commonwealth. This means real statesmanship and understanding on all sides. Only on this basis can that future be built.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask, through him, whether Her Majesty's Government will consider asking the noble Lord, Lord Caradon, to return to London to take part in our debate on Rhodesia next week?
§ LORD TAYLOR
I am sorry, my Lords. I cannot possibly answer that question without notice. I had not myself considered it, and I feel that in a way it is a slightly polemical question, if I may, without disrespect, suggest this. I will stay myself to take part and answer, even if I have to miss the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, perhaps I ought to say just one word further to the noble Lord. Of course, any question raised by a noble Lord to the Government, any question addressed to a Minister through this Bench, must be conveyed to the Government. So the noble Lord's question must clearly be conveyed as a matter of courtesy, and it would be misleading the noble Lord if I gave him the impression that I thought Lord Caradon was likely to be available.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, like the last speaker, but for another reason, I am afraid that I must crave your indulgence. The fact is that this morning I woke up with a very high temperature, so that if I say anything very silly or inconsequential I hope you will forgive me. I also apologise for not having attended the earlier part of this debate, and for the fact that I may have to go off before its end, a thing which I certainly would not otherwise do.
I want at this stage of the debate to raise quite a different question, namely, the state of our Western Alliance—I think the rather parlous, even the dangerous, state of our Western Alliance. It is no good at all crying over spilt milk, but I cannot help just recalling to your Lordships that, had it not been for the unfortunate events of January, 1963, we should by this time—for perhaps six months, even for a year six months, perhaps even a year, ago,—have been actually a member of the European Economic Community. Thus Six would have been reduced at one our duties on goods imported from the fell swoop by 50 per cent., and on average, duties on our goods exported to the Six would have been reduced, too.
There is no doubt that we could have increased general trade by such means, even though (and I do not want to say for a moment that this could have been excluded) there had been some balance-of-payments difficulties—I will not say crises. I think there would have been, but I have every reason to suppose that a balance-of-payments crisis—if, indeed, we had had one—would have been infinitely more easily cured in an atmosphere of European good will in the context of the colossal European market. 93 At any rate, that is what I feel myself. Not only that, my Lords, but our own industry here, owing to the necessity of standing up to intensive foreign competition, would already have been drastically streamlined. Many of the things which we now hope to do, which the Government hope to do, by the admittedly rather painful process of pulling ourselves up by our own boot strings, would have been done automatically.
Even the present situation in the European Economic Community would probably have been much better. The Germans would have had much less difficulty in adopting a sensible agricultural policy, because they would have had considerable gains in the field of industry by importing a great many more goods into this country. The French, I have no doubt, would have more readily agreed in those circumstances to negotiations in the Kennedy Round which are now pretty well blocked, as far as I can understand it. Even now, I think we should have been making very considerable progress in the Kennedy Round for the benefit of everybody, since, as your Lordships know, Congress had given the President powers had we joined Europe, but only had this country joined Europe, to abolish some duties altogether, and not merely to limit them to 50 per cent.
Politically, too, the Western Alliance would have been rapidly heading—I think this is certain—to that partnership which that great man, President Kennedy, and his very intelligent advisers rightly h Ad to be the best solution of all for the Alliance. Even General de Gaulle would have, I think, seen something like his own conception of an autonomous European force taking gradual shape. The whole situation, anyhow for the Western world, would, as I believe, have been changed for the better, instead of—I regret to say this, but it seems to me the case at the moment—heading rather vertiginously for the worse. There is, indeed, no doubt at all that we are rapidly approaching a crisis in our Western world—you have only to read the French Press—and, therefore, as I see it, this country should seriously concentrate on what are the real alternatives before it.
For these reasons I do not think that what I have said is really crying over spilt milk, because it is still possible 94 with good will—I do not say now, but in the next few years—to put the milk, or at any rate some of the milk, back into the bottle. What is absolutely useless, of course, is to discuss who was responsible for upsetting it. I think all of us in Western Europe were partially to blame for that.
The fact remains, my Lords, that the debris created by the catastrophic end to the negotiations in January, 1963, has not yet been cleared away, and that, instead of the great European conception which we thought would emerge, we now see, to our dismay, moving through the fog, the shapes of old tattered nationalisms, the gravediggers of the last war and the harbingers of the next. Here in this country, after happily living beyond our means for about a year, we have suddenly woken up to the fact that, unless the foreigner temporarily bails us out by accepting our goods while agreeing to restrictions on his own, we are obviously once again confronted with the depressing old "Stop and Go". But it is becoming increasingly clear that, dependent as we are to such an enormous extent on exports, we are the last country who ought to go in for nationalism of any kind—and, indeed, for protectionism of any kind. The same applies, I think, to many of the nations of Western Europe. Therefore some wider conception of our destiny is necessary for this country and, indeed, for them. In 1961 we thought, or some of us did, that we had found it: butWhere is it now, the glory and the dream?My Lords, I recently presided over a meeting of the Atlantic Treaty Association at Ottawa, and we had a very interesting discussion about these alternatives. There was general agreement that if the European Economic Community by any chance broke up, and Western Europe therefore—and I say "therefore"—reverted to a collection of small and middle-sized States, all presumably pursuing their own national aims, the only way in which the Alliance could possibly operate would be on the basis of an undisputed American hegemony. Nobody thought (in Ottawa, at any rate) this was a very good solution, because, apart from the fact that the standard of living of the various European nations would probably, in such circumstances, have gone down with political results which would have 95 been quite deplorable and which could include neutralism, the Americans would not wish to exercise such hegemony if they could possibly avoid it, and might not be able to do so even if they wished.
So, assuming, then, that the Community did not collapse—and this, as I think, is still a legitimate bet—one alternative was, we thought, to base the Alliance on two poles of authority, one centred in Washington and one in Paris, with Britain as it were fluctuating between the two. I strongly suspect that that is the kind of conception Monsieur Jean Monnet is even now trying to sell to General de Gaulle. Nobody thought that this would be a very good solution, either, or that it was very practicable, seeing that it was unlikely, among other things, that the Germans would wish to go in for anything of the sort.
The second possibility, favoured by some, was to found some kind of an "Atlantic Community" in a physical sense—that is to say, to adopt in the Atlantic world certain techniques which are now adopted in the European Economic Community, such as a political commission, of course with certain decisions being taken by a qualified majority vote, the purpose being to lead up, anyhow, to a definite Atlantic Federation. But, here again, the objections seemed to be—and I am sure your Lordships will agree on this—that techniques which, though with difficulty, could possibly be adopted in Western Europe, simply cannot, in the present conditions of the world, be adopted in the whole area of Western Europe and North America.
The third alternative was to continue to hope that over the years some kind of entity would still emerge in Western Europe which would include the United Kingdom, and that the Alliance would rest on two partners between whom ever-increasing cooperation would gradually be established over the years. This was undoubtedly thought, anyhow in our little conference, to be the best solution.
There was also considerable discussion of the proposed multilateral force, the chief protagonist of which, Mr. Livingston Merchant, made a powerful speech. The chief political advantage of this is obviously that it is attractive to the Germans, who would thereby be 96 directly associated, even if only negatively, with the whole nuclear policy of the Alliance. The chief disadvantage is that it is likely, in its present form at any rate, to be wholly repudiated by France. So the basic dilemma is that if it is not proceeded with the Germans may fall for the construction of some kind of Third Force—that is still not impossible—based primarily on the so-called French nuclear deterrent, and if it is proceeded with we isolate a country without which it has always been maintained up till now the Western Alliance cannot really operate.
So where do we go from here? I think the first thing to realise is that in any discussion of the reorganisation of Western Europe within the Alliance politics come first and economics a long way second. If I have any criticism of the last Administration it is that they did not, as I thought, put the political issues very squarely before the British people. In my view, as indeed I have often said, the main reason for joining the E.E.C. was political, in the sense that the construction of some entity in Western Europe including Britain is probably the only way to prevent the Western Alliance from breaking up, with results which could benefit only the Soviet Union.
What has never been discussed in public between Governments—perhaps even not in private—is the nature of the political entity which might be accepted by public opinion in all the States concerned, and not only in this country. In the last year and a half or so I have myself urged that this question should be resolutely tackled and that, as it were, the lowest common denominator discovered bit by bit. For instance, if federalism is to be excluded—electing a President of Europe, and so on, and having a European Congress; and it seems that this principle, whatever may happen in the future, will not now be accepted, even by the nations composing the E.E.C.—then how could the eventual political association be something more than a mere alliance on the basis of which, of course, no entity can possibly be formed?
I think that the answer is now emerging gradually. The Western political association (whatever you call it), including Britain, though not independent in the 97 sense of being a Third Force, could nevertheless be autonomous in a sense of gradually arriving at collective decisions, even in spheres of foreign policy and defence. By far the best way to work towards this association would be for ourselves a and the French—and we must admit that without Franco-British agreement no valid Western European agreement is likely to emerge—for us and the French, I repeat, to accept certain principles which could then form the basis for some wider European discussion with the Germans, the Italians and all the rest. You must indeed get agreement between France and this country first; otherwise you will never get anywhere—if, indeed, you think the European objective is a good objective. That is all I say.
I suggest that these principles can be accepted on both sides of the Channel without going back on any of the fundamental conditions for an association which have so far been laid down by the present Government of this country and even by the Government of France. Indeed, if what I read in the papers is in any way correct—and perhaps the noble Lord who is going to wind up this debate will tell me if it is correct or not—it looks as if the Government were moving in the direction of the establishment of some nuclear multilateral force within the Alliance, on the use of which there could be not only an American but also at some stage some collective European veto. If so, I congratulate them very warmly, because it has always seemed to me that in this direction lay the answer to very many riddles.
If, therefore, you think you could conceivably arrive at certain principles accepted both by the Labour Government and by Gene al de Gaulle, what could those principles possibly be? In the first place, there might be a joint statement by the two Governments of the desirability of setting up some kind of political association in Western Europe which would include all the members of E.E.C. and those countries which in the last two years or so applied for admission td it; namely, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway and Ireland. Secondly, it should be admitted—and this is vital—that such a union could be established only within the framework of the Western Alliance. Even General de Gaulle said he accepted the Alliance; what he dis- 98 likes is the NATO organisation, not the Alliance.
Thirdly, it should be the declared object to arrive, in agreement with the Americans, at arrangements for the co-ordination and association, or even—who knows?—the eventual merger of the present nuclear strike forces of France and Britain. Unless, indeed, they are going to be abolished, both must have a future of some kind. The role in war of these two strike forces should be agreed with the Americans—and, no doubt, in the context of some new, some reorganised multilateral force, determined by the political association itself.
In the fourth place there should be agreement—and this, I think, is very important—to set up a body (you could call them Wise Men) or a commission or anything you will, to consider this vital nuclear matter and other grave matters confronting the European community as a whole, from the European and not solely from a national point of view. Their advice need not be accepted; but the mere fact of forming a body which would examine the greatest of all questions from the general European point of view would be an enormous step in advance. If the Government have serious doubts about the Channel Tunnel or about the Concorde—and I must say, in the general interests of our foreign policy, I hope they do not—it is in such a forum as this that they could be considered. There is no reason why such a rather loose initial organisation as this should conflict with the present E.E.C. machinery in Brussels. When, and if, Britain joins the E.E.C., they could easily be merged.
I think that this is all that is necessary to start the ball rolling. But, my Lords, whatever you may think of it, some such simple step would surely be better than such terrible possibilities as the establishment of a European Third Force without the United Kingdom, now advocated, as I understand, by ex-Chancellor Adenauer, the withdrawal of France from NATO, or a break-up, or at any rate the grave weakening, of the European Economic Community. General de Gaulle admittedly may not agree; but why should that prevent us from making our own objectives clear? Certainly if we made it clear it would be very encouraging for our friends in France and in other parts of Europe as well. It might well be that some state- 99 ment, even if unilateral, even without France, would lighten the present heavily-charged atmosphere and produce one in which our own and other people's economic difficulties could much more easily be solved. Why go on draining the urn of bitter prophecy?
What I am certain of is that such a move would be heartily welcomed by the American Administration, with some of whose leaders I recently had the advantage of exchanging views in Washington and New York. We can, I think, all of us, sleep in our beds more soundly now that President Johnson has been returned to power with such an overwhelming majority; but it is important that Europe should, if possible, not make things too difficult for this splendid statesman; otherwise—who knows?—even he might fall victim to the forces of nationalism which are now gathering in the United States of America, as elsewhere, and which would be heavily reinforced by any failure in the Kennedy Round.
Now, my Lords, I come to the end; and I say clearly that if France insists, whatever we do, on pushing her own preferred solution, which appears to be a sort of Third Force in Europe, based on Paris and for many years without the United Kingdom; if she insists on clinging to this conception, then I think there will be nothing for it but us to accept some modified multilateral force which, from the aspect of power, would represent an Anglo-German-American alliance, in which, I am afraid, the accent might tend to be placed on Germany and America. Besides, it is still not very clear how such a grouping, if ever it were formed, could operate politically. What would be the political content? Equally, if France left E.E.C. or rendered it inoperative, we could always suggest that Germany should become a member of the European Free Trade Area. But do let us go to the limit of the possible before agreeing to such very dangerous second bests.
I therefore beg the Government, new brooms as they are, to look at the whole European problem again, with fresh and unprejudiced eyes, and make it clear that we would prefer an alliance based on two "poles of authority" rather than on one elephant and a number of quite docile smaller beasts.
§ 5.47 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MONTGOMERY OF ALAMEIN
My Lords, in the gracious Speech at the opening of Parliament Defence was mentioned: that the Armed Forces should beable to discharge their many tasks overseas with the greatest effectiveness and economy.I do not believe that any noble Lord will disagree when I say that Foreign Affairs and Defence are very closely linked; and, of course, the role of the Armed Forces is to support British foreign policy. The trouble is that Service chiefs sometimes find it difficult to get from their political masters a clear statement of foreign policy in sufficient detail to enable them to plan their Services to support the policy. We need something we can bite on; and anything that is a bit woolly and indecisive makes things very difficult for a Service chief.
Against that background I should like to ask your Lordships to look at foreign policy through the eyes of a soldier. I suggest that Britain has three basic national purposes overseas. First, to defend the Realm; secondly, to earn the nation's living; and, thirdly, to maintain a strong national position in the world, so that we can effectively guide world developments along paths which correspond with our peaceful and democratic outlook.
The aim of British foreign policy must be to use British influence to create conditions abroad in which these three national purposes can best be secured. I suggest that our country has to take into account certain factors in formulating foreign policy, and the main ones I would suggest are these. First, the existence of a hostile ideological system—that is, Communism—which, although it has many variants, and despite the Chinese-Soviet schism, still has a common purpose, which is to destroy our way of life. Secondly, the existence of a number of friendly nations with a way of life and standard of values broadly similar to our own, these nations being predominantly rich and predominantly white. Thirdly, the existence of "the third world", predominantly poor and predominantly nonwhite, which wishes to remain uncommitted to the East-West struggle, but whose poverty and race could give rise to minor conflicts, which in turn could lead to a major struggle. And I think the fourth factor would be the existence 101 of certain what I would call rogue Powers—perhaps I would put that in inverted commas—which may try to obtain their ends by force. And if you would say to me, What do you mean by "rogue Powers"?, I would say Indonesia and maybe the United Arab Republic and maybe others.
Given these three basic national purposes and these mail factors in the world situation, it seems to me that British foreign policy is based on the balance of power and on certain broad principles, which I would try to outline. First, the preservation of peace, for we can earn our living only by trade and trade can flourish only in peace. Secondly, the participation in alliances with those friends who have the power to help to guarantee peace. The third, in co-operation with these Allies, is to deter aggression. Next, evident readiness—if our efforts to preserve peace should fail, to he ready to fight with determination for freedom and justice. Then, evident readiness and ability to help put out what one might call brush fires, anywhere, as soon as they occur. Next, willingness to assist the nations of the British Commonwealth and other friendly States to maintain their independence and the security of their frontiers, as may be requested. And, lastly, willingness to play our full part in assisting under-developed countries politically and economically.
Finally, since the world is constantly changing—for instance, the change in the nature of the Chinese-Soviet threat; the emergence of the underdeveloped as a cohesive force—British foreign policy has to be flexible enough to be responsive to change. But any such change must he in keeping with the three basic national purposes which I outlined—which are, to defend the Realm, to earn the nation's living and to maintain a strong national position in the world. To support the foreign policy outlined above we must maintain balanced Forces which are respected by friend and foe alike because of the contribution they make to the balance of power and to the maintenance of peace.
I would suggest that certain assumptions must be made, before we can plan the Armed Forces to support this foreign policy. The assumptions would be these. First, all-out nuclear war between East 102 and West can be ruled out, at any rate for the next ten to fifteen years, so long as we do not lower our guard. Secondly, the main problem is no longer in Europe: the areas of likely trouble lie East of Suez and in Africa. Thirdly, there will be subversive movements, cold war activities and possibly limited wars which will require the intervention of British Armed Forces. The question is, what kind of Armed Forces, Navy, Army and Air Force, do we need to support that policy? And as I am a very great believer in short speeches in your Lordships' House, I would propose to leave that for the next Defence debate.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, before the noble and gallant Viscount sits down, would he tell us what is his view of the "brush fire" which the Americans are now endeavouring to put out in South Vietnam?
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords, I am going to deal with just one paragraph in the gracious Speech, which reads:My Ministers will have a special regard to the unique role of the Commonwealth, which itself reflects so many of the challenges and opportunities of the world. They will foster the Commonwealth connection on a basis of racial equality and close consultation between Member Governments and will promote Commonwealth collaboration in trade, economic development, educational, scientific and cultural contacts and in other ways.Those are very fine and high ideals and desires, but I do not think that there will be anyone who knows the Commonwealth really intimately, particularly the less developed part of the Commonwealth, who will not agree that it is easier to say that than to achieve it.
I was fortunate enough to be a member of one of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association's delegations last August which visited Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland. Those are three very small outposts of ours, one completely surrounded by the South African Republic and the others bordering on it. Two of those countries are extremely poor financially, and if we were to remove our support from them I feel that to all intents and purposes it would be fatal.
103 The paragraph in the gracious Speech which I have quoted speaks of "racial equality". What is racial equality? Equality of opportunity, of course; but not necessarily similarity. There is no getting away from the fact (I learned this very strongly during those three weeks) that the African and the white man are not alike. I am not saying that one is better than the other: I think that in some ways we are better, and that in others they are better. There is no doubt that the Africans produce some very fine men indeed. However, they are different: they think along different lines, and their minds work in different ways.
I came to the conclusion, after the time I spent in that country, that democracy, while being a much-desired form of government for Western countries, is not necessarily the best form of government for the three countries in Africa that I have mentioned. I say "not necessarily" because it might possibly work in some cases when they get further developed. But, at present, I do not think it would work in those three countries, because there is one peculiarity of the African mind: the African cannot see an Opposition as an integral part of the Constitution. He considers an Opposition is a sort of rebel organisation seeking to overthrow the Government. Well, all your Lordships will agree, I think, that we are certainly not seeking to overthrow the Government at the moment.
§ A NOBLE LORD: A pleasure to come!
§ LORD SOMERS
I said not at the moment. That is why I feel that democracy would not work there. I believe that those countries would do far better under their own form of government by the Chiefs. After all, that is their traditional form of government. Why should we seek to impose our ideals and traditions upon them? They have a very good form of government of their own, and it has worked. I am not saying that all the Chiefs are blameless. But can we say that all members of the Government are blameless?
§ A NOBLE LORD: Yes.
§ LORD SOMERS
Well, we hope so; but we have to wait and see. This dividing line, which might be called by some apartheid, is not a desire to separate the African from the European; 104 it is merely the fact that they were created as a different form of human being. I do not think that anybody—for instance, the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, who has had so much experience in psychology—would deny that human beings vary greatly in their reactions and their acceptance of certain principles.
§ LORD TAYLOR
My Lords, I must interrupt, because I cannot allow the noble Lord to get away with that. I am afraid that the human race is much the same in health and disease the world over.
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords, I am sorry to disagree with the noble Lord—I seldom do—but that was not my experience when I was there. It so happens that in The Times of yesterday there appeared an article by their United Nations correspondent, one sentence of which read as follows:To-day's motion also declared that the policy of the Government of the Republic of South Africa continues to constitute a threat to the economic stability and the territorial integrity of these territories.This was a pronouncement of a special Committee of 24 on colonial questions which was dealing specifically with these three countries. I am glad to say that the British delegation disagreed strongly.
I certainly did not altogether like the atmosphere in South Africa, but it was not nearly so bad as I had expected. There was, on the surface at any rate, no ill-feeling between the two races, and I think that, on the whole, they get on not too badly. But the important point is that the poverty in Basutoland, for instance, is so great, due to the poorness of the land—and agriculture is virtually the only industry in the country—that the farmer there has from time to time to cross the border and go to work in the South African mines, or perhaps as a farm labourer on a South African farm, in order to earn some money, leaving his farm in the charge of his wife and children. So that to these people South Africa is not a threat, but a source of wealth. But if we were to offer that country self-government, and remove ourselves from the country, to my mind only one thing could happen—namely, that the country would at once fall into the lap of the South African Republic and 105 become what they call one of their native reserves. I do not know that that would be a particularly terrible fate for them. It would certainly be a better one than their falling into the lap of the Chinese, which is not unlikely if we were to delay longer. But there is no doubt that they are absolutely and totally incapable of standing on their own feet.
The same thing applies to Bechuanaland, which is three-quarters—I might almost say, seven-eighths—desert, and where, again, the poverty is very great. Agriculture is of the most primitive kind, though there is an agricultural college. Malnutrition is absolutely rife throughout both these countries since they live very largely on maize. "Oxfam" are doing wonderful work there, but they are finding it very hard to combat this frightful malnutrition. In Bechuanaland we had one interesting interview with one of the chiefs, Chief Bathoen, in his town of Kanya. We were talking to him about the various things that he had done for his tribe, which is one of the important tribes in the country. He is a distinguished man, and a very forward-looking man. Among other things he is a C.B.E., and he has done an enormous amount to develop his town. He has provided a good hospital, and an excellent school, though of course, as always, it suffers from lack of money. But he is doing his utmost to provide his people with all that they need.
The leader of our delegation asked him outright: Do you think that the people of Bechuanaland will be happier under the new Constitution—that is, the Constitution planned on democratic lines by our own Government—than they are now? His answer was an unqualified, "No". He then went on to say: "Many times my people have come to me and have said, 'But we must have freedom'. I have said to them 'Freedom? But you have freedom. What freedom do you want that you have not got now?'". My Lords, that seems to me very clear-sighted and far-seeing, and it is absolutely the truth.
Swaziland was a rather different case. That was the only one of the three countries where it appeared economically possible for them to stand on their own feet, because they have very rich natural resources which they are developing 106 greatly. I think it is quite possible that before long they may find themselves in an economic position to take over their own government. It is a curious thing again that the Commonwealth Staff of The Times on the same day, yesterday, referred to Swaziland as the least advanced constitutionally of the three territories. It may be the least advanced constitutionally, but it is certainly the only one that could take over its own government. But again I do not think that it will take it over in a democratic form.
Swaziland has a fine, dignified, and very capable King, in the shape of their Paramount Chief. One really must speak of him as the King, rather than the Paramount Chief, since there could he nobody more royal than he was. We had an audience with him for half an hour or so, and we all came away with the sensation that we had been in the presence of royalty. He certainly has the interests of his people very much at heart, but I do not think he would be capable of governing the country on a democratic system.
I do not believe that democracy will work in those countries. In the case of two of them, at least, one must remember that we are not there as a nation which has walked in and taken possession. In Bechuanaland, at least, we were invited in to protect them from their neighbours; and we are still there by invitation. I do not in the least wish to give any impression that the African is incapable of governing himself, but I wish to stress very strongly that if he is to govern himself he must be allowed to do it in his own way and by the method of his own choice. Incidentally, he must not be allowed to suffer from lack of funds and protection.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, I am sure your Lordships will have been greatly interested, as I was, by the account just given by my noble friend Lord Somers of his experiences in the protected territories in Southern Africa. I am afraid that I cannot follow him so far, but I should like to say a word or two about Rhodesia and Government policy towards that unhappy country. At the beginning of the debate we were told that there would be a debate on Rhodesia next week, but I understand 107 that that is unlikely to take fore, with your Lordships' will offer a few reflections now.
§ LORD TAYLOR
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? This is the first I have heard that a debate was unlikely to take place. Is this so?
§ LORD COLERAINE
All I can tell the noble Lord is this. I have been told that those who asked for this debate now feel that, in the light of the statement of the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, to which my noble friend Lord Salisbury referred in his speech, the demand is no longer there. There is, at any rate, a risk that the debate will not take place, and therefore, with your Lordships' permission, I should, as I say, like to offer a few reflections on that unhappy country.
I would stress with all the emphasis that I can command that we should, in the immediate future, at any rate, take our stand on the existing Constitution, that we should hope that Mr. Smith and his colleagues will forget about a unilateral declaration of independence, and that we here should stop incessantly pressing the Rhodesians to go further than they deem it wise or prudent or even safe to do. I believe that all of us in this House, in another place, in the Press and in the country generally should re-examine the assumptions on which we base our attitude towards this tragic problem of Rhodesia. I think those assumptions are broadly these: that Parliamentary democracy is a good thing; that it is a good thing for the African whatever his stage of development may be; and that, come what may, we must press ahead to bring all the influence we can on Mr. Smith's Government to grant universal suffrage at the earliest possible moment.
My Lords, it seems to me that that is a great impertinence. It is not directly our problem; it is theirs. We have never, in effect, been responsible for the internal government of Southern Rhodesia. Southern Rhodesia has never been a Crown Colony; it passed directly from the control of the Chartered Company to the status of a self-governing Colony, and by a convention which has never been broken we have never interfered in its 108 internal affairs. It seems to me that we are now straining all the time to break that convention, and we ought rather to support it. This seems to me to be the more important now when we look over the field of what has been happening in Africa as a whole over the past few years, when we see how things have worked out so far, when we see the extent to which Parliamentary democracy has, in fact, worked in these territories. I think we should be very wise on our side if we ceased to weaken the convention by which we do not interfere in Rhodesian internal affairs. I remember that some years ago a Commission was appointed by the then Government to examine the situation in Nyasaland, and it began its report with the bald declaration that Nyasaland is a police State. I wonder what kind of State the Devlin Commission would think Nyasaland was today.
We must have some regard to what has been happening in other parts of the continent, and I think, too, that we ought to have more faith in the intentions of our own people in Southern Rhodesia. After all, there are a quarter of a million of our fellow subjects there who have been brought up as we have been brought up, who have brought that country to a high stage of cultural and economic development, brought it there from the bush, so to speak. Can we not trust them, in their own time, to make the advances that are necessary?—because, in my judgment, and I think in the judgment of many noble Lords on this side, at any rate, and some on the other side, if we seek to force them into premature action we shall force them into disaster; not only them but the Africans in Rhodesia as well.
I will turn now, if I may, to the gracious Speech. I suppose it would be fair to say that Her Majesty's Government took office about twenty days ago—20 of the 100 days have gone—with a fund of general good will which was far greater than the Parliamentary majority reflected. I believe this to be true for two reasons. First, the very narrowness of the majority impelled the British people, people who were not supporters of the Labour Party, being what they are, to wish them well. There was another reason. There were a number of Conservative and a number of floating voters who, 109 in spite of the fact that they had voted Conservative in the Election, felt when the new Government was formed that in the end it might not be a bad thing; that the old faces had been there long enough and that it would be a very real advantage to have new people, fresh people, perhaps more vigorous people, take a look at the old problems.
When I waited for the gracious Speech what was mainly at the back of my mind was the des re to see to what extent Her Majesty's Ministers were going to take advantage of that fund of general good will, to what extent they were going to base themselves on it or to what extent they were going to base themselves on purely partisan policies. I must say that it seems to me that the gracious Speech returns a pretty dusty answer. I think it shows that Ministers have made up their minds that they are not going to seek to harness this general all-Party good will behind them, that they are going ahead, come what may, with their Socialist policies. The noble Earl who now so gracefully and capably leads the House said that they were perfectly entitled to do so—and, of course, they are entitled to do so. What I wonder is whether they are wise to do so.
I know that this debate is concerned primarily with foreign, international and defence implications of the gracious Speech, but I should like, as others have done before me, to offer just a few reflections upon some of the domestic problems touched on in the gracious Speech. The gracious Speech makes it clear that the main problem with which the Government are faced is the maintenance of the value of sterling and a solution, if a solution is possible, of the balance-of-payments problem. What conceivable relevance to this main purpose can there be in the renationalisation of steel, in the reversal of the judgment that was given the other day against the trade unions, or in many of the matters which are in the gracious Speech? Not only is there no relevance, but some of them may be positively harmful.
The noble Earl, Lord Longford, said, I think fairly justly, words to the effect—I am not sure if these are the exact words—that the economic policy and social justice must walk hand in hand. Unhappily, I do not believe that is true.
110 I believe that the ends of policy must be to make economic policy and social justice walk hand in hand. But I cannot believe that at times, and in particular at times of crisis, there is not a real conflict between economic policy and social justice.
The gracious Speech tells us how arrangements have been made to meet the difficulties of balance of payments, and so on. They do not spell it out, but these arrangements are arrangements to borrow money in one way or another from friendly Governments or international organisations, to tide us over our difficulties. But I think we must ask ourselves what those Governments and organisations are going to think of the seriousness of the approach of Her Majesty's Government to their problems when they read that the renationalisation of steel is going to have high priority, that the increased old age pension (it may be necessary; I am not denying that) is going to have high priority, and so on. I am sure it can have only a very deplorable effect upon those people upon whom we are relying for help.
This debate, as I say, is concerned with the international aspects of the gracious Speech and not with the domestic aspects. But in fact you cannot really separate the two. The gracious Speech says:My Government will continue to play a full part in the European organisations of which this country is a member and will seek to promote closer European co-operation".The one thing that is quite clear is that the economic measures which the Government have already taken, and in particular the way in which the Government have taken them, have done nothing whatever to promote closer European co-operation; on the contrary, they have made co-operation far more difficult and, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, indicated, if I understood him aright, have done very great harm to the whole conception of Western European unity, and indeed, of the Atlantic Alliance.
Ministers say that this 15 per cent. duty is only temporary. I do not know what temporary means; it may be months, it may be years. We do not know, and I wish we might have some enlightenment on the point. They say it is only temporary, and that may be so; but I cannot get away from the feeling, not 111 only from what is said in the gracious Speech but even more from what was said in the Economic White Paper last week, that Her Majesty's Ministers have in fact turned their backs on the path of economic co-operation which we have been trying to pursue, with greater or lesser success, over the past fifteen to twenty years. The noble Lord on the Front Bench who is going to reply shakes his head; he says the Government have not turned their backs on that path. But let him read the Economic White Paper again, and very carefully. When it talks about the tendency of imports to rise and getting exports on an upward trend, it refers to the disturbing increase in manufactured goods,most of which this country should he perfectly capable of producing on a competitive basis".If those words mean anything, they mean that somehow or other the Department of Economic Affairs is going to conjure out of the ground successful industries. new industries, successful articles of manufacture which at the present time cannot compete in international trade, and I should very much like to know how, in fact, that is going to be done.
It seems to me it can be done only protection in one form or another. It can be done only by what used to be called safeguarding duties, a kind of extension of the 15 per cent. import charge that we have just had, an indefinite extension, or it can be done by the Government itself setting up factories—and this kind of thing has at any rate been threatened—to produce for itself machine tools, say, of a complexity which the British machine tool industry cannot itself produce. And that is just as much a form of protection as a safeguarding duty. It is just as much a subsidy as a direct subsidy. It seems to me that the whole idea of the Department of Economic Affairs and the whole argument of the Economic White Paper is really that we are going to become self-sufficient.
And I think one of the most disturbing elements in this situation is the appointment of some of the Government's economic advisers. Dr. Thomas Balogh is a most eminent man, a most distinguished economist, but there is one thing that he stands for pre-eminently, and that is national self-sufficiency, national autarchy. There is one thing 112 that he has always opposed, and that is the kind of approach which we have made to GATT and which we had hoped, until now, to extend through the Kennedy Round. It seems to me that if we take the gracious Speech, the Economic White Paper and the commanding position which Dr. Balogh has assumed, we can only come to the conclusion that what the Government are after is economic self-sufficiency to a far greater extent than we have to-day. If that is their aim, it is in direct conflict with European co-operation and it is indeed a direct reversal of the policy all Parties have been pursuing for the last twenty years, not only here but in almost every country in the Western world.
It is far too early to judge, or to seek to judge, the Government, but on the first twenty days of "the Hundred Days" I must say, speaking for myself, that I think the omens are not highly propitious. The Prime Minister is an economist rather than a historian, but he will realise, I think, that when most people think of "the Hundred Days" they are not thinking of the late President Kennedy's Administration; they are thinking of the hundred days that passed 150 years ago. The Prime Minister has been in exile for a long time—thirteen years. Now he has come back from Elba. I think Ministers had better be very careful that he does not lead them, at the end of "the Hundred Days" to St. Helena. I would not mind that myself, were it not for the fact that the you cannot have St. Helena without Waterloo.
§ LORD ARCHIBALD
My Lords, before the noble Lord resumes his seat, I wonder whether he would elucidate one point which he made, I thought rather vaguely. When referring to the fact that we should have to have recourse to overseas borrowings, he raised the question of matters in the gracious Speech that were perhaps not relevant to that—as, for example, the increase in old age pensions, which he said might be necessary. Was not the implication there that we may go back to the position of 1930–31, and that we trim our social services to the dictates of those from whom we have to borrow?
§ LORD COLERAINE
No, my Lords; there was certainly no implication that we should go back to 1931 and trim our social necessities to the dictates of those 113 from whom we have to borrow, except to this extent: if you want to borrow money you have to agree terms with the lender. If you do not agree terms you will not get the money. We have the money now. What I am worried about is how much money we should get next time we need it if we splash it about too much now. We would all want to increase the old age pensioner's remuneration or pension—I must not use the word "donation". It is a question of timing. If you increase it at a moment of crisis, at the cost of cutting off further financial support, you are increasing it for a short time, but in the longer run you are bringing it to nothing.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, may I put a last supplementary question to the noble Lord before he concludes? He said that he was under the impression that the Prime Minister, whilst being an excellent economist, was not a historian. Is the noble Lord not aware that the Prime Minister won a university prize in 19th century history, and will he tell us how many Members of this most learned House have achieved that distinction?
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, I had forgotten that he had won a history prize at university. All I can say is that I am not sure it would not have been better for us all if he had stuck to history instead of economics.
§ 6.42 p.m.
THE EARL OF SELKIRK
My Lords, I am not going to follow the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine. I think the House always listens to his speeches with great care. They are delivered with a character, force and clarity that are entirely his own. If I may, I am going to follow the noble Lord, Lord Rea, and be very short indeed. I should like to offer my best wishes and congratulations to Lord Longford on succeeding to his office. He will not find it easy times. Among the reasons for that will be that he will find it difficult to get, even from his own colleagues, all the information which this House will from time to time try to get out of him. But I am confident, as we all are, that he will do his utmost.
The noble Earl has at least taken the advice of my noble friend Lord Carrington to-day, and has not rushed his fences on foreign affairs. I am sure that 114 he is absolutely right. There have been few occasions in this century, and certainly in recent years, where so many things have become open. There are a new Government in this country, a President re-established in America, a new Government in Moscow, a new weapon in China. Immense changes are taking place, and I am sure it is wise that decision should be slow.
I am grateful for what the noble Earl said about Malaysia. I understood him to say that it was to receive the full support of Her Majesty's Government. Of all the actions taken to-day, there is none which I regard as more purely barbaric than the action of Indonesia against the much smaller neighbour which is just at her early formative stage. I should like to hope that the Foreign Secretary, on his recent visit to America, has done something to stiffen the Americans' back in their attitude towards this problem. I am a little inclined to think that they regard it as a duty on Malaysia to make herself popular all over the world. The right things are not always the most popular, but in any case Indonesia has not got much satisfaction from her visit to the United Nations last month; nor, indeed, from her visit to the non-aligned countries' conference in Cairo only a few weeks ago. I was also glad to note that the noble Earl was prepared to say that he was giving unswerving support to the North Atlantic Treaty. This will give great confidence. But I believe there is something in what my noble friend Lord Gladwyn said: I think he will find that the Americans are rather exasperated that the Europeans do not find it more easy to get on with themselves.
We have had, on the whole, an extremely uncontentious debate, at least until quite recently. I am going to be quite contentious in regard to one sentence in the gracious Speech: thatIn international affairs it will be the principal purpose of My Ministers to seek to reduce East-West tension.Frankly, those are bad words. There is no "East-West tension" as such. There is tension, if you like, between Washington and Moscow; and Moscow is East of Washington. But it is quite wrong to say that there is general tension between the Eastern and the Western parts of this hemisphere. I think this is a shorthand 115 phrase which has crept into common usage. But, with the greatest respect, I submit that it should not be used on an official document of this character. It is entirely misleading.
It is misleading for other reasons. In the first place, what is it supposed to cover? If it is supposed to cover both Communist countries, Russia and China, then I think it is misleading because China and Russia are entirely different problems. Indeed, their relations are far from being close and intimate; in fact they are extremely discordant at the present time. I personally am glad that Mr. Jay, as one of the first actions he has taken, has gone to Peking. I regard that as a good thing. I believe that one of our great tasks, and one which I hope noble Lords will set themselves to, is to try to bring China into a more natural relationship with the rest of the world. Here is the biggest and most dangerous country in the world—a country which can say that power flows from the muzzle of the gun, and has now been able to explode an atomic device. This is a country which is by far the most dangerous in the world to-day; and anything which can bring her into a more natural and simple relationship with the rest of the world will be, I am sure, enormously advantageous. I would therefore ask that the words "East-West" to describe "tension" should never again be used on an official document.
§ 6.48 p.m.
My Lords, it is getting a little late in the day. But I hope it is not too late for me to add my congratulations to the many which the noble Baroness and the noble Lord who moved and seconded the humble Address yesterday have already received on their harmonious and graceful duet. Whilst I am in that vein, I should also like to add, since this is the first occasion on which I am speaking from This particularly draughty position, how much pleasure it gives me that the noble Earl who was opposite a moment ago is leading the Government in your Lordships' House. Since I started, not long ago, to attend your Lordships' debates I have received personally nothing but kindness from the noble Earl, and I have a high regard for his many and great qualities. I know that this is 116 an experience shared by many Members of your Lordships' House.
Again, it was a great pleasure for all of us to see that the wish expressed by my noble friend Lord Carrington yesterday, that the noble Earl, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, would soon be back in this House, has been so quickly fulfilled. Nothing has given me greater pleasure than to see our "Former Naval Person" so quickly restored to the quarterdeck of the Socialist ship opposite.
I do not wish to detain your Lordships long this evening, and I should like straight away to associate myself with what my noble leader, Lord Carrington, said: that in so far as Foreign Affairs and Defence are concerned we find much, if not all, that is said in the gracious Speech quite unexceptionable. That would apply to a great deal, if not all, of what the noble Earl the Leader of the House said earlier this afternoon.
We find quite unexceptionable what is said about the reduction in tension between the Communist and non-Communist worlds, if that is a permitted phrase. We find unexceptionable what is said, or implied, about a due regard for what is often called "the North-South situation"—I do not know whether my noble friend will let that term pass. I should like here to say that I would not dissent at all from the message passed down to us from Dynamic on High by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor. We find unexceptionable the statement about the support for the United Nations and the development of its peace-keeping functions; about progress towards disarmament; about the special solicitude about the Commonwealth relationship; and, not least, the full-blooded and very welcome reaffirmation of Her Majesty's Government's support for the Atlantic Alliance. All these are principles to which we on these Benches can wholeheartedly subscribe.
We can also subscribe to what is said about Her Majesty's Government's desire "to play a full part in the European organisations" to which we belong and "to promote closer European co-operation." Despite President de Gaulle's veto on our entry into the European Community, the fact remains that by reason of geography, of history, and of national interest, we are part of Europe. 117 But the fact of that veto makes it the more important for the Government—for any British Government—to do all within its power to prevent Britain's isolation from Europe and, if possible, to strengthen our links with Europe. If this has been important ever since de Gaulle's Press announcement on January 14 last year, to which my noble friend Lord Gladwyn has referred, it has never been more important than to-day. At the present time, after a period of rigidity, there is—and it has been mentioned more than once in your Lordships' House this afternoon—movement again in the world and in Europe. Some of the old patterns and relationships to which we have grown accustomed seem to be changing—possibly sometimes in unwelcome directions.
At present, too, the policy of this country towards Europe is under very close scrutiny indeed. There are many Europeans, including those who are well disposed towards this country, who are dubious—I hope and trust wrongly dubious—about the present Government's real attitude towards Europe. I do not wish in these few words and at this stage to be unduly critical of the new Government, and I certainly do not wish to be unfairly critical. Yet in the context of our relations with Europe I can regard some of the Government's acts only as clumsy and maladroit. I would cite only three examples, and I will touch on them lightly, because they have already been mentioned in discussion. There was, first, the way in which the Government's import and export measures were handled. I understand that we are to debate the economic position later, and I am not complaining about the substance of the measures. What I am complaining about is what the noble Lord, Lord Rea, complained about; that is, the way in which the proposed measures seem to have been presented to our European friends, almost without warning, and certainly without consultation, as a fait accompli. We know that the Prime Minister is a man in a hurry, but I wonder whether quite this rush was really necessary.
Then there is the Concorde story, which has also bun mentioned. Again, I do not wish, at least at this moment, to criticise the Government's apparent intentions, although, like my noble leader Lord Carrington, I have serious 118 reservations about them. I trust that the noble Lord who is to reply to this debate will be able to confirm that Her Majesty's Government have not yet come to any firm conclusion on this important matter. I hope that this is so. I assume that this must be so, since I read that the Minister of Aviation has been asked to undertake a thorough review of the aircraft industry and of its major projects. It would seem odd, to put it no higher, if, in advance of this review, the fate of the most important of all these projects, the Concorde project, had been sealed. But, I repeat, it is not the substance of this decision, if there has been one, with which I am present concerned. What concerns me now is the apparently clumsy manner in which these negotiations, if they are negotiations, have up to now been handled. I am not blaming Mr. Jenkins for this. However, given that clumsiness, it rather looked, at least to this observer in Paris last week, as if we might soon be stumbling with the French into a war of Jenkins's aeroplane.
This is a serious matter, which affects to quite a considerable degree our position in Europe. It may have a considerable impact on our relations with France, and it casts at least a shadow over other very important projects in which we are associated with the French. I have in mind, ELDO, the AJ.168, to use the technical phrase, which is the joint project for an air-launched missile; and the possibility of Anglo-French cooperation in the development of a light strike fighter-trainer aircraft. Any reassurance which the noble Lord can give your Lordships on these matters, as well as on the Concorde, will not be wasted.
Next, there is the Government's third gaffe in Europe in ten days—the curious and virtually unexplained cancellation of the Anglo-Spanish fleet exercise, Spanex VI, to which my noble friend Lord Colyton referred. I saw something in the Navy Department of the growth of cooperation between the two navies. I felt, and still feel, that this co-operation was entirely and mutually beneficial. I can only deplore the abrupt cancellation of this exercise as a pointed and gratuitous insult to a friendly nation and, what is more, seeing that our American Allies 119 were engaged in a far larger exercise with the Spanish armed forces, as an entirely pointless act. I cannot for the life of me fathom on what grounds of logic or of national interest a British Government now, in 1964 (it might, I suppose, have been different in 1944, or even in 1954), should appear to treat Spain, to use the Prime Minister's charming phraseology, as the "leper" of Europe.
I do not wish to pass too harsh a judgment on these early symptoms, if they are symptoms, of the present Government's attitude towards Europe, and if I have said things which are harsh I would hasten to make it clear that my present judgment is purely provisional. But, at least so far as Europe is concerned, I cannot honestly say that the Government have made a particularly auspicious start. They have managed to offend, as my noble friend said, not only the Spaniards but also those social democratic Scandinavian countries for whom the Prime Minister professes so great an admiration. Indeed, in a few days they could hardly have done more to create the impression that they are Little Englanders at heart and indifferent to the affairs and interests of Europe. I do not myself believe this to be true, or at the very least I do not wish to believe it. So I trust that the noble Lord, Lord Walston, in reply will be able to assure us that in the remainder of these famous "hundred days" the Government will feel able to repair the damage in Europe which they have managed to do in the first ten.
That is all I have to say by way of stricture. The rest, and it will not be long, will be much more a request for information and it will be entirely on defence matters. Normally I think I should have put my questions to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton. We quite realise why he is away and we wish him well in Chile. May I just say how greatly I welcome his appointment as Minister of Defence for the Royal Air Force? He is an old friend of most of us, and one for whom I have a particular faiblesse. He is also, and this is perhaps even more important, an old and trusted friend of the Services for whom he will be speaking in your Lordships' House. Having got all, or almost all, that is nasty off my chest, I should like at the 120 same time to extend my warmest personal congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, and the noble Lord, Lord Walston, on their appointments.
My Lords, I get the impression that at the present time, on defence matters the new Government may still be somewhat feeling their way. And it is only natural. Because of this, and because we shall doubtless have time later in the Session to debate defence more fully, I shall be very brief in what I am going to say on this field. I myself take measured pride in the defence legacy which we have bequeathed to the present Government. I believe that, with the reorganisation of Service Ministries, they have inherited a rational management structure and one which is capable of development and, doubtless, improvement. I have, incidentally, been interested to read of the inter-Service responsibilities—I believe they are called the "across the board responsibilities"—which have been apparently devolved on the three Ministers of Defence by the Secretary of State for Defence. I should be grateful for any confirmation or elaboration of these reports which the noble Lord may be able to give us.
I believe, too, that the new Government have inherited well balanced defence Forces; well balanced as between the nuclear and conventional, and well balanced as between the three Services. The equipment, by and large—I say "by and large" advisedly—is first rate, and before the last Government left office firm and considered decisions had been taken covering most of the major items of re-equipment needed by the three Services in the coming decade or so, and all contained within a forecast defence budget of not more than 7 to 7½, per cent. of our gross national product. Last but not least, I believe that the steady buildup manpowerwise of our all-Regular, highly trained and professional defence forces has been the justification of the last Government's decision to abolish conscription and to opt for the voluntary method.
In the nuclear field we have noted that the Government will be putting forward proposals designed to strengthen the interdependence of the Atlantic Alliance, and we have noted in a number 121 of papers what appear to be circumstantial reports of what these proposals may contain. These proposals, of course, touch on one of the most important and sensitive areas of the Alliance: how to reconcile something which is not very easily reconcilable, the continuing and essential factor of American nuclear power, with the growing and understandable desire of the European members of NATO for a more equal share in the really essential, the really vital military decisions. It would appear, following the Foreign Secretary's recent visit to Washington, that rather more of the breathing space may have been won before final decisions on these very important issues are required. If so, and given the great flexibility of the international situation to-day, I think that this is all to the good.
Nevertheless, I would assume that we are now entering a phase of intense diplomatic activity in this particular sphere and, whilst not wishing to embarrass the Government, and without asking them to make any premature disclosures of what they may have in mind, I should like to echo the request of my noble friend Lord Carrington, that the Government will before long repose that same confidence in Parliament as they have apparently reposed in certain organs of the Press on these matters. Until then, and since these proposals seem to form a package, I feel it would be unwise and rash to prejudge this great issue.
So much for the nuclear side of the coin. As for the conventional side, I have seen, of course—we all have—the emphasis placed in the Labour Party's Manifesto on the build-up of our conventional Armed Forces. The Press, too, have reported the new Minister of Defence for the Army as confirming the Government's determination to restore our B.A.O.R. force, to build it up again to the mystic figure of 55,000. There have also been some indications that at least some quarters within the Ministry of Defence may be pressing for the ceiling of the Army to be raised by some 20,000 up to 200,000. Finally, of course, in his pre-Election visits to various naval ports the Prime Minister called for a bigger Navy. At Plymouth on September 27, for example, he was very specific. He called for a stronger Navy and an expanded naval shipbuilding programme. 122 He said much the same thing at Chatham. So far as I could see, he was not calling elsewhere for this particular form of embellishment of our Armed Forces.
I should be very grateful if the noble Lord in his reply could add to our information on these matters. Can he confirm that these increases in our conventional Forces are going to be made? If so, can he confirm how, without conscription, which the Government are pledged not to reintroduce in peace-time, they propose to make these increases? Can he also, possibly, since this is a matter very close to my own heart, let us know what specific increases are proposed for the Royal Navy? Are the Government proposing to lay down a further new aircraft carrier, for example? On this I should like to make noble Lords opposite an offer. It would seem that the Government are keen these days on calling in outside consultants. If they would like some outside advice on their expanded naval programme, perhaps they would consider calling in the old firm of naval architects, Carrington and Jellicoe—C. and J.
My Lords, while we are on these matters of defence hardware I should like, too, to express the hope that the Secretary of State's review will enable him to give early confirmation of the Government's intention to endorse the major re-equipment decisions taken by the last Government. I will not weary your Lordships with the whole inventory, but some items are very important indeed, not least because they affect, and affect essentially, an aircraft industry which is slightly staggering under the punches, or shadow punches, of the present Government. There is the TSR 2, for example. Here, I myself am confident that there will be no cancellation, since I recall the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, saying in this debate a year ago that cancellation would leave the Royal Air Force without any means of real assistance to the military in warfare. There is the P1154. Again I am confident, since the R.A.F.'s need for a Hunter replacement is, I think, self-evident.
Then there is the project which is called the HS (which is Hawker-Siddeley, I believe) 681. Again I am confident, since Mr. Mulley, the new Minister of Defence for the Army, is on record as 123 approving this welcome addition to our transport capability. As far as the Navy is concerned, I hope that the Government can soon confirm that we are proceeding with the Spey-engined Phantom, with the Wessex 2 antisubmarine helicopter, and with the new and very important guided missile Seadart. I myself regard all these as essential items on which any serious delay in decision making, or rather in decision confirming, would seriously prejudice our Armed Forces.
Before I conclude, may I just say how very much I, too, like my noble friend Lord Selkirk, welcome what the noble Earl the Leader of the House had to tell us about Malaysia? I welcome, too, the statement from the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, if I got it right, about Commonwealth staging posts. I am not quite certain how far the umbrella of his words in this respect was meant to extend. I am not quite certain whether the answer to the query of my noble friend Lord Carrington about Aden was contained in his form of words, but this is possibly a matter which we can pursue later. I welcome in particular, subject to all properly qualified caution, what the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, had to say about Southern Rhodesia. Finally, and not least, I should like from this side of the House cordially to endorse the two messages which the noble Earl the Leader of the House suggested might go out from this House to our Commonwealth partners, especially those threatened with aggression, as I understood it, and to our Armed Forces.
My Lords, it would seem that the Parliamentary new year came in with rather a bang in another place yesterday, and perhaps our debate has been a little bit in the nature of a whimper compared with that.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: No, No!
It has lacked the fireworks, perhaps. But, in any event, the House seems, with its customary skill, to have found more placid waters, on the whole, in which to navigate, although they have been lit by much wisdom and no little wit. We had a sparkling performance, I thought, from my noble friend the Marquess of Salisbury and I hope I have not offended by rocking the 124 boat. If I have, it was certainly not with malice aforethought. I personally believe that in these matters of defence and foreign policy we are very well advised to seek the highest common factor of bipartisan agreement whenever we possibly can. That will certainly be my intention as long as I am speaking from this place on these affairs.
In saying that, I would again wish to echo what my noble friend said in his opening speech, that we shall not oppose for the sake of opposing. We shall do our best to judge the issues as they come before us in this field, and the Government's proposals as they emerge, on their merits, and on the touchstone of what we believe to be the national interest, largely and liberally conceived. But, my Lords, if in this field of defence and foreign policy we believe the Government to be acting against that national interest, we will not hesitate to say so. It is my hope, my semi-confident hope, that we shall not have to do this.
§ 7.16 p.m.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (LORD WALSTON)
My Lords, the noble Earl has, as usual, been his courteous and reasonable self, and I thank him for that, and also for his kind remarks about my noble friend Lord Taylor and myself. May we, from this side, say how glad we are to see him and his colleagues sitting there, and hope that we shall continue to do so for many years ahead? As is always the case, this debate among your Lordships has been full of well-informed speeches from people who know what they are talking about. To my mind, there has been one sad absentee from the debate, and that is my noble friend Lord Henderson, who, in past days, has always been such a wise and careful counsellor in these matters. I very much hope that on future occasions he will continue to play his usual role.
Perhaps, if I may single out one speech from any other, the outstanding one was that from the noble and gallant Field Marshal. It was outstanding, of course, in many ways, one of them being that he had already informed me, and possibly other noble Lords, that he would speak for ten minutes, and at the end of ten minutes flat he sat down, which is no more and no less than we would 125 expect. He wisely pointed out the very close inter-relationship between Foreign Affairs and Defence, and I could not help remembering, while he was speaking, a story which was going about during the war of a young member of the Foreign Office who, in 1941 or 1942, found himself travelling in the first-class carriage of a railway train. In that carriage there were two retired generals who, during the course of the journey, started making rather loud and rude remarks about young men who were not in uniform. The young man from the Foreign Office eventually put down his Times and said to them, "Let me inform you, gentlemen, that I am a member of the Foreign Office, and that if it were not for the Foreign Office you would not have any bloody wars to fight at all". My Lords, let us hope that the reverse can be said in the future, because it is obviously true that our foreign policy is the keystone upon which any form of defence must be based, and unless we have a well-thought-out foreign policy we cannot decide rightly what form of defence we should have.
My Lords, our foreign policy in this country to-day—and I do not think there is any disagreement about this—has changed from what it used to be in the old days. Our foreign policy is not for our own personal or economic aggrandisement; it is not for the capturing of more territory; it is not for aggression against any other country. It is solely for the maintenance of world peace, and it is with that in mind that we must direct our thoughts to our defence policy at the same time. Our defence policy, as was that of the last Government, is based on collective security as a whole, and on international action; I would remind your Lordships of a speech made in another place in a Defence debate in February of this year, when my right honourable friend the present First Secretary of State made it quite clear what the Labour Party attitude was. He then said that a Labour Government would not be neutralist and would be loyal to the Western Alliance and, if I may specifically state it, to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. And it is with that in view that our whole policy is now in course of developing.
The keynote of our approach to the future of the Atlantic Alliance is interdependence, and we accept the full 126 implications of this. None of us can "go it alone"; each must make a full and appropriate contribution to the common effort. The nuclear armoury of the Alliance is the chief guarantee of its members' security, and arrangements for its organisation and control appropriate to the developing relationships within the Alliance are vital to the future health of NATO. The Government have undertaken to make constructive proposals for renewing the interdependence of the Alliance in relation to nuclear weapons, with a view to preventing duplication of effort and controlling dissemination of weapons of mass destruction. These proposals are being urgently worked out, and I do not think that any noble Lord would expect us to be able to come before you at this stage and give final answers; but, as your Lordships know, the Secretary of State has already been to Washington and has had very valuable preliminary exchanges of view on the possibilities with Mr. Dean Rusk; and discussions with our European Allies will be necessary before British proposals can be formulated. I hope that this at least makes clear the lines on which We are working and will satisfy the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, who, in common with other noble Lords, has already apologised to me for not being able to be here, and also to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who raised this point in the course of his speech.
Perhaps it would be as well at this stage to deal with some of the queries raised by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe. He will not expect me to go into them in any very great detail. It would take far too long if I were to do so, and I have a suspicion that in some cases, at least, he already knows what the answer is likely to be. He asked about the remarks made by my right honourable friend the Minister of Defence for the Army, Mr. Frederick Mulley, about B.A.O.R. Those remarks, which I will not quote in detail because I am sure the noble Lord knows them, imply no change whatsoever from the policy of the previous Government. At present our commitments elsewhere make it impracticable to maintain the full 55,000 soldiers in B.A.O.R., although the figures are not very far short of it. But whether the 55,000 figure will be achieved by reducing other commitments or by increasing the total Army strength has not yet been decided, and I do not 127 think that any decision would be expected on that.
Most of the answers I have to give to most of the other questions raised by the noble Earl are very much the same. The new carrier, the Buccaneer, the TSR2, are all highly complex matters which are being looked into and being reviewed by the Government. I think I am right in saying that it took the last Government a long time to come to any decisions on them, and obviously, although we will not take such a long time, we must be given a certain amount of time before we can give any firm answers.
As far as Woolwich is concerned, the only firm decision is that to examine the problem objectively; and, in fact, the Under-Secretary of State for the Army will shortly be visiting the Royal Ordnance Factory at Woolwich with the object of putting this in train. The projects for Phantom, which was another of those mentioned by the noble Earl, are now under consideration by Her Majesty's Government, and, pending any decision being taken, there is no change in what has been decided by the previous Administration. That is not a firm commitment to go ahead without any alteration at all; but so far it is being examined, as, in fact, is the case of the P.114 and the Hawker Siddeley 681, where design and development is proceeding and some of the work has already been sub-contracted to Short Brothers and Harland in Belfast.
My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt the noble Lord at this stage and I am grateful for the information he has given us. He has gone quite as far as I expected him to be able to go at this early stage; but I should like to press him on two points. First, was I right in understanding that the new carrier is in fact under review, or is that being proceeded with at full blast, as I hope is the case? I did not catch what he said. The second thing I should like to ask, while realising that these are very important decisions, some of them involving very complex issues, is whether he can give any indication when we may expect to receive the final answers with regard to them.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, the new carrier is under review. It is not pro- 128 ceeding at the present time but it is one of the matters which is being urgently reviewed. I am afraid, particularly in the absence of my noble friend Lord Shackleton, I can give no indication of the length of time; but I can assure the noble Earl that we are very much aware of the importance of this matter and certainly will allow no grass to grow under our feet.
I will now turn to what, perhaps, has been the most important series of criticisms that have been made during the course of this debate: our relationship with Europe and the recent action that we have been forced to take in the economic field. There is undoubtedly feeling among many European countries concerning what we have done in the last ten days, although we have been gratified by the amount of genuine understanding which has been shown by all the Governments concerned, even while, at the same time, many of them have expressed their anxiety and regret at them. But what, in fact, has taken place is that we undertook certain commitments with Europe.
It is as if we, as an individual, had undertaken to go on an arduous trek with a company of friends. During the course of this trek, in which we all have our own responsibilities, we developed a severe attack of gout, due possibly to over-indulgence in—and I use the words of the former Foreign Secretary—possibly too much over-ripe pheasant and vintage port. That has temporarily, but very suddenly, incapacitated us from carrying on in the way which we had undertaken to go, and we are faced with the problem of what to do. In such a case it would surely be wise immediately to withdraw temporarily from this expedition, to take medical advice and follow that medical advice in the hope and expectation that we should rapidly be restored to health and be able to take our place in the trek. If we failed to do that, we might struggle on, limping and being a burden to our fellows, never being able to carry our full load and eventually falling out for a far more serious medical operation.
I can assure noble Lords that very serious thought was given to this matter by Her Majesty's Government before the action was taken. Before determining the measures to deal with the economic situation the Government had 129 considered very carefully all the implications. We realised that measures of this gravity, undertaken by a major trading country, were bound to have repercussions on the whole international trading community end might be open to misinterpretation. But the essential requirement, as we see it, both in our own interests and those of trading partners, was to restore the cuts in the balance of payments and to provide a sound basis for the further development of our economic policies. A sound foreign policy cannot be based upon an unsound economy. And I may add to that, in reply to some of the remarks of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, that, however important strong armaments, nuclear or otherwise, may be, unless there is a sound economy behind those armaments we can never pretend to be a Great Power. So we decided that we would take these measures which were most likely to prove quickly effective and which could therefore most speedily t e removed. That is why we took the measures we did, painful though they are for traders in other countries.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. Could he say at this stage why there was no prior consultation, particularly with our EFTA partners?
§ LORD WALSTON
Yes, my Lords, I believe I can explain that to the noble Lord. There were two reasons. One was that if we had undertaken prior consultation with our EFTA partners there would have been a very reasonable complaint from cur Commonwealth members that we had consulted EFTA and had not consulted them; and once one starts consultations, where does one stop? Secondly, there was the more practical reason that if we delayed while we had consultations, then there was a period for stockpiling and for bringing into the country all those goods which are the cause of this drain on our foreign exchange. Even a delay of a matter of weeks, with all the rumours which were bound to go round while these consultations were taking place, would have added enormously to the very serious situation we were in at that time. These are the reasons why we were not able to engage in prior consultations, which we normally would have wished to have had with our 130 trading partners in EFTA and GATT. What we did do was to initiate consultations as soon as we could, and which of course will be pursued further within GATT, O.E.C.D., EFTA and in other ways.
It is true that these changes raise very special problems in EFTA. We have a meeting with EFTA at Geneva on the 19th and the 20th of this month, and also are meeting with the member countries of the E.E.C. in the Ministerial Council of the Western European Union on the 16th and the 17th. We are also in close and continuous consultation with the United States and with the Commonwealth. It will be our hope in these consultations to convince our friends of the need for the action we have taken, and in particular to ensure that the import charges will be removed at the earliest possible date. We have no intention whatever of permitting them to be maintained for a day longer than is absolutely necessary. There is no question of their being kept for a moment longer for the indefinite protection of British industry.
Let me now say a word about our longer-term policy. The Government believe that trade has an important part to play in foreign relations. We believe that liberal trading policies can do much to break down political barriers. The process is important here within Europe where the Community of the Six and the seven Governments of EFTA are moving by different routes towards greater unity. It is important also in the context of relations between the developed countries of Europe and North America and the less developed parts of the world. We believe that in both fields this work must be carried further. We shall seek to promote international economic cooperation on as broad a basis as we can, and we shall work in every way possible for practical moves to bring about a working unity of the nations of Europe. But we can do this effectively only if Britain is strong, and that is why our first steps have had to be directed to that end. That, I hope, is sufficient consolation to those who have had doubts about the new ideas of the present Government towards protectionism and liberalisation. I hope in particular that the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, will feel that his doubts have been resolved.
131 Before leaving Europe let me deal for one short moment with the question of Anglo-Spanish relations which has been raised by the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, and by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe. I would here correct what might be a misapprehension in a remark he made concerning lepers. I think that we in this Chamber realise the implications of his allusion, but it could be construed outside the Chamber that the Prime Minister had referred to Spain as the leper of Europe. I am sure he would be extremely unhappy if any words of his gave rise to that misapprehension. In fact, our relations with Spain are just the opposite, and I say frankly that I think it is most unfortunate for those relations, which all on both sides of the House wish to have as cordial as possible, that noble Lords on the other side should make such great play with the two incidents, however one might feel about them, relating to military activities, the fleet exercises and frigates, and make no mention at all of the good relations which exist in all other spheres with Spain and of the actual words of Her Majesty's Government to the Spanish Government.
If I may, I will read to your Lordships a message sent by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State shortly after he took office to the Foreign Minister of Spain. His message reads:On assuming office I take the opportunity of sending your Excellency my best wishes and to assure you of Her Majesty's Government's desire to maintain the good relations with Spain which have been built up over recent years. I therefore look forward to the continuance of the growing and mutually beneficial diplomatic, commercial and cultural intercourse between our two countries which reflects the respect and friendship between our peoples.This message was published in Spain, and my right honourable friend has since received a reply from Senor Castela in similar terms, and Her Majesty's Government will continue to be guided by the policy set out in this message.
I repeat, my Lords, that I think that it is doing a disservice to the cause which I am sure noble Lords opposite wish to serve, if they ignore messages of this kind—this message has been published in the Spanish Press—and simply give vent to their feelings on these other two matters.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, has the noble Lord in fact explained why the action over the exercise does not match those words?
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, I do not think there is any question of matching those words. The message deals specifically with diplomatic, commercial and cultural intercourse. These other matters were purely military, and the decisions were taken by the previous Government. We had no time to reconsider them. In the circumstances there was no prior consultation (we are not complaining about this), but it was felt advisable that they should be put an end to at the moment.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt again, but is the noble Lord now saying that it was the previous Government which cancelled the Anglo-Spanish naval exercise? Can he tell us in simple terms what was the reason for the cancellation of those exercises?
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, the reason was that the agreement for the exercise was entered into without prior consultation with the Opposition, as it then was—and, as I say, about that we make no complaint—and coming into office, at very short notice and only shortly before that exercise was due to take place, we considered it desirable and advisable to cancel it in this instance.
My Lords, I apologise for interrupting the noble Lord again: I am grateful to him for giving way. I am also grateful to him for the full statement which he has made on Anglo-Spanish relations and for communicating to your Lordships' House the interchange of messages which naturally we should wish to study closely. I have noted that in relation to this type of military collaboration, he said that the Government would desist "for the moment." At this stage, I should be prepared to leave the matter there, but I hope that the Government will not debar from rather more consideration in the future this very useful form of collaboration.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, I can make no commitment on this. All I am saying is that it is something which needs closer thought than was possible in the short time available.
133 I am running over my scheduled time but, if I may say so without giving offence, I think that some of this is due to noble Lords on the other side, and I hope that your Lordships wilt bear with me if I continue a little longer. I fully take the point raised by the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, about what is described as "East-West tension", and I will certainly see that my right honourable friend is made aware of the noble Earl's views. I think—I say this quite frankly—that it is perhaps a misleading term at the present time, and we would rather call them more simply East-West relations; and where the East begins and the West ends is a matter for people to decide for themselves. We feel strongly that relations between the East, and in particular the Soviet Union and Communist China, and the West, including ourselves, must be strengthened. We a re confident that the new leaders in the Soviet Union will not make our task any harder than it has been, and we hope that the situation will continue to improve, as it has in the past. As has been mentioned by noble Lords, the President of the Board of Trade is at present in Peking with the British Trade Fair, which is a good augury for the future.
Moving geographically from China down into South- East Asia, mention has been made by the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, and other noble Lords of the situation in Malaysia and Indonesia. It is an unhappy situation. We are playing our part, not as an Imperialist Power—which we are not there—but as one member of the Commonwealth who has treaty obligations to Malaysia as another member of the Commonwealth. We are doing all we can, in co-operation with Australia and New Zealand, to help in this unhappy affair. We shall certainly continue to give our support to our fellow member of the Commonwealth in Malaysia, and we hope for a speedy and happy outcome to this sad situation.
I will say a word about the Southern part of Africa, since it was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Somers. I should certainly agree with him that the Territories, and in particular Basutoland, have very close economic ties with the Republic of South Africa. He would be a foolish man who shut his eyes to that fact. I am glad to know that, particu- 134 larly in Basutoland, the leaders of all parties are fully aware of that. But we cannot shut our eyes to the tension which exists in that part of the world as the result of racial policies. We have made it clear that we abhor apartheid as a philosophy. The problem of South Africa is a peculiarly difficult and intractable one, which cannot be solved overnight and must, in the last resort, be resolved by the South Africans themselves. In our view, any solution to the racial problems of South Africa must take account of the need to secure fundamental human rights to all South Africans, and the need to safeguard the legitimate interests of all racial groups in South Africa; and we salute all those who are working constitutionally to this end. Until the tension has been relieved, we can never look with equanimity upon the Southern part of that great continent.
I will just say a word or two about South America. It has not been mentioned by anybody in the debate, but I think it would be unfortunate if, in a debate on Foreign Affairs, we should entirely ignore the continent of South America and the Latin American complex. This is a part of the world with which, as the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, well knows, we have many traditional ties from old days, and we are anxious to strengthen and increase those ties. It is a source of pleasure to us that my noble friend Lord Shackleton (although we regret that he is not here to-day) is now in Chile as Her Majesty's special Ambassador for the inauguration of the new President there. We certainly have every intention of doing all we can to promote the closest possible co-operation in every way, in business and culturally, between the Latin American countries and ourselves.
So far we have discussed the military aspects and the diplomatic aspects of our foreign policy, but I should not like to end without reminding your Lordships that we cannot rest content simply on what one might describe as old-fashioned diplomacy and the correct deployment of our military strength. We cannot achieve our objective, which your Lordships will remember is world peace, so long as we have a gap between the rich and the poor nations, a gap so often discussed, and which, as your Lordships 135 well know, is at present growing wider every day. It is because we are so conscious of this that, as is mentioned in the gracious Speech, there has been set up the Ministry of Overseas Development especially charged with the job of reducing that gap between the rich and the poor nations and thereby reducing one of the greatest causes of tension and one of the greatest threats to world peace.
A further cause of friction and tension is the friction which exists—I have mentioned it in the case of South Africa—between people of different races and colours. There we cannot influence foreign countries; obviously it is a problem of their own. But we hope that we may, by our example, have some influence on their acts also, and it is to some extent for that reason that in the gracious Speech mention is made of legislation to prevent, in this country at least, any form of racial discrimination.
In summing up, may I say that our foreign policy and our defence policy is 136 based primarily upon me overwhelming need and belief in peace through collective security and international action; that we need on the one wing a military force capable of helping in peace-keeping operations, and we need on the other the economic, cultural and human contacts and belief in the rights of other people, no matter in what country they live, what race they belong to or what religion they profess. I believe that, by following a philsophy based on these fundamentals we in this country will help in our own way to bring universal peace closer and to make the peace that exists to-day more secure.
§ Moved, That the debate be adjourned until to-morrow.—(The Earl of Dundee.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.
§ House adjourned at twelve minutes before eight o'clock.